I receive a lot of questions from readers related to weight loss, so I decided it was time to write a post about what I do when I want to "get it together" with my diet and lose a few pounds. I generally eat healthy, but there are plenty of times when I have a little too much fun and my jeans end up feeling tighter than usual. (Hey, it happens to the best of us, right?) And, honestly, I just don't feel good about myself and know I'm not giving much effort to my diet. I always joke to Mal that I need to "get it together" because I know what works for me; I just need to do it and stop making excuses. That said, here are my go-to strategies that help me get back on track and back to my happy weight! (FYI: I don't have a specific number in mind or anything like that. I actually don't like scales. It's more of a happy feeling for me!)
I MEAL PLAN AND FOOD PREP LIKE A CHAMP
I know, I know. You've probably heard meal prep is important””and it is””but maybe you're not a fan of eating the same thing day after day. I get it. There's only a few things I can eat again and again, so I often switch up what I make from week-to-week. The one thing I always make sure I do is get my breakfast in order. That way, at a minimum, I'm starting my day off on the right foot and that often sets a healthy tone for the rest of my day. FYI: I only make one or two breakfasts each week (a big batch on Sunday) to keep things simple in the morning, but then I switch it up the following week.
Some of my current favorites:
- Scrambled eggs with Breakfast Potatoes and avocado
- Hash Brown Breakfast Bake
- Crockpot Oatmeal with egg whites and nut butter
- Breakfast Chia Pudding <-- I often mix this with my oatmeal
Another thing I do is make a big ol' crockpot recipe or casserole-type dish that gives me lots of leftovers for lunch and dinner. That way, a healthy meals comes together in no time. My go-to websites for these types of recipes are Skinnytaste and PaleOMG. Gina and Juli both have a ton of awesome recipes on their sites. Some of my current favorites: Crockpot Chicken and Black Bean Taco Salad, Cheeseburger Casserole, 5-Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie,
One more go-to strategy for sticking with my healthy eating even on the busiest days are what I call “Refrigerator Bowls.” They're basically a massive salad or rice bowl filled with whatever I have prepped in the fridge. Most weeks, I buy a bag of salad greens and microwaveable brown rice from Trader Joe's. Then, on Sunday and throughout the week, I prep various veggies and protein sources. Current favorites: Roasted sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli, peas, sautÃ©ed shredded Brussels sprouts, white beans, shelled edamame, canned chicken, tuna, or salmon, hardboiled eggs, avocado (lots of it), and random dressings (hummus, Mmm Sauce, Trader Joe's Goddess Dressing, balsamic vinaigrette, honey mustard). I just mix and match whatever I'm in the mood for, so I never get bored and it's always a nutritious and delicious meal!
I EAT A LOT OF HEALTHY FOOD
Ok, this might seem like a duh tip or totally counterintuitive, but so many women are afraid of calories, so I think it's worth highlighting. Those 1,200 calories per day menus? HELL NO. That's what I eat before dinner and snacks. Haha! I know everyone is different, but you need to FUEL your body, especially if you're exercising on a regular basis. And I've learned the more real food I eat, the better I feel and less I crave junk food and sugar. Sure, I eat donuts, Peanut M&Ms, and drink wine, but those things are a small part of my diet. The majority of what I eat is good, quality food, and if I'm craving a lot junk-y food, I do my best to flip the switch by eating lots of healthy food instead. Example: If I'm craving a bowl of Golden Grahams just an hour after eating breakfast, I'll make a smoothie with banana, spinach, chocolate protein powder and almond milk instead. I don't deprive myself; I just chose something more nutritious. I find when I eat real food and limit sugar/junk, I have a much easier time continuing to choose healthy foods. And I know this about myself-- like once I'm eating healthy, it's easy to stay there-- so this is definitely a go-to strategy for me.
I COUNT MACROS FOR A FEW DAYS
When I need to get it together, I loosely count macros via MyFitnessPal. Truthfully, I'm not much of a calorie-counter, so I only do it for a few days to remind me what foods make me feel more balanced with my diet. I also notice a difference in my energy and hunger levels””even my mood sometimes””when I eat this way, so counting macros (at least for a little while) definitely gets me back on track. Otherwise, I eat ALLTHECEREAL all the time.
I BREAK OUT THE MEASURING CUPS AND SPOONS
Once again, I'm not a big calorie-counter or food-measurer, but I know it works for me, so when I need to get it together, I break out my measuring cups and spoons and use them for a few days. They're a great visual reminder of what a serving of peanut butter, rice, or cereal looks like.
I TRY SOMETHING NEW AND MAKE IT FUN
New recipes, new ingredients, new meal and snack ideas all motivate me to stick with my healthy eating habits. Some recent examples: I re-discovered my love for Mama Peas's Mmm Sauce (and put it on everything), I made Spaghetti Squash Lasagna for the first time and loved it, I started adding a lot (1 tbsp+) of chia seeds to my oatmeal to give it more gelatinous texture, and I started eating Medjool dates stuffed with peanut butter and chocolate chips as a sweet treat. Trying new things is FUN and keeps me EXCITED about eating healthy!
I REMEMBER WHAT MOTIVATES ME
This is key. If you want to be healthy/lose/maintain your weight for the long-term, you need to find something or someone who motivates you every single day, especially when you don't want to make healthy choices. Finding that THING/PERSON/REASON is so important to keep you going. For me, it's two things: My health and my son.
Having a chronic, autoimmune disease totally sucks, but it's just the motivation I need sometimes. Over the years, there have been so many times I wasn't well enough to exercise or, hell, keep food in my system, so any day that I am healthy enough to enjoy food and actually absorb their nutrients, I don't take it for granted and do my best to make healthy choices.
Quinn also motivates me to live a healthy life. Of course, I want to be a healthy mom for him, but I also want to set a good example. There's so much he can learn from watching Mal and me in our everyday life, and we want him to be excited about healthy living, food, exercise, and many of the things that make us so happy and healthy.
I JUST DO IT
I've said this before on CNC, but if I don't like something about myself, I CHANGE IT. I know have the power to do so, so I don't wait to make a change, and I definitely don't dwell on the past. The past is the past. If anything, I learn from my mistakes and move on. And as soon as I decide to get it together, I just do it. I don't make excuses (been there, done that) or wait until Monday morning. I make a healthy change right away... and then I make another and another to keep up the momentum.
I know my body and know results don't happen overnight for me. I've basically been on a wine and sugar bender since the holidays, so I know it'll likely take about the same amount of time to see changes in my body. And that's okay because I see "getting it together" as a healthy, permanent lifestyle, so I have all the time in the world to perfect it!
Question of the Day
Your turn! What's one of your go-to strategies for when you want to "get it together" with your diet?
P.S. My friend Gina's Post Baby Bod Plan is now available! It includes a safe and an effective, 12-week training plan with detailed workouts to help you gain strength and endurance after having a baby. Definitely check it out if you're in the market for a post-baby shape-up!