February Goals: Centered Around Health

There were a lot of resolutions being made last month, and in light of that, I decided not to post goals for January. Honestly, I’m not really sure what this year is going to bring, so I’m just going to take it month by month. I do like looking at the bigger picture, but it’s not realistic for me right now. 

We are still hoping R gets promoted before April, which means we will have to move. Everyone knows that moving expenses can vary wildly, and while his company thankfully does cover most of the costs, I still don’t know where we are going to end up, and what job prospects will look like for me.

That being said, I also just wanted to take some time to figure out what my priorities are going to be in 2014. Last year was such a whirlwind, with helping my parents to get the house ready for sale, to it being sold, packing, getting our first apartment, having my parents move 700 miles away, etc. It was basically a year of adapting to a lot of changes! I think R and I have done well, but there’s always room for improvement.

(Sorry for the derail from finance – this isn’t really going to be a post about financial goals.)

My number one concern this year is getting on track to eating healthy, and being healthy. I’m going to be honest with you all – I’m a terribly picky eater. I put most people to shame. I’m not proud of it, but it was easy to stick to comfort foods while living with my parents. Now that the grocery shopping is up to us, I found that we gravitated toward pre-packaged food way too much for my liking.

A little history

Both R and I are new to cooking, and neither of us are overly excited about it. Our kitchen doesn’t have much counter space, things are very crowded, and it can be tough to gather motivation to actually want to cook in there. I’d much rather make a meal at home than spend money dining out, so I’ve learned to suck it up. 

february goals
One of the books I’m currently reading


Quick meals are my favorite, which is why our freezer has been stocked with frozen food. While R has been slowly helping me with some aspects of cooking, if I’m not hungry, this is his fall back plan as he doesn’t really know how to make much except a sandwich and grilled cheese.

However, since I graduated college and started working full-time, my health has taken a bit of a nosedive. My assumption is that I began to have more stress in my life (as silly as it sounds), and stress impacts a lot, more than we’re aware of! I came down with a lot of stomach issues with no rhyme or reason to them. I was getting fed up with eating. Having an ongoing battle with food isn’t pleasant.

I’ve had acid reflux since I was 7, and I was on medication for it for about 12 years. I also underwent two surgeries before I was 18 to correct it, to no avail. Stumbling upon the Paleo lifestyle, I also came across Chris Kresser’s website, which has a terrific e-book on acid reflux and GERD. It really opened my eyes. Acid reflux sounds like a condition where you have too much acid, but in reality, it’s caused by having low stomach acid. Stomach acid happens to be essential to the digestion process, but medication lowers it, so I stopped taking it immediately. 

Moving on from the past

I have an attachment to a lot of unhealthy foods. I hated all vegetables and fruit growing up (the texture got to me). It wasn’t until maybe a year and a half ago that I realized I’m doing nothing to help myself as far as food goes. We require so many nutrients to run efficiently, and I was extremely low on many of them. I’ve started to experiment and I’m slowly coming around. It helps that R is on board with whatever I want to try.

I subscribed to Paleo blogs last year and after finding the PF community, I lost interest. I’m kicking myself for it now, because I could be so much further along in my health journey if I had just started back then! For those of you unfamiliar with it, the Paleo “diet” involves eating like our ancestors did. Meat, fish, poultry, nuts, eggs, etc. It promotes the eating of whole foods and staying away from processed crap. It’s exactly what I need to explore to figure out what’s going on with my body.

So my February goals are as follows:

  • Finish reading the books I’ve borrowed from the library. They’re all either recipe books, or scientific books explaining how different foods have certain affects on us.
  • Make five new recipes from these books. I might make more, but I don’t want to get too overwhelmed. february goals
  • Don’t kick myself for going a teensy bit overboard with grocery shopping. We got a lot of this out of the way in January, but there are a few spices and other essentials that I don’t have.
  • Exercise as much as possible inside with the kettle bell and other strength training, until it warms up outside and I am able to resume walking/running/sprinting.
  • Keep track of how I’m feeling with all these changes with a journal. I’ve actually been toying of the idea of starting another blog (just a simple free wordpress one) to track my progress.
  • I’ll throw in a finance-related goal: put at least $400 toward my student loans this month. 

I know things aren’t going to happen overnight, but I’m at the point where I feel like I’ve read enough about the subject to put it into action. I’m an easy victim of analysis paralysis, but every day that I keep eating junk is another setback. It’s just a little more difficult as R is half on, half off with this. His stomach is more steel-like than mine, so he still wants his chips and cookies. Having them around is tough, but at this point, incorporating vegetables in my diet is a step in the right direction. 

Have any of you ever struggled with food or your health? What was the best thing you did to get yourself back on track? 

Erin M.

Erin is a personal finance writer and virtual assistant who loves talking about money and how to use it as a tool to get what you want out of life. When she's not obsessing over numbers or working (which is rare), she can be found messing around in Photoshop, laughing at her cat, watching YouTube videos, playing video games, chair dancing, or any random combination of the above.

43 thoughts on “February Goals: Centered Around Health

  1. Good luck with the paleo lifestyle! I am a low carber who does avoid soy (but I can’t give up peanuts…) and can do dairy so I’m not 100% paleo but I do love a couple of paleo blogs (practical paleo is one of my favorites). I can’t do a lot of the high carb paleo foods like sweet potatoes because my body really needs to be low on sugar. But I also have successfully weaned myself off of artificial sweeteners (I like unsweetened coffee and tea now) because of impetus from the Paleo blogs.

    When it comes to food spending, don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeling better. Good health will be a huge money saver in the long run!
    Tara @ Streets Ahead Living recently posted: Good Loan News!My Profile

    1. Thanks! I should do one of the 30 day elimination diets, as I seem to be hit or miss with dairy. It’s like it depends on the day. I have the practical paleo book waiting for me after this one! It’s good that you know what your body will and won’t tolerate. I’m hoping to get to that point, as it seems like everything makes me feel bloated right now.

  2. I used to have more problems in my 20’s with IBS but it went away on its own as I adapted to eating healthier and exercising A LOT! Exercise is such a huge one for me because without it I’m a wreck and that messes up my body. For instance last week I hardly worked out in an effort to rest my calves for the long run. In a way it kind of backfired because I had all this excessive energy which translated into sleepless night, and “felling” fat and lethargic. I think for you, you will just have to start experimenting to see what makes you feel best. And if some of those pre-packaged foods make you feel crappy, then adjust a little at a time to avoid eating them. I totally understand about lack of desire to cook and lack of counter space. I also am sort of picky. I like making things that are simple but healthy, like throwing a piece of chicken on my george foreman grill. I’ve had that thing for years and it still works great and is so easy. Then I just have a salad and some steamed veggies with it, or roasted veggies because they are tastier. Healthy cooking doesn’t have to involve a lot of time or master chef skills. Good luck.
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted: Do You Need the Struggle?My Profile

    1. I’ve been diagnosed with IBS from my doctor, but sadly, most of the time that happens when they run out of other things to label you with. I’m not surprised it went away with eating healthier (which is awesome!).

      I use my foreman grill for chicken on lazy nights too! It’s very quick and easy. I have to work on throwing a quick salad together and eating it as a side dish. The little bag kits were on sale last week so I picked up a few. No excuses!

    1. I’m glad things have been working out for you! Making your own meals is a great way to have control over all the ingredients. You never know what restaurants are adding into things to make them more flavorful.

  3. Oh no, I’m sorry to hear your acid reflux was so bad you had to undergo surgeries that didn’t even help it. :( My mom has the same stuff, too, I can ask her for recipes if you like on how she prevents it (though I think she’s on some meds, too)? That’s great that you’re taking positive steps in correcting it, though – it can be challenging and really daunting to have a lifestyle change, but you’re so responsible financially that I think those ethics will carry over to your health goals, as well. That book looks like a good start – I don’t know if you have cable, but I also watched “30 Minute Meals” with Rachael Ray and that helped me to learn how to cook with her tips on how to season things or incorporate time-saving methods. Her meals weren’t always super healthy, but some were! Her shows might also be available online, but I think it helped seeing a ‘live’ person cook, rather than just reading a book. Good luck, EM!!
    anna recently posted: Half-Marathon Completed, 2014 Goals, and Holy Canoli, Seahawks!My Profile

    1. Thanks! I’ve heard that apple cider vinegar + water really helps if you take it before meals. I tried that today and it seemed to work pretty well. At this point it’s been a year since I’ve been off my medication, so I’m hoping it’s just a matter of getting my stomach acid back up to normal. I have also heard that supplementing with Betaine HCL is a good solution for that, in case your mom can benefit.

      I love video tutorials, or blog posts with tons of pictures. I’m always afraid of doing something wrong and like something to compare my cooking against, haha. I’ll have to check that segment out though. I use the same seasonings for everything and it gets a little boring.

  4. This is something we struggle with at my place. Surprisingly, I’m not the picky eater – my fiancé is. Won’t eat pork, or fish. You have no idea how frustrating, and boring, that is when you’re constantly rotating between beef and chicken. I can cook decently well, but I feel like I’m missing out on stuff as a result of those restrictions.

    Add in the fact that I’m super sensitive to dairy, and it takes a lot of things off the menu. Thankfully, I love fruit/vegetables, but I still felt like I wasn’t getting everything I needed, so I’ve resorted to the one-a-day vitamin. Not the perfect fix, but it helps.
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    1. My mom was always frustrated with me as I never wanted to eat half the things she made. As I got older she pretty much just told me to make my own dinner. I did feel really bad for being a burden in that way. The way she made pork was very dry and coarse to me; I bought a package in hopes of putting it in the crockpot and getting it tender.

      Fish is something my family as a whole stayed away from, though my mom and I do like tuna in a can. I’ve been experimenting with some as my grandma and aunt make fish for the holidays. Fish are very healthy though, so that’s definitely something I’m trying to add.

      I’m on and off with dairy. My dad started using the Lactaid milk and said it helped him, and it hasn’t given me any problems that I’ve noticed so far.

  5. Heck, I still struggle with diet. I am a big lover of carbs: pizza, burgers, sandwiches, french fries, mashed potatos…anything with dough and/or a potato is kind of my dream food. Obviously, this isn’t the best way to live. I find that fruit is easiest for me to eat for breakfast and late at night as a snack. And veggies are easiest for me to eat in a big salad at dinner, as a side. Those are kind of my only tricks. Sorry I can’t be of more help, but good on you for making it a priority!
    Done by Forty recently posted: There Ain’t No Rest For the WickedMy Profile

    1. Sounds like me! Pizza, pasta and chicken were my staples growing up. I’m slowly learning to be okay with salad/lettuce. Many vinaigrette dressings are hard for me to tolerate, but I have found I like Cesar dressing. The other day at my grandma’s I actually put some tuna on a plain leaf of romaine and managed to eat it. Baby steps!

  6. I think the thing that helped me the most was slowly memorizing my favorite recipes. It’s so annoying (to me) to have to cook off of a recipe. Once I got good at making our usual meals (stir fry, burritos, pasta & sauce, etc) and I didn’t have to look at a recipe, I enjoyed the cooking SO MUCH MORE. So just remember that it might be tough at first but eventually cooking will become second nature!

    Oh and I don’t know if you do this, but if you’re trying to get yourself to like vegetables, I think oven roasting with olive oil and salt and pepper makes any veggie taste so much better!
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    1. It is very annoying to reference recipes! I’m trying to bookmark as much as I can and then transfer over to my iPad, as I can at least prop it up near the stove. I can make most of the things my mom used to easily, but the new things are a bit tougher. I’m also horrible at eyeballing spices, so I like to measure them out exactly.

      I have been hearing a lot about that, and I’ve tried kale chips and sweet potato fries so far. They’ve been so-so. I tend to like my vegetables really soft and mushy, haha.

  7. I’ve actually struggled with numerous health issues, so this post was so at home. I’ve read much of Kresser’s site, and most of the other big paleo/natural health blogs. The amount of information is expansive, so it’s tough to stay on top of everything. Are you currently reading that book in the photo? I’d love to read that!
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    1. Chris Kresser has such a wealth of knowledge on all the subjects, it’s amazing. He just came out with a book that’s getting amazing reviews, but I’m on a waiting list at my library to get a hold of it. I am currently reading the book in the picture – I kept seeing it pop up in comments over at MDA. It’s quite a long read. So far I’m around page 100 and only in chapter 2, but there’s SO much information on different types of food and nutrients and how they might affect you.

  8. I have been a bad eater in the past, but have really been focusing on eating healthier too. It gets easier and easier… I am a picky eater that didn’t grow up eating veggies, but now stuffed bell peppers is one of my favorite meals! Definitely if you can work veggies in, that is the best… even as a side dish with something else you know you like (or mixed in…. stir fries are great for this!)… it is still a struggle for me somewhat, but I am definitely able to eat healthier than I ever used to!
    Our Fine Adventure recently posted: Appreciating NormalMy Profile

    1. That’s great! My parents swear I liked vegetables when I was little, but I don’t recall those times. I also can’t really have anything spicy due to my acid reflux, so I sadly can’t spice anything up. My plan is to start pureeing things like carrots and cauliflower to get rid of the texture issue, and to start making vegetable noodles with squash and zucchini to sort of “sneak” them in.

  9. This may seem weird (for a guy) but when I was “chunky” and wanted to lose weight I counted calories. I made an Excel spreadsheet and recorded everything I ate, along with how many calories I consumed. I was shooting for a calorie deficit of about 500 per day (based on what’s normal for my age & height) in order to lose one pound a week. That process, along with my running helped me lose over 25 pounds. I felt more energetic and was able to sustain myself throughout the day. I know it’s tough to stay fit and it does often cost more to do so. But we only have one body. I’m OK to spend some extra on groceries and fitness to keep myself from breaking down. It’s definitely a worthwhile goal.
    Brian @ Luke1428 recently posted: Global Shares Plunge! OMG…The World’s Coming to An End!My Profile

    1. That’s a pretty disciplined approach! We only have one body is right. For the most part I eat like a bird, but eating the right calories would help. Running/walking seems to be great for digestion as well, which is why I’d love to get back outside.

  10. When I was younger, I was always skinny and never had to worry about what I ate. I developed really unhealthy eating habits as a result. Then some time in my early 20s, my metabolism slowed and I gained a bunch of weight. It’s been a struggle to eat healthy but at the end of the day, I feel so much better when I eat well and exercise.
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    1. You sound very much like R! He’s fine with running, but when it comes to food, he pretty much eats whatever is put in front of him. He doesn’t really have any digestive issues and hasn’t gained any weight, so he doesn’t see the need for a change either. Lucky! =)

  11. I hear ya on the sensitive stomach. Of all cuisines, Italian/Mediterranean seems to be the best for my body.

    I hate cooking too, so aside from basic Italian and Mexican type dishes, I’m also a big fan of stirfries. My favourite food blog is this http://thestonesoup.com/blog/ – fast recipes with 5 ingredients or less. Kinda like Rachael Ray but healthier?
    NZ Muse recently posted: I need your adviceMy Profile

    1. I have heard good things about the Mediterranean diet as well. Glad you’ve found something that works for you! I love 5 ingredient recipes, so I’ll have to check that out. PaleOMG.com also has a few that I’ve seen.

  12. Growing up I also had a lot of issues with my stomach, but luckily I turned towards getting rid of a lot of the packaged foods towards healthy and nutritious stuff. I’m a big salad nut and love eating well made meals. It’s something the bf probably will never be able to do completely, but at least he is starting to eat more salads. It’s tough to start because food is such a bit part of anyone’s life, but you get so used to it. Best of luck on getting your body to its best possible state!
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    1. Thanks! Salad seems like the easiest solution to start eating better. I just have to get used to all the vegetable and fruit combinations, as well as dressings! I do hope it becomes routine. I’ve heard that once you start cutting out sugar and carbs, your body stops craving it as much.

  13. Good luck with all this! I have had issues with my stomach, but thankfully it’s all passed, and I pretty much limit my bread etc, but the occasional toast (today and yest) haven’t caused me to double in pain like in the past :) Maybe some time off has healed me up a little?

    If you chose to track what you eat, try to find me on MyFitnessPal- I’m SarahNos
    SarahN recently posted: Waste Wednesday – pepper grindersMy Profile

    1. I’m not going to be tracking what I eat, mostly because there’s no reason for me to count calories or anything. I’m also just horrible at remembering that stuff =). After all I’ve read about how horrible gluten and grains are, I don’t really have a desire to go back to eating bread, even though it’s tempting. Toast was such an easy little breakfast.

      That’s surprising that you’ve felt better, as usually going off of gluten and then reintroducing it makes people feel worse. Mostly because you’re supposed to be more sensitive food allergies afterward, but hey, everyone is different. Glad you’ve been feeling better!

  14. When I quit gymnastics full time I gained about 20 pounds, not a ton, but more than I’d like. It took me about 7 years to learn how to take care of my body with a balance of exercise and eating. For the last five years I’ve remained within 5 pounds of my ideal weight (the holidays are always tricky, but I’m back on track). There is no better feeling than the feeling of being healthy and feeling great about your body. Let that motivate you.
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    1. That’s awesome you’ve found a balance! Being and feeling healthy is definitely my priority right now. I don’t remember a day going by without stomach issues, and it would be nice to experience.

  15. My brother is on the Paleo diet and swears by it. I’ve considered doing it myself but meat and fish are so expensive so eating this every day would really break our grocery budget. We try to eat lots of vegetables but probably eat too many carbs to fill us up. I need to stop snacking really and carry on with the fruit and veg.

    Good luck with your goals here E.M. – I think setting up another blog to keep you on track is a great idea if you have time! :)
    Hayley @ A Disease Called Debt recently posted: Personal Finance Blog Roundup – Friday’s Fab Links #24My Profile

    1. It can be expensive, which is why I have shied away from it in the past. I’m not going to be buying all organic, wild, grass-fed things, but something is better than nothing. There are some Paleo blogs dedicated to those on a budget. Not all the meals have to be expensive. Sadly of course, the unhealthiest things are the cheapest since they’re so processed. Pasta used to be our go-to meal, but it leaves me feeling so bloated!

      Thanks! I’ll probably be looking into it this weekend.

  16. Hey EM, I’ve definitely struggled with health relating to food in the past. I was addicted to things that tasted good, but I knew were bad for me. Eventually, I made it a point to only buy fresh foods. Produce, meats, everything fresh. I stopped buying prepackaged foods like snake cakes and such. These days, not only do I feel healthier, my grocery bill is down. It’s the best move I’ve made in a long time!
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    1. That’s my problem as well. Once I open something, it’s hard to stop eating, and then I end up regretting it. I would stop buying all the “junk,” except that my boyfriend is still entitled to eat what he wants! Glad it worked for you though.

  17. I’ve been struggling with being healthy practically all my life. All you can do is take it one day at a time. Currently, I’m doing a bunch of kettlebell work – I’m following Neghar Fonooni’s Lean and Lovely program. It’s pretty fun! Never thought I would get excited to workout, but now I do. Good luck!
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    1. How funny, I had signed up for this online paleo conference, and she was in one of their videos, so I subscribed to her blog. I’ll have to look into the program. She made it look really easy!

    1. It can turn into a vicious cycle, especially when my boyfriend doesn’t care what he eats. I make him eat all the crap, and we end up buying more for him! Then there’s always temptation. Good luck!

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