Meal Prep and Planning For Your Success

Ever get to a place where you get stuck yo-yo-ing around the same 10-15 pounds? This has been me for the past year. I’ll lose 10 and then gain 8 around the holidays, and then stay pretty stagnant for the duration of the summer, etc. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that if I’m going to actually make this change and be successful, I need to hold myself accountable and come up with a solid game plan.

Hence my 3 main points in today’s post:

  1. No buy, no cry. If it’s not in your house or in front of you, you won’t be tempted to eat it. Essentially you won’t be setting yourself up for failure. If you were trying to quit smoking, you wouldn’t place packs of cigarettes around the house, either. Work on shopping when you’re full and satisfied, not starving and ready to indulge on Cheetos and sugary foods.

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  1. Plan it out or you’ll be in doubt. We’d all like to think that we don’t “need” to count calories or watch our portions if we workout hard enough but that just isn’t true. In order to be successful we need to have a game plan and meal prep is my new favorite thing. Below is a picture of my first attempt at some legit meal prep. I view them a lot like homemade lean cuisines, except not frozen or full of preservatives. Eat them within the same week and you’re golden. For these I just threw 3 chicken breasts into a crock pot the night before with chicken broth, garlic powder, and pepper. Cooked them on low over night for 8 hours and then in the morning they were easy to pull apart and shred. I added some Frank’s Buffalo Sauce and then divided a can of spinach, black beans, and some salsa between the six containers. Each one is just 315 calories and when I get home tonight I won’t have to cook!

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  1. Get it out of the way and enjoy your day. I’ve personally found that if I can get my workout done in the morning BEFORE my day gets crazy, then it’s more likely to happen and make my day better overall. If you can get to the gym after work, school, endless errands, then GOOD on you. I just can’t tell you HOW many times I’ve promised myself to go to a cycling class or pop in a workout video after I get home, to find myself not moving from the couch. Or I run into the issue of eating something extra at work and counting on that workout afterwards to bring my net calories back to my goal. Do the workout before you let yourself have the treat.

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Ten Changes For The New Year

Every year we all grow and every year I think I’ve got it all figured out only to discover that 365 days later I’ve got even more ideas on how to improve. The point is, we never stop growing, learning, maturing, and developing. Finding ways to allow ourselves to continue to grow and keep an open mind and a loving heart towards ourselves is key.

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With that being said, here are the ten things I’m vowing to do for myself starting now and throughout 2014:

1) Process before responding. Now this is bigger than listening. I’ve become a much better listener in the past year than I ever have been. I’m no longer just waiting to talk, I’m listening. But often times I’m not processing enough before I’m responding. I find myself responding in ways that I think must be “correct” or “appropriate” in the moment but that really aren’t the best for me. And that down the line aren’t solving anything. When I’m discussing with people and they are truly asking for my response I need to drop the urge to do so immediately and allow my mind to fully engage.

2) Forgiving myself and trusting my past actions. For the first 2 years after I lost my Dad I made some huge, some hasty, life changes and decisions. I cut out more people in my life than I ever thought was possible and some of them weren’t even for what seemed like logical reasons. But looking back I don’t regret it and I see how clear my scope was. I was given a gift of being able to see what truly mattered in my life after such a great loss. I wouldn’t have had that strength and courage to bravely say no to people and consciously walk away from toxic friendships without that. I’m now in a beautiful zone of clarity surrounded by the people who have meant the most all along.

3) I will be patient, loving, nurturing, and more caring with my body. Self hate runs deep within my veins. It’s easy to spiral in that doubt and pain cycle of critiquing myself and doubting my own abilities. My body is going to constantly shift and change. I’m not always going to look one way but I can always work on how I feel. I need to take more deep breaths and focus on the beauty within my body and stop making hateful comments on it it at any given moment.

4) Lead the way instead of merely pointing in a direction. I can preach all I want about how I disagree with someone or how much I believe in something else whether it be women’s issues or how much sugar to eat. While words are powerful, the act of doing what you believe and living a life full of those actions speaks stronger than any article you post ever can. More internal focus.

5) Truly owning independence in the face of a co-dependent nature. Like a lot of people, I want to make others happy. I want my family to be proud of me and support me and I’ve always tried so hard to do things to ensure their happiness and others as well. While it’s important to care about the ones you love, it’s necessary to find a balance and realize that sometimes feelings of guilt are normal and just that, feelings. We all have to move forward with our lives and sometimes make choices that won’t be as convenient for others.

6) More nothing days. Today I took a 4 hour nap. I was so exhausted from being exhausted my body finally gave up. Planning more days to do absolutely nothing and not feel guilty is key in order for me to feel well rested and regain that energy and motivation for a healthy life.

7) Set measurable and attainable ways to do new things. Merely saying “I’m going to write more this year” won’t help me accomplish anything if I don’t actually set specific goals. The same goes for weight loss, exercise, you name it.

8) With that being said I’m going to write more. I want to set aside 10 minutes a day to free write. To write about my day, to vent, to free my mind of clutter. That and I want to truly commit to one blog post a week. What could you make time for with just 10 minutes a day?

9) Listen when my body is trying to speak to my mind. Ever hear that quote about how if you judged every animals ability by how high they could climb a tree then fish would never get any praise? The same is true for communication throughout your body. While your mind may say to you “put down that cupcake!” your knees won’t tell you to stop running, in some cases they’ll just give out on mile ten. When we can quiet our inner voice (and mine is loud so sometimes I really have to tell it to shut up) we can truly begin to notice the language of our bodies. My headaches also tell me more than just pain, they tell me I’m dehydrated, that I need a better bedtime, that maybe I should finally make amends with that old friend. Your body is smarter than you think, it just doesn’t talk to you in the same ways. Listen.

10) Remembering that most of the time it’s not about me. When others act out, seem distant, or whatever it make be, it’s human nature to immediately think “well what did I do?” or “they are being so rude to me!” Chances are while it may be painful, the source is usually not you, it’s something they are going through. And when we all go through things nothing is more frustrating than everyone needing you to coddle them because they think it’s about them. Be aware of this and while you make sure to keep boundaries in place, realize that sometimes people aren’t present or there for you because they have too much going on in their own lives. It doesn’t mean they don’t care about you.

While I could go on and make a list of other things like less chocolate and more vegetables, these are true life changes that I can make from the inside out. That I can make into habits from the core of my very being. These are New Years resolutions that I’m finally excited and truly aware of.

We Are Aware of What We Choose to See: How Consciousness Affects Our Health

Whenever we embark on a fatloss journey, it all sounds easy in theory.

I just have to eat less.

This won’t be THAT hard.

I can totally eat 1200 calories a day.

But then once we start, it can suddenly feel like the world is against us. We’re hungry, there are less choices, and who the hell actually follows those meal plans with turkey bacon and a bazzillion ingredients for every meal!? I don’t have endless dollars and turkey bacon is gross. That’d be like eating a mound of broccolli and calling it veggie cake. Get OUT of here, it’s not the same!

mindful-eating-lessThe reason why it seems so hard is because we suddenly have to become conscious. All of this time we’ve just been eating. I don’t know about you but when I’m not on top of my health, I’m not sitting down planning out how many cheetos I’m going to eat. I just find myself covered in orange in front of the TV wondering how I ever found a boyfriend. You know, where the cheeto dust is so thick on your fingers that you have to use your teeth to truly lick it off? Yeah. It’s OK, you’re not alone.

The point is, being conscious and aware suddenly makes us feel trapped, obsessive, and super observant about all aspects of our lives. We have to be brutally honest with ourselves about what we’re putting into our bodies. It’s a GREAT thing but it can also be hard to find that balance of caring about what you’re eating and not obsessing. It’s ok if you don’t know every single calorie in every thing you eat. It’s about changing your lifestyle, not doing jumping jacks because you ate a tic tac.

030413p42_clip_image002Think about it this way. What color shirt did you wear yesterday? The day before? What color are you wearing now? Yeah. I have no clue because I’ve never actually cared about this part of my daily routine. I just wear clothes. If you suddenly decided to figure out what color you wanted to wear every day and became conscious of it, you’d notice it more. It’s a lot like when there’s a recall of a product or an influx in the hype about some movie or show. Suddenly you see that stuff EVERYWHERE! And you think, wow, is there more of this? How long has this been going on? The fact is, our lives are determined by how conscious and aware we are of things. Quite frankly, things don’t exist to us if we don’t pay attention. But as we all know, our health will catch up with us if we don’t pay attention to that. I will continue to choose to ignore Miley Cyrus but I won’t ignore what food goes into my body.

So if we all take a deep breath and realize that it’s less about this shift being extremely difficult and more about us just being aware of what is happening, it starts to seem a little more bareable. Ok. I got this.

Make a plan for yourself. Don’t just leave your success up to fate. Set daily goals and changes for yourself. Soon things will become habits. Say no to the cookies in the breakroom, or just don’t go to the breakroom. Every time you make a positive choice for your health instead of a bad one, THAT is progress! And those are all huge and important steps.

How to overcome binge and compulsive overeating

Believe it or not, there are people out there that stop eating when they are full. They’ve done this their entire lives. They don’t keep eating until their stomach hurts or they forget about their problems. It’s not that they have more self control, they just don’t have that thing about them that makes them want to eat a mountain of cupcakes.

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Me on the other hand, I’ve always been different. I’m like a puppy in front of endless kibble, and if I’m sad or depressed or angry, I will eat until I’m even more so. The thing is, I wasn’t always like this and sometimes I have gone years at a time without this problem. But every now and then I find myself running to the grocery store at 10pm and back home with Ben & Jerries, Cheez-Its, and the entire Netflix collection of the Office on continuous play.

It’s that moment when you think you might throw up, your knuckles hit the bottom of the goldfish bag, or your have to start tilting the pringles because you can’t fit your fist inside. It’s that horrible moment when you think a number of things:

Why am I eating when I’m not even hungry?

OMG I have a problem! I’m a monster!

NO ONE CAN EVER KNOW ABOUT THIS. I need to take the garbage out right now.

Am I pregnant?

Am I depressed? What’s wrong with me?

The truth is. You’re not alone. Around 3.5% of women and 2% of men experience a form of binge eating in their lifetime. And before you get scared and X out of this page because you don’t want to hear that you have an eating disorder. Stay with me. While binge eating is classified as a type of eating disorder by the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), there are times in our lives where we might be overeating or anxious and it doesn’t mean there’s something horribly wrong with us or that we are lesser human beings. Binge eating is also the MOST COMMON eating disorder out there and effects around 30% of people pursueing weight loss goals or treatment.

So why do people binge eat? And what’s classified as binge eating? And why am I just NOW facing this after having success losing weight?

Everyone seems to have too much food over the holidays or on their birthday. But sometimes we feel like eating alone, eating a lot of food alone, being secretive about it, and then feeling an enormous amount of shame and guilt afterwards. It’s that horrible feeling and promising yourself you’ll stop and that you’re done and then finding yourself in the same situation again.

For me, I’ve binged when I’m alone. I’m bored and sometimes I’m not even depressed or sad or angry about much or anything at all. But I know how good filling up my stomach with bad food will feel…momentarily. It’s a type of high. It’s a momentary feeling of pleasure that makes you forget about other problems. But it can destroy you inside and out.

When I was little, I would often sneak food. I was teased a lot in elementary school for having a tummy and if I was ever home before my parents I’d sneak as many Little Debby snacks as I could and eat them like there was no tommorow. Years went by and I got a lot healthier into my High School years. I would go running, 2-6 miles a day and I felt great, I wasn’t obsessed with my body but I was happy that I felt energized and was getting compliments on my appearance.

Even in college, eating wasn’t an issue. The dorms helped with pre-prepared meals and having roommates always held me accountable in terms of not overeating or snacking at night. It wasn’t until after losing 50 lbs and spending nearly 3 years so heavily focused on my body, my caloric intake, and my results that all of those impulses started to come back. For the past year I have truly struggled when I’m alone (usually Sunday nights) to not eat as much as I can.

Do I feel ashamed? Embarassed? Worried? Yeah, most definitely. But I know that sharing my story and finding ways to move forward will mean that I’ll find a solution faster and stop this cycle.

So why do we feel so compelled and out of control with overeating after we’ve made such amazing fat loss progress? Losing weight is a journey that will be more complicated than you’d ever expect. When you decide and committ to weightloss journey, you are transforming more than your body. You are changing your habits, the way you think about everything, the choices you make, and you start to look at your body with new hopes and admiration. Suddenly, you ARE capable of reaching goals and not only looking better but feeling better, too! It’s exciting and the compliments are endless and it’s this high of YEAH I’m taking control of my life! But it’s also terrifying. There are moments when we don’t see ourselves the way everyone else does. We get worried that we’ll gain it all back or that we are just as heavy as we once were. It can take months, even a year or more to truly see how small we’re getting and to stop picking up old bigger sizes when we go clothes shopping.

All of that mental effort can be draining and if we don’t find ways to blow off steam and release some of that tension, our minds and bodies will find ways for us. Same goes for all stresses in life. It’s why disorders exist. We can’t prevent stress, but we can find better ways to work through it and not fear being weaker because of it.

I’m not going to sit here and right a list of reasons why binge eating or overeating is bad for you, you probably know why, with the worst part being the way it makes you FEEL. The way it takes away self-esteem and motivation.

So how can we overcome these impulses to overeat when we’re alone or with other people we’re comfortable with. How can we stop?

  • Take 10-15 minutes to write down what triggers you to overeat. Is it being bored? Lonely? Angry or sad? Do you want to overeat when you watch TV or when you get bad news? Understanding what makes you want to start binging or overeating will help you find ways to stop.
  • Once your realize what your triggers are, find healthy alternatives. Go for a walk, do 10 jumping jacks, take a nap, read a book, or call a friend.
  • Don’t deprive yourself of food during the day so you can eat more at night. I’m SO gulty of this. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve tried to do 60 minutes of cardio and eating 500 calories so I can have 1500 left over for dinner. It’s a great way to set yourself up for failure, overeat and feel lightheaded throughout the day.
  • Write down a list of foods you crave when you want to binge and find ways to enjoy them in moderation or healthier alternatives. If you NEVER let yourself have chocolate because you want to lose weight, you’re going to end up invading the local grocery store later. Find ways to have just one of something and enjoy it.
  • If you are at a point where you feel like you can’t trust yourself when you’re alone, find someone or a resource to help you. Find a buddy you can text when you want to eat at night or a community forum online.
  • Empower yourself and take time after reading this to focus on the fact that you are finding a solution and already closer to ending self-turmoil instead of feeling bad that you’ve admitted you have something you want to work on.
  • Check out Top 10 Online Resources for Binge Eaters
  • Don’t hide – you are an amazing person and this will be something you will overcome and be proud of. It’s just one more hurdle in your transformation journey that makes you proud to be the person you are.

You can’t fail if you never give up.

30 Day Squat Challenge

I’ve seen this trending recently, especially on Instagram. Think I’m going to give the 30 Day Squat Challenge a go in line with Ripped in 30. It’s also a small enough commitment, 2-3 minutes a day that we should all be able to do this! I just did my first 50 and I gotta tell ya, after 30 I started to breathe heavy and my legs got shaky. I can only imagine how strong this will make my glutes after 30 days!

When doing a squat, I like to raise my arms perpendicular to the ground in front of me. It helps me maintain balance. Make sure MOST IMPORTANTLY to never extend your knees past your toes. Your back can be bent forward, just keep it flat. Let me know how it goes and maybe, eventually, I’ll be brave enough to post a progress pic of my bum haha.

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Healthy Breakfast and Getting Back on Track with Organization

Suddenly it’s Summer time and while I’m a fan of the weather there’s the other part of me that’s panicking because that means it’s almost swimsuit time! AAHHH!!

So last night I decided to get myself back on track in a new way. Besides eating healthy and exercising regularly, I also wanted to make sure the physical environment around me was clean and organized. I figure that the more organized my home is, the more clear my head will be to make better decisions and stay on track. So I headed out to the dollar store and picked up some bins to start organizing.

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Knowing where everything is is an AMAZING feeling. I used an ice cube tray for my earrings and now know where my stapler and tape is (I had THREE of each – who knew!?) A great blog to checkout for more organizing tips to help keep your life at ease is Organizing Made Fun.

Then this morning I started up Ripped in 30 again which is a decent step up from 30 Day Shred. I actually like it a lot better and it seems to go by faster. By the time I was done with Level 1, I was soaked through all of my workout gear.

Here’s my healthy breakfast for today. 2 scramled eggs with broccoli and a bit of garlic salt.

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What other things do you do to help keep yourself on track?

Sleep: The Ultimate Variable in Your Success

Everyone knows that sleep is important, really important. I’ve covered this topic in a past post as well, but what really happens to our bodies and our minds when we don’t get enough sleep? And how can we really make the effort to get enough on a regular basis?

Let’s be Honest

Chances are you’re not getting enough sleep. Now that we can all admit this to ourselves we can move forward. Simply “going to bed” can often mean getting into bed and watching Netflix for 3 hours, exploring Pinterest on your phone, or playing the YouTube game where one cat video leads to another….and another….and….you get it.

What Happens to Your Mind. The American Pyschological Association also lists symptoms here.

  • Unable to multitask
  • Irritability and moodiness sinks in
  • Easily distracted
  • Slower speech and information recognition
  • Lack of empathy and lowered emotional responses – you know, when it looks like you’re not listening or caring and people ask “you tired?”
  • It’s hard to remember things
  • Lack of concentration
  • Persistent clumsiness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Increased stress

What Happens to Your Body. As if the emotional and mental symptoms above aren’t enough, our body also goes through a number of chemical responses and processes when we do or don’t get enough sleep. Our bodies are triggered to release hormones at different times of the day and many of them when we sleep. Children especially need enough sleep to allow growth hormones to be released efficiently. The protein prolactin is also released during sleep which aids in immune system regulation and cell growth and cell cycle proceses, which down the line help aid in water and salt balance within the body.

Ever notice how hungry you feel after a restless night? That’s because hormones that help regulate our appetite and glucose levels are often released while we sleep. I’ve touched on the roles of ghrelin and leptin before but mostly we can take note that ghrelin is the hormone responsible for our hunger and instense cravings, it’s the meal initiator, while leptin is the hormone known for balancing your bodies energy stores, it’s also referred to as the fullness hormone as it triggers your brain that you are done eating and satisfied, it’s the meal ender.

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Common Myths about Sleep

  • Everyone needs the same amount – actually people can differ in the amount of sleep needed. Most adults need 8 hours of sleep to function properly but some can avoid most symptoms listed above after 6 hours, while others really need 9 or 10. Take time and note of the balance you need.
  • The older you get the less sleep you neednot true. Throughout your adult life you will still need the same required amount of sleep, however, it may be more difficult to sleep straight through the night like you could when you were younger.
  • Quantity over quality – I have to point out that just because you got 10 hours of sleep doesn’t always guarentee you’ll feel super rested. The Quality of our sleep matters, too! It’s important for our bodies to get into R.E.M. sleep or rapid eye motion. This is when our brain is super active and cells are regenerated in our brains. Just because YOU are asleep doesn’t mean parts of your body shut down. Think of your brain as a puppy that’s at home all day while you’re awake and its just WAITING for you to go to sleep so it can go outside and run around.
  • You can easily adjust to a new sleep schedule but staying up late or sleeping in much longer false. The body CAN adjust to a new sleep schedule over time but only at a rate of about 1-2 hours per day. That means if you’re about to work a night shift from a regular 9-5 day, it’s going to take your body some time before you feel “normal” and rested again.

My Experiment

Yeah – I lost sleep over my blog for you guys – ok not entirely true – but for the past week I haven’t been getting enough sleep. I get up around 4:30 every morning to hit the gym, yes I am crazy but I also don’t know my own name until after I’ve chugged a cup of black coffee – thank god for self starting coffee pots. This past week I wasn’t going to bed until 10, sometimes 11pm. Yeah, that’s maaaaaybe 5 1/2 or 6 hours of sleep a night. YIKES! Here’s what happened:

  • Mentally drained and exhausted
  • Moody and irritated – just ask my boyfriend
  • A complete lack of emphathy or symptahy – I’m pretty sure “suck it up” was my motto during this past week
  • Complete absense of motivation
  • Excuses GALORE – suddenly all my long-term and short-term fitness goals were now “unrealistic” and “unnattainable”
  • EXTREME hunger throughout the day especially from 3-6pm, my stomach ACHED and I couldn’t eat enough after I got home
  • Sugar cravings – had you presented me with a cake, I would have punched a baby penguin to eat the entire thing
  • Fast food cravings
  • Depression – after about the 4th day, I was ready to give up on everything, my diet, working out, I just wanted to go drink beer and was already planning happy hours in my head

Then last night I actually got enuogh sleep. Today is like a WHOLE NEW WOOOORLD!! My motivation is back, I’m ready, I WANT to eat healthy and I’m not starving like crazy after all my healthy snacks.

Realistic Ways to Get Enough Sleep

So now that we’ve went over some of the science and personal experiences of sleep deprivation, how can we all realistically GO TO BED ON TIME??????

Here are my suggestions:

  • Set a time to GET into bed – if you know you like to spend 30 minutes shooting aliens on your phone, then alot the time for it
  • Go to bed around the SAME TIME every night – yes even on the weekends, try not to venture too far off from your normal routine. When I stay up to 1am on a Friday night, it doesn’t seem to matter how much I sleep in, my body is exhausted and confused
  • Do things that make you tired an hour before bedtime – read a book, light candles, take a bubble bath, listen to soothing music, brew some tea, get away from computer and TV lights, let your mind calm down from the busy day.
  • Be strict – it’s easy and certainly ok every now and then to make an exception and head to a late event on a weeknight, but if you do this all the time, you won’t be alert or happy the next day.
  • Keep track of how you feel when you DO get enough sleep – sometimes the motivation around bedtime can be hard. We have the night self and the morning self. Getting in the habit of going to bed even when you don’t want to will make hearing that alarm clock in the moring less awful.
  • Look for apps to help track your sleep and monitor your Circadian Rhythm