General Life Tips, Mental Health

Building Healthy Habits One Day At A Time | My System To Achieve My Daily (New Year) Goals

It’s the new year and I don’t know about you but I always like to start my year with a long list of things I want to accomplish in the year. Nine out of ten times it’s nearly impossible to keep it up. As this list is basically the instruction manual for this perfect human being. There are two things wrong with this instruction manual. One) Perfection is unattainable. Two) The new year new you bullshit can be incredibly harmful to your mentality. Now, don’t get me wrong. Trying to incorporate healthy habits in your life is pretty damn great but you shouldn’t wait for a new month or a new year before you start. Start the day after you decide that hey I want to stop smoking. Don’t wait two weeks for the new month to quit. Start immediately. Don’t wait till you finished the last pack of smokes. Start immediately. You’re just signing yourself up for failure if you put a date on it. The month will come and you might come up with some excuse to push it to the next month and before you know it, it’s months later and here you are, still smoking your days away with the promise to quit at the start of the new year. I don’t know why I always use smoking as an example but you get what I’m trying to say right?

This is what I wrote on my list last year and right next to it is how many times I accomplished it.

  • Meditate 3times a week — Mediated maybe once in the entire year.
  • Workout 5 days a week — Maybe for about a month, two months max.
  • Drink 2litres of water every day— lol no.
  • Drink green tea four days a week — If you put all the days that I drank green tea together we would probably be around 20.
  • Eat no meat once a week — Never even occurred to me.
  • Wake up early in the work week (Mon-Fri) — I had about two months of this. The rest of the time I read till about 9am.
  • Drink smoothies twice a week — No. I had five days I drank a smoothie every day but other than that the year was a year of almost no smoothies.
  • Eat one cup of vegetables and one cup of fruit every day— No although I do eat vegetables at every meal and will eat fruit every day if my favorites are in season. Yay, we can tick one of them off!
  • Do yoga once a week — I didn’t do a single yoga session in the year 2018. I stretched maybe once but it wasn’t yoga.
  • Eat candy only twice a week — I’m laughing so hard right now.
  • Work on my mental health once a month for a week – This is my most ridiculous goal ever. It’s incredibly important to work on your mental health EVERY SINGLE DAY. It can be the little of things but you can’t ignore the importance of mental health.

There is a lot more but those were the main things. Most of these, if incorporated in my daily life, would improve my health but I can’t expect to suddenly overnight do all of these things. It’s way too overwhelming. I would add so much pressure and stress on my own shoulders that it’s almost frightening. But I do want to eventually incorporate most of these things. Like that really famous saying goes; Rome wasn’t built in a day. We’ve all heard this saying at least once in our lives but there is a reason why it’s so famous. It’s fucking true.

A while back I started this experiment that turned into a big success. It was where I rewarded myself with one euro every day I don’t eat candy. I realized that I needed the motivation to help with my biggest unhealthy habit but I also really liked being able to tick something off on the calendar. I print out the month and I get to scratch the block out if I went without candy. It made me so happy to see the big picture of the entire month and it also showed habits. If you look at my candy calendar from November you can see that I eat candy on Wednesday and over the weekends. Those are the days that the husband is home. I made a vow to never buy candy for myself. So, only when the husband is home and able to buy candy, did I eat candy. It was just really interesting to see. I will talk more about the candy and all of that jazz in an upcoming blog. There is so much I can say.

november candy

Getting back to the calendar, it made me happy to color in days so I figured why not work with this. I mean I’ve learned now that I respond well to this system. So I created a new calendar and chose the four main healthy habits I want to incorporate right now. Oh wow, that is a messy sentence. Sorry about that. Let’s try that again. I realized that I’m not going to achieve all my goals overnight and that I needed to choose only a few and concentrate on those for about six months. Once they are like second nature to me, then I will choose the next four and then etc.

This is the four I’m going to start off with.

  • Do a short workout from Monday to Friday.
  • Wake up (read, get up) early from Monday to Friday.
  • Drink a cup of green tea every single day
  • Drink 2 liters of water every single day.

This is how my calendar looks like. I just made a simple table in Microsoft PowerPoint. 16 columns and five rows. Table one is the first fifteen days with a little picture of my healthy habit and then table two is the other sixteen days for the months of 31 days. On the shorter months, I just erase the extra columns. I just post the two tables next to each other on the fridge. It’s really simple. If I would want too I could add my candy on this calendar but I like my special candy calendar too much. My brain works in mysterious ways.

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The idea to use the calendar system popped into my head in the second week of December. It wasn’t a great month to build these healthy habits and on most days I only colored in one box out of the four but I’m being very gentle with myself. I realize that I’m not going to get all four boxes every time. I realized that it’s going to take some time to make this a habit. So I’m giving myself just that. Time. I know life is going to happen sometimes and I won’t be able to tick all the boxes every day even after six months and that’s okay. If I can tick those boxes 80% of the time then that’s really fucking great.

This system works for me, someone who gets overwhelmed really quickly and needs to color in boxes to stay motivated. I encourage you to explore different options and until you find a system that works for you. Best of luck for all of your goals for this new year and try to see the big picture. 2019 is only one year of your life. You don’t have to achieve everything you possibly want to achieve in your lifetime in one short year.

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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General Life Tips, Mental Health

I Rewarded Myself With 1 Euro Everyday I Went Without Candy For A Month

I truly just had the best idea ever! Honestly, I’m giving myself a massive pat on the back. It’s such a great idea someone should pay me to solve problems creatively.

So, I’ve made it absolutely no secret just how much of a sweet tooth I have. The amount of candy I consume isn’t healthy. For my teeth and for the fat around my belly. It sure as hell doesn’t help with my acne breakouts too as I always flare up after a candy binge. I know this and for the last few years, I’ve tried everything under the sun to find balance with eating candy. I really and truly want to find that fine line of balance where I still enjoy a packet of wine gums here and there but I don’t have the desire or habit to do so every three days.

Just to give you a crystal clear idea just how deep my candy addiction runs, here are some of the blogs where I’ve talked about it.

An Unhealthy History | What I Used To Eat In A Day — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2017/09/04/an-unhealthy-history-what-i-used-to-eat-in-a-day/

I basically ate candy all day every day. I remember quite vividly that I would go to the tuck shop at school and instead of buying proper food for lunch I would overload my hands with all types of candy. I would then go home and eat candy after school and sometimes would even have candy for dinner. Yes, I would eat candy for dinner. No wonder I have so many cavities.

My Nutrition Plan For 2018 — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2018/01/03/my-nutrition-plan-for-2018/

Again, I’ve set a goal for myself candy wise and only kept at it for two weeks max.

Nutrition Class 3 | Carbohydrates | Part 3/3 — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2018/03/19/nutrition-class-3-carbohydrates-part-3-3/

The Slap of Reality series I had going for a few weeks there is the one thing that helped the longest. I think I went without candy for two months. The longest candy free time in my entire life. It’s the series where I would physically measure the sugar amount in the candy and put the two next to each other. This was a very eye-opening experience.

The Northern Lights For 365 Candy Free Days — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2017/12/22/the-northern-lights-for-365-candy-free-days/

This is probably my favorite twist to trying to eat less candy. It was the right step forward but once it became quite clear that we wouldn’t have the funds for this trip, I caved and only one month in, went full out with the candy. But I had the right idea. Dangling a juicy carrot in front of me to motivate me to not eat candy is the right way to go because clearly the weight gain and toothache don’t motivate me enough.

Before I share my brilliant idea, I want to talk about why I love candy so much. No, it’s not because the delicious treats are great to snack on or because they’re convenient. I think it goes deeper than that. In all of my challenges where I tried to set a goal to go without candy for a set amount of days, I always strived well till I had a bad day. Just recently I finally shared that I suffer from depression. I have quite a bit of bad days. Days where I don’t even want to get out of bed. Days where life is just too much. They are truly dark and scary days. In those days I want comfort. Comfort food. Comfort movies. Plain old comfort in the form of cuddles. And most of all, I want comfort snacks. In those dark days, I want my favorite meal (a tossup between Spaghetti and Pizza), my favorite soft drink (cherry coke) and my favorite treats (wine gums, m&m’s and vanilla ice cream). Now eventually I want to learn other habits that I can turn to on my dark days but at the same time, YOU ARE ALLOWED TO TREAT YOURSELF. In moderation of course. I’m still very much so a work in progress and I’m working on improving my mental health every single day.

Alright now the moment has arrived that no one was waiting for, drum roll please…my brilliant idea! So I asked myself, what is something else I’m super obsessed with but can’t get often because there isn’t always extra money lying around for it. MAKEUP! I’m a sucker for makeup and there is quite often products outside the daily routine that I have my eye on. Products I don’t need but boy do I want them. It’s always something a little more expensive that I need to wait to get for a special occasion. Currently, I’m dying to get my hands on this one eyeshadow palette and Christmas can’t come soon enough. So keeping in mind the whole dangle a carrot in front of Cassandra’s face to motivate her to go without candy for a day scheme from the Northern Lights idea, I thought hey why don’t you put money into a saving account every day you go without makeup? One euro to be precise. I transfer the one euro into the saving account at the end of the day once I’m in bed. I can then use that money to buy all the make up my heart desires. ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT. So I’m writing this blog on the 5th of September. I already ate some candy so I can’t get my one euro today but I’m really curious to see how the rest of the month will go. As I’m only going to upload the blog in October, I have some time to test how this idea goes and share it on here. Wish me good luck!

***

Alright, this is a pop in at the 17th of September. We’re two weeks in and well I saved 2 Euros. A lot happened and there are two things I want to touch on here in this little update.

1) I’m an emotional eater. I noticed almost immediately when we got some bad news, my candy intake spiked. I wanted ice cream, candy and so much more to almost comfort and heal the wound. It’s a very toxic thing that I clearly haven’t given enough credit too and will have to do some research and learn how to deal with this. The last thing I want to do is restrict and be on this strict diet for the rest of my life. I want balance but I can’t stuff my face with candy every time I have a bad day. It’s not the best choice for me at that moment.

2) If I did eat candy a day, I would just go all out. I wouldn’t just limit myself to one candy bar or one slice of cake, oh no I already lost my one Euros so I should at least make it worth it. Go all out and stuff my face with all the candy I can find. This was well counterproductive. What’s the difference between spreading the candy out daily then going without for a few days and then catching up on that one day? So I decided to put in a clause. If I overeat on candy that one day, I need to withdraw 1 Euro from the special savings account. Since I’ve made this clause, I have hone back in on the pure amount of candy I eat on the day.

That’s about it that I wanted to share in this pop in. I’m starting my 31 days smoothie detox today so I’m very excited to well put 31 Euros into the makeup account. I’m confident that once I can actually buy a makeup product with the money saved, saving would go easier. So hopefully (hopefully my ass I’m going to do this. No ifs. No buts.) in two weeks when I finally finish this blog to have it go up on the 8th of October, my total amount in my little savings account will be: 18 Euros!

***

Alright, I’m back now on the 7th of October, ready to finish this blog for tomorrow. Since my last pop in a few things happened. I’m not even sure where to start because when I say a few things happened, I mean a lot happened. This entire experience was very much so trial and error but I finally figured it out and it’s actually working.

There are three main things I want to talk about so I’m going to try to explain myself properly.

1) For starters, my self-control when it comes to candy has greatly improved. It took me four candy days to eat a packet of M & M’s. I’m not even kidding instead of inhaling the entire packet and then some on one day, I only ate a quarter of the packet. This is a massive step for me.

2) The next bit I want to touch ground on is my mental health and how what I eat affects it. I mentioned earlier in this blog that the reason why I struggle so much with candy as well I go for yummy food for comfort. I’m still learning how to improve in that category but what I started doing is simple. When I noticed that mentally I wasn’t in the best place I would take the dog for a walk and keep my mind active with other things. I would read a book, paint or just about anything to stop myself from stuffing my face in a desperate attempt to fill the void. For a moment there in this month, I wanted to do a smoothie detox for 31 days. That crashed and burned real quick. I’m just going to get straight to the point, it was too overwhelming for me and I couldn’t handle that emotionally right about now. I love biting off more than what I can chew. I put so much pressure on myself all the damn time. If I don’t I feel like I could be and should be doing more but I’ve learned, the hard way, that in order to live a happy life in harmony with my mental health, I need to adjust my way of thinking. The entire experience wasn’t a complete failure, I did learn if I drink a smoothie a day I don’t really get any candy cravings.

3) The last thing I added near the end was to mark the calendar. So, in the beginning, I would simply transfer the 1 Euros to the savings account just before going to sleep but I almost always forgot and my days would start to melt together and days would go by before I remember to transfer the money. The last thing I want is to work so hard on letting this account grow so I can get my makeup fix and then actually screw myself over by not transferring the correct amount. So I printed out a calendar where I simply color in the day I went candy free with the intention to transfer the money at the end of the month. This wasn’t only beneficial for my memory but for the motivation as well. It was one thing to see the account slowly grow but it’s a whole different thing to see the calendar grow in color and to make the calculations of how much money you get to spend on makeup at the end of the month.

I’m absolutely obsessed with this idea and after a month I can say with full confidence that it’s working. The best part is you can do it too! It doesn’t necessarily have to be for makeup. I mean in a few months I will probably find something else I really want but don’t have the money to spend on it. You can use this technique for video games, a new phone, a new book and etc. Literally, anything that you always want but never have the money to spend on it. It also doesn’t have to be candy related. You could reward yourself 1 euro every time you don’t smoke or drink or every time you go to the gym. The possibilities are endless. I mean look at cigarettes. How much money do you spend on the death as a stick per month? Do you want to quit? Reward yourself for every day you don’t smoke a single cigarette and eventually, the math will make sense. You can start of slow too. Let’s say you normally smoke ten per day. You can then say if I smoke 5 today I get to put 1 euro (or a fair amount in your currency) into a special account and with that money I can buy this thing I’ve been keeping my eye on. I think you catch my drift. Now I don’t think this will work for every person but hey try it for a month. If it works, great! If it doesn’t then what did you really lose? Whatever money you did manage to put aside you can easily use on something else you need.

I can see myself doing this for the rest of my life. It works. I mean I get the fancy makeup that I don’t necessarily need but I want and control my candy intake (so my health will improve) at the same time. It’s a match made in heaven. If you do end up trying this please let me know! I would love to know how this worked for you.

PS I’ve saved 17 euros since the 5th of September. Considering it took me two weeks to figure everything out, I would say I did pretty damn good.

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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Nutrition Tips, Recipes

Healthy Cottage Pie Recipe

I grew up with cottage pie and it is truly one of my favorite dishes to make. It’s home. There is ‘unhealthy’ ways to make it and there is way to improve the dish and make it healthier. This is my favorite recipe that can be deemed the healthier version. Oh before we jump in, here is a little history or background lesson.

This next part comes straight from Wikipedia. Do with this information what you will. Shepherd’s pie (made with minced lamb or mutton) or cottage pie (made with minced beef) is a meat pie with a topping of mashed potato. The dish can vary widely within its basic definition, whether as a home recipe or on a restaurant menu. The defining ingredients are minced meat (beef for cottage pie, lamb or mutton for shepherd’s pie) cooked in a gravy with onions and sometimes vegetables, such as peas, celery or carrots, and topped with mashed potato. Whilst not traditional, a common addition to either pie is to top the mashed potato with grated cheese.

Wikipedia goes into so much more detail about the dish but basically it comes from The United Kingdom originally and it’s a meat and potato dish. Now that you know what it is let me tell you how I make it.

Ingredients

  • Mince (Depends on your family/portion size. For two people I use 500g. When I feel like spoiling my husband even more I will add some bacon to the mix.)
  • Tomatoes (Medium sized tomatoes. Six to nine. Depends on how I feel.)
  • Peppers (If I feel like there isn’t enough vegetables in the meal I will add one pepper. For me it doesn’t really matter what colour it is. I do tend to go for the orange, yellow and red mix.)
  • Carrots (I always buy the medium sized carrots so I use 5 of them but if you buy the normal large carrots it’s about two.)
  • Onion (I use one but only because I’m not that big on onion. This can go according to your taste.)
  • Garlic (I use one glove but again this can go according to your taste. Garlic can easily overwhelm a dish so keep that in mind.)
  • Bolognese Sauce (I don’t think the brand really matters. I just buy the gluten free one our supermarket has to offer. The bottle is 400g.)
  • Soya Cream (I always get the 250g cuisine soya cream the supermarket stocks but normal whipped cream should be ay okay. I just tend to stay away from heavy lactose products as my body sometimes struggle to digest it. Coconut cream will also get the job done.)
  • Seasoning (I use Rosemary herbs, salt and pepper. If I feel like a little sting I will add some cayenne pepper.)
  • For sweetness I add 1 generous tablespoon of apricot jam. (I use a 30% less sugar brand. I also heat up some water and dissolve the jam in it before I pour it into my sauce. Otherwise it can get clumpy and won’t spread through the entire meal.)
  • Extras: If I feel I need more vegetables I will add some spinach but I tend to stay away from that one. In my mind spinach doesn’t go with this meal. The green ruins the nice and pretty red sauce. Taste wise I don’t think it’s noticeable. I also sometimes add 3ml of vanilla essence for flavour and a squeeze of lemon juice.)
  • Potatoes (Good old normal potatoes. I always get medium sized potatoes. I go fifty-fifty with the normal and sweet potatoes but you can do this according to your preference. Sometimes I skip the sweet potatoes all together. Portion wise I guess is just make enough. It’s better to have too much then too little but if I have to give it a number it’s about 4-5 normal potatoes (only if there is a few small ones in between the mix. Really I go according what looks enough) and 3 sweet potatoes.
  • Sweet Potatoes (I always have the option between the orange skinned and the purple skinned sweet potatoes from my local supermarket. The orange skinned potatoes is orange when cut open and the purple skinned potatoes is a yellow normal potato colour. I don’t know if that even makes sense but all in all I haven’t noticed a difference in flavour although saying that if I have the choice I go for the purple skinned.)
  • Butter and (Soya) Milk (You’re going to need butter and milk to mash the potatoes. I use soya milk because well I’m sensitive to lactose products but I don’t think it makes much of a difference. I use 25g-50g of butter (depends on how I feel like that night) and the rest just milk. It’s better to add little by little as too much makes your mashed potatoes runny.)
  • Oven pan

Step by step

  • I always start off with preparing all of my vegetables for my sauce. I cut up the onion, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, carrot and then add it to my favourite large sauce pan. I then switch over to skinning to potatoes and cutting them up in small pieces (I want them to boil through quickly).
  • I place the potatoes on a medium heat and with some olive oil I just let it sit and boil.
  • I then switch over to my sauce. I add the mince and the entire sauce mixture like I explained earlier. The Bolognese sauce, soya cream and seasoning. I give it a quick mix (Over mixing it with raw mince breaks it up to a point of you feel like you’re eating baby food. I still want chunks of meat.) I then put a lid on it and let it boil for 20-30 minutes on a low heat. I will give it a stir about halfway through but otherwise I leave it alone.
  • The potatoes should be done in 20-25 minutes. I then mash it and please don’t forget to add your seasoning. I always just use salt and pepper. Nothing fancy. All the flavour you want is in the sauce. I saw somewhere someone using the water that they boiled the potatoes with for the mashing. I haven’t tried it yet but be my guess.
  • I now take my oven pan and I will up half of it with my mince sauce (If there is left great you have leftover for spaghetti tomorrow night. You can also freeze it for another night.) I carefully put the mashed potatoes above this. One big serving spoon in three different parts of the oven pan. The side and the middle. Ones I feel like the mince mixture and the potatoes mixture is even I will even the potatoes out with a fork.
  • For one last extra flavour I add a layer of grated cheese. You can also add a layer of crushed chips (original flavour) on top of the mashed potatoes and then add the grated cheese. It gives it a nice extra layer of crunch. It’s not the healthiest but it is oh so good.
  • Then you just pop it in the oven for 30 minutes (or till cheese is nice and crispy) at 180˚C or 356˚F for my Americans. (Sorry for all the grams. Google it?)

Annnddd that’s it folks! Here is a photo of my batch. If you make it and like it please let me know. I would love to see your response to it. If you don’t like it well hey we all like different things. Oh and sorry for the dark quality in the picture. It’s winter here and it’s pretty dark around dinner time. It also doesn’t help that half of our light bulbs aren’t working…

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Here is my husband’s review. I promise he is not lying for me at all (he is).

“Thinking back of this dinner on a Sunday morning makes me hungry, it’s one of my favourite meals! If you have not tried this you are definitely missing out. I especially like the variation with the chips on top, so the unhealthy one basically.”

Before I go the unhealthy version is basically no vegetables and using a lot of butter with your normal potatoes.

I wish you all the best and I will see you in a click!

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Nutrition Tips, Plain Old Nutrition Content

My Nutrition Plan For 2018

Hold up. I’m actually writing a blog post about food or something nutritional related? What world is this? I’m just kidding. I have so much nutritional content I want to share but for some reason I just never really got to it. I always just want to write a story time. I can tell you one thing for sure, I’m going to be sharing a lot of food related content in 2018. You will see why in a second.

So the entire December I’ve been thinking of what I want to achieve in the year 2018 and what I want to do differently. There is nothing like a new year to try a lot of new things. To grow. You might have seen the no candy for 365 days for the northern lights post go up around that time if not, please feel free to go give it a read. Self promotion at its finest. Cutting down on sugar is one of my biggest goals for 2018. I got somewhere in 2017 (a lot later in the year then what I originally wanted) but I could do better. One of the places I really lacked was the amount of vegetables and fruit I eat. 99% of my meals for dinner does contain some sort of vegetables which is a MASSIVE step up for me but that’s one meal. I only eat fruit in the summer. That’s not good enough. So for the new year I want to try 1-2 portion of fruit and 1-2 portion of vegetables per day. If my favorite fruit is out of season then I just need to think of something. I still have some hints of the same picky eater of a child in me. Hey it’s one step at a time.

Drinking water is so damn important I’m not even going to touch that one but I’m not drinking enough of it on a day to day basis and that needs to change. I used to be so damn good with that one, heck I was in danger of drinking TOO much water. I’m just going to strive for 2 liters of water per day. I do seem to do drink more water if I have an app to put my amount in. My favorite app for tracking water is Plant Nanny. I eventually deleted the app because I’ve gotten every plant there is so it was less exciting but it took me nearly a year to reach that level so definitely still go for it! I’ve recently started using a new app, My Water. It’s doing okay. I did get a FitBit watch for Christmas and the app has a water tracker function so I will most likely end up switching over. You just need to find a way where it fun or exciting to drink all your water. The app is just nice because I get a reminder.

The next nutritional related thing I want to do in the new year is something I’ve tried on and off. Every time I do it my body responds to it quite well. I don’t know why it hasn’t became a habit. I don’t have anything against the taste or anything like that. I just need to start drinking it on the daily and eventually it will become a habit. I want to drink green tea or lemon water 3 times a week if not more. It just flushes everything out and it makes my body feel so good. It just clenches everything.

The last thing on my list is a 7 day smoothie clench. I’m not sure why this one is on my list but I know how it got on. I want to say late 2016 I discovered my favorite raw vegan Alyse Brautigam, the founder of Raw Alignment. On her YouTube channel she was doing a juice clench. I really liked the idea and thought it would be something nice to try out. I however would pick a smoothie over a juice any day so hence the 7 day smoothie clench.

Oh who can forget about the nutritional blog related stuff…I’m just going to try out new recipes and play around with clean treats. I’m not sure how great that will go but we will see now won’t we? May this year be as clean and green with a little sprinkle of chocolate on the side (special occasions for me)!

2018 IS GOING TO BE AN AMAZING YEAR!!!

 

 

Fitness Challenges, Fitness Tips

Challenge: Step Forward With 500 Lunges In 30 Days (Level 3: Third Wheel)

Do you like a challenge? This is a 30 day challenge where you start with a small amount of lunges per day and as you get stronger and more dead inside, you push the limits and do even more lunges the next day. All the way till you can easily do 500 lunges.

This is for someone in the third wheel of fitness. So if you’ve been working out for a long time now and really know your way through the gym this is definitely something to space things up for you. It’s a great way to challenge yourself.

Happy Lunging!

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PS: If you complete or join the challenge use the hashtag #fitcouchpotatochallenge so I can get in touch with you.