Clean or Mean: Eating Your Words

I don’t mind telling you that I’m in my fifties. Or that I grew up in a Midwestern family which, like Erma Bombeck’s, “viewed gravy as a beverage” (one of my favorite Erma quotes). Even though I’ve been bicycling since the 1970s, I can’t say I was especially fit despite the exercise. I mean, at one time I would eat two Big Macs the day before a 100-mile ride. No wonder I felt a bit sluggish.

In recent years, though, middle-age spread started to… well… spread. So I have really tried to work on my nutritional chops. No, not pork chops. I mean I’ve been trying to gain expertise in planning and preparing healthy food. Not being prone to gnaw on lawn clippings or bran muffins or similar “health foods,” Brent and I keep our eyes open for more appealing options.

Last year we ran across a book about the “Eat Clean Diet,” written by Tosca Reno. Peeking into the recipe section, we saw photo after photo of yummy-looking stuff. Seriously, it was both edible AND made with healthy ingredients. I tried the Mango Salsa recipe served over tilapia, and we both loved it.

As we added more scrumptious-but-healthy foods to our repertoire, an odd thing happened: most of my old, unhealthy favorites just didn’t seem as appetizing any more. For instance, I lost nearly all interest in Chicken-Fried Steak, which I had earlier designated a “once-a-year-treat.” In fact, most deep-fried foods just don’t sound very good. Yay, Jan is forming a positive habit!

But some days fill up with exercise and errands, and when lunchtime hits it will find a weak spot. Below is Exhibit A, evidence that the siren song of comfort food still rings in the air. Listen in while Brent and I chat on Facebook a few hours after a cycling workout last month…

Jan: Hi, Handsome!! I rode 8.42 miles today. It was windy.

Brent: Good! Nice warm day.

Jan: Yep! It was perfect (except for the wind)

Brent: Well you had a tailwind in some direction.

Jan: Yes, my avg speed increased all the way home.
Jan: I ate fried chicken for lunch. Grapefruit dinner for me!

Brent: You are the Yin and Yang of the Eat Clean diet!

So there you have it. Mood swings, food swings, whatever. But you know, I am not inclined to be too hard on myself. After all, fried chicken once in eight months is way less fattening than fried chicken every week. I’m making lots more fresh, healthy choices now than I was a couple of years ago. As long as most of my steps are in the right direction, why stress out about an occasional glitch?

I’d love to hear about how you have made progress toward a health or other goal.

Thanks for reading,

Linked up with Rachel Anne and the Company Girls Coffee group!

About Jan C. Johnson

Welcome! If you like food, reading, laughing over life's little disasters, and maybe thinking about the bigger things of life, you have come to the right place. Besides blogging, I write humorous fiction, though real life tends to leave fictional humor in the shade. But I'm not a total goofball. No, really. I'm also working on a biography project. I live in North Texas with my husband, Brent. We enjoy bicycling, Mexican food, and traveling to visit our kids and grandkids.
This entry was posted in I Remember When... (my OWN stories), Thoughts on Two Wheels and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Clean or Mean: Eating Your Words

  1. Mmmm, fried chicken! I have goals that I need to work on. Do you use an indoor cycle?
    I don’t live in the best area to cycle on the road and it’s difficult to do with a toddler. I’m not able to run because of my knees.

    Do you have any suggestions?


    • Jan says:

      We have “trainers” set up… it’s a framework that holds the back wheel of your regular bike, and you can shift gears and so forth to simulate a road ride. If you don’t already have a bicycle or want one, the indoor cycling machines might suit you better.

      I don’t run, either, for the same reason. There’s always the gym, especially if they offer child care, and I have some workout videos. But I’m not very diligent about using either.


  2. Katharine says:

    Wow, good for you. As I approach my (ahem) 50 mark, the best husband and I are also looking at our lifestyle choices. We’re not fans of cycling, so we purchased a treadmill this Christmas to begin some good exercise habits… Mmmm fried chicken, but, I have made your mango salsa recipe and give it two hearty thumbs up! I think I would choose it over the chicken!
    Have a wonderful weekend!


    • Jan says:

      Oh, didn’t you make that salsa for the Super Bowl game last year? I’m so glad you liked the recipe. Yay for treadmills; or whatever gets you moving! Thanks for the comment, Katherine.


  3. Katie M says:

    Hi! I’m Katie [Meticulous Mess] visiting from Company Girls! My husband recently had a kidney stone, thought to be caused by diet. So, we, too, have been trying to eat healthier. I was wondering if you could give me some ideas or pointers on how to buy healthy AND inexpensive. When we first got married, we really got into the habit of eating well. Unfortunately, we found that most of the recipes were very time consuming, and “healthy” food is expensive. We are on a pretty tight budget, so I was hoping you could give me some tips on stretching that to still eat healthy?


    • Jan says:

      Thanks for the question, Katie! I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned that might be helpful…
      1. For cost-effective choices, I suggest substituting normal stuff for the * exotic* sauces and seasonings. A few months ago I copied the (unfamiliar) name of a seasoning sauce down and looked for it at the store. I mean, I spelled the name out loud while scanning the shelves, until I found the same word on a big bottle. I put one in my cart and went on shopping. When I got home, I discovered that my exotic sauce was just low-sodium soy sauce. Sheesh, I could have used the regular soy sauce I already had. Or the regular brand probably comes in a low-sodium version if sodium is a problem for you. Recipe calls for leeks or shallots? I use good ol’ onions.
      2. Olive oil is your friend.
      3. Another way to more cost-effective cooking might be to grow some of your own veggies, or at least herbs. If you don’t have a garden spot you could try herbs and tomatoes in containers. Failing that, how about local produce, such as at a farmer’s market or roadside stand?
      4. Frozen vegetables are your friend too.
      5. Now, about the time-consuming part… I’m discovering that the healthiest cooking is actually the simplest. I’ve been using whole-grain pasta (needs extra salt) and, sometimes, brown rice. Broil or bake a fish fillet while the rice/pasta cooks, stir-fry some fresh or frozen veggies, and you’re done. Or warm up some cooked poultry or beef instead of the fish.
      6. Salad is also your friend. So is fresh fruit.

      These are just some ideas that seem to be working for us. I certainly welcome feedback and more ideas!



  4. joyceandnorm says:

    I think the hard part for me is understanding the serving size/portions. For sure, we eat way more than we are supposed to. And another is self-control! I love food! =p I’ll have to agree with Katie about healthy and inexpensive…tough to find, but I guess if a healthy lifestyle and living longer means paying a little more for food, than maybe we can find a balance somehow.


    • Jan says:

      Hi, Joyce! I’m working with portion control myself. When I dish up dinner, instead of automatically taking the same amount of food as I give my 1800-calorie-workout husband, I take about half as much. If I’m still hungry I can always get more, but most of the time the smaller amount satisfies me. I love to eat too, so if it’s on my plate I will probably finish it off even if I’m too full to really enjoy it.
      OR, I fill my plate just as full as Brent’s, but with less meat/carbs and more veggies. I appreciate your comment.


  5. Anonymous says:

    Good thoughts! I am also fighting the middle age battle of the bulge. Several months ago I bought some plastic dishes at Ikea for my grandson. Turns out the plate and bowl are perfect portion sizes for better eating. Dan makes fun of my kiddie plate but I just smile as I step on the scale!



  6. Catching up on some blog reading tonight after all have gone to bed. I started at Weight Watchers last week. I love how it helps me eat more fruits and vegies. Okay…I might need to try that mango salsa!


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