Monday, January 16, 2017

The Value of Meal Prep

Last month was crazy and I took several shortcuts with my nutrition.  I realized where it all fell apart.  I failed to plan out my meals for the week and "played it by ear."  This meant I was either eating nothing and starving or I was eating stuff I shouldn't eat...or too much of it.

When the moment of truth came and I got on the scale after New Year's, I knew what had gone wrong.  It wasn't just the overeating at the holidays, it was a cumulation of poor choices and a lack of planning.

I made conscious choice / effort to go back to basics.  Nutrition 101:  Eat smart.  Count all of my calories and macros.  Have healthy choices for food on hand.  Make sure I eat when I'm hungry.  Cut out all the crap.

In one week I lost 5 lbs.  Week two, I've seen zero movement on the scale, but I'm okay with that because I know my nutrition has been spot on and I've been killing it at the gym.
Go Patriots!
I think I'm going to make a better effort to drink more water.  I always neglect that and I feel the difference when I drink enough water.  (The first week of January, I had the flu, so I was drinking lots of liquids.)
Took a trip to Worcester yesterday because my son is sick.  I figure he probably got it from me, so I brought him what I needed to survive when I was sick.
So, what is all the talk about meal prep?

Meal prep helps you to plan out your food for the week with controlled portions.  It means getting up in the morning and having everything that you need all ready.

The trouble with meal prep for me is that typically you eat the same foods every day for the week.  And that can grow really old, really fast.

I fell in love with egg whites last summer when I tried a new nutritional program.  I saw how much protein is in the whites, without the fat and calories.  So I started making scrambled eggs or frittatas (omelets) with one egg and 1/2 cup egg whites.  Add some vegetables and BAM! there's breakfast, or lunch, or even dinner with lots of protein, very little fat and super easy to make.

Right before New Year's I bought broccoli florets at Costco.  A giant bag for like $5.  How can you go wrong?  Steamed broccoli, raw broccoli, roasted broccoli for days.

Yeah, so about that.

For the first two weeks in January, when doing meal prep, I made egg frittatas for breakfast (with steamed broccoli florets).
Every day.  Steamed. Broccoli.
Pretty much this was breakfast every day, but broccoli instead and no cheese.  
And in my lunch?  Chopped broccoli.

And for dinner?  At least twice we had roasted broccoli.

On Thursday, I couldn't take it anymore.  Instead, I ate cereal and brought chili for lunch.

Friday I fed the frittata to the dog. 

I don't think I can ever eat broccoli again.

So, I realize that meal PLANNING is more beneficial for me than meal prep.  I have typically prepped my meals for the next day the night before.  But I was taking shortcuts in December and that wasn't working for me.  So, it's back to basics.

This weekend, I made a pot of vegetable soup.  As long as I don't have that all the time, I really like this.  It's super easy to make.  Add some protein and it's a complete meal.
I add a couple TBSP grated Parmesan cheese.  Delicious!
Saute some onions, garlic and chopped carrots with just a little cooking spray.  
When the onions because translucent or start to brown, add 32 oz. chicken stock.  
While that is cooking, chop up some cabbage, or kale, if you prefer.  
Chop up some green beans, or add a box of frozen cut green beans.  
Cook until the cabbage is tender. 
Then add some zucchini, cut into small bite-sized pieces.  
Add more chicken stock (as much as you need, depending on how many vegetables you are cooking), salt, pepper and seasonings to taste.

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., I don't have to work today.
This quote is not one of his more well known quotes, but it still rings true.
Knowing I have to change things up, but at the same time, I need to be prepared for my week, I took advantage of the morning and went to town.

Meal Prep for days...
I started with breakfast...
My cousin Jamie get me into these.  Super healthy AND taste good too!
Had some for breakfast with sugar free syrup.
Then I made these Kodiak cake carrot breads.  So yummy!
Then lunch...
Tomorrow I'll have this tuna wrap.  (I can only handle tuna one day at a time.)
Remove the lettuce and it's no longer salad.  I can eat tomatoes and cucumbers like they are going out of style.  (I do need some more containers though.)  
I mix 1/2 cup of the low fat cottage cheese with 1/2 cup cottage cheese with chives.  210 calories, 5.5 g fat and 28 g protein.  Add veggies and viola!  I'll probably eat this 1-2 days this week.
Dinner in the crockpot... (This is today's dinner and probably lunch for 1-2 days this week.)
1 lb. ground turkey, browned with 2 small yellow onions
3 large carrots. peeled and chopped
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (or chopped)
1 14 oz. can chicken broth (low fat/sodium)
chopped garlic
1 1/2 C lentils (dry)
Seasonings:  salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder and curry to taste
Cook in the crockpot until carrots are soft and lentils are fully cooked.
Don't forget the snacks...
I pre-measure the granola into 1/2 serving sizes.  It's perfect for my Greek yogurt.
Now that I'm done, I'm ready for the rest of my day.  I'm thinking about taking the dog for a walk.  I'll hit the gym after I bring my son to work. 
Day off = pajama day
Pajama days make me happy!
(What IS that thing on my chin?)
If I take her for a walk, I have to disturb her...
Why I do Meal Prep:

1.  I eat the right foods and can control my portions.
2.  I don't have to stress about what to eat from one meal to the next.
3.  I don't go hungry.  When I am hungry, I have healthy snack options to eat.
4.  If I'm not stressed, I can enjoy the week.

How I do it:

I make a mental list on Saturday night or Sunday of what I want to eat.  Then I go shopping for the ingredients I need for my meals.  I make sure I have plenty of produce on hand.  I'll make a pot of soup or chili and set it aside for the week.  I package up snacks.   It works better for me to make my breakfast / lunches the night before.  That's why I have some variety this week, so I don't repeat what happened with the broccoli.

It is worth the time and effort.  More importantly, my body shows the results.  It's a habit that promotes healthy living.  I can't afford shortcuts.

Questions for you: (answer in the comment section below)
Food prep?  Meal Planning?  Meal Prep?  Yes or no?  What does it look like for you?

Are you up to speed on my series on wellness?  Check it out!
With Us
Worthwhile or Gimmick?
Three Years, Really?
No Time to Stretch!
Do you believe?

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Do you believe?

Discouragement is so easy to enter into our belief system when we are just getting started.
Last week it might have sounded like this:

I got on the scale and I weigh 216 lbs.  
That's awful.  
I'm awful.  
I'm so ashamed.

For a week, you tried to do what you could.  You ate smart.  Tried to get to the gym.  Drank a lot of water.  Darn it, you were hungry!  This week, you weigh-in and...

I weigh 214.8 lbs.   MAYBE you even gained a pound or two....
I only lost 1.2 lbs.   (I can't believe I gained two pounds?!?!)
That's awful.
I tried so hard.
I hate this.
I don't even know what I'm doing.
I don't think I can do this.
I'm so ashamed.

You start to doubt what you're doing.  Your life is busy.  You are tired.  This whole process is discouraging.

Let me STOP you RIGHT NOW!

If you have more than 50 lbs. to lose, you cannot expect to see rapid results immediately.  You just can't live in that fantasy world and allow doubt, shame and self-condemnation to rule your mindset.

No matter what!!!
If you gave it an honest try last week and you gained one or two pounds, DO NOT STRESS about that!

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Ask yourself a couple of questions...
What time of day did you weigh yourself?  Was it the same time of day as last time?
What clothes were you wearing last time?  Was it different?
What did you eat/drink before you weighed-in?
When was the last time you pooped?  Ummm, yeah, what goes in, must come out and it does make a difference on the scale.

If everything is more or less equal from one week to the next, just consider it a fluctuation in the scale.  Don't worry about it.  Have a good day today and get on the scale tomorrow to see if there's any difference.  When I weigh myself, I do it first thing in the morning with no clothes on at all. (Essentially I am dehydrated and have an empty stomach and am the lightest I'll be for the day.)  This morning I got on the scale and I weighed 153.9.  I was super excited because I was 158 last week.  This afternoon, I got on the scale to show someone that it is accurate and it does work and I weighed 155.5.  That's with my clothes on and after I'd had food and beverage throughout the day.  Your weight fluctuates.
Someone asked me how I can lose four pounds in one week.  I said, "Eh, it's the scale."  Yes, I worked hard this week.  I did.  My nutrition was on point and my workouts have been 100%.  But still, 4 lbs. is quite a bit in one week.  But who knows!  Next week I could be up a pound.  I don't stress out.  I know I am working hard to be the best I an be.  With that, I am satisfied.
What you want to look for is weight loss over time.  One to two pounds per week is healthy.  Sometimes you may see a five pound drop in one week, followed by little to no change the week after.  It's just the way our bodies are made.  Get over it and stop with the crazy self talk.

Now, let's go back to the root of the negativity.

When I was obese, I really hated how I looked.  I was so self-conscious that I wouldn't let my picture be taken, especially not alone.  At my heaviest, I was tired all the time.  It was all I could do to just get through the day.  I worked hard at my job, but I didn't work out and I either starved myself or ate junk.  My self-image was in the hole.  When I started this journey, there was something different about where I was then, as compared to previous attempts to lose the weight.

The difference was that I was tired of feeling bad.  I was tired of having no joy.  I wanted to have my picture taken.  I wanted to look and feel happy.  I knew that no matter what it took, I was NOT going to give up.  There was NO way.  When I felt like quitting, which I did time and time again, I refused to quit.

I had a mantra I remember telling myself, "Tracey, you can do this.  You must believe in yourself.  You have to make this work."

Health and fitness is not a straight path.  Even once you think you've "arrived", there are detours (injuries, illness, grief, loss, changes in life) that affect your journey.  I continually reassess where I am, where I am going and what I want from this journey.

Here is the basic truth I hold onto:

I need to be healthy in order to be a better person for my family, friends and to do my job better. This means physical, mental and spiritual health and wellness.

In order for me to be healthy, I must find time to take care of myself. 
I really like how I feel when I work out.  I enjoy riding my bike, hiking, and working out.  These things make me happy.  
If I am happy, I can be a better wife, mother, daughter, friend and counselor.

So much of this journey is mindset.  Be cognizant of that.  Instead of feeling down about where you are today, turn this beginning into empowerment.
Tell yourself:
I am going to make this work!
I am so much  stronger than I even think I am.
No matter what, I am NOT giving up!

Feel the energy of this mantra.  Connect with it at an emotional level.
When you are feeling badly, remember the mantra.  Stick to what you started.

Beautiful by Christina Alguilera
You are beautiful!

Today is the beginning.  You are just getting started.
Life is an amazing blessing.  Make the most of it each day.  You are worth it!

Questions for you...(Answer in the comment section below.)
How are you feeling about your goals for this year?  Do you believe you can achieve them?  What steps are you taking to make them happen?

Are you up to speed on my series on wellness?  Check it out!
With Us
Worthwhile or Gimmick?
Three Years, Really?
No Time to Stretch!

Subscribe to new posts!  When a new post is added, you will receive an email notice so you can check it out.  I promise:  no SPAM and I won't share your email address with anyone.  Look at the top right side of the page to subscribe.  

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Instagram:  @tracoleman99
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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

No Time to Stretch!

So, how are you?  Have you escaped the season so far with no cold?  I've had an awful one for a month now.  Trying to keep my smile on, but I feel yucky...
Can you see how red my nose is?  I look almost as bad as I feel.
Enough about that...back to the blog.  Do you exercise?  If so, how often do you stretch before / after you work out?  Most people I ask say, "No way, I don't have time for that!"  During my three year journey, I have learned so much about health and wellness.  One of the MOST important things is the importance of focusing on flexibility and mobility as part of my training.

If you are a regular subscriber to my blog, you may remember that two years ago I was in pain with my knee 24 hours / day, 7 days / week.  My hips?  They used to throb, especially if I was on my feet too much.  I could see the writing on the wall.  I would need not only a knee replacement, but a double hip replacement as well.

Under the direction of a new personal trainer, I began a regimen focused on strength training, with mobility / flexibility exercises built into my routine.  The combination of both made ALL the difference for me.  I was scheduled for surgery at the end of January, but in less than one month of this shift in my training, the surgery was cancelled.  My knee is now pain free.  And my hips?  The only time they ache is if I neglect the flexibility work.

Yes, I do still get a little achey here and there.  But pain in either?  Not at all.

Some stretches I learned from my trainer and others I learned from taking yoga classes.  Because of the pain with my hips and knee, most of them focus on the lower body.  The pain in my shoulder haunted me for the latter part of 2017.  A lot of my recovery has been focused on combinations of stretching, strengthening and rest.  Here is a great video demonstrating three different shoulder stretches.  Check it out:

The Best Yoga Moves to Improve Shoulder Flexibility by Dirty Yoga

The bottom line for most people starting out their fitness regimen is this:  TIME.  "I don't have the time to stretch."  "Really?  Why bother?"  "It's not that serious."  I get it.  I do.  But, unfortunately, as we age, our ligaments, muscles and joints age with us.  Continued use of these results in aches and pains that make life more challenging.  The best way to avoid this is to stay healthy through a combination of good nutrition, strengthening and endurance exercises.  Again, "Why bother?"  Mobility and flexibility work should be a regular part of your fitness routine.  It is critical for avoiding injury, helping with recovery, and keeping your overall fitness level optimal. 
Using the treadmill/elliptical?  Stretch.  Lifting weights?  Stretch.  Doing core work?  Stretch.  Have an achey joint? Leg? Back?  Stretch.

There is some discussion about when the best time is to stretch.  Personally, I don't like to stretch cold muscles.  Typically I warm up for a few minutes and then stretch before working out.  But sometimes I work out and then spend several minutes focusing on flexibility across all muscle groups.  There probably is some science as to when to do it.  Do be cautious about stretching cold muscles, but make sure to make flexibility and mobility a regular part of your workout routine.

I also use a foam roller to help with flexibility/mobility and muscle soreness.  The foam roller is amazing.  I'll talk about that some more in another post.

I love this stretch.  It opens my hips up so they are not tight.

Questions for you...(Answer in the comment section below.)
Do you stretch?  Before, during or after a workout?  How much time do you spend stretching?

Are you up to speed on my series on wellness?  Check it out!
With Us
Worthwhile or Gimmick?
Three Years, Really?

Subscribe to new posts!  When a new post is added, you will receive an email notice so you can check it out.  I promise:  no SPAM and I won't share your email address with anyone.  Look at the top right side of the page to subscribe.  

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Three Years, Really?

This is me in 2012:
I'm not sure exactly how much I weighed then, but I was fat...probably 200-215 lbs. or so.  I was on Weight Watchers at the time and had lost about 20 lbs. by this point.  But...

This is me today:  January 2, 2017.  I weigh 158 lbs., up 9 lbs. since Thanksgiving, so time to get back in the game 100%.

Three years ago I started this journey.  I did not know what I was doing, but I knew I had to do something.  It took me close to 18 months to lose the weight.  At my lowest weight, I was 143 lbs.

People who didn't know me when I was fat do not recognize pictures of me then.  When I tell them that I used to be fat, they ask me, "How did you do it?"

There's a lot more to it than this, but it's simple:

1)  Eat healthy.  Eat more than you think you should, but make sure you eat the right foods.

2)  Exercise:  lifting weights and cardio - mostly in the form of interval training.  Then I got my bike and that became my cardio.  Sixty minutes of exercise.  Every day.  If I can't do 60 minutes, I get in at least 30 minutes of cardio.

That's it.  

More important than "how?" is, "What did you learn?"

There are no gimmicks.  There are no tricks up the sleeve.  There are no fast shortcuts, fantastic weight loss pills, or magical exercise machines that do the work in no time.

Plain and simple, the most important thing I learned is to STICK with it.  NEVER give up.  If what you're doing isn't working:  try something different.  Adjust your calories and macros.  Do a different routine when you workout.  But NEVER give up.

2016 was a year of ups and downs for me.  Personally and professionally, there were a lot of ups.  I finally finished my degree (picture coming).

My son graduated from high school.  

My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.
I ran my first 5K race.
I did the Ride to Remember again.
Just to name a few....

I also had some downs.

I lost a friend.
The loss truly broke my heart.  
I injured my shoulder.
I used to be able to max out at about 40 push-ups at one try.  Now, 10 are extremely difficult and I pay (with pain) for it afterwards.

I had vein ablation surgery on my right leg, developed post-operative complications from the surgery.  Then had to go back in to remove the varicose veins in my right leg because my leg was not healing properly from the ablation procedure.  (No nasty pictures of this.)

The shoulder injury set me back a LOT.  Someone at the gym even asked me, "What happened to you?  You got skinny!"  Meaning ... I lost my muscles.  
I don't look this bad ass anymore.
I remember what happened in 2012 when I was on Weight Watchers.  I was doing really well until I injured my knee.  The pain was excruciating.  I couldn't walk.  I ended up gaining all the weight I had lost back and another 20 lbs. on top.   I gave up.  With my shoulder injury, I have had to scale back my training.  But I will not give up!!!

This year promises a lot of training challenges.  I am seriously considering doing the Holyoke Road Race, which is a 10K race around St. Patrick's Day.  It's a HUGE deal around here.  And the route is tough.  Very hilly.  I'm not sure if I'm even ready to train for that.  In May I am running a 5 mile race, the Run to Remember.   I am doing a 60 mile bike ride, the Tour de Cure in Rhode Island.  I am doing the Tough Mudder in Vermont.  And I will do the Ride to Remember again this year.

I will be pursuing a job as an assistant principal for the coming school year.  Hopefully that will pan out for me.  Fingers crossed.

I look back on where I was three years ago.  Yet another attempt to lose weight.  I blew it in 2012.  But something was different in 2014.  I refused to give up.   Today, at the beginning of another New Year, I am excited about the challenges in front of me.  Because of the pain I have in my shoulder, I may never be able to do the things I used to do again.  But I will not be defeated.
Here's to FANTASTIC 2017!

Question for you...(Answer in the comment section below.)
Do you have New Year's resolution for 2017?  What is it?

Are you up to speed on my series on wellness?  Check it out!
With Us
Worthwhile or Gimmick?

Subscribe to new posts!  When a new post is added, you will receive an email notice so you can check it out.  I promise:  no SPAM and I won't share your email address with anyone.  Look at the top right side of the page to subscribe.  

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