When I was first introduced to the idea of meal prep, it was from my fellow "gym rat" co worker trainers at a gym I used to work. They would always tell their clients to meal prep for the week to make sure you have enough to eat. It's an opportunity to put your brain on siesta mode without having to actually make a decision about what to eat. This is an "Easy" button we all need to have. But where I kept getting in trouble and veering off the plan was that part about making the same thing every day. EVERY DAY. Soon I started going back to my ways of "take out" and ordering food I didn't need to eat just because I needed variety in my life. My palette deserves spontaneity and variety. I didn't really give up on meal prep, but as I continued to move my journey forward, it hit me out of nowhere, an amazingly easy way to meal prep and freeze meals without eating the same thing every day, unless the entree was very tasty and an encore was needed. But preparing the meals is not a departure from how food is already prepared.
My plan starts with the use of a crockpot. In my plan here I'm not outlining the recipes, but I'm providing the idea that will walk you through the process. Once you see how easy this process is, you can use it to prep any other type of dish.
After Just three days of working this process with your favorite meals, you could have 24 servings for lunch in your freezer. And this is important. Instead of buying all these TV dinners, you now have made your own TV dinners at a fraction of the price.
Just a few things to note...
Life is too short to have to constantly think about what you are going to eat every day. Get an easy process that keeps that palette engaged... Set it and forget it!
Ever been on your way somewhere and out of nowhere you feel the urge to pull up in the nearest fast food joint and order up an ice cream sundae or a hot... apple... pie? Or you stop at the gas station and run in and grab not one but two bags of chips and a candy bar right after you pass the one tiny fruit stand near the corner of the cash register. Or, you are in the grocery store, and it's been over 4 hours since your last meal and now every time you pass those powdered donuts or the bakery section, you can't help but toss those sugary delights in the cart? And even worse, your whole attitude changes and you become irritable, like a page out of the Incredible Hulk's life.
The reason you want to avoid this situation is because those cravings slow your body's metabolism of fat and promotes fat storage. It signals the body to store fat because it does not know when the next meal will come. So for all the hard work you've been doing, this becomes a set back. I highly suggest 5 really good full proof ways to help ease or eliminate sugar cravings all together.
1. Eat Consistently And On Time
Having a consistent time to eat goes a long way when it comes to metabolism. Your body will know when to expect the next meal and it won't easily store the fat. Many successes have gone to a 6 meal a day regimen. In these plans, you will eat every 2 1/2 to 3 hours. You will alternate between a meal and a snack. The portion sizes are significantly smaller.
2. Create An Environment To Win
When most of your diet is filled with sugar and high sodium snacks, your body will continue to crave those foods. One thing that is helpful is when you replace those processed foods in your house with great tasting and nutrient dense foods. When your body has the nutrition it needs, it does not send out so many "I NEED FOOD NOW" signals. Working to change your everyday diet will dramatically reduce the need for sugar on demand. Keep your home stocked with healthy nutritious food choices so you never have to substitute with fast food.
3. Snacks On Demand
One thing for sure is you can't plan for everything. Emergencies come up and situations arise that require your immediate attention. So it will always be to your advantage to stash away snacks that will keep you satisfied until you can eat your next meal. Stash them away in your glove compartment, gym bag, purse, desk at work, and around the house if you need to. Snacks higher in protein helps to put those hunger cravings at bay. A few really good stash and grab snacks are individual serving size bags of peanuts, trail mixes, protein bars, fruit in a cup, and fruit with tough skins that can endure being thrown around in the bottom of a bag.
4. Stay Hydrated
Sometimes we misinterpret our brain's signals when it comes to hunger and thirst. Always carry water when you are away from home. Make a habit of keeping bottled water available to take with you. For those who are environmentally conscious, there are beautiful glass and BPA free bottles that you can take along with you that will add a little personal style to your daily routine.
5. Eat Before You Leave The House
As simple as this sounds, it can be so hardest thing to do. But this will save your diet and your budget. How many times have you taken a trip to the grocery store, while hungry, and noticed how you go to the deli and order a meal or two, then buy a few snacks at the check out counter, then grab some candy and a soda to wash it all down with. It's like being a kid in the candy store. Your body is sending so many signals that you can't focus on what you went in there for. Other times you may find yourself close to home but stop in at a drive thru to order a greasy meal and sugary drink only to get home and look at all that good FREE food sitting in the fridge about to spoil because you're running around town turning up at fast food drive thru windows spending unnecessary cash.
During the course of my first pregnancy, I managed to lose 33lbs. And I owe it all to an amazingly proactive doctor, a very knowledgeable diabetes education counselor, and very knowledgeable perinatal doctors. I call them my dream team. But at the start of the journey I never even imagined losing weight. I was actually very anxious and nervous for what this baby was about to do to my body. I heard the horror stories about women describing how their bodies changed for the worse after having their first child. And it wasn't like I was a young gal, I'm getting close to 40!!
I weighed in at 248lbs at my first appointment on week 8. Due to several risk factors such as my weight and age, my doctor diagnosed me with gestational diabetes and scheduled me an appointment with a diabetes education counselor. (Sidenote: She had been warning me for several years to lose the weight and asked me to take the education classes before, but I was stubborn, I didn't see the need.) It only required 2 visits. In the first visit she described the new eating plan for meals and snacks that I was strongly recommended to follow. I now had to use a glucometer and take regular blood sugar readings. I had to write down everything I ate for the duration of the pregnancy.
At first I was mad about the new changes. I hate needles, and it made me remember how I used to watch my grandmother test her blood sugar when I was younger. But when I thought about how this was going to make sure my unborn child was born healthy, I decided to put on my grown lady panties and get with the program.
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There were 4 things I changed to make sure I was able to follow this plan. I had to change my environment for this to happen. Old bad habits die quick. But I know that working to change these 4 things is what helped me to lose the weight.
1. My Diet Had To Change
Pre-baby, I used to eat 2-3 times a day. With this new diet, I was required to eat 3 meals and 3 snacks. I was limited to 30g of carbs per meal/snack. I had to eat every 2-3 hours like clock work. So the first thing I did was found some really great snacks to carry around in my bag between meals. My favorite go to snacks were Fiber One Bars, string cheese, Chobani greek yogurt, and Karr's sweet and salty trail mix. My favorite meals were breakfast sandwiches, salads with seafood and a garlic roll, and soups.
2. No Excuses, Exercise Was A Must
For my first trimester I was still able to stomach my regular routine workout minus the sauna afterwards. During my second trimester, I transitioned from my Cordless Jump Rope workout to more walking during lunch breaks. I didn't feel like doing all the extra. Then in my third trimester I only walked for my exercise. And what really reinforced my walking is the fact that I gave up my car and resorted to using public transportation. So I walked a lot!
3. Plenty Of Water At My Disposal
I was always thirsty. So I ordered a filtered water pitcher and had it delivered to my job. Everyday I would fill up this container multiple times a day. And since my body now demanded ice cold water, I made sure I kept plenty of ice in insulated cups at my desk.
4. No Stress Environment
This part was a challenge. I had many weird situations that broke out around me during my pregnancy. Call it changing hormones or seeing people for their true colors, but I had to take control of my personal space and only engage in conversations with people that were positive and supportive of me at that state. I refused to talk to certain people who were eager to push my buttons. I was determined to have a peaceful pregnancy and delivery. So I had to consciously make a decision to exclude certain situations and people from getting into my mental space.
So after changing those habits and monitoring my sugar levels for 37 weeks, I was able to deliver my son via c-section at 6lbs 7oz. He is the most peaceful and amazingly alert little boy I could have ever fallen in love with. After 2 weeks of breast feeding, I stepped on the scale and saw 215lbs. The next day it read the same again. I couldn't believe I actually lost the weight and was keeping it off. You don't understand, I had not seen the number 215 in over 3 years. So it almost made me want to say... let's do it again, I need to see 176 by 40!!
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It was one of those days on the weekend when I was doing work on the couch and I took a little mental break and turned on Netflix. There was a trailer running about this new series, "Rotten", that exposed different food corruption issues regarding the international food industry. I had always wanted to know more about the food that ended up in my fridge, but this series gives you a lot of great information, a little weird at times, that will inform and intrigue your mind. The biggest takeaway for me? DONT EAT ANYTHING FROM CHINA!
I watched all the episodes available in one sitting. So I learned that China is one of the biggest importers. We import their honey, seafood, and garlic. But based on international trade agreements, there's no way we can monitor how they handle the food they send to us. So these people are sending us artificial honey made from rice syrup. Once our customs agents discovered this we stopped receiving chinese honey. So then chinese relabels their fictitious honey, sends it to surrounding countries only to sell it to the United States again. WTH??!?!! Really China? That's some dirty business.
Then they were exposed when a man went to china to find out how they can cheaply manufacture peeled garlic. These people are sending their whole garlic to the prisons and these prisoners are forced into peeling this garlic with their bare hands. The brave guy that observed this was able to see one of the prisoners biting off pieces on the end of the garlic because his nails were damaged from unpeeling so much garlic. Now this is enough to make me say, I give up. But I watched on.
So it appears that because the handling practices of imports are not regulated, other countries are able to add chemicals to our imports. Fish is not supposed to be frozen and thawed and frozen again before it gets to the consumer. But that does not stop the chinese and other countries from doing it. And because we have no way to regulate their practices, we don't, but we still import them anyways. I swear, if another country wanted to take out America, all they would need to do is lace our imports with the wrong thing.
I'm so over chinese food. I will not eat anything unless I make it myself. Its not even about watching someone else make it, it's about understanding the source that produced it. We cannot see what is in it. But our bodies over time will know the difference. So I've decided #TEAMUSA #HOMEGROWN is a little better than imports. Because we do have standards to protect our American people from corrupt food handling practices. But even then, you still have to be careful.
I've been a lot of places,