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PinkyPie 06-16-2007 07:21 AM

HOW to focus on ME when ...
... my energy is taken up by::

1) work / stress
2) commuting (20 hours per week)
3) getting home late/not cooking
4) getting home late/not having time or energy to exercise
5) general stress (money, bills, etc)

I am really just having a hard time being able to focus and not think "why bother?" here. The last several weeks have been awful - a combination of stress, being tired, BAD money issues - and while i have focused a few days in a row with eating/exercise, I don't seem to be able to manage more than that.

How can I do this when I really honestly don't have the time or energy?

I already get up at 5am each morning because I leave for work around 6:30. During this time I'm preparing the food I'm going to take with me to work so that at least I have that covered during the day. I bicycle to the train station when it's not raining so that I get my exercise in. In general the days are all right... but sometimes there is a lot of stress. I leave work at the earliest 5pm and am at home around 7pm. Which makes for a late dinner. Sometimes my DF cooks. Sometimes I do. Sometimes no one wants to cook (I'm not the only one with stress) and we end up ordering a pizza. Or we drink wine. Or dinner is from a pre-packaged box that isn't exactly the best choice in the world. I eat dinner and then... it's 9pm. I don't exactly feel like working out then. I go to bed between 10 and 11pm. Rinse. Repeat.

I lose my steam, my momemtum, my energy. Moving closer to work is not an option (because of money and exH issues on my side and because DF has kids that we don't want to live too far away from on his side). Getting a job closer to home is not an option (I just started my new job and been trying to get on at this company for 3 years!!).

How can I keep my focus on me, even when there is no energy left?

Kilketay 06-16-2007 07:46 AM

Ugh, girl, that's a hectic day!

It seems to me it's obvious that you need to really utilize those weekends. Do extra long workouts on weekends. Also, you can prep and freeze a lot of your dinners. Make all your dinners for the week on Saturday and Sunday!

I think there are still things you can do during the week. First, how about your lunch hour? Can you get some walking in then? Maybe you even have a gym nearby work you could slip away to for a little while over lunch! If you get in some movement over your lunch hour on some days of the week it will burn extra calories and relieve some stress. I also recommend you do a short walk or run at the end of the day to help relieve stress. Even 10-15 min can help.

You also need to stock up on some healthy frozen meals and the stuff to make a quick salad. During the week if it gets to dinner time and you don't feel like cooking and you failed to make dinner over the weekend - pull out that healthy frozen meal and throw together a quick green salad. It's quick, it's tasty, and a lot healthier than what you're eating now! DF can go ahead and order pizza, or you could get some tasty frozen meals for him, too!

PinkyPie 06-16-2007 08:02 AM

Robin, thanks for your quick reply :)

I don't want to sound like I'm making excuses... BUT :)

1) Freezing meals and/or buying frozen meals is not a real option. I live in a tiny flat, with a tiny kitchen, that included a tiny fridge, with an even tinier freezer area. Think dorm-type fridges. there just wouldn't be any space for this.

2) My lunch-hour is a half hour :) Generally speaking I eat lunch at my desk. Granted, I probably could go and walk around our building and warehouse a couple of times during this time. At the moment it's during my lunch half-hour that I check into the 'net.

3) Will check about the gym. I know several people that go to the gym during lunch and then make up the time - but this is a catch 22 for me because if I go to the gym, then I'd have to stay later to make my hours. My office is in a real industrial harbour area in Amsterdam, so there's not a lot around. But I do know it's possible, so I will look into that.

4) I cycle to and from the station - that is in fact a big stress reliever for me. 20 minutes there and 20 minutes back. Perhaps going the long route on the way home would work.

5) I definitely could use the time more wisely on the weekends and use it to get some exercise in. I'm just so tired from the week that I get a bit lazy.

Thanks again for your response, I do appreciate it. I'm just feeling so overwhelmed lately and as much as I hate it, I really am glad I asked for some support (I'm not one to ask for help but that's something I'm obviously working on!).

lynn23c 06-16-2007 08:42 AM

Hi there! I was just in Amsterdam in April. Beautiful city, beautiful country, and what I noticed is that it has a lot of opportunity for exercise (I lost 4 pounds in the week I was there).

I also have a long commute; I drive 90 miles round-trip to and from work each day, and often don't get home until 7 or so as well. I live with my parents, so kitchen space is limited. Here is what I rely on:

1. I plan a week's menu (mostly weekdays; sometimes weekends) on Sunday. Since you are short on fridge space, make the most of it with fresh veggies. Many fruits can remain at room-temperature and so can be left out on the counter in a breatheable container.

2. Buy quick-cook things that you can boost with the fresh stuff: whole wheat pasta with lots of fiber (I cook it up with lots of veggies in a variety of sauces; I don't eat meat, but adding chicken or meat will round out the meal); beans and rice; tuna in a can; that sort of thing. Also, I can't recommend the versatility of the egg enough. Egg salad for lunches; pan frittatas for dinner; hard-boiled for eating on the go. They're not as unhealthy a people used to think.

3. Make double portions (or quadruple, since you and your DF are double already, lol!). Have the same meal twice in a row. Boring, but cook once, eat twice will save time and energy on those days you just can't face it.

4. Definitely take the long way home from work on the bike. It'll ease the stress for you and add minutes to your exercise.

5. Be sure to plan a treat for you and DF to relax with once a week. Healthy dinner out, a quiet walk in the park, etc. It'll help you reconnect, get you out in the great weather and sunshine, and that should help reduce your stress as well.

Good luck! I've found that planning is the ultimate time-saver. Yeah, some extra time on Sundays, but so worth it for the hectic work week.


modkittn 06-16-2007 09:18 AM

Well I thought I had a long commute.... 40 minutes one-way. Not too bad if I'm comparing it to 2 hours though! :fr: I could never do that commute!

Here are some things I do to try to same time/money:

Buy things like canned tuna and canned white chicken breast. This makes for a REALLY quick dinner when you don't want to cook. Mix either one with some light or fat free mayo, put it on any type of bread you choose (I like whole wheat pita) with some veggies. You can do this in about 10 minutes. Seriously. And waiting for the pizza to come takes longer than that!

Sometimes I like to make a BIG meal on Sundays with lots of leftovers. I know you talked about your small kitchen and fridge, so I don't know if that is doable for you.

Go to a supermarket NEAR YOUR WORK and buy some veggies/fruit for the week. If you have a cube/locker/fridge or somewhere you can put them, this is a LIFESAVER. You then have no excuse to be reaching for bad foods, and really it doesn't take that long on a Monday morning to stop by a market on your way in.

The other things aren't really food related. Sounds like you need to work out some life issues as far as where you are living and your financial stress. Would it cost more to live closer to where you work? Would driving take a shorter amount of time and could you afford a car? (I'm guessing no especially because of the aforementioned financial strain) Maybe these are some things you need to discuss with your DF and really try to get a handle on. De-stressing your life makes things SO much easier.

gailr42 06-16-2007 09:28 AM

I think you are doing quite well, considering the circumstances! You have lost a lot of weight, you are exercising, you are doing the best you can with your food AND you just started a new job. What more could you ask of yourself? I would consider you sucessful if you don't gain anything during this especially difficult time.

The only suggestion I have is some kind of stress relieving/relaxation techniques. You might even be able to do this on the train without making too much of a spectacle of yourself - lol. Read inspirational stuff, listen to your favorite relaxing music. I love to read and have recently become addicted to books on tape/cd, so I do any of the above while hanging around airports waiting for a flight (I am a retired airline employee).

mariposita 06-16-2007 09:29 AM

Wow, you're already using some great strategies to cope with a difficult time. Besides the strategy of planning ahead for meals you'll be making in the evenings, maybe these random ideas about taking care of yourself via food can spark some ideas for you:

Can you get a start on your evening meal in the morning while you're prepping your food for the day? Like chopping things for a stir fry or an omelet, or prepping things for a veggie/fruit/cheese/wholemeal cracker plate or for a salad. Can you use a slow cooker thingie and throw in veggies and beans into it in the morning for a soup or stew? Are there any options for relatively healthy boxed soups/meals to keep on hand?

Some of my favorite meals for really stressful times are the same things I have for breakfasts because they're quick: omelets with a bunch of veggies, hot cereal with dried fruits and chopped nuts, toasted bread with melted cheese and veggies or apples on it. Odd as it may sound, cooked cereal is hot, nourishing, filling, and comforting to me in the evening. :T It can even be prepared in a thermos hours ahead of time.

Good luck and please keep on taking care of yourself. :hug:

ThinGirl in FatBody 06-16-2007 09:34 AM

Are you off on weekends? maybe you could make some meals ahead of time that can be frozen? plus do prep work for your lunches/snacks (ie) chop veggies

Kery 06-16-2007 09:48 AM

Boy, i know what it is, and itsucks. A few years ago, I used to work about 100 km from where I lived (I still work there, but now I've moved), and my daily commute was about 3h, between going from home to the train station, then to the town where my office was, then another 30 minutes of biking to go to the office itself. To be honest, most of my exercise at the time was biking the 7 km to the railway station, taking the bike in the train with me, then the added 30 minutes again. I was never home before 8 pm, though, and, well, boyfriends tend to cook heavy meat-and-pasta more than vegetables in the evenings, even if it was loveable to NOT have to cook upon going back home!

So what could be done... Hmmm...

- Can you prepare part of the evening meal in the morning along with your lunch? Like, when I have to eat at the office, I prepare, say, a big rice/tomato/tuna salad on the evening for my dinner, and take half of it for the next lunch. I know it may get boring in the long run, but maybe this could save you some time if you can do it now and then. Although, if you have a microwave oven at work, that might very well broaden your options here/

- Workouts on Sat/Sun. Honestly, apart from the biking, I don't see how there could be room for that during the week...

- Freezing meals: not sure, because I don't even have a freezer, so it's hard to come up with strategies involving one... Freezing only the vegetables maybe? Or the meat? Whatever takes some time to be chopped/prepared, to be done on Sunday, and then the rice/pasta etc. can be cooked during the week's evenings? (Blah, it's really hard to tell...)

It's not much, but I hope this helps...

lynnm39 06-16-2007 07:50 PM


Originally Posted by gailr42 (Post 1735533)
I think you are doing quite well, considering the circumstances! You have lost a lot of weight, you are exercising, you are doing the best you can with your food AND you just started a new job. What more could you ask of yourself? I would consider you sucessful if you don't gain anything during this especially difficult time.

The only suggestion I have is some kind of stress relieving/relaxation techniques. You might even be able to do this on the train without making too much of a spectacle of yourself - lol. Read inspirational stuff, listen to your favorite relaxing music. I love to read and have recently become addicted to books on tape/cd, so I do any of the above while hanging around airports waiting for a flight (I am a retired airline employee).

I completely agree. Velveteen, you already have a lot on your plate to deal with. I would not add more stress to that my trying to work in any more workouts. This might be heresy, but it's been my experience that 90% of weight loss is due to eating. If you do not have the time or energy to plan out every morsel, just watch your portions. If you are forced to order a pizza, have a slice or two and stop there.

I really hope things start looking up for you.

Liannie 06-16-2007 08:06 PM

Velveteen, you have a life similar to mine! Except I do have more refrigerator space...

I have 50 miles each way to drive for my job and I sometimes spend over 3 hours a day in the car as a result. I've been listening to audio downloads to make it a more relaxing time. Is that a possibility for you? Or maybe some relaxing music for the ride home? That would help cut down on the stress.

I've found that using my days off for the longer, more intense workout really do make a difference in my state of fitness. If you do some intense cardio-weights on the weekend days and do pilates or yoga for 20 minutes on a couple of the weekdays along with all that biking, you'll be doing way more than most people (most people in the US, anyway).

And those "ordered out" meals are a problem for me too. In fact, that's what gave me the 30 lbs. I'm trying to lose now. Can you order a salad along with the pizza and eat a lot of salad but less pizza? Any way you can sneak extra vegetables into a take-out meal, you cut the fat and calories quite a bit too.

Just some suggestions. I hope things improve for you soon. Stress can be a big derailing factor in the best of intentions. It is very depleting of energy and good health. Keep posting. We'll all try to help you along as much as possible!


brandnewme 06-16-2007 09:41 PM

Buy canned tuna and chicken. I wouldn't recommend other canned meats, but only because of the preservatives and sodium. Buy a few fresh veggies and definitely fresh fruit, but stick to the fruits that don't necessarily have to be refrigerated. Stock up on canned veggies instead of having a huge amount of frozen or fresh veggies. Dump out the liquid, rinse them well, then steam them or do whatever you'd normally do with them.

While I know you said freezer space is also an issue, I'd recommend keeping at least one precooked meal in there at all times, just so you don't have the temptation of ordering out.

To make more room in your fridge, it may be beneficial to remove one or more of the shelves and buy stackable containers. This of course depends on the style of your fridge, as I know that the one I had in the dorm definitely wouldn't have worked well that way.

Hope you find at least a few tips/tricks to make your days go a bit smoother!

JayEll 06-16-2007 10:12 PM

Wow, Velveteen, that is SO over the top! Good grief, what a load of stress! I'm sure glad that you can bicycle to help with that!

People have made good suggestions here--ways to cope, possible options--but it is up to you to make it work. I don't have any magic answers for how to do that, except that you CAN make it work if you are willing to go to any lengths to do what you have to do.

I agree that the food part of it is important, so concentrate on that. You simply must have your food supply planned and implemented so that if you are tired, you have options of good foods to eat, and also so that you can eat small amounts during your stressful day--you need meals and healthy, weight-loss-friendly snacks to fall back on. You'll have to find a way to provide this for yourself!

Why bother? I can't answer that for you. I CAN tell you that providing for your needs will help you feel less stressed, even if it takes a little more time than you think you have.

It may be that this is not the time for you to be on a strict weight loss program. But you would probably like to keep from gaining more, yes? Whichever way you choose, planning ahead will help!

Don't be discouraged! Many people have stressful lives and still can reach their goals. You can, too! Help yourself out here! :hug:

Keep going, don't give up!


Steelslady 06-16-2007 11:57 PM

Here's some ideas, hopefully one of them might help you:

Some nights we have Caesar Salad wraps with Purdue already cooked chicken pieces. All you need is the cooked chicken, bag of Caesar salad mix, and tortilla shells. Buy this on the way home, instant supper! My family loves this and requests it often. :)

Chicken and cheese quesadillas with sour cream and salsa. I marinade (Pm me if you want the recipe) bite sized pieces of boneless chicken breast overnight, cook it for about 20-30 minutes on medium heat until no longer pink, drain of excess marinade. Put chicken, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and salsa in a tortilla shell, wrap up, place in aluminum foil (make sure quesadilla is completely wrapped so the tortilla don't get crunchy!) and bake in a 400 degree oven/toaster oven for 8 minutes per side. You can marinade (make sure it marinades for at least 6 hours!) and cook the chicken the night before, to save time the next day. Also, I use steak tips to change it around a bit.

Steak bombs- You can marinade 1/2 pound of steak tips the night before in a teriyaki marinade- that's what I do. Fry up some onions and peppers, cook steak tips in with the onions and peppers after the onions have become tender, put in a hoagie or bulkie roll, add some low fat American or cheddar cheese. Cover in foil, bake in 350 oven for 10 minutes. I myself make my steak tips (as well as both of my daughters) without the onions and peppers, but cook hubby's and son's in the onion and peppers. You can also have this made up for two to three nights ahead of time, just add the roll and cheese, bake as mentioned above.

For the next night, take the other half a pound of steak tips, marinade it, and have with veggies on the side. Baked potatoe already baked and reheated can save time.

While you're at it, how about sausage links with onions and peppers on a hoagie roll either plain or with ketchup? The next day, use the sausages for breakfast!

Tunafish melts- bread, tuna mixed with light mayonaise, slice of low fat cheese. Wrap in foil, bake in 350 oven for 8-10 minutes, until cheese is melted. Add some lettuce and tomato after cooking, if you wish.

Ever had American chop suey? All you need is pound of hamburger- I use the leanest kind, cook it, drain and rinse it. Add a can of tomato soup, half a can of water, half a can of milk, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper, and 12 ounces of elbows (dry when measuring) cooked and drained. Some folks add an onion to it as well as peppers. To make it simple, cook and drain/rinse the hamburger the night before, assemble the rest of the ingredients, so when you get home, all you have to do is reheat and cook the pasta. It makes a great lunch for the next day, too.

How about lasagna recipes? Ever have an asparagus lasagna? You can make it in a one quart casserole dish on Sunday, come home on Monday and cook it in the microwave or oven.

Have an indoor or outdoor grill? That would help a lot with cooking hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, steak tips, etc. Both help cut out a lot of fat while cooking!

Crockpots- oh, boy, I have quite a few recipes for that. Diet Cola and ham in the crockpot on low for 10 hours. Hungarian goulash. Soups and stews. Chicken and pot roast with veggies. Crockpot roast beef with onion soup mix and water.

Bake a couple of potatoes or sweet potatoes in foil ahead of time, leave them on the counter, reheat for about 15 minutes in the oven or indoor grill, and have with steak tips or boneless chicken, and a salad. At the grocery store near us, they have chicken breast cut up into small pieces already in the package- makes it easy to just marinade, and either fry in a pan or grill it the next night! For that matter, you can even cook the chicken or steak up ahead of time, and reheat it in the microwave with your potatoe.

Make roasted potatoes the night before- one package Lipton onion soup mix, 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, and 2 lbs of white, red, or sweet potatoes- cut potatoes up into bite sized pieces, mix the olive oil and soup mix well, coat potatoes, bake in a 375 degree oven for 35-50 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Marinade small chicken pieces in 2-4 tablespoons of Chipotle marinade over night, cook the next night in a pan.

Scrambled hamburger- Cook, drain and rinse 1/2 lb of the leanest hamburger you can buy (do it the night before, to save time the next night). Add one 1/2 of a tablespoon of onion powder and one can of beef gravy. Serve over instant mashed potatoes and a side of corn.

Use the other half of a pound of hamburger, make some meatballs, add some canned spaghetti sauce, and you can either have it with pasta or have meatball subs with low fat provolone cheese the next night! Or, use the whole pound of hamburger, and make meatballs for both nights- one with meatballs subs, the next, spaghetti and meatballs with a side of salad or cut up veggies.

OR use the other half a pound of hamburger and make Sloppy Joes, serve on "Light" hamburger bun. We have this with corn on the cob and veggies and dip.

Sausages and biscuits with gravy- I take a couple of sausage patties, crumble them while cooking them, mix one tablespoon of flour to a cup of skim milk, add to one teaspoon of melted margarine, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/8 tsp ground red pepper, 1/2 tsp salt and serve over warmed biscuits. I serve it with fruit salad.

Low sodium bacon, egg, and low fat cheese on a biscuit or English muffin with a side of fruit salad.

English muffin pizzas rule! Easy to make, and have some veggies on the side. For that matter, add some veggies on the pizza or meat to make it interesting.

Mini bagel pizza- same as above, only use mini plain bagels.

Chicken salad with low fat ranch dressing- boil a chicken breast in a saucepan with one bouillon cube, a teaspoon of Italian seasoning, a teaspoon of onion powder and half of a celery stalk- cook for 30-40 minutes, drain and cool. cut up chicken, mix with 2-3 tablespoons of ranch dressing in it, serve on lite wheat bread or roll, serve with lettuce and tomato.

Also, with the above chicken salad recipe- you can also add some cooked, drained and cooled elbow macaroni, black olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, and low fat cheddar cheese cut up and add it to the chicken salad for a variation. My family also loves this recipe on a hot summer night!

Pastrami sandwiches- low calorie rye bread, low fat Swiss Cheese (we have Sara Lee here, which is what I use for 80 calories a slice), Lite Thousand island dressing (about a tablespoon). I fry my pastrami for myself, but hubby and the kids love it boiled with a tablespoon of ketchup and a teaspoon of mustard. While I am cooking the pastrami, I melt the Swiss cheese on the bread in the toaster oven or oven until the cheese is melted. You can also add cole slaw to it- about 1-2 tablespoons, if desired. Serve with cottage cheese and fruit.

Potato salad is easy to make, and you can make many variations to it, not to mention, you can make just two servings of it the night before, so it's ready for the next night's meal. I don't add my mayonaise and other ingredients in until the next night, so the potatoes don't absorb up the mayo. I mix all the ingredients in one container, and keep the cooked, drained and cut up potatoes in a zip lock baggie in the fridge.

Deviled eggs are easy to make, and you can make enough for lunch the next day, or adjust the recipe for two people. Have them with a turkey burger on a roll, pickles, and corn on the cob.

How about egg salad sandwiches? Ham salad? Lobster salad? Tuna salad? Serve with pickles and a small bag of low fat or baked chips. Or serve with a small pasta salad or potatoe salad.

I love Hormel corned beef hash in a small can- split it with your friend or save the other half for another night. Serve with a fried egg and some toast.

Chef Boyardee has mini microwave meals that are much healthier and less calories than eating out. Have with some veggies on the side or a salad.

Soups for the microwave or stove with a salad and a dinner roll or some crackers. Tomato soup and grilled cheese are one of our favorites!

"Just add water" pancake mix- make four pancakes with some bacon, sausage links or Canadian bacon, add a little syrup. We sometimes have breakfast for dinner. :D

If I think of anything else, I'll post it. Hope this helps. :)

Shayz 06-17-2007 12:26 AM

A crockpot would be a HUGE help when it comes to your evening meals. I started using one a few years ago when I was leaving the house at 7:00 AM and getting back after 6:30. A quick google search will give you some very simple recipes that you can start easily in the morning so that you will have a meal already made when you get home.

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