Tagarchief: #positive

Meal planning for starters

Meal planning. Who does that? Only athletes and health freaks, that is what I thought many years. I have tried it a couple of times before, but never even managed to write down one week of meal planning. I read about it, thought it was a good idea, but that was about it. I thought it was hard and unnecessary. I thought thinking ahead for more than two days of what to eat was too much to ask. And yet, many days I could not find any inspiration for what to put on the table. I have to admit that it does take a while to figure out how meal planning works, how to make a shopping list, when to prepare the food in advance. But most of all, meal planning is maybe not necessary, but it helps a lot to in many ways. It clear you mind and life. It helps you space for more things to enjoy. It simplifies your daily life.

We just started this year with meal planning for our family. I did some research, I gathered recipes, I read on different blogs other people’s experiences. I must admit that reading other blogs got me inspired. Also seeing examples of how people do meal planning was very useful. Visual are really powerful. So, I got engaged. Also because I wanted to eat healthier, more whole foods, less refined sugar and carbs, more vegetables and fish. And before I knew it , I made myself a template for meal planning and I started planning. And I can say I enjoy it so much already, that I need to share with you the benefits of meal planning.

Meal planning saves time. It might be a little more work till you get the hang of it, but just think of all the time you save not going almost daily to the supermarket. You also don’t lose time looking around aimlessly what to buy. And you don’t waste time thinking everyday what shall I cook for dinner now. If you start meal prepping on a fixed day of the week, you invest a little more time on that day, but saves you lots of time on stressful, working days.

Meal planning saves money. It is a shock to realise how often I used to throw away food. Even in the last years, when I was very aware of food and environment. If you don’t buy impulsively, or because something is on sale, you probably end up not wasting money by throwing away unused and perished food. So not only you save money, you reduce food waste, which is a very sustainable thing to do too. You can create a meal plan where all the ingredients go together. When you go shopping, with your shopping list according to your meal plan, you buy purposely, so you buy less.

Meal planning makes you healthier. When you are uninspired what to cook, you are more likely to stick a frozen pizza in the oven or order Chinese. Or you grab unhealthy snacks in between meals. But when you plan your meals, your weekly meals are more nutritionally well-balanced.  You plan in advance and you don’t shop hungry and go for the easy, usually unhealthy stuff.

Meal planning decreases stress. You don’t have use a lot of energy everyday to figure out ‘what’s for dinner next’. You don’t have to squeeze in shopping for groceries between all your other daily activities. You don’t have to worry too much if you eat well-balanced. All these things to worry less about, are really helping to sensibly reduce your stress level. Also, on the long-term, when you have made more meal plans, you can reuse them and that will also mean less stress and more free time as well.

So, my 4th week of meal planning just started. How about you? You can find plenty of free templates for meal planning on internet. Why don’t you give it  try?

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Knitting myself healthy

There have been a few hard weeks lately. Nothing came out of my hands. My to do list got longer, my goals fuzzier, my frustrations heavier. I don’t know exactly what hit me. Maybe it’s just a good old autumn depression, I used to be very sensitive to that years ago. I would just crawl up on the sofa after work and try to see as less people as possible in my free time. Maybe this year is dealing with some personal issues a part of it. Maybe it is a combination. But the main thing is that I was mostly feeling down, depressed, lacking energy and just wanting to be left alone.

It is still hard to just say it out loud: I am not so well, I am feeling down. Even saying that to yourself is hard, because it means you really have to acknowledge it. And when you do that, when you admit that to yourself, you just took the first towards healing yourself.
And that is what I did. Well, actually saying it was still hard, I texted my husband one tough afternoon and I felt so relieved afterwards. Just by texting that I got a little energy shot through my veins, actually felt is. Next, I talked to a friend. And then to another. And before I knew it I just said to myself I am feeling depressed, I need to find a way to get out of here.

So, how to get out of this? If it would be so simple, I am sure depression wasn’t a thing anymore. But it is, and it is very personal, and there is no one size fits all cure. At first I pushed myself to do more physical exercise. And even though I am jogging, I could not find the energy to do more. Then I pushed myself to maybe study or read more, work related, but that didn’t work either. Then I pushed myself to work more, but even though I had plenty of ideas, everything I was trying to achieve just crumbled down from lack of enthusiasm, inspiration and again lack of energy. I was going round in circles and hated it. I didn’t feel productive, achieving , contributing. Which made me feel even more depressed.

Then I had the epiphany that in order to break this vicious circle, I needed to do whatever really made me happy and would give me energy. Something totally out of my comfort zone. Something new. Something that maybe scared me but that I really wanted to do. But what was that?

The answer came in a Facebook post one day, at random. Someone mentioned that there is a lady who is willing to teach others how to knit. And by reading that, I immediately felt a little outburst of excitement going through my body. If there is something I have always wanted to learn how to do, it was knitting and crocheting. My grandmother used to make us the most beautiful creations when I was young, and I was mesmerised but her skills. But I never learned how to do it. And for years I was talking about learning how to knit, but I was scared I couldn’t. So I never really tried, or gave up after a few attempts. Up until now. I contacted this lady, she started teaching me, and within a few weeks I finished my first knitting project. I couldn’t be more proud!

My grandmother Nana and me, wearing her knitted angora hat (angora is a big no no now) and a shawl

Knitting is not something I am leaning because I have to. Or because I could make a career out of it and earn more money. I am doing it for me. It gives me satisfaction, which makes me feel good about myself, and that positives feeling gives me back my energy. I have literary something on my hands, I have to concentrate, focus, create, count, make mistakes and fix them, and I get to see how something is growing out of my hands.

In the olden days there was popular knowledge that knitting is benefiting your mental health. And today, more and more scientific research shows that the benefits of knitting and other handicrafts goes much further. It’s an anti-stressing activity, your blood pressure goes down, you focus better, it calms you when in crises, it helps slowing the decline of brain function and more. Studies have showed that people with depression start feeling more happiness after learning how to knit and that there is a direct link between our hands and brain that activates the happiness centre in our brain. This article for the New York Times gives a good overview of the latest findings over the Health Benefits of Knitting.

Benefits of knitting are numerous.

And me, I couldn’t agree more. I feel how the fog is being lift, I have more clarity and I slowly have more energy. I am still learning how to knit and I am discovering more and more techniques each step of the way. Although I didn’t start knitting because I was aware of all these benefits, my inner compass guided me. Instinctively, intuitively, I knew its was the right thing to do. It is so worth it.