Meal Planning/Prepping Tips

Eating healthy can be hard, I’ll be the first to admit that. It isn’t always easy to choose prepare the healthy meal when unhealthier foods can be made much faster. And while there is beginning to be healthier options at fast-food places, it is still best for you to eat as many home-cooked and prepared meals as you can and eat out only when it is necessary. Luckily, if you spend just a little bit of time (I’m talking 2-3 hours) a weekend (or whatever day is best for you), you can plan and prepare your meals for the week to ensure you’re being fueled through your day all week-long! Really, the old cliché statement, “a little goes a long way”, is so true here! If you haven’t tried it or haven’t found success in doing so, I highly recommend you try out the following tips to both plan and prepare your meals for the week!

1. Plan ahead before you shop

Oftentimes people have good intentions when they go grocery shopping, but if you don’t have a plan for your meals, it can be hard to know exactly what and how much of it to buy. Planning also allows you to have an idea of what your meals will be instead of scrambling around last-minute or just skipping the meal (big no-no!). An easy way to plan ahead is to write your meals you plan to make and eat down ahead of time. This can be on a piece of paper, a whiteboard, chalkboard, app such as My Fitness Pal etc. For example, write each day of the week down and then what you’ll have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that day. This will help you know how what to buy to make for dinner and what days you’ll eat leftovers, etc. Planning takes about 5-10 minutes and it really makes eating healthy hassle-free!

2. Be okay with leftovers

Before I get into ideas of how to meal prep, now that you’ve planned so well, this is an important statement: learn to like and eat leftovers. I mean this isn’t like 100% absolutely necessary, but unless you just LOVE cooking 7 nights a week, it sure helps. To be able to cook 2-3 times a week and still have healthy dinners every night (i.e. not getting fast food or ordering a pizza because you don’t have anything to cook/eat), is a really life-saver for eating healthy and a big time saver if you’re always busy (who isn’t these days?) I think leftovers get a bad rap, but they don’t have to be boring–mine certainly aren’t! Some nights I do eat the same exact “meal” again, but often my leftovers consist of batches of chicken or rice or ground turkey that I made earlier in the week and then I use them to make creative, delicious and healthy meals throughout the week! Learn to have fun and enjoy creating meals out of leftovers and eating healthy will be that much more simple!

3. Meal Prep: Big Batches for Lunches/Dinner

Every weekend I spend 2-3 hours total grocery shopping and meal prepping to prepare myself for the coming week. 2-3 hours, that’s it. One of the biggest keys for meal prepping is to make large batches, hence the leftovers statement above. I’ll bake 2-3 chicken breasts, cook up some ground turkey, make a few servings of rice, etc. so that throughout the week I have lots of options for fun and healthy meals! You can make batches of soup or chili in the crockpot, cook meats in the crockpot, roast veggies, bake chicken, cook ground meat, prepare batches of grains such as rice or pasta. The options are endless so find what works for you and do it! TIP: Get a lot of different sizes of tupperware…you’re gonna need it.

Meal Prep: Breakfasts and Snacks

Meal prepping isn’t just for lunches and dinners either! As you’ll see in the picture below, I prepped some bags of snacks and breakfast sandwiches too. You can make freezer breakfast sandwiches or burritos, make a big batch of overnight oats or even oatmeal in the crock-pot, make egg muffins/scramble/frittata. For snacks, make your own trail mix like I did, or portion out a serving of the snack into baggies to have quick, ready-to-grab-and-go snacks for yourself! Also, have a few bars ready to go (my go-tos: Oatmega, Larabar, RX Bar). These meals and snacks don’t have to be rushed if you take the time at the beginning of each week to prepare!

This is a picture of my meal prep from this past week! Quinoa, ground turkey, baked chicken, homemade trail mix, egg breakfast sandwiches.

I made this mediterranean quinoa salad from the quinoa and chicken leftovers I had from prep. Just to show you that making big batches and having leftovers doesn’t have to “be boring” or “get old” if you have a little fun with it! (I also did a blog post about the creative meals I make using my leftovers…so check that out!)

What are your tips and ideas for making eating healthy easier by meal planning and prepping?

Weightlifting Part 2: The Truth Behind Lifting

Okay, so the first thing I want to address in this second part is 5 common myths that just simply ARE NOT TRUE about weightlifting. (Here is the first part in this series if you missed it!) It’s important that these myths are discussed and debunked, because quite honestly, some women (and men) might be choosing not to lift or not to continue lifting due to some of these. In order to decide if lifting could be the right fit for you, it’s crucial to understand it as a whole, and see lifting compared to other types of exercise. That’s why the second part of this blog will be about Weights vs. Cardio and comparing the two. I hope this post gives you more insight on the truth behind weightlifting and inspires you to give it a shot!

Myth #1: Lifting will make you bulk up like a man

This is probably the biggest myth heard in the fitness world and it is simply, and biologically, not true. Women do not have as much testosterone nor the same hormonal response to it that men do. Therefore, we cannot and will not bulk up like the Hulk from lifting. Instead, it allows us to build our muscles and have an overall toned look.

Myth #2: If you’re not sore after, it’s not working

This used to be my biggest disappointment: I would work hard in the gym yet find that I was not sore the day or two after. I thought surely I wasn’t actually building muscle. False! While yes in order to build muscle you have to tear the muscle fibers, this won’t always mean you’re going to be sore. Soreness is found to be poorly correlated with the magnitude of muscle damage. Bottom line? Do not base your training session’s productivity based on how sore you are (or aren’t); instead, strive to continue to grow and lift heavier, more reps, etc.

Myth #3: Women shouldn’t life heavy

This statement aggravates and angers me to no end: especially as an intense athlete who fully enjoys lifting heavy weight. Going heavier in your training will increase muscle fiber thickness which leads you to being stronger not bulkier. The reason bodybuilders look bulky when lifting heavy is because they often follow a different plan to increase fluid in their muscle cells–creating that bulky look. For regular women, lifting heavy (not light) will actually make you stronger, and more fit!

Myth #4: Fit people can start out lifting heavy

Okay, I know I said lifting heavy over light is important in your training. BUT, if you are just starting out and are new to lifting (even if you’ve exercised a lot and are “fit”), you don’t want to risk injury by pushing too heavy too fast. Start out at a comfortable weight where your last reps are a struggle and increase weight when your last few reps feel easy. It’s important to  make sure you have the correct form and movements down before you suddenly start trying to lift heavy…don’t worry you’ll get (and surpass) there one day and when you do, you’ll feel so proud!

Myth #5: Muscle will turn to fat if you decide to stop lifting

WRONG! Muscle and fat cells are completely different–like apples and oranges. Muscle cannot morph into fat cells and vice versa. However, it may seem you’re packing on fat when you stop lifting. This is because once you stop, your muscle mass will decrease which will decrease  your overall calories burn. Yes, more muscle = more calorie burn throughout the day. Bonus!

Okay, so now let’s get into comparing Weight Lifting and Cardio.

  1. People think that cardio is the only way to burn and/or lose fat, but actually strength training is better for toning and weight loss. This is because of the afterburn effects. While cardio burns more calories per minute during (12 vs 10), weights help your body to continue burning more even after the workout–up to 25 percent more! Your metabolism also stays elevated by up to 10 percent for the 3 days after you lift.
  2. Cardio also isn’t the only way to get your heart rate elevated. If you keep moving throughout your sets, either by doing circuits, or incorporating plyometrics such as jump squats. Heavy-lifting whole body movements, such as squats, RDLs, lunges, etc. can increase your heart rate as well.
  3. Strength training builds muscle and athleticism more than simply cardio does. This is because you are putting resistance on your muscles with the weights which tears the fibers and builds your muscles. Not to say that people who do cardio don’t or can’t have good muscles, but it won’t be the same as weightlifting would do for the body. Also, cardio, such as running, can put more pressure on your joints leading to more injury than lifting (as long as you use correct form!).

Strength training is just one type of exercise, and it’s not to say that running or other cardio isn’t good, especially because it depends on your goals.WEightlifting has many benefits and is an excellent way to stay fit and in shape, either by itself or included with running. At the end of the day, it is important to find what works for you, your body, life and goals! But, if you haven’t tried weightlifting yet (whether due to one of the myths or not), I would highly suggest you give it a shot. You never know what you’ll find–it certainly has transformed my life!

Motivational Monday #13

Hey y’all, welcome back and happy#MOTIVATIONALMONDAY! Today’s inspiring quote is one that has really hit home recently, and not just regarding fitness (although it does have a lot of meaning there). I thought I would share this quote in hopes of motivating and changing even just one person’s mindset towards themselves, their lives, goals, and any challenges they face. Anything we pursue in life is going to come with its difficulties and obstacles, so next time you face one in your own life, remember this quote, change your mindset, and keep pushing forward!

One reason this resonates so heavily with me, is I used to be afraid of everything little thing! Okay, okay….I still am sort of. I have gotten better at not worrying heavily about the future or small things, but there certainly main times in my life currently when I start thinking: and that’s the exact moment fear takes over. For example, my current bulking phase of way-upping my calories more than I am used to. There are times when although I know I need lots of carbs and food, I get scared of weight gain. It sounds silly that I would be scared of the one thing I want and need to do, but it’s just a natural part of being a women in this society (and not easy to admit on here at all, but I want to open with my readers). But instead, lately, I’ve been finding myself focusing on what could go right. I could (and will) gain killer muscle and definition. I will be a stronger and better athlete. I will have more balance in my life. Sure, there are some negatives that are bound to happen and/or could happen, but by changing my mindset towards it, my motivation towards my goal strengthens.

I think often times we let fear get in the way of what we want: dating that one guy, your dream job that doesn’t seem plausible, that killer fitness-level, etc. Once we let fear creep in, doubt starts filling our minds and we suddenly stop believing we can do it. Well guess what?? YOU CAN DO IT. All it takes is changing your mindset and your thoughts to be a more positive outlook on your future. It’s all up to you! If we focus on the failure, we’ll be too scared to keep trying for success. Because the only way to get to success is to fail first. We aren’t perfect, but giving up after failing gets you nowhere (aka being afraid of what could go wrong). Getting back up, persevering and pushing ahead (aka thinking what could go right) after failing leads you to your goals, and to success.

To put this into perspective, Babe Ruth’s quote sums this up pretty well: “Never let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game.” Imagine if the absolute best baseball player (most home runs, best batting average, etc.) was too afraid of striking out that he never even stepped up to the plate. In that situation, it all seems ridiculous, right? Well, the same can be said about you and your life. Whatever you aren’t doing or aren’t pursuing because you’re afraid, start thinking of it in a positive light. Start imagining what actually could go right, and get excited about it. Let that excitement push your dreams and your actions!

Your mind controls your body; therefore, your body cannot go where your mind doesn’t tell it to. Start telling your mind that you are capable, that you can accomplish your goals, and start thinking of all the things that could go right. Once you do this, there will be no room for fear to creep in and collapse your dreams. Start being excited by all the possibilities and what you’re capable of! Stop being afraid. Start being excited by all the possibilities you’re capable of. And then go after it–all in–and

Weightlifting Part 1: My Story

Hello everyone! Today I am starting my second “series” on the blog: weightlifting!! (In case you don’t remember or this is your first time, my first series was on nutrition) I’m really excited for this 5-part series (stick with me, there’s so much great information needed to be shared!!) I’ll be starting because I absolutely love lifting weights! This first part will be my story: how I got into weightlifting, what I like, why I do it, etc. I think it’s important to not only get facts, but also someone’s real life experience and opinion on the matter to. So let’s dive in…

I first got started lifting weights in high school during volleyball off-season. As a skinny freshman (who still hadn’t been through my entire growth spurt of 8 inches in a little over 2 years), I didn’t know very much of what I was doing. I would do the weight workout that my coach had on the board and just think about getting stronger. And it definitely did help with that. At this point, I enjoyed the muscle, but I didn’t really have the love for it. It was more of something I just did because I had to twice a week kind of thing.

Flash forward to college volleyball and now I get into more olympic lifting, power lifts, etc. rather than just the basics of squat and bench (although we still did versions of these too). My fall semester of freshman year I loved seeing the results that my weightlifting brought to the court, and those results and wanting to be better is what drove me. At this stage, I liked the movements and the results, but again as a freshman I still didn’t know much. I was still just doing workouts that were given to me and lifting what and how much I was told. It wasn’t until I quit the team  (small injury) and started to workout on my own that I really found my love for weightlifting.

Even after I was no longer an athlete, I continued to lift weights 3-4 days a week simply because I enjoyed it. At first, it was partly just habit and wanting to be in shape. But it quickly turned into something I did because I loved it and I absolutely enjoyed choosing my exercises, weights, plans, etc. and still seeing the results from my hard work. For me, this is when lifting became my passion! I started out doing full body workouts like I was doing before, but then about 4 months later I switched to doing splits (don’t worry, there will be a later part that discusses these terms more) because I seemed to be hitting a plateau at the time. I loved the feeling of splitting up my routine even more and for the month over Christmas break, I was in the gym 5-6 days a week, loving life and doing my thing.

Now, I have rejoined the volleyball team (yay!) and I am now back to more full-body, powerlifting movements, which I still enjoy. There are some parts I miss about being able to do splits to target certain muscle groups, I know that the movements I’m doing now are helping me on the court and I have all the time after I have graduated to do my more targeted exercises. I love the aspect of lifting with the team and lifting heavy and really seeing my muscle grow again. As you can tell I’ve mentioned results and muscle growth a lot here–and these are probably some of the biggest reasons that I continued and will continue to lift weights for as long as I can. Not that you can’t see results from other types of workouts, but I love the toned, defined look that lifting gives me.

On top of this, I continue because of all the amazing benefits that lifting gives you, your body and your health. I feel strong and confident and proud of my body that I know I have created with hard work, sweat and heavy lifting. I love finishing a workout or a set and knowing what I just did. That I just squatted 1.25 times my bodyweight or that I can use a heavier weight to incline dumbbell press. It not only strengthens me physically in this way, but mentally as well. Lifting is great for mental toughness and it has been great for me to realize that I am capable and strong and freakn’ awesome (which everyone should always feel!).

Sure there are days where I don’t necessarily feel like working out or I’m tired and sore, or I don’t want to get up early. But let me tell you, after a lift: I never regret it once. Lifting makes my body and myself feel so amazing and I enjoy every bit of it. I will continue weightlifting because I love it. Because I’m doing amazing things with my body’s strength. Because I’m addicted to the results. Because it’s my passion. And because, that’s what being beyoutifully healthy is all about!