Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What Happened When I Cooked All Of My Meals For 30 Days

At the beginning of the year I was recovering from a stomach virus and lost 12 pounds.  I worked diligently to return to my previous weight.  It took approximately two months.  Later in the year I decided I wanted to put on eight more pounds.  That would require me increasing my macros and calories to reach that goal.  I consumed more “cheat” meals during the week that were high in calories.  After a couple of months, mission accomplished.  When attempting to gain weight in many instances will also lead to an increase in fat when consuming some of the foods that were in my diet such as pizzas, hamburgers, and milk shakes to reach my goal of calories.  I was tracking my meals in an app and it was working.

Sample Meal: Chicken, shrimp, brown rice and mixed vegetables
After reaching my weight goal I didn’t appear as lean as I would have liked, so I decided to do something that I’ve never done before and that was to prepare all of my meals for 30 days and limit myself to eating out three times per week.  With my schedule I found myself purchasing lunch and dinner sometimes simply because I was on the go!  When any type of restaurant prepares food it is impossible to know all of the ingredients and the quality.  Grilled meat and vegetables can be of a poor quality and high in sodium.

According to a January 2013 Wall Street Journal Report, American adults eat in restaurants an average of five times a week—which means they probably eat way too much salt.  Salt is indispensable in restaurant kitchens beyond just how it makes food taste. It extends the shelf life of prepared foods, prevents bitterness in produce and encourages binding in breads, says Joy Dubost, director of nutrition at the National Restaurant Association, a Washington, D.C., industry group. Replacing salt with alternative preparations or seasonings, such as herbs, will almost always end up costing more.

My diet is based around balanced meals consisting of lean proteins, nutrient-rich, low-glycemic carbs, and generous portions of healthy fats.  I wasn’t going to document macros or calories this time around.  My favorite sources of lean protein are chicken breast, 98 percent or leaner ground beef, turkey, fish, steak and quality protein supplements of whey and casein protein.

It is important to find the right balance of carbs.  Carbohydrates are fuel, they give working muscles the energy to do their job and maximize training sessions.  My carbs come from high-fiber, high-nutrient foods. I include plenty of sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and brown rice, among others.  For example, pre-workout I would consume a whey protein shake that included carrots,  1/2 banana, 1/2 orange, 1/4 cup of rolled oates, and 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk.  Healthy fats would compromise olive oil when cooking and almonds for snacks.

I purchased and prepared foods in bulk.  I would cook on Sundays and then a smaller portion on Thursdays to get me through the weekend.  The meals were not bland and had plenty of flavor.  I baked, grilled, or sauteed all of my meats.  Vegetables were steamed or sauteed to preserve the nutrients.  After a week I noticed an increase in energy, after two weeks my palate changed.  I purchased a meal at a restaurant within my three meal weekly limit and didn’t want to finish it because I could taste the salt and quality of the meat and vegetables.   I didn’t get an upset stomach, but it did digest differently.   As I continued through the process I didn’t have a desire to eat food other than meals I cooked or someone else prepared at their home.

After the 30 days I stepped on the scale and weighed the same.  I appeared leaner and had more energy, developed a habit that I plan to continue, and saved money!  The time set aside to prepare my meals saved me time during the week and I learned new recipes along the way.  Eating healthy can be a process you enjoy.

Jamaal Piper
Health and Wellness Consultant/Personal Trainer

Thursday, October 8, 2015

It Starts With Preparation

In my last blog I discussed how we need to take control of our health.  The responsibilities of life can make that difficult.  Bad habits get engrained and it is difficult to visualize how things can get better.  Below are practical tools that will help you take control of your health and have a more active lifestyle.

Prepare Meals In Bulk

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At the beginning of the week (Sunday or Monday) set 1-2 hours aside and prepare your meals for the week.  Cooking in bulk will help you will save not only your health from avoiding all those questionable and unknown ingredients eating out.  Save you time from cooking throughout the week.  It keeps you on track with your health goals regardless of what you’re trying to accomplish.  Have plenty of tupperware and ziploc bags handy for storage to assist with organizing meals.

Here is an example:

Breakfast:  Smoothies with fruit, raw vegetables, fruit, and rolled oates.
Lunch/Dinner:  Kale or mixed green salad with fish or meat or grilled/baked meat with brown rice/sweet potatoes and vegetables.
Snacks:  Avacado, almonds, trail mix, granola and yogurt, carrots, crackers, fresh fruits and/or vegetables, .

Use an app that can track your meals and adjust your intake to your activity level and goals.

Exercise Should Be Convenient

As I’ve stated on many occasions exercise location should be convenient to your home and/or office.  If your schedule makes it difficult to get to the gym there are plenty of options at home with or without equipment.  Body weight and cardio exercises can easily be done at home such as push-ups, squats, and crunches.  Resistance bands, dumbbells, and suspension trainers can give you challenging resistance exercises that rival sophisticated gym equipment.  If you can not get to a gym have what you need at home.  There are fitness channels, apps, dvds, and many other sources of workouts designed for your home.

Consult A Health and Wellness Professional

If you have questions regarding how to go about reaching your goals get help!  It can be very frustrating to have the best intentions, but not eating and/or exercising properly to reach them.  You need to have a plan.  Professionals in the health and wellness industry will be a great asset to design one for you and teach you to properly use the resources at your disposal.

Jamaal Piper
Health and Wellness Consultant/Personal Trainer