Friday, February 28, 2014

I Can Save You Money....

During tax time, I am given a chance to compare things from year to year. Maybe it's the nerd in me, but I just do. The past two years, I haven't had to itemize my medical bills on my taxes because there haven't really been any. It made me think about how much money we've saved overall since I started taking care of my body. Honestly, it is amazing....



I did a comparison of my 2010 (pre-weight loss) and 2013 (most current) budgets. My 80 pound weight loss has drastically reduced some of my most expensive categories. 

Expense 2010 2013
Insurance Premiums $4420.00 $3120.00
Copays $400.00 $140.00
Out of Pocket $4200.00 $0.00
Medicine $1546.00 $324.00
Groceries $10,400.00 $6,500.00
Eating Out $5,200.00 $1,040.00


In 2010 we spent $26,166.00 on insurance, medical bills, and food. In 2013, we shaved $15,042.00 by spending only $11,124.00.

How does that happen? 

  • When I lost weight, I shopped around for better, cheaper insurance. I have the exact same coverage and am actually paying a lot less for it. Being obese and suffering from all of the health issues that stem from it was driving my premiums sky high.
  • Since I am taking care of myself and my family, we are not visiting the doctors as often. Eating clean has really helped with that. Caleb and I catch everything! Now that we are supplying our bodies with quality, nutrient dense foods we are able to fight off sickness much better. 
  • I had surgery to remove my gallbladder and repair a hernia in 2010. My diet and health choices led to gallbladder failure. I had to pay for an ultrasound of my gallbladder, a nuclear scanning test, and then surgery to remove it and repair the hernia. This amount does not include time out of work for all of the medical visits and post-op recovery. I also had an MRI of my back done. 
  • Prior to finding ALDI, we spent so much on groceries. Then most of the time, we'd let the food go bad by eating out so much. Pure laziness on my part, y'all. I'd buy "fat free" everything that really wasn't great for my family. It was more expensive and then I cooked a separate meal for Ryan and Caleb. Most of it wasn't terribly healthy either....
  • We ate out so much in 2010. I was lazy and miserable. Plain and simple. I didn't care about the thousands of extra calories I was eating just from eating out. Not one bit....
What is not shown on the table? 

I am not only an emotional eater, I also spend money as therapy. When I was overweight, miserable, and hurting, I spent money just to feel better. We'd do extra things with Caleb on the weekends to compensate for my feelings of failing as a wife and mother. Somewhere in my mind, I was convinced that I could simply make up for all of my shortcomings by spending money on the ones I love. 

There's no way to calculate what I've gained since I took control of my life, health, and happiness. I don't feel the constant need to self-soothe with money. I'm not paying for health problems anymore because I am fortunate enough to not have any now. 

Not only is my whole family healthier and happier, we can save a lot more money. We can put that towards doing something fabulous for our family instead of wasting it on being miserable. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

ALDI : Better For You

If you were to ask me what my absolute favorite thing is at ALDI, without hesitation I'd say the quality of their foods. Unprocessed, whole foods are the main focus for my family's meals. I want to know exactly what I'm putting into my body and I want the best.....but I don't want to spend my whole paycheck on it either. ALDI meets all of my goals when it comes to feeding my family. 

At the beginning of the year, I noticed some huge changes at my local ALDI. A whole line of organic items were offered and I was thrilled! The Simply Nature line features organic milk, snacks, broths, sauces, dressings, and even ice cream! For a clean eating nut, you know I'm loving it! ALDI is way ahead of the game. Other companies are just now beginning to remove GMO's from their foods. ALDI is already there without bloggers having to petition, scream, and beg! They know what's important to buyers and they have yet to disappoint. 

ALDI also has lean ground beef....

Made exclusively from top quality sirloin meat. A leaner alternative to other ground beef choices.
  • All-natural, no artificial ingredients, minimally processed
  • No artificial preservatives or dyes
  • Fresh, never frozen
  • USDA inspected

I'm not alone in my ALDI praises. ALDI has been recognized for their pursuit of nutritious food options....

  •  Product of the Year 2014 
  •  Private Label → Store Brands' 2014 Retailer of the Year 
  •  Private Label → Store Brands' Store Brand Achievement Awards 
  •  U.S. Championship Cheese Contest 
  •  Beverage Testing Institute 
  •  Wine Enthusiast Magazine 
  •  Wine Spectator 
  •  International Wine and Spirit Competition 
  •  PTPA Seal of Approval 
  •  Self Magazine Healthy Food Awards 
  •  PLMA's Salute to Excellence Awards™ 

  • Even if you aren't eating 100% clean, ALDI also has a Fit and Active line of products. They have something for everyone no matter how you chose to eat. I've tried several items from their Fit and Active line and I've never been disappointed. I aim to eat clean 80% of the time. When I have a treat, it's usually from the Fit and Active products... The mint ice cream sandwiches are delicious! Sometimes I crave fruit with whipped cream. I only sacrifice 20 calories per serving with the Fit and Active whipped topping! Caleb loves the multigrain waffles. It's a quick, easy breakfast on mornings that we are running behind on time. 

    Last week many of you here and on social networking sites let me know you tried ALDI for the first time! Many of you were in awe of how much money you saved on your grocery bill. For those of you still thinking about trying an ALDI store near you, what are you waiting for? You're obviously not going to waste a lot of money. Many of my friends and family have tried it since I have started writing about my experiences. Every single one of them were satisfied with their trips. 

    I was asked for a quick and easy lunch idea using ALDI foods. 

    I made a quick salad from spinach, cooked white beans, tuna, and organic dressing.

    Eating well doesn't mean slaving in the kitchen for hours every day. It doesn't mean you have to spend tons of money either.







    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

    Tips & Tricks : Crockpot Recipes

    If you been around here long, y'all know I love me some crockpot recipes! 

    I can make nutritious, low fuss clean eating meals in my crockpot. There's nothing better than coming home to an amazing dinner right after work. 

    My latest healthy, crockpot recipe is Corned Beef with Cabbage and Carrots. 

    I started eating this for Phase Two of the Fast Metabolism diet. I've read that some people really struggle during the protein days. For me, it's a breeze and this meal helps feel more satisfied. I think it's easier when you are eating something delicious. 

    I start by chopping one head of cabbage. I leave it in big pieces and just line the bottom of my large crockpot with it. 


    I dump a whole small bag of baby carrots on top. 
    (My husband and little boy can eat their weight in cooked carrots so we make extra!)


    Place your corned beef on top and add the small packet of seasonings, if desired. I trim the fat from the underside of the cut of meat for ours. 
    (I've found that the cut of corned beef at ALDI is much better than any other brand we have tried. This meat just falls apart and has a lot of flavor.)


    I then pour two cups of water and one contained of organic vegetable broth over everything. 


    Cook on low all day and it is simply amazing! My husband requests this meal once a week now. We have leftovers for the next day and it is so good. 

    Another quick and easy clean eating crockpot recipe is my Pineapple Chicken and Bean and Ham Soup



    Don’t forget – every link will be shared on the cohosting blogs, our Facebook pages, and pinned to Pinterest!
    Make sure you follow the cohosts (below), so that you can see your shout outs….
    If you link up today, please include our button on your post!
    Daily Dose of Del Signore
    <div align="center"><a href="http://www.dailydoseofdelsignore.com " title="Daily Dose of Del Signore"><img src="http://i1252.photobucket.com/albums/hh572/heatherfillyawgraham/TipsampTricksLinkybutton_zpsd74fd1d7.png" alt="Daily Dose of Del Signore" style="border:none;" /></a></div>




    Monday, February 24, 2014

    Motivation Monday : Favorite Strength Training

    ***The Lose Your Booty Diet Bet Challenge starts today! If you have signed up and would like us to feature your progress on our blogs, please complete this form!!!! *** 

    I have to admit something today... I honestly prefer cardio workouts to strength training. I have always preferred dancing, running or using an elliptical. My husband, on the other hand, loves lifting. In the evenings after Caleb goes to bed, it's not unusual to see him lifting during our favorite shows. 

    I actually have a lot of strength in my legs. You'll catch me maxing out the squat machine in the gym without any training. My biggest trouble area is my upper body strength. I despise push ups, pull ups, or any other kind of "ups"! 

    One of my sweet friends told me about an awesome website to finally help me with strength training....BodyBuilding.com! There is so much information on the site. You can find a plan or you can simply search for workouts that target certain muscles. There are also videos to show you have to do it correctly. It can't get much easier than that! 

    I want to know what I'm capable of...
    Image Via

    I took a fitness class in college that taught me how to determine the amount of weight you should be lifting to increase muscle strength. If you are using weight machines, simply find out the maximum amount of weight you can do one time on each machine. Take 75% of that and there's the number of pounds for reps. 

    (Again, I'm not a pro at this! Check with your doctor and/or trainer before proceeding!)


    Daily Dose of Del Signore
    <div align="center"><a href="http://www.dailydoseofdelsignore.com/search/label/Motivation%20Monday#.UcCCrPkskYk" title="Daily Dose of Del Signore"><img src="http://i687.photobucket.com/albums/vv234/Wendy413/MotivationMondayTeam.jpg" alt="Daily Dose of Del Signore" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

    If you link up with us, please grab our button for your post! 

























    Sunday, February 23, 2014

    Sometimes...


    Sometimes I feel the need to just drop to my knees and thank God over and over for the wonderful man I have the privilege of calling my husband. There's no one in the world I'd rather struggle and succeed with. I know deep down there's no one better matched for me in this world. He compliments my quirkiness in every way. 


    We had a conversation the other night about my hopes, dreams and goals. As I hugged and thanked him for supporting me, he said, "When have I ever told you no?" 

    It dawned on me in that moment....He hasn't

    He has one hundred percent always supported me. He has loved me through every crazy idea I've come up with! If something I want doesn't work out, he's the one comforting me and thinking of ways to make it happen.


    He's so much like my daddy in all of the ways that really matter. Those two men push me past my limits. They talk me through everything jumbled up in my head. They are my constant source of encouragement. All of my life, I knew that people like my dad were rare. I never imagined I would end up with a man who pushes me to greatness like my daddy. 

    I've got so many wonderful opportunities developing in my life right now. At times it's overwhelming. I struggled with change, even when it's absolutely fabulous. My husband puts everything into perspective and walks me through it. I've never been a sissy, but he makes me even tougher. He moves mountains to see me pursue my dreams. 

    I know so many people never have to chance to experience the kind of marriage I have. Ryan and I haven't always had this either, but we worked together and appreciate every second of it now. I strive to be as good to him as he is to me. I think that's what makes it work. He's such a blessing in my life and I want to take the time to fully appreciate everything he does for me and for our family. 


    I thank God every single day for my husband. God blessed me with a man better than I ever imagined for myself. 

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

    Prepping for Zumba

    So my Zumba certification class is quickly approaching. I've picked fellow Zumba lovers' brains about what to expect and how to prepare. 

    I've got my list of needed Zumba training items now....

    • A few changes of workout clothes! It's an all day thing and there's plenty of sweating....
         I'm packing three pairs of my favorite workout pants from Old Navy, sports bras and tank tops. (For some reason I hate having sleeves on me when I'm working out. Yuck!)

    • My new Nike bag to carry everything (thanks, hubby!)
    •  My big water bottle
    • Extra deodorant (I'm absolutely loving the new Dove Advanced Care Deodorant. It smells awesome and makes my skin so smooth. Plus it holds up to hours of Zumba workouts!)
    Dove® Advanced Care Deodorant with NutriumMoisture™
    • My new Nike's (thanks again, hubby...)
    • A few of my favorite Brady Bands to keep my hair out of my face! 

    • And some snacks to keep my energy levels up! I'm bringing some fruit, nitrate-free beef jerky, and I am trying the new organic line of bar from ALDI
    SimplyNature Crunchy Peanut Butter Energy Bars
    Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter Energy Bars

    SimplyNature Almond and Coconut Fruit & Nut Bars
    Organic Almond and Coconut Fruit & Nut Bars

    Anything I'm missing? Any suggestions?

    Mommy Got Fit Guest Post

    I am thrilled to have Andrea from Mommy Got Fit guest posting today! We share a passion for eating quality, nutritious foods. I think y'all will love her....

      Hello everyone! My name is Andrea from over at Mommy Got Fit. I'm excited to be part of a guest blog swap with Wendy! She asked me to talk a little bit about nutrition. This is something very dear to me. Before I jump into that I'll give you some information about me. I'm a mother of 4 pretty awesome kids. I have a 16 year old, 15, 5 and almost 3 year old. Living healthy has been an issue very important to me. The women in my family tend to be pretty overweight. After having my kids, I saw my weight begin to creep up and I started to get a bit nervous. I knew that I did not want to follow in the footsteps of the women in my family. I, like so many other women, started the unhealthy relationship with food and dieting. I ate too few calories, tried a few different pills, whatever would help me lose the weight. It wasn't until I began running that I realized I was messing up my body. Not only that, but I was afraid that I would send the wrong message to my girls. That leads me to the shift in my lifestyle. 

         Once I began running and lifting weights, I started, slowly, to view food as a source of fuel versus something that was making me fat. I found that when I would eat enough calories, that's right eat enough calories, I could not only get more out of my workouts, but I functioned better throughout the day. The problem with the whole dieting thing is that, while it might help you lose weight in the short term, the weight usually comes right back once the diet is over. It's a short term fix. I know, I know, if you just lose X pounds then you'll start eating healthy and keep the weight off. Sound familiar? We'll do anything it takes to lose that weight and promise to keep it off. We'll change our eating habits and live healthy after we starve ourselves and take diet pills to lose that extra weight. We are impatient. The problem is that it just doesn't work. So often we are so willing to sacrifice our health for the short term fix of being skinny. Food isn't our enemy, our habits and thoughts are, I'm not going to get into media and the diet industry here, let's focus on ourselves for this. 
    Displaying HELLO (1).png

         So let's talk about some key points in living a healthy lifestyle:

    1. Eat enough. Sounds simple, right? Depending on your height, weight, age, and activity level, your body needs a set amount of calories to just function each day. The problem is that when you eat too few calories your body goes into starvation mode where is begins to store food as fat and starts to "eat" your muscle for energy. The body saves the fat for a "rainy day" and uses the muscle as fuel. When you lose the muscle and when all that happens, your metabolism slows way down. So how do you know what's "enough"? That leads me to #2.

    2. Do your research. First, find out how many calories you need each day. I do not recommend using My Fitness Pal to calculate your caloric needs. It's great for tracking but not for the initial evaluation. I tried out several sites including MFP and was surprised that no matter what activity level I entered (I'm training for a marathon at the moment so my needs are high), it said I needed to eat 1200 calories each day to lose weight. Ummm, no. Granted it subtracts for activity level, but my base needs for calories is above 1200. Personally I like Free Dieting. It's pretty accurate. MFP said I need to eat 1200 calories a day where free dieting said 1510 for fat loss. 

    3. Try to eat on the 80/20 rule. There are a lot of foods out there that say they are low fat and fat free. The problem with these convenience foods is that they are filled with crap. They have artificial fillers and flavors that are horrible on your body. A good rule of thumb is if you can't pronounce the ingredients, it's not healthy, no matter what the label says. I'm not saying you have to be a saint and never eat "bad" foods. I'm saying aim for 80% of the foods you eat to be real foods. This might require more prep on your part, but if you plan ahead you can make it fit. Try to make those cheat type meals (the 20%) cleaner cheats. Real ice cream, sure a few cookies you made with real ingredients. 

    4. Find some healthy swaps. If you have some less than stellar eating habits (who doesn't), look for healthier swaps. My family LOVES their sour cream. Instead of getting the fat free stuff (stripped of health benefits), I use plain greek yogurt. They have no clue. Love you some sweets? Try some healthier recipes. Some of my favorites are homemade Lara Bars. So crazy easy to make and incredibly yummy! 

    5. No willpower = not in the house. I am the first to admit that my willpower is not the best. If there is a plate of cookies in my home, I will snack all day on those bad boys. So my method is to not have it in the house as much as possible. 

    6. Fuel for your goals. Use food to help you reach your fitness goals. If you are lifting weights (great for revving up the metabolism and losing weight) you will need to get some extra protein, especially after a lifting session. Starting to or already running? You might need to look at your carbohydrate intake to get you through longer runs. Food = fuel for your body.

    7. Working out is not a free pass to eat. When I ran my first marathon, I was heavier than I am now. I couldn't figure out why the weight wasn't budging. two reasons, 1. I was under the mindset that I was running a crap ton so I could eat whatever I wanted. 2. I wasn't weight training at all (another topic). It is counter productive to spend an hour in the gym and then turn around and drink a full fat Starbucks Latte (and I love me some latte's). 

    8. Read labels. I touched on this before, but read what you are eating. That salad you are eating might be loaded with a nasty dressing that makes your lunch less than stellar. Read what you are eating!

    9. Drink your water! I am absolutely horrible about this. I am notorious for standing over the sink and chugging 2-3 glasses of water at a time to try and get my water in. When you are dehydrated, your body will hold on to water from the foods you eat (translation, bloating). Your body needs water to function. Everything from thought processes to metabolism depends on proper hydration. 

    10. Only you can make the change. Lastly, no one can force you to live healthy. I just want you to know that it's worth it, you're worth it. I never thought that I would go from being a bit overweight to running marathons and competing in triathlons! It is never too late to live healthy. 

    I want to thank-you for taking the time to read my guest post! I love meeting new people and promoting a healthy lifestyle. I hope you like what you read! Feel free to stop by and say hi!

     Displaying IMG_6660.PNG
         
    Stop by and say hi to her this morning! 

    Friday, February 21, 2014

    My ALDI Addiction

    It's no secret around here how much I adore ALDI. When I first started my clean eating lifestyle, ALDI was my go-to store. Not only can I feed my family good, quality food....We save a TON of money! Our grocery bill has been cut almost in half over the past several months. 

    Image Via

    Every single time I go in my local store, I am amazed by the deals and the new products. ALDI has started carrying a few organic products that taste amazing, but still save so much money. It's a win-win every single time! The most important thing I can always count on: Quality! 

    Image Via

    Ryan and I have made a point to compare products. We've tried Walmart, Bi Lo, and Publix's spinach. Every single time, the ALDI pre-packaged spinach stays fresher longer and has a better taste. We prefer all of their frozen fruits and vegetables over any other competitor. The taste is always much better and fresher. For some reason, Ryan and I are always surprised. For years I thought that if I was paying more for something it would be better quality. Not the case with ALDI. I can save so much and find better tasting foods. 


    Many of the readers here have never thought of trying ALDI and are curious about it. I have received many emails asking why the prices are so much better at ALDI. It's really simple....They have lower overhead. 

    When you come to ALDI, bring two things: a quarter and reusable shopping bags. 

    You're going to laugh at us, but Ryan and I keep an "ALDI quarter" in my car. It is saved specifically for the shopping carts! Every time we pull up at ALDI, Caleb grabs the quarter and is the designated "cart getter". Your quarter fits in the slot on the cart and releases the chain. At the end of your shopping trip, just return the cart and get your quarter back. 

    How does this help ALDI

    Instead of paying someone to go out and get all of the shopping carts throughout the day, they can cut prices on their products with the money saved. They also don't have to pay for cart corrals in the parking lot either. 

    When checking out, make sure to bring some reusable shopping bags! ALDI saves money and the environment by not using plastic bags. Once a week, Ryan and I would buy one of the extra large ALDI reusable bags (just $1.99 each) until we had enough to cover our shopping trips. With all of the money saved on groceries, it was a great deal! 

    Image Via

    My favorite ALDI items? 

    • Milk (We can buy a gallon for just over $3 at ALDI. Any other store is over $5 a gallon)
    • Eggs ($1.39 per dozen)
    • Spinach
    • Strawberries, mangoes, pineapple ($.99 each!!!), seedless grapes, and apples
    • All of the veggies are awesome!
    • Dried beans
    • Organic salad dressing
    • Frozen skinless, chicken breasts
    • Mussels ($2.99 a pack....same brand at other stores: $8.99)
    • Frozen mangoes, strawberries, and blueberries
    • Frozen whole wheat waffles (Caleb loves these!)
    • Corned beef brisket (No other brand compares! I'll share our recipe later.)
    • Turkey bacon and sausage
    • Hummus
    • Almond milk
    • Egg whites
    • Oatmeal
    • Seasonings
    I basically do all of my shopping at ALDI. If they don't have it, I pretty much don't need it. 


    We seriously love their spinach! My kid gets a little excited about it....


    I create basic salads for our lunch from the freshest ALDI ingredients. Spinach, corn roasted in a skillet, and fresh avocado is perfect for a quick, easy lunch. I love the tuna and chicken from ALDI on top of a pretty salad. 

    My grocery budget has gone from about $200 per week for myself, my husband and my child to right around $125 (often times less) per week. That is absolutely huge to us! The food is better and I save money. Makes complete sense! 




    I've got some exciting news to share....Since writing my original ALDI/clean eating post here, I have been invited by ALDI to visit their test kitchen and tour their wonderful facilities! I am beyond flattered, blessed and excited for the opportunity to share my love of ALDI with all of you. 

    All opinions are my own since I refuse to be bribed. I have been a dedicated ALDI shopper long before this offer. I simply love quality food and saving money. My long time readers know that I'm going to tell it like it is!  




    LinkWithin

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...