Sunday, February 01, 2015

January Healthy Living Recap

When my 2015 challenge to live healthy on a budget was in the planning stages I didn’t want it to be a losing weight or a diet challenge. My belief is healthy living is about more than how much you weigh and includes mental, spiritual and physical health in addition to healthy eating.

Here is my January "Healthy Living on a Budget" challenge recap:

Physical health:
One of my main goals of this challenge was to strengthen my core to prevent injuries during exercise which I alluded to in this post. Prior to the challenge, I asked a fitness instructor to recommend an exercise I could perform January 1st to measure my current core strength. The plan is to perform this same exercise again on December 31st to see how I’ve improved.  She recommended the walking push up.

Here is a demonstration:

On January 1st I was able to do 7 walking push-ups.  Unfortunately January did not end up being about increasing my core strength or about getting healthy, it was about working – A LOT. In December my company set a sales record booking almost four times our normal monthly sales. Add in a conference our HR director insisted I attend that was a five hour drive away and preparing for our year-end audit and you can see why this accountant spent most of her evenings and weekends working and not exercising – or reading or blogging.
Today just for fun I again tried to see how many walking push-ups I could do – I managed eight.

I want to point out I am not a fan of push-up challenges where you increase the number of push-ups you do each day. I blame this challenge for the elbow tendinitis I experienced a couple of years ago and now refuse to partake in repetitive daily challenges.

Mental health:
In past years, January and to some extent February were not good mental health months for me. My increased work load along with the lousy Wisconsin weather tend to make me depressed.  This year was better.  My husband semi-retired in November. Having him home to run errands, take care of our dogs, clean and cook has helped immensely allowing me to focus my time almost entirely on my work.

Spiritual health:
I did manage a couple of winter walks with my husband and dogs on Saturday afternoons.  Spending time in nature always helps my spirit.  In addition, we attended the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 18 featuring pianist Richard Goode. Richard Goode was incredible and this was my favorite symphony concert to date.
Healthy eating:
This one was more challenging. I’ve been reading The Complete Beck Diet for Life: The Five-Stage Program for Permanent Weight Loss by Judith Beck and tried to implement her success skills during January.  Most of them ended up being failures:

Weigh yourself daily – I’ve done this for years.  Seeing the number no longer motivates me.

Eat slowly while sitting down and enjoying every bite:
I love this one.  How many times do I eat the brownie from the lunch room while walking back to my office or stand over the kitchen counter binging on snacks when I get home from work. I tried this – I really did, but lasted two days maybe three before I was standing over the counter snacking again.
Keep a food journal:
This is such a great idea and also recommended as a dieting strategy that works in Charles Duhigg's book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. I kept a food journal for one week and one day.  I became bored with the process.  Even re-reading the entries was boring.  I did learn I tend to eat every two hours, planning my food works best and that I comfort myself with food when I am stressed or overworked.

Skills to deal with food pushers:
This was an epic fail while attending the conference.  One of my fellow conference attendees was a food pusher: this chicken wing has your name on it and here finish off these nachos. You are supposed to say, “No, thank you.” Eating and drinking too much at the conference most likely contributed to my:

I gained one pound during January.
Goals for February – plan my food, set and stick to a healthy food budget, get back into regular workouts at my gym rotating between cardio and strength and hopefully find more time for me.  Next year I am adding how to live healthy when you are time strapped to the challenge.

How did you live healthy during January?  What are your healthy goals for February?


  1. January is tough - especially because of the awful weather no matter where one lives in this country! and also in your business. Year end is awful for accountants. Seems to me it's a [small] victory to have followed thru in all areas of your goals and to have ONLY gained one pound.

    Tho i hate February even more than January, i hope it will go better for you.

    1. Usually February is worse than January for me too - I usually go into a slump. Lots of changes going on this year. So far so good. I've been working on portion control - not working yet!

  2. I normally eat on the run, and it's amazing how much effort it takes to sit down to eat :)

  3. Whoa - I've been a good proponent of core exercises for a few years ever since I find it helps tremendously to prevent back pain but I would think this walking pushups would be HELL for someone who wants to START such! ugh. Just holding plank for longer times each day is good, though.
    Best to you on your goals! Happy 2015.

    1. Thanks Care. I haven't done the walking pushups since the first. I'm using the exercise just to measure core strength. Happy to hear core exercise helped prevent your back pain.

  4. Hey Savvy,

    I like the idea of seeing what you can do now, and then what you can do each month or at the end of the year. Cool. Yea for the husband helping out with January, I live on the boarder of WI and IL and I get you with regards to the weather it has not been a bad year this year. LAST yeast sucked!!!!

    I am back to eating portions and cooking like weight watchers. Hubs has lost 12 pounds... Basta*d :) I have lost a pound, but i feel so much better, 6 more to go..... Then I am back to my WW weight, those 6 have been hanging around for a darn year!

    Let me know if you want a couple of go to recipes that really work for me, that I think you would like :)

    Good luck with February and KEEP GOING STRONG!!!!!


    1. Thank you - I am enjoying the challenge and I appreciate the encouragement. I like having a purpose that isn't about work.

      Yes - I would love those recipes.

  5. I have been considering starting a food journal. I have been working out regularly, which in the winter for some reason seems quite uplifting. I wish I had done this more in the winter back in Illinois, but those winters had a tendency to get me down, I just wanted to hibernate and watch TV.
    All the best!

    1. Yes winters are tough. Especially when the temperature is 12 degrees like it was today. I didn't go outside once. I abandoned my food journal after ten days, but another blogger has motivated to start up again. I'm to keep it for 2 weeks then review the entries. Hopefully I will have more success this time.

  6. just totally motivated me to get my butt back in the gym. I don't know that I could do a walking pushup, but you are amazing! Thanks for posting your goals!

    1. Good luck with the walking pushups. They are tough. I will be lucky if I can do ten at the end of the year.

  7. I think you're making progress and that rules, woman. I'm very happy to read you've capitalized on your husband's retirement. I am patiently awaiting those days and it feels like they'll never come. As far as the food thing goes - I'm going to be honest. I don't feel like I can truly eat healthy while living in this society. It's not even a matter of choice in most circumstances. I want to eat fresh, locally-grown, non-chemical foods that are delivered from garden to plate and that just doesn't happen in most of today's restaurants. I've found I need to do it all myself....grow it, clean it, cook it, then eat it. It's discouraging and depressing...and depression makes me lazy...and nowhere in the grow-clean-cook equation is there time for laziness.

    So I'm proud of you for following up on your health goals and continuing to make progress....that's what I see. Fix the mind and spirit first and the body will happen naturally. Many more wonderful things to come. Can't wait to read about them :)

  8. Oh fix the mind and spirit first and good things will come - love that. Yes, with every label I read I am finding I can eat less food purchased from the grocery store. And I haven't begun to explore what goes into our meats and nonorganic fruits and vegetables.