minimalism, Project 333

Capsule Wardrobe Kitchen Spending Diet Bonanza

Happy New Year!

I have always been into New Years Resolutions. “This is the year”, I tell myself. There are lots of lists made and ideas drawn out and I get really excited. But, just as the stereotype goes, by February 1st it’s business as usual. BUT, I’m going to do it again and say that THIS IS THE YEAR! This is the year of getting control and of trusting my instincts. And guess what, it has nothing to do with losing weight (this has been the theme of most of my past resolutions). I’m not going into these endeavors solo. I am going into the with the plan (that I didn’t come up with), a built in community, and NUMBERS. Lots of numbers. Here are some of the numbers.

908, 4,633, 2,500, 333

The first three numbers are my credit card debt, one student loan (you don’t even want to see the other one), and a savings goal for visiting my best friend in London in June (squeeee!!). I will pay the first two off and achieve the savings goal by using The Spending Diet from the blog And Then We Saved. At this point I’ve probably read just about every post on this website. I cannot get enough. I am an impulse spender whose long term goals get clouded by instant gratification. Having less debt and saving up for this big special trip are huge motivators. I’m tracking how much I put towards each goal every month and tracking my purchases so that I can make only the essential buys each week. My brain still tells me that beer is essential (and sometimes yeah it is) though I know that’s not the case. The one thing I have found so far is that I get so excited when I get paid to pay my bills that I kind of overpay them and then I’m stuck with very little money until the next paycheck. I need to keep enough to make sure I can comfortably cover the basics and try to not get so ahead of myself. Reigning in my spending will definitely be challenging at times but the message boards on this site are active and I have supportive friends and family so I think all in all I’ll be okay.

The last number is a biggie. 333. This refers to two things, both related. First, The Capsule Wardrobe Challenge, or Project 333. That’s 3 months with 33 items of clothing, encouraging you to find your own style, have quality pieces that are versatile, and let all that other fluff fall away. I have now entered month dos (dun dun dunnn) of this challenge and I’m really liking it, though I do feel a little bored at times. Getting dressed is way easier. I have some go to outfits that I seem to gravitate towards. Even within the 33 items I’m not wearing all of them. I sort of bent the rules a bit and didn’t include outerwear or jewelry in my count mostly because Richmond weather is crazy and you can’t commit to a coat when one day it’s 40 (today) and one day it’s 74 (tomorrow). Yeah. I also have a lot of cool jewelry I got from my Gramma when she passed and my mom has given me some stuff of hers and I want to get as much use out of those things as I can. Just before I really started the challenge I sold some of my clothes to a local resale store and got myself a $33 credit that I plan on using to fill in any gaps for the Spring/Summer. I feel lighter and less overwhelmed and I notice this most of all in the mornings when I’m getting ready for work.

The other part of the 333 is the Capsule Kitchen Challenge which is super exciting to me. Same thing but with ingredients. You pick 33 things that you love eating and that is what you eat primarily for the next 3 months. At first that might sound a little restrictive but spices and seasonings aren’t part of your list so you have freedom with those. Here’s my list!:

Kale
Chicken
Salmon
Greek Yogurt (Plain)
Sweet Potatoes
Lettuce
Carrots
Broccoli
Broth
Brown Rice
Beets
Canned Tomatoes/Marinara
Cous Cous
Whole Wheat Penne Pasta
Mozzerella Cheese
Lentils
Brussels Sprouts
Spinach
Tofu
Oats
Apples
Clementines
Bananas
Wine
Kashi Granola Bars
Leeks
Pizza Dough
Eggs
Avocado
Tortillas
Coconut Milk
White Potatoes
Almonds

My goal here is to simplify my meal planning, cook more intuitively (more about this another time), and make the most of the ingredients I’ve chosen. I LOVE kale. I LOVE most things on this list. But I probably only cook with each a couple different ways. This is an opportunity to expand on how I prepare these ingredients. It’s an invitation to be creative and I don’t feel limited. I kinda feel free. I also started reading An Everlasting Meal tonight. It’s getting me really jazzed about getting into the kitchen and making the most of simple ingredients. And not over thinking or over planning. It’s also helping think of how to make the most of every resource. Tomorrow is my meal prep day so I’ll spend a couple hours chopping, making soup, roasting stuff. Then, I’m good for the week. It’s going to be great. The Facebook group is already chatty and supportive so I’m looking forward to learning from everyone and I’m enjoying reading other people’s 33 and their blogs.

I’ve never been a numbers person but right now they are inspiring me!

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minimalism, Project 333, scaling back, Uncategorized

So, I like how I wrote one blog entry in June with the promise to write more and…crickets. Once I get writing I’m good to go but getting there is hard. Everything I want to say is in my brain all jumbled together and I have a hard time organizing myself. Maybe I should make an outline before I commit to an entry. Either way, I want to write more. I am hoping that a little project I am starting tomorrow will renew my focus, not just on this project but on lots of things. Because, well, I really need it.

For a while now I have had the clean out bug. I have gone through all of our stuff multiple times, boxed things up, and gone to Diversity to donate said items. The main target of this possession purge is my side of the closet. Our 1965 split level was built before the days of walk in closets and big bedrooms so closet space is at a premium. For a long time it’s been hard to slide my hangers down the bar but with getting rid of some things it’s started to get easier. Yet, it’s still not enough for me.

I came across the idea of a capsule wardrobe on Pinterest. The term piqued my interest and I did a little research. Some great websites featuring this idea are INTO MIND (there are worksheets!), Unfancy, and bemorewithless. I’m sure there are plenty of other great ones but I’m just starting out. The last website is where I found Project 333. Basically, you go through all your stuff and select 33 items, committing to wearing those and only those garments for the next 3 months. YIKES. That was my first instinct. But, if the end goal is feeling 10 times better about the scaled down wardrobe you create yourself, I’d say this is a pretty great way to get moving. So that’s what I’m doing. I went through and made my list. Anything not on the list went into the closet in the office. The door is closed and I don’t plan to open it until the end of February.

Here’s what I’ve got to get me through the winter!

1. Straight leg blue jeans

2. Gray jeans

3. Black leggings

4. Lavender jeans

5. Big white sweater

6. Teal cardigan

7. Gray cardigan

8. Colorful flannel shirt

9. Long sleeve anchor shirt

10. Black and white short sleeved shirt

11. Blue and red striped hoodie

12. White fleece

13. White sweater w/ Peter Pan collar

14. Black light sweater

15. Purple mandala sweatshirt

16-18. Tanks (gray, burgundy, white)

19. Black wrap dress

20. Teal flats

21. Black boots

22. Brown boots

23. Brown ankle boots

24. Moccassins

25. Black Danskos

26. Roxy flats

27. Long sleeve shirt (buying tomorrow)

28. Wool sweater Mom bought in Scotland

29. Green J. Crew sweater

30. Purple sleeveless top

31. Purple scarf

32. Yellow scarf

33. Red toggle pullover

My 333.

My 333.

Now, in this challenge, you can adjust. I noticed that I put an awful lot of shoes on this list but if I decide I have too many shoes and not enough of something else I can move it around a little. But, in looking at what is left, it’s all my favorite stuff. It’s warm, pretty basic stuff of good qualiity. All of these items are what I mainly wear anyways. My hope is that the next 3 months offers me a chance to fully practice what I hope to see myself doing as I pare down my closet. I want this to be an exercise in mindfulness about my consumption habits. I also want it to be something that helps me focus on other things. If I’m not spending time trying to figure out what to wear or what to buy to wear, what else can I do in that time? I have some ideas about that, too. I’m going to give it a few days before I go into all that. In the meantime, here’s all the good info I’ll be using as I give this whole thing a go.

Project 333

Project 333 Facebook Page

Project 333 Pinterest Board

If anyone plans on doing this too let me know! I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences.

#Project333. A slight change of pace.

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Here We Are Again

Time to dust off this corner of the internet and get writing again! I have been wanting to write so badly but haven’t been sure where to start or what to write about so I just haven’t. My mentor in grad school always told me to just start writing because sometimes you need to get the crap out of your brain before you can write what you really want to say. Getting started, and getting started again has always been the hardest part for me. My challenge certainly hasn’t ended and writing keeps me accountable so let’s give this another go!

Since the challenge ended I have kept going. I am very lucky to work at a place with a wonderful gym and lots of fitness class options. At this point, I’m a little sad to say I haven’t taken full advantage of this but I have taken a 6am yoga class, which I will be restarting again this week (come on, Friday!). We also have this awesome class called Balanced. You food journal, check in weekly, and have two fitness classes per week. It reminds me of the challenge, just at work. I’ve realized that I need that structure. I’m not someone that just goes to the gym and knows what to do. I go to the safe stuff; the treadmill, elliptical, some weight machines. I never really feel like I get a full workout and I feel a little clueless in there. Like, how do you do leg day? For the life of me, I have no idea how to begin. So, I do Balanced. It’s a small group of people who do a circuit workout and I do all of the things I wouldn’t think to do in the gym on my own. A friend/co-worker is in the class with me so it’s great to have a friendly face and someone to show up for.  At the end of the last Balanced cycle I found out I had lost 13 inches all over my body and 4 pounds. This made me feel great. That means I am officially down 12 pounds from when I started the Get Well Challenge. I’ve done it the slow and steady way and I’ve enjoyed each little milestone that I work towards.

Spring (and now summer) has sprung so for the last few months I’ve been really active in the garden. My level of activity has gone through the roof between Balanced and my work and I love that. I am outside constantly (I have the awkward tan lines to prove it) eating veggies out of the garden with the kids and teaching and learning alongside them. This time of year is pretty great for me.

Our school year ended in May and the day after Michael and I went to Savannah to visit my family and have a little vacation for a week. It was fantastic. I tried to keep active but when you are staying with your uncle who eats NO vegetables (NONE) and only processed foods some items on the naughty list slip in there. For example, ICE CREAM, my kryptonite. Every night I ate the stuff. To combat this, I went grocery shopping the day after I got there. I meal plan every time I go down because I know what awaits if I don’t. My dad isn’t much for cooking on his own so I try to make wholesome meals that satisfy and get him involved. While I was there I made a lot of recipes from a Moosewood Cookbook I got at Chop Suey. It’s their book called Lowfat Favorites. Manicotti Verde (stuffed shells filled with spinach and leeks) and veggie quesadillas were on the menu as was a roasted chicken with all the salad fixings you could want. But, activity-wise, other than 10 minutes of yoga, a (flat) nature walk, and walking around town, there was no working out. And, there really hasn’t been since then. I haven’t gone to the gym at work. I’ve done a little yoga at home but I am out of practice. Guess what? Not acceptable. Working out makes me feel good and it makes me feel strong. Just doing yard work or working in the garden won’t be all I need to accomplish my goals. So, I am picking up where I lost of pre-vacation starting tomorrow. I am remembering Katie’s advice of setting 3 small and attainable goals for the week. I am food journaling. I am getting my tush out of bed and going to the gym before work (because why would I go inside and sweat after I spend the whole workday outside sweating?). I am back!

coffee

 

Here are my goals for this week:

1. Get back into the habit of food journaling

2. Limit TV to a couple episodes this week (I have gone down the Scandal rabbit hole on Netflix and fear I may never come out)

3. Work on waking up earlier to make time for the gym in the morning

 

A few things I’m eating this week to stay on track:

1. Steel cut oats with shredded coconut, blackberries, and banana for breakfast.

2. Salad every day, either for lunch or dinner (maybe both!). Our garden is bursting and we are game to keep up by stuffing our faces with veggies every day.

3. Lentils. Lentils with BBQ sauce, lentils on a salad, lentils, lentils, lentils. I love them because they are so cheap and so filling and can go in just about anything.

4. Raspberries. Any chance I get.

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Trading Convenience for Wellness

I took a me day yesterday. In grad school, we were given one me day per class per semester but we called it something different. We called it Global Anxiety Day (or a GAD). Luckily, this wasn’t a GAD. It was truly a day I set aside to hang out with myself and treat myself a bit.

In the morning, I went to Hand and Stone and got a massage. I was under the impression that as a first timer, a massage would be $49. Turns out it is but ONLY if you become a member. I weighed my options. We are not wealthy by any means. We have what we need and we try to keep it simple. We bought our first home in July so when there is extra cash we are usually putting it towards house stuff.

After weighing my options, I decided to take the plunge. I am now committed to getting a massage once a month for a year (poor me). It is an extra $50/month BUT. I thought about what I spend my money on. I thought about what bothers me about what I spend my money on. And then, I decided a trade needed to take place. I get breakfast on the go A LOT. My usual suspects are Starbucks (it’s on Cary, perfectly located halfway between my house and work), Panera, and of course, Ellwood’s. I looked at how much money I can sometimes spend per month on these breakfasts. The answer? A LOT. Too much. So here’s my trade. Breakfast out only in dire situations or special occasions and in exchange, that frees up some money to do this spa membership.

I realized that after I had this massage, I felt SO GOOD. I felt energized but more calm than I had felt in a long time. I felt content. I feel guilty when I buy my breakfast out, especially when it’s because I didn’t make time to make myself breakfast in the morning or I was just too lazy. I’m trading it for something that makes me feel good.

That’s sort of how I am trying to view this whole challenge. Trading the easy way out for hard work and even better rewards.

My husband came into our room the other night and told me he read one of my blog posts. He asked if we could get up early a couple times a week to take a walk around the neighborhood. I don’t know that that plan would have been set in motion without this challenge. Now we are trading a few extra minutes of shut eye for some time spent doing something healthy in the morning and we’re doing it together.

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Clarity.

At our challenge meeting last month Katie talked about sabotage behaviors, many of which were very familiar to me. I’ve been thinking about that talk a lot over the past couple days as I’ve tried to shake off the lack of progress I feel I’ve made and move forward with a go-get-em attitude. I read through the list of behaviors again and the one that I kept coming back to was having a lack of clarity. 

According to Katie, when we don’t have a certain degree of clarity in our goals and why we have those goals, we are more prone to sabotaging ourselves. Her suggested remedy is sitting down with yourself and asking some questions. Where do you want to go? Who do you want to be? Why? The idea is that when you go through these questions with yourself, you will be better equipped to fight off the temptation to sabotaging yourself when that comes up.

I realized that I had an idea of my goals and the type of person I’m hoping to be but without writing them down, I’m still quite lost. Without having a place to visit these thoughts, they’re really nebulous and hard to nail down and use when I really need them. 

So here I am. When I ask myself the question, “Who do I want to be?” I automatically think of my application for the challenge. They asked why I wanted to take part in the challenge. I had a few reasons but mainly…I want to more fully live up to my job. My job is a huge extension of myself. It isn’t just my job. My job puts my lifestyle on display in a lot of ways. And, when I look at my job and then I look at my lifestyle, I don’t feel that they entirely match up and that’s what I wanted to change. 

I teach kids and sometimes my co-workers about gardening, health, and sustainability. I’m still learning about these things in so many ways every day but I’m still in a position to teach about these things and I love that. But, when I go home and watch TV and order pizza, I kind of feel like a fraud, even though this isn’t something that happens on the regular. Here I am touting the amazingness of pickled radishes and growing your own food, yet I don’t feel that I totally embody that. My physical body is the heaviest it has ever been. When I stand in front of the children and tell them that eating those veggies will make them healthy and strong, I know it’s true, but I myself am not living up to that for them, at least I don’t feel like it.

I’ve lost weight before. A few years ago I lost about 25 pounds over the course of a year, but my lifestyle was completely different. So, figuring out how to do that again and keep the lifestyle change that this will require is my challenge. 

So, who do I want to be? I want to be someone that talks the talk AND walks the walk when it comes to a sustainable, healthy, active, and fully lived life. And, it’s not just for my job. It’s for me. It’s for my husband. It will allow me to be more confident in my work life and in all the other aspects. I want to move forward with my career and I love where I work. Showing that I fully embody what I am teaching can help me reach this goal and carve out a unique, fulfilling, and more financially sustainable career, I believe.

I want to be someone who isn’t afraid. I don’t want to be afraid of having my feet off of the ground in crow position when I’m doing yoga. I don’t want to not go somewhere because I might not know anyone. I WENT TO AUSTRALIA AND DIDN’T KNOW ANYONE. Seriously. And it was one of the best things I ever did. I can do things by myself and be fine and probably have fun and meet other people. And that’s happened in this challenge and it’s been great! I hope it keeps happening! It will if I let it.

I want to be someone that doesn’t feel the need to pull at their clothes because they’re trying to minimize flabby bits. I just want to be comfortable and feel confident in that. I want to not be afraid of having my picture taken or have thoughts like “they probably are thinking about how much weight I’ve gained” when I see someone I haven’t seen in a while. It’s just nice to see them! Why can’t it end there? 

I also just want to be someone that craves salad, not raviolis all the time.

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The Slump. And turning it around.

Well, folks. I might be struggling a bit here.

Last week, I was sick. Coughing and coughing for a week straight. I managed to make it to work every day but I left early pretty much every day and was in bed by 7 definitely every day. I forgot about my food journal and my bitters. I got some chinese take out because I was too tired to cook anything or go grocery shopping (which is one of my favorite things to do).

And then, we went on our mini-honeymoon to the mountains. I drank beer, ate a lot of pasta, did not work out, you get the point.

I knew my check-in at RNM was going to tell me I gained a little weight back. Maybe a pound or two. But, it was three pounds. I’m not going to sit here and cry and mope over three pounds because come on but I am mentioning it because as soon as I saw the number I felt the guilt creeping back. Guilt that at this point in the challenge I have not lost what I was hoping to lose. That at this point in the challenge I’m still getting my breakfast at Panera or Starbucks or Ellwoods instead of cooking it myself most mornings. That at this point in the challenge I’m still having trouble with portions and getting stupid hungry at work even on the days that I pack a really good, filling lunch. That at this point in the challenge I’m still dwelling for even a second instead of moving on and kicking ass. And mostly, that at this point in the challenge I haven’t gotten my routine down and I still feel in many ways (especially mentally) not out of the fog and into the land of wellness. That’s where I want to be. But, I’m having trouble finding the clarity to map it out for myself.

It’s not that I thought I’d have it all figured out at this point but I had hoped I’d be a little further along at this point. I’m sure other folks can relate. I feel like I need a fire lit under me but I have a pocket full of wet matches.

And food? I haven’t been in the mood to cook at all. How do I get myself (the person who loves being in the kitchen) back in there to cook a decent meal? I’m just not in the mood for ANYTHING these days.

I just want to squeeze every little bit out of the time we have left in this challenge and to get that to propel me through the months after and beyond. I think I need to reach out to our community a little more and offer my support if anyone needs a high five and maybe get a few high fives myself.

I know we all have ups and downs on journeys like these and there are plenty of victories big and small in store. I just need to get my head in the game!

<a data-pin-do=”embedPin” href=”http://www.pinterest.com/pin/245798092136260204/”></a>

 

 

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Taking a Spin, Planning a Meal, and Spraying Bitter Stuff

“If we face our unpleasant feelings with care, affection, and nonviolence, we can transform them into the kind of energy that is healthy and has the capacity to nourish us. By the work of mindful observation, our unpleasant feelings can illuminate so much for us, offering us insight and understanding into ourselves and society.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Warning: Long post ahead! 

I have a lot to say this go ’round! This week was a good week for me and I am starting to pinpoint the places where I most need improvement. I am still figuring out what works for me and I think I will be doing that important work for a while yet. But, as I am constantly reminding myself, this is a JOURNEY. Maybe one of the most important ones I will ever take and I don’t think it will ever end (at least I hope not!). 

Like many folks, I make those not so great food decisions when I am unprepared for the day. I myself do not have a desk job. I work with children and I work in the garden and as such, I don’t sit down….like, at all. I just don’t sit. I am constantly moving about, running after children, hauling dirt around, going to a fitness class. So, I know that I am in need of a lot of energy boosting foods throughout the day. However, I don’t always have those things on hand. It is not possible for me to leave my classroom and drive somewhere to pick up food and our cafe is…how do I say this…not for me. So, if I forget lunch one day, my choices are basically nil. 

This week I have decided to get organized on the food front. I spent my Saturday night going through foodgawker.com (best site!) searching for recipes using what I have in my pantry. Then, I made myself a meal plan that I am going to do my best to stick to. For breakfast I am going to have pumpkin oatmeal with a hard boiled egg and coffee everyday this week. I think by already knowing and having ready the first meal of the day, I’m setting myself up for success. Plus, it’s a grab and go when I have an early class. Here are a few links to other things I am making this week:

black bean & wheatberry chili: http://www.vegetarianventures.com/2012/12/03/black-bean-wheatberry-chili/#.Um23nUizKph

quinoa with acorn squash, apples, and red pepper: http://www.balticmaid.com/2013/01/quinoa-with-acorn-squash-apple-and-red-bell-peppers/

spaghetti squash tacos: http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2013/01/spaghetti-squash-tacos/

The tacos are for dinner this week but the others are lunch items. They’re all vegan and high protein so they will keep me full and satisfied throughout the day. I am hoping this more organized approach will help me out a lot and take some of the guesswork out of being in the kitchen. As much as I like to lollygag in there, it’s good to have a dose of organization when cooking for the week. Will keep you posted on the progress here!

Also on the food front, I had my check in with Lindsey on Thursday and shared that I have a portion control problem. I enjoy the act of eating so much that, especially when pasta is involved, I cannot stop at the appropriate time. Any notion of what makes a portion of pasta goes out the window and I am an insatiable carbo-loading beast. I love the stuff. She suggested that I adopt the mantra “One Scoop”, meaning that whatever is out there, unless it’s fruits and veggies, one scoop goes on the plate and that is the end of it. I am going to give that a serious go. She also suggested that I start using bitters before my meal to kickstart my digestion which in turn will make me full more quickly. They sell it at Ellwood’s in a little spray bottle for about $8. There are a few flavors, all of which are (you guessed it!) BITTER. BIIIIIIITTTTTEEEEERRRRR. I got the maple one, the most un-bitter of the bitters on the shelf and it is still…you get it. But, apparently that bitterness signals our digestive juices to start up! So, now I am trying to spray a few sprays about 10 minutes before I start eating. This gives my digestive system enough time to get going. Here is a video about the bitters and how they work from the people that make them!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAZSvzN_svI&feature=player_embedded

Lastly, I got out of my comfort zone this morning thanks in part to fellow challenger Sarah. She posted on our facebook group that she was looking for a spin class buddy this morning at 9. I had yet to try spinning as I am firmly in my yoga bubble. But, I can’t pass up a new opportunity even if I’m hesitant so I said I would go! Plus, these classes regularly are $18 a pop and we get 13 FREE classes. I am always reminding myself how incredible this all is. So, I got those crazy bike shoes on and hopped on that bike. Turns out my resistance wasn’t where it should have been because it was way too low. When I tried to do the push ups and whatnot I thought my knees were going to fly out and I had very little control. My upper and lower body were not on speaking terms apparently and I felt very uncoordinated. But, I was in the front row and I did something I don’t normally do. I watched myself biking in the mirror and looked at myself and in my head I told myself over and over “you are strong, keep going”. And, not to sound corny, but that moment was really powerful to me. It almost felt like a confrontation with the naysayer in me. For that reason, I am excited to learn more about spin and get back on the bike. I’m doing so on Tuesday!

So goals for this week to sum every long winded bit of this post up:

1- stick to my meal plan as much as possible

2- continue being consistent with my food journaling

3- remember to spray those bitters!

and a bonus: be fully present in my fitness classes this week

Going to go uncramp my hands now. Have a great week!
Amanda

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