It’s Monday and you know what that means. Brittany’s Day Off! Today, I slept in much, much later than I wanted to. I don’t actually enjoy sleeping in past about 9:00. It makes me feel stupid and lazy and cranky for pretty much the rest of the day. I’d much rather wake up early, get a workout in, enjoy a delicious breakfast, maybe watch some old school TV. Anyway, that’s not what I did today. So to punish myself, I hit the pavement. Today was my first outside run since the 5k! I only made it about 2 miles before I started to feel like I was going to either a) die or b) turn into a zombie. It was a beautiful day for a run though! Plenty of sunshine, a crisp fall breeze and a nearly empty running trail. Perfect conditions. Despite the lovely environment, when I was done I can not BELIEVE how sore I still am from Boot Camp! They say that muscle soreness comes from micro-tears in your muscles. I don’t think these are micro-tears. I think they are very, very macro tears. So today, as I was scrounging around for something to make for lunch, I re-visited some of my old Pinterest posts (aka where great recipes go to die) it got me thinking about all of the fad diets that are out there. There’s the infamous Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet. There’s the Dukan Diet, the Kind Diet, the Flat Abs Diet, the (insert number between 3 and 300 here) Day Detox Diet, the Anti-Aging Diet, the Cure for (insert some affliction here) Diet. The list could go on for pages and pages, but you get the idea! There are a lot of diets out there. Some of which I’ve tried, none of which have really worked. Perhaps the closest I’ve come to success with any of this was with a 10-day low sodium diet that I tried a few years back. I lost quite a few pounds, but as soon as I stopped drinking 14 glasses of water a day and low-sodium EVERYTHING, the weight came right back. It wasn’t realistic, it was expensive and it was tasteless. 100% tasteless. Over time, I’ve sort of concocted my own combination of everything that I’ve read and tested over the last few years. Granted, it’s not actually a diet at all. But here are the basics. Introducing; The 5ks & Cofee Beans Meal Plan! (DISCLAIMER: Again, as I’ve said 2 billion times, I am NOT a dietician/nutritionist/personal trainer/food specialist/chef/doctor/nurse/consultant/anything like that. Everything that I post in this blog is strictly from my own experience and research.)
- Frequent small meals throughout the day: I always want to eat. The breakfast-lunch-dinner deal really doesn’t cut it for me, so instead, I’ve trimmed the portion sizes that I eat at these meals and allow myself several snacks as well. At work, I’m a big fan of apples and bananas (partially because they’re plentiful, mostly because they’re delicious!). Some of my other favorite snacks include: a single egg (scrambled or “fried”), a yogurt cup, a serving of almonds or walnuts, an english muffin with peanut butter & coconut,
- Avoid drinking calories: This blanket statement includes anything from high-calorie coffee drinks to soda to alcohol. Just don’t do it. We all know that I absolutely love my coffee. If I could live off of Starbucks’ Iced Caramel Macchiatos with an extra dose of caramel for a year, I’d be a very happy camper, but I’ve toned it waaaay down since graduation. Granted, part of this is because I can no longer purchase my favorite drinks on my meal plan (paying real person money for Starbucks makes it far less appealing), but even when I do grab a cup, I stick to plain old iced coffee. Fat-free milk, half the sugar. I’m sure it’s no surprise to you, but drinks with extra syrups, full-fat milk etc. can easily add up to 400+ calories. Yikes!
- Make substitutions: No one likes cutting back, but finding some healthier substitutions that are tasty as well make it much easier. For example; you’d be shocked at how many different things you can squeeze plain greek yogurt into. It can work in place of sour cream, mayonnaise and mixed in with peanut butter, it makes a fantastic fruit dip!
- Take the best of what you read: If you’re like me, you probably come across many fitness/ healthy eating articles. I love reading nutrition and diet books and finding articles online. As I mentioned earlier though, these fad diets are often not that great for you. However, many different plans have bits and pieces of great information. I love taking little snippets of what I read and incorporating them into my own plan. Though that low sodium diet was entirely unsustainable, it definitely made me more aware of the sodium levels in things I was eating. Even simple things like pasta sauce!
- Pick some favorite staples and always keep them on hand: There are a few things that I always have on hand. These staple items change a bit from season to season, but here are a few of the basics: yogurt, english muffins (100 calorie multi-grain are my favorite), peanut butter, avocados, bananas, eggs, sweet potatoes, oatmeal and whole grain pasta or quinoa. No, that’s not all I eat by ANY means, but these are some of my favorite go-tos.
- Don’t be afraid of fat: Granted, consuming a lot of fat in a day isn’t a good thing. But more than fat grams, try to pay attention to where the fat is coming from. For example, some of my favorite foods that I eat by the truckload in a week are avocados, peanut butter and coconut. All of these items are actually quite high in fat, but they all possess very healthful qualities.
- Don’t forget your splurges: I am a HUGE fan of dessert. I love treats and have a sweet tooth the size of Mt. Everest (which I end up paying for, just see here), but I know that I need to keep that in check. I love finding healthy treats that are delicious and sweet, but don’t fill me with guilt when I eat them. I love having those wheat and peanut butter bites on hand that I shared earlier on the blog. They’re great on their own or crumbled on top of yogurt. I also love dark chocolate. Oftentimes I buy a dark chocolate candy bar and eat it over the course of the week. FYI, I’ve heard that the higher the percentage of cocoa, the greater the health benefits. I love 85% andGreen & Black’s Organic Chocolate is my very favorite kind. Do be warned, it is intense. Aside from dark chocolate, I also love yogurt-covered raisins, fruit, and every once in a while, some slow-churned, 1/2 fat ice cream (Edy’s slow-churned tastes just as good as the real deal!)
- All in all, the most important thing is to remember balance is key. Some days, you don’t want to be “good”, you want to eat ice cream and enjoy outings with your friends and splurge for that latte on your way to work. Just remember, that one little digression from healthy eating isn’t the end of the world and you can pick right back up the next day. This is the major reason why I really love myfitnesspal. It keeps me honest. I also love the estimate that you’re given at the end of each day of what you’ll weigh in 5 weeks. Of course it’s not 100% accurate, but it’s kind of a fun feature. Food diaries and calorie-counting are definitely not good tools for everyone to use, but if you find it helpful, myfitnesspal is a great resource.
Phew! That was a long post! Thanks for reading and I’ll see ya tomorrow. This image has been flying around Pinterest for weeks, but it’s a keeper!