Last week’s “Fitness” post, the first in the four-part series, contained a lot of information and hopefully things that you all can find to be useful in your own life. The four F’s have all been parts and pieces that have been significantly important in my life the past year. I haven’t been doing everything the whole time… it’s definitely been a learning experience of seeing what does and doesn’t work. Something that I learned a year ago, and am still trying to master, is the incredibly important relationship between fitness and food.
I love food. And not just in the normal way that everyone is like, “omg Chipotle is my life.” Food was (and still is) a huge part of my life. I mean, after you turn the age of 16, everything you do pretty much revolves around food. Well at least that’s how it has always been with my friends. We need to be fed about every two and a half hours or the hanger starts to set in (hunger + anger). Wanna go out to dinner? Should we go get ice cream after we go shopping? Let’s go get sushi. It’s your birthday.. Where should we eat? Should we stop at the gas station and get a snack? And don’t even get me started on Taco Bell after a night out…..
My mindset on food was 50 shades of wrong. And I have spent the last year trying to re-learn everything I know about nutrition and the way that I think about food. This is still a huge work in progress for me and something that I don’t ever know if I will truly master it. This may be an area that some of you need to focus in on. Hopefully this post can help straighten up some of those blurred lines and help you find a healthier mindset.
Get Ready, Set, Go!
When I first started, I did not have the slightest clue what I was doing. I basically had to do a major detox from the food I was eating at first. It seems crazy for me to say, but I was probably eating fast food 6-7 times a week at a minimum and was barely eating anything that I cooked myself. I was super busy all the time and I just didn’t have an interest in making my health a priority. Something had to change.
The same day that I went to the gym for the first time, was also the first day that I started to eat healthier. Like I said above, I had no idea was I was doing. One of the first things that I did was drastically cut down my portion size. I was eating a very large amount, if you don’t feel like this is something you struggle with, don’t cut your sizes down. The point of this is not to starve yourself or pick up any new unhealthy habits, but instead become the healthiest version of yourself.
The first few months my meals were SO boring. I might have opted for shoe leather or a cardboard box over the food I was eating. In my head, when I heard the words “healthy eating” I could only think of grilled chicken and broccoli. So, I ate grilled chicken and broccoli because it was all I knew. Which is less than exciting. Whenever I first started I made a ton of mistakes. I would accidentally binge eat a bunch of my favorites foods because I hadn’t had them in so long. I was also in the most horrendous mood ever. I feel like I was in a constant state of grumpy for the first 30 days. I wish I could tell you I had a fix for the cravings… but, honestly, I don’t. My body just eventually got more used to it and I had to make a few more apologies to friends than usual. There are still times that I make mistakes or decide to eat pizza instead of my meal prep. And that is okay. You have to do that stuff sometimes to protect your sanity.
***DISCLAIMER: For all of you out there waiting for the next Monday to start eating healthy…. They still sell veggies at the store on Thursdays…It’s okay. I know Monday seems like an ideal time to start, but I started out on a Wednesday and it’s worked out just fine. Make the commitment and jump in!***
I despise the word diet. I mean the root of the word is “die.” Excuse me, no thank you. A “lifestyle change” also just seems like such a cheesy phrase to me, even though that’s what it is. I just choose not to give what I’m doing a title… it is what it is. Figuring out how to eat right can be one of the most daunting tasks, especially for those of you that are picky eaters. Luckily, there are many things that are healthy for you that are actually really delicious. It’s okay if you’re apprehensive because I used to think that was a bunch of crock too. But, rest assured, if I can eat healthy, so can you. Because I will just tell you this right now, I am not gonna eat something gross. Besides brussel sprouts, I love those things.
When it comes to food, you have to be willing to educate yourself about what you are putting in your body. Portion amount/size plays a huge role that I never realized. For example, people are cuckoo for coco puffs about avocado, but if you don’t pay attention to portion size you could really consume a lot of calories. One whole avocado has about 250 calories and 23 grams of fat. It is healthy fat, but it seems rude to me because it’s green and appears to be a member of the vegetable family. Not so much. On the flip side, eating 1 serving of avocado (ringing in at 50 cals with 4.5 grams of fat) can be a very beneficial type of dietary fiber. It’s all about being knowledgeable and informed. This type of information also gets easier with time, so don’t get discouraged when you are just starting out.
You MUST have some way to track your food. Unless your brain is a human calculator, the rest of us peasants need a way to keep up with what we are eating. There are tons of apps and companies that help keep up with it for you. You just have to find what works out for you. I started out using the app called “MyFitnessPal” which worked great to keep up with what I was eating. After a few months, I realized it wasn’t working for me any longer. Since then, I have tracked everything I eat with the company “Weight Watchers.” I have loved WW and the community that has come along with it. It is much easier for me to wrap my head around 35 points a day versus keeping up with 1400 calories. Many also have huge success from tracking their macros. If you are planning to do something like this, I would suggest that you meet with a nutritionist and develop a healthy plan for you together. Nutritionists can be a great partner for you to work with if you have a lofty weight loss plan.
Weight Watchers has worked really well for me for the past eleven months. I’m really blessed by the community that it creates and have stayed connected with many other WW’s via social media. We exchange food ideas and recipes that have all been great. Weight Watchers has a monthly fee related, while using the MyFitnessPal is completely free. I told you before that I have done this whole journey at a very reasonable price. My tracking device is no exception. Both worked for me, you just need to find what suits you the best!
Whatever program you decide to go with, just be sure that you are consistent with it. I always think in my head that I have way more food left to eat than I do. Especially if you are a grazer or snacker, those little things throughout the day start to add up. If you aren’t trying to lose weight, I recommend that you do your own food journal or keep a quick note in your phone. It is important to know what you eat throughout the day. It can help you to see trends or maybe even a food group that you are lacking. Food tracking can also help you to realize if you aren’t eating enough! I know it sounds crazy, but if you aren’t consuming enough food your body will actually retain weight. I never believed it, until I experienced it. I am now very cautious that I feed myself enough food to function. The more informed that you are, the easier it will be for you to keep up with what is happening with your body!
I wish I could tell you how much I loved water and how replenished it makes me feel….. well, I’m not gonna lie to you. Water is just not my jam. It’s plain and I would much rather be drinking a Dr. Pepper. Sadly, Dr. Pepper just isn’t cutting it these days. I have tried all of the flavor packets and infusing it with fruit and it still just isn’t quite right. With all that being said, I feel like water has been my dirty little weight loss secret. I added in elevated water consumption about six months in and holy moly game changer.
You have to drink water. Whether you like it or not. I drink anywhere from 100-150 ounces of water a day. I start drinking it as soon as I get up and I try to have all of my water for the day drank before 6-7pm. That way I don’t wake up a million times throughout the night. People always tell me that they don’t drink water because they hate it or they don’t want to have to pee a million times. I mean, I get it. But, the benefits that come from water heavily outweigh the frequent bathroom trips.
I have seen many results from the water consumption. If you are dehydrated or don’t drink enough water your body will actually retain water weight. I know, it makes no sense. But, if you give your body the water that it needs, it can help flush your body out and in-turn aid in weightless. It has also made my skin look ten times healthier and overall my skin tone improved. It also aids in the reduction of wrinkles. Just wait until you turn 24 and that little wrinkle between your eyebrows never disappears. You’ll be happy you drank the water.
If there is one thing that comes along with a move to get more healthy, it is the push to be prepared. You have to pack a bag to go to the gym after work. You have to pre-plan your workouts to know which muscles you are going to focus on that day. You also have to preplan your food. It is like asking for disaster to go into a week without a plan in place for your food. It is simple to go into the week without a plan and just grab something to eat while you’re at work. It is simple to go grab dinner with friends every night or pick something up on your way home. You know what isn’t simple? Preparing food ahead of time to feed you for the rest of the week.
I meal prep every Sunday and I have done that every week for the last year. I take the whole day on Sunday to prepare for the coming week. I get everything in line for work, do laundry, work on the weekly blog post, clean the house, grocery shop, and then meal prep. I don’t even make Sunday plans because I know that I have to get those things done. It’s a sacrifice that I make for one of my weekend days, but it sets me up for a week of success. I’ve had a few weeks where I tried to convince myself I didn’t need to meal prep and could play it by ear and that was a big fat (literally) fail.
The key to meal prepping is to make things that you actually like and are going to want to eat. If you know that you don’t like sweet potatoes. Making one for your lunch every day that week is probably not your best idea. I’ll just tell you how that is going to go down…. you’re gonna be hungry and take one look at that sweet potato and next think you know you’re in the Cookout drive-thru line. Social media has done a great job at romanticizing food and making every meal prep look super intense and extravagant. That’s not the point of meal prepping. Some weeks I make microwavable turkey burgers with an 80 cal bun and some Baked Cheetos. This week I made an autumn vegetable blend with a greek yogurt cilantro dip. It’s all about what works for you. You just have to make the decision that you are going to stick with what you made and commit to finding the time to cook it. It’s also a really good excuse to buy a new set of tupperware (don’t even play me like you don’t love a new set of plasticware).
Over the last year, I have found a few brands that I just cannot live without. I’m not proud of it but I have ordered things from the other side of the country and gone to four different grocery stores just looking for one product.. but, it’s food that works for me and makes this whole thing doable so in the words of Demi Lovato I’m sorry I’m not sorry. I’ve narrowed it down to my four favorites. These companies aren’t paying me to share, I just love their products and think they deserve to be bragged on. These are in no way all of my favorite things, but they are just a few that I don’t go a single week without eating.
- Joseph’s Lavash Bread – My absolute favorite! These things are amazing and they are huge. And to top it all off they are only 50 calories. These are also a great for people following a low-carb plan. I have hunted these down multiple times and I can only find them at specific Walmart’s. I use these for sandwich wraps, burritos, and soft taco shells. You can also stick them in the oven for a few minutes and they make the perfect flatbread pizza crust. 10/10 would recommend
- Enlightened Ice Cream – Just typing it out is making me crave the Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Bars that I have in my freezer. This is similar to all of the other ice creams that I’m sure you’ve seen take grocery stores by storm. Except, it’s so much better than that. It’s creamier and has such a rich flavor. This company also make Broad Beans that are a great replacement for croutons and marshmallow treats. Definitely go check them out!
- Western Bagel – These are so versatile and can fit so many different needs. I have used them for breakfasts and great breading for sandwiches! They also ring in at just 120 calories a piece. I craved bagels for months because the calorie counts in other brands just weren’t worth it for me. I order these online from California, so if you ever want to hop on my order, just let me know! You won’t regret it.
- Boathouse dressings – I live in the South and they make Ranch… enough said.
It’s All About Love
At the end of the day, after the meal prep and the workouts, it’s all about the way that you feel about yourself. If you feel like you didn’t meet a goal as quickly as you planned, remember to be forgiving with yourself. Things take time and results don’t always happen over night.It’s about feeling fulfilled and healthy and proud. If you don’t feel any sense of these, then maybe it’s time you change what you’re doing. You’re deserving of decisions that make you happy. You’re deserving of change and all of the amazing things that come along with it. So, live the life that makes you the happiest, whatever that may be. For now, this is the life that makes me the happiest and I am so glad that I get to share it with you.