I like to eat and I eat, a lot. People don’t believe me, but it’s true. I tend to eat the same things day-to-day, week-to-week and the same rotation of foods makes it into my cart on my weekly Trader Joe’s-with-a-stop-at-Whole Foods haul (more like major haul with a million trips in between for all the little things I forgot). But for me, it works. At this point, I’ve figured out what I like, what I don’t, what my body needs and doesn’t.
I eat in moderation, but genuinely do love eating clean. It makes me feel good, sustains me through tough workouts and is kind of fun, I think. And when I eat crap, well, I feel like crap. Like you know that feeling after you’ve had a huge cup of sugar-free froyo with rainbow sprinkles and Reese’s mixed in? Or a huge plate of the saltiest nachos you can find? I do. [Fun fact: loaded nachos, hold the sour cream and olives, are my favorite! Fortunately for my stomach, I enjoy a modified but equally delicious chip-less and dairy-free version on the reg. So maybe they’re not really nachos, but they make me happy so just go with it.] And when I do drive halfway across town to my favorite yogurt shop, or enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, I do so without guilt. *Life’s too short.*
Contrary to popular belief, eating clean does not have to be boring and can be done on a budget- I did it all through college. It allows me to use my creativity to throw together fat-loss friendly eats that are quick and easy, but still palatable. I love to cook, but have a really really short attention span. And hate prep and clean-up. Doesn’t make sense, I know. I really just hate the mess it makes, which is why I typically grocery shop on Saturdays and prep everything on Sundays: wash, chop and cook once then into the Tupperware it goes for the week. Here’s a typical Sunday fridge shot, in case you are curious (top shelf and almond milk are mine):
Plus, who has the desire to attempt a Martha Stuart dinner upon walking in from a long day? Kudos to those of you that do, but not me. Eating, or rather preparing to eat, need not be twenty steps long, IMO. Instead, I open the fridge to see what looks good, pull out a Tupperware each of protein and veggies, dump ‘em in a pan, add some spices, heat and serve. Ten minutes tops, and even less if you just microwave it in the container it’s already in. Not my best habit, but sometimes convenience trumps all: food on the table sooner and fewer dishes. A win-win, no? Either that or a serving of protein atop a huge salad. Huge as in I eat my salads out of mixing bowls 🙂 Nutrient-dense and a ton of volume for not so many calories. And, it takes me like an hour to eat. No joke.
Now that I’ve just talked about how great prepping food is, some weeks I have zero desire to do it. And so, I don’t. Those weeks, I definitely eat out more and have no real meal “plan.” Perhaps this is why I’m on a first name basis with more grocery store employees than I’d like to count? Sometimes I make multiple stops at the market in a single day. Chipotle, Trader Joe’s prepared foods, Whole Foods salad bar and a handful of local establishments frequent my list. My favorite grab ‘n go’s from home include huge shakes in my Tervis tumblers, bars, pre-portioned servings of almonds and apples, for example. Wherever you go, be prepared. I have both a bar and almonds in each my purse, gym bag and car, at all times. Be it out or at home, my eating remains pretty much the same. If you live a life on the go, or just hate the kitchen, learning how to navigate the menu out is key. You can get vegetables and protein most anywhere, and most places will accommodate special requests– you just have to ask! I am the queen bee of modifications, and not ashamed. Even if for a small up charge, your health is worth it. I may be a health nut, and kind of neurotic about where my food comes from, but you have ONE body and if you don’t take care of it, well… you’re out of luck. I always say I’d rather spend money on good food than on medical bills.
After having stressed over macros and calories for years, and consuming all sorts of fat-free, sugar-free junk (also “free” of much in the way of any nutritional value), I’ve reached a point now where my eating is pretty much effortless. Gone are the days of measuring, post-long run pretzel binges and reaching for handfuls of this and that because I was neither satisfied nor satiated in the first place. I’ve stressed less over food in the last year than I have my whole life, save for my early childhood years, but I’ve maintained my weight (leaned out, actually) with relative ease. Honestly, it consumes so little of my daily thought and I have the time, now, to focus on other more important things. Irony? I think not. While some stress can be a good thing, it can so often act as a barrier that stands between where we are and where we want to be. Bottom line: stress less.