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Healthy Pantry Checklist

If the brain has to think too long to make decisions, it shuts down.

No joke.  This became really obvious when I was reading Donald Miller’s, “Building a Story Brand.”  When the brain feels overloaded with too many decisions it starts to burn too many calories and stops dead in its tracks.  He makes such a powerful point that the “human brain is drawn toward clarity.”

This was an ah-ha moment for me as it relates to food.  It is part of the reason that so many people fail at meal prep and healthy food decisions.  They simply have to make too many decisions to be successful. Thus, their brain begins to burn too many calories and quits.

McDonald’s is just way easier (and they know it).

For you to be successful in creating a healthy lifestyle you have to eliminate as many barriers to success as possible.  One of those barriers is creating a physical environment that breeds easy nutritional access. Specifically,  a kitchen that makes decision making simple and straightforward. One that is clean, fresh, organized, inviting and let’s just say it…pretty.

If you walked into a restaurant that was dirty, disorganized and a total disaster would you want to eat there?

Yeah…me either.  

Your kitchen is no different.  You must create an environment where you want to cook, where you can find things easily, where things stay fresh and where you feel like Gordon Ramsay every damn day.

One of the first places to start is your pantry.

To me, a healthy pantry contains items that are essential to building the foundations of not just meals but snacks.  They are high in quality, contain ingredients that are easy to read and aren’t too sugary sweet.

Overall, the pantry is a place of balance.

Together we are going to begin to create a pantry that invites you in to take control of your health, is packed with healthy go-to’s, and maintains balance in 6 easy steps.

6 easy steps to creating a healthy pantry

Here are six simple steps to creating a healthy pantry.

Step 1: Ditch the junk.

Yep, let’s clean it out and start fresh.  This way you don’t have to question dates and can eliminate any of the stuff that has been sitting there for far too long.  And if you don’t want to start from scratch then just ditch the stuff you know won’t support your goals.

I am talking about those trigger foods; foods you can’t moderate and leave you with an ugly food binge of mental guilt.  Identify which ones are the highest triggers and remove them for now until you have time to learn how to moderate.

There are times when the pantry begins to fill with too many sugary laden items and I have to go in deep and trash the treats (thank you Christmas, Halloween, and Valentines).

Step 2. Invest in long-term storage

When I mean invest, I mean don’t be afraid to buy something that will last because it is worth it.  If you do it right, this pantry project can provide you years of health and sanity. Buy storage that fits the space well and is durable to last whatever age span your family or you are.

Clear Storage is a must. It allows you to see to the inside and identify what the contents are without pulling basket after basket out.  Being able to see to what is on the inside saves wear and tear on the pantry and also saves your ears from the “MOM–what is there to eat?

Because I am a budget conscious girl, the first place I began looking for clear kitchen storage was TJ Maxx.  They have hidden treasures in their kitchen and food department and I love peeking in there frequently to see what they have in stock.

Sure enough, they had the brand of clear kitchen organizers I was exactly looking for, InterDesign.  This brand is carried at the Container Store (in case you want to go there for reference) but is almost double the cost of what I found at TJ Maxx or even from Amazon.  I purchased the various sizes on-hand and used them as a guide in size to purchase more from Amazon.

You can also check out 9 Simple Organization Tools to Declutter Any Kitchen by Lyn Mettler, of The TODAY Show who features my  very own clear storage organization tip along with other products that will help you create a kitchen environment for success.

I bought stackable containers for small items like the ones shown below. You can click HERE for the link to view them on Amazon.  I also bought larger ones for bagged items like rice, quinoa, and lentils like these from AMAZON.  The tall and skinny ones are great for layering in the pantry. You can shop for various depths and configuration to fit your pantry the best.

Wire baskets like these from AMAZON are also a great option that allows you to see inside.  Trust me, I speak from experience, you save yourself so much time and energy by seeing what is inside the bins first.

Plastic or Glass?

This highly debated topic is relevant to the pantry too.  Will you buy plastic storage, a much cheaper option, or glass?

Here is why glass may be your best option.  It stays cleaner because it is less porous, can be washed at high temperatures, and is 100% recyclable.

I use Mason jars for every storage solution I need.  Why? Because they are cheap, easy to find and for me, are really inviting.  You can order all sizes right from Amazon shipped to your house in less than 48 hours.  The pricing even beat a Hobby Lobby trip where I could use a 50% off coupon.

I use small pint Masons for spices and seasonings.  The larger quart size Mason jars are filled with flours, ground seeds and some of the items we use in larger volume.  I even use some of the half gallon sizes for things I buy in massive bulk like nuts.

If you prefer plastic or are on a budget, just make sure they are 100% BPA free.  Because these containers will be used for storage and won’t be heated at high temperatures in the microwave, the use of plastic outweighs your amazing effort to make the pantry a more healthy place to eat.

#3. Group like items

To keep focused and efficient, group like items together.  Keep nuts and seeds in the same place in jars or on a turntable so you know where to look for that item.  Over time, that location will become a habit and will create efficiency for the eye.

Place boxed items together too.  For example rice, quinoa and lentils, all dinner side items, in the same bin.  That way when you are scrambling for quick dinner options you can view all choices of similar purpose (carbohydrate) together.

This also helps when you are preparing your grocery shopping lists because you can make a quick scan of the location to see if you need to buy more.

#4. Consider what you want the focus to be

A pantry is a place for storage of items that aren’t extremely perishable.  That often leads to a mixture of whole foods like nuts and seeds but also processed items like grains and crackers.

Consider what you want the focus to be in your pantry, not just for you but for your little ones too.

Do you want those crackers to be at eye level for little people?  Or do you have jars of nuts and trail mixes that you want the focal point to be when they open the pantry door?  Think about what message you want to send when you organize the pantry and keep those items you want to be consumed most often at eye level.

Use turntables so that you and your family can have full access to what is available.  I have had so many awesome pantry foods get hidden behind something and they have gone to waste too soon.  A 2-tiered turntable like this one allows you to store jars of nuts, seeds so that you can easily give it a spin and find all the options available.  It also allows you to maximize your pantry space by stacking items and filling space upward.

Consider a grab-and-go quick snack bin like this one.  This basket is filled with quick snacks that we might need for a car ride or on the way to an event.  It’s filled with things we don’t have daily but are healthy bars like Larabars, Rx Bars, Red Bars and occasional other bars that may be a treat.

#5. Buy in Bulk when you can

The great part of making an investment in your pantry and buying proper storage is that you can begin to save money by shopping in the bulk bins at the grocery store.  You are likely to pay half of what you pay buying the packaged version because you are saving on the cost of packaging and labor according to the thepennyhoarder.com. You can buy in bulk as needed and then store in the pretty little jars you invested in.

Using Mason jars as discussed above guarantee freshness over time.

#6. Label it up

I always tell myself I will remember what is inside each jar I have.

WRONG!

Let’s just say I have made a really spicy batch of my cashew-pecan butter when I accidentally put in cayenne instead of cinnamon (totally wasn’t paying attention).

Point is, put a labeling system in place from the start so that you know what is inside each jar from the get-go.  You can use pre-printed labels, chalk, or simple dry erase markers. Labeling helps the entire family, especially beginning readers like mine.

I keep it simple and often use a dry erase marker for the tops of my mason jars.

You can buy chalkboard labels or even dry erase tape to save a bit of cash.

Don’t forget to label your jars with dates to keep track of freshness in the pantry too.  Write the date you opened it or the expiration date as listed on the product’s packaging.

Having a pantry that is organized and inviting inspires healthy habits and cooking.  You can make your pantry over on a budget and can modify any of these containers by even shopping at your local dollar store or on Amazon Prime.

Pantry Staples: How to stock a healthy, nutrient-dense pantry

Kids are home from school, backpacks are flung on the kitchen table, and within 2 minutes I usually hear the rusty squeak of the pantry door hinge.

The kids are hungry and want snacks.  

The fridge is full of healthy whole foods, but the pantry is usually where the simple quick stuff is.  They aren’t dumb…they want a snack that will satisfy that afternoon craving.

If this story sounds familiar (or you have one similar) then this confirms the importance of filling your pantry with foods that support your family’s health and wellness.

P.S.A.: What is in the pantry WILL get eaten, no matter.  Even if it is healthy or not.

As parents and spouses, we are responsible for filling the pantry with options that help keep a nutrient dense diet but also allow balance in life. That is a huge responsibility.

Sweet treats

I talk a lot about eliminating trigger foods if you don’t feel like you have high willpower at the moment.  Keep that in mind when stocking that pantry.  However, creating a healthy relationship with foods you enjoy from a young age is a really important piece of the food awareness puzzle.

When it comes to children, don’t underestimate their knowledge and understanding of the importance of food in their bodies.  Teach them what foods provide them, encourage them to reflect on how certain foods make them feel and allow them the power of choice.

I keep a small bin of “sweet treats” in the pantry because I want my children to know how to moderate their consumption of them.  We use the following food mantra in our home as an open (and simple) reminder of how we fuel our bodies:

“There are everyday foods.” (things like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean proteins).

“There are sometimes foods.” (things like a piece of chocolate, pasta, cereal, bread)

“And there are special occasion foods.” (cupcakes, ice cream, etc.)

This helps to create a simple visual and verbal reminder of what foods should be primarily composing our day-to-day diet.

Build a Foundation

There are things you can and should have on hand every single day.  These are things that serve as the foundation of meals and will make healthy living simple if you have them organized in your pantry all the time.  Beyond what you physically have in your home is teaching your children (and adults too) the power of choice when it comes to filling their body with foods.

What you fill your pantry with is what you will eat.  So chose wisely. Building a healthy pantry is a great responsibility.

Where can I buy these things?

Thrive Market

If you haven’t heard about Thrive market you are missing out! Think of Thrive as Costco meets Whole Foods all via a virtual store.  Essentially you pay an annual membership to get amazing prices on high-quality products including food, supplements, toiletries and home essentials.  The awesome part is shipping is FREE too on orders over $49!

You can shop for specific products via their online catalog, with all prices typically 25-30% below retail value.  Some of my favorite foodie products are hard to find and I don’t live near a retailer that carries them. Thrive comes in handy because I can order whatever I want and have it delivered to my doorstep. They also carry a few things that I have yet to find in my local grocer.

Thrive’s yearly membership cost is $60 (that breaks down to $5 a month) and is an awesome price point for a gift. When I got married we got a Costco membership and it was the best ever.  Thrive would have been even better! Click on the link below to start your 30-day FREE trial at Thrive and get FREE shipping.

Amazon Subscribe and Save

Amazon now offers the subscribe and save option.  You can pick your favorite items to be sent to your door automatically at a reduced price of anywhere from 10-25%.  If you know you are going to use it, this option is brainless and uber convenient.

Sprouts and Costco are my favorite local grocers for many of my pantry items.  I buy from the bulk bins at Sprouts and in bulk at Costco for some of our favorite go-to’s.

Healthy Pantry Checklist

Here is a list of must-have staples to help you build a healthy pantry.  You can download the entire list HERE.

Nuts, Nut butter, and seeds

Almonds

Cashews (If you haven’t tried my cashew-pecan butter you need to right now)

Pecans

Macadamia

Walnut

Sesame seeds

Chia seeds

Flax (seed and meal)

Hemp

Want the whole list?  Then CLICK here for a simple checklist you can take with you on your next grocery shopping trip to stock your pantry with real foods.

Refrigerator organization

I am embarrassed to admit this but there have times in my house when life has happened, the house is a disaster and I simply have no idea what is currently in the frig.  It isn’t always perfect food organization and freshness over here.  I am human too.

In fact, there have been moments where I’ve reached into the frig to grab fresh veggies only to find a two-week-old rotten zucchini that I had clearly forgotten about.  SO freakin’ gross.

Just like a well-organized pantry, your fridge is no different. In fact, it is even more gorgeous because a well-organized fridge with big, beaming lights is like a choir singing.  Okay, well maybe not, but it is an inviting space that beckons healthy eating.

Many of the same pantry tips apply to the refrigerator as well.

Use clear storage to save space

Just like the pantry, clear storage bins create a colorful invitation into the fridge.  Research suggests that when fruits and vegetables are visible their colors can increase your senses, thus we are more likely to grab them to eat. So, fill your fridge with bright enticing colors to sneak in a variety of vitamins and minerals.

After hitting the grocery store, the first thing I like to do is wash and dry veggies.  Once dry (because you don’t want to give mold any leg up) I use various size Mason jars to store them in, ready to eat.  This my friends is the number one way to increase whole food, healthy eating…have it ready.  That doesn’t mean just in the fridge but washed, cut and ready to devour.  I preach to my clients that success is about eliminating the barriers to your success.  By making vegetables and fruits readily available, there is no excuse (and no barrier).

 

Just like #2-6 above, group like items together, make the focal point the items you want to be consumed and don’t forget to label everything with dates.

Healthy Refrigerator (and Freezer) Checklist

Here is a list of items to help you begin to build a healthy, real-food kitchen.

Eggs

Egg whites

Almond Milk

Applesauce

Want the whole list?  Then CLICK here for a simple checklist you can take with you on your next grocery shopping trip to stock your refrigerator with real foods.

 

Remove the barriers to your success and create a physical environment in your kitchen that makes healthy choices and cooking a no-brainer.  These practices build sustainable habits that encourage a lifelong skillset of success.

What is your favorite healthy pantry snack?

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

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How many carbs in almonds?

Me and nut butter…it’s like the yin to my yang.  It’s incredibly addicting. So much that I make homemade cashew pecan butter every single week in my house because my family devours it. And almond butter…holy moly, we love that too.  Quite honestly, my pantry is stocked with a wide selection of nut butter.

Almond butter though takes the cake when it comes to media hype. They have plenty of properties that make them a worthy recipient. Almonds are packed with antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. A ½ cup of almonds provides ¼ the amount of recommended daily fiber intake for an adult female. So how many carbs are in almonds? Well, almonds are low in carbohydrates and boast an impressive amount of monounsaturated fat (the good kind of fat!) which can lower cholesterol, aid in the protection of our organs, and promote overall heart health.

How Many Carbs Are In Almonds? An Origin   

The almighty almond originates from the Mediterranean and southwest Asia, but since the 20th century, almond trees have largely been cultivated in Sacramento California. The almond is the seed of the hard-shelled fruit of the almond tree. Almonds are closely related to apricots and peaches.

Yes, that’s right, almonds are actually considered to be a fruit according to the United States Forest Service. They come from the prunus family and fall into the stone fruit category. Stone fruit trees and shrubs produce fruits such as cherries, plums, peaches, and nectarines.

Your friends will be impressed when you tell them almonds and cherries are cousins and happen to make a delicious trail mix (just don’t forget to add the dark chocolate nibs!).

How many carbs are in almonds? And what about fat and protein? One serving of almonds, or 1 oz, provides 14 grams of fat (9 grams of monounsaturated fat, 3.4 grams of polyunsaturated fat, and 1.1 grams of saturated fat), 6 grams of protein, and 6 grams of carbs. And as far as vitamins and minerals, almonds are rich in vitamin E, Magnesium, manganese, copper, and calcium.                   

But why do almonds have carbohydrates?

When we think nuts, we think FAT.  But most nuts contain more macronutrients within them including carbohydrate.  According to MyFitnessPal, one serving of almonds has 6 grams of carbohydrates. 2.9 grams of net carbs, and 3.1 grams of fiber. Remember, Net Carbs equal the total grams of carbs – grams of fiber. Fiber is most present in the skin of the almonds.  To make sure you are getting in all the fiber buy almonds with the skin on them in order to reap the benefits.

Almonds contain insoluble fiber which is indigestible, and is considered “nature’s broom”. Insoluble fiber aids in the motility of the digestive tract by moving materials through and adds to the bulk of stool.

This type of fiber is helpful in the diets of people who struggle with constipation or irregular bowel movements. The net carbs come from complex carbohydrates which are slow digesting and have a time releasing effect for energy usage. Complex carbohydrates don’t have the crash and burn effect like simple carbohydrates (candy, white bread, chips, etc.) do on people.

Fats

One ounce of almonds contains 9 grams of monounsaturated fat, the good type of fat, that is greatly associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Monounsaturated fat also improves insulin sensitivity and helps the body to properly utilize fat. Increasing the amount of monounsaturated fat in one’s diet will help aid in weight loss, and maintain a healthy metabolism (i.e maintain healthy body weight).

Polyunsaturated fats often referred to as omega-3 fatty acids, are also present in almonds. Polyunsaturated fats have been linked to raising HDL levels (good cholesterol) and Lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in persons at risk for heart disease. Lowering high blood pressure, and reducing the risk of type II diabetes is another added benefit from consuming foods containing polyunsaturated fat.

Protein

The media often touts almonds as a high protein source. Although this is true, the amount of protein (6 grams) in one serving of almonds is usually not sufficient enough to fulfill protein requirements for that one meal unless paired with another protein source.

Nuts are great, but can be easy to overeat, and can easily consume one’s allotted macronutrient values for the day in a hot second. Adding almonds to a grilled chicken salad, or making “chicken nuggets” with almond meal is a good way to “have your cake and eat it too”.

Magnesium

Magnesium is crucial in the functioning of over 300 chemical reactions required for proper body functioning. It is commonly used to alleviate constipation. The health benefits of Magnesium include calcium absorption, the formation of connective tissue (bye-bye wrinkles), proper metabolism of fats and carbohydrates as well as regulating blood sugar levels, and aiding in the proper functioning of thyroid levels.

Magnesium is also used by many health professionals to maintain healthy blood pressure in patients since it is a calcium- channel blocker. Brazil nuts and flaxseeds are also a good source of magnesium.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is antioxidant-rich which helps to stave off free radicals such as environmental pollutants, poor air quality, and sun damage. Many studies state that including Vitamin E also helps to suppress the oxidation or hardening of LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) in the arteries. Other evidence suggests vitamin E helps to fight against the signs of Alzheimer’s disease. One 1oz. serving of dry roasted almonds provides 6.8 mg of Vitamin E.

Manganese, Calcium, and Copper

Nuts also contain minerals that play a key role in many of the body’s processes. Manganese is an important trace mineral that is found in small amounts in the body particularly in the kidneys, pancreas, liver, and bones. Manganese aids in the formation of bone, connective tissue, blood clotting factors, and plays a major role in the metabolization of fats and carbohydrates.

Calcium is a common mineral found in the body that is necessary for life. Calcium helps to form and maintain bone and bone density. Calcium plays an important role in muscle contraction, releasing hormones, transmitting messages through the nerves, blood clotting factors, and your heartbeat. A consistent level of calcium intake can be a preventative measure for people at risk for osteoporosis. Women need to be especially concerned about their calcium intake since they are more at risk for osteoporosis than men.

Copper is an essential trace mineral in the body that helps aid in the absorption of iron, the formation of collagen, and brain functioning. Iron and copper together form red blood cells. Copper can be found in the brain, liver heart, kidneys, and skeletal muscle.

Too little or too much copper in the body can lead to brain dysfunction. Copper plays a major role in the maintenance of collagen and elastin in our skin. Maintaining collagen and elastin will help in slowing down the effects of the aging process.

In my FREE 7 Day challenge we talk about the connection between food, mood and aging!  You can join totally FREE HERE!

Pecans

Pecans are the only nut native to North America and Mexico. Pecans are another superfood that helps to reduce inflammation, prevent oxidative stress, improve brain functioning, maintain bone health, and reduce symptoms of PMS. Yet even more reason to make your own cashew pecan butter too. They have a higher fat content than any other nut.

Pecans are high in omega- 9 or oleic acid which helps to protect the nervous system and helps to control inflammation levels within the body. Pecans contain nineteen vitamins and minerals. The most important being copper, zinc, and manganese. One 1 oz serving of pecans according to a MyFitnessPal query, contains roughly 20 grams of fat (11.6 grams monounsaturated fat, 6.1 grams of polyunsaturated fat, and 1.8 grams of saturated fat), 4 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are native to Australia, but Hawaii is the largest exporter of this super delicious nut. Dip them in some dark chocolate and it is life changing. Macadamia nuts are high in flavonoids, which convert into antioxidants in the body. Macadamia nuts have a perfect one to one ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats which the standard American diet provides way too much omega- 6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3s.

Too much intake of omega-6 can lead to heart disease, atherosclerosis, and inflammation of the body. They are also high in Omega -7 in the form of palmitoleic acid which helps your body use omega- 3s properly. Without omega-7s, omega- 3s do not do their job as well. One ounce of macadamia nuts contains 204 calories, 21 grams of fat (17 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0.4 grams polyunsaturated fat, and 3.4 grams of saturated fat.)

Not all almonds are created equally

It can be hard to know if the products you are purchasing are going to be the best bang for your buck nutrition wise, especially when almonds are talked about as a superfood. According to the USDA, as of 2007, all almonds must go through a pasteurization process before being sold in stores. This is to prevent salmonella. They fumigate the almonds with propylene oxide gas that is carcinogenic and potentially gene-mutating.

Stores such as Costco have admitted to selling this type of almond in their stores. As long as the almonds are not roasted, stores are allowed to label their almonds “raw” even if they have been through this type of pasteurization process. This makes the shopping selection even more confusing to the average consumer trying to make health-conscious choices. So before you ask how many carbs are in almonds, ask if your almonds have been through this process.

Almonds have a bad side

Almonds may be a nutritional powerhouse, but they have a dark side. Many nuts contain phytic acid which inhibits the vitamins and minerals contained in the nut. This means that your body will pull out the nutrients rather than use them. It’s best to soak your almonds overnight for a minimum of 8 hours completely submerged in water.

By soaking the nuts, this will neutralize the phytic acid and enhance the enzymatic activity. Enzymatic activity helps in the digestion process and the utilization of vitamins and minerals.  The reality is though even with the presence of phytic acid, snacking on almonds provides a much greater nutrient value than a junk food counterpart.

Almond butter for weight loss

The reality is that almonds contain roughly the same macronutrient profile as other nut butter.  Eating almond butter over peanut butter because it contains more micronutrient benefits may have validity.  However, eating it for weight loss will not bring you any other benefits compared to another nut butter counterpart in the same quantities.

If you are ready to change your LIFE and start feeling amazing naked then join my FREE 7 Day Feel HERE.

A tablespoon of almond butter contains 8 grams of fat, 3 grams of carbohydrates and almost 4 protein.  This compared to a tablespoon of peanut butter also at 8 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbohydrate and 3 protein.

Almonds in recipes

Almonds are such a versatile nut and can be added to almost any meal or side dish. Eaten in moderation, almonds can provide long-lasting health benefits when paired with a healthy balanced diet.

Try throwing some almonds, bananas, and cinnamon into morning oats before a long day of work. The complex carbs from the oats and the fat from the nuts help maintain satiation well into the afternoon when you can finally sneak in your overdue lunch break.

Using sliced almonds or pecan bits atop a salad adds an awesome crunchy texture and sneaks in all the benefits of nuts as mentioned above.

When I make many spaghetti squash bakes, I sprinkle almond meal on top and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes until it gets nice and crispy.

One of my favorite treat recipes of all time is an almond flour-based chocolate chip cookie. You can find it here.  Although these cookies are macronutrient dense, they have whole, real food ingredients and are so dang good.  You can bake them and even freeze to help portion out and get a nice treat.

 

What are your favorite almond based recipes? Feel free to share below.

If you are ready to change your LIFE and start feeling amazing naked then join my FREE 7 Day Feel HERE.

Work hard Be kind,

                  AWalk

 

 

 

 

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5 Tips To Create Food Awareness

It’s dinner time, you’re driving home from work, and you are starving.

Like, HANGRY.

It’s Monday, so naturally, you’ve told yourself today is the day that you’re getting your life together and going to start changing habits and living a healthier lifestyle.

You decide to grab a quick healthy meal from your favorite restaurant or fast food joint, and as you scan the menu, you realize that you aren’t really sure what’s healthy. You decide on the salad because “Duh, salad is healthy”. When it arrives, it’s loaded with hard boiled eggs, nuts, bacon, dressing, chicken, and so much more. All of a sudden, what was supposed to be a healthy meal has turned into a 1,000 calories meal in the blink of an eye.

What you are lacking is real, long-term food awareness.

What is Food Awareness?

Food awareness is at the heart of long-term nutritional success.  My definition of food awareness is having knowledge and understanding of what food is made up of and what purpose it serves for the body so you can make food decisions that support your goals.

Sound complicated?

Increasing food awareness gives you the ability to answer the following questions:

What’s in the food?

What does that food do for you?

Whatis the food made of?

The more knowledge you have about the foods you eat, the more powerful your choices can be.  In turn, you can make better decisions on the foods you select to fuel your body. It takes time to invest in the understanding of food awareness, but it’s so worth it! It’s really the “secret sauce” behind my one-on-one work with clients.

You can read more about their success stories to building a lasting relationship with food here.

 

You don’t know what you don’t know

I learned a simple quote from my husband that is so applicable to food. He is a police officer who is frequently thrown into unique situations that bring about new learning.

He shared a quote with me they use in his unit often:

“You don’t know what you don’t know.”  

It is so relevant food too. How can you really understand all the excess ingredients and calories stuffed into foods if you don’t have a baseline level of knowledge to go from? How do you know what you’re putting into your body if you don’t know how your current eating habits are or what a nutrition label is?

I want to help you improve your food awareness by helping you practice a few simple steps that will help you gain knowledge and thus, increase your ability to make good choices. I’m going to share with you 5 easy tips that you can start implementing to increase your food awareness.

5 Tips To Create Food Awareness

Here are 5 tips to improve your food awareness.

1. Evaluate Your Current Eating Habits

To become food ware, you must first learn what you’re eating RIGHT NOW. There are so many different ways that you can evaluate your current eating habits.

A food journal like this one is a simple place to start.  You can list the foods you eat each day and then ask yourself a few questions, like:

  • How do I feel after I eat these foods?
  • Did I eat mostly whole foods, or processed foods?
  • Did I crave certain foods, or crave foods more than I normally do?

We all need to know where we are starting from, so we can gauge where we are going. By starting small, like writing in a food journal, we can understand what we are doing now so we can look back and see how the foods we eat impact us.

If you want to take it up a level, use an app! My favorite food app is My Fitness Pal. In the beginning, don’t worry about the numbers, just use it as a diary and record your foods. You can even make notes and comments in the app

This is really valuable information to have. As you begin to get more advanced you can then begin to look more specifically at the macronutrient values of food, including fiber and lots of other valuable info about the foods you are taking in.

2. Invest In Understanding Nutrition Labels

If you want to increase your food awareness, take the time to read and understand nutrition labels. When you go to the store, pick up the foods, and actually read the labels!  First things first, read the ingredients. If you struggle to pronounce the ingredient list, it’s a great red flag to reevaluate. That’s just too much “stuff” that’s not a necessity.  A great rule of thumb when selecting pre-packaged foods is to stick with something that has roughly a maximum of 8-10 ingredients listed that you are able to pronounce out loud.  Likely the other unnecessary terms are disguised sweeteners and preservatives that don’t serve your overall health any good.

Ingredients are listed in order by weight.  The ingredient contained in the largest quantity will be listed first and the smallest last.  What does that mean to you?  If you find something like “sugar” (or another secret form of it) listed first, it is likely a product you should pass on.  Look for things like sugar and sodium to be listed last (or not at all).

Just because the ingredient list doesn’t spell out the word “SUGAR” there about 50-60 other forms of the word that could be included to sweeten the product.  Manufacturers are in the business of selling their product, so they use other forms of sweetener to mislead the average consumer.  Labels and advertising on foods is truly a very misleading market.

Next, asses serving size. Nutrition labels can be tricky, and most of the time you can’t eat the whole box as a serving size. You may read the label and realize that the box contains 8 servings of the food inside, increasing the macronutrient ten-fold.

Next, begin to familiarize yourself with macronutrients. How many carbs, protein, and fat does each serving size have? How much fiber? You can download my FREE Macro Basics guide HERE to understand more about what macronutrients are and why they are important to you.

At the end of the day, real food doesn’t have nutritional labels.  The awesome part is there are resources to better understand their values too.  MyFitnessPal has a huge database of food so you can learn what really is in an egg, cup of strawberries, or any of your favorite whole foods.  I also love Calorie King as a means of researching foods and also as a guide to what is in some of your favorites foods when dining out.

3. Get To Know Portion Sizes and Food Value

Portion control is a major step toward food awareness.  When dining out, we are served HUGE portion sizes, and it’s so much more on our plates than we really need.

A basic step in portion control is learning use to use your hands as a guide.  To create a balanced plate, add a:

  • A handful of lean protein
  • A handful of carbs
  • Two handfuls of vegetables ( and maybe a bit of fruit)
  • A thumb full of healthy fat

No complicated measuring or tracking initially, just food awareness when it comes to portion sizing. You carry your hands with you everywhere you go and using them as measurements give you a nudge in the direction of what you a true portion should look like. You’ll come to realize that maybe you weren’t eating enough, or maybe overeating at each meal.

It’s also important to familiarize yourself with texture and the purpose of foods. Foods that share similarities often fall into the same macronutrient category.  Think about fruit, like bananas and apples, and how they share the characteristic of sweet. Things that taste sweet tend to be high in carbohydrates.

Nuts and seeds leave an oily feeling in the mouth and leave you well satiated.  They all belong to the same macronutrient category of fat. If you aren’t sure which foods fall into which macronutrient category, check out this link to my free real food list that helps you see the categories of macronutrients that foods fall into to help you select portions for your meals.

Download my FREE list of real food macronutrient ideas HERE

Learn the Value of Food

Quick and convenient foods often provide a calorie dense, but a nutrient-poor option.  When we measure up fast-food options or pre-packaged options against real food, they often leave little to be desired.

Take a look at the picture below.  One meal is a fast-food restaurant’s chicken nugget meal (4 nuggets and small french fry) compared to my homemade version of chicken nuggets, curly sweet potato fries, and cauliflower “wings”.  Both contain the same calorie content.  However, there is clearly much more bang for your buck when you chose the real-food option.

Although these foods contain the same calorie content, their macronutrient profiles are different.  The fast-food meal has nearly 25 grams of fat and only 6 grams of protein.  My homemade meal has nearly 40 grams of protein and only 8 grams of fat.

Let’s look at another example.  Below is my favorite on-the-go bar option, the Rx bar.  It contains 12 grams of protein, 25 grams of carbohydrate and 9 grams of fat.  You can see a side-by-side comparison of two other meal and snack options that contain a very similar macronutrient profile.

The point is that you must understand what your food is made of to truly understand the best option for you.  You can get a whole lot more food when we sacrifice convenience and work towards bringing in more real food options.  Ultimately, it is all about balance and understanding the reward and consequences of food selections.

You can watch and listen to my Facebook Live where I talk about food values and real food comparisons HERE.

4. Realize That The Whole = The Sum Of The Parts

The next time you go out to eat, take your burger, burrito, or whatever you get and deconstruct it. What’s inside the burrito? What’s underneath that hamburger bun? This will expose the oils the ingredients were cooked in, sauces, and things like fried onion rings hidden under the protective covering of a “bun.” Those items can really increase the caloric value of the meal.

If we deconstruct these meals, we can gain a better sense of what is truly in the food.  Ketchup, Chick fil a sauce, butter, all add up when we don’t pay attention to what is really hidden inside. Once you become aware, you can make more informed choices, like asking for steamed veggies (instead of sauteed in butter) or the sauce/dressing on the side so you can control how much is used.  In the end, knowledge is power.  When we make these choices consistently, they become a habit and that is where real change happens.

5. Evaluate Your Real Hunger

When was the last time you really listened to your body and the hunger cues it provided?

We are creatures of habit, so many of us are used to running from place to place and not paying attention to what our bodies are telling us they need. We eat fast, snack often and don’t ever truly slow down enough to listen to what our bodies need.

Take a moment to stop and really get in tune with the messages your body is sending you. These days, we aren’t listening to our hunger; eating has just become a habit for us. Before you eat, feel it out. Are you truly hungry? Maybe you’re just thirsty, or bored, or eating just because others around you are. Increasing our food awareness also means increasing trust with our bodies.

After you eat a serving of food, ask yourself “am I content?”. Are you going back for seconds because that’s what you’ve always done? Have you created a habit of feeling like you need more because you’ve eaten so fast you haven’t really let the rest of your body catch up? Take this time and listen to your body and what it’s trying to tell you. You may be surprised that you’re full after just one serving of food.

At the end of the day, food awareness is a lifelong skill that is priceless.  All it takes is you investing time and looking at your day to day life so you can make simple changes. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s really all about your mindset.  These small habits all compounded over time create a life rich in food awareness that will support your health and wellness goals.

What is one area of food awareness you struggle with?

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

,

How do I meal prep?

#meal prep. It’s a continually trending hashtag, with over seven million uses on Instagram.

Creating a plan is really the single most important piece to executing your nutritional goals.  It ranks right up there with personal accountability.

But it is freakin’ hard.  It’s hard to carve out the time and to know what the heck you actually need to buy, how much to cook, and even how to cook it all. It’s completely overwhelming.

So what do most people do?

They skip it.

But not YOU. You won’t skip out on it. Because you are here.

I am breaking down meal prep into 4 simple steps that will take away your overwhelm and will save you time. It’s devoted to helping you take away the barriers to your success and help you find simple ways to execute prep and get more whole, real foods into your day.

You do not have to do it ALL right out of the gate.  As you read, you can find what works for you and ease into the process of meal prep.  Pick the parts that work into your life and slowly add in more aspects over time. This first part is to help you start to organize your meal prep.

If you are ready to take the next step, you can buy my Meal Prep Hero guide RIGHT NOW that will dive into these steps in more depth, walk you through a sample week of meal prep from start to finish AND give you 2 weeks worth of more ideas for planning.  BONUS: it will also provide you a grocery shopping and meal planning template.

I want all the other stuff in the Meal Prep Hero Guide!

Benefits of meal prepping

There are many great benefits to making meal prep a habit, including:

Saves a dollar, dollar bill Y’all

Yep, that’s right.  When you prep in volume you end up avoiding those last minute stops at the grocery store where you buy too many unused ingredients for one meal.  When you organize your meal prep, you can use multiple ingredients across multiple meals, thus saving you money. AND if you get great at DOUBLE PREP (which I discuss below) it saves you massive amounts of money from eating lunches out during the work week.

No excuses for not staying the course

Meal prepping takes away temptation and puts the resources you need to be successful right at your fingertips.  Ready meals and snacks help you stay the course and eliminates massive barriers between you and your success.

Less snacking

When well balanced meals are ready, you will be eating foods that are more satiating. Greater satiation means that you will have less desire to snack and will likely eliminate the temptations to reach for something that doesn’t support your goals.  Balanced meals help regulate blood sugar levels which helps maintain long-term health and hunger regulation.

Success in your goals

Anytime you have a goal, you must have a plan of action to get there.  Part of the action plan to lose weight or improve the quality of foods you are eating must include meal prep as part of that action plan.

4 Steps To Meal Prep Success

#1: Organize Meal Prep

The first step in meal prepping is the initial organization. I’ve also found that this is the part that feels so overwhelming that so many people just stop because they don’t know where to start.

In theory, I could just offer a whole list of foods and grocery shopping lists and map out an entire plan for you. BUT that does not teach you one darn thing. It would last, but only for a bit. So instead, I am going to take you through step-by-step directions so you can be a meal prepping boss. Just like my work with clients, I want you to develop a skill set that will last you a lifetime. So here’s how to organize your meal prep.

Sync your schedule

Look at your week and think about what is going on. If you are married or have children, include their schedules too. This is the time to decide how many meals you will be having at home.

I have a family of four and we usually plan for 5 meals for the week, 1 night of leftovers and 1 meal out as a family (we really look forward to this one). Five meals are totally manageable and a 6th night for leftovers makes sure you let nothing go to waste.

What will you prep?

This is the fun, creative part of the organization and planning process.  This is also the part where you get bored over time.

The most basic way to pick what you will prep is opting for the “PICK 3 COMBO” (covered below).  This oversimplifies the planning and also helps guide you in the direction of real, whole foods.

Keep it Simple

One of the biggest failures, when you start to organize your meal prep (aside from not making it a priority), is making it too complicated. You don’t have to make gourmet meals. You just need to batch cook a few choices of lean proteins, a selection of vegetables and starches. Each can be recycled using spices and seasonings to totally change the flavor and consistency.

Pick your portions

Next, you’ll need to pick your portions. This is where you think about how you plan to use each meal.  Will they be stand-alone dinners? Or will you become the master of meal prep and do what I call “DOUBLE PREP” so that you have lunches for the next day too.

DOUBLE PREP is the key to my sanity. Although I do some mass meal preps, my favorite form of meal prep is doubling up the portions for dinner to kill two birds with one stone and make lunch for my husband and me for the next day too.

The main goal is to have an idea of how much you will need so you have enough to organize your meal prep.

Make a grocery list

Now that you’ve got your recipes and portion sizes you can start to create a grocery shopping list.  If you organize that list by category, you also simplify the shopping process and become more efficient maneuvering through the store.

You can download a super easy to use meal planning calendar and grocery shopping list here too (because this post wouldn’t be complete without it).

Shop

Lastly, shop until you drop. BUT my number one suggestion for shopping is not to do it on an empty belly. If you are hungry at the grocery store you are likely to creep into the aisles and add things to the cart that aren’t going to support your goals.

You’ve spent all of this time planning, you want to go in with a mission and GET IT DONE.

And boom, just like that we’ve taken what could have been a super complicated process and broken it down into manageable steps. Now you can organize your meal prep with ease. Remember, start small and keep it simple. Above all, just start.

The work week comes fast and before you know it’s Friday and you haven’t spent any time preparing yourself for the week. We spent time organizing meal prep in order to get rid of the overwhelm of even starting it. Now it’s time to dig in and learn how to start executing meal prep. For me, this is the best part.

#2: Executing meal prep

Wash and Dry

Turn on your favorite Pandora station and go to work.  The first step is gathering your ingredients and washing, drying, and peeling whatever is needed. If time is really a HUGE factor, don’t be afraid to buy pre-cut vegetables to help eliminate some of the basic steps in meal prep to make the task less daunting.

Become the ultimate multi-tasker

To start executing meal prep well and become efficient, you have to become great at doing lots of things at the same time. When you begin a massive meal prep session, the first thing you need to do is begin to cook the items that will take the longest first.

If you plan to cook protein in the crockpot, put it in first so that it can cook while you cut, chop and saute. In general, proteins will take the longest followed by vegetables and carbohydrates depending on their method of preparation.

Get those proteins going and while they roast, grill, or sit in the crockpot, move onto the prep of the other items including chopping vegetables or getting your carbs ready for the oven or Instant Pot. I talk about this in much more depth in my guide that will teach you how to become a meal prep hero that you can buy HERE.

Pick 3 Combo

The most basic way to pick what you will prep is opting for the “Pick 3 combo”.  This oversimplifies the planning and also helps guide you in the direction of real, whole foods.

Click HERE to learn more about the Pick 3 combo in my meal prep guide.

Once you get the hang of it, you can add different flavors, spices and swap macronutrients to create diversity in your meals.  Chose a few proteins for the week that can be repurposed by adding new spices, seasonings or simple sauces to change up the flavor.

My favorite seasonings include Trader Joe’s Everyday seasoning, Chili Lime, Lemon Pepper and Everything But The Bagel. I am also in Love with Primal Palate’s garlic and herb seasoning, and BBQ seasoning. You can order them HERE in awesome combo packs that are so worth it.

There are also sauce choices you can add that won’t add a ton of caloric value including regular mustard, dijon mustard, Frank’s Buffalo sauce, diced pickles, or some Greek yogurt-based dips to create a creamy condiment.

Efficiency is key

Think about using the kitchen space you have efficiently. Your goal is to maximize the use of all the surfaces so you can be efficient with your time. If the crockpot is filled with protein, bust out the Instant Pot to cook rice or potatoes (or vice versa).  If you don’t have either of these kitchen gadgets (I highly recommend first getting the Instant Pot because it can do both pressure and slow cooking) then use the stove and oven simultaneously.  Saute proteins while you roast a large batch of sweet potatoes in the oven on one tray and broccoli and cauliflower on the other tray.

Efficiency will come with practice. Just like any new adventure, it takes time to master it and get a really great rhythm. What might take 3-4 hours in the first few attempts will soon only take 2 hours. 2 hours of your time executing meal prep that will lead you to an entire week of success.  It is 100% worth it.

Portion and Package

Once everything is cooked and ready, it’s time for the grand finale… the packaging. If you track your macros, then this is the time to bust out the scale and measure out each meal to guarantee accuracy and success.

If your goal is simple balanced meals and accountability with a meal prep plan, then balanced portions of good quality whole foods are what you are after.

Use your hand as a guide and aim for one handful of protein, one handful of carbohydrate and two handfuls of vegetables.

There are lots of options when it comes to meal prep containers.  You can choose plastic or glass, and base your choices on whatever your budget and material requirements are.

These plastic containers are easy to use, can be bought in bulk for lots of weekly meals, are BPA free, and dishwasher safe.

If glass is your preferences, these rock. I have also seen awesome sets at our local Costco as well.

Once each meal has a lid on it, use a dry erase marker to list the contents inside and macronutrient quantities if you need to. Don’t skip this step, especially if you plan to freeze, because you will forget what the heck you made and on what date.

Snacks

While things feel under control and are cooking away, this is also a great time to prep snacks. I use this time to chops fresh carrots, celery and cucumber to pair with my favorite Greek yogurt dips (you can find the recipes for these HERE) or hummus as a snack and also for my kiddos’ lunches. I love to store things (after they dry) in mason jars so I can see what is in the frig fast and to tempt my kids (and hubby) with healthy options.

If you are a really advanced meal prepper, you might even measure out servings of nuts, trail mixes, crackers, or fruit to have as grab and go options in your pantry or fridge.

Freeze it too

And finally, don’t forget the freezer.  It is really helpful to make a few extra meals for the freezer each time you meal prep. There is sure to be a night where you are just not prepared nor feel like cooking. These freezer meals will save your day and will help you maintain laser focused on your mission to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The work week comes fast and before you know it’s Friday and you haven’t spent any time preparing yourself for the week. We spent time organizing meal prep in order to get rid of the overwhelm of even starting it. Now it’s time to dig in and learn how to start executing meal prep. For me, this is the best part.

Ready to dive into meal prep from start to finish?  Grab my guide to becoming the hero of your own meal prep HERE.

 

#3 Add variety

Now you just need ideas.

And who has time for being creative??

Diversity breeds sustainability. I teach my clients that all the time. If you eat the same stuff day in and day out then you are likely to get bored. You need to make time for ideas that don’t have to be complicated.

If you stick with my PICK 3 COMBO to simplify meal prep, then you can do a few simple things to increase variety in your meal prep. And super bonus…stick with it until the end of the post for 5 resources for even more ideas.  If you are ready to start now, you can grab my guide to becoming a meal prep hero which will give you exact meal ideas and walk you through how to execute your own meal prep from start to finish.

 Seasonings

Bust open that spice cabinet and use your favorite seasonings.  They change the flavor of your food completely and can turn your crockpot chicken into Asian wraps, chili lime taco salads, or BBQ chicken pizza.

When meal prepping in batches, make the initially cooked meals simple in flavors with some salt, pepper and garlic.  This will leave room for increasing diversity variety in your meal prep during the week.

Here are a few of my favorite seasonings to keep on hand:

  • Primal Palate Seasonings (these are pricey but the best I’ve used and I love the Meat and Potatoes blend and simple Garlic and Herb blend as well)
  • Trader Joe’s Chili Lime
  • Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel
  • Trader Joe’s’ Everyday Seasoning
  • Maldon Sea Salt Flakes (so good in my skinny version of guacamole)

Add condiments

Another simple way to change the flavor of your food is to add condiments such as sauces and salsas.  The only tip I have here is to be aware of the contents and make sure you aren’t adding a massive amount of calories through condiments.

A few of my favorite condiments include:

  • Mustard
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Franks Red Hot (mix this with Dijon and holy yummy)
  • Greek Yogurt (you can add this with seasonings to make a dip like this one)
  • Salsa

Swap the starch

To increase variety in your meal prep, simply swap the starch you typically pair with your protein and vegetables.

Usually have rice with lemon pepper chicken?

Swap it for roasted sweet potatoes.

Usually have sweet potatoes with sloppy joes?  

Swap them out for some quinoa.

No over complication, just simple no hassle meal prep.

 

Have protein variety

Get out of your comfort zone and try something new.  Meal prep does not need to consist of chicken every week. Try new proteins along the way to add flavor and texture variety. In addition, the diversity of protein allows for lots of micronutrient benefits as well. For a complete list of lean proteins, click HERE.

Change the way it was cooked

Lastly, swap your prep strategy.  If the weather permits, forgo the oven and grill everything.  There is something about meals from the grill that make me feel like summer and a La Croix with a splash of lime.

Or bust out your sheet pans, use a light spray of olive or coconut oil and a few simple seasonings to roast a whole bunch of potatoes and veggies to batch prep.  Oven roasting is great because you can allow things to cook while you master multitasking doing other things to get ready for your week. Changing up the cooking method adds flavor and diversity throughout the week. I cover which cooking methods are actually best for meal prep and how long you can store food in my Guide to Becoming a Meal Prep Hero HERE-

Top 4 Resources for meal ideas

You stuck around to the end (or skipped here). Either way, I don’t care because I just want you to be a meal prep master. Here are my top resources for meal prep ideas that will give you simple recipes that you can turn into weekly go-to’s.  Some recipes may be too complicated because remember that part of the success of meal prepping comes from keeping it simple. However, they may inspire ideas, flavors and combinations you would have otherwise passed over.

  1. Skinnytaste
  2. Detoxinista
  3. Paleomg
  4. My Pinterest (shameless plug) because I add yummy ideas all the time

#4 Simplify with meal pre must-haves

No meal prep post would be complete without a guide to my favorite tools and supplies that make meal prepping easy. Your budget and lifestyle will dictate the need for each of these.  What I do know is that each of these meal prep must haves offers something unique to the meal prepping process that may become the magic of your meal prep success.

Instant Pot

I am a raging Instant Pot fan because once I tried it…I never looked back. I still use my crockpot but I love having this on hand so that if I don’t plan ahead, I can still get dinner on the table quick. It can pressure cook and slow cook and it makes that most amazing hard boiled eggs.

If you could buy just one kitchen gadget, this would be my suggestion because it has so many features and is an all-in-one kitchen appliance. This is the ultimate tool on my meal prep must-haves list, and I’d be lost without it.

Crockpot

This was my first kitchen appliance and first cooking love. I still use mine often. It is a great purchase for a newbie in the kitchen because the buttons are simple and its use is straightforward. Throw in a protein or other ingredients, add some liquid and let it cook for 6-8 hours. It’s foolproof most of the time.

Air Fryer

I am not gonna lie.  I was extremely reluctant to try the Air Fryer because I didn’t need one more thing. However, this little handy gadget can come through with that lightly fried finish that some foods just need without the mess of oil or the macronutrient fat bomb!  You can put in so many yummy food options for a solid golden finish. This should be on your meal prep must-haves list if you like crispy food without all the extra oil or greasiness.

You can buy the Air Fryer in multiple sizes to accommodate more food.  My opinion is to go big, especially if you are feeding a family so you don’t have to do multiple batches for one meal.

Some of my favorite things to put in the Air Fryer are kale chips, sweet potato fries and chicken.

Glass Storage Containers

An eco-friendly form of meal prep storage can happen in the glass containers.  They lock tight and the super bonus is you can reheat your food right in them. Plus, they’re easy to use.

Plastic Storage Containers

If glass containers are too bulky or unreasonable for your commute, you can opt for a more simple option.  These plastic containers are more cost-effective, stack nicely in the refrigerator and are super simple to pack for work or school.

Reusable Sandwich Bags

These are my jam! You can put dry and wet ingredients in them and reuse them for your snacks weekly. The initial investment saves you lots of money in the long run because you don’t have to buy throw away Ziplocs anymore. Like, ever. And they are easy to clean too.

Lunch bag

If you are on the go and work has you living out of your car, then this is a worthwhile investment.  It allows you to pack multiple meals, snacks and keep them cold all day.

Lunch Bots

I am a fan of Lunchbots products all around. I bought my first container 4 years ago when my daughter was in preschool for a safe and dishwasher friendly options. We still use it today.  I’ve purchased more along the way for my son and hubby. These are awesome for kids meal prep and if you stick them in the fridge overnight, it helps keep your food cool all day.

Dry erase markers

Who thought these would be on my meal prep must-haves list? The finishing touch of meal prep is labeling your food, quantities, and put the date you made the meal on them. No matter what type of container your food is stored in, using dry erase markers makes it easy to label and reuse.  These are a must for meal prep and are often overlooked.

Make meal prep simple and invest in things that make your life easier. Changing habits is a long-term investment so commit yourself to the process and create an environment for success…which includes meal prep must-haves.

Creating a relationship with food that lasts is about forming habits, putting in the work and investing in your health.  Long-term results do not come from fad diets that produce overnight results.  Meal planning and prepping is a skill and habit that is 100% worthwhile.

These steps are the basic framework for success but I’ve put together a whole lot more in my Meal Prep Hero Guide.  In it, I will provide you a grocery list and walk you through one week’s of meal prep from start to finish AND provide you two weeks more of meal ideas.  It also included details on safe methods of preparation and storage, a grocery shopping and meal planning template and some detailed tips not included in this post.

Ready to learn how to implement these steps?  BUY my guide to becoming the hero of your own meal prep HERE.

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWALK

 

 

What are macros?

There have been many food experiences in my life that have completely changed my perspective on food.

The first came when I had my second baby and suddenly acquired a food sensitivity to gluten postpartum.  It literally rocked my world and led me on my gluten free journey (which I’ve ended up being quite grateful for).

The second experience stemmed from when I immersed myself in the Paleo lifestyle because it seemed to be the easiest way to become gluten-free.  Instead of really understanding the values of food, it was easiest for me to pick between a Yes and No list of foods without any limitations in daily intake or quantity.  Although my body felt better and this food experience greatly improved my understanding of what real, whole foods were, it left me heavier on the scale, exhausted after WODs (workout of the day) and in desperate need of afternoon naps.

It wasn’t until I discovered macronutrient tracking that I truly brought all the pieces together in my own food awareness to dive deep into food values and understanding.  Each of these experiences shaped my knowledge of food, my understanding of what my body needs and how it best performs.

Tracking my macronutrient intake has been the biggest shift of all of these experiences as a person, as a coach and as a mom in desperate need of-of gaining her confidence back. I am frequently asked “What are macros?”  so this post seeks to bring it all together in one comprehensive guide.  If you want to download it now you can click HERE to skip ahead and have it nice and handy.

This guide is divided into the following parts so feel free to click below to jump ahead to the part you want.

What are macros?

Calculating your TDEE

Calculating your target macros

Tips to getting started

 

What Are Macros?

So what are macros? Macro Tracking, also known as flexible eating, is a scientific approach to using a target system to record your macronutrient intake to maximize your nutrition goals. Macronutrients or macros for short are the body’s building blocks including carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

By consuming specific ratios of macronutrients, your body can maximize metabolic capacity to hit your nutritional goals including fat loss, muscle gain, performance gains or day to day energy increases.  (Click HERE to get right to the steps that will help you calculate your macro ratios.)

Flexible eating is personal. Each person’s body runs on a unique set of macros that are determined by current intake, nutritional goals, age, and gender.

The beauty (and in all honesty, the sometimes demise) lies in the lack of a required food list.  You are in control of what foods you take in and are forced to learn how to live around food, understand portion control and navigate life around the foods you love.

In the macro tracking world, so much slang has come from the approach like:

“Macro tracker”

“What are the macros on that?”

“Dial in your macros”

“Adjust your macros”

 

They all lead back to one thing…learning how to increase food awareness.

What Are Macros: The Reality

The reality though is that tracking your intake is so much more than just food budgeting (and my client success stories will attest to that).  The knowledge acquired through the process empowers you to find freedom in food, say “buh-bye” to food guilt and often banish a life of yo-yo dieting.

What Are Macros: The Scientific Basics   

So what are macros when it comes to science? Food is made from macronutrients and micronutrients. You get your “macros” from the food you eat.  Everybody eats “macros.”

Macronutrients are molecules our bodies require in large amounts to create energy, grow and develop. They come in the form of protein, carbohydrates and fat, each of which provides its own unique function within the body.               Micronutrients are chemicals or substances our bodies require in trace amounts to also grow and develop. Examples include vitamins and minerals such as potassium, calcium and iron and vitamins A, D and E to name a few.

Both macronutrients and micronutrients come from the food we take into our bodies. We must supply our bodies with nutrient dense sources to make sure we are getting enough of both macro and micronutrients.

Energy In Macronutrients   

Each macronutrient has a value of energy it provides when consumed

Protein: 4 kcal/gram

Carbohydrates: 4 Kcal/gram

Fat: 9 Kcal/gram

 

That means if a food item has …

20 grams of protein= 80 Kcal

35 grams of carbohydrates= 140 Kcals

8 grams of fat= 72 Kcals

The total value of 292 Kcal of energy is provided for that serving between all three macronutrients.

Not only are their energy values different, so are their purpose within the body. Each macronutrient plays a unique role within the body and is thus required in differing amounts depending on an individual’s needs.

 

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the body’s main energy currency. We take in carbohydrates and convert them into energy for growth, development and daily tasks in the form of glucose.  We also store glucose in the form of glycogen for the body as a storage energy reservoir.  I liken it to a big ol’ diesel truck that has dual gas tanks.  When the first runs out, glucose, the second tank kicks in as back up, glycogen.

The amount of carbohydrate necessary in the diet is dependent upon each individuals activity level, body type, metabolism, and DNA.  It is also a massively hot topic in the nutrition world because of the plethora of anti-carb and pro-carb research that exists.

Carbohydrates come in 2 forms, simple and complex.  Simple carbs are those that are rapidly digested and can be used by the body as energy quickly.  Examples are things like sugar, syrups, baked goods, cereals, and candy.  Its counterpart is the complex carb, which is broken down by the body at a slower rate for energy, typically because it has higher fiber content.  Examples include sweet potatoes, brown rice, legumes, dairy, whole grain pasta and bread, most fruits and vegetables.  If you would like a super handy real food list to hang on your fridge as a reminder of what foods fall into which macronutrient category you can download it HERE.

The Glycemic Index is a scale used to show us how quickly certain carbohydrates are converted to glucose and are released into the bloodstream.  The more glucose that reaches the bloodstream the higher the GI and the opposite being Low GI foods.  Check out this link for a list of foods and their GI:

Generally speaking, complex carbs are where the majority of your intake should be.

Why?

They are digested at a slower rate and thus help to maintain blood sugar levels. They are also more filling because their fiber content is higher and tend to carry more micronutrient density.

 

Fats

Fat provides cushion and protection to the body and at a cellular level. Fats are also crucial to hormone regulation and absorption of micronutrients.

Fats come in two forms: saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fat, often deemed the “bad” fat, has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Examples of unsaturated fat includes fat from animal products, dairy, butter and coconut (coconut oil).  Unsaturated fat is often labeled as the “good”fat as it can reduce cholesterol levels when replacing saturated fat in the diet.  Samples of unsaturated fats include nuts, seeds and avocado.

 

Protein

Protein is used to build muscle…we all know that.  It is also crucial in the creation of enzymes, regulating immune building as well as support hair, skin and nail growth. When the body is made up of a greater amount of lean protein, metabolic rate is higher and thus improves fat loss.    Foods that are rich in protein include chicken, fish, turkey, dairy and beans.

But how much protein do you really need to consume to achieve your goal? That largely depends on your current weight, eating habits, activity level and goals.

The first place to begin is to establish your protein intake based on your current weight. From there, the amount of carbohydrates and fats you take in is loosely based on goals and food preferences.

Where Do I Start?

This is the juicy part.  The “how-to” create your targets is widely sought after in order to determine the magic numbers that will lead you to success.

Spoiler Alert: there are a whole lot of ways to determine macro targets that will bring you success.

Yes..it’s true. The bottom line in any nutritional goal is setting your intake so that it supports your goal.  Your macro ratios should be created based on the energy requirements of your goals. No matter what a fad diet/gimmick may advertise, the only way weight loss happens is when a caloric deficit is created.  I love this article by Precision Nutrition that breaks down the concept of energy expenditure so well.

Determine your TDEE

You must first understand what your overall calorie needs are by establishing your TDEE or total daily energy expenditure.  All that means is how many calories you burn each day in all of your activities including exercise and rest. TDEE is a very dynamic number as your metabolic rate shifts each day depending on how active you are.  The goal is to target in on it the best you can with the knowledge you have.

Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is how much energy our body uses while at rest.  In other words, these are the calories your body needs for basic survival tasks like breathing, the beating of your heart, digestion and brain function.

 

To calculate use the following equation (called the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation):

Males: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) + 5= kcal/day

Females: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161= kcal/day

 

Determine your level of activity

Part of your TDEE is your level of activity or fitness.  You do not have to work out 6 times a week to lose weight.  However, being physically active has a host of health benefits including increased energy expenditure that may help you accomplish your goal a bit faster.

Select which multiplier fits your activity level:

Sedentary (1.2): Sits most of the day, walks around for household chores and work tasks

Light (1.35): Walks or moves the body 1-2 times per week

Moderate(1.5): Exercises 3-4 times per week at a moderate intensity and live an active lifestyle

Highly active (1.75): Trains 5-6 times per week at a high intensity with an active lifestyle

Elite athlete (1.9): Trains 5-6 days a week with multiple training sessions

Determine total TDEE

Once you determine your activity multiplier, you can establish your total daily energy expenditure:

TDEE= BMR x activity multiplier

 

Let’s look at an example:

Brooke is a 200 (90 kg) pound female, is 37 years old and 5’2” tall (158 cm).  She does Crossfit 3x a week and yoga once per week and has a job where she moves around a decent amount. She also has a weight loss goal.

 

Her BMR will look like this:

Females: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161= kcal/day

(10 x 200) + (6.25 x 158) – (5 x 37) – 161=

990 + 987.5 – 185 -161=1631.5

 

This means that she needs 1631.6 kcal/day for her basic metabolic functions not including activity.

We then take her BMR and multiply it by the activity multiple that fits her fitness frequency, 1.5.

1631.5 x 1.5=2445 kcal

 

That means that to maintain her current weight, 2445 calories will support that.  But wait — she doesn’t want to maintain, she wants to lose. To do that she must create a calorie deficit each day to achieve her goal.  By reducing her intake 500 calories to 1945, she would see roughly one pound of loss per week initially.  Of course, this is all on paper equations that don’t take in account the many variables of weight loss.

If a person had the strength or composition goals to put on muscle, then creating a calorie surplus would be the goal.  After calculating TDEE that person would need to consume over their TDEE to achieve weight gain.

                       

Establishing macronutrient targets

Once you have a rough estimate of your TDEE, you can bring to zone in on the ratios of macronutrients you need to accomplish your goal.

The first place to start: protein.

Research supports roughly .7-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight.  This is a hug range and is dependent on your current learn mass, goals and current protein intake.

If you have a large amount of body weight to lose, use your estimated target goal weight instead of your current weight.  I’ve found that people who fall into this category are defeated by how much protein they must try to get in if their current body weight is used and give up quickly.

A sedentary to the lightly active person may consume on the lower end of the range, while a highly active person with a large amount of lean muscle mass would consume on the higher range.

Using Brooke (from above) who has a fifty-pound loss goal and is moderately active:

150 lbs x .85= 130 lb protein target (I rounded up for simplicity)

 

Carbohydrate and Fat targets

Setting the remaining portion of your targets can be done in so many different ways.  My focus as a coach is looking at what the person’s lifestyle is, what their food preferences are and their current habits when I set the remaining portions.  As I said above, the most important part is to create a calorie deficit to produce results.

For Brooke, she is a moderately active person who needs carbohydrate.

If we use her total TDEE 2773 and subtract roughly 500 calories to create a deficit, her daily target initially would be 2200 calories.  I say initially because as she loses weight that will cause the equation to shift and she will need less.

Because protein has a value of 4 kcal/gram:

130g of protein x 4    kcal/gram= 520 kcal per day will be consumed in protein

 

After protein, carbohydrate and fat targets need to be set. A great place to start is with a moderate ratio of 30% protein, with a fat set in the 25-30% range for weight loss and 30-35% range for strength/performance gains with a remaining percentage going towards carbohydrates.

Coming back to Brooke who has a fat loss goal, let’s set her fat intake on the higher side for weight loss around 30%.

 

1945 x .30= 583

Because one gram of fat is 9 kcal/gram, Brooke would start by consuming

583kcal/9g/kcal= 65g of fat

 

Now that 520 kcal are targeted towards protein and 583kcal will be used for her fat target, that leaves 840 kcal left for carbohydrate.

840 kcal/4g/Kcal= 210g of carbohydrate as her target.

Leaving Brooke’s final targets:

Protein: 130 grams

Carbohydrate: 210 grams

Fat: 64 grams 

 

Disclaimer

Using the data collected from a person’s current eating habits gives so much insight into the potential success of the targeted numbers created from an equation. In our hypothetical setup for Brooke, so much would change if we discover Brooke was actually way under eating at around 1200 kcal per day.  She would then be a candidate for a metabolic rebuild and reverse diet.  In addition, if she was barely eating 30-40 grams of protein initially, 130 grams might seem impossible initially.  All of these variables make setting initial targets a bit more subjective than what is done with pen and paper.  These equations are merely starting points to begin your macro tracking journey.

Just like any nutritional lifestyle, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.  Some people feel better with higher fat, higher carb or lower fat or lower carb.  SO much of how the targets are set depends on your lifestyle and your current eating habits.

What’s Next?

Once you have established some baseline targets, start learning by using an app like MyFitnessPal (my favorite) to learn more about your food habits and values.

After creating an account, you will set your daily target goals. The act of trying to do this helps create food awareness and understanding what the ultimate goal is.

MyFitnessPal has a host of really cool tips and tricks that make the tracking process less tedious.  You can read about these tips HERE.

Put it in perspective

There is a general misconception that tracking your macros means you will live with your head buried in your phone for the rest of your life.  That you will be “stuck” using the MyFitnessPal app for-evaaa.

WRONG! (insert buzzard noise here)

For some who thrive on accountability, you just might.  And if that works for you I say “heck yes”.

But for others that isn’t sustainable.  What is sustainable is investing time in learning to understand macronutrient value and portion size by weighing and measuring to acquire the skills necessary to begin to eyeball the portions your body needs to maintain your goals. Day-to-day practice becomes habit and may help you eat intuitively down the road.

Why It Works

When 2 out of every 3 adults are considered to be “obese” in the U.S. then clearly there is a misunderstanding in the energy balance needs of our bodies.

There is no “magic” behind tracking macros (although many of my clients would disagree…lol). The “magic” is a scientific approach to fueling your body with the right quantity of fuel for your goals. It is creating a caloric deficit or surplus, driven by goals, and having such great food awareness that you have the power to shift in whichever direction you want and need. Beyond that, it is day-to-day consistency that yields progress.

Macro tracking is effective because there are not an “off limits” food list.  In fact, the learning curve when you begin tracking macros is HUGE because most clients realize that junk food consumes a majority of their daily macro budget if they eat it.  The more whole, real foods you consume, the more food you have to enjoy in a day.

 

Over Restriction Breeds Non-Compliance

I’ve been there.  I followed a strict Paleo approach to eating for years after I discovered I had a gluten sensitivity. There was so much value in that experience, including the knowledge I gained in food quality and awareness.

The problem was that it restricted so many foods. When I had a desperate craving for something that wasn’t on the list of approved foods I would have a non-Paleo bender of tortilla chips, hummus, ice cream and gluten-free pizza.  My caloric intake quadrupled over a weekend and then I wondered why I was constantly starting over on Monday.

Once I discovered a balanced approach to eating I found myself consuming more real-foods, heavy on micro nutrients, than ever.

What’s even more amazing is I crave those foods less because they aren’t “off-limits” and I don’t feel the pressure to deny myself.  It’s kind of like when your parents tell you that you can’t date the “bad boy” when you are a teenager.  The more they say no the more desperate you become to find the “Danny Zuko” of your school and make it official. (shameless Grease plug…I was obsessed with that movie growing up.)

You Will Have Struggles

Like any nutritional endeavor, it won’t always be puppies and unicorns. There are going to be moments you question the process and feel like you’ve hit a roadblock.

I have found that there are a few common struggles that many people encounter along the way. Let me save you time RIGHT NOW….here they are and here is how you can overcome them.

Always Have a Goal in Mind

Before beginning any nutritional journey, you must have a vision of the road ahead. To guarantee success, determine what you want out of your nutritional journey, write it down and take action towards it. Your goal must be realistic, specific and measurable.

Establishing a “why” at the start of your journey keeps you motivated and allows you to gain momentum along your journey. When my own clients begin to forget their “why”, they begin to lose focus of that ever-changing finish line. When I ask them to reassess their why, their motivation and drive returns.

Measure to Become Food Aware

Learning to track your macros is a journey to becoming food aware. It is learning to weigh and measure now so that you can acquire a skill set to help you achieve your goals in life.

Investing in a food scale and accurate measuring devices will allow you to begin to learn to eyeball accurate portion sizes. Seeing actual measurements in front of you provides a major “ah-ha” moment to your previous version of portion sizing. Although this may seem like a tedious job, I guarantee the insight and skill gained from doing so are extremely worthwhile.

Use an App

Research has proven time and time again that the number one reason a nutritional strategy is effective is due to increased accountability. Whether that accountability comes from a diary, an app, a friend or a coach, it will greatly increase your success rate.

I require all my clients to use the MyFitnessPal app to log their food and increase their awareness; the MFP app allows you to individualize your macronutrient goals. The app also offers a huge database of food for meals out and for some of your grocery store favorites to simplify the logging process.

I have stuck with the free version of the app for years and it works wonders. If you want to be able to dial in your goals, to be extremely specific and have access to bonus features, a premium version is also available for a monthly fee. As you begin to log your intake, learn to assess food values and learn what is really inside your food.

BEWARE: MFP is a huge database of both verified nutritional values and those inputted by the general public; ensure the selections you make are realistic. It is always a great idea to double check the macro values. There are also some super simple tips that I have on my blog that will help you navigate MFP with much greater ease.

Backwards Plan

The single most important tip that I share with my clients is what I call “the backwards plan.” Just like a monthly budget, you must learn to “pay” the necessities first. Similarly, learning to take a few minutes each evening to plan for the next day, starting with dinner and working up to breakfast is a huge win in the success box. Start with protein and dinner. Once the necessities have been filled, you can plug in the “fun money” options like carbs and fats.

Flying by the seat of your pants will leave you being a reactive eater. By planning ahead, you shift to proactive eating and put yourself in control of the day’s outcome. If you are craving a treat, pre-log it and plan for it in your day. If you have a social event or a dinner out, plan ahead for what you’d like to enjoy and then work backwards to assure your macros will be satisfied for the day.

Understand the impact of alcohol                                

Is alcohol a macronutrient?  

Yes…and no. It isn’t a macro necessary for survival (but darn it don’t you wish it was) but it is one that has caloric value. There are many ways to track the macronutrient value of alcohol but it all boils down to consistency.

So…whydoes not track the carbs on the label?

Labels don’t account for pure ethanol contained within the beverage, so macros on the label don’t match the calorie per serving guide.

I have my clients track alcohol as a carbohydrate by taking the total caloric value and dividing it by 4 kcal/gram.

A beer containing 100 calories (100/4) would yield 25 grams of carbs

There are other ways to track by tracking it as 7 Kcal/gram

That same beer tracked this way (100/7) would yield roughly 15 grams of carbohydrate.

 

Regardless of how you track alcohol, the biggest piece is consistency. Chose the way that works well for you and stick with it.               

Be easy on yourself

Like any new life endeavor, it takes time to adjust, learn, and get in a groove. I inform clients that around the 30-day mark they will start to really find a rhythm in planning their day.

There will be days where you hit those targets dead on and others where you fall short or go over. Go easy on yourself and learn to celebrate all the small victories along the way. Steady progress is still that…PROGRESS.

Focus on macros, not calories

Not all calories are created equal. The old notion of setting a caloric intake and eating whatever combination of foods to arrive at a particular calorie count does not account for each person’s unique macronutrient needs.

A person may eat an extremely high fat intake to satisfy a “calorie” goal, but still be deficient in protein and lack energy without any carbs. Learning to identify the combination of nutrients that fits your body, activity, lifestyle and food preference takes time and is key to achieving your nutritional goals.

When you hit your macronutrient goals, your calories will fall in line. Learning to assess the value of the food you take in begins to provide purpose in its consumption and timing.

Increase diversity

Don’t get stuck in a rut of eating the same thing day in and day out. Food boredom will likely set in and then you are likely to take a trip to your pantry for an entire package of Double Stuffed Oreos.

Variety breeds sustainability. Learn to include more in your diet to keep you motivated. When you frequently change up your food stimulus, you maintain high motivation and compliance.

Add new spices and fresh herbs, try a new lean protein for dinner this week or add in a new recipe into your weekly lineup. Doing so will break the monotony of food regularity and keep you feeling like your meal choices are fresh and new!

Seek the 90/10

Above all, seek the 90/10. The reality is that the best nutritional strategy for you is the one you can stick with. Tracking macros are effective because it allows you to find balance in your relationship with food and eliminate food guilt.

The 90/10 rule means to seek to consume 90% whole real foods each day and 10% something you love. The 10% helps you maintain the 90% and helps preserve compliance. If you love dark chocolate (like me), then plan for a bit of dark chocolate in your day so you can satisfy that craving and maintain the other 90% of your day with nutrient dense food.

 

How do you know if macro tracking is a right fit for you right now?

Tracking is right for you if:

  1. You understand the basic values of food and are ready to dive deeper
  2. You are ready to go beyond the basics of nutrition
  3. You can’t thrive off of a “food list”
  4. You have a specific goal
  5. You have time in your life to make your nutrition a priority
  6. You are DONE with yo-yo dieting and fad diets and are ready for a sustainable approach to eating

 

Tracking your macros is not a static strategy for weight loss or gain. Tracking your macros is a dynamic strategy that shifts weekly depending on the body’s response. Having a coach to communicate with regularly provides the opportunity to make the needed adjustments to push for success. Being able to dive into a more scientific dialogue with a coach provides huge value to your understanding of the body.

When you find balance in your relationship with food, there is great longevity. It takes time to learn and invest in the skills necessary to maneuver through life with food balance. Invest in learning to make your health (link to food awareness post?) a priority in a way that is sustainable and enjoyable for you.

               Work Hard Be Kind,                

AWalk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There is no perfect path: Do it anyway

There is no such thing as a perfect plan

I was recently chatting with my brother and sister-in-law about a trip to Vegas we took years ago, “PK” (that’s pre-kids for you non-parents out there).  They were recalling hysterical memories and moments of disaster and I was struggling to recall any of it.  I began to try to really tap into the memories and I felt like I had to burn way too many calories to dig deep into the memory vault to recall the trip.

I got a horrible feeling in my gut and quickly realized why those memories had been buried and tucked away.

I was pregnant on that trip, the first time ever, roughly 12 weeks.  I didn’t have the same “Vegas” experience they did. I didn’t have a drop of alcohol, didn’t get enough rest and was buried beneath a horrible gut feeling that something was wrong with the pregnancy.

After returning and a doctor’s appointment a few weeks later, my gut feeling was confirmed.  There was no heartbeat anymore.

When the doctor confirmed it, the room began to slip away, my vision blurred, my heart sank and I literally couldn’t move.  I heard my husband and the doctor talking but couldn’t make out their words, instead, it felt like white noise. To say I was devastated was an understatement.

I know you’ve felt that devastation, perhaps far greater than mine, one that strips all of your dreams away in the blink of an eye?

 

I make plans

I had a freakin’ plan for my life! I was going to get pregnant timed perfectly to have a spring baby on a teacher’s schedule (as I was a high school teacher at that time).  I was going to have a perfectly healthy baby on my schedule and on my terms.

I blamed myself. I didn’t rest enough, I didn’t eat right and I hated myself for going on a vacation with the family that left me staying up too late.  We don’t talk about this enough.  33% of women share my experience and instead of grace for ourselves, our immediate reaction is that it is our fault as women, that our bodies failed us.

This experience sent me into a downward spiral for weeks, even months.  I could barely move from the couch or go to work.  My friends an family didn’t know what to say to console me and I was drowning in the fear of never having a child of my own.  Looking back, I realize that my body did exactly what it was designed to do.  BUT when you are immersed in excitement, love, and potential, that purpose isn’t clear.

I plan and control everything in my life. This event was not the path I had imagined, it was not in my control.  I had a vision of a white picket fence, starting a family when I wanted and everything falling into place…perfectly.  I had no idea that this would happen again and again during my trials of trying to become pregnant.  My plan had fallen to pieces.

 

Control what is within your control

I had zero control of whether or not it was my time to become a mother.  Maybe you are spiritual or maybe you are still trying to discover your own spirituality (I’ll admit this is my current place), but the plan was not my own.  That became glaring.

After crawling into a deep hole, I realized what was my own, was how I could react to what was in my control.  I could choose to lead the life with anger, a lack of understanding and a desire to gain even more control.

Instead, I dug deep and with support chose to embrace the hurdles within my plan. Over time I did deep work to shift my focus to the things that mattered in the journey towards parenting.  Eating well, resting well, get financially fit, being mature enough to handle parenting and above all, preparing our marriage for what parenting would look and feel like.

Those were the things I could control.  I began to appreciate the windy path that leads me to parent because it made me want it SO much more.  I focused on my wellness both physically and mentally and zoned in on all the good things going on in my life, with trust that when the time was right, I would someday be a mom.

And guess what?

I did.

I became a mom of two awesome children, but not on the path I ever predicted.  It wasn’t easy.  In all honesty, some days I could barely function.  There were times I couldn’t be around pregnant women or new babies.  It hurt me to the core.

 

Life will always happen

How do my losses as a mother correlate to my work as a nutrition coach?  I see this same parallel every day.  I hear from clients all the time that “life happened” during the week and it derailed their focus and didn’t help them get closer to their goals or maintain their “plan.”

From my perspective, that is the perfect time to learn and grow as that is real life.  Life will always happen and that will challenge the straight path you envision to get to your goals.

There is no perfect path on your journey towards success.  We so desperately want the path to be smooth with street signs pointing perfectly to our destination.  But guess what?  It never is, because it won’t really teach us anything if that were the case.

There is deep work required to overcome the notion that life will be perfect.  The reality is: it won’t ever be perfect.  You are going to be thrown curve balls.  You can step up to the plate to hit or never show up for the game at all.  But better to strike out than to never have swung at all.  Life will always happen.

 

We learn from the practice

If I told clients exactly how long to sleep, how much water to drink, how much to train, made their food for them, did their grocery shopping, etc. …would they really progress?  Sure, they will see results but will it ever really get them to that happy long-term place they hope to maintain?

For some, maybe.  But it would teach them ZERO about food awareness, how to deal with social temptation and how to truly fuel their body for the goals they have.

The path towards healthy living will have temptation, social events, a lack of willpower, peer pressure, exhaustion or whatever challenge you can imagine.  It is how we respond to these hurdles that set us apart from the doers and those that never try to overcome.

When we can execute effective nutritional practices in our own home, it’s kind of like the practice before the big game.  It provides us a bubble to learn from to guide our understanding of food awareness.

When opportunities arise to leave that bubble, it’s game time.  It’s a chance to put into play all the practice we’ve showed up for.  It’s an opportunity to control the things you can and overcome the things you can’t.  This is part of the plan we can’t always control.  This is the part of the plan that forces you to show up and grow from the experience.

 

We grow from being pushed to the outer limits of our experience

We learn far more from experiences that test us and challenge us.  If we live life tucked into our cozy place then we never push the threshold of experience to get better.  When we are provided an opportunity to react to a situation that challenges us it gives us the experience to grow and the mental fortitude to battle through the next fight.

A plan is intended to be the framework that provides intention for success.  When we embrace the notion that the plan will be challenged, it begins to open our eyes to the possibility of learning.  It shows us that we can achieve far more than we expected.  It gives us the confidence to know that we have the power to take on any detour that might fall into our path and still come out on top.

 

There is no perfect time to start

Waiting around to “start” is a waste of time.  It creates unneeded anticipation and a false sense of success.  There is no perfect time to start whatever endeavor you are thinking of beginning; health, food, money or relationships.  Even when you think the path is clear ahead, it won’t be.  Something will be thrown on the path that will slow your progress and take you to a place you didn’t expect.

It’s designed that way for a reason.  To test your commitment, your purpose, and your goal.  Above all, it makes you reflect on how badly you want it.

Stop letting the windy road take you away from your goals.  You can’t control the unforeseen but you can control your reaction to it.  You can control your food choices when you have a last minute client dinner.  You can control what you order through a drive through after the kids’ practice runs too late.  AND you can control your day-to-day consistency and commitment to your end goal.

Getting started requires you to invest in yourself and realize you are worthy of it. That can happen at any moment of the day.

I am here to tell you and show you in many ways, that the plan is never perfect.  I’ve learned it in my quest to become a mother, as a mom and wife, as a coach and now as a business owner.  Furthermore, it’s something I work on with clients every single week.

Their stories of perseverance when their plan was nothing like they intended show their ability to grow and learn how to navigate life when it comes to you in a way you didn’t expect.

Embracing the corkscrew of life to reach your goals is what provides you a chance to grow and evolve.  Those experiences leave us with more confidence and wisdom to remind us that we are ready for more.

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

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Is a Fitbit worth it?

We are obsessed with numbers as a culture and I’m willing to admit, I’m right in there with that addiction.  I love numbers, data, dealing with the black and white and visibly seeing progress.  As a nutrition coach, I am bombarded with questions about calorie intake and expenditure and often along with it, fitness tracking devices.

Spoiler alert:  Fitness trackers don’t cause weight loss or healthier lifestyles.  That my friend is 100% in your control.

However, a fitness tracker such as a Fitbit (or another brand) can be an amazing supplement to your health goals. The bigger question remains: Is a Fitbit worth the money?

What is a Fitbit?

A physical activity tracker is a watch-like gadget that allows you to track and monitor progress in every aspect of life.  It allows you to track your calorie expenditure (how many calories you burn in a day) through regular activity and exercise.

It can also track your sleep patterns. Some devices allow you to track your heart rate, include GPS and the ability to send and receive text and phone alerts. It can also sync with and allow you to track your daily caloric intake (the food you eat).  The latter is where much of my experience lay.

How does a Fitbit work?

Throughout the day, these simple watches can monitor how many steps you take, calories you burn, heart rate and hours of sleep.  They combine an OLED (an organic light emitting diode), altimeter (that senses height change), a heart rate monitor, and lots of personal metrics to send to you a melting pot of data about your fitness (or lack thereof) for the day.

What are the pros to a tracking gadget?

Increased Accountability

Fitness trackers hold people accountable, not only to themselves but also their friends.  Often times you can join competitions and networks to help support your fitness and challenge each other to increases activity. For some people, this makes trackers like the FitBit worth the money alone.

Motivation

Immediate feedback is powerful in health and fitness. The opportunity to set small achievable targets and get a tiny little celebration from the tracking device when you achieve them is motivating.  Being able to sync the device to a program on your phone that shows you progress and milestones perpetuates continued success for many people.

We work on this big time in my FREE 7 Day Feel Amazing Naked Challenge that you can join HERE.

Increases Body Movement

I know you have them, friends, who are 100% obsessed with hitting their 10,000 step daily goal. I have a little guy at home that only wanted a kid tracker from Santa. Santa listened and even he gets stoked when his Garmin Vivofit chimes when he crushes his 8000 step goal.  This is a really awesome gift to motivate a kid to get moving and all his friends ask him about it constantly. For under $40, Santa was a genius!

The reality is that although the device increases movement, there is no guarantee that 10,000 steps will help you achieve your current health goals. With that being said, I am 100% in support of anything that helps people get their body moving more.

We have shifted into such a sedentary lifestyle that any motivation to increase overall health is a good one in my book. So buy one for Grandma who sits too long or your friend who recently moved to a desk job if it lights a fire under them to move their body. What makes Fitbit worth the money is people using it to its fullest potential, and being more active really helps.

Even the value of something so simple as walking can have a profound impact on health.  To see the value, take a look at the chart provided HERE at WellKeptBody.com that highlights the impact of walking daily based on distance traveled and body weight.

What are the cons to a Fitbit?

Accuracy

It is difficult to really know if the calories and distance on the tracker are accurate. It is difficult to include biometrics and algorithms that guarantee accuracy in data for the masses.

Not for the Elite Athlete

Most of these devices are geared for the average person.  They allow you to track activity, food, weight, sleep and some allow heart rate.  If you are an elite or highly competitive runner, it is worthwhile to seek out a more specialized tracking tool.

True Results

Although tracking devices can be awesome to increase motivation and monitor progress, real results come from putting in the work. The use of a Fitbit or other tracking tool is merely a bonus to help monitor progress and make the journey a bit more enjoyable.

Why Is FitBit Different?

Have you heard the story about the creation of Fitbit the company?  It’s pretty cool. In a nutshell, two guys with big thoughts created a product with tiny sensors that revolutionized the health industry.

What is valuable about Fitbit as a whole is that they have created a line of products that meet the needs of various fitness levels. In addition, in a review of various fitness trackers, Fitbit came out on top for accuracy.

Fitbit Products

The Fitbit Flex and Alta are baseline tracking devices that allow you monitor steps and basic sleep timing and are at a relatively low price point under $100.

A step up in the Fitbit line are the Alta HR and Charge HR which include the same features as their lower models but also allow you to get text and call notifications as well as monitor heart rate and which can be a massive benefit to fitness and health awareness. They retail for just over $100.

At the top of the Fitbit product line is the Blaze which can account for multiple fitness types but also includes GPS connection options. It has a larger screen and has a real watch-like feel and face which many prefer.

Their newest product (recently replacing the Surge), the Ionic, has all of the features of the Blaze but is the only product that also has built-in GPS, is waterproof, accepts text and phone, and stores music.  All of these features help make it a strong rival of the Apple Watch.  The Ionic retails for roughly $270 which can potentially be a great investment in your health and lifestyle if used consistently.

Syncing with a food accountability tool

I require most of my clients to use a digital food journal to increase accountability.  If you want to learn more about my favorite one and some of my secret tips, you can visit them here. The ability to sync the device with MyFitnessPal and have an all-in-one place to assess food and activity is for sure a very exciting option for those wanting to really change their lifestyle.

From a coaching perspective

Clients come to me with many questions in regards to their daily calorie burn and its relation to food.  The challenge I have with the Fitbit and other similar tools is its inability to decipher the intensity of exercise and true type of movement to determine calorie expenditure.

Beyond that, when synced with a program like MyFitnessPal, it automatically increases the daily target macros or calories to accommodate for calories expended.  If weight loss is the goal, this isn’t an accurate assessment of calorie restriction and could be misleading.

When I work with clients, I create target macros which include their current level of activity.  Therefore, I require them to shut this feature off in their MyFitnessPal account settings. Proceed with caution if you see that step goal becoming a license to eat more food if weight loss is your ultimate destination. If you are not careful, you might begin to actually see the scale tip in the opposing direction.

Need help on your quest to create a healthier you? Join our  FREE 7 Day Feel Amazing Naked Challenge HERE.

What about the Apple Watch or the Garmin?

If you are an Apple enthusiast, there is something to be said for the Apple Watch as an option. It is sleek, compatible with your iPhone and all of your awesome Apple products. But it does come at stepper price point of $320-399.

I have many clients who share with me how powerful its’ features are. From the ability to sync to a scale, the ability to stream music, and it’s zillions of other awesome features including smart coaching, it is hard to compete with at the higher price point.

Also worth mentioning is the Garmin. The basic Garmin Forerunner was actually my first ever fitness tracker. I used it years ago when I began to run and increase distance for my marathon. Although a very basic model at the time, it was crucial for better understanding my pace and being aware of my distances. The Garmin Forerunner of today has come along way and is an awesome companion for a runner who is ready to put on some miles.

Is a Fitbit Worth The Money?

So, is Fitbit worth the money? Only you know. Your greatest return on investment to your health is moving your body and being mindful of what you put into your mouth.  There is no device that can be substituted for building healthy habits and gaining food awareness.

A fitness tracker can be a really fun way to support your health journey and add the bonus motivation and accountability you will need.  And if you are going to wear a watch anyway, why not make that thing darn handy and provide you lots of bonus data to help you reflect on your overall health?

To make the Fitbit worth the money for me, my pick is the Fitbit Charge 2. I love it for the components it includes the simple design and price point for this budget conscious girl. It retails for only $119.  If you want a major smartwatch then the Apple Watch, is superior to any others on the market like it.

I’d love to hear from you, do you have a fitness tracker?

What is your favorite feature?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

 

 

 

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26 Things You Can Do Right Now to Change Your Health in 2018

change your health in 2018

26 Things You Can Do Right Now to Change Your Health in 2018

 

I was attending a kid’s birthday party not too long ago when I began small talk with another parent. It’s that forced conversation that happens often at parties with super nice people you may never again see in your life.

 

The conversation typically leads into, “What do you do?

 

When I respond with the fact that I run my own nutritional coaching business most respond with something like. “Oh man, I shouldn’t eat in front of you” or “I’ll pass on the cake today since you are here.”  This conversation was no different.

 

Here is the deal. I don’t judge (at least I try really hard not to). We are each responsible for our actions.  We are each responsible for the consequence of our food choices, both immediate and in the future. So I created a list of the top 26 things you can do right now to change your health in 2018.

A Quick Breakdown

From this discussion, I am often launched into a Q&A session of nutritional philosophies and perspective.  The reality is that there are small and powerful things you can do that can change your life.

 

But why doesn’t everybody do them?

 

Because it is freakin’ overwhelming, that’s why!

change your health 2018 pinterest

 

Where do you start?

Do I eat Carbs?

Should I exercise 2 or 7 seven times a week?

All of these things are unimportant until you target in on some fundamental things you can do that are simple to implement to begin that road to success.

 

These are things you can do RIGHT NOW to change your health because they are tiny steps that can enact long-term change.  Don’t ever think that you can bypass the small changes to get to the big ones because they are a waste of time.  Everything you do in life starts small and becomes GREAT.

 

Prepare Your Own Food

This is one of the easiest things you can do right now to change your health in 2018. Bypass the regular trip to McDonald’s a few times a week and just begin to make your own food.  Don’t stress yet about what the food is.  Take the time to make it, be proud of it and you will see that you miss out on all the hidden fat and carbohydrate sources we are exposed when people who don’t have our health in mind prepare our food.

Create Accountability

Accountability looks different to everyone.  You can create accountability by having an accountability friend, through the use of an app like MyFitnessPal or through a coach.  Creating accountability is the #1 variable of nutritional success.

Throw Away Trigger Foods (for now)

Clean out the pantry, throw away the Oreos and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and get rid of temptation…for now.  If you can’t moderate yet, then don’t leave the temptation dangling in front of you every day.  Once you gain greater food awareness you can work those things back in sparingly and you will appreciate them that much more.  You will also find that you crave them less.

Drink More Water

Water is powerful, and you need it to survive. So drink more of it.  You will feel better, move better, and you will drive cellular balance.  Aim for roughly .5 ounces per pound of body weight as a starting point. But, you can always drink more if you would like.

Eat Real Food

Taking the time to eat real and whole foods that make you and your body feel good will not only be beneficial to you, but it can really change your health in 2018.

Add 1-2 serving of vegetables into your day

If you start with this simple effort, you will begin to notice that these 1-2 servings of veggies replaces a less micronutrient dense option and helps you reduce your macronutrient intake.

Plan Ahead

Take time to think ahead about the day in front of you.  Defrost a lean protein for dinner, pack leftovers for lunch and make sure your veggies and fruits are washed, peeled and chopped so they are at your disposal.  If you don’t plan ahead you are likely to opt for convenience every time. So instead, make healthy choices convenient for planning and prepping.

Move Your Body

Go outside and move your body for 30 minutes a day 3 times a week. Not only is it great to increase caloric expenditure, but the endorphin release will make you a happier person all around and will increase energy levels. You can even start off by simply walking around your neighborhood. There is bound to be an exercise or workout that you find yourself enjoying.

 

Learn Portion Sizing

Invest in a nutritional strategy that teaches you how to understand portions.  This is a skill set that is priceless and will bring you long-term success as you work towards trying to change your health.

Eat More Protein

Adequate protein intake is an extremely important variable to nutritional success.  Work to include protein-packed snacks into your day to increase your protein intake.

Log Your Food Intake to Become More Food Aware.

A great step to help you change your health is to be aware of what you need and how much you need. The use of an App like MyFitnessPal is powerful in learning food awareness.

Get More Sleep

Sleep is often overlooked as a powerful weight loss tool.  Sleep allows the body to rest and digest and promotes healthy weight loss. You can try to change your health by just eating whole foods and exercising, but learning to change your health as a whole (and focusing on other ways to be healthy) will be beneficial in the long run.

Reduce Stress

Stress can affect even the healthiest people. Reduce yours through exercise, deep breathing and doing more things that make you happy.

Pay Attention to Hunger Cues

Eat slowly, engage in conversation, dive into the flavor and listen to the cues your body is sending you. This will also help you begin mindful eating practices.

Invest in Understanding Nutritional Labels

If you really want to change your health in 2018, invest in understanding nutritional labels. That way, if you have to have convenience, or if you want to indulge without feeling guilty, you’ll know what you’re looking for.

Always Have Healthy On the Go Snacks

Be prepared with snacks when you leave the house.  Don’t let a lack of planning leave you opting for something that isn’t going to support your goals.

Resistance Training

Don’t be afraid to add resistance training to your fitness regiment. It won’t make you bulky (unless you work really hard to do that) and it’s a great way to switch up your workout routine and change your health.

Create a Weekly Menu

This goes back to planning ahead, but I can’t stress it enough! Creating a weekly menu also helps you reduce stress and is great for the budget so it’s all a win-win situation.

Make it a Family Affair

A healthy life is a journey your children deserve too.  Bring them into the kitchen and make them a part of the experience. Set them up for a lifetime of nutritional success. You’ll change your health, and they’ll be able to change theirs too.

Rethink Your Drink

Liquid calories can be an extreme source of sabotage.  Rethink your Coke or Venti Mocha and replace it with water, sparkling water, cold brew or tea.

Surround Yourself with Like-Minded People

The saying goes that we are most like the people we spend our time with.  If the people around you aren’t supporting your goals then find people who will.  It makes your journey feel better when rising tides lift all ships.

Set goals

Write your goals down, don’t just think about it.  When you write your goals down success is more likely to happen.

 

Identify Your “Why”

You must have a driving force behind your choice to change your health. It doesn’t have to match anyone else’s why, but being meaningful for you can help you push through barriers or obstacles, even when you want to give up.

 

Reward Yourself

Nope, I am not talking about rewarding yourself with cookies :). But with positive self-talk, maybe a new outfit when you hit a target goal, or with some type of self-love currency in your life at that moment.  Hard work deserves celebration.

Realize it Isn’t “All or Nothing”

This is perhaps the hardest part for many of my clients.  If you have a bad meal, bad day or a bad week, it’s time to put it behind you.  Don’t allow one moment of struggle turn into weeks and months.  Progress is made through consistency.

 

If you want to change your health in 2018, it’s possible, and these tips are all easy to start implementing. But most of all, cultivate an attitude of loving yourself so much that you deserve be healthy, happy and fit. Period.  When you are ready for more, I’ll be here ready to push you forward!

 

Ready to kickstart your health right now?

Check out my Nutrition Is For Everybody e-course HERE.

 

Which tip from the above list are you going to start with?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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Client Success Story: The Weight Lifter

Client Success Story:  The Weight Lifter

Age: 33

Timeline: 1 Year

 

There is a general misconception that when someone isn’t at their ideal weight that they over consume calories.  More often than not the exact opposite is true.  I’ve had hundreds of clients who come to me with frustrations from living in a heavy calorie restricted diet for years. Many times it is unintentional and sometimes, is not.

This signals the body to go into “emergency mode” and store what little food the body is supplied as fat.  The only answer to lose weight: take on more fuel to drive loss.

This week’s client came to me in this place.  She wasn’t eating enough, especially for her volume of training, and needed to shift her perspective from the notion of “less being more.”  She did that and did it amazingly well, dropping two weight classes as a competitive weight lifter (that’s over 20 lbs) and looks and feels better than she ever has. She recently competed in the American Open Series and qualified for the Finals this winter. Her passion, work ethic and follow through is inspiring and I am grateful to call her a client and friend.

 

Here is her story:

 

“What a trip!  Miami was hectic, humid and amazing all at the same time.  There wasn’t a second to slow down and really enjoy everything that Miami has to offer but we sure got to experience a TON of weight lifting.  Overall a super successful trip for the team and for me personally.   But success never comes easy!  This past year I’ve worked hard to gain strength while cutting weight.

 

I have officially been working with Amanda for one year this August.  When I started I weighed around 150 lbs and was competing in the 69kg weight class.  I wasn’t comfortable or confident at this weight, so we set some goals to get me to the next lowest weight class which is 63 kg.  Our goal was slow and steady which would allow me to continue training hard.  I competed a few times at the 63kg weight class this past year, but I felt like I could do more.

After discussion with my weightlifting coach Brian, as well as Amanda, we decided to drop to the next weight class which is 58kg.  Our long term goal was to compete in July at my lowest weight class.  With the amount of training I do every day (1.5-2 hours, sometimes more) it was incredibly important that I eat enough to prevent muscle breakdown and fatigue.

 

Along the way, I’ve fallen off the wagon, gotten back on and fallen off again.  I messed up, wouldn’t track, failed to send my numbers, gave up on weighing myself because I didn’t want to see the number on the scale.  The best part about having a macro coach is the accountability.  When Amanda doesn’t hear from me, I know she will definitely be following up by text, email or in person.

 

 

She helps encourage me, talks me off cliffs and gives me meal ideas when I can’t figure out what to eat to fit my day.  She is always there to remind me that I don’t have to throw away the whole day or week or month, just because I messed up one time.  I’m not perfect.  I love ice cream, pizza and cookies and struggle with self-control when it comes to food.

 

When July came around (WAYYYY faster than I felt like it should) I was slightly above my goal weight, but wasn’t worried at all because Amanda was in constant contact with me about my daily weights and food intake, especially when it was coming close to game time.  Cutting the last few pounds (kilos, whatever) of weight can be tricky, especially as a female with cross country travel and time zone acclamation as well as an evening weigh in.

 

When July 28th finally came, I was perfectly on weight, slightly under actually. I never felt overly hungry or tired.  At 6pm I weighed in at 57.66.  I was able to compete as a 58kg lifter for the first time and on a national stage.  I felt good, not weak or fatigued at all and was able to take 8th place in my weight class out of about 60.

 

So what have I learned through this whole process?  Be Consistent.

 

When I track consistently and weigh in regularly I see the most significant results.  I tend to really buckle down right around competition time when I really need to make weight and I never have a problem reaching the weight I planned.  I’ve also learned that with the proper guidance you can lose weight and get stronger with more food, not less.

 

I’ve lost 20 lbs this year and PR’d every single one of my lifts.

What’s next?

Maintenance and more food.  Which means I will need to be accurate in my tracking and make sure I eat all the food I’m allowed in order to help me gain some strength so I can compete at the American Open Finals in December!”

Want to read more client success stories like this one.  Click HERE to read more about my clients’ amazing transformations.

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Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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Menu Ideas To Inspire You #1: Fall Edition

Weekly Menu To Inspire You #1: Fall Edition

The BIGGEST struggle my clients, and many of you, share that holds them back from nutritional success is meal prep, menu ideas and planning.  It takes times, energy and thought, all of which we just can’t seem to squeak out enough energy to make happen.

 

The reality is though–it is a game changer when it comes to nutritional success.  When your weekly menu is set, you are much more likely to feel compelled to stick to the plan and prepare your food at home.  In addition, meal prep keeps money in your wallet instead of overspending on halfway decent restaurant meals.  What I’ve found is that when we go out it really feels like a “special” meal out and we enjoy it much more.

 

Nothing Fancy

Meal planning doesn’t have to be fancy.  I think that is where many people fail.  They scan the interwebs for tasty looking meals that require everything under the kitchen sink and then feel completely overwhelmed.  Instead, start simple and think of what ingredients lend themselves to multiple meals in the week so that ingredients don’t get wasted in your frig.

Each family has their own unique way to menu plan from chalkboard menus to digital planning guides…find what works for you and stick with it (not just for a week).  Your lifestyle, number of mouths to feed and food preferences will greatly dictate that routine. My goal is to take the “thought” out of the planning and provide you with a list of meals that will remove one piece of the puzzle.

 

Getting in the mindset of planning ahead rather than facing the 6 o’clock scramble after a busy day of work and overtired children is not the ideal time to have to come up with a dinner plan from scratch.  Do yourself a favor and become proactive in your planning.

 

This week’s menu ideas are inspired by Fall.  It’s the season of squash, soup and cooler weather (unless you live in AZ like me).  Several of these recipes require chicken breast or ground turkey.  One of the simplest ways to simplify your mealtime prep is to do “prep ahead protein.”  I love to get the protein work out of the way and prepare chicken in the Instant Pot, slow cooker or grill and then use it for several meals in the week.

Menu ideas to inspire you:

Monday: Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls

 

If you are like us, Monday sometimes leaves us like a deer in the headlights trying to recover from the weekend.  Make Monday easy so you start off with a huge win in the meal prep box and it drives some momentum into the rest of the week.

 

 

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday with Turkey Tacos

Photo courtesy of www.drhyman.com

Why not join the Taco Tuesday trend and make this a theme each week with a unique twist.  These tacos are fresh tasting and are delicious on my favorite, butter lettuce.  You can easily add in corn tortillas as well.

 

Wednesday: Skinnytaste Blissful Butternut Squash

Photo courtesy of www.skinnytaste.com

 

Soup Night is an easy night and cozy night for the fall and winter weather.  Soups can cook all day long in the crockpot or have some quick turnaround time in the Instant Pot.  This recipe is a great one to add your prep ahead protein in order to work for a more balanced plate that includes protein value.

 

Thursday: Steak and Potatoes

Photo courtesy of www.skinnytaste.com

Okay..well kind of.  These two paired look so amazing!  The great part is this may take a bit more prep time (not too much) but could be made in bulk for lunches for the next few days!

 

Friday: PaleOMG BBQ Chicken Casserole

Photo courtesy of www.paleomg.com

 

When you hear casserole…don’t you think to comfort food?  I know I do and this one doesn’t disappoint.  Even though it adds a big veggie component, your family won’t even notice because it is that yummy.  You can prep this ahead too and pop it in the oven an hour or so before you are ready to eat.

 

Saturday: White Turkey Chili

Photo courtesy of www.thekitchn.com

The weekend derails people from mealtime success because we deviate from routine and want to just relax.  So plan ahead for that and use the morning time when we typically have more energy to put some ingredients in the crockpot, leaving no excuse for dinner time.  This recipe is awesome because you can doctor up the seasonings and add even more veggies for micronutrient bonus.

Sunday: Sunday Funday Fajita “Nachos”

Photo courtesy of www.fitfoodiefinds.com

We are football fans and use Sunday to stay in our PJs, veg out and be together as a family.  We love to have football foods that are fun and that involve the whole family.  This recipe ups the health game and used sweet mini peppers as the vessel for delivery but can also be substituted for a more traditional homemade corn chip.

 

Post in the comments below your favorite recipe from above.

Did you make any tweaks or changes…I’d love to hear what you did!

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

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