Repeat After Me

I don’t eat the junk food because I don’t buy the junk food.

I don’t buy junk food because I can walk past the junk food at the store.

I see the junk food but I don’t want the junk food.

I don’t want the junk food because I’ve had the junk food before…and it aint that good.

I don’t eat the fast food because I didn’t cook the fast food and I’m not entirely sure what’s in the fast food.

I didn’t cook the fast food so instead I eat the food I did cook.

I eat the food I cooked because it’s usually 100% better than the fast food anyway.

I drive past the drive thru because I spend enough $ on the real food.

I don’t get hung up about my weight because I don’t weigh myself everyday.

I don’t weight myself everyday because I don’t care about the weight that much.

I don’t care about the weight that much because I know I’m not a reflection of a number.

I don’t complain about my physical flaws because they can’t talk back to me anyways.

I appreciate the flaws I have because it’s a reminder I am not perfect and I’m human just like everyone else.

I drink water instead of pop because water tastes awesome to me.

I don’t buy the pop because I hate the taste of sugar coating my teeth.

I drink water because I listen to my body and it desires good things that give me energy.

I don’t  have the bad food or drink the sugary stuff too often (but I do sometimes and that’s okay!) because my body feels like garbage after I eat and drink that stuff.

And the more I eat and drink the junk stuff, the more my brain tricks me into thinking I want more of them…and then it’s back to….

…I don’t eat the junk food because I don’t buy the junk food…

Have Food Will Travel

Is it possible to eat whole natural foods while stuck at an airport or in a hotel? It might not be convenient, but it’s possible. Here’s some examples of each meal and what would be considered a good, better, and best substitutions when you’re stuck without an oven or a fridge. These are just some examples, I’m sure many of you have your own go-to snacks/meals that you eat when traveling. Speak up in the comment section or let me know on Facebook or Twitter.

Of course, it’s always best to be prepared so we’re assuming in these examples that the traveler had some notice prior to heading out, hence the BEST examples will be ones that could be packed on planes or in a vehicle.

Breakfast

Good: Protein bar with low amount of fat, 20grams of protein and will most likely have 25g of carbs. Don’t bother with the small snack size bars (ahem, ones that say SKINNY on them); save those for actual snacks. If this is your only meal for breakfast, then this is better than nothing but it can’t be so small that you’re hungry again in an hour.

Better: Hard-boiled Eggs (yes they have these at most airports after you pass thru security) with crackers and a piece of fruit. Another better option would be an egg white wrap from the airport/fast food places with some feta cheese and spinach. Again, looking for a protein with fat and a carb. But make sure it fills you up!

Best: Eat before you head out to the airport or start traveling with a homemade breakfast. If it HAS to be quick, I would recommend a smoothie that you make at home with either protein powder or greek yogurt as the protein source, and then add in a ton of greens and veggies like carrots and cucumbers, add some fruit for a little sweetness and some nut butter for a fat and you’re good to go. If you are able, you can pack up your protein powder, buy some low fat milk at the airport or gas station and use your shaker bottle to have a decent breakfast with a piece of fruit and some crackers. Sometimes the store-bought smoothies are loaded with so much sugar that it’s best you just make your own.

Lunch

Good: Salad or wrap from a fast food joint. Don’t add a ton of extras like mayo or oils to it. The protein should be grilled, not fried.  Opt out of the dessert or sweet treat that usually sit at the cash register tempting you to BUY ME! It’ll just cause you to crash later from all those ridiculous amounts of sugar. Beverage is going to be as close to non-caloric as you can get. Don’t be tempted to get an energy drink, especially when you’re going to be SITTING in a car, or on a plane, or in a cab…etc.

Better: Greek yogurt cup or beef jerky (desperate times call for desperate measures!), string cheese, a snack bar or mini protein shake that has 10-15g of protein and a piece of fruit or dried fruit like raisins or craisins. You will notice that all of these are snacks just put together to make one big meal. The point here is that you won’t be full from just ONE of these snacks so if it’s going to be 4-5 hours before your next meal, you can fill up on these. Or mix and match if you only desire or have access to a few.

Best: Salad or wrap from an actual restaurant is best here if you have no way of bringing your own. Same rules apply from the Good example. If you have access to a grocery store (I know, I know) you could go to their salad bar which has the freshest options, usually. As a snack you can have some trail mix. If it’s store bought, make sure it contains no chocolate covered anything, it has a little bit of dried fruit and a decent amount of unsalted nuts. The portions that are sold at convenience stores and rest stops are usually way too big for just one person. It’s best (and cheaper!) to make your own with small baggies that you can portion out yourself. And oh look, they travel easily too!

Dinner

This is usually where I hear clients struggle the most. They say their boss or their co-workers/clients take them out for a “working dinner” and since they aren’t the ones paying, all bets are off on what they will eat. And maybe it’s been one long day at the office and you’re starving because you didn’t even have a chance to eat good meals for breakfast and lunch. This is when you have to really be careful if you want to stick with a plan. You HAVE to look for balance.

Good: One or two servings of the table appetizer which is usually garlic bread or chips/salsa, or some other option. Split appetizer between yourself and at least one other person, entree of your choice with veggies, and one alcoholic beverage. Dessert.

Better: Grilled appetizer prepared for one person, entree with double veggies and no bread or pasta, and one alcoholic beverage. Fruit based dessert or chocolate/sugar dessert split with one other person.

Best: No appetizer, grilled/poached/baked entree with double veggies, no alcoholic beverage and a dessert of your choice split between 2 other people. Plenty of water or maybe a diet pop/soda.

Now, this is assuming this dinner is at an actual restaurant where the portions are typically Americanized and doubled, especially when it comes to dessert. As for the beverages, depending on the occasion, what your job is, what kind of person you are, I’m sure the alcoholic beverage option will be different for everyone. But I know how hard it is to get looks or questions from people such as “Why are you ordering that?” or “Why aren’t you drinking with us?” or “You should splurge just this once!”

Give those people a polite, but firm “Mind your own damn business” “Thanks but no thanks” and forget it. I will never ever understand why eating “kinda healthy” is STILL a stigma in this country…but that’s another blog post for another day.

I hope some of these options give you at least a few ideas of what you could eat when you travel. Circumstances won’t always allow the freedom to eat the healthiest options but aim for the GOOD, attempt to get BETTER but try for your BEST!

 

 

See Jane Struggle

Case Study #1:  Jane Doe

Status: Married

Children: 1

Average Hours spent at Work: 12hours, 6 days a week

Average meal: On the go; rarely homemade; quick and convenient; poor quality

Average time spent working out: 0

Spare time spent: sleeping, hanging out with child and husband

Jane has come to me for help because she desires to get fit and healthy but literally has no idea how to make it work into her schedule.

It’s important to mention that SHE seeks the help and not the other way around. Why? Because whenever getting healthy is forced upon someone, either by a family member or their doctor, I find it rarely works. You need to find your “want to.” Let’s assume Jane has found her “want to” and see how I would go about helping her.

Jane has 1 day out of the week that she is off work. She has literally 2 hours free that day to make time for just herself.

We all know that baby steps are the way to go with any goal. We start super small with Jane.

Suggestions – In order of Priority:

1. FOOD.

Take the 2 hours to prepare meals for the week. Why? Because, technically, you don’t need exercise to be healthy. Nutrition is probably 80% of any physique goal (I’m guessing based on my own experience and my clients and discussions with RD’s and Nutritionists).  So that makes DIET or as I like to call it MEAL PLANNING Jane’s top priority. The meals will be as natural and whole as could be. This means limited processed foods like no Hamburger Helper, no Mac and Cheese, no Granola bars thrown into a brown bag and calling it lunch. Nope. This won’t be anything fancy, but they will not be sugar, fat loaded meals either. High in protein, a vegetable with each meal, and good carbs.

  • What kinds of carbs will Jane have?

Rice (could be instant), oats (could be old fashioned heated up in the microwave) and sweet potatoes (they make those microwaveable too, no excuses!). What about breads and pastas? Well, bread alone has like 20 ingredients. And it’s just bread! How about filling up on better foods instead of boring old bread? And if Jane was a sandwich lover, she could look for Ezekial Bread or Wraps to cut back on the carbs. What about bagels? I can’t remember the last time I had a bagel. All I know is when I would eat them (at my office job, of course) I felt like I was biting into a loaf of bread and I immediately felt like I should go run a marathon to burn it off. Gross. Sorry bagel lovers but these things are almost as bad as donuts. It’s just too much volume and not enough nutrients!  Pasta is fine but can you measure out half a cup cooked? Because that’s the portion you can have. And she will be TRYING to measure out her portions. Small changes go a long way when you’re just starting out like Jane.

  • What about protein?

The proteins have to be foods she will actually eat. Let’s assume Jane isn’t too picky. The crock pot will be her new best friend. Put a bunch of stuff in a pot, set it, and leave it. That’s easy. Take some chicken breasts, put a little marinade on them, broil them in bulk. That takes 20 minutes. How about ground turkey? Brown it in a skillet, add some spices, done in about 15 minutes. Beef isn’t bad for us so stop spreading that rumor. Eggs are good for us too. Paranoid? Get some egg whites. Jane isn’t vegan but she can mix it up by having protein shakes for a snack or beans in place of an animal once in a while.

  • How about veggies?

Steam them. Takes about 15 minutes. Don’t have a steamer? Put them in the microwave with a little bit of water. Takes…ummm 10 minutes? I don’t know, I have a steamer. Invest in a steamer Jane! And they make frozen veggies steam-able in the microwave nowadays. How about raw veggies? Eat them. Get some dip. Don’t worry about the calories in the dip. Just eat them. Got a blender? Blend them. Put some protein powder in there, voila! Instant breakfast in about 60 seconds.

  • Don’t forget the fats!

Jane is going to prepare snacks for herself so she avoids the vending machine or gets tempted to go out to lunch with her co-workers where they like to have liquid lunches and cheesecake for dessert. She’ll pack up trail mixes herself with items like almonds, cashews, raisins, sunflower seeds, dried fruit. She’ll cook her veggies with coconut oil or olive oil. But she won’t freak out if all she has access to is PAM cooking spray. Again, small changes.

2. FITNESS.

Once she has established a routine where she takes those 2 hours on her one day off to prep her meals and make that her priority for at least a month (yes, a month if not longer), then I would suggest to Jane to start working out. Maybe not with me since she doesn’t seem to have the time to travel to the studio and back home/work. She would have to find ways to increase her activity on her own or with her son.

Is her son watching TV? Great. Pop in a workout DVD and make him do it too (he’s 8 years old so he’s mobile). But let’s say he’s way younger and just runs around the house like I hear 2 and 3 year-olds do all the time. Let’s say she has more than one child! What then? If they’re in diapers that means they take naps. If they take naps that means Jane can do something for 10 minutes, even if it’s just walking up and down the stairs until they wake up screaming (I hear this is what little kids do). If they are terrors, well…Jane calls a babysitter so she can get something done. Prioritize. This is important to Jane so she’s going to do whatever she can to keep going.

No workout DVD nearby? Jane makes up her own workout with her kid: She has a push up contest with him. She teaches  him how to squat (he’ll probably be able to get lower than her because kids have super human flexibility), jumping jacks, dance around the room. She asks him to show her what he did in gym class. She plays tag with him for 5 minutes. It really doesn’t matter. Jane is on her feet and that’s better than sitting at a desk like she just did for 12 hours.

3. FOCUS.

After Jane has increased her activity level, she is noticing a decrease in her stress level. She’s sleeping a little bit better, and she has more energy because she’s eating good food that’s helping her burn more fat. She’s lost a few pounds but nothing drastic. She wants to kick it up a notch. She still doesn’t have more time, still just 2 hours. But she has made small changes. She tries to get up 20 minutes earlier than normal to make herself a good breakfast. (This took her a long time to make a habit.)

She also spends this time alone before the kid gets up so she can focus. She has written down her goals and reads them in the morning, making a plan for how she’s going to accomplish them. It’s one thing to think them, it’s another thing to write them down and implement the changes. She writes down 3 things she wants to accomplish that day, none of which have anything to do with her job. Some days the list looks like this:

1. Drink 8 glasses of water

2. Walk 5,000 steps today

3. Make grocery list

Other days it looks like this:

1. Go for a walk during lunch break  Take a lunch break!!!

2. Skip Starbucks today; it’s not worth it!

3. Get in 20 walking lunges around the house while dinner is cooking

And some days it looks like this:

1. Throw out rotting lettuce in fridge!

2. Go to bed by 10pm tonight

3. Post fitness and health goals on Facebook today so I’ll be held accountable

When Jane is ready, maybe she comes to me one day a week for an hour to learn how to lift some weights. Or maybe I recommend some online training for her since time is limited for her. Or maybe she gets some free weights for her birthday from her family or trains for a 5K by running around her block when she is able.

She’ll do well. It might take longer than someone else. Maybe she’s only prepping her meals when she can but she tries. Maybe she goes through the drive-thru once a week but she’s making an effort. Maybe she ordered pizza for her and her family last night but her lunch is already packed up for the rest of the week.

She’s trying.

She’ll get there.

There’s hope for Jane.

 

The More You Know, the More it Sucks

So I kinda figured out this whole fat loss/dieting thing. I actually figured it out a long time ago, but unfortunately, it just took me until NOW to realize how much it really sucks.

See, there’s really no big secret to losing fat and keeping it off. We all know it’s basically being in a caloric deficit. And yes it requires hard work and patience and time and effort of course.

But to finally finally FINALLY understand that you cannot possibly see good results without adhering to your diet at least at an 85-90% compliance rate 100% of the time?  Well, that’s the part that really sucks.

Here comes the whining (I’m really good at complaining, so brace yourself).

So now I gotta get back to being the tupperware queen again. Now I have to resist the urge to eat something I’m not really supposed to. Now I have to toss the peanut butter that calls my name when I’m not even hungry at night. Now I have to suck it up and just deal with hunger sometimes. (Not starvation, let’s be clear).

I finally understand how most of my clients feel MOST of the time. I’m struggling like they do. I’m frustrated like they are. I’m cheating as many times if not more than they are on the weekends.

And here we go again on Monday morning, starting over. This time we will be 100%. This time we won’t cheat. This time we will prep our foods. This time we’ll get our workouts in. This time we’ll try really really hard and we will not fail.

But a few days or maybe if I’m lucky, a few weeks might pass and I’ll be back here again, repeating the same thing.

So goes this whole dieting thing.

And there’s really no other words of wisdom to share with this. There’s no big revelation. There’s nothing more to say other than THIS. SUCKS.

 

The Honeymoon is Over – Saying Goodbye to the Bulk

I officially started my dieting phase on Monday and ended the building phase.  It’s been 26 weeks since the last time I had NO plan – No lifting and No meal plan.  And it’s been about 14 months since I’ve done any cardio (I don’t count the 3 cardio sessions I did the week of my competition).

Last week I was under orders from my coach to take off, no lifting and no planned meals for an entire week.  The result?  See here:

photo(2)

I gained just 1lb, half an inch in my waist (BOO) half an inch in the hips (YAY!), half an inch in each leg, (YAY!), and of course, 1.5inches in my stomach. (BOO).

So you might think I’m upset about this but keep in mind, this was the result of being ON plan one week and being OFF one week.  It was such a much needed break for my body.  I did enjoy a few runs fast walks during the weekend while the weather was nice, a few alcoholic beverages, and celebrating Easter a week early with carbs galore.  If this is the result of that, then I’m really pleased.

So these are the STARTING numbers for my cutting phase.  I’m logging all of my food until I get a detailed plan from my coach which is due to arrive any minute now.  I took in about 1600 calories yesterday and am on track to do about the same today.  I worked legs yesterday and upper body today.  I’m holding off on cardio until I get my plan because, as I’ve learned, it’s all diet. 🙂  And the less cardio I have to do to shed this extra layer, the better and happier I’ll be.

I thought about ending my bulking phase with a little Ode to Food..but I’m not feeling the creative juices flowing on that one.  So here are some Lessons Learned instead:

  • The scale is my friend…the food scale that is.  I don’t care who you are, when you slap exactly 90ounces of tilapia or exactly 85grams of chicken on the scale, it’s like a little mini celebration.  As pathetic as it sounds, I can’t help but think “HELL YEAH I’M A ROCK STAR”  for being able to eye-ball what 85grams is and then to be right on the money?  Okay it’s silly but I feel pretty damn awesome for doing it.
  • You can never get tired of peanut butter.  Did you know there are people out there who don’t love peanut butter?  How dare they!  I learned to control my cravings by making my own in my VitaMix.  It’s amazing what you WON’T devour when you’ve made it yourself.  And when you’re super cheap frugal like me.
  • Good Food Attitude Required.  You cannot possibly enter a bulking phase with a bad relationship with food.  Of course, you can’t diet with one either.  But I would say you better have a positive attitude because when you consume a lot of it, you don’t want to HATE food.  You don’t want to HATE what it’s doing to your body.  You’re getting larger and larger and clothes aren’t fitting but don’t hate on the food.  It’s doing what it’s supposed to.  You’re training your body to grow and you have to keep in mind that a surplus of food is necessary to achieve this.
  • Body Image is Everything.  To go along with the food attitude, if you are miserable with how you look, you won’t last long.  It’s not easy to see my six pack go away, it’s not a cake walk to step on the scale and record the new number, and it’s damn annoying to try on clothes that fit 3 months ago that can’t get past your hips.  But it’s just the way things work.  It’s the way your body responds to added muscle (plus a little fat).
  • If eating an entire plate of asparagus is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.  There’s not really a lesson here.  I just love asparagus.  And I will never ever ever get tired of it. 🙂

Dieting progress posts will be forthcoming, as well as some much requested Workout posts.  I’ve been asked to blog a 20 minute Hotel Workout for those clients of mine who travel frequently.  So be on the lookout for that! 

 

As always, you can find my other posts on various training topics at Muscle is the New Sexy, new posts from me come out every Wednesday.  Don’t forget to like me on Facebook here and follow me on Twitter (mostly fitness related but sometimes sports and humor get mixed in) and Instagram (always just fitness related content).

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Happy Training!