Let’s talk Thanksgiving Day! Too often, I hear how much anxiety a day like Thanksgiving brings to my clients. A holiday that is basically centered around how much food we can stuff into our face in one sitting terrifies many people who are on a weight loss, or health and fitness journey. I put together a quick list of my favorite strategies to help you relax and enjoy the day!
1) Be Active During The Day.
Avoid sitting around for extended periods of time. Come up with ideas ahead of time as to how to be active and get your family involved! Maybe it’s playing with younger cousins, helping in the kitchen, taking a walk with a grandparent or another family member you want to catch up with, or serving at a homeless shelter for lunch. It may even be as simple and fun as a game of charades, Twister, or Wii Sports! But, find a way to NOT be sedentary all day.
2) Pregame With Plenty of Water.
If you are hydrated properly and consistently drinking water the day before and day of Thanksgiving, you will be a lot less likely to overeat. Fill up some of that empty room in your stomach with a constant supply of water and watch as your ability to stuff yourself goes down. Proper hydration will also offset some of the excess sugar and salt that may be ingested and will make you feel better the next morning.
3) Don’t Deprive Yourself.
Do not fall into the trap of not eating all day and waiting until Thanksgiving dinner to stuff your face. When you are overly hungry, it is much easier to overeat at a meal because your “fullness” cues are slightly delayed. A better strategy? Eat your normal breakfast and lunch, and treat dinner as “just another meal” (filled with your favorites of course!)
4) The “One Plate” (plus one) Method.
I always recommend this strategy for any kind of potluck, gathering, buffet style meal. It especially applies to Thanksgiving which is almost always a buffet style meal of only the best stuff on earth! Fill a plate. Fill it with your favorites, your less than macro friendly, best meal of the year, only get it that one time of year when I see Aunt Sue, favorites. But after that one plate, you are then allowed ONE more scoop of your BEST pick from the meal. This is plenty of food. I promise you. Refer to #5.
5) Enjoy The Company.
I understand Thanksgiving is often all about the food, but have something planned as a light discussion topic for dinner. Focus your energy on the company – catching up, remember whens, learning more about a loved ones current life. Invest in the people around you and really listen and engage with them. Coming up with these topics on the spot doesn’t always work well. Start thinking about what you want to learn, ask, and conversate about ahead of time. Saving these topics for dinner will shift your focus to the REAL joy of Thanksgiving while keeping you from solely focusing on the plate in front of you.
6) Eat Dessert.
No catch here. Just enjoy it! Pick your favorite dessert from the options available and have that. Thanksgiving, the holidays, and family time, are just as much about enjoying things that make you happy, and lets be honest – Grandma’s pie makes us happy! By having dessert, ONE dessert, and moving on, we are eating responsibly and enjoying the moment.
7) Get Back On Track The Next Day.
Don’t let Thanksgiving open up the door to “eat mindlessly until Christmas, hashtag holiday season”. There are 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Get back into your routine for another month, and then follow these simple guidelines once again!
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When I started competing in the sport of weightlifting in 2013, my biggest weakness was the catch of my snatch. I could clean and jerk and I could power snatch pretty naturally, but anytime I had to catch in a full overhead squat there was a high probability I was not going to be able to hold the bar strong enough to finish the lift. For almost a year, I could snatch more than I could overhead squat from a rack – that is not an exaggeration! This did not just happen in weightlifting. When competing in CrossFit, anytime a workout came out with overhead squats I knew it was going to be a hard workout for me because of the poor position I had overhead. In fact, the most difficult and “scariest” workout I have ever done in competition was at the 2015 Regionals with pull-ups and overhead squats at 125#. It was just a very large weakness at that time.
Looking back, I know the biggest issues were the instability of the smaller muscles in my shoulder as well as a lack of proper understanding on how to actually push up and into the bar – I would simply try to “hold” or “catch” the bar overhead instead of actively pressing on it with a locked down shoulder girdle. One of my biggest regrets in weightlifting is not spending more time on correcting this right off the bat. I struggled with inconsistency in the snatch for the first half of my competitive weightlifting career for this very reason. Working on it, and fixing it sooner, would have resulted in a lot less frustration in the snatch.
Fortunately, in the past 5 years I have had many people come into my life that have helped me improve this overhead position, my overhead squat, and as a result my snatch. I now, come into contact with others all the time that have a similar issue I once had and I really wanted to put together some information to help. Typically, I hear “I have bad mobility” as an excuse/reason for a poor catch and I am here to tell you that 90% of the time “bad mobility” is not the cause of the poor catch position – it is simply lack of understanding of how to utilize and stabilize the muscles of your shoulder girdle, and lack of repetition of the movement. Simply snatching more will not improve a poor catch position – you actually have to drill the catch position and overhead stabilization specifically!
Here are the top three drills that I believe improved my overhead position in the snatch:
1. 10-10-10 Tempo OHS
Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like and 100% as miserable and demanding as it sounds. Take an empty bar and perform a 10 second decent, then sit in the bottom for 10 seconds, and begin a 10 second ascent. Be sure to have a clock somewhere in view as counting to 10 in your head usually results in about 6-7 seconds! Be sure to stay active into the barbell the entire time. This drill gives you IMMEDIATE feedback of instability and weakness in those stabilizer muscles as well as keeps you under a barbell for an entire 30 seconds. This was one of the hardest drills I have ever been asked to do, and my go-to for helping others improve their overhead position as I feel it made that much of an impact on mine. I would incorporate these into my warmups in sets of about 5-8 with about 1:00-2:00 rest in between reps. Stay very light here!
2. Snatch Drop With Pause in the Bottom
I like this drill as a progression from the Tempo OHS and something that I still use as a snatch warm up before each session. The barbell should start on your back to perform a standard snatch drop – however, when you hit bottom stay there for 3-5 seconds pushing actively into the bar with a locked down shoulder girdle and stabilizing. The idea is to now dynamically move into the same bottom position we found and held in the 10Tempo drill. There should be no movement in the bottom and you will know you are improving at this exercise when you can hit the bottom and stabilize through the entire pause with no movement or fidgeting. As you get better with this drill, begin to add weight!
3. Power Snatch (don’t stand!) + Overhead Squat
This is my favorite drill for people who have an issue puling into a full squat when the barbell gets heavy. It is also a great way to prevent the “starfish” that often happens with people as they try and compensate for lack of comfort in the overhead squat catch by throwing their feet wide to get lower. Start light here and complete a technically sound power snatch. Hold that catch position (DO NOT STAND) for about a second. Then, without moving your feet perform an overhead squat. If you find your foot position needs to change, or it is not comfortable when you try to overhead squat – you need to address your foot mechanics. Ideally, this drill should get you comfortable with holding a high overhead squat (the catch of the power snatch) and then finishing it by finding depth. The more you can drill this into your mechanics, the more comfortable you will be will pulling under the barbell in the full overhead squat position! Start light with this one and as you improve work up to a maximal weight (for this drill). In a perfect world, you would get to a point where the bar is too heavy to catch power anymore and you accidentally snatch into a full squat!
Try these out and let me know if they are working for you and if you have seen improvement!
As always, if you have any questions email me at: email@example.com or visit my website at Honor Your Nutrition
If you follow me on social media, the past few weeks you have probably noticed me reference a Nutrition Challenge at some point. You probably have also noticed there is a lot more pictures of clean food on my plate and a lot less pictures of the treats that I love so much. I’ve promised a blog and some more information about it a few times – so here is me delivering!
My husband Brenton and I eat well for the most part – as I preach so often, we track our intake 80% of the time, and fill that intake with clean, nutrient dense food 80% of the time. We are busy, prioritize fitness, and enjoy structure and eating well. However, we are also human and enjoy the occasional date night, nights out with friends, glass of alcohol, and sporadic trips to Andy’s (the best frozen custard, EVER.)
I have eaten Paleo for 2 years straight, cut weight numerous times, as well as done different month long “parameter” diets such as the Daniel Fast in the past. However, Brenton has done none of the above. He had never put parameters on his nutrition for a certain period of time. He is also the man that likes about 2 types of fruit (we may have not stretched it to 5), and chokes down vegetables just because I tell him he should. So, you can imagine my surprise when he came to me and said he wanted to “eat clean” for a certain period of time. He asked me to put together some guidelines and said he would execute what I thought that should look like. I told him I would lay out a plan that we would do for just under 30 days (from July 5th until he leaves for the CF Games on August 1st).
When creating the plan I took some things into consideration:
- We would still be very active between training, coaching, and working and I needed to make sure we stayed properly fueled in the process.
- Brenton has a history of injuries, many that leave him with some serious inflammation day to day and I believe it gets irritated even more by certain aspects of his diet
- Without a community doing it along side us, I knew it would be pretty challenging to stay the course
I took my knowledge of various ways of eating and developed these guidelines for our challenge which we have nicknamed “The Brenton-Get-Jacked Challenge”
- dairy (excluding eggs)
- processed food
- fried food
- added or artifical sugar
We made a few exceptions to this as we kept in plain oats and potatoes of any kind to keep carb intake where it needed to be. We also kept in whey protein supplements, and dextrose for intra-workout fuel. We would still be tracking and weighing our food as much as we could in order to make sure we didn’t have too much of a drop off in caloric intake.
Once we came up with this plan, we invited everyone we knew to join it on it with us. It was pretty awesome how many friends jumped on board and are doing this along with us now! We created a WhatsApp group and have been sharing recipes, questions, struggles, and progress pictures! Having the support of friends around you during something like this makes it a heck of a lot easier.
I coach nutrition daily. If you are one of my clients or have ever worked with me before you know this is not the way I coach, or my initial recommendation. Actually, I am very well known for coaching FLEXIBILITY with nutrition and encouraging that treats, sweets, and not so nutrient dense food here and there are actually good and encouraged for longevity, as it keeps you “sane” and satisfies those real life scenarios and social situations that we all enjoy so much. However, I do think it is really important to do a bit of “annual cleaning” and some kind of “challenge” like this one month out of the year – last August was the Daniel Fast for me. When deciding on a route – do your research! Do not do anything drastic like trying to eliminate one entire macronutrient group and be sure to keep an overall BALANCED nutrition no matter what your parameters are!
I encourage this method with most of my clients at some point and I think it is really important for a few reasons. First, it challenges you to a dose of mental toughness and shows you the discipline you are truly capable of when you commit to something. Second, it teaches you ALOT. It teaches you to read ingredients (you learn how many items sugar is actually added to), it teaches you how to get creative and how to think outside the box to build meals, it teaches you some new food you might like that you may have never tried before. When you are left to eat fruit and veggies in abundance, you often try new things to keep variety! And most importantly, it teaches you how to clean up your order at restaurants and make substitutions or better choices in social situations.
Health is also an obvious answer to “why”. So much of the food we eat on a day to day basis is damaging to our bodies, and doing a full nutritional clean up like this once a year can give our bodies a much needed rest and reset.
ONE WEEK IN:
The first week was very likely the hardest part (as it always is with a major adjustment like this). First, I had to make sure the house was stocked with everything we could have and that all the “elimination foods” were out of the house or just replaced with other items. We were eating a ton of rice and bread, so a lot of that needed to go and I needed to get creative with what we would have instead. The hardest part for both Brenton and I for sure was the sugar withdrawal that comes the first 3 days. It is actually pretty scary how awful your body feels coming “off” added or artificial sugar. We were both suffering from headaches, irritability, fatigue, and just overall yucky feeling – almost as if we had the flu. By day 4 however, that passed and we finally felt back to ourselves and feeling even better.
Physically, my performance has felt great and I feel like my aerobic capacity has increased which I know is a direct result of eliminating sugar. Inflammation has also decreased (as Brenton feels it has for him as well). I often suffer from an uncomfortable stomach and that has also seemed to subside eating this way.
Aesthetically we have noticed a big difference as well. I feel less inflamed visually and less puffy which I think was a result of water retention from the excess sugar I was intaking. We have both lost a bit of weight, but nothing significant as I do not want to wither away simply because I have changed up my nutrition parameters. Below are some Week 1 progress photos that we all have shared so you guys can see exactly what I am talking about!
I will write another piece toward the end of this challenge with final updated pictures!
If you have any questions, are looking for nutrition coaching, or want to get started on something like this and need more advice – send me over an email or visit my website at:
**Most of our daily meals are made easier by Trifecta Nutrition. We trust Trifecta for quality and care of our food 100%. If you have not checked them out, click HERE to take a closer look.
Dietary fat is one of the three macronutrients that make up our diet. It is an essential part of our nutrition, but can be pretty complex to understand. There are so many subgroups of “fat”, that we, as a society, have formed these stigmas or preconceived notions on what is “good” and what is “bad”.
I am sure you have heard that fat makes you fat, that eating too much fat increases cholesterol, and that the key to a low calorie diet is eliminating all dietary fat. While there is some underlying (very underlying) truth to these statements, when taken to the extreme they are without question – incorrect.
On the other hand, I am sure you have been fed some information explaining how eating an incredibly high fat but low carbohydrate diet is the key to losing fat and “becoming lean”. You were excited to hear this, and ran to the grocery store throwing every fatty meat, cheese, egg, avocados, oil and nut you could find in the store in your cart feeling like you finally cracked the nutrition code!
But, then you started asking more questions, doing more research, and you learned there was a bit more to it. You were told all fats weren’t created equal, that there was “good” and “bad”. Now, things got a bit more confusing when it came to fat. What about the different TYPES of fat?! Saturated/unsaturated? Monounsaturated? Polyunsaturated? Omegas?? What are those? How does cholesterol play into the whole thing? You were more confused than ever.
I understand how all of this information can be confusing, and trust me – there really is no simple explanation. However, I am writing this in hopes to clarify and simplify some facts about FAT and allow you a bit more understanding one piece at a time. There is a ton of information that would take up more than this single, short blog piece – but we will focus on one aspect of fat.
This piece will be focused on Omega Fatty Acids and how they come into play in our nutrition.
What does dietary fat do for us?
*note: the below benefits are from ALL fat – both saturated and unsaturated,
including Omega 3’s and 6’s so we would not want a diet that is absent of one particular type
– provides us with the most energy of any macro nutrient (9 calories per gram)
– primary energy source for babies and kids under 14 years old
– secondary energy source for adults
– helps make steroid hormones (sex hormones, courticosteroid hormones)
– forms cell membranes, primarily those of the brain and nervous system
– helps transport fat soluble vitamins (Vitamin A, D, E, K)
– provides us with TWO fatty acids we cannot make on our own: OMEGA 3 and OMEGA 6
We will discuss that last one a bit further.
OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
Where can I find Omega 3’s
– marine life (I.e. salmon, sardines, mackerel, cod, algae)
– seeds (chia, flax, hemp)
– Brussel sprouts
– egg yolks from Omega-3 enriched hens (fed the above seeds)
– wild rice
There are three types of Omega 3’s:
1. Alphalinolenic (ALA)
2. Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
3. Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
ALA is a popular Omega 3 source amongst plant based eaters as its is mainly found in seeds such as chia, flax, and hemp, as well as walnuts. But, the latter two, DHA and EPA, are the fatty acids we are most concerned with in Omega 3 supplementation, as they are the most beneficial to our body. They are found primarily in marine sources like fish and algae. It is important to get direct forms of these two, as we are unable to covert ALA into DHA or EPA in our bodies.
Why are 3’s so important?
– dilate blood vessels
– prevent blood coagulation (clotting)
– lower inflammation
– decrease pain
– dilate airways
– keep cell membranes more fluid causing: improved brain function, increased insulin sensitivity, and improved joint health
– aid in fat transport
OMEGA 6 FATTY ACIDS
Where can I find Omega 6’s?
– most oils
– fried foods, snacks baked in oil (chips)
– most nuts (excluding walnuts)
– dairy (cheese, milk, butter)
– cookies, candy, pastries, muffins
– dark poultry, pork, beef
There are three types of Omega 3’s:
1. Linoleic Acid ( (LA)
2. Gamma-linolenic Acid (GLA)
3. Alpha-linolenic Acid (AA)
Why are 6’s so important?
– constricting blood vessels
– clotting blood
– increasing inflammation
– increasing pain
– constricting airways
Essentially, 6’s do the exact opposite of 3’s. These may seem like negative effects for the body, however we do need these processes to occur to be able to come back from injuries and recover from daily training sessions and workouts.
What does this all mean?
We need both Omega 6’s and 3’s – but in proper balance. It may be surprising that the proper balance does actually mean getting more 6’s than 3’s. However, in the current American diet, the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 is about 10:1 and can even be unbalanced up to about 20:1. This ratio is so off because we are so often consuming an abundance of refined oils and processed foods in the modern world. Years ago, our ancestors had a more exemplary and much healthier ratio of about 2:1 and only up to about 8:1 on the higher end.
There are some simple steps you can take to ensure that you are able to get your 6 and 3 ratio back in proper balance:
1. Eat less industrial oils and processed foods (less corn and soybean oil).
2. Eat a more varied spectrum of plant and animal foods (fatty fish, wild game).
3. Consider supplementation (fish oil, or vegan algae oil).
The main approach we should have toward fat, as with nutrition as a whole, is balance. We should never look to eliminate, or negatively view one specific macronutrient (I.e. “sugar is worse than fat”). Nor, should we view the macronutrient subgroups that way (I.e “I am going to eat NO Omega 6’s because they are bad!). We want to incorporate a balanced ratio of macronutrients and their sub groups into our diet. When it comes to fat, eating a wide variety of natural, minimally processed sources, as well as supplementing with a reliable Omega 3 product, we can ensure we are getting proper quantities of dietary fat daily.
Personally I use Driven Nutrition for all of my supplement needs. Omega’s are no different. I trust their products and I know their Omega Drive formula has the highest quantity of DHA and EPA. You can get your own Driven Nutrition Omega Drive by clicking on this link!
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There are two types of people in the world – those that LOVE to grocery shop (me!) and those that DREAD it (most people). If you are part of the latter group, I have put together some strategies to make your life a bit easier. When embarking out on your grocery journey, it is important to find a store that is a “one-stop shop”. If you are going to multiple stores to do your grocery shopping, it is very likely you are going to get distracted, pick up one too many “snacks” that don’t need to be in your pantry, and likely overspend as well.
Have A Plan.
Walk into the grocery store confident and ready to get what you need. Grocery shopping (like most shopping) should be premeditated and purposeful. This will help prevent you from impulse buying junk food, or food that will later lead to over snacking back at the house. The best way to create a fail-proof plan is to make a list and then plan an attack route once inside the store. This strategy will keep you focused on the task at hand, and will serve for a much quicker and painless grocery trip.
Make A List, Check It Twice.
Take a lesson out of the big guy’s playbook here and be sure to make a list before leaving the house, then check it over. Write your list down… ON PAPER. Making the list on your phone and constantly referring back to it while in the store will often lead to distractions while there. I like to go as far as making a list by macronutrient category (I like organization). So, my list usually starts with fruits and vegetables, followed by meats/protein, followed by carbohydrate options, then added fats that I need, and finally finishing with boxed/canned pantry items, condiments, and snacks. Doing this will ensure that you have all of your bases covered. If you are planning on making a special dish this week, double check that you have included all of its ingredients. Organizing your list this way will help ensure you have plenty of options for the upcoming week’s meal prep and snack grabs, while also keeping you from getting distracted while actually in the store.
PRO-TIP: If you are shopping in a superstore (like Wal-Mart) that has other household items as well, those go at the END of your list. Get all of your food shopping out of the way before moving on to non-food items. This will prevent confusion and allow you to focus better while picking up groceries.
Have A Snack, Bring A Drink.
If you are an impulse grocery shopper (see something delicious on the shelf and grab it because you want to try it) this trick will help you. NEVER, I will repeat, NEVER go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Bad choices will be made, I promise. Make sure you have a meal or snack before leaving the house in order to stay focused on the task at hand. That task is grocery shopping for the week ahead, not your current empty stomach. In addition to that, it is smart to bring a bottle of water, some hot tea, or even your favorite coffee drink along with you. This will keep your taste buds and stomach occupied while you get in and get out of your grocery trip successfully.
Every grocery store is set up differently, so it is likely that you will get into your own routine based on your particular store of choice. However, most stores follow a similar flow. Start right in the front of the entrance in produce. Go through your list and collect the fruits and veggies that you have listed. Potatoes and avocados are included here, as well as additives/spices like onions and garlic. Next is usually the bakery section where you can pick up some English muffins, bread, or wraps. Following behind that is almost always the deli and meat/fish sections where you can get the items of that category that you included on your protein list. After that, head to the dairy section to pick up eggs, egg whites, yogurt, and any other dairy item you may have written down. Your list should be 85-90% checked off by now, all we have left are the finishing touches. Attack the frozen food section next. Some of my staple convenience items are found here such as frozen veggies for emergencies, or frozen fruit for smoothies. Finally, it is time to go down the isles. Here is where your plan and your list helps. It is easy to get distracted in the isles and end up camping out in the cookie or chips aisle. Don’t do that. Instead, go through the items you have left on your list and find them one by one in the isles (oatmeal, rice, granola bars, cereal, ketchup, canned items, frozen yogurt, etc) – get them in your cart and get out! Once this is complete, move on to household/non-food items if needed.
Repeat The Same Route.
If this worked well for you, repeat it. Every, single, time you are in the grocery store repeat this process. When you find a plan, a list, and a store route that was successful and painless, just continue to use it. We are creatures of habit and often find the most success and stability in routine. Grocery shopping is no different. Purposeful and goal driven grocery shopping is the best way to ensure you get in and get out painlessly while still stocking up on all the week’s essentials.
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Do you hear the words “Meal Prep” and instantly cringe at the thought of all the time and effort that needs to be put into that task? Let’s be honest, those Instagram pictures of Tupperware perfectly lined up on the counter with every meal for the week specifically weighed out are beautiful, but a bit hard to execute without wasting a whole day! Well, I am here to offer some assistance and help you prep for the week ahead in a very efficient and realistic way.
Personally, I dislike the confines of a meal prep system where you put everything in specific containers for each meal and store them in your fridge. I don’t like being tied to a meal like that, and I love variety and flexibility. Also, I prepare food for both my boyfriend (190-195# active male) as well as myself (145-150# active female), so our meals are very different in size and we enjoy different things on a daily basis.
I found a prep system that works for me, and I am excited to share it with you as I feel it is simpler, more efficient, and easier to execute on a consistent basis than the “make everything and split it into beautiful even portions and eat the same meal every day for a week” approach.
Here we go!
Setup for Success!
BASIC SHOPPING LIST –
– two different proteins (one lean like chicken/turkey/shrimp, one fattier like steak/pork/salmon)
– two veggie options (one green, one non-green/of color)
– two starch options (rice, potatoes, quinoa, etc)
– two fruit options
– avocado, nut butter, nuts/seeds
– olive or coconut oil
HOW MUCH DO I NEED?! –
To decide how much of each item you would need, take the amount of protein you eat per meal and multiply it by 10 or 12 (2 meals per day for 5 or 6 days of the week). That is how much protein you would need to cook. If you are cooking for two people, you would obviously take that into account as well. For example, if you eat 4oz of protein at each meal, you would need a little over 2lbs (16oz) of protein – so about a pound of lean and a pound of fattier.
Vegetables are all dependent on how much you like to eat at each meal. The recommended serving size of vegetable is about 3oz (or 85g). So again, you would multiply that by 10-12 meals for the week. That would be about 30-36oz of vegetable between both your green and non-green options.
Starch is the option that would vary most, as this all depends on your daily carbohydrate intake. In my house, we go through a ridiculous number of carbohydrates. I eat around 250g per day while my boyfriend eats about 300g per day, so carbs are plentiful around here! I prefer potatoes as my lunch/dinner carb source while he could eat white rice until it is coming out of his ears. So, I find it easiest to buy the biggest box of Instant White Rice and a sack of sweet potatoes. Sometimes we don’t get through all of this in a week, but starches store very well and last longer than the above items.
My rule of thumb for fruit is one piece of fruit per day per person. If you are worried about your fruit going bad, choose options that would last well throughout the week like bananas, oranges, and apples.
My secret weapon of meal prep is 1) a good knife, 2) two cookie sheets, 3) aluminum foil. Get all of your groceries out, roll your sleeves up, and get ready to attack – this is going to be fast! Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Now Lets Cook!
My “go-to’s” are usually Brussels sprouts and bell peppers so I will refer to those two. But remember, you can use whatever is your favorite! I encourage you to rotate your veggies weekly and try new ones whenever possible. Let’s begin by cleaning and cutting your veggies how you would like them. I like to half my Brussels sprouts and cut my peppers into strips. Once this is done, I cover the cookie sheet with foil (you’ll thank me later for this one), spray it with olive oil, and sprawl the veggies out there. I then spray the veggies with the olive oil and season them with salt, pepper, and a garlic/onion powder blend (you can season however you would like!). Set these cookie sheets aside until your oven is at 450. Once it is, cook your veggies for 20 minutes, and then turn the oven to broil for the last 5 minutes to brown them just a bit!
**If you get frozen veggies (just make sure there is no other ingredient added to them), this same method of cooking will also work, just add 10 minutes to cooking time**
Cooking rice and potatoes is very different, yet both very simple. Let’s start with the rice. While your veggies are cooking, prepare the water. Once boiled, pour in the rice and let sit until soft.
When cooking potatoes, you have options. My favorite method is cubing sweet potatoes, spraying them with olive oil and throwing them in my Air Fryer for about 15 minutes! If you do not own one of those (get one!) you can easily throw them on another cookie sheet and stick that in the oven as well – they will cook for 20-25 minutes in the oven with the last 5 minutes on broil.
**PRO TIP: season sweet potatoes with paprika AND cinnamon for the most amazing flavor**
While your veggies are in the oven and your starch is in the works, get to your protein! Decide which method you want to use. My favorite method is an outdoor grill or a grill pan on the stove top. I don’t love protein oven baked, however, some people do. That is always an option as well. I would rather use my oven space for roasting vegetables and potatoes!
I recommend cutting protein up into cubes or strips. I like to do this for two reasons, 1) it makes cooking a lot quicker as smaller pieces of meat and fish will cook through faster, and 2) it gives you more options and variety when building meals later on! Once cut, you can season them however you would like and then they are ready for cooking. This is the piece of meal prep that will take the most attendance, so be sure everything else is in the works and under control before you start cooking your protein.
**PRO TIP: The crock-pot is also a great way to cook protein if you are able to start it ahead of time. You can put raw protein in the crock-pot with some great spices and leave it for a few hours. When you come back you will have a large amount of juicy, seasoned protein ready to eat!**
As you can tell, your entire meal prep time should take less than an hour if done right! Get as many things cooking and working at once and it will be quick and painless. This meal prep method usually takes me one hour from grocery bag to store in the fridge and I love it!
Invest in Tupperware that is big enough to store your prepped food in bulk. Six large containers are ideal (two for protein, two for veg, two for starch). This will keep things neat in your fridge and will allow building a meal to be really simple! I prefer this method over breaking up the food into specific meals as it allows for more variety in meals throughout the week and prevents you from becoming bored!
BUILDING MEALS –
Because all the hard work has been done already, you now have the building blocks to meals all ready to go in your fridge. Whether you need to pack a lunch for work, or are just coming home from a long day and don’t want to spend time cooking – you are ready! Simply take out your scale, pull out the components you want to use for your meal and measure out your portion appropriately! I love this kind of meal prep because although the components may be the same, I can create different dishes very quickly. Grab some tortillas and make tacos. Put your meat and veggies over potatoes and make poutine. You could even load some of the components upon a flatbread and make a quick pizza!
WHERE IS THE FAT? –
So far, we have covered protein and carbohydrates, but have not spoken much about fat. The good news is fat is not something that we really need to “prep”. Fat is the tag along macro that is found as add on’s and toppings. Obviously, there will be some fat found in the protein source you choose. Avocados and nut butters are a great enhancement to any meal. Cheese or ranch dressing are some other fatty add on’s that can make any basic meal delicious, as well as oils and dressings which can also help you achieve some added fat in your meal.
**PRO TIP: I LOVE to put some nut butter on my sweet potatoes, I surely recommend giving that a try. **
The above prep covers your “main meals”. But, it is a good idea to think ahead about snacks so that you are set with some great grab and go options. I like to keep fruit, RX Bars, Think Jerky, 100 Calorie Popcorn bags, Yasso Frozen Yogurt Bars, and Oh Yeah One protein bars stocked in my house. If I have some extra time after my meal prep, I also like to measure out raisins and fruit into little baggies. Another great snack I have found is really easy to build ahead of time is cottage cheese with some strawberry or peach jam (I use the smallest size Tupperware for this and will make 3-4 at a time.
There are so many ways to meal prep. The key is to find the most successful one. REMEMBER, the most successful one will be the method in which you can find time to execute on a consistent basis. I have spent some time sharing with you the most successful method of meal prep for me, I hope it will work for you as well!
*PRO TIP: To eliminate almost ALL of the meal prep, there are services out there to help you. However, the ONLY service I use and trust is Trifecta Nutrition. Their “a la carte” menu provides so many different options of protein, (bison, elk, cod, shrimp, salmon, etc) vegetables, and starch that it is easy to build quality meals very quickly. If any kind of meal prep doesn’t work for you, click through to their website and check it out for yourself!
For more coaching tips and to learn more about the nutritional coaching services I offer, head over to my website at www.HonorYourNutrition.com!
One of the most frequent questions I find myself answering when coaching my nutrition clients is “How do I make this work when I travel?” or “In this situation I find myself running around and need to grab something quick, where should I go?. Although I always recommend cooking your own fresh food as much as possible, I am human, and I understand life gets busy and these situations are all too common. One of the biggest pros of following a Flexible Nutrition program is that when life gets in the way and food prep isn’t an option, we know what to do!
Now, my “Nutrition On The Road” is a whole different piece entirely, but I thought it would be helpful to compile a list of “chain” eateries that are “macro friendly”. My intentions of doing this is to be of some assistance when you are looking for a quick option on the go while staying within your daily macro nutrient goals. We live in a society where businesses are driven based on the “convenience” factor – because that is what the general public wants. But, now more than ever businesses are also realizing that health is a major issue and little by little the majority of institutions are trying to make strides to accommodate the growing “health conscious” populations. This takes a bit of effort on your part though. You must do your homework and learn about the places you eat at and the different options they offer.
I am hoping this piece turns into a series of pieces where I can continue to provide you with this kind of information for all different chain eateries. In this first one, I tried to give you a simple variety for all kinds of different foods. I stayed away from “regional” chains and focused more on those that are found in all parts of the country. The following 10 eateries are some of the more common options out there and there are plenty of food choices at all of these places that carry some sort of nutritional value and can be useful when trying to stay within a nutrition plan on the go.
For each institution listed, I have included their most recent nutrition facts or a nutrition calculator for their menu. I have also included a meal option that is relatively “macro friendly” meaning it carries a caloric and macronutrient content that is reasonable and suitable for most “medium sized” humans to intake in a single meal.
I am hoping to bring awareness that it is OUR responsibility, as grown adults, to understand what we are ordering and eating day to day. The majority of chain restaurants out there have their nutrition facts easily available with a simple Google search of “ *CHAIN NAME* Nutrition”. Before you place an order at one of these places, take a few minutes to educate yourself on what you are about to eat – or feed your family! To take it even one step further, you may sometimes find that the institution you have searched for does not actually list their nutrition facts. That should not be a problem, and you should not avoid that restaurant because of it. Instead, take a place of similar kind and use their nutrition facts – odds are the nutrition information will be close enough to not completely ruin your nutrition parameters for the day!
Okay, so you are going to hate me for starting the piece off like this, but I had to. Unless you have an ABUNDANCE of fat to use, you’re probably going to want to steer clear of Five Guys. They are famous for cooking all of their foods in peanut oil, which obviously makes their already fatty foods (burgers and fries), even higher in fat. If I had to make a suggestion here, it would be a “Bunless Little Hamburger and Little Fries”. That is probably their most reasonable meal choice and it runs at a macro cost of 24p/72c/40f. My biggest issue with 5 Guys is that they don’t really offer any better alternatives. There is no salad or veggie on the menu as a side, and even their “sandwiches” are very high in fat. Don’t get me wrong, I use to frequent that place, especially after “hard exercise times”. Until one day, I tried to actually make room for it… and realized there were much smarter choices I could be making!
Ice cream is one of those foods that gets a bad rap when, from a macro nutrient point of view is not that bad in moderation. Those last two words are key as often, ice cream is one of those foods that we overeat. I like Baskin Robbins because their ice cream is a bit more reasonable when it comes to fat than say, Ben and Jerrys or Cold Stone. If you go into Baskin Robbins and ask for a Small (2.5 oz) with one topping such as sprinkles or oreo cookie crumbles, you are looking at a macro count of about 15-25g of carbs and 5-10g of fat. Even a Large (4 oz) isn’t incredibly awful at a count of about 28-35g carbs and 14-20g of fat. Each specific flavor has their own macro nutrient profile but you can surely find one that fits your ice cream craving, as long as you agree to consume it in moderation!
BWW can be a pretty stressful place if you are weighing and measuring intake. I am here to help! It does not have to be stressful and there are some hidden gems on the menu that will help you through your experience there. Now, keep in mind that you wont be able to pig out on wings and fries like you may have experienced in the past. But if you are taking your nutrition seriously, you likely already understand that. My go to when I am in BWW are the Grilled Chicken Buffalitos – they are grilled chicken tacos that run 19p/18c/10f. This leaves room for a sauce of my choice to put on them, as well as a side order of Buffalo Chips or French Fries that will be around 40c/15f. Anther option could be something like a large grilled chicken salad (no dressing) and an order of SNACK size Teriyaki Traditional Wings (43p/12c/19f).
As a north east girl, Chick Fil A was only available during those exciting road trips down to the southern states during road games (that didn’t fall on Sunday’s of course). So, it always holds a special place of excitement in my heart as it was a treat. Even though I had been in Virginia for two years, Texas, and now Missouri where it is readily available – it is still a place I need to stop in every once in a while out of pure joy. Chick Fil A has recently made some strides to include healthier options into their menu. I like this. Of course, there are always HORRIBLE choices you could make here. But there are some decent ones as well. A Grilled Chicken Sandwich (pictured below) sits at 30p/40c/5f, while a 12-piece Grilled Nuggets sits at 34p/6c/5f. If you are okay with having a wrap while eating here, their Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap sits at 36p/30c/13f. Those numbers really aren’t bad, however the side items is usually where the trouble can start. You can make better choices in sides by opting for the Hearty Breast of Chicken Soup (12p/18c/3f – Medium size), or their new Superfood Side (4p/23c/8f – Large size). Try and avoid breakfast at Chick Fil A, almost every option is a “macro waste”!
Chili’s is actually a favorite “on the go” of mine and a place where, if you know how to navigate the menu correctly, can give you a pretty big meal for your “macro buck”. There are actually a bunch of options I could list here, but I will go with my traditional go to. When you first sit down here, they will bring out complimentary chips and salsa. Although the temptation is real, it would be wise to not touch these as chips are some of the most macro-wasting food out there. We all know how awful human self control is when it comes to something like chips, and tortilla chips are literally just a waste of fats and carbs. Instead, I always order either a side salad (4p/10c/3f) or a cup of Southwest Chicken soup (4p/10c/5f) to start while the rest of the table is munching on chips. For my meal, my usual here is a “Make it a Combo” option which allows you to choose two proteins and a side of your choice. I like to go with the Margarita Grilled Chicken and Seared Shrimp (44p/10c/7f) with a side of either Steamed Broccoli (3p/8c/0f), Asparagus & Tomatoes (4p/12c/1.5f), or their Citrus Chile Rice (3p/27c/1.5f) if I need more carbs. There are plenty of other choices on their menu that can make solid meals – just do a bit of research before!
Chipotle is one that people ALWAYS ask me about. It is kind of silly to me, because it is probably the most convenient place to “track macros” at. If you click on the link above, you will see that you literally just click on what you have chosen to put into your burrito or bowl, and boom, it adds all the components up and gives you the complete nutrition facts. I think it will be a bit eye opening as to what is actually in the different components of your meal – I know that after discovering their nutrition calculator, my order has changed a bit from what it use to be. I always get questions about how accurate I think this actually is, meaning “how do I know they’re putting that exact amount of rice in my bowl”. The answer is that we really don’t, but the calculation will be close enough to trust that you are not incredibly off on your numbers. Remember that when eating food you haven’t prepared yourself there is always a level of estimation and that is okay! Needless to say, Chipotle is for sure a “favorite spot” for me, and one I always seek out.
I love breakfast food. If I had to eat nothing but breakfast for the rest of my life I actually would not be mad, at all. Any kind of breakfast works for me… dishes I make myself, eating breakfast out at a diner, even chain restaurants are fine with me for breakfast. To be perfectly honest, I would much rather a local, mom and pop diner any day over Denny’s – but when that isn’t possible, this will do. Their food is actually not loaded with fat as most of their counterparts are (like IHOP) and their menu choices are very simple. You have some options here, which allows for a lot of flexibility depending on your personal macro intake. One option is to take a look at their “build your own grand slam” section and piece together a breakfast that works well with you. If that takes too much work, they have a menu section called “Fit Fare” which I usually choose from. It is pre- assembled breakfasts at reasonable macro costs – like their “Fit Slam” (24p/54c/10f), or their “Fit Fare Omelette” (32p/59c/16f). While doing research for this piece, I came across their “Fit Fare Banana Pecan Pancake Breakfast” which runs at 29p/134c/13f. Seems outrageous, buuuuut would make an amazing post workout meal on a refeed day (or regular day for all of you large male humans)!
When I put it out there about writing this piece and asked what people would like me to include, I had a great deal of “pizza” responses. I feel you guys. I, myself, have a pizza problem. That problem is the fact that I either want NO pizza, or an ENTIRE pizza to myself. I refer to it as “pizza for one” (see below). Most times, this takes strategic macro planning and blocking out enough of my daily intake to be able to include a pizza for one. But, if I feel the urge, I make it happen. My go to at Domino’s is usually a 10’ Gluten Free Crust topped with Light Cheese, Grilled Chicken, Spinach, Red Peppers, and Onions (pictured below). This comes at a macro cost of 24p/90c/30f for the ENTIRE PIE, #pizzaforone ! From looking at that you could imagine what the rest of my day looks like. Lots of chicken, egg whites, and veggies. However, on days I am craving pizza – it is worth the sacrifice. Now, obviously I referred to Domino’s because it gives a calculator that I love. You can add whatever toppings you want, cheese level, size, ect. When you are out at a gourmet pizza place, or a non-chain place (that is amazingly delicious), I still recommend using this calculator. It will allow you to estimate as closely as possible. Remember that the calculator gives you readings BY THE SLICE. So, if you are like me and #pizzaforone or bust, you would have to multiply its results by 6 (or 8 for larger pies) to get macros for the whole pie.
I always get really excited when I have the opportunity to go to Outback. It is my favorite chain steakhouse and a place that is really easy to order a filling and delicious macro friendly dish. As a company they are pretty health conscious, and their website is a reflection of that. Their site even has an “under 600 calories” tab which will focus your attention to the quality choices right away. You can easily start your meal off with a side salad (5p/12c/6f) or a cup of Chicken Tortilla Soup (9p/13c/9f). As far as steaks, their Outback Center Cut Sirloin 6oz. (38c/7f) or their Victoria’s Filet Mignon (40p/9f) would be my reccomendations. If you are not a steak eater and would rather white meat, their Grilled Chicken on the Barbie (5oz) with Seasonal Mixed Vegetables (35p/28c/13f) is a quality option. On their nutrition listings for side dishes, they include all of the toppings (such as butter and brown sugar on the sweet potato) so I usually just order a sweet potato with no toppings and log it as 200g (typical size of a potato). They do offer other vegetable sides that are a great choice as well.
It seems incredibly necessary that I open this paragraph by making one thing clear before you continue to read on. I am not going to spend time in this description discussing “macro friendly coffee drinks” – I get that question all the time, and it is ALWAYS a face palm moment for me. Coffee is made to be consumed one way – BLACK… black and strong (thats still one way). I refuse to acknowledge all of these foo foo drinks that everyone takes up time ordering at Starbucks. Drinks that are all basically desserts or coffee flavored milk. If your coffee has “too many calories”, you are not drinking coffee, you are drinking dessert. For more on that topic, you can read this gem “THE SKINNY LATTE TREND” …and stop asking me for “macro-friendly” coffee suggestions. Drink COFFEE, plain, black, and strong. Now, to the food. Starbucks has MY FAVORITE on the go item which is their Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich (13p/28c/6f). I am also a huge fan of their Roasted Turkey Sandwhich (45p/48c/12f) for lunch. My favorite “treats” from them are the Cookie Dough Cake Pop (23c/9f) or the Petite Vanilla Scone (18c/4.5f).
Friday’s is one of those very common “I am traveling and I want something quick and reliable” out of your element places. Although the temptation is high in here to just throw your hands up and think you don’t have a good option around – that is not the case. Their Turkey Burger (31p/48c/22f) is a decent option and you even have the choice of “making it green” which would mean without the bun. They do have some fancy Naan bread sandwhiches in both Shrimp and Mahi Mahi that are 32p/55c/15f. Interestingly enough, their Bruschetta Chicken Pasta (half order) comes out to 21p/47c.25f an is PLENTY of food for a meal with a side salad! The side dishes is where you would most likely run into an issue as both their french fries and sweet potato fries carry a count of 50c/20f. I recommend always going with a side salad instead.
To view my website and the other services I offer, visit www.HonorYourNutrition.com or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org !