I always stress that it's SUPER important to enjoy food and eating. A healthy relationship with food is far more important than any amount of weight loss. There is absolutely no point in overthinking about food or being miserable and hungry. That's not the way I would coach anyone to live their lives, after all. That's not a life. I have built a specific food routine that works for me, that takes all the overthinking and guess work out of eating healthy and makes it enjoyable for me. How did I do this? I thought about all the foods I liked and I found ways to keep healthier versions, alternatives, and recreations in my diet. I don't force myself to eat kale salads and drink celery juice because that's not what I like. Did my taste buds change as I tried healthier alternatives? Yes, and I love that! But if I don't want to eat something, well, I'm not going to eat it because I want to be happy during my journey.
When I started my journey, my main goal was cutting out sodas and fried foods. Then replacing everything I ate with healthy alternatives. I swapped chips for healthy crunchy snacks or made my own sugar-free treats. I made my own turkey burgers with spinach leaves and whole wheat buns. And I made my steak and potatoes with less butter. Little healthy switches made a world of difference and I didn't feel that I as giving up what I loved. Switching to drinking only water also helped more than I could illustrate. (For all those water-haters, I don't have much advice for you other than: get over it! Just drink it! You will detox from the soda and tea cravings and you won't even miss it eventually! It helps with so much more than shedding pounds: inflammation, insomnia, dry skin, breakouts, brittle nails, dry hair, allergies, painful joints. JUST DRINK IT.)
The problem was, once I hit the 20-pound-weight-loss mark, my progress began to slow down by an enormous amount. For most people, (not all—everyone is different) this will probably be the case. Your metabolism and your body start to get used to your routine. There are a few things you can do here: start intermittent fasting or simply go on a 1-day-fast (24 hours) to shock your system, cutting out processed/packaged foods more, cutting out meat for a week or so, upping your workout routines + protein intake, doing more HIIT and/or cardio...there are a lot of things you can try to switch it up to wake your system up. I did what most athletes do, (honestly, it's not like I'm an actual athlete, but you get it) and decided to cut. Meaning I've changed my food routine to fit a specific set of calories and macros. I don't glorify counting calories or macros at first, because honestly, it can stress you out more than help you. So, if you're just getting started: PLEASE don't count anything; just focus on switching to a healthy lifestyle and cutting out your habits. Once you start seeing changes and shedding pounds, then you can customize your new lifestyle to fit your goals. This is the smartest way to go about your weight loss. And it's so important to work smarter, not harder! This is a layout of my routine now, after a 70 pound loss. I have a few more pounds I'd like to shed, especially after that fun winter fluff creeped up. And I'm also focused on building muscle. You'll notice I eat small, protein packed meals and snacks throughout the day to keep my calories and macros in line and also to keep my metabolism working.
Some days, I intermittent fast, meaning I fast for about 16 hours—from the time I stop eating until 16 hours later, the next day. This usually leaves me eating at about 1 o'clock. BUT most of the time, I do eat a small breakfast before I workout, and a snack or small meal post-workout.
It's not very fancy, or exciting, but my mornings start very simple. Whole wheat toast with 1/2 tbsp butter and 2-3 hard boiled eggs. I have this every. single. morning. The only time I don't is when I decide to practice a good 'ole intermittent fast for the day.
10:00 AM Post-workout
An example of a post-workout meal for me, would be something with a decent amount of carbs for energy, and loaded with protein for muscle recovery. Today, I whipped up 1/2 of a medium sweet potato, 1 scrambled egg, and 2 oz of steamed chicken breast. Usually, I might throw in a handful of fresh baby spinach to get greens in.
I like to keep most of my meals around 300 calories. Having plenty of healthy fats and protein on my plates helps me to stay full. I typically just whip up whatever I'm in the mood for, I'm not a big fan of meal-prepping. I realize that most people don't have time to make 3-4 meals a day, so my lunch and dinner choices are meal-prep friendly!
- 1/2 Avocado
- 1/3 Cup de-boned, skinless salmon
- 1 tablespoon diced tomato
- 1 tablespoon diced onion
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and garlic powder
- Romaine leaves
Lay romaine leaf out flat, layer with salmon and avocado mixture. wrap tightly like a burrito and cut in half, almost like sushi. serve with remaining tablespoon of low-sodium soy sauce. These measurements equaled a total of 3 lettuce wraps (9 cut in half).
Typically, on a cut, I try not to snack in general. I feel like it's one of my vices I need to keep under control...even with healthy snacks. But there's no shame in getting in some good macros with a tasty snack to hold you over.
One of my favorite snacks right now has been a plain rice cake, 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter, and half a cup of seedless raisins sprinkled on top like a little snack pizza. It's a weird little concoction, but totally phenomenal and actually filling!
Dinner: 5:00 PM
- 1 Zucchini Noodles (Or sliced zucchini)
- 2 Oz Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
- 1/3 Cup Diced Tomato
- 1/8 cup Tomato Sauce
- 1/3 Cup Diced Onion
- 1/3 Cup Diced Mushroom
- 1/8 Cup Shredded Cheese
- Salt, Pepper, and Italian Seasoning to Taste
Boil zucchini noodles in salted water for five minutes.
On medium-high heat, steam or sauté chicken breast with onion and mushrooms. Once cooked through, add diced tomato and tomato sauce. Cook for approximately 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and Italian seasonings to taste. Pour sauce mixture over zucchini noodles, sprinkle 1/8 cup cheese on top.
Typically, that's it for me. Most of my hunger hits me in the early mornings and during the daytime, compared to most people who get their cravings and hunger in the evening and throughout the night. I try to drink plenty of water before bed time, and go to sleep early. At times, I'll whip up a snack to satisfy my late night munchies. You can check out my previous post filled with quick and easy snack recipes here.
My most commonly asked question is "how do you eat throughout the day?" Hopefully, spelling out my routine gave you all a great guideline of ideas to start your healthy lifestyle journey. Work smart, and eat like a human!