5 Tips for Healthy Eating at the Office

Happy New Year to all! How are those New Year’s Resolutions going? Did you commit to getting healthy, getting active, or getting organized? According to Strava, we’ve officially made it past “Quitter’s Day” on Friday, and we’re chugging along towards success! Regardless of your motivations, though, eating healthy is an important goal, especially for those of us that spend most of our week in a sedentary work environment. While I’m not 100% consistent when it comes to healthy eating at the office, I’ve made huge strides in the past year. Here are some of my top tips to help you prioritize nutrition in 2018.

Prepare for Success

The first step to healthy eating at the office is to figure out where your healthy food will come from. Your work cafeteria can be a solid choice if there are healthy and affordable options available. But it’s generally more feasible and consistent to bring your meals from home. If you don’t have them already, stock up on some food storage containers. It helps to have various sizes for mains, sides, desserts, and snacks. If you’re making your food at home, leftovers will be your best friend!

Once you’re prepped at home, if you haven’t already, survey your work space for amenities. If your office has a fridge, you’re off to a good start. Look around for other small appliances, such as microwaves, toasters, or even blenders. Having any of these available will go a long way for your meal prepping plans. And if you don’t have any way to reheat your meals, don’t prep any foods that you don’t enjoy cold!

Expect the Afternoon Snack Attack

This may take some trial and error. Find some healthy snacks that you really enjoy and make sure to have them on hand. This way, you’re nowhere near as tempted when the 3pm donut break rolls around. (I work at Tim Hortons, I would know!) Your snack of choice might be some trail mix, a piece of fruit, or maybe even a healthy protein bar or shake. Keep experimenting until you find what you like. My personal favourite right now is chocolate chip Larabars:

That said, if you have this option, don’t keep your snacks right at your desk.  If you do, you might find yourself reaching into your desk every time you feel hungry — and that feeling might actually be boredom, thirst, or exhaustion. Make sure you keep your snacks a few yards away from your desk. Then you’ll have to get up for a snack, and get a few more steps on that Fitbit of yours!

Stay Hydrated

Speaking of thirst, you may have heard that it’s often hard to tell the difference between hunger and thirst. When you’re in the zone at work, it can be even more difficult to be in tune with your thirst cues. And once you start actually feeling parched, your body has already been thirsty for a while! So when it comes to water, you need to be proactive. Keep a refillable water bottle with you at all times at work. I personally carry a Swell bottle with me throughout the day and fill it at least three times, for a total of 6 cups throughout the day at the office. If water just doesn’t cut it for you, consider bringing in a few slices of lemon or a handful of berries to pop into your water bottle to make your hydration a little more exciting!

It’s Okay to Say No

it can be great to have some office birthday cake every week or two. But in my office, it feels like there’s a birthday almost daily — not to mention chocolate left over from Christmas, and any other goodies that might appear in the lunchroom. Remember to evaluate the treats that you’re being offered. Do you really enjoy that type of food? Does it match your goals for the year? Feel free to say no. Be gracious with your refusal, of course. I would even recommend leveraging the Tone It Up-approved phrase, “I’m not in the mood for that”. More on that below from the TIU trainers, if you’re curious:

Also remember that there are shades of grey when it comes to treats. Consider taking a smaller portion, splitting with a colleague, or making your own healthy snacks to share. I brought in these healthy chocolate berry muffins and my coworkers were obsessed!

Be Realistic

This tip manifests itself in a lot of ways when it comes to healthy eating at the office.

For starters, think about your office and what situations tend to crop up that sabotage your plans to eat healthy at work. Do you often stay late and miss your dinner at home? Try meal prepping dinner and bringing it to work as a backup plan. (I mentioned this tip in my post about surviving long hours at the office a few months ago!) Do you have a co-worker that is always stealing half of your snack? Bring double. (Or tell them off — your call!) If you find that you’re always craving chocolate in the afternoon, don’t try to quell that with a salty snack. Bring along some sweet snacks, like a piece of fruit or even some dark chocolate that will cure those cravings in no time.

If your team goes out for lunch every Friday, plan around it. Bringing a packed lunch with the intention of skipping out on your team event will only make you feel guilty. Bring healthy snacks for the rest of the day. If you know which restaurant you’re going to ahead of time, consider checking out the menu online and picking out a healthier choice beforehand. I find I can make better choices without the sensory overload of sitting in a loud, delicious-smelling restaurant.

Furthermore, find healthy foods that excite you. If your office has a salad bar but you don’t like any of the ingredients, don’t force yourself to eat a plate of lettuce. Bring something from home or seek out restaurants that have the types of foods you actually enjoy. Personally, I’ve found that I really love corn, cooked carrots, sunflower seeds, and sun-dried tomatoes, so adding those ingredients makes my healthy food a lot more fun.

How do you prioritize healthy eating at the office?

Tone It Up Bikini Series Non-Scale Victories

This is it: the last day of the Tone It Up Bikini Series!

For those of you who haven’t been following my TIU journey, the Bikini Series is an 8-week nutrition and fitness challenge leading up to summer. Daily workouts are a combination of cardio and light strength training. There are free and paid exercise videos, plus self-led session suggestions. Nutrition is guided by the mantra, “Lean, Clean ‘n Green”. Following the final week, there’s a more intense challenge called the 7 Day Slim Down. And you share the whole thing on Instagram to join in on the beachy fun with thousands of other #TIUgirls. Yes, it’s a bit ridiculous. But with all of the hardcore alternatives out there for women looking to get in shape, this is my favourite option. Continue reading

Tone It Up Bikini Series

Hello, dear readers! I’ve been AWOL again for a while, but between work and the Tone It Up Bikini Series beginning last week, I simply haven’t had the energy for my poor little blog. I have mentioned Tone It Up on this page before (check that out here). But you might be wondering, “What the heck is the Bikini Series?” Friends, six months ago, I would have been asking the exact same question.

Here it is in a nutshell. The Tone It Up Bikini Series is an eight week fitness challenge with an optional nutrition component, leading up to the first day of summer. Every day you have an assigned daily workout, some or all of which you complete first thing in the morning for your “Bootycall”. (Cheesy, I know — but hey, I didn’t come up with the lingo.) Then, if you’re a nutrition plan member, you also follow along with the meal plan. That means planning out and prepping “Lean Clean’N Green” meals every Sunday for eight weeks straight. And also trying not to eat Timbits. Which is basically impossibleContinue reading

My Tone It Up Meal Prep Process

Hey friends! If you’ve been following along on Flinntrospection recently, you’ll know that I joined the Tone It Up 2017 Challenge two weeks ago. It’s a six week healthy living challenge with both a fitness and a nutrition component. (Oops, I joined two weeks late!) I’d been following along with the Tone It Up workouts for a few weeks beforehand. So in spite of a crazy work schedule, I’ve been keeping up with the fitness portion. The nutrition, on the other hand, has been a struggle. There is a ton of planning, effort, and time that has to go into preparing healthy meals for the week. But this week, for my third round of Sunday Tone It Up Meal Prep, I’ve settled into a routine. If you’re on the TIU Nutrition Plan — or even if you’re not — this method might work for you!

Note: I do Steps 1-4 on Saturdays, and 5-6 on Sundays!

Step 1: Choose Your Meals

The 2017 Challenge edition of the Nutrition Plan includes a full six-week meal plan breakdown. But you’re fully welcome, and often encouraged, to choose your own meals. Plus, once the challenge is over, you’re on your own with choosing meals for the week. For Week Five of the challenge, I’m loosely following the schedule, but making lots of substitutions.

The TIU Nutrition Plan has some helpful printables for filling out your weekly meal schedule:

 Tone It Up Meal Prep — Meal Plan Template

Obviously, you can make this for yourself too. Just type one up in Word, or literally draw it on a blank sheet of paper. (Or you can grab one of these — not an affiliate link, just a cool find.)

Once you have your template, write in all the meals and snacks you’re planning to eat for the week. I’m following the Nutrition Plan’s lead in making each weekday M3 (lunch) the leftovers from the previous night’s M5 (dinner). More complex recipes will show up on weekends, when I have time for them. I’m also loving make-ahead meals for weekday breakfasts, like Overnight Oats.

Step 2: Make Your Ingredient List

This step takes a bit of cross-referencing with your fridge or pantry. I pick a meal, look at the list of ingredients in the Nutrition Plan (if necessary), and write down whatever I don’t have in my kitchen. It’s also important to include quantities for the week, so you can aggregate them later on in the process. If you’re making enough for leftovers, make sure you’re duplicating quantities in single-serving recipes! After each meal’s ingredients have been accounted for, check it off everywhere it appears on your meal plan template. Keep going until you’ve listed ingredients for all of your meals, even if the ingredients overlap. It will look something like this:

 Tone It Up Meal Prep — Ingredient List

Step 3: Make Your Grocery List

Now you walk through your Ingredient List and consolidate it into a grocery list, sorted by product category. Cross them off on the ingredients list as you go, and don’t forget to add your quantities. I have one of those “All Out Of” grocery checklists, so that helps the process!

 Tone It Up Meal Prep — Grocery List

Why did I separate these two steps? Because it’s hard to look at a huge list of meals and flip back and forth between recipes to put together a list of, say, all the veggies you need for the week. I find it much easier to work by recipe. And once the ingredients are all on one page, consolidation is a breeze.

If you’re thinking of using the pre-made Challenge grocery list, a word of warning: it lies. (Okay, maybe not on purpose.) I followed it to the letter in my first week on the Nutrition Plan. I ended up missing some ingredients I needed, and having lots of things that weren’t even on the meal plan docket. For the sake of the environment and your wallet, I’d recommend making your own list!

Step 4: Write Your Meal Prep Checklist

The 2017 Challenge booklet also comes with a simple checklist for your meal prep adventures. It’s pretty reliable, but because of my volatile work schedule, I have to prep beyond the suggested list. Feel free to prepare whatever works for you. Pre-chop your veggies, make your frozen smoothie packs, cook your Monday night dinner, prepare your proteins, whatever! Make a list of all the tasks you’re going to tackle on Sunday.

Step 5: Grocery Shop

In the TIU world, Sunday has two purposes: Sunday Runday, and Tone It Up Meal Prep.

With your list in hand, head out to the grocery store and shop till you drop! But don’t drop. You have work to do.

Step 6: The Real Deal — Tone It Up Meal Prep

Organize your groceries, pull out your checklist, and start knocking those things off one by one. Try to prioritize oven tasks, especially with long cook times, so you can maximize your efficiency. This is where I find it was the most helpful to have my Nutrition Plan printed out for easy reference, especially for new dishes. I have tried fifteen new recipes in the past two weeks, which is absolutely insane for me! It also helps to clean up as you go. Prepare for high volumes of dishes, food waste/compost, and Tupperware filling up your entire fridge! (And don’t forget to share #tiuteam photos of the process and the delish food on Instagram!)

That’s how I do my Tone It Up Meal Prep! How do you prepare your meals for the week ahead?

Tone It Up Nutrition Plan First Impressions

After weeks of debate, and swooning over nutritious Instagram stories, I finally caved and purchased the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan. That means I’m a full-fledged TIU member! Never thought I’d be saying that, but here we are. Just a few weeks ago I started following along with the Daily Workouts on ToneItUp.com. I’ve really enjoyed the process and the community thus far. So before I get too entrenched in the TIU 2017 Challenge (for better or worse), I thought I’d share my Tone It Up Nutrition Plan first impressions!

 Tone It Up Nutrition Plan First Impressions: 2017 Challenge

Tone It Up Nutrition Plan First Impressions

Curiosity killed the…wallet?

Let’s just start off with the price. This plan is expensive, yo. Dropping $150 (USD, I might add) is a hefty commitment, especially since I’ve never done anything like this before. Can’t I just Google all of this nutrition info? Pull together some recipes on Pinterest and make my own plan for free?

Technically, yes, anyone could do that. The question is whether anyone will — and for me, the answer is a definite “no”. By the time I put in the effort to research which foods I need to fuel my body for mental and physical exercise, I’m already chowing down on Tim Hortons. I have made some healthier choices in recent months, but my self-regulation is my downfall. The convenience of having things explained, and aggregated in one spot is my biggest draw to the Nutrition Plan. I wanted to see whether the layout and guidelines of the plan would work for me.

I also took advantage of the current bundle offer. For $165 I received the Nutrition Plan membership and the Body Love video series. These video workouts currently appear quite often in the 2017 Challenge Daily Workouts. The challenge is already 1/3 of the way through, which is a bummer for the bundle. But from what I saw in December, members-only videos from previous challenges show up pretty often during non-challenge period Daily Workouts. Plus, I can always do the workouts whenever, right? (…Right? Hah. We’ll see about that.)

This Plan is Future-Proof.

Usually, when I’m making a commitment like this one, I’d take forever to come to a decision.

Should I wait until the next challenge comes along? Should I wait until I’ve used up all of the frozen pizzas in my freezer? Should I just try to eat healthy without any Nutrition Plan? (Continue ad nauseam…)

But the payment structure of this plan is a huge plus — or, rather, the lack thereof. It’s one fee. One-time. Flat rate. And you get every Nutrition Plan update and Challenge supplement download, for free, forever. This is perfect whether you just want to dabble, or if you’re an all-in-or-all-out kind of person, like me. Here’s the current spectrum of Plans available to members for download:

 Tone It Up Nutrition Plan First Impressions: All Plans 2017

I likely won’t use all of these, but they’re helpful to have when the opportunities arise. (Granted, TIU Challenges also usually require a paid set of videos, which are not included.)

Nutritional Science(ish).

I read through the “plan” portion of the download (i.e. not the recipes) on Saturday night. The guidelines seem solid, and there’s even some chemistry in there to explain the “why” behind them.

Even though I’ve got a Bachelor of Science, my biochemistry background is super limited. I appreciated the basic explanations Karena & Katrina included in the Nutrition Plan. But then you come across stuff like this:

Fatty acids are broken down by the enzyme hormone-sensitive lipase~ or what we like to call the “Burn Baby Burn Enzyme!”.

My boyfriend was reading over my shoulder and dying of laughter! So take the science sections with a grain of salt…

Meal Prepping is Madness.

My original plan was to dabble in some recipes and try out the Nutrition Plan whenever I could fit it in. But I just knew that I would revert to pasta and takeout, and wouldn’t be giving it a fair shot! So instead, I spent Sunday afternoon grocery shopping and meal prepping, as instructed by the 2017 Challenge Guide.


That grocery run was so expensive! I probably could have guessed. So much healthy food, and some of it premium or organic. Also, I was stocking up on bulk foods that I wouldn’t otherwise have purchased, like coconut shavings and flax seed. (And apple cider vinegar. Apparently that one’s important.)

Joe helped me with some of the meal prepping, since he loves to cook and I’m a mess in the kitchen. But as we all know, practice makes perfect! I made Egg Muffins, Almond Butter Cookies, and Chia Seed Pudding.

Things I Wish I Had Known 24 Hours Ago.

I’ve only had this Nutrition Plan for a day, and it’s already been a learning experience. Here are some things that might be helpful if you’re taking the TIU Nutrition Plan plunge:

Print it out.

If you have an iPad or tablet, you’re probably okay, but it was a nightmare switching between my phone and my laptop all afternoon. There are also printables at the end of the Plan — so at least print those. Plus, there’s just something so comforting about holding the pages in your hands, isn’t there? Okay, maybe that’s just me. I’m thinking of printing and binding mine at Staples ASAP — at least the main Nutrition Plan book, anyway.

Rewrite the grocery list in an order that makes sense for you.

This applies if you’re following a Challenge, like the 2017 Look for Love Challenge, with your meals all laid out. Joe and I kept having to go back for things in the grocery store because we skimmed over an ingredient! Take more time to study the grocery list than I did…

Join the gosh darn challenge on time!

At the end of 2016, I was convinced that my reasons for skipping out on Look for Love were solid. I’m participating in Yoga With Adriene’s Yoga Revolution, and still following the Tone It Up Daily Moves. That’s all the time I have to commit!

But you know what I still had time for?



And lots and lots of dawdling.

So you know what? I’m going to bite the bullet, try something new, and hopefully be healthier for it.

Those are my Tone It Up Nutrition Plan first impressions. To summarize, I’ll say that I’m cautiously optimistic, motivated, and curious! If you have any questions (for a newbie like me), ask away!

(P.S. I also created a TIU Instagram account to document the journey — mostly so I wouldn’t annoy my main account followers, haha! Let’s connect @tiu.hillary)

Are you on the #TIUteam? What were your Tone It Up Nutrition Plan first impressions?

No Buy July Wrap-Up

No Buy July is finally over! After a month of trying (moderately) hard not to spend unnecessarily, I’ve reached the end of the challenge. I saved some money by avoiding those purchases, and made a couple of cents in interest by postponing some other purchases. Not only that, but I’d like to think that I learned a couple of things throughout this process.

Postponing a purchase can mean waiting out a fad.

When it comes to my hobbies and interests, I tend to be either all in or all out. (My Hobby Graveyard post outlines a sampling of the hobbies I abandoned last year alone.) But when I get into a hobby, I lose sight of my habit of over-committing, and I start buying things to complement it. There were a couple of times last month where I was tempted to purchase something to facilitate a past-time, but now that it’s August, I’m kind of over it.

The most prominent example of this is Pokémon Go. If it hadn’t been for No Buy July, I would have impulsively bought a new phone that could handle the game better than my current one. Do I need a new phone? Probably. Do I need it right this second? Nope. I can do my research and wait for my current contract to expire in a couple of months. And at this point, I’m a lot less obsessed with the game than I was about a week ago. Temptation conquered.

No Buy July also helped me identify which interests were going to benefit me in the long run. For example, I’m planning on purchasing a yoga mat today. I’ve done my research and selected a couple of options based on my most important criteria — instead of just buying one online, like I would have otherwise.

Free things are great.

As I mentioned in the previous update, I’ve been taking advantage of free entertainment and products over the course of the month. I visited the library, went for hikes with my Halton Parks membership, played video games I’d already purchased, and went on a ton of Pokéwalks. And when I was thinking about buying new clothes for work, I went through my closet and found clothing that I had legitimately forgotten about. My wardrobe isn’t that large to begin with, so that’s pretty sad. Regardless, I saved myself time and money by  using what I already ad

No Buy July failures = family and food.

This challenge was a personal one. While I had some support and accountability from friends and family that knew I was doing it, the main motivator had to be myself. And I noticed that there were two types of situations that caused me to renege on the commitment: family events, and eating out.

I went to two movies with family last month, even though neither of them was Independence Day 2. (That was the only movie-related exception I’d allowed myself). The excuse I made was that family should come before weird, made-up challenges.  Plus, while I would love to save more money, it wasn’t like I was trying to pay off debt or anything, so what was the harm? That will be important to watch out for in the future, if I have a more concrete financial goal. I’ll need to find more fiscally responsible activities to do with my family.

Food was the biggie. I specifically didn’t put much of a limit on my food expenditures during No Buy July, except for dining out. And boy, did I stretch those limits. I’ve learned that my unhealthy relationship with food can’t be managed using external factors, such as limits on spending. That will have to be dealt with head on. I’ll need to come up with a plan for reducing the control my hunger has over my life right now. But that’s a goal for another time!

In short, I’m glad I took on this challenge, but I’m also mighty glad that it’s over!

If you joined me for No Buy July, what did you learn this past month? What financial goals do you have for the rest of the summer?

Zucchini Recipes for the Home Garden Harvest

The weather has been sunny and sweltering for weeks now in Southern Ontario, but thanks to our (ahem, Joe’s…) diligent gardening, the zucchini plant in the backyard has been going crazy! Just like last year, we’re starting to get a little creative with how we use up our zucchinis while they’re ripe.

And what better place to seek out culinary inspiration than the blogosphere?

Today I’m sharing some of my favourite zucchini recipes from fellow bloggers that are going to help us make the most of our home garden harvest. Hope you enjoy some of these recipes as well — click the images to find them!

Lasagna Zucchini Boats

This past Friday night, our fridge contained some leftover ravioli and an abundance of zucchini. Rather than cook everything separately, Joe put his thinking cap on and created this masterpiece:

Zucchini boats! Thanks @isopropylbromide 😉 #zucchini #garden #kitchenadventures

A post shared by Hillary Flinn (@hillaryflinn) on

I’ll let Joe elaborate a bit here:

Joe’s Recipe

Hello, this is Joe and I’ll try to explain what I did.

You’ll need leftover pasta, zucchinis, cheese, oil (I used olive) and seasoning (garlic salt for me).

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F
  2. Hollow out your zucchinis with a spoon or knife. You don’t want to hollow them too much or else they won’t support the filling. Save the zucchini you carve out if it isn’t too seedy.
  3. In a saucepan set to medium heat, put your pasta, the excavated zucchini, and enough oil to coat it lightly. In my case it was about a tablespoon. You may want to add a splash of water as well if your pasta wasn’t very wet. In my case our ravioli had plenty of watery sauce so it was fine.
  4. As the pasta cooks, season it with whatever you have lying about. I recommend including a bit of salt here. Break up the pasta with your mixing implement — it’s not super important, but try to get it to a consistency you like. It may end up looking like mush, but don’t worry! It’ll dry out when we bake it.
  5. Load the hollow zucchinis with your pasta mix. Cover them with as much cheese as you can justify.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove when cheese and pasta are turning a nice golden brown.
  7. Let cool and serve to your girlfriend.

Thanks, Joe!

For a different take on this concept, check out this one from Jaclyn at Cooking Classy:

 Lasagna Zucchini Boats

Zucchini Fritters

I love making these both as a meal and as a snack. They’re cheesy and delicious! I definitely recommend serving with light sour cream. Here’s the recipe from Chungah at Damn Delicious:

 Zucchini Fritters


My love for pasta is legendary, but it’s not always the healthiest obsession. Plus, I’ve always got ripe zucchinis lying around. Why not combine the two? Here’s how to turn zucchini into zoodles, courtesy of Scott at I’d Rather Be a Chef:

 Zucchini Noodles — Zoodles

Note: I use a julienne slicer instead of a spiralizer to make my zoodles, like Elana over at Elana’s Pantry. Either way works, so use what you have!

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

So basically, if you combine something healthy, like a certain summer squash, and something unhealthy, like tons of chocolate, it all evens out, right? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Thanks to Jamie at My Baking Addiction for the scrumptious recipe!

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Um, yes please!

Zucchini Chips

I’m all about kale chips, but unfortunately, my kale isn’t growing as well as my zukes this year. Instead, I found a recipe that essentially swaps out one for the other to create a similar snacking experience. Please note that I haven’t actually made this one yet, but it looks good and I’m excited to try it! Here’s Julie’s recipe on Table for Two:

 Zucchini Chips

Whether you’re growing your own or picking them up at the grocery store, it’s time to break out the zucchini and start cooking!

What are your favourite zucchini recipes?

No Buy July Half-Way Update

Can you believe July is already half done? This summer is just flying by! That’s fine by me, because I can’t wait until August — when my No Buy July challenge is over, haha!

In case you’re just joining us (welcome, by the way), you can read all about my plan for a No Buy July in this post. But basically, the challenge is exactly what it sounds like: don’t buy things in the month of July!

After two weeks of the challenge, here are some of the things I’ve noticed.

Making lists of things to purchase after No Buy July.

Just as I suspected! Immediately after launching into the challenge, I started noticing gaps in my life that could be filled with purchases. Specifically, I realized that I need more clothes, more shoes, some fitness equipment… I can’t buy these things. Not now, anyway. But I know that had it not been for the challenge, I would have bought everything on my list and more over the past two weekends.

Making do: free entertainment and borrowing.

Now that I’m not going to the mall for entertainment on weekends, Netflix and reading have made a resurgence. (Because Netflix is lumped in with my “bills” category, I’m counting it as already paid for…is that cheating? Whatever, it’s my challenge.) I’ve also started asking around for things that I need “right now”, but, realistically, don’t need to buy right now. This shift is moderately sustainable, but I probably won’t stick with it 100% into August.

Saving — without really thinking about it.

Now that I know how much I’ll be spending in July, based solely on my food expenses and other monthly bills, I’m rerouting the rest of my money to savings. It’s nice to make progress without worrying about shorting myself later on in the month!

Bending the rules on food.

So we went to Swiss Chalet for dinner on Tuesday night, en route home from my parents’ place.

We had a coupon! …But the coupon was expired, so we didn’t actually use it.

It was just a pit stop! …But we dined in and had a full meal.

It wasn’t that expensive! …But it was more expensive than a home-cooked, or even fast-food, meal would have been.

In short, I broke my own rules for my own challenge. I should have known that food would be my No Buy July downfall!

The major failing was interrupting our grocery shopping schedule because of some other commitments. I don’t know about you, but I find that when I start to run out of food in the house, my eating out willpower declines dramatically. This is especially true if we ate our favourite foods earlier in the week, and what’s left in the fridge is not quite as exciting. We’ll have to get back on track with groceries if I’m going to avoid temptation for the rest of the month.

For the next half of the month, I’m going to buckle down and make the most of this challenge, and maybe learn some things in the process!

How are you conquering July?

No Buy July (+ June Review)

Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians! I’m so glad Canada Day falls on a Friday this year so we can all enjoy a nice, relaxing long weekend. (That goes for those of you Americans that are off on Monday as well!) Now that July is here and summer is in full swing, it’s time to recap my successes and failures with my June goals, and tell you a little bit about my goal for this month: a No Buy July!

But first, let’s check in on my goals for June:

  1. Continue going to the gym: Check! I’ve been attending the weekly Zumba and yoga classes at my office gym that I mentioned last month. That means I’ve been heading in to work at 7am on Wednesdays for 9 weeks now!
  2. Pack 5+ meals per week: …Almost. If I average it out over the four weeks, I’m short by about half a meal per week. But it was definitely an improvement from my habits this past spring.
  3. Run (once): 200% accomplished! That’s right, folks, I went to the gym for a run TWO WHOLE TIMES! (This is a big deal for me.) Okay, so I didn’t run very far or very fast, but it HAPPENED.
  4. Garden: Success! Stay tuned for my garden update, coming this weekend!
  5. Keep up with blogging: My pace slowed way down this month in terms of blogging, but at least it didn’t grind to an absolute halt. And I’ll be honest, it would have been easier to just lay on the couch watching Netflix and not blog at all, so I’ll count this as a success.

I’d call that a pretty successful month, wouldn’t you say? The best part is that none of these goals feel like a stretch anymore, and they feel more like a routine, which is awesome. I figure I’ll work to maintain most of these goals in the background for the coming month, and focus on more of a stretch goal for July. Which brings us to…

No Buy July!

What is No Buy July?

Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like: it’s a July in which you don’t buy anything. It’s not really an official thing, but I’ve seen it pop up on other blogs and forums, and it can mean different things to different people. My definition will be:

  • No unnecessary expenditures.
  • Necessary expenditures include:
    • Bills
    • Food and sundries
    • Gas, or alternate transportation (if necessary)
    • My movie ticket if my dad decides he is super adamant about going to see Independence Day 2 even though it’s probably terrible
  • Unnecessary expenditures include:
    • All other movie tickets
    • Expenses for entertainment
    • Material products, i.e.
      • Clothing
      • Makeup
      • Home stuff
      • Cat stuff
      • David’s Tea tins (don’t let me pretend that counts as groceries…)
    • Dining out (I’m going to exclude lunch at work, and a coffee now and then. I don’t want to starve. Or get cranky.)

Whew. Listing it out makes it sound like a really boring July. But there are lots of things to do that don’t cost money! (Plus, with my new position at work, I have less free time to spend worrying about not having enough stuff… Silver linings, right?)

So why am I doing this? There are a couple of reasons.

  1. My credit card bill this past month hurt my heart.
  2. My spending this past month was basically a bunch of little stuff that all added up. My guess is that it’s a systemic issue.
  3. I’d love to beef up my savings.
  4. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what I don’t have that I haven’t left time to focus on what I do have. It feels like an unhealthy mindset, and I want to detox from it for a while.
  5. I was thinking about doing a No Buy June. But it didn’t rhyme. July it is!

That’s the plan in a nutshell! I hope to post some updates throughout the month if I face any particular challenges or develop any meaningful insights. It’s time to get saving!

What are your goals this month? Will you be joining me for No Buy July?

The Monthly Goals Link-Up

Welcome to June! This past month has been a bit of a roller coaster for me, with highs and lows, boring days and exciting days. I felt the same way about my progress towards my goals for the month. Those goals were:

  1. Comment More Frequently: Nope. I got off to a bad start with my blog-reading habits this past month, and never really got back into the swing of things. Plus, I started watching Game of Thrones from the beginning, so that ate up a lot of my would-be blog-commenting time…
  2. Go to the Gym: Done! I’ve been attending morning yoga and circuit training classes for the past month, and I’m still going strong! (Well, not strong. I guess that’s the point of going to the gym.)
  3. Organize our Files: Not done. Honestly, I totally forgot that I had wanted to do this. Oops.
  4. Visit 3 Conservation Halton Parks: Not quite. We did visit twice, to Rattlesnake Point and Mount Nemo, but this past weekend was too busy to fit that last one in we were planning. However, I was busy because I was volunteering at the Run for the Camps for the Tim Hortons Children’s Foundation, which was held in Bronte Creek Provincial Park… So maybe that can count as a visit? Maybe?

    June Goals and May Review — Hiking

    Can I just point out that these photos were taken one week apart? Canadian weather, man. (Don’t mind my super-non-candid photo.)

  5. Garden: Done! Check out this post for an update as of last weekend.
  6. Write my “30 Before 30” List: Done! I posted that list here.

3.5 out of 6 ain’t bad! Okay, no, it’s pretty bad. I’m thinking 6 “focus” goals was too many for one month. My June goals are a little easier to track.

And what are those goals?

Goal #1: Continue Going to the Gym

It’s one thing to attend a handful of classes. It’s another thing to stick with it and make it a habit. I can feel myself getting complacent about waking up for yoga or packing my gym bag for a lunchtime class, so I need to nip that laziness in the bud!

Goal #2: Pack 5+ Meals per Week

I usually eat both breakfast and lunch at work. And because I’m often lazy and usually rushed, I end up purchasing both of those meals, for a grand total of about $11 per day. Yuck. While I’d love to quit the cafeteria cold turkey, I’m finding it difficult to meal plan and pack lunches for one (since a certain someone buys lunch every day as well). So I’ll try an average of one purchased meal a day, rather than two, and see how that goes.

Goal #3: Run (Once)

My 30 Before 30 List included running a 5k. I know that’s not a very lofty goal, but for me, it’s an infinite increase from the distance I currently run. So sometime in June, I have to go for a run. Maybe not a long run, but a run.

Goal #4: Garden

Now that all the plants are planted, I want them to thrive! But that means taking care of them, and not being too passive or forgetful about it.

Goal #5: Keep Up with Blogging

Later this month, I’ll be transferring to a new department within my company, which means more challenges and longer hours — hence less time for blogging. My goal from that point on is essentially to not drop the ball on the blog altogether. Here’s hoping I can create a reasonable balance!

That’s it for June! What are your goals this month?

 The Monthly Goals Link-Up