Sunday, February 7, 2010

healthy eating my way

Though I've been failing miserably at my fitness goals, I've been succeeding beyond my expectations at eating healthy. From past experience I have a hard time really buckling down and tackling more than one goal at a time. Maybe I was a little over zealous in the first place.

About 4 years ago I gained a lot of weight for my 5'3" frame. I topped out at 148lbs and had a very hard time fitting in to the majority of my clothes. This was devastating for me when I realized that earlier in that year I was averaging 114 to 119lbs. Not to mention, I get plump! My weight gain goes straight to the middle. Stomach, love handles, chest (that part wasn't so bad) and lastly my already round face. Knowing my family history, I had to make a concious decision to take care of my weight problems. Ones I will always struggle with if I'm not careful to maintain healthy eating and exercise habits.

Last year when I began running I turned to a coworker, who is a life long runner, to help me develop a meal guide. One that would allow me to continue to lose weight, but nourish my muscles and leave me feeling full. Too often I was waking up in the middle of my sleep starving. The healthy meal plan I had adopted previously to lose weight just wasn't quite working for a more athletic lifestyle.

As much as we'd like to thinks carbs or fat are absolutely terrible for us, they're essential for our body to function properly. Carbs are the most easily accessible and fastest burning energy source for us runners. It's important to eat healthy complex carbs found in things like oatmeal, wild & brown rice, and multi-grain bread. Even things like yams, strawberries, soy milk and brussels sprouts. It's only common sense to avoid processed sugars and pasta & breads made with white flour. It's also important to feed your body lean protien like chicken, turkey, tuna and halibut.

She taught me what I should be eating and how to combine them to get the maximum amount of nutrition and energy. She knows I like to count calories and broke it down in a way that would make it easy for me to put together meals that I loved within my calorie goal for the day to ensure I was still losing the unwanted weight. Eating like this and running 4 days a week was averaging a total loss of 1lb to 1 1/2lbs a week. I can go for that!

When I'm working out I like to eat between 1300 and 1500 calories daily. When I'm not working out and still trying to lose weight I'll cut back to 1100-1300 a day depending on how hungry I might be. You never want to feel so hungry that you binge. Here is an idea of how I plan my meals every day:

English muffin
- with 1 egg or with peanut butter
-fruit juice or a piece of fruit

= aproximately 300 calories for breakfast/2:1 carb:protien - whole wheat english muffins and Van's flax waffles are two of my favorite easy breakfasts. I'll have an english muffin with an egg over-easy and a glass of grapefruit juice or a flax waffle with peanut butter and a handful of strawberries.

Peanut butter & raisin celery
Apples & almond butter
1/2 avacado & tomatoes
Banana & graham crackers

= aproximately 200 calories for a snack - I love an apple with a couple tablespoons of almond butter or even plain old crunchy peanut butter. I also LOVE to dice up half an avocado and mix it in with a couple of diced tomoatoes with a little pepper.

Chicken, green salad, bread
Fish, brown rice, broccoli
Shrimp, quinoa, peppers
Buffalo chicken strips, green salad

= aproximately 400 calories for lunch/1:1:1 protien:carb:veggie - I'm a sucker for boneless buffalo wings, and I especially love the Tyson Buffalo Chicken Strips. She was nice enough to include a meal with them for me. Two strips equal a serving (protien & carbs in one). Those paired with a salad and a little light blue cheese dressing is to die for. I also like to make my middle meal of the day larger than my last so I'm not sleeping on as many calories during my work week (working nights) and switch the "lunch & dinner" around on my weekends so I'm a little more normal.

(see above)

= aproximately 200 calories - When I'm not working out, I cut out one of my snacks, usually the first one. This snack is what I utilize for carb/protien energy a little before my run since I run after I get off of work. When I'm working out, I'll eat both.

Turkey sandwhich on low calorie bread
Chicken salad lettuce wrap
Cajun chicken & black bean wrap lettuce wrap

= aproximately 300 calories/2:1 protien:carbs - I sleep longer and stay fuller on protien as it's burned slower than carbs would be. My local grocery store has a lot of low calorie options for bread now, and it's easy to heap a sandwich full of some turkey or chicken and all the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, sprouts and avocados your heart desires. Of course, no would would stop you from chosing any other sandwich worthy veggies you love. I also love turkey meat with taco seasoning, black beans, tomatoes, cilantro and jalepeno wrapped in butter lettuce. I'm just hungry thinking about it!

Of course, this plan may not work for everyone. I personally have an allergy to dairy, so my meal plan doesn't include any milk, cheese or yogurt. If those are something you love to eat, there's no problem adding them in. I think it covers all the bases and lends to a healthy lifestyle. I've never felt better when I combine this kind of eating with exercise, and always remember to drink plenty of water!

I always have a cheat day once, sometimes twice a week and it's usually just for one meal. There is no way I could possibly give up things like my beloved beer & margaritas, a hearty stew or a huge pan of homemade enchiladas. But you just have to make sure you eat those things in moderation. And lastly, eating healthy doesn't have to be boring. There are so many great options that still taste great while you nourish your body with things that are good for you. If you don't already, I encourage you to take a look at what you eat every day and implement little changes. You might find you like change.

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