Operation Skinny Jeans

Friday, September 19, 2014

SNAP Challenge Wrap Up

Today is the last day of my SNAP challenge!

This has been an eye opening challenge for sure. Not really to the experience of living on less, because I have done that before, but on trying to make healthier choices while doing it. I think more than anything it has opened my eyes to how many people that read my blog and that I know struggle with food insecurity every day. It is a real problem, that I think a lot of people can dismiss as "someone else's problem" but it isn't. And I hope that by talking about it, I helped open your eyes to it if its not a situation you have ever found yourself in.

First I am want to share my experience with food insecurity in the past, then some incredible stories from people who shared on my Facebook page. Its really easy to ignore the problem when it doesn't identify with anyone you care about, and reading these stories is very eyeopening.

When I was a kid, we were on SNAP. I was about 6, I think, when my mom sent my sister and I down to the 7/11 on the corner to get food. I remember getting a hot chocolate, and that our food stamps wouldn't pay for it (because apparently you can't buy prepared food with SNAP, something I didn't know at that age) and I remember having to throw it away. I knew what food stamps were, we lived in a low socioeconomic area, but until that time I didn't know we were on them. I remember when we were at my mom's, my sister and I would share a ramen for dinner, or we would share a pot pie. We were also on free lunch and free breakfast at school, which helped because I am sure we weren't getting adequate nutrition from half a packet of ramen for dinner.

Fast forward about 15 years and I experienced food insecurity again. My husband and I were just dating, but we thought we were ready to live in the real world. He was a server at Olive Garden and I was going to school full time, doing a work study for student aid. We were living off credit cards to get by, and we ate a lot of restaurant leftovers. We had a very small budget for food, about $20 a week, and we would go on, what we called, the spaghetti and hot dog diet. We could get a few boxes of spaghetti, sauce, and those cheap hot dogs to get us through the week. It wasn't healthy, but it was something. When we started to get back on our feet, I we had a different respect for people who struggled to eat. We were those people. And any time we could we would donate to the food bank, especially around holidays.

When I opened up my Facebook page to hear other people's stories, I was so touched. A lot of people are going through this struggle right now. I am incredibly lucky to have a different situation right now, but not all people do. Here are their responses. I recommend reading through all of them. Each of their experiences help paint the picture that is food insecurity in our community.

Click through to read the comments:

This challenge has reaffirmed my passion for this cause. There are a few things you can do to help if you feel driven to. Donate to your local food bank. Do it often. Quarterly we go through our pantry and donate anything that is unopened and not expired. Boxed pasta, spaghetti sauce, oatmeal (that we bought without realizing we had some), all canned goods. These things can make a big difference for someone else, when it is just collecting dust in your pantry.

Around the holidays, the food bank is always at my local Walmart or grocery store collecting food for the holidays. Grab a flyer and buy something. What will cost you $3-$5, will make a families' day. My husband's company buys a turkey for every family that works there for Thanksgiving, so we always pay that forward by buying a Turkey (or 2) for the food bank.

If you want to give your time, the food bank is always looking for volunteers. There are so many ways you can reach out in your local community- all you have to do is ask.

I was planning on doing a calorie and price run down of my meals, but 1. they were all in the budget, and 2. the food isn't what matters. What I wanted to do was raise awareness for this very real problem. I relate to people's stories. I can throw stats at you until the cows come home, but stories are what change you.

I am so glad I did this challenge, and it isn't the last you will hear from me about it. And if you want more information about how you can help, or about SNAP, go to feedingamerica.org.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Real Life Fashion- Old Navy Style

Remember this? I do! 

Ginny and I are dorks and love shopping! So we picked out a staple at Old Navy, this black dress, and  styled it 3 ways each! Since I first discovered the dress in my last shopping trip to Old Navy, I have 4 looks :D

I fell in love with this dress the first time I tried it on. Its a great cut, very flattering, and I love that the neckline is higher so it is good for bigger busted ladies like myself! It is good for work or casual or even fancy events if you accessorize it correctly so I thought I would share my favorites! All the accessories and shoes *except my Converse in one pic* are from Old Navy :D

#1- The Original :D I would wear this to work or maybe to a happy hour or dinner date. Casual- Fancy rating, I would give it a 7.

Brown belt and Leopard (tho hard to see) flats
#2- Casual Friday. I would wear this- you guessed it- on casual Friday. Or maybe with flats on a Tuesday. I would also wear this to book club or brunch. Or really any day. I love this look. EFF I want that necklace.
Boyfriend Sweater, Chunky Necklace (that I need) and leopard print sneakers 

#3- Boss is in the Office. On very very rare occasions I wear heels. These nude heels are cute and not too high. I liked the colors of the scarf and thought they went well together. I thought a belt would be too much, but now I kinda think a belt would be good. Hm.

Nude heels and Scarf
#4 Lazy Sunday or super casual Friday, like do you even have to wear dress pants M-Th? This look would have totally worked any day of the week at my last job because I could wear jeans and t-shirts all week. I would definitely wear this on a weekend tho. Its cute and casual and I should have sized down that shirt, it looks sloppy. Oh well.

Chambray shirt (that was too big, oops) and brown canvas belt
#5 (because I suck at math and actually bought this dress with a gift card from my birthday and wore it to see a play and go out to dinner). I would call this... I don't know, Fancy ish. Theatre appropriate, probably work too... (note- none of these accessories (except the necklace) are from Old Navy...)

Belt from Target, Boots from Lane Bryant and I was wearing black tights from lord knows where

And here is all the stuff I used. Except I can't find jewelry on their website! Weird...

Old Navy

OH and in case you are curious, yes you do need this dress. Go get it. It's only $25. And no, I wish Old Navy knew who I was, sadly they don't so no free stuff for me. OH and I am in an XL in that dress. And the sweater. I grabbed a XXL for the blue top and should have grabbed an XL.

Go check out Ginny's outfits with the same dress!
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014


This week I have been thinking a lot about food. Well, lets be honest, I ALWAYS think about food. I am constantly assessing my hunger, thinking about what I am gonna eat next, how I am gonna prepare it, if it will fit in my containers, blah blah blah. And this week I am worried if I have enough food to finish out the week, if I REALLY want to eat chicken and rice again for lunch (spoiler alert, I don't). I have spent YEARS of my life preoccupied by food.

I read this awesome article this morning that my friend Sonya sent to me. It is fascinating how spot on it really is. I have met a lot of women, and I don't know ONE that isn't preoccupied by her weight or what she eats. Amazing powerful successful women in my family beat themselves up over those 10 lbs they keep gaining and losing but can't seem to keep off.  A beautiful mom in my family is sensitive about her post baby stomach (in fact, I bet all of them are, we just don't talk about it).

It's funny, I was at my Uncle's house and I was fixated on that picture of me on the wall (the one I posted last weekend) and he chuckled. And he said "It's funny, when I see that picture, I see someone I love who I am happy to have in my family. " And when I see that picture I see my huge stomach and how uncomfortable I was with myself the night it was taken. But the people who love us DON'T see that. I think the successful woman in my life is beautiful and doesn't need to lose those last 10 lbs, and that the mom I love is perfect the way she is. I can love other people's bodies as they are, but not my own.

I wrote that last sentence and had to stop. I write a lot about body love and self acceptance and while I certainly don't hate my body like I used to, I am not sure I love it either. I mean clearly I don't, I just wrote that without thinking about it.

Moving on.

Why do we as women see the worst in ourselves but the best in those around us? Why can't we see ourselves through the eyes of those who love us? I feel like if we did, we would all be MUCH happier with our bodies. If we stopped wasting so much time worrying about food and our size, we could rule the world.

So that is my goal this week. To get through this week of eating without stressing about it (too much) and to look at myself through the eyes of my loved ones.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

SNAP Challenge! Here we go!!

Like I mentioned on Thursday, I took a challenge to live off the SNAP budget for 5 days. So I made a plan (that went to hell, but more about that in a minute) and went to Walmart with $22.50 in my pocket. 

I knew if I was going to stay on that tight of a budget (which $4.50 a day for us is pretty tight. We budget $75 a week for food, so going down to $22.50 was quite a change) I was going to need to have a plan. I decided on two proteins, cooked various ways to keep it interesting, and went with Chicken and Beef, because they are easy. Add in eggs for breakfast to have a protein filled day, pepper in some veggies and voila! This was going to be EASY!

So I walked into Walmart (which is not where I normally shop. So I walked in a lot of circles trying to find stuff) I headed straight to produce. I pulled up the calculator on my phone so I could keep track of what I was spending. I wanted to stay under $20 pre tax so I knew I wouldn't go over with tax. First I grabbed 2 roma tomatoes (for a salad I was planning), a head of lettuce, two ears of corn, and a pound of my favorite string beans. I was feeling pretty good, that was about $5 in produce so I knew I could get meat and grains for $15. So far, this was EASY!

Then I grabbed my meat. I got chicken tenderloins because they were $2 cheaper than breasts. And I got 93/7 ground beef because even tho it is a little more (almost $6 a lb) I thought it was worth it. Then I started to run through my list in my mind, noting that I only had like $4 left and I freaked. How could I get eggs, bread, rice, and cheese on $4! I couldn't! So I had to put stuff back. I have put stuff back on shelves before, like the cookies I REALLY didn't need, and felt no shame, but something about having a calculator in my hand and putting back LETTUCE I couldn't afford felt different. I put back the lettuce and the tomatoes, and the corn (which I later grabbed again) and rethought my plan. Peppers were cheap, so I kept those, and decided to make stuffed peppers, each pepper making 2. I could be boring and have chicken with green beans and rice for lunch every day. Its easy to heat up, doesn't really take prep work outside cooking the chicken and putting it all into containers. So I felt okay there.

I didn't have enough to do stuffed peppers EVERY night (plus the idea of eating the exact same thing for 5 days straight didn't sound like something any average person would do. At some point, you are going to crack, so I grabbed some whole wheat spaghetti to make spaghetti and meat/ pepper sauce. So 3 nights I will have that, 2 nights I will have stuffed peppers, and eggs for breakfast. That looks way different from my original plan, but it is what it is.

Here is my receipt of what I got:

And a photo:

The good news here is those green beans. A pound of green beans is a LOT of green beans. And for $1.68 a lb, you really can't beat it. Its way cheaper to buy them fresh than canned or frozen. Same thing with the other veggies. I spent $3.44 cents on the produce. That really is a fraction of my budget. It is fresh meat that took up the majority. Maybe the lesson in this is its cheaper to be a vegetarian? lol I am obviously kidding, but I think it is noteworthy how much I spent on a fair amount of vegetables.

So we will see how the rest of the week goes! The only prep I have had to do so far is grill the chicken, which took 15 minutes, and while I did that I boiled that box of eggs. I think even a very very busy person can spend 15 minutes (okay maybe 20 with packaging) cooking breakfast and lunch for a week. I grill my chicken by cutting it into cubes and skewering it, if that helps anyone...

And I just season it with salt and pepper. Then I divide the cubes into 5 equal portions (I use my 21 day fix red container, but I have learned a lb makes 5 cooked portions) and add 1/4 cup of rice and a hand full of green beans to each container. add a little water, microwave for 1:30 and tada- lunch. 

I feel pretty prepared but I am excited to see how the rest of the week goes. I will have an update for you all on Friday. If you want to learn more about SNAP go here, and about your local food bank, google "local food bank" and do what you can. And here is info from Feeding America about the hunger crisis and how we can help. And last but not least, info on the SNAP challenge, and how you can participate. 

I hope that if nothing else this challenge can raise awareness and help shed light on a huge problem in America. 

AND in case this wasn't clear, I am doing this because its a cause I believe in. Feeding America and SNAP and all that don't know who I am. I am in no way being paid to do this, or anything like that. 

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Friday, September 12, 2014

My FAVORITE Clean Chili Recipe

It is FALL! My favorite time of the year. It means pumpkin things and blankets and I love it!

Tonight, because it is freezing outside, I am making my favorite Chili for dinner! I made it a couple months ago and took pictures to blog about and NEVER got around to it (happens a lot...) so I thought I would write this up today!

PLEASE excuse my iPhone pictures and lack of any sort of "food blogger photography" finesse. I am not a food photographer, so yeah...

Clean Chili Recipe

1 lb lean ground Turkey
2 bell peppers (I like yellow and red, but whatever works)
3 medium tomatoes
Cumin and Chili powder to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400
2.  Cut up your peppers and tomatoes into chunks (about quarters) and put on a pan.

3. Roast for 30 minutes or until soft and a little brown. I flip them over half way through. 

lol I didn't realize I got my feet in all these pictures. #photographerfail
4. Put roasted veggies in a blender and blend until lightly chunky.  (You want it to be liquid, but I like some chunks too.)

5. Put in a pot over medium high heat and let simmer. Start seasoning. I like cumin and a little chili powder. 

6. While that is doing its thing, brown your meat and season if you want to. If you like beans in your chili, you can add them to the pot now, but I don't like beans.

7. After its done its thing for as long as you want it to (no specified time, it doesn't become a unicorn after an hour, believe me, I have waited) Eat it :D

I guess I could have wiped the side first. #fail
I used to make chili using canned tomatoes and canned beans and canned blah blah blah and when I realized you can make it completely from vegetables, I won't go back. The chili is fresh and delicious and you know 100% what is in it. This is a fall staple recipe in my family.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hunger Action Month

Here in Colorado, it is Hunger Action Month. Basically what that means is we try to bring awareness to the hunger problem and do something about it. This cause is very close to my heart. Growing up, we didn't always live in abundance. I was on the free lunch program, and even got free breakfast at school. I went to elementary school in the inner city and I know what it feels like to be hungry. Because of this I have always been really passionate about helping others have access to food. We are active donators to our local food bank, and we do what we can to help those less fortunate than ourselves. So when my awesome cousin Julian (who owns an awesome company called Get Outfitted) took the Care and Share Challenge, I asked if I could jump on that too.

In Southern Colorado, 1 in 6 families are on food assistance programs. That is a LOT and those family get just $4.50 per person per day for food. I know that I am incredibly lucky to have the means to put food on the table, so I want to raise awareness by taking the challenge to live off of $4.50 a day next week. The way the challenge works is I get $22.50 (of my own money) to buy groceries for 5 days. Knowing that my husband and I can blow that at Chipotle in a second completely blows my mind. It is just for me, if he were participating we would get an additional $12, Here is a video that explains the challenge.

I am accepting this challenge for a couple reasons. 

1. Like I said above, this is a cause very near and dear to my heart. 
2. I wholeheartedly believe I can eat healthily on $4.50 a day. I know it. One of the number one resistances I hear to living a healthy lifestyle is that it is expensive. I want to show that it doesn't have to be. 
3. I want to raise awareness. Every community has a food bank. Are you doing what you can to help your community and those in need? Maybe if this cause touches your heart as well, you can make someone's day.

So my plan. 

After much discussion and thought, I have identified three major concerns that struggling families have with eating healthy. It is inaccessible, its expensive and its inconvenient. I don't disagree, but I want to prove that it is not as bad as it may seem. Because of this I am going to buy all of my groceries at Wal-mart (as much as it pains me). I understand that Wal-mart is way more accessible to the population struggling with hunger and on food assistance, so I don't want to show you that you can eat healthy for cheap at Whole Foods. Partially because I don't think you can, Whole Foods IS expensive, but mostly because if you are on food assistance, you aren't going to go to Whole Foods. Wal-mart is accessible and I respect that. 

I am also going to focus on convenience. Sure, it is easier to make healthier choices if you spend 3 hours on the weekend prepping your food, but I respect that my audience doesn't have that luxury. I am going to do my best so that the single mom of 4 who works odd hours doesn't have to spend time prepping to be healthy. So my goal is all meals can be made in less than 30 minutes, with lunches that can be packed in less than 5. 

It starts on Monday, so this weekend I will create a menu, go shopping, take pictures of what I bought and my receipt, and have a run down of my plan for you. I am excited for this challenge and I hope it brings awareness to those who are blessed and some tools for those of you who feel like eating healthy is expensive or inaccessible to you. 
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Blame Game

I have been thinking a lot about blame. I think it's easy to blame other people for our problems, the parents who didn't do it right, the job you don't love, the cookies for being in the house, the number of hours in the day. We blame other people and factors all the time. Myself included.

I have been thinking a lot about my ED. I have always blamed it on my parents. I always blamed it on my circumstance. I even have a problem with a fear of failure, and again- its totally my parents fault. But is it? I am 27 years old. At what point is it my problem? At what point do I have to take responsibility for my actions (and reactions to my circumstances) and own them. At what point do I stop blaming the past (and time, and cupcakes) and take ownership of my choices.

Today. That's when.

I struggle with an eating disorder because I let food have power over me. I use food to help me cope and that has become a habit. I choose to binge. I choose to starve myself. I have the power. Realizing that is incredibly empowering. I have always felt like this ED is something that happened to me. That my depression was something that happened to me. Its not. Its something I can control. And it is no one's to own by mine.

I struggle with self belief and self confidence because I don't allow myself to succeed- or I don't count my successes as successes. I live in fear and I control that. My thoughts can change that and I can't blame that on anyone but myself. This realization is freeing. It is empowering to stop blaming and start owning. Because now instead of being a victim of my circumstances, I can change them.

So starting today, a new year in my life, I am going to own my choices and try to make better ones. I am not a victim. I am in control. And it feels pretty awesome :D

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