I went to the dentist today to get a tooth pulled. I had a head injury several years back that broke a tooth off at the gumline, and it’s just been sitting in there hanging out since then (this is what a lack of insurance does to people). So today I finally overcame my irrational fear of the reclining chairs, surgical masks, and spread of shiny tools straight out of an Eli Roth movie, and let the man work.
I had planned on hitting the gym for a leg workout after that was done, but the dentist had other plans for me. No strenuous activity today, so as not to elevate the blood pressure and slow down the clotting process. Fair enough – so I now found myself with extra time and thought I’d talk about something near and dear to me – food.
Yesterday we (the O3 training staff) held fitness assessments at River Ridge apartments (where I live) and had a great turnout – about 25 people, with almost everyone showing up who was scheduled. I thank Cindy and Nicki for their herculean efforts in getting everything set up and running smoothly. You gals rock.
One of the things I discussed with everyone was nutrition. Some people were honest (“I eat like crap”, one very sweet woman told me), some were unsure (usually due to so much conflicting advice out there), and a select few were especially confused (Hostess is not a food group – sorry!).
Time for a reality check?
There were a large number of people who said they ate “pretty good” – when we went over the specifics of what they were eating, I would have picked a different description in retrospect. And that’s fine! You’re coming to me for help and advice, and I don’t expect you to have all the answers or be doing everything correctly before you see me. After all, I need to serve some purpose here, right?
So I thought I would outline what “lousy”, and “great” might look like. Keep in mind these are just examples – I’m going to be vague on portion sizes because it can vary so much depending on your age, current condition, and goals. But one thing is constant – good foods are good foods.
Here is a “lousy” diet – hopefully most of you could properly identify this as such. And let me say – in the past, I had MANY days that looked exactly like this, before I learned how to eat correctly. It’s not an easy skill to learn because not enough people teach it. The truth about healthy eating is fairly simple but doesn’t make nearly as much money for authors and “experts” as fad diets and gimmicks, so the truth gets clouded and obscured.
Breakfast: water (to swallow pills), nothing else. Maybe a McDonald’s sandwich if the drive-thru line is short enough.
Mid-morning: feeling hungry at work, no food around – let’s hit the vending machine, whatever looks good.
Lunch: Becky wants to run out for subs, so I’ll go with her. I’ll just get a 6″ sandwich, so that shouldn’t be too bad.
Mid-afternoon: are you kidding? That 12″ sandwich (I changed my mind standing in line) was huge. I can’t even think about food.
Dinner: I got home early, so I’m making chicken alfredo pasta with garlic bread for the family. Chicken is healthy, right?
Bedtime: tiny scoop of ice cream, ’cause I’m just a little hungry.
Now, the meal plan post above is an absolute metabolism-killer. You are basically having two gigantic meals a day, which spikes your metabolism greatly when you eat, and causes it to fall back off a cliff shortly after. When your metabolism is low, you’re burning fewer calories. The goal is to keep it high, so you’re burning more calories just sitting in your chair. If you feel slightly warm, or hungry even when you’re eating regularly, that when you know your metabolism is absolutely rocking.
And how do we get that metabolism fired up? With something that maybe looks a bit more like this:
Breakfast: rolled oats with frozen berries and chopped walnuts, egg white omelet (pre-prepped last night, ready to eat in 4 minutes). Grab the pre-stocked cooler (also done last night) from the fridge on the way out the door.
Mid-morning: cooler meal #1 – Greek yogurt with a small number of whole grain crackers
Lunch: cooler meal #2 – grilled chicken breast with sweet potato, added low-calorie dressing or sauce for flavor
Mid-afternoon: cooler meal #3 – tuna or whitefish over brown rice with olive oil and vinegar dressing
Dinner: fresh garden salad with strips of flank steak. Add a reasonable amount of oil-based dressing
Bedtime: Small protein shake with water 1 hour before bed
So what do we have there? Six legitimate meals – you can call the mid-morning and mid-afternoon meals “snacks” if you prefer, as they may be a bit smaller – but I call them meals. Eating smaller meals more frequently is the biggest dietary change you can make to boost your metabolism.
Many people I talked to yesterday were going to have a difficult time fitting in exercise. That’s ok – it’s a process, and figuring out how to make that work is one of the things I do for my clients as a trainer. The nutritional stuff, however, is something you can jump into right away, and it will have a bigger impact on any weight loss or health improvement than exercise. You cannot ignore this stuff or de-prioritize it if you want results.
Eating a meal plan like the “good” one I outlined above doesn’t have to be super difficult. The meals are smaller, so the mid-morning and mid-afternoon meals can be gulped down in just a couple minutes, if you’re in a hurry. With a small investment of time on the weekend to pre-cook some proteins and carbs, you can prepare that 3-cooler meal in 5-7 minutes at night, easy.
Check out my YouTube channel for some videos I have regarding food prep if you need some ideas on how to make this process work more efficiently for you. As always, call or e-mail if you need anything!