Why is Eating Healthy Hard?

As I was going through my site today, I re-read my “about me” page (haven’t done that in a while) and I saw that I wanted my blog to be a place for encouragement when being healthy gets hard. And I do, I really do because I think that is one reason people give up this lifestyle so quickly–it’s hard. But nothing worth having comes easy and honestly once you get set in your routine, in living the lifestyle the way it works for you, it gets easier. With that said, there are still times when eating healthy is difficult and I realized that I hadn’t posted many blogs regarding that topic, and I wanted to change that, so…here it is!

I’m going to give my viewpoint on when/why it’s hard, as well as my opinion of why I think many people fail at eating healthy. This will also include my tips for incorporating healthy eating into your lifestyle–to a point where it is generally pretty fluid and easy. I hope you get answers, advice, help, and encouragement from this post. Encouragement to know that it is hard, so don’t be upset if you fail; but it is worth it, so get back up and keeping work harder.

Even for someone who eats healthy on a regular basis, there are times it gets difficult and I must make the active choice to eat healthy. There are  times I’m rushed and busy, times when excuses would be easy, times when I–to put it simply–just don’t want to. Whatever your reason/excuse may be, I get that there are numerous times when it would be easy to throw in the towel. It’s hard because it’s not the easy way out such as fast-food, processed foods or just picking something up quick. It’s hard because it takes time and thinking to plan out your meals, meal prep, bring your food, etc. It’s hard because not many other people do it, so you’ll stand out. But all of these excuses are the exact reasons you should do it! Take care of yourself by feeding your body with nutritious foods, feel the increased energy and overall better-feeling you will have. It may be difficult, but it’s worth it!

Now, with that said, I 100% understand it being difficult. So please, please, please do not get discouraged, upset, mad, etc. at yourself if you fail, or aren’t perfect in eating healthy. There are times you forget to prepare and have to grab something quick, or those office treats you want to enjoy, or memories to be made–that’s why it is all about balance. But make sure to find that balance, and don’t just have that throw-in-the-towel mentality. Yes it’s important to respond to your body’s cravings, but don’t overindulge. Make active choices to enjoy yourself, but don’t say I already ate bad, screw it I’m going to eat like crap the whole day, week, month, etc. Quite honestly, when you start eating healthier, and your body gets used to it, you start cravings “unhealthy or processed foods” less. Once you get in this healthy eating habit, it becomes your lifestyle and blends right in with everything else you do on a daily basis. When it gets hard, think of how amazing it’ll feel when you reach your goal, when you feel energized and healthy, when you reach your goal weight, when you are living a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Think of that as opposed to the immediate satisfaction you would get, but that would soon coming crashing down.

My #1 tip for overcoming the difficulty of eating healthy is the number one reason people find it so hard/fail. That is: enjoy the food you are eating. People think healthy eating and immediately bland chicken, rice, and veggies comes to mind. (I’m not wrong, am I?) But healthy foods and fueling your body doesn’t have to be boring, bland, tasteless, restrictive, etc. That is one of the MOST common misconceptions people have. You can use seasonings and sauces, use healthy fats such as olive or coconut oil to add in flavor, make homemade fries/pizza instead of going out for them. There are countless healthy recipes all over the internet, making it super easy to eat healthy foods that taste good and that you enjoy.

Many times eating healthy becomes so hard because people try to make it complicated. They try to make it black-and-white thinking when in reality, it’s all about balance,finding what you enjoy and what makes your body feel good, and sticking with it. Bake some delicious spaghetti squash, make these easy breakfast swap-outs, get inspired by easy meal-prep ideas. The options are endless out there! Don’t get discouraged by how daunting healthy eating can be, you CAN do it. Instead view it as an opportunity to live a healthier lifestyle and create the best version of you/your body that you can. Find delicious tasting healthy foods/recipes and stick with them. It’s all about finding what works for you!



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?

Tips for Eating Healthy when Eating Out

Growing up, eating out with my family was one of my favorite things. The best part would be watching every waiter/waitress come out holding a tray of food, and inspecting it to see if it was ours. And that moment when it was mine was pure bliss (I mean, hey, even as a kid food was very important!).

Even now I do enjoy going out, but one of the hardest parts can be finding and choosing healthy options, especially ones that fit my macros. And while yes there are such things as enjoying your meal out and cheat meals (although I personally don’t use “cheat” meals), there are many benefits and reasons to choosing to eat healthy meals out. 1) Choosing a healthier entrée means I have more room to enjoy some dessert; 2) I need certain macros; 3) My schedule is sometimes such that I have to eat away from home multiple times, meaning I can’t indulge every meal out; 4) Eating healthy just makes me feel better.

So although you should generally try to eat as many meals at home that you make as you can, there will be times and situations where eating out is necessary. Plus, you should be able to go out with friends and family and enjoy yourself! Here are some tips to help you eat healthy when you are eating out.

1. Check online for nutritional information

A lot of restaurants are putting their nutritional information online now. So if you know the place you are going out, check their website or Google to see if any information is available. Some places even have a tool where you can custom build your meal (Jimmy Johns for example) and get personalized macro content. This is great if you want to change menu items by adding or deleting some ingredients. Lastly, CalorieKing is a free app that has a lot of nutritional information on popular fast food and sit down restaurants,which can be really helpful!

2. Pick out smart/macro friendly options

Once you’ve found the nutritional data, check it out to find options that will be a good bet. If you count macros, you’ll obviously choose options that fit your macros. If you aren’t counting, still check for items low in added-sugar, saturated and trans fat. You want to try to get a good mix of fat, carb and protein just to have a well-rounded meal too.

If the restaurant you are going to doesn’t post their nutritional info, here are some tips for picking out a healthy choice:

3. Ask for dressings, sauces, etc. on the side

Oftentimes the dressings, condiments, sauces, etc. are loaded with fat and bring down the nutritional content of the meal.Asking for these things on the side allows you to control the amount you use in your meal; therefore, having more control over your meal nutrition. Also, whenever possible, choose healthier options like salsa, whole-grain mustard, or oil and vinegar dressings.

4. Look for key menu words

There are some words that are key identifiers of healthy vs. unhealthy on the menu. For example: fried/deep-fried, breaded, buttered, fully loaded, battered, crispy all tend to point towards unhealthy items on the menu. Instead, look for these words which point towards potentially healthy choices: steamed, stir fried, grilled, baked, broiled, fresh, etc.

5. Look for ways to substitute

More than likely, you’ll have options to substitute items or sides in a meal. Order brown rice instead of white, whole-wheat bread instead of white, veggies instead of fries or potatoes, etc. Ask for dry veggies (less oil). You get the idea: most places will allow you, to some degree, to customize your meal.

Here is an example of my customized meal at a mexican restaurant that I had over break. I enjoyed my food and my time, while still making good, healthy choices. I ordered 3 chicken tacos with only lettuce and tomatoes on top, no cheese (cheese is okay in moderation, but I usually ask no cheese because its harder to know the exact amount and type used by restaurant). I ordered them with corn tortillas as opposed to flour, got a side of charro beans instead of refried, and substituted mixed veggies for the side of rice. I topped my tacos with salsa and some guacamole which I got a side of so that I could control the amount I used. Lastly, I went in not super hungry so that I could forego the chips. It was very hard, but worth it because I actually had the appetite to finish my whole meal without feeling stuffed and bloated due to overeating.

Eating out doesn’t have to be difficult or unhealthy if you choose. Do make sure you are enjoying your time and meal out; don’t order something you hate just because it’s deemed “healthy”. There is still room to enjoy a meal out here and there. But, there is also room to enjoy delicious meals out and enjoy healthier choices!

What tips for eating healthy do you use when you eat out?

Why You May Need to Eat More to Reach Your Goals

So, you probably clicked on the link when you saw the title….after all, who doesn’t love to eat? And eat more to reach your goals you say? Bring it on! Now, before you get TOO excited, let me just say there are boundaries for this based on the person, situation, and physical goals (which I will go into more here in a second). But, this information is still important to know because many people could be not reaching their desired goals (whether health, weight gain, weight loss, etc.) and eating could be playing a big role in that! Let me explain.

Many people think that to lose weight they need a calorie deficit. This is absolutely true. In order to lose weight, you have to consume less than you burn in a day. 1 pound is equal to 3500 calories: so every 3500 calories less you eat, you will lose 1 pound. To some extent. If you go too far below in calories, your body will go into starvation mode. For example, you read about people and their stories of eating 800-1000 calories a day in order to lose weight. At first, they’re dropping pounds left and right, but then they hit a plateau, a stopping weight where their weight just won’t budge (it may even increase again). This is because they have eaten so little, that their body has gone into starvation mode. You read that right: STARVATION mode. But, they’re not starving themselves you say. True, but their bodies don’t know that. Their bodies just realize that they aren’t getting enough food and fuel to survive so they start storing every bit they get because they don’t know when the next bite will come. This is an issue.

This is also where eating more comes into play. Health scientists say that for women, no one should ever dip below 1200 calories a day. But, if you’re active and trying to lose weight, you may need to eat more. Yes, more!!! If you’re an athlete or working out intensely, depending on your size and body composition, you may need 1800-2000 calories a day. Dropping intake down to 1200, a deficit of 600-800, is way too much of a decrease and not healthy for your body. Now, if your daily calories are only 1500, then 1200 could make sense. But, if you need more calories, well, you need more calories, even to gain weight (as long as you’re still in a deficit, you’ll lose weight). Again, it will depend on the person. **It’s also important to consult a doctor or health professional to make sure you are doing things correctly and in a healthy way.**

On the other side of the spectrum (where I currently am), in order to gain weight you need to eat more. Some of you may be thinking well, duh! And it seems obvious in theory, but putting it into practice gets more difficult. People who want to gain weight (especially in lean muscle) need to eat a lot more calories than they burn, yet that can be hard when you are afraid of gaining weight and/or getting fat. This is also where someone like my sports nutritionist can come into play–she is helping me figure out how much to eat to gain lean muscle without gaining too much fat (other than what is necessary to get my back to normal). Although it is hard, it is important to remember that in order to build muscle, you have to feed that muscle that you are breaking down by lifting and exercising. So while you may need to eat more to lose weight, you DEFINITELY need to eat MORE to gain muscle. While it may be scary at first (trust me, I am right there with ya), it will be worth it when you get those gains (hello, booty).

So, there you have it! People on both side of the weight spectrum with different goals may need the same thing: to eat more! Every person is different therefore, their body composition is also different, so it can be difficult to standardize things. However, this knowledge is important to keep in mind if you are struggling to reach your goals (either losing or gaining weight). Just make sure that while you are out there being awesome and motivated towards your aspirations, that you are doing so in a healthy way and taking care of yourself. Results will come if you are taking the necessary, appropriate, and healthy measures to do so!!

What are your thoughts on this topic? I would love to hear your comments, questions, and/or stories below or by emailing me!!