Meal Prep and Weight Loss

Are women who prepare meals in advance healthier?

Are women who prepare meals in advance healthier than those who don’t? I can speak from experience and say yes. When I don’t cook at the beginning of the week, I come home, tired, exhausted, and tend to eat whatever I can grab from the refrigerator, which is usually a sandwich and maybe a snack.

If there something salty nearby lie chips, I may grab that too along with some water. Next, I may drink a fruit smoothie that has previously purchased from the store, but that has a considerable amount of sugar to drink before bedtime. Fresh fruit would be better because there is not as much concentrated sugar in it.

Prepare Early

However, I find that when I do essential food preparation at the beginning of the week, I tend to eat healthier throughout the week. So, to have a healthy lifestyle, I must plan. This way, I can portion out my meals for the rest of the week, pick it up and go.

You know the old saying, “Fail to plan, then plan to fail?” I think that applies in this situation. If this is an area that you are struggling with, I have some tips that may be helpful to you.

A Few Ideas

First of all, plan what you are going to eat for the week in advance. I have started doing meal prep on Sunday. Sometimes I cook a few meals and portion it out in containers to take to work for the week, or I prepare veggies for soups and stews by cutting them and then bagging and storing them until needed.

If I am going to steam them later in the week, I chop and put in bags in the refrigerator. Then, when I am ready, I add sauce, seasonings, or whatever I need to dress it up and prepare the meal.

Meal Prep Containers

I utilize meal prep containers and store my lunch for the week.  Check out these meal prep containers.

You can easily roast potatoes and veggies and save them until needed.  Later, add them to stews or soups, wraps or veggie bowls.

The Versatility of Beans

A large pot of beans can be used one day for chili, another day for burritos, added to rice or Quinoa, added to soups and salads. If you are creative, you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen trying to figure out what to make. The beans become the base for the week of other meals. I could go on and on with additional suggestions for this protein.  Did I mention that you can make bean dip, bean spread, beans in sweets?

The quickest and easiest bean to make if you have time constraints is Lentils. They are full of protein and fiber and can be used as they are or with rice. I like them in Mexican soup, lentil and spinach soup, lentil tomato and spinach soup, or whatever combination you wish to use. Canned beans with low sodium are another option for quick meals. Curried Lentils are also quite tasty!

Breakfast, the Most Important Meal of the Day

For breakfast, I prepare 3 or 4 days worth of smoothies, pour it in cups, and freeze.  In the morning, I take it out, let it start thawing, and it is ready to eat before I leave or when I get to work. My other option for smoothies is to freeze the fruit for individual smoothies in baggies and, in the morning, blend the fruit and go. This way, I have a variety for the week.

Another breakfast or dinner favorite is scrambled tofu with onion, garlic, peppers, and mushrooms if I have them and spinach or kale. It’s an excellent way to get extra veggies in my diet.  I sometimes also add spinach or kale to my smoothies.

I make a batch of my healthy whole wheat waffle recipe and freeze them.  The preparation is quick, and the waffles cook quickly.  I prefer the brands that make four waffles at a time. This waffle maker makes waffles on one side and pancakes on the other.  I love it because it reminds me of the one my mother used when I was a child.

Invest in a rice cooker – This is perfect for brown rice.  I only use brown rice because it has more nutrients than white rice.  I do believe it is a healthier option.  I prefer Basmati or jasmine rice because it is flavorful and has a pleasant aroma.  It may be harder to find in some stores, depending on where you shop.  Rice cookers allow you to put the ingredients in the device and come back when it’s ready.

This a nice cooker 

A Few Secrets

One nutritious grain that I discovered a few years ago is a Quinoa.  This grain is not hard to cook, and it’s loaded with protein.  I will write a full blog post about it in the future.  It is so versatile, and you can cook it in a variety of ways.  It is an excellent grain for meal prep.

I keep a bag of fresh Spinach and Kale at almost all times.  At times, I use spinach in salads.  When I eat sandwiches, I use spinach or kale instead of lettuce.  They are also tasty in smoothies and scrambled tofu.

Don’t Make it Complicated

Keep it simple.  I like the convenience, but I also want my food to be flavorful and healthy.  Many think that to eat healthily, one has to sacrifice taste, but that is not true.

Spending long hours in the kitchen is not an option for me.  On meal prep day, I do what is easy.  You don’t have to make all your weekly meals upfront, but there needs to be enough preparation, so you don’t feel like you are working a second job when you come home from work.

If you take a little time each week for meal prep, you will find that some of your bad eating habits will change.  YOu will be more conscious of what you are putting into your body and feel better about yourself for taking better care of your body.  Try it out next week and leave a comment below on how things worked out.

 

Physical Fitness

Exercise and Health

“I like how I feel after I exercise, but it’s the starting part that I have a problem with most days”.  Does this sound familiar? It’s the story of my life.  I start to work out and may even do it for some weeks and months, but I struggle with consistency.  What is it that makes others love working out? How do I make time for it?  The answer is simple. We make time for what we consider to be a priority in our lives.

Why should you exercise? 

Here are a few facts from womenshealth.gov,  but in a few words, to improve your health.  Exercise to manage weight and to take advantage of doing something healthy for yourself.  Consider it a way of pampering yourself.  However, there is also health many health benefits from making physical activity a way of life.

There is strong evidence that regular exercise can lower your chances of:
Heart disease
Stroke
High blood pressure
Unhealthy cholesterol levels
Type 2 diabetes
Metabolic Syndrome – WebMD defines Metabolic Syndrome, not as a disease but a group of risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol, and abdominal fat.
Colon cancer
Breast cancer
Falls
Depression

Hearing this should motivate us to exercise.  But wait, there’s more.

What can happen if you don’t exercise are out of shape and overweight?

Heart disease

High Blood Pressure

Stroke

Type 2 diabetes

Breathing Problems

Osteoarthritis

Gallbladder Disease

Sleep Apnea (breathing problems while sleeping), and some cancers.

How much exercise should you get? 

There are many theories and views on how much is needed but the recommendation from the public health guidelines recommends a minimum of two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (such as brisk walking, or gardening) or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise (jogging, aerobic and jump rope) weekly.

That isn’t a lot of time out of a week.  It boils down to priority and time management. If you are looking to lose weight, you may have to increase your aerobic activity.

Type of Exercise

At one time, I thought the only important thing with exercise was cardio.  I later found out from a trainer that I needed to also include strength training and flexibility through stretching in my fitness regimen. Weights are one way to increase strength but using your body weight is quite affordable and cost-free.  I have frequent low back pain from scoliosis, but when I do stretching and strength training at home, I notice a big difference in the level of my discomfort.

Walking

By far, the most comfortable and cheapest form of exercise is walking. It’s free, takes little effort,  preparation, but if done correctly will reap good results. It is also an excellent place to start for beginners.

The biggest question to ask yourself is why aren’t you doing it if you know you should?   There are various reasons why many don’t, including lack of time, little or no motivation, no energy, and the demands of life.

Breaking Barriers

Here are a few suggestions to help eliminate excuses for not exercising:

Try daily exercises at home, such as walking, gardening, or videos.

Wear a device that counts how many steps you are taking per day.

Have an accountability partner or an exercise buddy.

Hire a personal trainer.

Participate in group fitness activities.

Everyone needs exercise.  It is one of the best ways to prevent illness, improve health, and slow the aging process.

 

 

The Benefits of Accountability Partners

Have you ever wondered why so many people are unsuccessful in exercise and changing bad habits? Maybe it’s due to the absence of one crucial ingredient that many need but don’t necessarily utilize; it’s an accountability partner. Without accountability, some of us will not do things that are necessary for good health. Sure, we all know we need to exercise; it’s just a matter of doing it.

I currently have some friends who are holding me accountable for exercise, drinking water, and eating correctly. We check in once a week and give our weight gains or losses. In addition to this, we also encourage each other during the week to drink more water and eat healthy foods. At other times we post pictures of our meals as suggestions for the others to try. We also have water consumption and exercise challenges.

 

Two are Better than One
There is a text in the Bible in Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10 that says, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls don, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Now here are some of the benefits of an accountability partner.

Motivation 
If I become slack in my exercise or health management, then I have someone to say, “Hey, you can’t quit now, get up and keep trying.”  Sometimes we may get tired of motivating ourselves, and that’s when an accountability partner steps in.  When you run out of gas and feel like giving up, your accountability partner is there to motivate you not to give up.  You may hear them say things such as, “That was just 15 push-ups, give me ten more.  Hey, keep going, you can do it.  Don’t stop!” 


Encouragement
There is nothing like an encouraging text, email, or note from time to time from someone who is in your corner when it comes to health. “Hey, it looks like you’ve lost a few pounds.” (they notice)  “I found a recipe you may like, try it and tell me what you think.”  “You drank eight glasses of water today?  You go, girl!”  Are you exercising for 20 minutes?  “You drank eight glasses of water today?  Way to go!”  “You’re exercising 20 minutes? Maybe you can go for 30 minutes.” Have you had your mammogram or physical this year?  Accountability partners give gentle reminders and suggestions.

Success
Many successful workplaces and groups incorporate accountability into their overall health plans. They put systems in place to keep employees healthy. Some things they offer are discount or free gym memberships, online health education, weight loss programs, or free health monitoring devices such as the Fitbit. Check with your place of employment to see if they offer any of these programs. 

Exercise buddies can be just about anyone. They can be husbands, sisters, friends, co-workers, or neighbors. You can even find online partners and groups. There is a website called www.sparkpeople.com that has plenty of free resources for losing weight and staying healthy. They also have accountability partners/groups, recipes, exercise videos, and a wealth of other information. If being consistent is difficult for you to get an accountability partner. Remember, two is better than ONE!

10 Solutions for the Couch Potato

relax on the sofa

Alright, I admit it.  I have formed some bad habits.  I am finally at the point that I can accept it and make a decision to do something about it.  I have decided that if I am going to make some changes, I need some things to help me change my ways.

It’s taken me many years to develop unhealthy habits, and change will not come overnight, but it can come a little at a time. Here are a few things I plan to do to help me in my quest for a more healthy me.

The Fitbit Watch I have a few friends who have a device that I think is quite interesting and useful. One of them also comes in many other colors.  What is it you might ask?  A Fit Bit Watch! What a bright idea and valuable for people like me. It is undoubtedly the way to go to get started on the right track to good health.  Here are some of the features of this watch.

• Get continuous, automatic, wrist-based heart rate and simplified heart rate zones
• Track workouts, heart rate, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes and steps
• Monitor your sleep automatically and wake with a silent alarm
• See call notifications, daily stats and time of day on the OLED display
• You can sync stats wirelessly and automatically to your computer and over 150 leading smartphones.

The Smart Scale – Most scales give weight, and if health is an issue, it’s good to look at more than this.  A better scale costs a little more money, but it’s well worth it.  The EatSmart Precision GetFit Digital Body Fat Scale can hold up to 400 lbs of weight. It measures the percentages of body fat, body water, muscle, and bone mass. It also stores information for up to 8 people so that the whole family can be healthy.

Exercise Videos – It is hard for me to go to the gym, so I use exercise DVDs at home.  One DVD that works well for me is Leslie Sansone’s walking videos.  I like this one because there are four workouts on one DVD and I enjoy the workouts.   It does not require fancy steps and moves, just walking. It’s especially useful if you are a beginner. During these sessions, a mile goes by quite quickly, and you can soon do two miles in a short time. She is a great motivator, and I feel revived afterward.

Amazing Grass Green SuperfoodGreen Superfood is a powerful blend of nutritious greens, phytonutrient-packed fruits, veggies, and cereal grasses, digestive enzymes, and probiotics which increase energy promotes detoxification and boosts your immune system. Amazing Grass Green Superfood is an excellent resource for someone wanting to get off the couch.  Along with sitting comes and unhealthy snack foods.  I believe that Fresh fruits and veggies are better, but if you need to supplement a little, Green Superfood is an excellent choice.

Focus on today, not tomorrow.  Baby steps, get moving!  Some think they need to join a gym, exercise long hours daily or spend an hour a day to begin exercise. Neither of these things is true.  All it takes is baby steps.  I know someone who was so heavy they couldn’t even walk two houses down from their home in a subdivision.

She started by just going to the mailbox.  She did that until she could do so without panting for her next breath or stopping.  She then walked to the home next door until she could do so without being out of breath.  She then increased her activity slowly until she made it to the end of the block.

After a while, she was able to walk a mile. She lost a significant amount of weight by concentrating on today and not trying to do too much at one time. What activity can you do today that will start you on the journey to making life changes? Just pick one thing and do it consistently until you are comfortable and then add another activity. Here are a few suggestions:

Walk – it’s free. No membership is required. You don’t need any fancy equipment, just some comfortable walking shoes.

Start Gardening – This is one of the most therapeutic ways to relax, get in touch with nature, and also exercise at the same time.

Use a pedometer – My church started a walking program where we track our steps per day. I noticed that I take more steps when I wear the pedometer. It always challenges me to do more or to reach a specific goal. I started trying to increase my walking to 10,000 steps per day, and I noticed I was deliberate in how many steps I took. I would park far from my workplace, church, or the store and take more steps to reach the goals I set for myself. Try it; pedometers are inexpensive. Here is the one I use.  On your breaks at work, walk. It’s better than sitting, and it also relieves stress.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  I walk along the hallway at work sometimes back and forth two or three times for short power breaks.

Take five-minute exercise breaks and do wall push-ups, squats, or any other arm or leg exercises.

It doesn’t take much, just a little effort and a whole lot of determination.  So go ahead, get to moving. Decide to change your life.  Don’t wait, do it now.

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