Two Lethal Landmines to Avoid: Fast Food & No Food
On some level we know that fast food is bad for us; no news flash there. However, our hectic schedules and sometimes the company we keep can dictate where we wind up at a meal time. For that reason, I highly encourage you to plan ahead and take measures to ensure you don’t wind up in the fast food trap. I know they are trying to have “healthier” options and you don’t have to get the fries or triple cheeseburger, but you might be disappointed to discover the nutritional content of that “healthier” option falls far short of what you could have created for yourself at home.
Almost as bad as throwing “bad food” into our body is putting NO food into our body. While some of us may have acclimated to approaching our eating habits in this way it should be somewhat obvious that it does not promote an optimum state of health for us. We have to have balance in how we approach our daily nutrition, and making a habit of going without meals, or even going an entire day without food will not serve us well.
If you haven’t already guessed, I am suggesting that you incorporate changes to your meal plan to ensure you are able to stick to a viable nutrition regiment each day.
The first rule of your meal plan:
HAVE ONE. Many of us get so busy that we don’t give any attention to our eating and have no plan. A meal PLAN means that you have considered what options you have and what will be best for the day (and even week!) ahead.
The second rule of your meal plan:
plan for 3-6 meals in your day. Opinions vary on whether it is best for your metabolism to stick with the traditional breakfast lunch dinner format or to make a concerted effort to have 5 or 6 smaller meals throughout the course of a day. For myself, I make sure to have my standard 3, and typically incorporate an afternoon snack if needed. I have already planned what that afternoon snack can be, and have it at my disposal should the need arise. I am a teacher, and my morning goes nonstop through lunch so I don’t really have an opportunity to stop for a mid morning snack, but I also have not felt the need for one as I use Shakeology for breakfast.
The third (and final) rule of your meal plan:
Do not attempt to make up for today with tomorrow. If you blow your meal plan on Monday, do not create an extra calorie deficit on Tuesday in an effort to make up for it. Monday was blown. It happens; deal with it. Then come back stronger on Tuesday. Identify where you dropped the ball and make improvements until your daily habit match your meal plan and it will start to become automatic.
As I have had my own struggles in creating, implementing, and sticking to a meal plan I wanted to offer some recommendations to the three primary meals in the event that you can relate these experiences. I hope you find them helpful 🙂
Some of us get acclimated to having no breakfast and just go through the morning on coffee. It should come as no shock that this is really not the best idea. Your goal should be on your fitness and health, not simply losing weight or maintaining weight. You have an awesome opportunity in the morning to jump start your metabolism and give your body what it needs. Take advantage of that by PLANNING to have breakfast, however simple it may be.
When I failed to have lunch planned out, serious disaster could result. When this was coupled with failing to eat breakfast, it was even worse. Lunch time would roll around and I would be starving and have nothing in front of me. Solution? I’ll go get something real quick. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if I need food, and I need it fast, I am probably going to wind up with something for lunch that compromises my nutritional goals. It is critical that you plan your lunch the night before. If you are consistent, it won’t take long until you are looking forward to some of the lunches that you find you enjoy the most.
For dinner, I simply had to pay attention to my portion sizes. To be honest, this is largely because I have an awesome wife who plans our family’s meals for the week. She is an amazing cook, and it is an easy thing to have too much of a great dish that is served at dinner. In fact, it took her a little by surprise when I started paying closer attention to my food quanties, and having just one burger instead of two. I would measure the portions of my dinner sides; I started using the measuring spoons to give myself an exact portion of a salad dressing. At the end of the day, I am usually pretty spent, so having the blessing of a meal already prepared tempts me to disengage my brain altogether and just eat. I came to the place where I no longer wanted to “undo” the efforts I had made throughout the day. Again, in time this became more automatic, but it did require a bit of effort at first.
You Can Do It!
Some will face more difficult obstacles than the standard ones I have presented. The bottom line is that if you PLAN, you will have a huge advantage in sticking to your nutritional objectives. For myself, I found a tremendous advantage in using the approach presented to me by a college buddy who got me plugged into a challenge group that helped to give me balance between my exercise, nutrition, and accountability. I’m down 70 lbs so far, and have now entered my best fitness level since high school football. Drop a comment below or email me if you are interested in learning more about this. If I was able to do it, I promise you can too!
Component 1: The right number of calories
While not the only component to weight loss, it isn’t any mystery that if you are serious about losing weight you have to create a calorie deficit. A number of people have struggles that go beyond the simple calorie count, but this is where it begins. If you don’t have a baseline and track in some measure where you are in relation to it, you have no chance of losing those unwanted pounds. That being said, there is a second component to having winning nutrition.
Component 2: The Right Kind of Calories
Many people who still struggle in losing weight after they have their calorie count under control see much improved results when they give focus to getting their calories from the right sources. While this example is a bit extreme, no one would recognize that there would be an issue in attempting to get all of your calories from soda and chips. You could technically gauge how much Coke and Potato Chips to have at all three meals to stay within a target calorie goal, but on top of feeling miserable you not likely see any changes. For some, that balance in the macros of your nutrition must be a bit more precise than for others. Keep your pulse on how many calories you proactively plan to get from protein, carb, and fat sources.
Component 3: Effective Distribution of Calories
One huge downfall many of us have fallen prey to is fasting through the day in an effort to use all of our calories in one meal. That does not allow our metabolism to achieve any balance, and is likely to wreak havoc on our body, mood, and emotional state. Avoid this pitfall! Plan at least 3 mealtimes on your day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and make an effort to stretch into 5 to 6 smaller meals on the day. With these in place, the 4th component is a no-brainer.
Component 4: Water
This was one of my greatest struggles. I had virtually lived on diet soda, and water was just too boring for my taste buds. I have made great strides by using water with lemon (and other citrus) to have some flavor and get to my 8 (+) cups of water on the day. The good news is that as you incorporate more water into your diet, the more your body will want it. This does not happen overnight, but I can tell you that I can actually sense my bodies thirst for water and soda has little appeal for me anymore.Seek to keep balance in your eating habits and you will see great strides in your weight loss journey. One final note, also be sure to not create too large a calorie deficit and so starve your body that it begins to shut down. One of the best tools I have found in helping me to reach target goals in this regard is an app/website called myfitnesspal (My fitness pal). You can put it on your smartphone or just log into it on your computer at myfitnesspal.com. It is totally free and allows you to track not only your calories but your fat, carb, protein, cholesterol, sodium, etc. Hope you have a terrific Tuesday, and drop by tomorrow for some tips on exercise 🙂
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