Goals

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Isn’t it funny how we always wait to start something? Diets can’t start except on a Monday. We have to wait till New Year’s for our resolutions.

And then what happens? We lazy, eat, whatever as hard as we can and then try to become whole new people overnight, all at once, on a new blank slate of promise.

Thing is, every day is a blank slate. Shoot, every hour can be a blank slate. I didn’t wait until a Monday to start Couch to 5K. I just jumped up and did it on a Tuesday afternoon. I started Weight Watchers midweek, in early April. Both of these endeavors were far more successful than the Monday diets and workouts.

That said, it’s still a good time to take stock (but notice that I’m doing so not on January 1st. Too much pressure!). If you feel like you’ve “blown” your resolution, whatever it is, just dust yourself off. Now’s as good a time as any. In fact, now is the best time to do something.

So…on to the non-resolutions. Some pretty good ideas. They aren’t all super measurable, but I figure I’ll work on one at a time, building some positive habits (a la Flylady and every other program of any kind that works worth a damn).

1. Write more. I’m trying to carve out 15 minutes a day, whether for the blog, the magazine, or just to run my mouth, brain, and fingers outside work. I started this just after Christmas and I hope to keep it up.

2. Declutter. I’ve worked on it steadily this year, but there is so. much. crap. in. this. house. And the basement. And in storage…

3. Pay down dem bills. I want to work toward financial independence a lot harder this year. It’s been on the list for awhile, and Your Money or Your Life has been helpful in putting this goal into perspective.

4. Unplug. I spend a lot more time online than I ever have, and I enjoy it. However, downtime is good for the brain, the shoulders, the wrists, and the soul.

5. Run 500 miles. If I get injured I’ll amend this with walking/swimming.

6. Take on new cooking challenges. I’d like to try my hand at macaron (and buy a food scale!).

7. Take more shitty photos. I bought at tripod for the occasion!

8. Double Drawl’s readership.

9. Travel the US again.

10. Get my damn passport.

11. Drag Mr. B to dance lessons.

12. Get out more.

13. See more people.

14. Send handwritten notes.

15. Meditate and relax.

16. Be less wasteful. I’m hoping the freezer that will arrive in the next few days will help with that.

Breakfast Casserole

I love casserole, and I love breakfast. However, I don’t function well in the mornings. This breakfast casserole can be prepped when you’re half asleep or it can be put together the night before and stuck in the oven. You can also alter it for vegetarians and the like.

Every Christmas morning, we have “Night Before” Breakfast casserole, which is what I based this casserole on. However, that casserole is built on a foundation of white sandwich bread. I’m trying to cut as much wheat out as I can without sacrificing occasional cake, so I subbed hash browns and was delighted with the final product.

Ingredients

1 lb hot pork sausage (vegetarian will work here as well)

tsp. olive oil

1 bag refrigerated hash browns (if you are not as lazy as I am, shred a couple of peeled russets)

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 small can green chiles (larger can if you love em!)

4 eggs

1/2 c. egg whites (I keep a carton in the fridge to mix in with breakfast eggs — economical and healthy)

1/2 c. milk of choice (cream or evaporated milk if you’re feeling decadent)

a few shakes dried sage

a few shakes white pepper

salt and freshly ground pepper

red pepper flake to taste if you like it hot

1-2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese (know your audience)

Procedure

Crumble and cook sausage until browned. Meanwhile, in a nonstick (or very well seasoned) pan, heat a little olive oil. Add the onion and hashbrowns and stir, then leave a few minutes to brown over medium heat. Turn to lightly brown on the other side. They don’t have to cook through since they’ll go in the oven. Mix in green chiles.

Preheat oven to 350.

Drain sausage on paper towels and set aside.

Whisk together eggs, whites, and milk with spices.

Spread hashbrown mixture evenly in 9×13 dish. Top with sausage and cheese. Pour egg mixture over all and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another five minutes or so, until the top isn’t wet and it looks delicious.

Serve with fruit, coffee cake, or something else sweet on the side. Reheats great. Perfect for tailgating, brunch, lunch, dinner… you name it. This is also a great recipe to tweak. Swap in black beans for sausage, salsa for chiles, jack for cheddar… the possibilities are only limited by your imagination! You can also halve or quarter this recipe, though I’ve seen two people eat the half size casserole in minutes. If you want leftovers, go big.

Eating Season

We are coming out of eating season.

I can eat pretty well from April through August. Then things get sticky.

For us, the kickoff is the Greek Festival in September. It is a reminder that within a couple weeks our pants will be tight, so we need to ramp up our workouts and vegetable intake.

The season hits full swing with my birthday, followed by the State Fair, which we typically visit at least three times, shoving fried cheese and cinnamon rolls in our gaping maws. On the heels of the fair come my mother’s and Mr. B’s birthdays, which bookend Halloween. Then we have a brief lull, during which we mainline the leftover Halloween candy and I test recipes for Drawl’s holiday issues. Then Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Year’s, then the back to work January slog when no one can bring themselves to stop cleaning out the fridge and freezer of its leftovers with one’s face.

I was a little worried at the beginning of Eating Season this year. I was down ten pounds from this time last year, and last year I was ten pounds down from the year before. I do tend to drop a little weight when I go back to full time teaching in August, but this year I’ve changed my workouts and some of my habits, and the drop has been more significant.

I decided not to worry.

I did okay with my eating and I ran at least once a week, twice most weeks, sometimes thrice. I made sure I got seven hours of sleep each night. I tried to drink at least two liters of water a day. I weighed myself almost every day just to keep tabs on the damage. I didn’t get too bent out of shape about the numbers, though I was cautious when I returned from a trip to Vegas and had a five pound spike.

As Christmas crept closer, I got busier at work. A few times I caught myself ravenous late in the day, realizing I’d missed a meal or even two. Over the holidays I found myself with a growling stomach after bedtime, having done so much running around I’d just burned through whatever I’d eaten.

I’ve never been one to forget to eat. Something has clearly shifted. Even as I worked to change eating habits over the last few years, at times my focus on food grew even more intense. For whatever reason, it’s not the same. I’m not depriving myself or even dieting, but I’m finding food just isn’t as big a deal for some reason.

Don’t get me wrong; I just kicked back a slice of eggnog cake with a cocktail chaser. I’m not being a health nut, and I know this fooditude adjustment may be only temporary. Now that I’ve put it in writing, I’m liable to wake up tomorrow obsessing over pancakes and spending the next week on a bender out of the blue.

Two weeks ago I canceled my Weight Watchers membership. The program was good for me for a long time and helped me develop some healthy habits, but I’ve found that the tracking I’ve needed this year has been to keep my nutrition at a good level, not just to manage calories. If diet management again becomes a problem, I can always rejoin. Many people I know (including myself!) have had huge success with it; it’s just not for me right now.

At any rate, I stepped on the scale yesterday after a few days away to survey the holiday damage. I actually lost a wee bit of weight.

After a week off for holidays and minor illness, I’ll be back on the trail to run in a couple days. I stocked up the kitchen with fruit and vegetables for my first day back at work from our break. Here’s hoping that I’ve broken a cycle (but I’ll still stay very aware!).

Feeling so FLY

In my last post I alluded to working on tasks for 15 minutes at a time. I picked this up from FlyLady. FlyLady is a free site that basically helps you clean your house and be productive.

I cleaned houses for a living for many years. It’s not that I don’t know how to clean, but rather more that I’m exhausted and it seems I don’t have time to get my cleaning done.

I use “seems” because the lesson I’ve learned (and the lesson FlyLady teaches) is that we all have time; it’s generally our perfection that gets in the way. We feel we don’t have time to complete the whole task, so we don’t even start.

It had never occurred to me that perfection was part of my procrastination. I thought I was just lazy.

Thing is, I’m NOT lazy. I get stuff done. I get LOTS of stuff done. I just do it in a cluttered, disorganized environment.

If you check out Flylady, I recommend getting the daily email digest. Rather than get a bunch of emails a day or have to go to the site repeatedly, you can get your daily reminders of what you need to do as well as some testimonials from those who have been helped by the program and/or Flylady’s tools (she sells some excellent cleaning products through the site).

Essentially, the first step is shining your sink. It seems ridiculous, but completing this one simple task is often the motivation people need to get moving. Another key to the program is working in short spells using a timer to avoid burnout. Many of us suffer from all or nothing, crash and burn modes of thinking. Her program puts a stop to that mindset.There’s a short daily list of to-dos (get dressed, tidy bathroom, etc.) and a daily mission in the week’s  zone as well as urges to declutter from 2-15 minutes.

While this program is helping me get my house, life, and office in order, it’s done much more for many. I am 100% positive her system has actually saved the lives of people suffering from severe, chronic depression.

That said, if you need any help overcoming procrastination, disorganization, or just want to get a good start for the new year, I can’t recommend her site enough. No one’s paying me to say this — it’s legitimately my experience.

Check her out and feel better. She’s one of us (formerly disorganized SHE — Sidetracked Home Executive), so she knows how to help.

Also, I know many of us are embarking on resolutions and trying to make ourselves over. Please remember, every action can be a clean slate. Don’t toss a week, month, or afternoon down the tubes. Hell, you can start a day over in the evening and try again. Don’t throw in the towel unless you need to wash it and are getting a clean one from the closet.