Posted in Food, Menu Planning

Menu planning vs menu doing

It all starts with a nice solid plan. You know? You take the inspiration from cookbooks, Pinterest, fitness blogs, Facebook, Instagram, or what have you. You put pen to paper, stylus to screen, or fingers to keyboard and you’re off! Meatless Monday,  Tenderloin Tuesday, leftovers Wednesday, chicken Thursday, pizza Friday, tacos Saturday, and Sunday you do it all over again! At least,  that’s the plan. 

This week, I got pretty far, actually. I made the menu, made the corresponding grocery list, bought said groceries, and boiled the eggs. Then,  well. 


Little Elfkin started getting sick.  Like,  both of us missed work, worked from home, and kept her out of daycare for days kind of sick. I managed to boil a couple eggs, but really, the majority of my time was spent trying to make her comfortable and watch for changes. 

We were supposed to have a paleo breakfast bake for this week’s breakfasts. We ate a lot of cereal and/or bought breakfast on the way to the office while the other parent stayed home. 

Side note: Affogato Strada Espresso is delicious. 

*weak stomach warming, skip this paragraph*

Ohhh Roseola. Not fun.  SO not fun. The thought of cooking goes right out the window when your little one is burning up,  throwing up, and refusing to eat. Her fever got so bad at one point that it caused her to throw up, even though she hadn’t eaten anything.  Poor dear. Poor Jeff, too! She got him completely and stunned him.. that didn’t stop the process, though, so she also got the floor, the changing table, and my foot. All Jeff could say was “it’s HOT.”


So, off to the ER we went, where they told us that “sometimes, sick kids throw up.” …real insightful. 

All this to say: the menu was planned, but the menu was not done. The thing is, life will always be busy and hectic and in the way. I know how to not go completely off the rails, though! Some of it is planning ahead, yes, but more of it is sticking to my plan even when nothing else does. For example, when we had Jersey Mikes, I got a “sub in a tub,” and saved about 300 calories. When having pizza, I loaded it with veggies and split half with Jeff, even though it’s a personal pizza. At the gas station, I tried to pick snacks and meals that fit into my day by checking it on My Fitness Pal (sn: Aminarra) first and making a decision based on that. 

Now, if you open my refrigerator, you’ll find cherries that have gone soft, avocado that’s seen better days, and iceberg lettuce turning yellow instead of pale green.

This week’s plan is to salvage what I can and go from there. It’s always a bit grating to waste food, so we’ve learned to live with wrinkly peppers and to adjust our expectations. The plan is much simpler this time around. Oatmeal for breakfasts, batch cooked chicken for dinner, and either salad or sandwiches for lunch. I picked up some fruit at the grocery store because whole food is fast food. This is a plan I can stick to even if life goes crazy again. It’s not easy, but is doable. So just do it. 

Posted in Food, Menu Planning

A quick reflection on menu planning

In talking to a friend tonight I realised that,  not only had I not blogged in a while,  but I hadn’t planned a menu in a while either.  We’ve been experimenting, in my house,  with buying meat in bulk but buying produce daily. This has added up to an empty fridge,  frozen meat, and an increase in reliance on fast and processed foods. I think this is because our time always seems pressed during the week.  We’re rushing to work,  rushing to get Little Elfkin from day care,  rushing to get home to feed her, making sure to nourish her mind and her body with story time,  play time, bath time, and bed. Honestly,  by the time she conks out, I’m ready to pass out too! I’m cutting into my sleep time to make this menu and reflect: menu planning would be so much easier if you didn’t also have to make the grocery list, buy the ingredients, and actually cook. 

I’m going to try to find time for:

  • Swirly Crustless Quiche 
  • Pumpkin pancakes
  • Grain free porridge
  • Salmon
  • Mustard glazed chicken thighs
  • Zucchini pancakes
  • Buffalo chicken lettuce wraps
  • Sweet potato and apple soup
  • Sage roasted turkey legs
  • Spaghetti squash bolognese
  • Bacon wrapped smoky chicken
  • Sausage and pepper stew
  • Turkey meatballs and squash

Now,  this is a ton of food, so I will disclaim this: not all of it will be made,  but what is made will be eaten and not wasted. For me,  menu planning is mostly a suggestion,  not a concrete agreement. 

What’s on your menu? Do you have a go-to meal plan?

Posted in Baby Girl, Fitness, Food, Life + Living, Strength Training

No Sweat… wait, actually a lot of sweat

I found my new favorite group exercise class!  It’s called “Accumulator” and it stacks exercises up one after the other so that it just grows and grows.

For example:


Burpees + Jump Squats

Burpees + Jump Squats + Clean/Press

Burpees + Jump Squats + Clean/Press + Single Arm Lifts

They kept adding up until we were doing burpees, jump squats, clean/press, single arm lifts, reverse flies, high knees, and bent over rows.  THEN! They had an ab-specific portion where they started with plank and added one after the other until we were doing plank, overhead lift, flutter kicks, crunches, reverse crunches, donkey kicks, and Russian twists.

It was INTENSE and I worked up SUCH a good sweat.  The awesome thing, though, is that there were sufficient modifications that I could complete the class at my own level.  For burpees, I had a riser to add an incline. For the plank step-outs I just held a plank or used the riser. For high-knees, I marched when I got too fatigued.  I did 6″ leg raises instead of flutter kicks…. My shirt was soaked, my face was red, I was completely out of breath and I *LOVED* it.

I’m definitely going to carve time out of my schedule for that class.


When I’m not working out at class, I’m working out with Little Elfkin.  We go for walks and she leads me on a merry chase.  It’s probably good for my back if I remember to keep good form 🙂

I’m still working on getting my diet cleaned up.  I have a sugar fiend that keeps sabotaging my efforts.  Slowly but surely I’ll wean off of that.  Caffeine too.  Eventually.  It’s quite difficult to go from so much sugar and monster + daily to nothing–and I’m not great at quitting cold turkey.  Yesterday I had a doughnut for breakfast, today I had cookies for a snack…. The stuff is entirely too accessible either on my commute or at work.


Little Elfkin had her check up recently and she’s my little chunky monkey.  She’s proportionate, but she’s proportionately *big*.  The pediatrician basically said that genetically she’ll have a double chin and a little belly because she was shaped that way from the start.  She even had a little double chin when she was a hungry baby before we figured out how to breastfeed or use formula.  Still, though, I want her to have a healthy relationship to food and fitness, so we’re still having our meals together 🙂 she eats what I eat when we’re together and I won’t give her junk, so that cuts down on the junk I have! 🙂 It helps that we got rid of so much of the junk from the pantry.


She loves spinach, eggs, sweet potato, strawberries, cherries, peaches, pears, carrots, peas, beans, etc. 🙂 She’s an adventurous eater and not picky at all. As more veggies come into season, I’m excited to share more of the flavors with her.

Posted in Food, Life + Living, Recipe

Monday tacos

The way I see it, if Mother Nature can see fit to drop a bunch of snow on our heads, wreck the Monday commute, and interfere with what was becoming a very nice spring… Then I can make tacos on a Monday morning.


We had a great weekend as we started to choose baby gear and consider lifestyle options:

– Yes, we should have a pro redo the newel post.
– No we don’t need a pro to install the banister.
– Yes we should get the structural issues in the basement repaired.
– No we shouldn’t take out a new loan to pay for the repairs.
– Yes, technically the car seat fits in the Audi, but no, it’s not practical to keep the car.

I swear we need a weekend to recover from our weekend.


The next best thing I could do was to inject a little flavor into our Monday.  I browned ground beef, sauteed some yellow onion, added some orange peppers for color, seasoned with the home made taco seasoning blend (courtesy of Practical Paleo).  I served it all up on soft tortillas, topped with fresh avocado and salsa.


I guess if I have to say one good thing about the snow, it’s that it makes great filtered lighting for taking pictures of food with my phone 😉

Happy Monday, everyone!

Posted in Anti-Inflammation, Emotional Eating, Fitness, Life + Living, Strength Training, Warrior Dash

MegsFitness on Nerd Fitness – Battle Logs!

I’ve blogged in the past about how much happier and more content I feel when I am following the core strengths of health and wellness – including eating well, sleeping well, exercising, and making time for personal goals.  So, it stands to reason that now, more than ever, I need to get back into the patterns of healthy eating, getting enough (and higher quality) rest, exercising, and making time for personal goals. 

This blog has become more of a personal journal for me, which will definitely incorporate health and wellness, but it’s always been about more than that.  For me, it’s been about recognizing the fact that my journey — whether it’s to weight loss, muscle gain, social changes, or family life — is going to be completely different from someone else’s journey, even if we share many of the same characteristics.  To that end, I still have every intention of maintaining this blog and getting back into writing about things that are fun, interesting, or relative to my personal narrative.  

My day-to-day fitness narrative is going to be captured at Nerd Fitness.  It’s a community of fitness-minded individuals and I really feel like that’s the sort of encouragement I could use at the moment.  What that means for the MegsFitness blog is that I’ll be cross-posting my weekly summaries here, so that at least part of this journal can resonate with the “-Fitness” part of the name 😀

I’m ready to get back to good.  I’m ready to lose weight, gain muscle, find my confidence, and conquer the world.  If you’re interested in joining The Rebellion, my “battle log” is found here:

[Begin Crosspost]:

Name: Aminarra, aka “MegsFitness”


Occupation: Corporate Fleet Management Resolution

Previous Fitness Experience: 2 years on SparkPeople, 3 years with Weight Loss Warriors, 3 attempts at Weight Watchers, 1 attempt at Herbalife; 4 years high school strength training, 1 obstacle 5k, 10+ regular 5k Races, greatest weight loss 42lbs.


Current Level of Fitness: Sedentary.  It’s been 2 years since I’ve worked out consistently due to a severe back injury after the Warrior Dash.

“End Game” Goal: Working out 4+x/week, Settling at a healthy weight, ideally ~180, but more importantly having functional strength and physical health.

Short-term Goal: Begin working out 1-3x/week, at a beginner level to become re-acclimated to the fitness world. Begin reintegrating Paleo Lifestyle into eating plan  

Plan of Action:  Use Nerd Fitness to launch new fitness goals; integrate fitness guild with gamer guild for inspiration.  Generate weekly goals in the areas of nutrition, exercise, and personal.  Update status on goals at least weekly.

Outside of NF:

Posted in Anti-Inflammation, Food, Life + Living, Menu Planning

My Paleo Plate

I realize that the blog entry that I published last night  kind of went off the rails.  There was so much more that I wanted to talk about!  It was late at night, though, and I was probably bouncing back and forth between various web pages an the blog.  Today’s blog post is kind of an extension of that, but it’s much more organized and thought out–I even made an outline for it…  Part of what prompted me to come back and to write about my own experience with going gluten free was a rather harmless post about a trip to costco.


Who knew there was such a backlash against gluten free?!  I was flabbergasted but this isn’t exactly a friend of mine, and his friends and followers are not my friends and followers, so I decided not to waste any more of my time justifying to them why Gluten Free is a valid lifestyle choice–and that it doesn’t necessarily have to be full blown celiac disease to cause someone to start avoiding gluten and other potentially harmful/hard to digest foods.

As many of you know, I’ve been dealing with chronic back pain for about two years now.  As I type this, there’s what feels like a knot under my right shoulder blade and my whole back feels stiff.  It’s my new normal.  This isn’t even enough to complain about.  When most people toss and turn at night, they do so without really realizing it.  For me, I have to sit all the way up and turn over so that I don’t torque my back trying to just jostle into place.  There are times when I wake up in the middle of the night, or in the wee hours of the morning in back pain and I have no choice but to stay up because there’s no going back to sleep at that point.  If it’s really too early to get up, then, my poor husband, gets woken up because I’m in such pain.  He wakes up when it hurts too bad to breathe right, or when my back pain brings me to tears–and he’ll get up, without complaint, and offer me ice packs or back massages to try to ease the pain.  That will work just enough to take the edge off.  I try to let him go back to sleep and then I generally go out to the couch to sleep so that I don’t have to lay on my back.

Two years of that.

I have tried to find out what’s wrong with my back–I went to a physician, who referred me to physical therapy–I did that for a while before I was referred to Chiropractic.  I’ve been going to the chiropractor at least once/week for the past year and a half.  It has helped tremendously in reducing the severity of the pain and I haven’t had many episodes of spasms since starting chiropractic.  The problem is that I’m still having to see a chiropractor weekly if I want to avoid a build up of pain in my system.  Once, while my chiropractor was out of town for a conference, I had to go about a week and a half, maybe two weeks without an adjustment–and my back locked up so tight and spasmed so much that I gave in and called my physician for muscle relaxers.  I took them once.  I slept the entire night through without tossing and turning–but when I woke up the next morning, my back hurt so bad from being in the same position the whole night that it took almost all of the next day to start feeling normal again.

And that–is the key.  My back feels better when I use my standing station at work (provided I have the right shoes on that day).  My back feels better when I move.  I talked to my physician about this during last year’s physical.  It was a feminine exam and so I told her about my fears–how am I supposed to start a family with my back this way?  How can I be reliable and take care of an infant if my back hurts so bad that I can’t even breathe?  And do you know what she told me?  She said “Try paleo.”  I disregarded her at the time because I was stuck on oatmeal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and dinner usually involved pasta with mixed veggies and some meat.  I should’ve listened to her back then.

Recently, I came across Nerd Fitness. As I started reading, I started hearing about the benefits of the paleo diet–they’re what you expect from any diet–more energy, better nutrition.. The part that was different, for me, is that it wasn’t specifically designed for weightloss, it was designed for better overall health and well being.  That’s what I need.  I need health and well being.  So, I hopped into the chat rooms in NF.  I talked to a few members there about their experiences with Paleo and I heard about reduced pain, reduced acne, increased energy and stamina.  I decided to give it a try.

Searching online for paleo plans will turn up any number of results.  It quickly became apparent that no one really agrees on what Paleo should really consist of.  Some sites say no eggs, others say no dairy, all of them say no legumes but they don’t all agree on what a legume is.  It’s enough to make your head spin.  Finally, I stumbled upon two very valuable resources.  The first was linked yesterday as the “Beginners guide to the paleo diet” by Steve Kamb.  The other is Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo.  There’s a forward by Robb Wolf (not Stark), and the book dives into the science behind the nutrition.  I’m reading about leaky gut right now, which is where there are foods that are harder for your body to break down and they may ‘leak’ through the gut–they’re seen as potential invaders and it triggers an immune response.  In fact–the majority of the book is explaining the science behind the nutrition in terms that I can understand.  I find myself nodding along and saying ‘that makes sense.’


Since I’m not finished reading the book, and because change is very difficult, we’re not 100% paleo in our house.  Both Jeff and I still eat dairy in the form of yogurt and cheese, but we’ve swapped our milk out for coconut milk.  The muffins in the picture above were made with coconut flour and they were so delicious.  I may make them again this weekend.  The pumpkin pancakes in the upper left of the collage have no flour whatsoever and taste like pumpkin french toast.  They’re amazing.  Although Paleo has a list of foods to avoid that includes peanuts, it’s hard to find trail mix that doesn’t have peanuts in it, so we still have the occasional peanut.  We eat a lot of almonds, and I like to eat sunflower seeds.  We do a lot of batch cooking on the weekends in order to prep for the week ahead.  Being on Paleo means that you have to make your own food because the biggest overarching message is to get away from all of the highly processed, genetically modified, unnatural foods.  It’s pretty similar to the Whole Foods diet and the like.  Unfortunately, this means that we’re shopping for freggies every weekend, and stocking up on meat when we can.  Our grocery bill (for 2 people) has been averaging to be around $450-500/month.  I think that there’s a better way to do it, and there are ways to save money,  so I have confidence that this figure will come down once we get some consistency.

The first month that we were successfully paleo for the most part, our grocery bill was over $600 for the month.  I freaked out because “we don’t have that kind of money! This plan isn’t sustainable!’ Then Jeff pulled up the rest of YNAB and showed me that the month prior, we had spent $200+ on restaurants and $200+ on lunch and $100+ on “spending money” that included food.  The month we were successfully paleo?  $90 on lunch, $100 on restaurants.  So, we have the money, we’ve just been using it to buy the convenience food items that are so readily available in our culture.   Going Paleo just means a reallocation of the funds to foods that are worthy of being bought.

My next step in this Paleo adventure is to tackle the elimination diet.  I need to figure out what in my diet is causing the chronic inflammation.  Is it gluten? Legumes? FODMAPS? sugar? Something else?  It’s going to be difficult and there will be a ton of prep work involved, but I think that I can ‘suffer’ for about a month if it means improving my quality of life in the immediate future, and potentially prolonging my life in the long run.

What are your thoughts on the gluten-free craze?  Have you ever heard of paleo before?  Tell me about your experiences.