I've been getting a lot of emails and direct messages lately in an SOS fashion: "HELP! I want to lose some weight! What can I start doing?!?"
I hate that this is the month we're inundated with messages about "undoing" all of the "bad things" or "indulgences" from the holidays. It seems like fitness armageddon. ALL HANDS ON DECK! DO IT NOW! GET ON BOARD! GET RID OF THOSE HOLIDAY TOXINS!
So let's all agree to take a collective deep breath. This month does not represent a do-or-die timeframe -- if you wait to start your workout routine or new nutrition regime in February, you'll still get results.
But if you're raring to go, I say go for it. So where DO you start?
I think the best place to start is with food shopping and food prep for the week. Even if you hate to cook, you can buy pre-chopped veggies, add some olive oil, salt, and pepper, throw them on a sheet pan and roast them at 400 for 45 minutes. Very easy, and very tasty. I also typically keep a lot of frozen veggies like spinach and brocolli on hand. If you REALLY hate to cook, then Trader Joe's should be your go-to place. They have a ton of frozen or pre-made food that make life easy, like pre-cooked grilled chicken, salad mixes, marinated chicken and beef that you can just pop in the oven, tons of chicken sausages, and lots of gluten free options. You can even buy pre-made hard boiled eggs. If you don't have a Trader Joe's near you, your local grocery store probably makes a pretty good rotisserie chicken, which is great for multiple meals, and a good frozen vegetable selection.
I also recommend starting with a food journal for three days. Don't try and eat perfectly "clean" for those days -- try to eat your usual foods and see how many calories you're typically ingesting on any given day, and how the macros (fat/carbs/protein) break down. People usually discover that they're not eating enough protein or nearly enough veggies. Starting with upping the quantities of both of those things will pay huge dividends on your road to weight loss.
And since I'm a wee bit compulsive, I also plan my meals out for the week. It makes my life easier, with less trips to the store or to the pizza place.
Need some ideas? Here are some ideas on each meal of the day:
1. Breakfast: Focus on protein and veggies. I know it may seem weird at first to eat veggies for breakfast, but you'll get used to it. If you like eggs, they're a good way to get in your veggies without eating a pile of them plain. Sneak them into a scramble or add them to a frittata that you can eat all week. Eggs can be your best friend with weight loss, even if you eat the yolks (which are full of vitamins, by the way.) I eat one almost every day with my breakfast, hard boiled. Lately my breakfast has been a hard boiled egg, a chicken sausage link, and a pile of cooked veggies. (This week has been frozen spinach and brocolli with lemon zest.) Hate eggs? Try Greek yogurt with berries, or a protein shake.
2. Lunch: I'm a creature of habit, so I have a giant salad every day. The ingredients vary depending on what's on hand. This week it's been a giant bowl of lettuce (I use my kitchen shears to chop it up), cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, Trader Joe's grilled lemon pepper chicken, and a quarter of an avocado. When I run out of avocado, I'll probably use sliced almonds that I toast in the toaster. It's pretty satifying, and since I use a huge bowl, it takes me a while to eat it.
If I work out during my lunch hour, I'll usually make a smoothie afterwards, which cools me down and gives me a good mix of carbs and protein. Lately I've been doing this one:
3. Afternoon snack: I'll admit to all of you that this is my Achilles heel. I have always been a snacker, and it's gotten worse since I became a parent, with the omnipresent kids' snacks. I've recently gone dairy-free to help my stomach (which has helped A LOT!) but that meant giving up a lot of my favorite afternoon protein-rich snacks. Here's my favorite list of afternoon snacks, including the dairy:
4. Dinner: Protein and veggies. My go-to's are pulled pork tenderloin in the slow cooker, roasted chicken breast in the oven, and chicken thighs in the slow cooker over onions mixed with mustard powder and thyme. I make a giant sheet pan of roasted veggies once a week and then used the leftovers for my salad.
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Just your average stopwatch-toting suburban mom, looking to make some locals sweat and curse my name.