As we put Christmas behind us with the relief of having some form of control over our lives we still have the last week of the year where most of us like to use “I’ll start after New Year’s” phrase. We all know after too many holiday parties followed by Christmas lunch, brunch, dessert, and leftovers the next day we need to tighten the reins and clean up our eating. The only problem is many of us aren’t ready to give up the foods that have been comforting us the past few weeks and if everyone else gets to start on New Year’s then I guess I’ll jump off a bridge too. Wait, what?? Look, you’ve already made additional holes in your belt buckle and started wearing elastic banded pants. Why wait till the first when you can get ahead of the rest by starting now?
I know it’s easier said than done, especially coming from someone who eats clean year round but I was in your shoes before and there is nothing worse than trying to restart something you fell off the wagon for and hitting the restart button. Making changes to becoming healthier and getting in better shape all take planning and preparing and I don’t expect to teach it all to you in one blog. For now let’s start with the basics and use these simple daily habits to get you going in the right direction.
Eat breakfast everyday.
Eat small meals throughout the day.
Eat a lean protein and complex carbohydrate with every meal.
Eat whole foods instead of processed food.
Drink half your body weight in ounces every day.
Prepare your meals ahead of time.
With the new year less than a week away you have to start planning for a better version of yourself and with the right nutrition and exercise plan you can look forward to a healthy New Year and fitter YOU!
I will be sharing my food diary for those that ask me what I eat most days. I prepare all my meals. When I leave the house in a hurry I go to Snap Kitchen where most of the meals are gluten free and portioned perfectly for me. For future posts I will include all foods not prepared by me and show you how easy it is to eat healthy and delicious foods when on the go or eating out with friends.
Juliana’s Food diary:
Breakfast: 1 whole egg, 2 egg whites, 2 ounces chicken breast all scrambled together with 2 TB salsa, 1 whole grapefruit
Morning snack: medium apple, 4 ounces lean fround turkey
Lunch: 5 oz grilled chicken brest (baked), 5 ounces baked sweet potatos, 1 cup steamed green beans
Afternoon snack: protein shake blended with 1 banana and 2TB almond butter, water, ice, 1 ounce trail mix
Dinner: 5 ounces fround turkey, 1/2 cup brown rice, 1/4 cup black beans, salsa, 1 cup broccoli
Poor Monday! No body ever cheered for Monday the way they do Fridays but at least you can have a fresh start. After a long over indulgent weekend it’s safe to say Mondays are a good day to start from scratch. Today I cleaned up my eating, been hydrating with my water, had a cup of detox tea, and am already feeling better. I still have to get through dinner but I have a plan and am not tempted to get off of it. We believe in fresh starts and when we decide to focus on a goal the sky is the limit, until a coworker or family member starts waving temptation in your face. This is where will power steps up and keeps you honest with your goals. You can’t let every chance to back down defeat you. Every time you say ‘no thank you’ and pass on the sweets or after work drinks your will power gets a little stronger. Think of it like a muscle. The more you flex it, the stronger it becomes. So stay strong and stick to your main goals because life likes to challenge you.
Before I say good bye to Monday here are a few tips to sticking to your clean eating habits:
1. When making your grocery list keep processed foods off. Instead of cereal add gluten free whole oats. Add fresh fruits and veggies to keep around for snacks. Start portioning your meals and making them more frequent.
2. Replace all sugary drinks with pure clean water. If you must have something different try brewing green tea and add a little honey and lemon. Or try juicing fruits and vegetables. I know it can get messy but it’s a great tasting way to try new things. Here is a juicing site to get you started.
3. Read your nutrition labels. If it has more than 3 ingredients and you can’t pronounce them, it’s a sure sign it should not go in your body.
Overall, stick to the source and stay consistent with your meals. When you plan ahead you are likely to stick to your program. Healthy eating should be a way of life and don’t worry, everything in moderation not deprivation.
Houston can be a tough city to find healthy meal choices when eating out. Here in Texas we like our southern fried foods and fatty meats and most of us have never met a potato we didn’t like! With our daily schedules, cooking at home is just not an option for a large number of busy professionals, executives, parents, and students. But if you are working toward a fitness goal, or if you have simply put healthy eating at the top of your list of priorities, then you need to know where you can go and what you can order when you can’t make your meals at home. Knowledge is power in this situation, and I hope to arm you with some of my experience and expertise on the matter.
Planning ahead…at least a LITTLE BIT
Most days you probably run out of the office and hit the road for home (or the gym!) at breakneck speed. Chances are your tummy starts rumbling while you are still sitting in traffic and you find yourself turning in to pick something up for dinner. Or perhaps it is lunchtime and you need something fast. If you have made the conscious decision to eat healthy, fast food is not on the menu. In fact, quite a few standard American choices are ruled out. So what’s a hungry guy or gal to do? The first step to a fool proof healthy eating plan is to do just as the name suggests…and PLAN. Pack your lunch and a few healthy snack options to curb your hunger. But if eating out is a major part of your routine, then you at least need to know where to go and what to order. The easiest way to do this is to know the healthy restaurants in your area (list below) or find it on HealthyDiningFinder.com or a similar site. Then, browse the menus online ahead of time. Many restaurants provide nutrition information online and in stores these days. When we have goals to accomplish it is important to stick to the plan and eat healthy even when we don’t prepare it ourselves.
This one can be tricky when eating out with co workers but if you know where you are going then you can take a sneak peak at the menu on line and plan ahead. Choose the item you will order while you are sitting at your desk. It is easier to think about and follow through with your healthy choices when you are not rushed by the people behind you or tempted by the table next to you. We live in a time when information is literally at our fingertips. Use your smartphone—most sites have mobile versions—and plan ahead. You can always call ahead as well and ask for special preparations. In fact, calling ahead and ordering your meal for pick up instead of eat in might just save you the temptation of ordering that dessert you saw. Don’t DRINK your calories. This should be a no brainer by now, remember a healthy diet does not include soda or alcohol for that matter. Many people automatically order a soda or alcoholic beverage with every restaurant meal and the calories can stack up by the hundreds. It just “goes together” in their mind and this is a thought cycle that will sabotage even the best of healthy eating plans. Choose water or unsweetened tea or coffee instead of regular soft drinks or alcoholic beverages. This will save a lot of calories. This is one more place where ordering your food to go can help you stick to your healthy choices when flying solo. You are far less likely to order a drink “to go”—it can be a pain to transport it home, and you know you have plenty of drink options in the fridge anyhow. Or better yet, water!
Whole Grains Are Your Friend
Most restaurants have a whole grain option for their pastas and sandwich breads, and brown rice in place of white. If you MUST order one of these types of starchy items, go for the whole grain varieties. The added fiber will offset some of the carby content at least to some extent. Let’s not forget our new gluten free friendly menus. More restaurants and healthy on the go places are catching on to the wheat free trend of eating.
Sauces: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
If you’re in the mood for pasta, look for tomato-based sauces rather than cream-based sauces. Tomato-based sauces are lower in fat and calories. In addition, the tomato sauce (or marinara sauce) can count as a vegetable! Another option is to ask for your pasta to be tossed in a small amount of olive oil with steamed veggies and a dash of garlic and salt. Always order sauces and salad dressings on the side. This way, you have control over how much or how little you add. When choosing a dressing, stay away from cream-based dressings like Ranch and Blue Cheese. These pack a huge punch when it comes to calories and instead choose a vinaigrette. One excellent trick is to ask for “oil and vinegar.” The waiter will bring you a little caddy of olive oil and some kind of vinegar, allowing you to control the amount of oil in the dressing you eat. Sour cream counts as a sauce too. Ask for salsa with a baked potato instead of sour cream, butter, cheese, or bacon. Salsa is very low in calories, tasty, and a healthy alternative with a lot of spice. Another tip is to ask for reduced-sodium soy sauce. Too much sodium will sabotage your healthy lifestyle in ways far too numerous to list here. Just go easy on the shaker and high sodium sauces like this one. Order sandwiches with mustard rather than mayonnaise or “special sauce.” Mustard adds flavor with virtually no calories. Other sandwich tips are to choose gluten free, whole grain bread, skip the cheese, and add vegetables as toppings. Also keep in mind that chicken salad, tuna salad, and egg salad are made with mayonnaise. These are calories that can add up and not considered the good kind.
Bread and Chips
A steaming basket of bread or fresh hot tortilla chips is sure to send your hunger bells into attack mode and innocent snacking on these while you wait for your order can result in hundreds of unhealthy calories offsetting all your hard work at the gym. Request that the waiter NOT bring these items to your table. No need to make it harder on yourself than necessary. Yet another good reason to order it all to go!
There have been studies done that show consuming a small cup of low calorie soup before every meal lowers overall caloric intake and will therefore aid in weight loss. Just be sure you choose a broth-based soup over a cream based option. Keep in mind that cream-based soups are higher in fat and calories than broth-based soups. Soup can serve as a great appetizer to a meal, or as an entree. Most soups are low in calories and will fill you up.
Salads at many restaurants have been teased and tossed and dressed within an inch of their healthy core. A small pile of iceberg lettuce loaded with grated cheese, bacon or ham, croutons, and smothered in creamy dressing can have as many calories as a cheeseburger! So be sure to ask for the dry Garden salad and dressing on the side. If you think you can’t leave them behind on the plate, request that the croutons and other toppings be left in the kitchen.
Where’s The Beef? Or Meat?
For meat dishes, look for leaner cuts such as skinless chicken breasts, turkey burgers, pork loin and beef sirloin. Select options that are flavored with spices and fresh herbs, as those items are more likely to have lower fat and sodium content. When ordering grilled fish (or vegetables,) ask that the food either be grilled without butter or oil, or prepared “light,” with little oil or butter. Do I have to tell you that anything battered or fried is out of the question?
Whenever possible order steamed or grilled vegetables rather than anything starchy. If your only choice is potatoes, choose baked or steamed rather than French fries, tots, chips or any kind of fried hash. Always ask for healthy choices, even if there are no healthy options listed. Restaurants often have veggies and fruit available for other dishes that they will be willing to prepare for you as a side dish.
Keep in mind that eating out, if at all possible, should be something you do only occasionally. Almost everything you make at home is going to be a leaner, healthier option. The hamburger you grill up at home is better than the one you can get at most restaurants when it comes to fat, additives, and other questionable ingredients. Plus no one looks at you funny if you choose to only eat half so that you can afford a french fry or three. Also, asking the waiter to box up half of your meal in the kitchen is increasingly more popular. Or you can ask for a box to be brought at the beginning of the meal and box it up before you dig in. Out of sight, out of mind! Restaurant portions are typically twice what you should have in one sitting in terms of calories and fat. If you get in the habit of only eating half of what is served, you will not only be spreading your calories out properly and avoiding over-indulgence, you will be saving money too, since you have leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch (or tonight’s dinner!)
HEALTHY EATS IN HOUSTON
The following restaurants are a few of my favorite places to eat healthy. Their menus are designed to have less fattening items and will tailor to your requests.
Snap Kitchen 3600 Kirby Dr. Houston, TX 77098 (713) 526-5700 www.snapkitchen.com
Zoe’s Kitchen 3701 S. Shepherd Drive Houston, TX 77098 (713) 522-7447 www.zoeskitchen.com
Ruggles Green 2311 W Alabama St Houston, TX 77098 (713) 533-0777 www.rugglesgreen.com
Field of Greens 2320 W Alabama St Houston, TX 77098 (713) 533-0029 www.fieldofgreenscuisine.com
Pepper Tree Veggie Cuisine Highland Village 3821 Richmond Ave Houston, TX 77027 (713) 621-9488 www.ilovepeppertree.com
My Fit Foods 5410 Kirby Drive Houston, TX 77005 713-592-9707 www.Myfitfoods.com
With all of the hype fitness has generated we are seeing more people we know take the plunge into being more active and trying to live a healthier lifestyle. More are joining cross fit gyms while others are lifting more to create the physique of their dreams. As we watch the anxious newbies build their Instagram popularity and share their recent workouts and meal plans how many of them are sticking to their goals? During this journey how many of them are seeing their goals through?
The Struggle Is Real
If you are like me, you watch your Facebook feed fill up with the latest workout craze, cleanest meal prep, and the hottest pre workout to get you blitzed for the day. Every day is someones leg day, chest day, squat challenge, burpee until you barf…you get the idea. Committing to a plan is no walk in the park. It takes planning, hard work, and dedication to truly commit to a fitness program if you want to gain real results. ‘Can’t lose those last five pounds?’ ‘Gains not coming on fast enough?’ Truth is, it’s you. You are the culprit that is keeping you from your goals. Trust me, I’ve heard it all, seen it all, and even had it happen to me before. There is no magic pill, just consistent behavior that leads to your goals.
Consistency Is Key
There’s that word again. Consistency. By definition meanssteadfastadherencetothesameprinciples,course,form,etc. You must repeat your habits to see real results. This is where the reality check comes in. I see clients start a program and are good for maybe a few weeks but then Life Happens and they begin to miss meals, workouts, eat the wrong things, etc. This knocks them off track and they stop seeing results. Maybe they start back up a week or so later but then another inconvenience steps into their world. But this time it was a harder hit than the last one and now we are starting from ground zero. I am going to say something a lot of people will not like and that’s okay because I have been nice in the past and it doesn’t get you results. Life is here every day, whether you work, go to school, work 50 plus hours a week ,travel, eat out daily with clients, always have food in your face, the kids won’t eat what I eat, I don’t have time (make effing time!!!), I am too tired, I travel, (insert crying sound effect here wah, wah, wah). Look, I know we all have whatever we have but the truth is, if you are not consistent then you won’t get real results. So stop making excuses, eat according to your goals regardless of the people around you because you are the one that puts it in your body, not anyone else, and make sure you plan to get your workout in by packing your gym bag and saying no to the friend that wants to have drinks after work. Hell, tell them to join you on the stairclimber for your version of happy hour and see how that one flies. All I am saying is stay consistent and the results will come.
Make Up Your Mind
You have to mentally prepare yourself to get into a fitness routine. For most of us it enters our mind and we decide to research the latest trends. Next we start noticing more people we know getting results in the gym or from some app they are using to follow along. Then we make our move to join a gym or start going for a run or even watch youtube videos to get into shape. Regardless of how you start your mind must be made up to do it because when we are dragged into going to workout or if its suggested and you are only going to please someone else then you have already lost the battle. Hence, the fitness reality check. Wake up people!!!
For many of us that have been competing for multiple years we have learned that post competition nutrition is an important thing to understand, especially if you do not want to torch everything you’ve worked so hard for the previous three to four months. I have seen hundreds of competitors just a couple of weeks post show and am baffled to see they gained anywhere from 5 to twenty pounds after watching them work so hard to get lean and ripped for a show. I understand after being on a restricted competition diet we want to eat everything in sight. For me, I am constantly looking at foods on Pinterest and saving recipes of foods I want to eat after my show. We want what we can’t have and we definitely miss the foods that make us feel good. Our mind loves to play tricks on us and it’s human nature to want what you can’t have and lord knows I want it all after a show. The problem is our body has been on a restricted plan for a long period of time and the moment you flood it with foods you haven’t eaten in months like dairy, high glycemic carbs, bad fats, and sugar from dessert and alcohol we put our body through an emotional roller coaster and flood it with chaos. We immediately go into carb overload and with every gram of carb comes 4 grams of water which causes us to bloat because we were depleted just days earlier. The ideal thing to do is take baby steps into regular eating. It took one time for me to learn that eating what I wanted post show was not the way to go. You would be surprised at how easy it is to lose that tight midsection and ripped body. So before you start hoarding your favorite cookies and stocking up on every flavor of bluebell there are a few things to understand.
First, for the last few months you have been eating clean and your body has been working like a machine to get you to your goals. Many of you have been eating a set number of carbs that your body has been using for energy and to fill out those hard earned gains. When you eat more carbs than the body needs it is going to take the extra carbs and store them for later use. But if you are use to eating 100-150 grams a day and eat a whole pizza, then your body is going to take the extra carbs and store as fat. Let’s not forget all the additional water that comes with the carbs, hence the post show eating bloat. I recommend easing your way into eating more. After a show your body is depleted so a good cheat post show is fine. The disaster begins when we start an eating binge that continues into the week post show.
Second, I recommend getting back on your usual eating plan and slowly start adding calories by increasing portions or adding a few foods that you’ve kept away but are still good for you like a little fruit, yogurt, and healthy grains. Don’t completely stop eating your healthy meals. Balance is everything and understanding how many macros/calories you need to maintain your weight is important when planning your meals for the day. Remember, you still need to stay on track to keep your hard earned body fit. This is a good time to talk to your nutritionist about future goals.
Finally, take what you’ve learned from your competition prep and continue to grow. Now that you understand you have to be consistent with your nutrition to get the amazing results of a bodybuilder use that to continue reaching new goals. If your next goal is to add more muscle then start a plan you will follow consistently to reach that goal. Grocery shop, meal prep, take your supplements, track your progress, and most importantly build that physique you have pictured in your mind!
You are the only person that can get you to your goals and the only person that can keep you from them. It’s up to you.
To contact Juliana for competition prep or questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
In honor of Valentine’s Day I chose a recipe for the sweet soul. Although many of you may have sugar hangovers by the time I post this I chose a recipe that called for stevia extract powder and Swerve confectioners powder. I also decided on a low carb and gluten free recipe for my kept and paleo followers. Stop rolling your eyes and trust me they are better than you think, especially because they come with a butter cream frosting and also taste like coconut 🙂 These tasty little cakes will leave your sweet tooth satisfied and asking your hubby, wife, or whomever to hide the rest. I would like to note I made two batches and a few substitutions as you will see below. Overall, the taste was perfect, texture moist, and my new go to cupcake recipe.