The One Where Magpie Hates Healthy Eating

caprese pesto chicken

So one of my biggest goals for this month is a total ban on take-out and fast food. Over the last couple years as I’ve added job after job, my eating habits have basically found themselves going right down the toilet. Whatever was quick, easy, and convenient was what was on the menu. I drive past Dunkin’ on this day, the Thai place is right around the corner from where I work this day, etc… etc… My location determined my meal.

Which sucks for a variety of reasons. The biggest being, of course, that my wallet AND my waistline both take issue with the habit. My waistline has continued to expand as my wallet deflates. And the waistline thing wouldn’t even be that big of a deal (I’m still on the “skinnyish” side of national averages) if it wasn’t so interconnected with my wallet.

See, new clothes in a new size cost money.

Money that I don’t have because I’ve been mostly spending it on take-out and fast food because I work too much to cook because I don’t have enough money.

So you see the problem here.

So for May I’ve decided to cut take-out and fast food all together.

No more. And no more super duper processed food either – at least when I can manage it. Lots of fresh, lots of fruits and veggies, and lots of water.

And guys? Can I be honest here?

This seriously sucks.

soup starter

Like, I know that it’s better for me? I know it’s saving me mega money? I know that eating salads, and chicken, and fresh food is way healthier than the way I’ve been operating lately? I know that the internet gives me access to all sorts of fun, exciting, healthy recipes so that it doesn’t have to be boring? But like, all I want is a damned bowl of Kraft Mac and Cheese. Topped with more cheese. And salty nutrition-free ramen. Maybe a big plate of take-out Pad Thai. And a dessert of a whole sleeve of shortbread cookies.

Ugh.

And the kicker is? Eating better isn’t even as hard as I’ve been telling myself all these years. Some careful planning and a couple of good fridge storage containers and I can have enough meals for the week in under two hours. So I can’t even use “It’s too hard and takes too much time” as an excuse anymore. And that almost makes me MORE miserable about this whole thing.

And I know this is a SUPER privileged first world problem kind of thing to be bitching about. I know it is. I also know that these kind of habit changes are a process. Results aren’t immediate and a habit – particularly one that can have addictive aspects to it like this – doesn’t change overnight.

But I also feel like it’s important to be honest. Because I have to admit, when I first started this quest to eat better, I felt like a massive failure for not liking it. For not feeling better. For not loving my meals. For not being able to enjoy eating a salad in the same way that I loooovvvveeee eating mac and cheese. I still feel like that 80% of the time, actually.

Because there’s so much noise coming in from the social media world telling me that this shouldn’t be the case. That I shouldn’t hate this. That I’m wrong if I don’t feel better and happier when I clean up my eating habits. That a healthy diet and exercise are the key to a contented life. And it may not be directly or intentionally, but social media – Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook – they’re filled with health and fitness gurus and inspo that tout how much happier being healthy will make you. You’ll feel so much better! And it’s sooooo easy too! Look, these healthy meals taste so good, you won’t even miss your old diet anymore!

But I do. Oh my goodness, I do.

And I guess that’s the crux of it. I guess I just want to throw that out there into the universe. That this isn’t easy for everyone. And it’s okay for it not to be easy. Everyone keeps telling me that it’ll get easier as the habit change becomes permanent. That my palate will change along with my diet. That I’ll stop craving super processed and fatty foods, and grow to prefer these healthier options. Social media puts this glossy sheen over everything, promising ease and health and pep. That the struggle – when it’s actually acknowledged in a direct way – is super totally worth it, and that in retrospect this’ll seem super easy.

But it’s not.

So far it’s just been hard.

And that’s okay.

And I think admitting that this is hard, and enduring anyway? I think that’s the first step to making real change.

So let’s see how this goes.

salad

March: The Good, The Bad, And the Goals.

As part of my plan for getting more consistent around here, I’ve decided to make it my goal to post a wrap-up of each month – this way I can sort of look at each month in review, identify what I accomplished and what needs improvement. I feel like it’s also going to be nice to have a handy list of what I’ve accomplished for myself (in addition to everything I know I’ve gotten done for work) over the last month. Hopefully it’ll be a handy guard against my anxiety creeping in and telling me I’m unproductive and lazy.

Now the shape this post takes may change as the year goes on, and as – hopefully – I get back in the habit of consistently posting on here. But for now, here we go!

THE GOOD

Sketchbook

1) Started drawing more frequently.

This has been on my goal list for years. I used to love drawing, and it’s nice to get back into the habit of doodling when I have some down time. On the flip side, it also means I want an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil to play with SO BADLY now. And uhhh financially that’s just not going to happen.

Totoro mittens in progress

2) Finished one of my Totoro Mittens.

1 down, 1 to go. All I’ve got left is the thumb. Let’s DO this.

3) Read 1 Book for funsies (Review coming soon).

I finally finished Lirael, after sort of letting it linger half-finshed for a couple weeks. Review pending.

Undertow-Shawlette

4) Made progress on my Undertow Shawlette.

This too has been on the needles for years and I need to be done with it.

5) Spring Cleaned the Living Room.

The amount of cat hair I pulled up when I vacuumed the cat tree was truly horrifying.

one pot pasta

6) Cooked 60% of my meals at home over the last month.

I’m hoping this has saved me some moolah over the course of the month – because I’m going to need it.

CSI_Crime_Scene_Investigation_-_The_Complete_1st_Season_On_DVD

7) Finally finished watching the rest of CSI.

I had been a devoted fan of CSI since it first started airing in 2000. I have VHSs full of episodes that I begged my dad to tape off the air when I was in high school and had to miss for rehearsal sitting in my parents basement (ah, the days before on-demand). I watched almost religiously for 10 years – until grad school and teaching got so overwhelming that I just sort of lost track of it? It happened for basically all the TV shows that my dad didn’t also watch with me – I would just forget to tune in if I wasn’t reminded. Bones went the same way, and then NCIS did too once I moved out of my parent’s place and didn’t have my Dad to come tell me it was on anymore.

But anyway, I finally finished. I have kind of mixed feelings about it, to be honest, because this show was such a big part of my life for so long. It’s sad knowing there’s nothing new left for me to watch. On the other hand, it was admittedly was ready to end. It was getting pretty ridiculous in that last season with seemingly every other episode putting another member of the team in mortal danger. I also really didn’t care for Elizabeth Shue’s character at all (although I did quite like Ted Danson’s – which I didn’t expect, honestly). But it had just been with me for so long… it’s just kind of sad to have it done.

THE NOT SO GOOD

1) Fell on ice and screwed up my knee for two weeks.

Yea, that sucked. Honestly, the bruise is still in the process of fading.

2) The fall also triggered a regression of my shoulder issues since I haven’t been 100% the greatest at keeping up with my physical therapy exercises.

I hadn’t really said anything on here but the last year or so I had been struggling with a trapezius spasm that would not go away, and which then caused a chain reaction of mess with my shoulder. I know a muscle spasm doesn’t sound super serious, but good gracious did it interfere with being able to function – particularly since two of my jobs center around being able to play instruments and conduct, both of which are pretty shoulder intensive. I finished physical therapy and had the issues mostly tackled in early February, but I was supposed to keep up the routine of PT myself at home, and I’ve been sort of hit-and-miss with it the past few weeks because of work stuff. Well, my fall made it evident WHY I was supposed to keep those things up, because BAM, the spasm came back, and with it all my shoulder issues.

So yea, that sucks pretty hard.

3) Return of physical problems triggered a slight slip in staying on top of anxiety issues.

My anxiety very much revolves around health stuff – my mind immediately goes to the worst-case scenario when I don’t feel right. And so the return of physical pain (coupled with the fact that my body is responding differently to basically everything because of age and weight gain) has me on edge pretty much constantly.

4) Taxes, Car repairs, and general financial stress… oh my!

Yeaaaa, pretty self-explanatory.

THE GOALS

1) Spend even less money on take-out.

2) Read 2 books at least.

3) Finish the other Totoro Mitten by my self-imposed deadline.

4) Finish the Undertow Shawlette.

5) Keep up with my Physical Therapy exercises better.

So let’s see how I do.

What are your goals for April?

Reassessing for 2017

So any of you who have been around for a while know that my blogging over the last two years has been… sporadic at best. I’ll have a month or two where I’m really consistent, and then go on radio silence for three. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years trying to figure out why I can’t seem to break this cycle, and honestly there are like, a thousand reasons.

I originally had a massively long post typed out listing them all, but I scrapped that because it all just sounded like I was making excuses. And that makes this feel like less of a hobby and more of a job, and goodness knows the last thing I need right now is another job (I currently have four).

So no reasons, no excuses. I’m done looking for them and focusing on them. Instead, I think the time has come for some retooling.

Part of this is to make it work better for me, for my life and schedule, and in a way that doesn’t leave me feeling guilty for not having posted in a while. Part of it is to try to provide more consistent content here.

I do, of course, want to start focusing a little more back on my hobbies – expect more book reviews, hopefully some more project posts… that goes along with some lifestyle changes that I’m trying to make on a more personal level. But I also want to figure out some semi-regular features that can stick around even when I don’t have time to create anything physical.

What form those are going to take, I don’t know. Any suggestions, or well established blog events (things like Blogmus or Throwback Thursday or Friday Favorites) would be welcomed.

So I guess, my question in all this is, beyond project posts, what kind of content do you like? What would you like to see more of from Magpie Making Do? Are there any older posts in particular that you’d like to see more like?

Additionally, I’ve been intending for a long time to switch from wordpress.com to a self-hosted wordpress.org site. I even bought the domain name, and have hosting all set up – but I’ve been holding off until I can be more consistent about content… mainly as an excuse, because switching over seems a little intimidating and scary, and I really don’t want to lose the readers I already have here. Has anyone taken this plunge already, and are there any tips or recommendations you might want to share?

Any and all input (as long as it’s polite!) is welcome in the comments, and I’ll keep mulling over things too!

2017 Bullet Journal Setup

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I’ve done a detailed Bullet Journal Set-up post the last two years, but as I started to set up this year’s, I realized that over the course of those two posts, I’ve really sort of settled into the system that works for me. So this year, I’m not really changing much up from last year, and as a result this post will be a bit more brief than prior years.

I’m using a different size notebook this time – last year I tried to stick with the standard Moleskein size, but without actually using a moleskein, and I ended up rather unhappy with my selection, and ultimate choice. It was cute, but kind of boring, and I didn’t end up using it as much as I should have as a result. Because I’m fussy like that for whatever reason.

This year I went with a slightly larger size journal from Design Works Ink and I am in love with it. The size is perfect for me, I love the Month/Day listing at the top of the page for daily to-do lists, and the paper is thick enough that I can even use my sharpies and heavy duty markers with minimal bleed through.

monthly

As for the setup, I have some pictures for you, but it’s pretty similar to what I’ve done in the past (>here’s 2015, and here’s 2016). Once again I used the free monthly calendar pages from The Handmade Home’s 2017 Planner. They’ve worked very well for me over the years, and I suspect this year will be no different.

Bonus of the larger notebook size, I didn’t have to fuss with folding and getting the pages to lay flat like I did in the past. I printed them at 93% of full size, and they fit perfectly at one to a page.

Yearly goals

Next up, I’ve got my yearly goals, which you can read more about here

accomplishments

And then the one actually new page for this year is this monthly accomplishment tracker. Basically I’m trying to be more positive, and I think if I go back at the end of each month and list my overall accomplishments, at the end of the year I might feel a whole lot better about how things went than I did this year. I hope, anyway.

book and savings log

Next I’ve got my book log, and a savings tracker (as per my 2017 goals, I have to get my savings happening again).

monthly goals and habit tracker

Following that, I’ve got my individual monthly goals (I suppose that this is a new-to-the-blog feature, as I only started including it AFTER I posted last year’s set-up) and habit tracker.

daily

And then I’ve got my monthly detail calendar for more nitty-gritty planning purposes. (See either my 2016 or 2015 post for why I need the printed calendar AND this).

I’ve enjoyed experimenting a little to match my writing styles with the overall more polished look of the notebook itself, and I think planner-wise, it’s going to be a good year!

How about you? Do you use aspects of the Bullet Journal system? Any fun new spreads you’re using this year?

My 2017 Goals

Yearly goals

So it’s January, and of course, that means it’s resolution time. I’ve spent a lot of time these last two weeks really putting thought into what this year’s goals should be, because I feel like I’m very much at a crossroads of sorts. I’m turning the big 3-0 this May, and there’s a lot of things in my life that I feel like I need to address before I cross officially into the realm of “Thirty-something.”

The resulting list is a lot more conceptual than my goals have been in the past. More overall lifestyle changes than specific, quantifiable goals. And while that made coming up with photos to break up the wall of text in this post almost impossible, I feel like overall this is a list of goals that has some real potential to up the happiness factor in my life as I cross this major milestone.

And so without further explaination, here are my goals for 2017. Hopefully you’ll all be able to follow along and see the changes along with me.

Magpie’s Goals for 2017

1) Limit my video gaming.

One of the big byproducts of my anxiety problems over the last two years has been an excessive gaming habit. When my anxiety got bad, and as my work schedule became more and more consuming I turned more and more to video games as the only way to effectively “shut off” my brain and my anxiety. They are an easy refuge – no materials or supplies to pull out, and I don’t need the concentration level that reading requires… just press a button and BAM, I’m in Thedas. Or Tamriel. Or the Wasteland. Somewhere far far away from the constant juggling of responsibilities that is my life.

And sometimes, that’s not a bad thing. But over the past few years I also feel like it’s become a bit of a crutch. I’ve spent far too much of my already precious free time on video games, and all my other hobbies have completely fallen by the wayside. Reading, knitting, crocheting, my photo albums… pretty much everything. And I miss my other hobbies.

2) Spend more time on creative pursuits.

An auxiliary to goal number one – I want to use what little free time I have a little more productively. I did not finish a single knitting project in 2016. I’m well more than a year behind on my photo albums. And basically, if these are hobbies I’m not going to pursue, why am I storing all these supplies here? Which brings me to my next goal:

3) Purge stuff.

I have too much stuff given my current living situation and constraints. And it very much is a problem for me – for my mindset, for my productivity, and for my ability to stay organized and on top of things. And so I need to spend 2017 fixing that. Getting rid of things, putting things I can’t get rid of but don’t use regularly given my current situation into storage. Basically just simplify. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

4) Develop a more consistent routine.

I don’t have one. And I should. With all the jobs that I’m juggling, as much as the “free spirit” side of my personality may hate it, I need to be a little more regimented and disciplined in my routines. First on the docket will be a morning routine, then once all four jobs are back in swing I’ll tackle a meal planning routine. Hopefully, anyway.

5) Be more disciplined.

I give into my whims far too easily these days – and it’s not a freedom I really have room for. Whether it be snacking when I know I shouldn’t, or impulse purchases when I know I need the money for other, more important things down the road – I’m just not disciplined enough. A lot of that comes from fatigue. I’m tired all the time, and the more tired I am, the more likely I am to say, “let’s just order in” or “McDonalds is right there” or “just five more minutes of sleep – I don’t need to put on makeup today.” The result is that I feel bigger, less productive, and less on top of things than ever, and it’s not good.

6) Retool Blogging.

I like blogging as a hobby. Its one I very much enjoy and very much miss when I end up going on my little radio-silences. And I want to try to avoid that this year. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do it yet, and I’ll probably make another post throwing around ideas at a later date, but bottom line is I need to come up with a better system for here, so that I stay inspired, stay consistent, and all without making this feel like a chore. That’s a lot packed into one goal, eh?

7) Avoid overeating.

This goes hand and hand with #5. I don’t eat particularly unhealthily. I try to get my veggies in, and even when we eat out I try to avoid super fried or unhealthy stuff. My big problem is not WHAT I eat – it’s HOW I eat. I overeat far too frequently and my portions are just WAY too big for the size I’m supposed to be. I also eat super quickly – probably a byproduct of my hectic schedule – so I don’t realize exactly how full I am until it’s too late and I feel miserable. I’ve gotta stop this. Both for the wellbeing of my waistband, my wallet, and my state of mind.

8) Move more.

Again, hand in hand with other goals, this time #1, #4 and #5. I don’t move enough. It’s that simple. My life has become increasingly sedentary and it’s not good. I’ve tried specific exercise goals in the past and they never work for me, so this year I’m starting smaller and I’m just going to try to move more, in whatever manner I can.

9) Eat out less.

This is as much a money thing as it is a portion control thing (see goal #7). I need to start saving more efficiently. I used to be really good about it – but when I had a few unexpected financial catastrophes last year, it set me back like, six years worth of work in the matter of a week. And that was… discouraging? Demoralizing? Dispiriting? Motivation killing? Gutting, really. But anyway, it’s super stressful not to have an emergency fund. To know that the next unexpected financial stress could mean ruin. And I’ve gotta get back on track with some SERIOUS belt tightening.

10) Make progress with language studies.

I’ve been trying to learn another language on and off for probably six years. My biggest problem is consistency. I’ll make a lot of progress for like a month, and then by the time I get back to it a month and a half later it would all be gone. I want to see concrete progress this year. Which means consistency.

11) Take better care of myself.

In many ways these last two goals seem to be the underlying theme of this whole list. Bottom line is that I’ve let my own wellbeing, both physically and mentally, fall to the wayside as I juggle four jobs. And it’s not good. It’s not healthy. I have to fix it.

12) Advocate for me.

I’ve become super super bad at prioritizing myself, and prioritizing my own wellbeing. And it’s begun impacting my ability to enjoy things. So I’ve gotta cut that out and start being my own best advocate.

What are your goals for 2017?

Take Back What’s Yours!

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I’m taking back my CONTROL.

An appropriate post for my return to the blogosphere after an almost three month absence, to be sure. Because really, that’s what this absence has been all about. My loss of control.

Or at least the feeling that I’ve lost control taking control of me.

I just really lost my grip on things the last few months, and honestly, I’m not entirely sure why. Trying to look at it objectively, I don’t think the end of this semester has been any more stressful than usual… There were a few hiccups in the road due to health problems within my family, but quite honestly after the last few years, that’s kind of par for the course – and what happened this semester pales in comparison to my life two years ago anyway.

So I don’t know. I don’t know why it happened. But the last few months have left me perpetually feeling like I’m grasping desperately at straws to keep things together. A constant feeling of “I’m forgetting something important. I must be forgetting something important.” And when that anxiety takes the wheel, I draw into myself. And the more I draw into myself, the less in control of my own life I feel.

So now that the semester is over, and I have a chance to sort of “hit the reset button,” it seems like the perfect time to finally make my #TakeBackWhatsYours post that’s been in the works since Emma from Blu Chicken Ninja posted hers alllllllll the way back in February.

The Take Back What’s Yours Campaign is a blogging initiative started by Chloe from Chloe’s Concept to help spur bloggers to come together and make positive changes in their lives and the lives of others by, well, taking back what’s yours. What exactly that is could be anything from your happiness, your confidence, your dreams, your freedom, and so on and so forth. If you want to read more about the campaign, or get involved yourself, head on over to the campaign website.

For me, the thing I need to work on taking back the most is my control.

Now, that doesn’t sound entirely healthy, you may say. You can’t after all control every aspect of your life, after all… There needs to be SOME flexibility there. Life is full of the unexpected, and if your goal is total control, you’re going to find yourself losing it pretty fast.

And right you would be.

Let me explain. My problem is not necessarily needing to feel in control of every aspect of my life. I’m actually pretty decent at taking things as they come when life throws me a curveball. I’m usually pretty decent in a crisis and generally work well under pressure. My biggest problem is continuing to keep a handle on the thing when I’m either NOT functioning in crisis mode, or when crisis mode simply gets too overwhelming. I need to keep enough of a handle on the smaller, more controllable aspects of my life so that I no longer constantly have that “you’re forgetting something” feeling hanging over me.

So essentially I need to find a balance, so that even when the unexpected hits, I still feel like I’ve mostly got my shit together. Bills paid, apartment clean, schedule under control, To Do list mostly checked off, etc… So that whether I’m in a relatively low stress period, or functioning in what my officemate and I have taken to calling “Navy SEAL Mode*,” I still have the feeling of having a grip on the general direction my life is going, and that “you’re forgetting something important” anxiety is kept at bay.

Now, a lot of this may not make sense to you. I’ve never been terribly good at explaining the way I think/feel/handle my anxiety to others. But I figured I should probably put it out there anyway. Putting things down in writing always helps me feel like I’ve officially STARTED something, and frankly this is something I desperately need to start.

So, control. I’m taking back my control.

What would you all take back?

* Focus only on the immediate task at hand. Do not think about the big picture. Do not think about what’s next. Do not think about everything else you have to do after this. Just take it one thing at a time and get through the day that way. This is the way several SEALs have described how they had to function mentally to make it through BUD/S (SEAL training). This “mode” has served me well the last few years in terms of keeping my anxiety under control and helping me tank through periods of high stress without it taking over.

Filling Empty Wall Space

I’ve been on a home-dec kick lately. Or rather, I’ve been on a home-dec kick on PINTEREST lately. Because actually decorating the apartment requires money – at least a little – and money is exactly what I should not – no, CAN’T – spend right now.

But anyway, I’ve been specifically concerned lately about our surplus of empty wall space. There’s just a lot of white, blank walls in our apartment, and it’s starting to get to me a little bit. So I’ve been looking for ideas about how to decorate using as little money as humanly possible, and Pinterest (of course) came through in spades. I figured I’d share some of my favorites with you too! Links and images will take you to the original site – if that wasn’t available the links will take you to my pin.

clothes pin picture hanging via voyanges of the creative variety
A lovely photo display using twine and clothespins via Voyages of the Creative Variety

crochet potholder collection via maker mama craft blog
A great use for crocheted potholders – vintage or newly made – as seen on Maker Mama’s 7 Thrifty Collections Post

embroidery hoop photo frames via country living
Turning embroidery hoops into picture frames with this tutorial by Jessica Marquez on Country Living.com

embroidery hoop pinboards
More embroidery hoop cleverness by turning them into pinboards – the literal kind!

framed coins
Framing foreign coins would be great way to display all those extra yuan I have from my trip to China in college, and all the various pocket change my dad always saved me from his work trips abroad when I was little.

framed scrapbook paper
Framing some favorite scrapbook paper as art might work well – maybe adding some stenciled silhouettes to some of them might work too?

shopping bags as art on Ladolcevitablog
Framing designer shopping bags as art might also be kind of cool – although it’s not like I have a surplus of these… I do still have my little Tiffany bag from a high school graduation present though, so maybe as part of a larger framed gallery collage?

skirt hanger art via Mad in Crafts
Using wooden skirt/pants hangers as art hangers as seen on Mad in Crafts might work well above my bed – bonus, you can swap out the art whenever you want!

yarn scrap art via easy makes me happy
And last but not least: using up that big bag of yarn scraps I have by making a wall hanging like this one on Easy Makes Me Happy might be just the ticket, and would certainly free up some space in my yarn box.

Do you have any cheap, easy, but cool wall decoration ideas? If so, please do share!