April 13, 2015

Meal Planning & Prep

Regardless of the type of lifestyle you live, prepping your meals in advance makes life easier. There's no other way to say it. Here's how it works:
  1. Plan your meals - actually write them down - each day of the week what you are eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And include snacks!
  2. Write a grocery list based on what you have planned to eat. If it's not on your plan, it shouldn't go in your grocery cart.
  3. Go shopping! (this is kind of a key step...tehehe)
  4. After returning home, put everything away that you do not need for prepping your food (this is under the assumption you will cook your food that same day. I personally shop Saturday evenings and then cook on Sundays.) Most of what you will eat throughout the week can be cooked in advance - take this to your advantage!
My veggie prep for dinner salad for the week.

Let me get a little more specific when I say prepare your food. If you're having an apple every day, there really isn't much you can do to make that easier. I, personally, cut mine up the night before I'm going to eat it. Other than that, that's a pretty simple choice on it's own. Grapes, on the other hand, while easy to grab are not as easy as an apple. I would recommend that you separate your grapes by portion size and store them in zip-lock baggies or storage container for the number of days you'll be eating them. Say you have them on your meal plan as a snack for three days. You would end up with 3 containers with about a cup of grapes in them. Stick 'em in the fridge and they are ready to go.

Brown or wild rice is another good example. Say you are eating this a couple times a week. Cook it all on your designated cooking day. All of it! I wouldn't necessarily split this up in to portions, but it would make your life a touch easier. On items like this I simply store it in a large enough container and grab the portions I need as I eat it. Chicken, this is another thing that can be cooked ahead of time, portioned, and is a great source of lean protein! I tend to cook mine in a crock pot with a touch of water and some seasonings. I let it cook just long enough that when I pull it out it pretty much falls apart. This allows me to shred the chicken, which I prefer. (You could also cube it or bake it for single servings of skinless, boneless chicken breasts.)

So now that you have a couple examples of how to prepare different foods, I want to suggest some tips on your meal plan. Notice I specifically mentioned grapes, apples, rice and chicken. These are good, basic staples to have around. When you are first starting with meal planning and prep, it's a bit eager to sick with a consistent menu. Once you get the hang of it, adding new meals and alternatives will come much easier.

That said, here is a very basic meal plan that can repeated every day of the week, an get you of and running.

  • Breakfast: Steal cut oats, apple, pecans 
  • AM Snack: 2 hard boiled eggs
  • Lunch: Quinoa, shredded chicken, and roasted broccoli
  • PM Snack: Cottage cheese & sliced peppers
  • Dinner: Shakeology with a handful of greens
Notice the bulkier items that can be prepped in bulk - oats, eggs (don't peel them), Quinoa, chicken, broccoli, and peppers. Note imagine having all this proper for the week. All you have to do is grab and go. Your life just got easier. Not to mention, healthier. It's easier to eat right when you don't have room for temptation! ENJOY!

April 7, 2015

Coffee with Coconut Oil!

If you’ve ever heard of BulletProof coffee, you either love it, hate it, or just flat out think it’s a little strange. (lol)  I drank it for quite a while and loved (still love) it. But, 4 cups of coffee a day with that many calories tends to leave you a little hungry. Or, it did me anyway.

Thanks to a wonderful friend, I have found an alternative. Brew a cup of coffee (I use my Keurig), add 1t Coconut Oil, and a few drops of vanilla sweet leaf drops (stevia).
It’s delicious! And it’s good for you, clean, and low on calories! One thing that makes it super easy is my immersion blender. Once the coffee is brewed, coconut oil and sweet drops are added simply insert immersion blender for about 10 seconds and, voila, deliciousness is ready!
Anyway, if you’re trying to eat clean or just want to try something new, give this coffee a try. You may want to try it a couple times before judging, but it is quite delicious.

I buy as much as I possibly can from Amazon! It just saves me time! So figured I'd share what I bought in case any of you reading this are the same way. :)

April 6, 2015

Intermittent Fasting

I am trying something new, started yesterday. I have trained my body to eat every 2-3 hours. There are a couple problems with this, but I won't address any of them other than the fact that I am constantly eating. Still managing my calories and what I'm eating, but it's still ALL THE TIME! And it never fails that I'm still hungry or have the munchies around 8pm every night. Eating this late, right before you're going to bed and your metabolism is slowing down, is not good for you belly.
So I am trying intermittent fasting to replace my current lifestyle. I am still learning about it; and boy do I have lots to learn! But the high level summary is that you eat within a specific block of time, throughout the day, and nothing else on your of hours. This type of eating is supposed to help your body burn more fat as you are allowing your body the time it needs to fully digest and use what you ate the day before.
Say, for example, you eat breakfast at 8am. Your last meal would be at 4pm. Here's the cool thing, there is no set clock on intermittent fasting! This means its customizable so it can fit into any lifestyle. Ideally, I think, you want to wait until later in the day to have your first meal. For me, personally, I am going for the 10am to 6pm block of time for eating. So far, over the last 2 days, it's been satisfying. (I got a little hungry early today so I think I ate at 9:45am. I really don't think 15 minutes is going to make a difference. I could be wrong. But I'm okay with it for day #2.)
There are a couple of things to take into consideration - or remember - if you ever seriously contemplate this type of lifestyle. Did you notice that word? "Lifestyle"? This is a lifestyle, not a fad, not a diet, not a detox, not a lose weight quick "thing". A lifestyle that you adopt as part of your every day routine for the rest of your life. Just like clean eating. It doesn't benefit you to do this for a week. It has a compound effect. Over time it increases your health, energy, confidence and overall appearance. Lifestyle choices are permanent, not temporary. I am probably repeating myself, but it's important to fully grasp that. To change you life it can't be temporary.
The other thing to consider is that it is super easy to implement. Don't wake up tomorrow morning and just start eating within and 8 hour window (well, you could, I don't think it would have a negative effect, but it might be a little more difficult to stick with). So, week 1 - for example - try 10 or 11 hours. Or, if that's your normal window maybe try 9. Then week 2 shave off another hour. Then, if you're not already at 8 hours, shave off another hour on the following week.
What you're doing is training your body. Note how at the start of this post I said I had trained my body to eat every 2-3 hours. Trust me, your body gets used to your eating patterns and they are not easy to break. It takes time and consistency. So if your body is yelling at you that it's hungry, it might not be. It might just be part of your routine that you'll have to work through. It only takes 21 days to create a habit. If you can get through that time period, you're good. Keep that goal in mind.
My all-time favorite meal of the day, and most nutritious!
Okay, done rambling. So, on top of this new lifestyle, I am also still focusing on clean eating. Yes, another lifestyle choice. I don't have to quit one to try the other. Pretty cool in my opinion, makes my life a little easier. So, for now, I am simply working towards my 8hr eating window with clean foods. I don't see a reason this won't work so I'm super excited. (Especially considering I am still recovering from surgery and can't workout for - at least - another 4 weeks. Eating right will keep from losing any progress during my down time!)