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Enjoying The Simple Pleasures In Life

31 May

My husband and I always have conversations about saving and spending money. It is one of those conversations that literally sounds like nails on a chalk board to me. He is usually the one talking and I am usually the one nodding my head, pretending to listen. Sure, I understand that we need to save money to buy the house that we both want and to pay off our massive student loan debt. I get it. And usually I agree that I can cut out some of my spending on needless things (like the pair of pants I will only wear one time or the heels I can only wear out to really nice restaurants). What I don’t agree with is cutting down on those simple pleasures in life that make us all happy. The latte from Starbucks, the book from Barnes & Noble, the $40 dinner with good friends, the trip to the nail salon. I have heard so many people say that they have cut out their Starbucks addiction in an effort to try to save a little money. My response is always the same. Why? Why cut out the one thing that really makes you happy? Why force yourself to save that extra $5?

While my thoughts may seem outrageous to some of you, author Laura Vanderkam agrees with me in her book All The Money In The World: What The Happiest People Know About Getting And Spending. Like me, Vanderkam agrees that you should buy that Latte because it is the small pleasures in life that matter most. According to Vanderkam, “small, repeated pleasures . . . are the bread and butter of human happiness. In an interview with Forbes, Vanderkam states, “the problem with giving up those simple pleasures is that it requires you to exercise self-discipline every single day. “The question is whether you want to be exercising self-discipline every morning as you pass by Starbucks or if you’d like to use it for something more important in life – for instance, in your job or in your interactions with your family.” I don’t know about you, but I would rather use self-discipline at work and home than on those things that make me happy when my work life and home life frustrate me.

Ok, so you are probably wondering how you save money if you are always indulging in your favorites simple pleasures. Just as I said above, saving that extra $5 a day really won’t break the bank as much as purchasing a Mercedes that requires you to pay $500+ a month or purchasing a house that makes you live paycheck to paycheck. I guess it depends on who you are and what makes you happy, but for me driving around a Mercedes ranks lower on my list of pleasures than other things.

What are your favorite simple pleasures in life? Mine are as follows (ranked in order of importance):

  • Buying a good book on my Kindle Fire
  • Eating dinner out with my husband
  • Enjoying a night out on the town with friends
  • Enjoying a nice bottle of wine or my favorite beer (Shocktop)
  • Getting my nails done

While I do allow myself to enjoy my favorite simple pleasures, there are some limits. Obviously I don’t go get my nails done every week (that would be expensive). Usually I go about once a month. So there is some restraint, but at the end of the day if I want to go get them done I don’t hesitate.

Do you agree that we should all be enjoying our favorite simple pleasures more often?

Eating Clean At Work

20 Apr

My husband and I recently hired a personal trainer to whip out butts into shape. While we are by no means fat or unhealthy, we could both use some toning up. While our goals are slightly different (my husband wanting a more defined chest and me wanting lean muscles) we both have one common goal in mind: Eating Clean.

I first heard about this concept from my mom, who is crazy when it comes to exercising and eating right. I used to think she was crazy when she talked about eating clean and doing cleanses, but over the years I have come to realize that my weekly workouts are completely defeated when I eat horribly bad foods and drink to excess on the weekends. So my husband and I have committed to take on the eating clean lifestyle and everything that comes with it.

What is eating clean? Basically eating clean is eating whole, natural foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and complex carbs. This also means cutting out foods with refined sugar (diet coke), preservatives (all those frozen and canned meals), bad fats (hydrogenated, trans-fat), white bread, and any other ingredient that you cannot pronounce (which is in a LOT of the foods I used to eat). Eating clean also means packing healthy meals for work, eating healthy when you go out to restaurants, cutting out alcohol (or seriously limiting it), eating 5-6 small meals a day, and ALWAYS eating breakfast.

Now that I have incorporated the eating clean habits into my life, I have started to get worried about how I will handle all of the pressures to maintain these eating habits while at work. This past Tuesday we went out to lunch to celebrate one of my good friends and co-worker’s birthdays. She wanted to go to Mexican, which is probably my favorite type of food. While the others sat there eating chips, I used all of my will power not to eat any. I was very proud of myself. This was definitely my first very big accomplishment. Before I would tell myself that having a handful of chips wouldn’t hurt, but the truth is that it does.

One of my co-workers also eats clean, and I have found that talking to her definitely helps. We exchange ideas on what to eat and encourage each other.  She also warned me that people often try to make you cheat with your meals because they feel uncomfortable when they are eating bad and you are not. So, I have been thinking long and hard about how I am going to overcome those pressures to make sure that I stick to my lifestyle change (not my diet!).

Here are some tips for eating clean at work that I plan to use:

Don’t Succumb To Peer Pressure

If you have incorporated eating clean into your diet, it is important to always keep your goals in the back of your mind. When you are tempted to have some chips at Mexican, pasta at Italian, or any other bad meal remember what you are trying to accomplish. Think about it this way, if there are 365 days in a year, roughly 260 of those days are work days. If you allow your co-workers to peer pressure you into eating bad, you are spending 2/3 of those days in the year compromising your diet. Obviously this will drastically limit your progress.

Pack Your Lunch Ahead of Time

Prior to my decision to eat clean, I always forgot to pack my lunch the night before. Being that I like to sleep in to the very last-minute, this always resulted in me deciding to grab something downstairs from the salad bar. I was thinking that salad isn’t that bad. And while it isn’t, just because you are eating salad doesn’t mean you are eating healthy. Ranch. Dried fruits. Preservatives. Yuck.

This past week my husband and I pre-made all of our food on the weekend. This means that we grilled all of the chicken we were going to eat, I made the brown rice and veggies, and we packaged them up. This made it a lot easier to just pack everything up the night before to make sure that we ate healthy at work. Sure, eating chicken at lunch can get boring, but you can change-up the seasoning (no salt seasoning) and can put hot sauce or the like on it (low-sodium). I have found that I am content with my eating, especially since I am eating every 3 hours. To tell you the truth, I have never felt better!

If Your Travel, Make Sure Your Room Has a Microwave

A lot of people feel that it  is hard to eat healthy when they travel for work, but the truth is that you can eat exactly the same way if you pack your food (or shop when you get there) and cook it in the microwave. Sure, you may have to go out to dinner with a client or co-workers, but there are always healthy options on the menu. Rather than choosing a burger like everyone else, choose a piece of lean fish with a veggie. Ask the server how they season the food and ask them to change it if it sounds like too much salt. Here is some great advice for eating clean while you travel from the Oxygen Blog.

At the end of the day, when the going gets tough, remember that you get back exactly what you put in. Sure, you may have a desk-job, but that doesn’t mean you cannot eat clean. If you bring healthy snacks (no-salt almonds, protein shakes, fruit, veggies) then you should not be hungry while you work. If people tell you that you are crazy, ignore them and feel sorry that they have not discovered the eating clean lifestyle.

If you find yourself needing some extra motivation, here are some good blogs I have found. Look at these on your five minute breaks and feel better about the choice you have made:

How do you eat clean at work?

There is Always Time to Workout

10 Jan

Photo from exerciseeveryday.blogspot.comThere are so many people out there who complain about not having time to workout. It’s either the work, or the kids and work, or the drive, or some other excuse. Sometimes I am one of those people making excuses, but usually I make them because I am simply not motivated to work out. If you were motivated to workout you would find time because there is ALWAYS time to workout. Yes, getting up before the sun comes out to go sweat it out on the treadmill does not sound fun, but working out at seven p.m. after you have just sat in an hour of traffic doesn’t sound so fun either, right? Right.

If you are committed to getting at least five workouts in a week, there are a lot of options available to you. If you are a morning person pack your workout bag the night before and take your work clothes with you so that you can shower and get ready right after your workout. If you don’t get your workout bag and your work clothes together the night before, chances are that you won’t go to the gym. If you are not a gym person like me, then look into exercise programs that you can do either before or after work. My husband and I are really into the Beachbody workouts. We recently purchased the new P90X2 program with Tony Horton. These exercises, while challenging, make for a good morning workout right in the comfort of your own home. But again, I would suggest getting your workout clothes together the night before. I would also suggest that you go to bed saying, “I am going to workout tomorrow morning,” not “I’ll see how I feel when I wake up.” I know from personal experience that “seeing how I feel” means that I won’t get up. If you put it in your mind that you are going to workout, then you will do it.

If you find that you are tired before your morning workout or your evening workout, it may be good for you to take some supplements to get your blood pumping and your energy flowing. I usually eat 4 of the Gu Chomps Pure Performance Energy Chews.

You can get them at any local sporting store, like Dicks. If you really need the energy and are doing more than an hour of working out, you may want to take the entire pack. The Gu Chomps have some with energy (or even 2x energy) and some with no energy. I would try the no energy first just to see how your body reacts. I have found that after a long day of working, these Gu Chomps really help give me that extra bit of motivation. If you prefer more of a liquid gu, then try just the gu packets instead of the chomps.

If you are looking for some extra motivation, try joining a boot camp class, a triathlon club, or a running club. Workout with people is the best and easiest way to stay motivated. If you can’t workout in the morning or in the evening because you have odd work hours, then take a workout bag with you and workout on your lunch break.

At the end of the day it would be much easier to either sleep in later or plop right down on the sofa when we get home from work. But if you want to feel better about yourself and have more energy throughout the day, working out is key. Remember that there is always time to workout and excuses are for lazy people! So get out there and get your sweat on.

What workouts do you do to stay motivated?