Nutrition

Five tips for meal prep

On a scale of one to I hate meal prepping, it’s a 17.

But here’s the deal: you know, and I know, that if you want to make healthier choices with your nutrition, you need to meal prep. 

Here’s the other deal - I hate it. 

But I have to do it.

But I hate it.

So how do you reconcile those two things? I can’t tell you exactly how you should do it, because I don’t know what makes meal prepping hard for you. But I can tell you what makes it hard for me, and how I’m working with my feelings on food prep to try and better implement the process. 

1. Look ahead

This is the planning part. I’m not a planner. According to my client who is a successful writer, my writing style would qualify me as a “pantser.” I write by the seat of my pants. I do everything by the seat of my pants. But here’s the other thing: when it comes to looking ahead to my schedule, I have it easy. 

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Because I don’t have kids, my weekly schedule largely stays the same. I don’t have to worry about baseball games, lacrosse games, or end of school year concerts that your kids forgot to tell you about until the morning of. I know I have it easy. 

The only planning I have to do is around my lunch options at work. I generally plan my fasting days for Tuesdays and Thursdays when I’m busiest, but if I don't bring something to work on Mondays and Wednesdays, I'll end up making choices that aren't inline with my current fitness goals.

2. Make a menu

Here’s my menu for this week:

Monday - Salmon and broccoli 

Tuesday - Chicken and peppers

Wednesday - Smoked Turkey Breast and zoodles. 

Thursday - There’s a food truck at the gym for client appreciation night so I’ll have a protein shake before hand and maybe have something from the food truck. 

Friday - I’m off so I’ll find a recipe to spring on Sheila Friday night. (These efforts usually appears on my instagram stories, because I don't really know what I'm doing, but I'm trying).

3. Shop for ingredients (but make it fun)

When I shop, I wear my giant noise cancelling headphones and listen to Doris Day. I just do, ok? Que Sera Sera.

I also buy most of the same items: low fat cottage cheese, almonds, packs of tuna, beef jerky, and veggies that I can eat on the go like sugar snap peas, peppers, and cherry tomatoes. I’ll also pick up the proteins for the week or ask Sheila to do that because she does more shopping than I do. 

4. Cook for the week (but make it fun)

Last week I found a new recipe for salt and vinegar grilled chicken and that’s what I made while I watched the Pirates lose. Again. I made enough that night to have some lunch options for the week. The only way I’m going to make this routine stick is to make it fun. Right now, that means I make Instagram stories and catch up on the Handmaid’s Tale, because I need to entertain myself while I try to figure out what it means to julienne a vegetable...

5. Store it conveniently

To me, this is the most important step. If I have the food I want to eat ready to go in the fridge, and all I have to do is grab it and go, I’m in. Will I sometimes leave that food on the counter because I’m a shit show getting out the door? Yes! Of course I will. But I have a better chance of success if I have it in a container and ready to go.

Here’s the thing - making healthy choices takes work. And you have to be willing to put in the work. I’d like to pretend that it’s different than that, but it’s not. 

But I will also say that meal prepping is doable. You just have to find the routine that works for you, which might not be the routine that works for everyone else. 

Find a way to have fun with the process. If you can do that, you can stick with anything. 

The trouble with numbers

125

4

100

1200

125 pounds was the weight I thought was perfect for me.

4 was the size of pants I thought I should wear.

100 was how many calories I burned in one mile of running, approximately.

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1200 was the number of calories I thought I should eat in a day.

Those numbers have been burned onto my brain since I was in my early twenties - maybe earlier. 

We have relationships in every part of the fitness process - we have a relationship with exercise, we have a relationship with food and many of us, especially women, also have a relationship with the numbers. When I was a freshman in high school, my friend Jodi told me that if we multiplied our height, then that was our ideal weight. 

My ideal weight came from a friend who heard it from someone who read it somewhere and I thought that number was gospel.

At 5’5, my ideal weight was 125 pounds. Less was okay, and throughout high school I weighed 115 pounds. But when I went off to college and gained a little weight. I was ok as long as I weighed no more than 125 pounds. Though I didn't proclaim to anyone that I was on a diet, the minute my weight went over 125, I ate nothing but salads and was strict about staying below 1200 calories, which was another number I soaked up from somewhere I can't remember. I also knew that running burned roughly 100 calories per mile, so I'd run three or four miles. 

This was my unwritten rule for myself. 

That is the unwritten rule for so many of us. 

The rule of my ideal weight exploded in my face in my early thirties when I took up strength training. I was feeling stronger and enjoying the workouts but I wasn’t prepared for the scale to go in the opposite direction. Instead of going from 130 pounds to 125, I went to 135. Then to 140. 

Intellectually I knew what was going on - I knew that muscle weighed more than fat and blah, blah, blah, science. I knew that. 

But I still could not reconcile this new number. Because the old one, as bogus as it was in its foundation (shockingly, not everything I learned in high school locker rooms was true…) was absolutely seared into my brain. 

Seeing a number on the scale that was more than my ideal weight made me feel shameful. I felt bad about myself, despite what I knew intellectually.  

For many of us, certain numbers bring elicit memories and emotions. 

Maybe it was how much you weighed on your wedding day or when you graduated from college or some other positive time in your life. The ideal number in our head triggers positive memories or experiences. And that’s what we want.

For many others, there is a goal weight in mind - those who have struggled with weight all of their lives might have a number in mind as an end to the journey. 

Once I hit this weight….fill in the blank.

Once I hit this weight I’ll be happy. Once I hit this weight I can stop going to the gym seven times a week. Once I hit this weight….

And it’s not enough to intellectually understand that it’s ok if your weight goes up when your muscle mass goes up and your body fat goes down. Because sometimes you can tell yourself over and over again that it’s ok, but you never really buy what you’re trying to sell yourself. 

Developing a relationship with your body that doesn’t have numbers is so. hard. to. do. 

It is so hard. 

Because we sure as hell don't like the other feedback we rely on, which for most of us is mirrors. Just this morning I got up, took one look at myself in the mirror, and was thoroughly disappointed with what I saw. I haven't trained consistently because of injury, so I feel sluggish and quite frankly, didn't like what I saw in the mirror. 

I share that mostly because I know there are so many out there who feel the same way. 

So what do we do? With the numbers and the feedback?

We work on it. I know - that work is hard and complicated. But we create awareness where we can, we remind ourselves, at every opportunity, that we are more than a number. 

We ask for help. 

We offer help.

We remind each other that we're beautiful. 

We lift each other up. 

In the words of the ladies over at Girls Gone Strong - "strong women lift each other up."

Struggling with fat loss? Try more protein

That's such a click-baity headline, I know. But I did it anyway because I suck at headlines and I'm experimenting, ok?

When clients want to make nutrition changes, I teach a habit based approach, something that I learned during my certification process with Precision Nutrition

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This means that rather overhauling your entire diet on day one, we choose one habit to focus on for each week. Usually, we start with keeping a food log. Often, just writing down everything you eat can help you find some of the hidden calories that it's easy to forget about at the end of the day. Unmeasured salad dressing, the croutons you pop in your mouth while cooking dinner or the handfuls of nuts you eat in the afternoon. 

Then we reduce processed foods. (Your body has to work harder to break down a handful of peanuts than it does two tablespoons of peanut butter). From there we focus on chewing slowly and paying attention to hunger cues. Are you really hungry at 10:00 a.m. or are you tired of answering emails and eating a snack out of boredom?

Once we've worked on these habits we start looking harder at the macronutrient breakdown. If you're unsure what a macronutrient is, check out this post here. 

One habit I encourage is to increase the overall protein intake for the day, and the recommended starting point is 100 grams. You’ll see many different recommendations on the interwebz when it comes to protein consumption, but if you’re just beginning to make dietary changes, 100 grams is a good starting point. 

There are multiple reasons that a high protein diet can help with fat loss. Protein is satiating and helps you stay fuller longer. It helps build lean muscle, especially when consumed after a strength workout. And it has a thermogenic effect, meaning that your body has to work harder to process the foods and you burn more calories in the process. (This is what people mean when they talk about the meat sweats…no I've never had meat sweats...) 

Many clients come in feeling as though they enough protein, but when we begin tracking their food, they quickly realize that they consuming much less than they originally thought. So to help get you started, here is a sample of what a 100 grams of protein in a day might look like. 

Breakfast: Smoothie - 40 grams 

In the image above, one scoop of protein powder is 23 grams, 1/2 cup of greek yogurt is 12.5 grams, and 2 tbsp. of PB Fit (not pictured) is 4 grams. One cup of almond milk, ice cubes, and some spinach or green powder and you've got almost half of your protein intake for the day. Total calories are under 300.  

Lunch: Cottage cheese, chicken breast, spinach salad - 47 grams

1/2 cup cottage cheese - 15 grams 

4 oz of chicken breast - 32 grams 

Right now, you're almost to 100 grams of protein half-way through the day, and once again, you're around 300 calories. 

Dinner: Salmon and steamed brocolli- 40 grams 

If dinner is half of a salmon fillet, now you're at almost 120 grams of protein for the day. Boom. 

Now there are a ton of different factors with this recommendation. One is assuming that you like seafood, and you may not. And another is assuming that you like and can eat dairy.  The above suggestions are only scratching the surface of possibilities. You can also get protein from grains such as quinoa and spelt, nuts and soy products and chicken and turkey.

Questions? Thoughts? Stories?

Shoot me an email at kim@kimlloydfitness.com or comment below.  

 

Changing your fitness focus - get out of the weeds

I’m a big fan of simplicity. One of the reasons I took up running in college was the ease of getting started. Put on some shoes and run. Boom.

Or, depending on how you roll - skip the shoes and just run. 

Over the weekend I joined other fitness professionals for a three-day fitness summit hosted by Perform Better. One of the speakers, Rachel Cosgrove has been training clients, and women in particular for over 20 years. She's an expert at helping people get results, and in her talk spoke to a good reminder that we all easily forget.

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Focus on the big rocks.

This reminder has been a big part of my studies with Precision Nutrition - the idea of mastering the basics of getting enough sleep, enough water, fun (ok that's mine) as part of your base. I see a lot of clients start in the weeds - should I do intermittent fasting? Go Paleo? Should I take BCAA's and fish oil and hair of the lemur 22 minutes after my workout? 

Should I eat my protein while riding a goat off into the sunset with a koala bear? 

Yes, you should - but invite me along because I love goats and koala bears. 

A strong focus on those minute details can cause information overload and decision fatigue - and before you know it, you're too exhausted from trying to understand what's you should be doing and just throw in the towel.

(Hold on to the towel. No throwing of the towel. If it's yellow, you may wave it at Steelers' games - but you must not throw it.)

Some of the big rocks in training include training with a purpose 3-5 times a week, warming up with a purpose, and working on areas of opportunity, such as performing a push up from the floor or a chin up. 

TRAIN WITH A PURPOSE

Over the weekend, we got t-shirts that said: “stop exercising and start training.” I love the quote and I think this could be a blog post in and of itself. When you sign up to work with a coach, the two of you have a goal in mind and the coach develops a plan to help you hit that goal. Whether you want to drop a pant size, gain lean muscle or perform a push up from the floor - your programming is the road map you need to follow. 

Exercising is getting out and moving, which is good for you, but is there a purpose behind it? Do you know if what you're doing is going to help you achieve your goal? 

(To read more on why you need a coach, check out this post)

WARM UP WITH A PURPOSE

No, chasing your dog does not count as a warm up, although you do want to get your body temperature up. Warming up with a purpose means warming up the muscles and movements you’re about to use in your workout. We don’t do toy soldiers because we want to know if you’d make the Rockettes, we do that to warm up your hamstrings before working your hips. 

GET ENOUGH SLEEP

Are you getting enough sleep? Most of us know we’re not. According to the Sleep Foundation, adults age 26-64 need 7-9 hours and adults over 65 need 7-8 hours. If you are averaging less than seven hours of sleep per week, we know that you want to work on your batwings (one client’s name for skin on the triceps) and belly fat, but one of the best places to start is to get more sleep. That means turning off the phones and iPads 30 minutes before bed (or turn on the Night Shift which reduces the blue lights) and put a priority on getting more, quality sleep.

GET ENOUGH WATER 

Recommendations from Precision Nutrition on water are that sedentary individuals drink at least two liters, athletes drink three litters, and athletes in hot weather climates drink at least four liters per day. Many of us would benefit from drinking more water. Especially those of us like myself who drink most of their water with…well…a lot of coffee in it…

Some of the other big rocks in nutrition include eating whole foods (single ingredient), eating slowly and mindfully, and following the formula of a serving of protein, vegetables, and healthy fats with each meal. 

Regardless of your goals, we live in a time of information overload. In fact, I saw this great quote from strength coach Ben Bruno the other day. 

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Be careful of the weeds. Stick to the rocks. 

Here's your grocery list for protein

I like simple.

The most successful nutritional approach I learned came a few years ago when I hired a coach. He gave me a list of things to eat, and I only ate stuff on that list.

It wasn’t easy, but it was simple.

Chocolate was not on this list, so I may or may not have wrestled Sheila to the ground for a piece of baking chocolate half-way through the second week of this nutrition plan. Which is one of the reasons that an overall nutritional approach that allows for things like birthday cake and ice cream is often much easier to stick with. Just sayin'

It also keeps the wrestling matches with your spouse to a minimum.

Here’s a list of the main protein sources I use. I'm sure there are plenty of other options that aren't on this list, but I feel like this gives me plenty of options and variety when it comes to a high protein diet. 

If you're not sure why you should eat more protein, read this.

Note about serving size - your simplest form of measuring your serving size is to use your hand. Recommendations from Precision Nutrition are one palmful of protein at a meal for women, and two palms of protein per meal for men. 

Ok, here's your list:

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Obviously there's more to your diet to protein. Check back next week for a list of other things to include in your grocery cart.

Besides red wine...