Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Plan for Success

By far, the way you eat determines your success in any weight loss regimen.  Even if you're goal is not weight loss, who isn't looking for improved health?  Isn't that the goal anyway?  Improved health means improving the way you feel and the way you look.  That's a complete WIN!

I used to be a person who would workout hard so I could eat anything I wanted.  During my initial weight loss journey, this was fine.  I knew eventually I'd have to start focusing on my eating.  At the time, I didn't understand that focusing on my eating did not mean a diet.  I go into my former struggles in "Getting Fixed", so I won't go into it all again.  Bottom line - you can't out exercise a bad diet.  Plus, when you set your goal for wellness, you will eat in a way that gets you to your ideal weight.

So the biggest deterrent from eating well, is time.  As a single parent to a busy athletic teen,  a full time engineer and a fitness coach, I know a little about managing a busy schedule.  It takes more time to prepare fresh foods than it does to dump something from a can or a box.  However our bodies were not designed to eat the convenient and processed foods.

I know I've done this before.  I started out with the greatest intentions by buying fresh fruits and veggies.  I get everything home and in the refrigerator.  Then, my week gets busy and the prep time scares me.  The fear of getting all that food chopped, cooked and onto the table for myself and my family would allow me to block it out.  Before I knew it, the food would go bad.  What a waist of money!  I've actually heard people say that they just eat out because they waste the food the buy for their homes.

There's no skirting around the issue, but following a nutritious eating plan will take a little bit of planning.  As I always tell the people I work with,  "No one ever plans to fall.  But you can fail to plan."  I find that when I don't plan, I don't get as many fruits and cruciferous vegetables into my meals.  These are the foods that provide you with the biggest bang for your buck in your health improvement effort.  They are packed with so many vitamins, minerals, fiber, you name it.  Plus with their generally lower calorie content, you can eat a lot more, helping to keep you satisfied throughout the day.  I will tell you what how I plan to keep my eating on track and avoiding last minute restaurant food runs.  I hope some of these tips will benefit you and give you ideas of how you can "plan for success," for you and your family.

Create a Meal Calendar

Planning your meals ahead of time can help you shop.  A smart planner will plan to use foods that are on sale and to save on prep time, use foods that can be cooked once and then combined in different recipes.  Baking or grilling chicken for one dinner can then be used in a casserole for another dinner and chicken salad for a couple lunches.  The same goes for the veggies you buy for a recipe.  I used to have a hard time using up celery.  I'd make a recipe that would use 2 stalks of celery and then may not ever get to them again.  Planning meals and snacks that help you use up all the ingredients you buy requires a little extra time, but will save you money in the long run.  

I created this meal planner from a template in Microsoft Excel.  I would get suggestions from family requests, websites or recipes I want to try.  I even add my meals where I plan to dine out with friends.  If you need some help planning your meals, TeamBeachbody has access to meal planners for $2.99/week.  You can get access to this site by going to, clicking 'Join' and choosing the 'Club Membership.'  There are plenty of other sites that also gives you access to meal planners, as well, but this is the only one when my coaching is included at any level of membership.

Finding ways to use up all your fresh ingredients leads me to my next tips, because they provide more options to ensure you have healthy food available when you need it.

Washing, Cutting and Packaging Fruits and Veggies is a Part of the Shopping Process

This one is a relatively new one for me, but it has proven to be help me out the most.  When you think of getting your fresh fruits and veggies ready for use, just like shopping and unloading the groceries, you are more likely to use them up and you are more likely to grab them in a crunch.  In addition, you are less likely to buy too many of them. 

Always wash any fruits and veggies that you bought before putting them in the refrigerator.  For fruits and veggies I plan to take to work with me that week or want my son to grab as a snack, I package it up in a single serving size.  This way, when I'm packing my meals for the day, I can grab and 'toss' into my lunch bag.  Also, I've noticed that my son will grab grapes quicker when they're washed and in a sandwich bag, than if they are just washed and in the original bag.

Chopped Peppers added to single serving bags

Before you start, make sure you have plenty of containers or sandwich bags (or larger) on hand to package up your fresh fruits and veggies.  If they are being used for a recipe you'll make later, go ahead and package them up right then.  It'll make your recipe prep that much faster.  You'll feel like one of those chefs that are displaying their recipes on the News & Talk Shows.

Prepare Extra and Package It Up! (Freeze if necessary)

I try to double any recipe I'm making for dinner, unless it's for the first time.  This helps me cook once and eat twice.  Plus, if there is a dish you and your family really enjoys, you know that you will not have to fuss over it the second time, which actually makes it taste even better.  Dishes that freeze well include enchiladas, soups and chili, casseroles, stewed tomatoes and so many others.  For your best results, minimize the air in the container and do not freeze longer than 3 months.

When it comes to breakfast, don't be afraid to cook a huge pot of oatmeal or other breakfast cereal and place a single serving into containers.  This really helps getting out of the house in the morning go a little smoother.  My son will grab his "oatmeal circle," as he calls it since the oatmeal is stored in a round container.  He also knows that his containers are the larger 1 C serving while mine is the smaller 1/2 C serving.  I also either boil up eggs for the week, peel them and store in a huge Ziploc bag.  These will not last longer than about 5-6 days.   To change things up, I'll make scrambled eggs (4-5 whites/1 full egg) with the veggies I prepped earlier.  I'll make more than one serving so it will last a couple days.  The same goes for bacon (any kind),  and sausage.  It is easy to pop these in the microwave to heat up a fast hot breakfast before dashing out to start the day.

Go Ahead and Roast Up Those Veggies

Just like I cook up a large quantity of oatmeal, I like to roast many of the veggies I will eat during the week.  Roasting veggies is a nice change from steamed, stove top cooked or microwaved.  You get a wonderful flavor.  It's also something you can do it bulk based on what is on sale.

Cinnamon-Coconut Roasted Sweet Potatoes
 You can roast almost anything! I've tried broccoli and cauliflower, to potatoes (both white and sweet), to peppers, onions, green beans and my latest favorite, baby Brussels sprouts.  Plus you can change up the flavors in so many different ways depending on your tastes.  In the sweet potatoes I have pictured that day I chose to rub coconut oil and them and sprinkle with cinnamon.  This was an idea I learned from a friend.  Sweet potatoes are also super tasty with olive oil, garlic and a little bit of sea salt.

Roasted Green Beans
I saw celebrity fitness trainer Chris Powell talk about roasting green beans on one of his episodes last year.  Roasting green beans turn a vegetable you might normally eat with a fork into finger food.  Here, I toss in olive oil and add marjoram, oregano and sea salt.

I started roasting baby Brussels sprouts just recently as they are more tender over the larger variety.  I love to add garlic and onion and toss in olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, oregano and marjoram.  You can really use any of your favorite seasonings with these.  Pictured are some Red Peppers I purchased that were on sale.  It is easy to add these to a breakfast taco or with eggs for breakfast.  I can also add these to any other veggie with my dinner.or on a sandwich for lunch.  Roasted red peppers add a twist to almost any dish!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts plus Red Peppers

When making a shift towards healthier eating remember to think small.  Think of making small changes over time.  Creating healthy habits help your success in the future.  The better you get at planning, the more likely you are to make it stick! 

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