Prep for Success
Leslie O'Neill CHC
Have you ever felt like there are just not enough hours in your day? We are all so busy with work, family obligations and of course keeping up on our training schedules that it can be very difficult to fit in eating healthy and taking care of our bodies. We know that nutrition is very important to athletic performance; unfortunately, with limited time available, unless we prepare in advance to have healthy meals available, many people will grab fast food and vending machine snacks to satisfy the hunger pangs.
Depending on what your fitness and health goals are you will have different nutritional needs to meet those goals. For someone who is looking to lose weight while in a training program the calorie requirement and nutritional values will vary from someone whose weight is stable but they are looking to increase stamina and endurance. If you are running and strength training, then your body is going to need specific nutrition to satisfy the needs of muscle growth.
So first things first and that is to determine your personal health goals. Once you determine what that means nutritionally you will want to map out a game plan. If you are not sure what you need, then seeking advice and guidance from someone who has experience in this area would be your next step. You might want to talk to a nutritionist, fitness trainer or a health and wellness coach like myself. Regardless of what your goals are and what foods will best meet those goals, preparation is key for everyone; especially if you are time-challenged and find it hard to cook at home in a leisurely fashion.
As a health coach, the first thing I teach my clients is how to meal plan and meal prep so that they are fully prepared for their busy weeks. Here are a few of my tips and suggestions on how to meal plan for success and take the anxiety out of cooking nutritious but delicious meals:
Set yourself up for success.
If you want to make healthy eating a priority, you will want to have your pantry and kitchen stocked with the right ingredients and tools. You want to go through your pantry and get rid of all the expired cans and boxes; make a list of the spices you like to flavor your food; and create a list of items you need. You also will want to invest in cooking and storage tools that will make your meal preparation easier. My favorites and staples are: slow cooker, food processor, blender, sharp knives and lots of storage containers.
If you want to make better choices, then you must have better ingredients to work with both in your pantry and your refrigerator. Fresh is always better then frozen and canned foods should be avoided except for staples like beans. Cooking with whole real food is always the best option and if you prepare your meals in advance and store in the refrigerator, then you will have quick, easy and nutritious meals available.
Schedule a time to go shopping and bring your list with you. Don't go to the grocery store tired and hungry. ONLY buy what is on your list. You will save time and money by staying focused on your list. Set up a day and time that you will spend a couple of hours in the kitchen preparing meals and snacks for the week ahead. Just like you schedule in your runs and gym time, you must schedule in meal prepping time. You can get a lot done if you stay committed to the process.
When thinking about what meals you want to eat for the week, keep it simple. Find recipes or make up recipes that are 5 ingredients or less. Nutritionally sound doesn't mean tons of ingredients. You need protein, healthy fats and complex carbs. Shop for healthy ingredients you like; don't buy broccoli if you hate broccoli because it will sit in your refrigerator and eventually be thrown out. There are plenty of healthy greens that you can use instead so if a recipe calls for broccoli, and you don't eat broccoli, then just replace it out.
Have fun with your meal prepping; turn on some great music, invite a friend and share the experience. Running is always more fun with a buddy and so is meal prepping. It takes work to change our habits and our lifestyle and it also takes time. If meal planning meal prepping is new for you or you find that it stresses you out, then don't throw the whole idea out. Start small and make only 1 or 2 meals to start. Any changes you make will be positive and help you towards your end goal which is to better your health and wellness.
Leslie is a certified health and wellness coach with a private practice here in Myrtle Beach. Leslie works with busy professionals who want to change their lifestyle through a holistic approach. She assists her clients with weight loss, food cravings, managing stress and increasing energy. With over 25 years in the health and wellness industry, Leslie brings her own life experience along with her practical experience to help her clients achieve and maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle.
Leslie is a graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and she is also accredited by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. She most recently included into her business a healthy meal service program so she can provide fresh and healthy meals to busy professionals who don't have the time to cook at home. Leslie took up running a few years ago and completed her first full marathon this past February, she is now hooked and finally considers herself a "runner".
You can contact Leslie for a complimentary wellness strategy session