By Dr. Jillian Teta
Alright. You are ready to begin, or maybe you are well into, choosing the foods and exercise that are going to help you get lean, toned, and sculpted. What can one do to balance their busy lives – juggling schedules of work, relationships, kids, commitments, with a lifestyle choices that are going to work towards your fat loss and fitness goals rather than against them?
In maintaining a toned and fit physique, consistency truly is key. You may ask any and all brands of athletes, fitness professionals, and normal women just like me who want that in-shape, functional, strong, and healthy look – you MUST stay consistent, and most importantly, You MUST stay consistent with diet. This means eating clean and keeping your diet tight at least 75-85% of the time. This can sound daunting but I assure you with a little practice and commitment, and getting your mind on board, it is completely manageable.
Here are some tips I recommend, and use myself, to maintain consistency.
1. About once per week, go food shopping
Jill has just posted an awesome grocery list “Jills Top 25 Clean Eats”. Print this off, and take it with you in hand to the supermarket. Emphasize organic or hormone-free meats if possible. Get 2-3lbs of ground beef or bsion and about 8 chicken breasts or tukey tenderloin. Pick up a huge container of salad green, a huge container of spinach, and a bunch of your favorite greens: collards, kale, or chard. Grab a bunch of broccoli, or cauliflower, or asparagus, some peppers, maybe some mushrooms…you get the idea. Throw a dozen eggs in your cart and several containers of egg whites. Bring it home and let’s get cooking.
2. Prepare your food for the week after you’re done shopping
An hour spent in the kitchen preparing your food for the week so you can carry it with you will save you gobs of time later in the week when you are short on time, and prevent you from grabbing that pound cake at Starbucks because you are getting hungry, but don’t have lunch. If you do the bulk of your cooking on one day you will have to do much less cooking during the week.
Prepare your chicken breasts for the week. Think of these as the backbone of what you are eating, something you can always fall back on. You can prepare them in several different ways. You can grill them, boil/poach them, bake or roast them, or put them in a pan with some non-stick spray. You can season them with your favorite herbs and spices, just avoid the salt.
You can make some patties with the bison, and keep the rest ground for dinners later in the week. Season with garlic or onion powder, ground black pepper, dried parsley and basil.
Sautee your greens with non-stick oil spray, black and white pepper, and some minced garlic. They are done when they are a bright, dark green. Cook the whole bunch!
Steam up your broccoli/cauliflower/asparagus – all of it!
Bake several sweet potatoes (3-4) in the oven.
Hard boil a dozen eggs.
3. Get some glass/pyrex containers and a small padded cooler to store and carry your food
You are going to have to store all of that prepared food in something that is easy to pull from during the week, and you are also going to want some containers to carry your lunches and snacks. This may sound like a small detail, but it most definitely took stress off of me when I purchased my containers, and did not have to scramble to wash out a used container to use for my food in the morning when I was running out the door. This is an easy way to be prepared. Having a small cooler to carry your food with you keeps all of your food in one place, can keep it warm or cool. By having your meals and snacks in there for the day, it will help you keep track of what you are eating.
4. Don’t skip your meals or snacks – eat every 3-4 hours
Jade wrote about this in an earlier post, and I am here to tell you again and again. Do not skip meals. Eat every 3-4 hours whether you are hungry or not. I can promise you in about 2 weeks of eating this way, you will be watching the clock and waiting eagerly for your next meal! We are in a society that seems to believe that starvation will help you to lose weight. The science (and our experience) tells us the opposite story. Use the foods you have prepared for the week – eat a chicken breast with half a sweet potato and some greens, stir-fry (with non-stick oil spray) some bison with broccoli and garlic, have 3-4 hard boiled egg whites with 6 asparagus spears, have an apple with 2TB peanut butter or 20 nuts. For breakfast: have an egg white omelet with spinach, 1/3 cup oats and a half cup of berries.
5. Use salads!
I love the salad, and there are a million combinations of flavors, textures, and foods to incorporate. Having a big salad with a chicken breast every day (OK, most days!!!) for lunch is easy and will help you to melt the fat off of your frame. They are also very satisfying and will keep you off of the blood-sugar rollercoaster. Salads are easy to pack and carry. Open your fridge, toss some salad greens or spinach in a container, top with your favorite fixings (pepper, cucumber, sprouts, radishes, etc) and put a chicken breast on top. Keep your dressing in a separate small container (stay tuned for a post on salad dressings…)
6. Go to bed and get up at the same time, most of the time
Maintaining a consistent sleep-wake cycle will keep your hormones running efficiently and smoothly. You will be fine-tuned, and ready for all of the wonderful hormonal signals you will be sending your body with a clean diet and appropriate exercise. Sleep is not only a physical restorative, it also helps your mind and emotions, and lets you deal with stress. Are you more or less likely to reach for that bag of potato chips when you are stressed out and tired?
7. Maintain a workout schedule for the week.
This, for me, will determine whether I work out AT ALL or not. If I don’t have plans to work out, or have it written down, or have a “workout date” with someone, I just don’t work out. Something else always comes up, or I just get lazy. However, if I sit down early in the week and schedule out what I am doing on which days, I stick to it. I am scheduling it in and that gives me no excuses.
Try to find similar patterns in your own life -what areas are tricky to maintain? If you can identify your “trouble areas”, you can take steps to correct them!
8. Ask questions if you’ve got ’em
There are so many people and resources out there to help you along the way – you’ve only have to ask!
I’d love to hear your questions and comments; e-mail me at [email protected]
Jillian Sarno ND