Assignment No. 20: Skip the MEAT.

OCT 15-NOV 14…Skip the MEAT. Beef – it’s not for dinner.

Beginning today, I start a new assignment to go meat free for the next 30 days. I recently discovered that the food service at my son’s school actually encourages students to choose a meatless option on Mondays something that got me thinking. It also brought back some old memories of growing up where I was first introduced to the book Diet for a Small Planet. This 1971 book shed light on meat production and its impact on hunger. It also included hundreds of meat-free recipes. Unfortunately, I don’t recall any of these meals fondly. Accordingly, I do not plan on resurrecting any of the recipes from this book, but I will make a good effort to eat my veggies. It’s Biblical after all. You probably remember how Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were actually healthier after eating a vegetable only diet. I’m not sure what I’ll do with fish, though. Your thoughts are welcome!

Assignment No. 16: PUSH-UP app.

AUG 15-SEPT 14… PUSH-UP app. Is it too late to win that Presidential Fitness Award that I never earned back in grade school?

The beauty of a smartphone is that it can do almost anything for you – including coaching you to build up your abilities to do push ups! If I had owned this phone back in 5th grade, Mrs. Romine might have been more pleased with my performance during P.E. class. With a barrel of Bengay at the ready, I’ll be pushing my physical limits this month as I see how many consecutive push-ups I can do by month end. Someone please tell me I’m not the only one that didn’t enjoy dressing out for gym class!

Update: Sept 3 —  I’ve abandoned the smartphone app – it wasn’t as smart as I thought.  And… the first day just about did me in.  I’m doing my own regimen and am happy to report I’m up to 53 push-ups at one time. Now that’s progress!

Assignment No. 15: Skip the CAFFEINE.

AUG 1-31… Skip the CAFFEINE. Ummm, can we talk about this one?

Coffee isn’t bad, is it? So why when I went to the doctor’s office did the patient questionnaire ask about smoking and illicit drug use, as well as coffee consumption. Really? They put those three things in the same category? I do like the fact that my Keurig starts itself up in the morning and that I have another Keurig waiting for me at the office. But, that’s not an addiction is it? I guess the addict really never knows. I don’t drink soda, so for this assignment it looks like I’ll be clearing my head by banning coffee and iced tea for the next 30 days. I’m predicting a bad headache for the first few days, so if you see me, thanks for speaking quietly.

PROGRESS: keeping it simple

One egg topped with salsa, toast on the side. Just right!

My current assignments are “essentials only purchasing” and “one cup meals.”  I think I’ve pretty well decided that my normal m.o. must be essential only purchasing.  A common luxury is the occasional cup of coffee – I’ve skipped several and I decided to buy one last Saturday when I had to make an early morning drive to Springfield, IL for a trustee meeting.    I’m out of K-cups for my coffee maker at home but have a good stash of whole bean coffee that I’ve been grinding each morning.  I ran out of contact lens solution but haven’t minded sporting my glasses for a few days.  And I was certainly tempted for a bit (but resisted) to take advantage of a super Lands End sale (it’s the only place to buy tall shirts that aren’t BIG and tall).  But, for the most part I’ve lived a pretty satisfied “essential only” existence.

The one cup meal plan has been aided by my family to the point that when I sat down to dinner tonight and thought my bowl of pasta looked a little big, I was assured by everyone else in the house that it was exactly one cup.  Sure enough – the used measuring cup was on the counter.  Good sports, my loving family.

Breakfasts are easiest since I’m preparing them at home.  I’m taking my brother’s advice and have gone for a cup of oatmeal several mornings garnished with some raisins.  Other days’ breakfasts are comprised of an egg, or egg and toast, or a cup of cereal. Note to self: Rice Krispies didn’t do much to help me get through the morning. For tomorrow’s breakfast I’m going with Chobani Yogurt and Bear Naked granola — something new to keep things interesting.  I’ve been wanting to try Greek yogurt anyway.

Warning: One cup of Rice Krispies will not get you to lunch!

Lunch during the week usually looks like a cup of leftovers or a half sandwich and a piece of fruit.  Someone in the office asked me if I was having a snack the other day as I was enjoying my right-sized lunch. I’ve also taken a small stash of peanuts or a small orange or apple for an afternoon tie-me-over snack and that seems to get me from noon to 6 pm.

When we go out to eat things are little bit more challenging.  To avoid looking like a complete nut case, you just have to estimate and hunt for a reasonable size portion!  Fortunately, some of the restaurants we’ve recently patronized are offering low price, smaller serving specials.  Perfect!  Pei Wei had a special for $6.25 that landed me a cup of soup and a smallish portion of rice and shrimp.  I decided I’d give myself a freebie on the soup – mostly broth anyway – and enjoyed half of the remaining dish.  The other half was enjoyed the next day.  If the owners of PF Chang are listening, we once again decided that someone should open a Pei Wei on our side of the river!

Sunday after church we enjoyed lunch at Bandana’s.  While my goal wasn’t to spend only $4.59 for lunch, it was a great way to get a right sized portion.  Two sides dishes and 3 oz of pulled pork was actually quite satisfying.  The only thing I knew wasn’t possibly part of the one cup plan was a massive slab of bread that came on the plate.  It went home all wrapped up in a napkin (a skilled learned from Mom who has perfected the art of carryout).  The only downside was when the server brought our order to the table and announced the “BUDGET BUSTER PULLED PORK PLATE.”  At least it seemed like she was screaming it.  On the upside, I guess I would have really been in trouble had I ordered a kid’s meal… 😉

Overall, I feel pretty good about the assignment. I’ve managed to eat pretty well even in small quantities.  I’ve even dropped 3 or 4 pounds which is a nice side benefit.

Assignments of the past have recently revisited me as well:

Assignment No. 1:  While at Starbucks at the Hyatt the other morning for a coffee business meeting a man approached me and the two others with me, apologized for approaching us in Starbuck’s but needed money for food.  I guess he figured that someone at a Starbucks would probably have some money and someone at a Starbucks in a Hyatt hotel would certainly have something to spare.  He was right.  But, being suprised in the middle of a discussion, I realized later that I had forgotten to ask his name.

Assignment No. 6:  I’ve pretty much kept to the skip the sweets assignment without too much effort or thought.  I’ve had a little something here and there but for the most part have just avoided most sweets just by second nature.  Interesting how that works…

Assignment No. 4:  Unfortunately, I’ve been way too busy lately and haven’t taken the time for leisure reading.  I had free time tonight, but decided to blog instead while watching the Cards-Cubs game. Still a good choice.

Thanks for reading!

Assignment No. 8: ONE CUP diet.

APR 15-MAY 14…ONE CUP diet. Know when to say when.

Super Size Me is a 2004 American documentary film directed by and starring Morgan Spurlock, an American independent filmmaker. Spurlock’s film follows a 30-day period from February 1 to March 2, 2003 during which he eats only McDonald’s food. The film documents this lifestyle’s drastic effect on Spurlock’s physical and psychological well-being. Spurlock dined at McDonald’s three times per day, eating every item on the menu. As a result, Spurlock gained 24½ lbs. I’m not a fan of McDonald’s so what if I tried the one cup diet for 30 days instead? Rather than consume empty calories, I figure that I will need to focus on foods with high nutrition value. My plan is to limit my daily intake to 3 cups of great food choices supplemented with additional servings of water, tea/coffee or skim milk. I’ll think I will also need a piece of fresh fruit between meals. What one-cup meals would you recommend to help me complete my assignment?

Assignment No. 6: Skip the SWEETS

MAR 15-APR 14…Skip the SWEETS. A cookie here, a piece of cheesecake there. Before long these calories really add up!

I never realized that some of my favorite restaurants served up so much decadence in a dish. That’s right it looks like some of my favorites like Macaroni Grill, Applebee’s and P.F. Chang’s made the Daily Beast’s list of 40 Desserts That Can Kill You. Who knew? Thank goodness this assignment was given after my birthday. It would be pretty rude to turn down the birthday cake that someone else baked for you, right? Time to get serious, folks. I need your best ideas on how to make this assignment work. I think it’s going to be tough!