You Are What You Eat

This morning, a post I made to Instagram got me thinking on today’s blog article. This one, to be exact…

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Go ahead, read it.

I want to go into more detail about this because it’s something that I think throws a lot of people off. We scroll through social media and are bombarded with a multitude of diets, cleanses and meal plans. It can become overwhelming to try and decide which works best. So most people simply choose the fastest, cheapest, easiest [insert adjective of choice here] in an effort to lose weight or “tone”.

At the end of the day though, without knowing your activity level, medical history, goals, contraindications or injuries, metabolic profiles, medical issues and so on, they are not qualified to specifically guide you nutritionally. That includes me. There are so many varied options out there that one would be hard pressed to determine exactly which method is best for you anyway.

A good example is the comparison of flexible dieting vs clean eating. The two are very similar in that they both tend to focus on macronutrient intake. However flexible dieting, also known as “if it fits your macros” doesn’t always take the quality of food into consideration (Notice I said that it doesn’t always, there are many methods to this type of eating as well). With IIFYM dieting, as long as you reach your daily requirements for fats, carbs and proteins, the food you consume to reach those target macros is irrelevant.  However with clean eating the focus is more on the quality of your food and minimizing or eliminating the intake of processed foods. The theory here is that by improving the quality of food, quantity becomes less important.

Now, if I were to present those two methods to someone, there are numerous factors that would come into play before deciding which guideline, if any, they should follow. When you see a 3 day diet, a detox challenge, or anything else that seems too good to be true, be leery. It probably is. At the same time, just because paleo, atkins, dukan or weight watchers worked for someone on instagram, that doesn’t mean that you should try it too.

So where do you start when you’re ready to make a change? Here are some simple rules that won’t necessarily box you into any “diet” but will help you maintain a higher level of health.

Avoid white sugar and flours

Avoid sodas and candy

Avoid cake, cookies, etc.

Aim for your recommended intake of protein, carbs and fats (check choosemyplate.gov for your personalized recommendations)

More veggies and fruits

Eat to perform, food is fuel and the higher the quality, the more efficiently you’ll function

Drink plenty of water

Try less processed foods, they tend to be more nutrient dense

Keep a food journal so that you can see what worked and what didn’t.

Remember, this is about finding what works for you. If you find you need more help, contact a trainer or dietitian so you can discuss the full spectrum of your health needs to get the best recommendations. There are different levels of assistance that are available to you through the health continuum so seeing where you stand is the first step. As always, contact me if you have any questions!

Shine on,
Becca M.

What’s in a Workout: Mobility

You get out of bed in the morning and you feel like you’ve slept in a box of rocks that’s in the back of a moving truck. You can’t touch your toes and your back hurts. You have to turn your entire body to look in either direction because your neck is so stiff. You think to yourself that it’s time to start stretching, but is that really the problem?

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Mobility is the ability to efficiently move through all three planes of motion, sagittal, transverse and frontal. Simply put, can you move side to side, front to back, and rotate without pain and limited range of motion? Many people confuse poor mobility for lack of flexibility but while the two are related, they are not always directly affected by one another.

So how do you know the difference? Typically, mobility issues generate in joints or junctures. Think hips, shoulders, ankles and so on. While flexibility typically (not always) affects the muscles directly. Think hamstrings, calves, and the erector spinae muscles of the lower back.

Once you’ve started improving your stability, you can begin addressing mobility issues with simple bodyweight movements that assist in training your body to move correctly. Mobility work can be a slow process, it’s not something that can be changed overnight. Remember, your body has been moving in a specific pattern for many years so changing that pattern will take time.

There are many benefits to improving your mobility including, but not limited to; improved circulation, better posture, less or complete elimination of chronic pain, better range of motion which allows for higher quality movement in your daily activities. The workout link provided here is an extremely thorough and well laid out program that you begin at home to get started in improving your mobility.

As we talked about before, building a strong core and gaining stability is the first step in beginning a program but closely following that is mobility. You’ll find that the two work synonymously much of the time and that as youre4working in one, the other is recruited. This is a good thing, it means your body is learning to work efficiently!

Here is the link to your mobility training workout and as always, if you have questions or concerns,  feel free to contact me. mobility training workout

Shine on,
Becca M.

Tuesday Motivation

Happy Tuesday morning! I hope the weekend gave you time to reset and plan for the week and that Monday was good to you. My last 3 days were hectic…. Which is why I was preparing my breakfast, lunch, and dinner at 6 am after my workout this morning.

Previous posts have showed what happens when planning is feasible and there is enough time to prepare everything just the way I want to.

Let’s be realistic for a minute.

I have 3 kids who all play sports, I work, I volunteer and I dedicate a lot of time to keeping myself healthy. That means that sometimes, there isn’t time. I have preached over and over that you have to be organized and stay on track… and 90% of the time, that is enough. But every now and then unexpected plans and commitments come up and all my best laid plans are blown to hypothetical smithereens.

Been there?

So what do you do when life is being rude and your priorites have to temporarily shift? The same thing as before. You organize. This runs a little bit of a parallel to goal setting in that sometimes you have to think both long and short term.

Yes, meal prep is great but have a backup plan and some recipes filed away for those days where stuff happens.
Miss the gym? Keep some home workouts saved for those days.

Having backup plans will go a long way in ensuring that you don’t suffer a lapse or relapse (see how all this fits together?) At the mercy of your schedule. Be ready to follow plan A, B or even C sometimes because it’s inevitable. Understanding this will take a lot of pressure of you.

Tomorrow we’ll get back on track with workout prgramming, mobility is up next and will help you understand why and how your body moves and will include some workouts that you’ll be able to do from home. In the meantime, make more plans!

Shine on,
Becca M.

What’s in a Workout?

As a trainer, every type of goal you can think of has been presented by a client at some point in time. While the most  common is weight loss, people also come in wanting to be able to run races or improve their ability in a specific sport. They may be seeking to regulate blood pressure or diabetes. Battling depression or cancer, regaining the ability to walk free of assistance, gaining weight after a battle with an eating disorder…. the reasons are as varied as the workouts that accomplish all these goals.

It can be understandably daunting to begin a workout program when you’re not even sure how to start the treadmill.

This post will not give you a workout program. It will, however, point you in the right direction as you start planning your fitness regimen.

In a previous post, we discussed the different aspects of physical fitness. But more specifically, here are the areas that are typically adressed.

Stability
Mobility
Muscular strength
Muscular endurance
Flexibility
Cardio respiratory health (aerobic)
Power and speed
Agility

It’s important to remember that the first one listed, stability, is the basis of all human movement and must be addressed first. That’s why we’re going to discuss it today.

Stability doesn’t just imply balance. It also means internal stability, the principle of our muscles, skeletal system, ligaments and joints being able to effectively hold your body in place. The very center of your body, where your center of gravity originates, is where stability must be addressed first. Where is your center of gravity? Your core.

When most people think of working their core, the envision crunches and six packs.

No.

The core consists of not just your abdominals, but your lower back and the thoracic region (think rib cage and chest) as well. This means that to gain stability throughout the entire body, you must first focus on these areas. Your core is responsible for supporting all of your extremeties properly and also keeps the spine in the correct position. A weak core contributes to a multitude of postural issues. Many of those can lead to injury, chronic back pain and weakness. It is essential to keep the core functioning correctly.

So how? Here are some exercises you can try to work on strengthening your entire core.

Plank
Side plank
Floor marches
Woodchops
Leg raises
Back extensions (on a back extension bench, machine or stability ball)
Supermans
Bird dog
Quadruped balances

This is just a very basic list, the possibilities are endless. However these movements are normally fairly easy to complete with the proper form and can be done at home or the gym.

When performing these exercises, here are some key points to help keep your form in check.

Don’t excessively arch the lower back. There should naturally be a slight arch but in the beginning, hyperextension is undesirable.

To properly engage the muscles of the core, you want to squeeze those muscles as if someone were about to punch you in the stomach. This is a difficult muscle contraction to explain to people, and this is the easiest way I’ve found to describe it.

Keep your chin in a neutral position. You don’t want your chin tucked into your chest or tilted back.

Keep your movements slow and controlled as you learn to properly engage the muscles of the core. You  don’t need to rush through these exercises.

Your core is the basis of movement in all daily activities. Ensuring that it is strong enough is a crucial step in planning your workouts and a great starting point as you begin a healthy lifestyle. If you’d like a detailed workout or program to get you headed towards a stronger, more stable core, message me for more information.

Shine on,

Becca M.

After the Goal Setting: Lapses and Relapses

My last post reminded me how lax I’ve become in setting long term goals. I’ve been setting short term goals and reaching them and I actually got to the point where, after reaching them all, I felt a little lost. I didn’t have a direction to go in. It’s at that point that many people find themselves in the midst of a lapse or relapse.

The difference between the two is longevity. A lapse is temporary. A good example of this is when you go on vacation and the eating habits you’ve put into place are forgotten. With a lapse, you are typically able to pull it together and get back on track fairly easily. A lapse is short term. (we’re going to say a week, maybe two.)

In a relapse, however, it is a complete reversion to your previous condition or lifestyle. Relapse is dangerous to your healthy lifestyle for many reasons. First, the distinct danger lies in the fact that you are no longer following healthy habits. What isn’t as palpable are the mental effects that a relapse can have on a person. It can remove the self confidence that a person has worked so hard to build up which makes them even less likely to attempt their changes in the future. Individuals see themselves as “failures” and don’t want to replicate the feelings of incompletion again.

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It’s a vicious cycle as they second guess themselves and their abilities, falling further into relapse.

What they don’t understand is this crucial fact: IT HAPPENS TO EVERYONE.

Every single person, at some point in their life has suffered from a lapse, or even relapse. We are only human and none of us are excluded from making mistakes or saying “yes” when we should say no (or vice versa).

So what are we to do? How do we keep a lapse, or even a relapse, from becoming a permanent condition in our lives? There are many tactics that we can utilize, as individuals and as friends and family members of those who are seeking a healthier lifestyle.

SELF MONITERING:

Tools such as food journals, progress pictures, work out logs and so on, are one way to assess progress and keep healthy habits going consistently. These work for two reasons. First of all, you’re able to plan based on what’s worked well in the past. If you know a method has been effective and if it is familiar, it will be much easier to follow. Also, when you lose motivation, seeing past progress and ideas can be a powerful motivator.

SOCIAL CIRCLES:

Develop a network of friends and family members who are on the same journey as you. This is proven to be the best indicator of success in this context. Having a network of people to encourage and motivate you, as well as being able to do the same for them, can take you further than you could ever believe. It holds a certain amount of accountability and pushes many people to work harder. If you don’t have someone you can turn to, look for local groups and classes within your gym. Those can be a fantastic way to meet like-minded people who are headed in the same direction as you are.

ORGANIZE:

Keeping meals planned, workouts made up in advance and other practical organization methods help to ensure that on days when motivation runs low, you stay on track. Remove the stressors in your life that make time an issue and if you know something triggers unhealthy eating or sedentary behavior, work your schedule and lifestyle in a different manner to avoid or manage it more effectively.

GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK:

I cannot stress this enough, lapses can and most likely will happen. It is not the end of the world. Keeping a plan in place for when it occurs is the best way to make sure a lapse doesn’t turn into a relapse. And guess what… even if THAT happens, you are not confined to staying there in your relapse.

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If you are struggling with relapses and lapses where your healthy lifestyle is concerned, contact me for ways to overcome either of them. Your lapse does not define you, it simply teaches you what you can do differently next time.

Setting (and Smashing) Goals

If you left for work to go begin at your new job without knowing anything about it, how successful would you be? You didn’t know it’s location, how long it would take you to get there. If you somehow managed to find it, you wouldn’t know who to find to start your first day. You might not even have the proper skill set to handle the position. You’d be lost and most likely, the job wouldn’t work out for you.

Your goals work the same way. You have to discern a direction, a plan.

This post will walk you through basic goal setting and give you an idea of how successful ambitions are developed. Living a healthy lifestyle involves setting a series of both long and short term goals and learning how to stay on track and overcome lapses with active goal-setting is one of the most important steps towards your objective.

You want to remember this acronym:
SMART; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound

Specific: don’t just say, “I want to lose weight”. Try saying “I want to lose 35 lbs” or “I want to lower my body fat percentage to 24%”. Leaving goals too vague means you aren’t sure what you are working towards.

Measurable: make sure there is some tangible or intangible way to measure your success. Pounds, inches, percentages, personal records or times, specific weght lifted or distance traveled… don’t just say “run a race”. Specify “run half marathon in “.

Attainable: to set a goal to lose 30 lbs in 30 days is not only unrealistic, it is unhealthy. This is an area where most individuals need guidance. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, doing so will help you avoid unrealistic expectations and stay safe while working towards your goals.

Relevant: I am a personal trainer with 3 kids at home. If I set a goal to visit all 50 states before the end of the year, that is NOT a goal that is relevant to my lifestyle. However if I set a goal to run a 5k with my kids by the end of the summer, that’s extremely relevant to our way of living. You don’t have to discount any goal that seems obscure to you but you should keep in mind that a goal remotely relevant to your every day life will be much more beneficial for you.  (More on this in a moment when we discuss long and short term goals)

Time-bound: put a time constraint on it. This is one aspect that, personally, I feel is the most important BUT is also one that can change the easiest. Life does happen so if you find that you don’t or cannot reach your goal in a predetermined time frame, change the time but never the goal.

Depending on how detail oriented you are and how specific you want to be, there are different levels of goal setting.

Ideally, you would set 1 week, 1 month, 6 month, 1 year, 5 year and 10 year goals. That’s a lot of planning. I normally recommend a 1 week, 1 month and 1 year goal to start. Break down what you want to accomplish, the steps you’ll take to do so, roadblocks along the way and how you plan to overcome them.

One final note, in terms of weight loss, I also find it highly beneficial to set not only a mesaurable “scale or inches” goal, but a performance goal as well. This could include being able to do a pushup, running a 5k, etc. But find something to take some of the emphasis off of the scale.

So here’s an overview.  First, a goal that wouldn’t take you too far: “my goal is to lose weight this year”. Negative.

“I am (determined attitude) going to lose 30 pounds (specific & measurable) in 5 months (time-bound) by exercising 4 times a week after work (relevant to your lifestyle) and eliminating soda and sugar from my diet (attainable)”.

See the difference? 

I have a goal setting worksheet if you need any guidance.  Setting effective goals is the first step towards a healthy lifestyle and you’ll be amazed at how definitive your direction and mindest is when you know where you’re going. Tomorrow, we’ll discuss lapses and relapses in goal settng as well as how to overcome them.

Set some goals today, then smash them!

Post Workout Soreness; It’s not what you think

I hope that the wheels are turning and that you’re brimming with ideas for your first meal prep after yesterday’s post. We’ve been over a lot of organizational information in the past few days so I am going to take an intermission of sorts and review a common misconception related to fitness.

If you’ve gone to the gym, attempted an at home workout, or maybe even attended a boot camp or other class, you’ve probably experienced the famed next day soreness that comes from exercise. What you probably don’t know is it’s source.

Most commonly, you’re told or hear that the soreness you’re experiencing is lactic acid. This could not be more inaccurate!

Lactic acid, also known as lactic acidosis, is not the cause of your muscle fatigue. It is not the reason your muscles “burn” during exercise and it’s not the cause of your next day soreness.

When you exercise, your muscles undergo a series of chemical reactions. A significant amount of the chemical adenosine-triphosphate is both released and created as the body attempts to consume and produce energy. As this occurs, protons are released and muscle fatigue ensues. This means that the muscle fatigue you experience is not a result of lactic acid build up but rather a result of the protons released as the lactic acid is processed to be consumed for energy. Lactic acid is a by-product, not a cause, of muscle fatigue and the signature “burn” you feel.

Furthermore, it only takes around 15 minutes for the lactate presence to return to pre workout state, so even if it were the cause of the burning sensation, it would not be responsible for the next day soreness as it isn’t present at that time unless you are working those same muscles again.

So if that’s not the cause of your next day soreness, what is? The exact cause is not known but it is referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. One suspected explanation, however, is that the eccentric lengthening of the muscles causes micro-trauma that leads to soreness until the trauma has recovered in 48-72 hours. The muscles adapt after that type of trauma and soreness is less likely to occur until a new muscle pattern is utilized.

While nothing is going to eliminate DOMS, there are things you can do to alleviate it. Myofascial release, also known as foam rolling, can help stimulate blood flow to those areas and aid in relief. Light stretching can help as well. In more extreme cases, ice may be used but keep in mind that small, isolated areas that require ice for pain relief may actually be acute injuries and not just DOMS.

Remember that soreness does not always equal a good workout, and lack of it doesn’t denote a bad workout either. Each workout is a different experience and so is each recovery. When you experience DOMS, it is suggested that you wait until the soreness has mostly passed before working that muscle group again although opinions on this vary. Listen to your body, you know it best.

This topic is so broad and there is such a deeper explanation behind it. It is difficult to condense it all into one article without making it an entire chapter so if you have any other questions, as always, contact me. Now go make some muscles hurt!

Meal Prep Rundown

Happy Thursday, Fit family! A lot of you have asked for more on meal prep so I Have prepared this post to give you an idea of what a full scale meal prep looks like.

Before I start, there are two things to remember. First of all, meal prep doesn’t work if you don’t eat the food. That sounds obvious but what happens to many people is that they A: forget it in the fridge every day; B: they go out to eat instead; or C: they eat the meal prep food AND add additional snacks into their daily diet.

Next, the system here is not a one size fits all, black or white plan. This may not work for everyone and you may find changes that make it easier for you. Example, I have a tiny kitchen. So, many of my steps I have to do one at a time whereas someone with more counter space could probably multi task just a little more.

So, if you’re ready to get started, let’s get prepping!

Before you even make your first grocery list, you need the proper storage supplies. My mother in law introduced me to these pop n’ lock containers and I love them, nothing spills and they stack pretty easily for tidy storage. I, however, have issues spending too much money on things like Tupperware (I prefer to spend it on running shoes and yoga pants) I found something almost identical at Walmart.

Find a storage system for all of your containers. This is an important step because if you can’t find the right lid or get as frustrated looking for lids as I do, you’re going to say “forget it” and not complete your meal prep. Organize! I Keep my lids in a box from largest to smallest and stack my containers. They stay on a shelf in the laundry room until meal prep day. Then I place them all out on my dining table so I can access and see them all at once as I finish food.

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Next, I make my menu for the week. I plan out Every. Single. Meal. Here is an example menu, not necessarily one you’d follow (I guess you could, it’s not a bad one) but more or less shows you how meals can repeat, how you can spread them out amongst the days of the week and how you want to divide your fruits and veggies throughout the day. We’ll go over nutritional content of meal prep in another post.

Day of the week Breakfast Lunch Dinner Snack Snack
Monday 4 egg whites, one whole egg, 1 C sliced canteloupe Kale, pecan and blueberry salad Blackened Mahi, mango salsa, cilantro lime dressing, roasted asparagus Apple and chocolate dusted almonds pistachios, 1 orange
Tuesday Squash and bacon breakfast hash Grilled chicken, sweet potato, sauteed squash and cauliflower Root vegetable beef stew banana and boiled egg Peanut butter apple stacks
Wednesday Chocolate Banana Smoothie Chicken apple salad on spring greens Caprese chicken Apple Nachos Pepper and carrot slices
Thursday 4 egg whites, one whole egg, 1 C sliced canteloupe Kale, pecan and blueberry salad Hawaiian turkey burgers, steamed broccoli Fruit salad Greek yourt, pecans and sliced fruit
Friday Squash and bacon breakfast hash Out for lunch Blackened Mahi over baked sweet potato Apple and chocolate dusted almonds Pepper and carrot slices
Saturday Chocolate Banana Smoothie Kale, pecan and blueberry salad Root vegetable beef stew banana and boiled egg boiled egg and almonds
Sunday 4 egg whites, one whole egg, 1 C sliced canteloupe Chicken apple salad on spring greens Spaghetti squash lasagna Apple Nachos Cucumber stackers

Once you’ve completed your menu, you can make your shopping list. If you’re serving your whole family the same food, make sure that you account for that when you purchase. I make a list similar to this:

Veggies Fruit Meats Dairy Frozen Aisles Other
Butternut squash Apples 3 lbs chicken Greek yogurt Strawberries Almond Flour
Kale Oranges 2 lbs Mahi Feta cheese Peanut butter
Onions Bananas 2 lbs Ground Turkey Eggs
Carrots Peaches
Turnips
Sweet Potatoes

This is only a partial list, for today’s post we are keeping it simple but I will post a menu with a shopping list as a guideline later. Go through your list and mark off the items you have at home already. This will help immensely in saving money.

The next step? Clean your kitchen or prep area. It will be much less stressful if all your cooking utensils, containers and countertops are clean when you begin.

Now that your kitchen is clean and your list is made, you can hit the grocery store. I love Publix, it’s my favorite. They always have exactly what I am looking for and by eating seasonably (Again, another post for another day) I can almost always get my produce on sale. Take your time and use the old rule, “don’t shop when you’re hungry”. Since you already planned out your snacks for the week, there should be very minimal purchasing of items not on your list. Try your best to stick to the perimeter of the store and only purchase what you came for.

I prefer to do my prepping as soon as I return home from the store but not everyone operates that way. You want to be sure you have ample time to prepare your food so be sure you have at least 2 hours or so to complete this task. Trust me… I KNOW HOW HARD THIS SOUNDS. We are all busy with life in general but this is going to save you time in the long run.

Are you ready? It’s time to start cooking!

I have a tiny kitchen so you may be able to multi task better than what I do when meal prepping, here’s the space my 1945 kitchen allows me so no excuses that you don’t have the room!

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I begin by washing all of my produce. I like to use a solution of 1 part vinegar, 5 parts cool water and fully submerge the veggies for a few minutes. This is a good time to cut open your chicken and slice it up to marinate.

I marinate mine in a simple mixture of EVOO, minced garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper. It’s a generic marinade that will keep the chicken moist but still give it an adaptable flavor no matter what it’s paired with later. Place it in a covered container, grilling will be the final step in my process.

If I have any meat that needs to be browned or blackened, I begin that process now. In between stirring and flipping, the oven can be pre heated to 400 and vegetables are chopped to prepare for roasting. I toss them in EVOO or coconut oil, depending on the recipe, and season with mineral salt and ground pepper. Place the veggies on parchment paper and put them in the oven, turning every 15 minutes or so. I won’t even lie, this is the step I mess up on every time. I forget I’m roasting and burn a minimum of one tray of veggies every single week. I’ll be purchasing a timer soon.

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As the meat finishes cooking, store it either in a large container for dinners later in the week or divide it into your tupperwares for lunches and breakfast. If it’s part of a larger dish, place it in a bowl and set it aside until the rest of the meal is ready.

After this step, I bake my potatoes or prepare my quinoa. I alternate these each week. It takes quite some time so I’ll also slice fruit and prepare overnight oatmeal or eggs for breakfast burritos while the potatoes or quinoa cooks.

Fruit salad goes nicely in glass jars, I prefer glass with fruit because I find that it takes on a funny taste in plastic, maybe I’m just weird though. As you finish your fruit salad, go ahead and put it in the fridge. If you’re going to be using any of the fruit with your yogurt, you can stack it right on top with a Ziploc bag of pecans or walnuts so it’s all ready to go at once. Overnight oatmeal can go in the fridge and burritos can be assembled, wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in the freezer when they cool.

As the potatoes finish, I cut them in half and place them in Tupperware, or I’ll spoon one serving (Read that again, one SERVING) of quinoa in the containers. Now all they need is vegetables.

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At this point, I’m ready to either steam, broil or whatever else I choose to do to my veggies. Some of them go into freezer bags with the other fixings for crock pot dinners (I love doing this). This step usually goes quickly and as the vegetables finish, I place them directly in the containers. By the way, now is usually the time I realize my kitchen is filling with smoke and I find scorched veggies in the oven so you should probably check on that now.

Once the vegetables are finished, I fire up the grill. When it’s heated, I place my chicken, burgers, corn on the cob (if I have any for the week) squash, or anything else I’ve decided to grill. While the food on the grill cooks, I finish the smaller tasks, boiling eggs, putting salsas together and in jars and so on. Those are quick tasks that can be done in 5 minute intervals in between checking the grill.

I highly recommend finding a trustworthy friend to watch the grill as you work inside, here’s mine. He does great.

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Now that your grilled food is done, you can finalize your meals and containers. Fill them with the desired meats and let it cool before putting it in the fridge.

You’ll probably look around and see a few small tasks that haven’t been finished, salads can have toppings added in such as cranberries, pecans or walnuts and smoothie bags can be compiled with the remaining sliced fruits. Now you’ll begin putting all of your hard work away. I like to put mine in the fridge in order by day. All of Monday’s foods together, all of Tuesday’s, and so on. However my kids usually have it mixed up before bed on meal prep night so I just do my best to keep it organized.

There you have it… like I said, your process will vary and I know this leaves a lot of room for questions, it’s something that takes practice, organization, consistency and work. But it is so worth it at the end of the day! If you have any questions, hop on over to my facebook page and private message me or post right to the wall, chances are other people have similar questions.

I hope this post helps clarify some of the questions people have had and that it gives a starting point when it comes to meal prep. No go break out the Tupperware and get cooking!

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Shine on,

Becca M

Finding Time vs. Making Time (And why finding time doesn’t work)

“Must be nice” I hear her say. She is referring to the fact that the woman clad in workout pants and a tank top is telling her friend about her workout. “I just don’t have the time for that.” What she doesn’t know is that the woman she is referring to has 3 children, a job, volunteers a fair amount of time to a non-profit organization, and cooks 3 meals a day for her family. I know she does those things because it is me. I also have a good friend who carves time out of her work day during her lunch break to get the gym. Another who rides a bike to work to complete her cardio for the day and someone who actually has alarms stored in their phone at specific intervals throughout the day reminding them to get up and do a 5 minute workout 8 times a day. That’s 40 minutes every day.

Lack of time is one of the most common reasons people give for being unable to accommodate a workout plan in their schedule. They say they cannot find the time, when in reality, you won’t ever find it. You must MAKE it. We live in a society that glorifies a busy lifestyle. The more we do, the higher the status. This means that in addition to not making time to exercise, we’re also more stressed and tired. A number of us suffer from malnutrition that comes along with the lack of time that leads to fast food meal options that are on every corner. By the time we find 9 or 10 pm, the day has been wasted and we are disappointed in not having made any advancement towards our health goals. It’s exhausting and unhealthy.

This is where a very important term comes into play. Listen closely…

Healthy Lifestyle.

A healthy lifestyle eliminates the need to find time, because it integrates healthy choices and elements into your life and schedule so they are not only unavoidable, but convenient.

Yes, convenient! We can all use that.

Here is your first assignment. Get a couple of sheets of paper and a pencil, as well as any current calendar you might already have started. You can also use a pre-printed page like this one.

Begin by writing down the left margin, the time of day on the hour. You’ll want to leave a little space between each time and may need a few sheets. When done properly and in detail, you should have 2-3 sheets. Give it time, it doesn’t have to be that detailed right away. Also, personally, I have separate pages for different days.

Start with the time you wake up, realizing that even that may be subject to change.

Then fill in the time you go to bed, again, subject to change.

Next, fill in all the things that absolutely cannot be changed. This includes items like work and getting your children to school at a specific time. Do not add items that could be changed, you just don’t want to (Hair or nail appointments). Add in lunch breaks and other openings in your schedule and if possible, condense them together to make bigger openings in your time.

Now begin assessing the items you need to add in by importance and place them in the most logical spot. Be selective. Take things like logistics and commute into account when planning. If you’re going to need to change, take that time into account. When you are making the transition to a healthier lifestyle, there are some new things you may not be accustomed to doing throughout your day.

You will want to allow time for meal prep (if you choose to do this on a large scale, set aside a couple of hours one day. Otherwise, just enough time to prep your meals for the following day). Include however much time, however many times a week you’ll need it.

Obviously, you’ll want to put your workout in the schedule. EVEN IF YOU WORKOUT FROM HOME, WHICH CAN BE JUST AS EFFECTIVE, SCHEDULE IT. This is key. Treat it like your job, you may not cancel. I will go into detail in a later post on how to plan your workouts in advance but getting in the habit of completing them is the first step. You’ll also want to set aside a little time to prepare your gym bag each evening, commute time to and from the gym and so on. You can save time by going between work and home or directly after taking children to school. The more times you leave home and go back again, the more time you’ll waste.

Add notes throughout your schedule to remind yourself to keep up your water intake. This is one useful method.

water bottles

Here are some things to remember to add in that get forgotten, but can consume a lot of time when they add up.

Shower and getting ready

Assisting kids with homework, baths, etc.

Kids’ sports

Household chores

Returning/making emails and phone calls

I like to add in 10 minutes each morning to review my calendar for the day. I usually do this while I am waiting to drop my kids off at school. I also go through the mail and pay any bills or write out checks. It takes me less than 15 minutes, we’re not doing anything but sitting there and they can also read and study their homework at the same time. This is an example of condensing time that I might be otherwise wasting to get something important accomplished.

I also HIGHLY recommend 10-20 minutes sometime in your day to disconnect. This can mean a lot of things, not necessarily the “Ohm” experience that many people envision. It simply means take time to unwind. You can lay on the couch, pray, stretch, meditate, stand on your head, soak in the tub, go for a walk, anything you can think of where you can de-stress and unwind. Try to leave the phone at home or turn it off, no TV, nothing. This practice is crucial to your mental health. You’ll find some other great ideas for unwinding on my Mental Health Pinterest board.

On that note, remember that your schedule does NOT have to have each and every moment planned out and spontaneity can be invigorating. Keeping your goals in mind and at the forefront, don’t forget to relax and enjoy life. After all, why work to become so healthy only to have no time to enjoy the life you’ve built?

There is something rather obvious, but I still want to point it out. I didn’t mention watching TV or browsing the internet. This consumes such a large part of our lives and we act as though it cannot be taken out of our daily schedule. For every TV show you watch, you could be completing a workout, prepping 3 meals, or stretching. You could be returning your daily phone calls and catching up on emails to free up time for the next day and not feel so stressed when it’s time to head to the gym. You could be completing household chores so that you can do an online workout while your toddler naps tomorrow afternoon.

Find a planner that has a format which allows you to include your entire day, especially in the beginning and do your best not to deviate. If you find something simply isn’t feasible, change. It’s what works best for YOU. Add your list into it, IN PENCIL and you are ready to go. These printables are some of the most detailed and thorough I’ve found and go easily in a 3 ring binder, or find a smaller planner that you can fit in your purse.

Be creative and selective in how you spend your time. It’s true when someone says we all have the same 24 hours. This will require some honesty and sacrifice but as you learn to develop your healthy lifestyle, you’ll find that keeping the habits intact becomes simple. You’ll find yourself with more time, more energy, improved health and less stress. If you aren’t sure where to start, or if you have questions, contact me to get on track to your healthy lifestyle.

Healthy Lifestyle: Why You Need This!

There are so many reasons that you might be reading this. Perhaps you’ve been working out for awhile and you are simply interested in what I have to say. That’s awesome! Maybe you have been instructed by a doctor to lose weight to control a health condition. Or you want to fit into some old jeans. Maybe you want to be able to keep up with your grandchildren, run again, be healthier to be efficient in your line of work or maybe you aren’t yet committed to being healthier, but you’re curious. That’s fine too.

Before I jump into articles about metabolism and resting heart rate, I want to start with a broad, all-encompassing topic. The boring stuff will come later and will probably get read much less than this.

You will hear this term almost daily: It’s Healthy Lifestyle. It’s hard to define because it is not the same for everyone, we all have different needs and goals. But I can tell you that it requires that we focus on 3 primary aspects of our lives to be well rounded and healthy. Each of these 3 items has many facets and tiers and it’s a lot to review it once, so I’ll spare you for today. It’s all things we’ll be breaking down in the coming weeks and months. But as a quick overview, here’s what you’re looking at.

Physical health should be very obvious but there is more than meets the eye here. Aerobic capacity, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, power, functionality… the list goes on. It’s the one item that, on the surface, seems simple to manage. However to properly give each of those things the time and attention they need, planning and programming is crucial. The reasons for physical health normally begin with a person wanting an altered appearance. But over time, they realize that how they FEEL is a much better indicator of health than how they LOOK. As time passes, it turns into a being healthy, not looking “skinny” or “fit”.

Nutritional health is next on our list and it is equally, if not more responsible for your health. Our society is one of the most unhealthy societies in existence. Fast food, convenience stores, frozen and boxed foods and the like have turned us into people of instant gratification, unwilling to take the time that is needed to make proper nutritional choices. The reality is that most people just don’t know HOW to make the proper choices and become overwhelmed at the idea of preparing good, whole foods. Expect to see a lot of posts on this topic, I am a meal prep fiend and am looking forward to sharing ideas with you.

Finally, Mental Health will be addressed as the final piece of the puzzle. This can mean many things to people but for today’s purposes, know that mental health is a positive, looking forward frame of mind that facilitates change rather than one that is cluttered, stressed, negative and close minded in thinking. You can anticipate posts on organization, planning and ways to de-stress after a long day as resources to use when life gets overwhelming. It’s very important that this be addressed because planning for the other two items we mentioned is difficult to do when your mental health isn’t up to par.

Life gets busy. I get that. I have three little boys who will overflow a bathroom sink while breaking dishes and tracking dirt into the living room while I am cooking the day’s meals and trying to get ready to leave for work. That’s about the time the dog gets inside and dumps out the trash can and the phone starts ringing. Been there, many times. But I have found that when all three of these things are in balance, I can handle the bad days with a much more positive frame of mind when I have a plan for my physical, nutritional and mental health. Remember that taking care of yourself is not selfish, it is essential.

I hope that you’re looking forward to making the shift towards a healthier lifestyle because it truly is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make and is much easier than you think. Begin gathering a support group of friends and family. Be prepared to plan like you’ve never planned before and go buy yourself a nice set of Tupperware. I’ve got plans for you.

Shine on,

Becca M.