2018 is here. Have you started working towards your new goals? I personally enjoy setting new goals for myself whether it’s at the beginning of year, month, or even once a week. I believe it’s important to always be growing and improving. For many at the turn of the year, they set goals to start eating healthier and workout more.
I’m all about this goal, but of those who set that goal, did you make a plan for it? It’s a perfect time to get started on your fitness journey and improve your overall well-being. When you’re just getting started it can be overwhelming and you may not even know where to begin. When I set goals for myself, I also like making a plan towards that goal.
When people think of getting into shape, often that means getting to the gym as much as possible. While this is definitely a highlight (and my favorite part), in my opinion the most important part of starting your fitness journey is food and nutrition.
If I could go back in time to when I started my fitness journey and give myself one piece of advice, it would be to spend more time focusing on my nutrition. The most basic thing to know is that calories in equals calories out. That means if you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories per day than you consume; vice versa for bulking. This is the most common sense fact in nutrition, yet it doesn’t seem to get enough attention.
Because of this very basic concept, I encourage everyone new to fitness to count their calories. Tracking everything you eat can be overwhelming at first, but it will help you to better understand portion size and fueling your body properly in order to meet your goals.
Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.
It’s pretty much a no brainer that meal prepping is one of the easiest ways to track your calories and stay on track during the week. In order to be successful at your weekly meal preps and fitness journey, I recommend drafting a meal plan. The plan doesn’t need to be anything strict and you don’t have to stick to those meals exactly, but having a few recipes in mind for the week will help with grocery shopping and the meal prep.
For my goals this year, I started with a Google Doc and added headers for breakfast, lunch, dinner, preworkout and snacks. For the three major meals, I start with a lean protein – chicken, tuna, ground turkey, tofu, veggie crumbles, etc. Next, I add a high volume, low carb vegetable, such as green beans, broccoli, butternut squash, or mixed vegetables – frozen works fine. Finally choose a complex carb – I like roasted potatoes – red or sweet, jasmine rice, quinoa, or brown rice.
If you’re anything like me and you wake up hungry for the first meal of the day, I recommend adding a vegetable to your breakfast. I personally enjoy green beans or asparagus as a side to my egg white frittata muffins. These have been my go-to breakfast meal prep for nearly a year and I highly recommend them for those with busy mornings.
Here’s a few of my favorite meal prep recipes:
- Turkey or Chicken Meatballs with zucchini noodles or rice
- Ground Chicken, Sweet Potato, Black Bean Skillet
- Tilapia, Roasted Potatoes, and Asparagus
- Tuna and White Bean Salad
- Taco Bowl with rice
When it comes time to meal prep, being prepared is key. Choose a day that fits your schedule. If you’re new to meal prep Sunday, it may take few trys to get it down, but once you’ve got some experience under your belt meal prep shoul only be an hour or two.
If you’re using a slow cooker, start that first thing in the morning. I prefer cooking chicken breasts in the slow cooker since you throw everything in and forget about it. Next, preheat your oven to a temperature that you can cook everything at – I find 375 degrees works well. While the oven is preheating, cut any veggies or meat that you’ll be roasting in the oven.For easy clean up, I line your cooking sheets with aluminum foil and some cooking spray.
Start with the foods that will take the longest – potatoes, squash, chicken – the move on to the foods that will cook in a shorter amount of time – white fish, green beans, broccoli, asparagus.
As you begin learning the ins and outs of meal prep, I recommend weighing and tracking everything track how many calories you’re consuming. After a few preps, you’ll start to get hang of the process and portion sizes will come more easily. To track my food, I personally use MyFitnessPal because it syncs with my Fitbit which I use to track my exercises and weight.
Another app I’ve heard great things about is My Macros+ which was designed by fitness professionals. It costs $2.99 and I could see myself switching to the app if I go the route of an Apple Watch in the New Year, which is in the plan.
If you’re looking for a long-term diet to follow that will always fit with your fitness goals, I suggest flexible dieting. I have been following flexible dieting for two years, and it’s changed my outlook on food and my relationship with it.
I hope this helps anyone starting their fitness journey get started.