Which is Better: Pre-or-Post Workout Noms?

There’s plenty of argument in both directions. My favorite advice involves chocolate milk post-workout, but that’s perhaps just me.

I stumbled across this article when I was searching for further advice on the topic, since I’ve recently (about 18 hours ago) decided to take up running in the mornings. Today, I admit, I didn’t eat before my… activity. (I hesitate to call it a run, since I’m sure I didn’t actually run more than a quarter of the whole mile track.) In retrospect, maybe I should have. The article points out that morning exercise often comes after something like a 10-hour fast. You’re running on fumes, the article says. I wonder if that might have anything to do with my exhaustion afterwards?

On the other hand, it is recommended that you allow some time to digest before you embark on your exercise routine, since activity directs blood flow away from your digestive system, which can cause problems. How early do I have to get up and eat before I can work out? Will I have to start getting up at 5:00 a.m. for a 6:30 jog? Because I barely managed to drag myself out of bed by 6:15 today. I imagine it will get easier, but how much of that will be ‘getting used to’ the schedule? How much of it will be eating right? Perhaps time will tell. Until then, I could go for a banana…

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My Budget Shopping List Staples

I think everyone has their own list of ‘staple’ foods to keep in the house. It’s largely based on what you’re into, what you like to eat, and what you can afford. There probably is, somewhere, a staple list that includes “Bread and Milk”, and that’s the long and short of it. But what about those who are lactose intolerant? Gluten intolerant? People who are cutting out HFCS?

My “Pantry Staples” list is constantly evolving, especially since I’ve been trying to eat more healthily. Originally, a loaf of bread was on my list. Since I started looking more closely at food labels, though, I’ve had to cut that off. Bakery bread is too expensive, and the wonderbread you get on the shelf generally contains as much preservatives as wheat. I’ve had to find alternatives, and it’s difficult on a budget, but I won’t compromise my health for my wallet.

It IS possible to eat healthily on a budget. They key is moderation, and know where you can spend your money and where to cut back. My staples diet list right now includes the following items:

Pasta. I know that overindulgence in grains is bad for you, but  since this is one of the cheaper bulks you can get, I feel justified in merely watching my intake. I keep an eye on the sales, and when the Barilla Plus or the Ronzoni Smart Taste pastas go on sale, I snag two or three boxes. For years, my “serving” of pasta consisted of 1/3-1/2 of a box thrown in a huge pot of water, then mixed with whatever was on hand. It took a lot of self-control and time to get to the point where one actual serving-size of pasta satisfied me, but I manage it, largely by pairing it with plenty of vegetables.

Speaking of vegetables, the next thing on my list is bags of frozen veggies. As a  fairly loyal Meijer shopper, I can only speak to their selection, but they have a decent variety of store-brand frozen vegetable mixes that pair well with my pasta, or with chicken, potatoes, eggplant Parmesan, or whatever else strikes your fancy. I stay away from their broccoli cuts, because experience tells me they aren’t that good, but their “Mexican” and “Parisian” blends are tasty and versatile.

Fresh veggies are also essential. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and, if on sale, bell peppers of all colors. Tomato, I do many things with. I could post entirely about the wonders of my favorite fruit/veggie magician, but suffice to say for now that, with the help of the cucumber and some hummus, tomato sammiches are amazing. Bell peppers chop up and freeze well to go into stir-fry and other amazing dishes.

Cheese is another thing that makes person-specific appearances. I have to have a bag of fancy shredded cheddar, and a block of pepper jack in my fridge almost at all times. I put it on pasta, potatoes, nachoes, crackers, in dips, and so on. I used to douse everything in cheese, but I’ve since learned that the one-ounce serving size works just as well for flavoring and adding some nutrients to my food. I buy full-fat cheese, except for mozzarella, because it’s like a seasoning, and I will be darned if I deprive myself of its whole deliciousness.

There are obviously a lot more things to my pantry than these, but in a pinch, if I can’t afford anything else, I make sure that’s what I have, because those are the things I never tire of eating. I’ve learned that is the key to being able to hold out on a little money. You COULD survive on Ramen, but if you get sick of it,you really are just surviving, instead of living. Instead, find some things that are inexpensive, that you can sustain on for a long time, and you’re good.

Rome Wasn’t Cleaned In A Day…?

I will be the first to admit that occasionally, I’m kind of a slob. My single-teenage-girl’s bedroom was almost always messier than my two-adolescent-brother’s shared bedroom ever was. I’m not dirty, exactly, I just don’t like putting stuff away, when the floor is so much closer!

However, when I moved into an actual apartment for the first time, with a kitchen and laundry room and separate bed-and-living rooms, with my own private bathroom and a whole real pantry, I felt kind of like hot stuff. And I kept most of that mess clean.

…For all of a week.

For me, the urge to have things tidy and orderly is passing, and while I occasionally go on spring-cleaning-scale rampages, in the meantime the mess can start to get out of hand. So, as part of my New-Month’s-Resolutions (I’m aware it’s past mid-month anyway), I’m going to work on cleaning again. It’s not as if I have an excuse. School dosen’t start for another 5 weeks, and since I only work 6 hours a day on average, it’s not like I don’t have time.

The biggest issue for me, is breaking it into manageable chunks. I don’t like working for hours on end, only to realize that i’ve technically only crossed one thing off my list. It’s a little bit of a mind-trick, but when you put: “Sort Clothes, Wash/Dry Clothes, and Fold/Hang-up Clothes” on your list, instead of “Do Laundry”, you feel a little better being able to check off the steps, showing progress, instead of having to wait three hours to check one little box.

Everyone has a lot of the same basic tasks. Laundry, Cleaning, Preparing for upcoming events and obligations, and so on. I just mentioned how I like to break down laundry, but my mother goes a step further: She makes a grid of check boxes for five loads of wash, dry, and put-away, that way she can track her progress throughout the day as she slogs through piles of my brother’s football jerseys and dad’s three changes of clothes for work, relaxing, and chores.

Speaking of chores, there’s plenty of other things that can be broken down into parts. Cleaning can break down, not only into categories like “pick up papers” and “sweep/vacuum”, but even further down into “clean sink, clean toilet, mop floor, replenish toilet paper” for a bathroom.

Writing down all the single steps to a task helps keep me on track when I’m not really wanting to clean, and it helps keep me focused when I go on cleaning rampages, because otherwise I’d have half the house clean–in tiny spots that get quickly overwhelmed!

I think, when I get home today, I will sort, launder, and put away the backlog of clothes I have waiting for me, before putting my muffin mixes in order, gathering my spices into one spot, and stacking my canned soup so I can wash the counter, do a sinkful of dishes, and wipe out the microwave. That’s nine whole things I can accomplish tonight!

A Little Pampering Goes A Long Way

I’m all about the luxurious life. Unfortunately, my wallet isn’t. So I’ve gotten along with ways to pamper myself without spending oodles of money. Sometimes, it’s little extravagances, like caving to my Starbucks cravings, or buying a fuzzy new pair of socks, but usually it’s more along the lines of a hot cup of tea and some cheesy Harry Potter fanfiction by candlelight. (Don’t judge me!)

A few months ago, at the beginning of Spring, the thrift store I visit on an almost weekly basis had an extra sale on robes. I picked up a gorgeous white sweatshirt-material knee-length zip-up hooded mess of comfy for three bucks, and that has become my default “Aaaaaahhhhhh” robe. Our apartment isn’t terribly fancy, and most of our candle holders are from the dollar store or thrift shops (there are a blessed ton of them in the area), but lighting them all up, pulling out my actual teapot, and nibbling on some shortbread cookies while reading blasphemous romances online is an unmatched luxury.

When you’ve not got much to go on, it’s the little things that count:

  1. Have a special kind of tea (or coffee, or hot cocoa, or whatever) that you ONLY drink when you’re feeling hedonistic and decadent. My luxury tea of choice is an organic white tea and peppermint blend that I picked up for two dollars at a Big Lots. Since I usually just drink a Lipton or Bigelow green tea, it feels utterly extravagant, regardless of the original price.
  2. Splurge on cookies once in a while. Again, my BFF Big Lots had a sale the other day, and the Pepperidge Farms Pirouette cookies–the long, round wafer sticks with creme inside–were $2 for a canister. Normally, they’re in the realm of $5-$6, so I felt quite giddy picking them up and taking them home to hoard for a few weeks, nibbling on one or two a day with my morning coffee, or my evening tea.
  3. Take a half hour to be lazy sometime. just utterly lazy. Eat something, and just leave the plate somewhere for a bit. Flop on your bed and stare at the clock for five minutes before rolling over and doing something pointless. Play Tetris or Flood-It on your phone. You can tidy back up and everything once your half hour of lazy is finished.
  4. Take a cup of plain, instant oatmeal, put it in a blender or food processor until it’s just dust. Then, draw a bath, pour the oatmeal in, and take a soothing, relaxing bath, with candles and music–the whole shebang. (Men, too! You can be pampered just as well as us ladies.)
  5. Pick a night, and make an appointment with yourself to cook an extravagant three-course meal. Make a soup and salad, a main dish, a few sides, and a dessert. The best part about doing this as a single person, or just as a couple, is the leftovers! Mix and match the soup and sides later, or the main dish and salad, or soup and dessert…! Take it with you to work for lunch, or have “Fancy Dinner Part II” the next evening.

I hope there’s something here that strikes your fancy. Let me know what other things you do to feel rich in today’s economy, I’m always looking for new things to try!