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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8 Tips For Meal Planning & Packing

Sometimes the easiest way to stay on top of your game is to plan and pack your meals. Bringing a lunch, making overnight oats the night before, these are all great ways to look forward to food and what you’re going to eat. It keeps you from getting super ravenous and hungry that you want to give up or cheat and put everything in your face.

I know it can take a little effort and is something to adjust to, especially if you’re used to going out to eat all the time or just grabbing whatever before you head out the door.

Here’s a breakdown of what I’m eating today at roughly 1200 calories.

  • Overnight Oats for breakfast – recipe coming soon!
  • Fiber filled snacks for mid-morning and afternoon: apple slices with peanut butter, blueberries, and raw almonds
  • Mesquite turkey breast sandwich on Dave’s Killer Bread thin slices (I LOVE this stuff) with 1 TBSP mayo and some horseradish
  • Lean turkey burger with a lettuce wrap instead of a bun, onions, and either mayo or avocado

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Here’s some great tips for packing and planning meals to make it easier and less stressful. Soon you’ll be in the habit and it won’t feel like effort at all 🙂

  1. Portion out your snacks ahead of time. When I buy raw almonds or any of my favorite snack, I like to take time to make snack packs for either the week or with the entire package. With almonds, I portion out 15 or so (100 calories) into snack-sized ziplock bags. Then when I’m making lunch I can just throw them in or grab a bag on my way out the door for a snack later.
  2. Find ways to make healthy versions of meals you love. Just because you’re trying to eat healthier and change your lifestyle habits, doesn’t mean you can never think about cheese ever again! Find ways to make a healthier lasagna with whole wheat noodles or squash instead. Substitute lean ground turkey for ground beef. Use lettuce instead of burger buns. I recently found a great recipe for buffalo chicken wraps that I’m going to make with my Mom this weekend. They look delicious and will be healthy!
  3. Find creative ways to transport food. Mason jars are all the rage lately for storing salads (with all of the wet ingredients at the bottom and the lettuce sitting on top). They are also great for making overnight oats and smoothies and then you can just take them with you on your way to work or where ever you may go!
  4. Don’t make rules for what can be eaten when. I am guilty of this all the time. it doesn’t have to be breakfast time for you to eat eggs. Healthy food can be eaten at any time of the day. As long as you are getting great nutrients and feeling full you can eat cereal for dinner and a sandwich for breakfast. Don’t put limits on yourself. Make things easier.
  5. Buy a water bottle and use it. Keeping yourself hydrated is one of the most important things for maintaining energy, staying healthy, and fueling your body. Buy a quality water bottle for your home and office so you are always an arms reach away from drinking those 64+ ounces!
  6. Plan meals and pack snacks that you’ll look forward to! Sometimes the hardest part about making healthy habits is feeling like you’ll never have good food to look forward to ever again – not true! Plan times for special meals and moments of indulgence to help keep you on track during the week. Knowing you get to have a glass of wine or a piece of pizza on Friday can help keep you focused and truly appreciate these foods and drinks when you do get to have them.
  7. Food doesn’t have to be an event. I’ve always felt like I needed to plan some elaborate dinner when I got home but the truth is, food is fuel and it doesn’t have to be the main event surrounding everything we do. It’s okay to get home and have a hodgepodge dinner of whatever you have around the house.
  8. Choose foods that come in their own container. Foods you can throw into your lunch bag without worrying about more bags or containers are great. Make hardboiled eggs for the week and keep the shell on and then take them to work for an easy, protein filled snack. Apples, pears, oranges, avocados, yams, and other fruits are great for this, too! Ready to go foods like low-fat string cheese and greek yogurt are also easy to throw into your lunch (they can just become a little expensive if you’re always buying ready-made snacks).

11 Great Ways to Keep Yourself on Track!

I’m on day 14 of the shred and there are some days where all of this is just plain HARD! I want to eat brownies and gorge myself on pringles and not move and never workout, but I can’t do that and I won’t do that because it will only leave me upset, out of shape, and depressed from all that bad food. So what are some things to do to keep yourself on track, especially in those desperate moments of confusion and cravings? Here are some of my secrets:

  1. Plan and Be Prepared – if you don’t have a game plan it’s going to be a LOT easier to eat that pizza at your friends party or sneak a doughnut from the break room. Pack your lunch the night before. Stock your pantry, fridge, and freezer with healthy options AND choices so that you have a pretty good idea of what you want when you get home. Choices are important because they give us options to make us feel like we are in control and not being “forced” into eating a certain way. An example, I planned on having a giant salad the other night but then really wanted something sweet by the time I got home, good thing I had frozen tilapia and coconut shred ready to go! This weekend I’m going to a friends bday BBQ and there’s going to be TONS of burgers, beers, and pasta salads. Before I said “omg I won’t even be able to go!” I put a game plan in place. I’m going to pre-make an amazing salad and bring my own little cooler of sparkling water, Zero Vitamin Water, etc. This way I’ll be eating with everyone else and will still be able to have a beverage in my hand at the same time. All that extra effort means I’ll probably have room on Loseit for a s’more by the end of the night 😉
  2. Portions! – Make the effort to get familiar with what the serving size is of the most common foods you eat. Ask restaurants to box up half of your meal before they bring it out to you. (Also – never be afraid to ask them to cook your meal healthier or without an ingredient, it’s a restaurant and they are cooking for YOU!) Buy smaller plates, bowls, etc. I even find that when I eat with dessert forks instead of the bigger ones, I eat slower, get full faster, and end up eating less overall.
  3. Never eat out of the container! – You’d be amazed at how many chips you actually ate out of that bag in front of the TV. If you REALLY want to have something like that, portion it out. Put a serving size of chips or whatever you’re about to eat in a bowl or make it pretty on a plate. Enjoy your food, let it nourish you, be aware of how it makes you feel as you eat it.
  4. Get rid of your Kryptonite – goldfish crackers, dove chocolate. What is it that if it’s in front of you, you just HAVE to eat it. Don’t think that hiding it in the cubboard will help, either. It always finds a way to talk to you. “Hey! Sarah, up here, behind the oatmeal, I’m chocolate, and you waaaant me!” Don’t make your efforts any harder by keeping bad things around. If you have roommates, try to agree on making sure bad foods are kept hidden. I don’t want to come home to a bowl of cookies if I don’t have to.
  5. Know your goals and track them – I’m not saying you have to use Loseit or track/count ALL of your calories ever. But do make sure you know where you’re at and what you should be doing/eating in a given day.
  6. Stock up – keep meal replacement bars, almonds, and healthy snacks that keep for a long time in your purse, trunk of your car, or some place in your apartment/house where you can grab them quick on the go. There are going to be unplanned times when you get swamped, called to a meeting, a last minute get-to-gether and you won’t have time to prep a meal or have healthy options. Having a healthy snack or something like a Cliff bar with tons of fiber/protein will keep you feeling satisfied and better suited to make a healthier choice later.
  7. Don’t Let Yourself Get Hungry! – sure, you are going to feel hungry that first week or so as your stomach shrinks and you get accustomed to eating less, however, you shouldn’t EVER skip meals or wait too long to eat. When this happens ghrelin builds up in your system (the hungry hormone) and makes you want to EAT. Staying full and eating lots of fiber and keeping your blood sugar at a healthy level will help you head home for that healthy meal instead of ending up at a drive-thru. I always keep low-fat cottage cheese in my fridge and eat a couple spoon fulls before I cook dinner. This keeps me from over-eating or deciding to go get ice cream instead.
  8. Drink More Water – often times we think we’re hungry when really we’re just thirsty. Get in the habit of drinking LOTS of water daily and you’ll find yourself with more control of what you’re eating.
  9. Stop Eating When You’re Full – learn what it means to be full. This doesn’t mean eating until you feel sick. Eat SLOWLY and enjoy the food nourishing your body. You’ll often find that once you stop eating, you’re already fuller than you thought. It can take a while for the message to get from your stomach to your brain. Be inspired by toddlers. Ever notice that kids will often eat just a bite of a cookie and then put it down and walk away
  10. Get Accountability Buddies! – have friends join you in your exercise regime and healthy eating ways! Keep each other on track by motivating each other and promising to help push each other to make that workout class even if you’re tired. Help them up when they have an off day and remind each other that you can’t fail if you never give up! If one of you loves the gym but also loves ice cream and the other one never wants to work out, find ways to inspire each other. Social media is also a great way to share progress and find other people to keep you accountable. Also make sure to measure success in ways other than the scale!
  11. Stay Motivated! – Find people, books, site, pictures, and blogs that keep you wanting to keep being a badass trailblazer for your body and your mind!