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The Ultimate Grocery Guide to Lose Weight – For Beginners!

You have made the choice to get in better shape and you have heard that it really starts with what you are eating. With the help of the internet, you find that there is so much information on what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat, and when not to eat… and with all of this help it is overwhelming and confusing to know where to start.

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So today, I am going to give you a SUPER EASY to understand the Ultimate Grocery Guide to Lose Weight.

Step One: Homework –

Before you get started with my Ultimate Grocery Guide to Lose Weight – I need you to go do a little homework. I know, I know… HOMEWORK?! But before you scroll ahead or decide to leave this little article, I ask that you just hear me out… OK? Ok!

Homework

Now back to your homework – go to your refrigerator and clean it out. I don’t mean deep clean with disinfectant, but if you want – more power to ya! (That would be speaking to my inner Monica Ghellar) I want you to go in and clean out everything expired, outdated, smelly – you get my drift. Throw it out, put it in the disposal, feed it to the pigs (and if you really have pigs – kudos!). Next take anything that does not align with your new goal of getting healthy out as well. In a way, I want you to Marie Condo your refrigerator… touch everything and find out if it has a place in your new lifestyle or not.

Cleaning

I want you to do the same thing in your Freezer, and your pantry or cupboard. Cleaning out the old can be therapeutic, but I also know that for some people it can be overwhelming too, so I get that and I just ask that you do as much as you can.

Now if you are like me when I first started my journey to lose weight – it may now look as though you have absolutely nothing to eat in your home… I know for a fact my husband used to live off of Tontino’s pizza and chicken patty sandwiches. Once all of the expired, old, outdated, or goal compromising food is out of the house – it is time to move on to the next step.

Empty Fridge

Step Two: Have a Plan –

If you are hungry – you need to pause here and get something that is fiber filled to put in your belly before we even contemplate making a plan for your trip using the Ultimate Grocery Guide to Lose Weight.

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OK – Did you snack? Alright – let’s move along.

You need to plan for the next several days. Now, there are many sources on the internet that can give you meal plans, and what they are eating to lose weight, and what to meal prep. However, I am going to give you the exact steps that I used and continue to use in this Ultimate Grocery Guide to Lose Weight.

Ask yourself these questions: (You may be able to find some of the answers in posts on Life Stride Fitness Training social media if you need help)

What produce is in season currently?

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What do I enjoy eating?

Do you have any meal time appointments this week?

Once you have answered these questions, get a piece of paper (or cardboard, or app on your phone) and start to make a list of things that you would like to eat for the next several days that align with your goal to lose weight. This is the time to set yourself up for success.

Once you have a list of things that you would like to eat for the next several days – go through the list you made and try and eliminate anything that is over processed. What I mean by over processed is things that are not mostly whole foods… For example: baked breads, pastas, cereals, crackers things of that nature. Now I know you might be sitting here thinking that I am ruining your list or your thoughts on the Ultimate Grocery Guide to Lose Weight, but you made the decision to lose weight. You decided that it was a goal of yours to lose weight – and in order to do just that, we need to be mindful of what we are putting into our bodies.

Shopping Cart

Step Three: Head to the Grocery Store

OK – Here it is – the moment you have been waiting for… the moment of truth… are you ready?

THE ULTIMATE GROCERY GUIDE TO LOSE WEIGHT

Most, if not all grocery stores have the same basic layout – and this will come in super helpful. We are going to be sticking to the perimeter or the outside walls of the store. I want you to start in the produce section… I want you to put into your cart the following:

  • 2 green leafy vegetables (can be used for salads or lettuce wraps)
  • 2 Brightly colored vegetables (could be tomatoes, yellow/red bell peppers, carrots, or purple onions)
  • 2 green vegetables (celery, brussels sprouts, green beans)
  • 3 sources of fruit (apples, oranges, bananas, berries)
  • 1 or 2 Russet potatoes

produce

Next I want you to head to the meat/fish section, and put the following in your cart (now this is not a vegetarian or vegan guide, but if you want one let me know and I will get to working on that for you next).

  • 1 lean (90/10) source of ground meat (could use for lettuce wrap tacos or burrito bowls)
  • 1 small package of chicken breasts (cold also be the chicken breast tenders)
  • (optional) 1 package of uncooked white fish (be sure to check where the fish is coming from)

Try and avoid the pre-marinade packages of meat there can be a lot of additional sodium packed into those premade packages. You can however make your own, so that you know exactly how much is going into your meal.

Moving along, head to the canned section and grab:

  • 1 or 2 cans of black beans
  • 1 or 2 cans of chick peas

Now head to the rice section (often times this is the same section as beans – but sometimes it is not)

  • Minuet brown rice cups (these normally come in a pack of 2)

We are just about done with our shopping trip! But here are some final things you should get:

  • Seasoning (I prefer low sodium taco seasoning – but there are so many to choose from)
  • Greek Yogurt (if you can stand to get plain, go for it – if not… get the 100 calorie vanilla, it won’t hut ya)
  • Quick Cooking Oats (remember we are trying to stay away from the over processed, so no pre-packaged oats)
  • Stevia in the Raw
  • Cinnamon

Now if there are other “MUST BUY” necessities such as toilet paper, vitamins, allergy medicine – don’t forget them! Just make sure that you are being mindful of everything you are putting in your basket! Don’t forget water If you live in a place where you need to purchase your drinking water.

toilet paper

Now when you get to the check-out line, make sure that you are not tempted to grab a candy and soda on the way out – keep your goals on the forefront of your mind!

When you get home put all of your groceries away and plan for the next meal!

With the items you purchased you have several different options:

Oatmeal

Greek Yogurt Parfait

Chicken Baked Potato

Roasted Veggies with Chicken or Fish

Toasted Oats

Taco Lettuce Wraps

Burrito Bowls

Roasted Chick Peas

Just with those few items you put into your cart, you have so many possibilities of lunches and dinners that will get you on the right track to obtaining your goals to lose weight!

Now, am I saying these are the ONLY things to put into your grocery cart? NO! But I am saying that a small list like the one above can help you get started achieving your goals… remember the ones that had you searching for a way to get thru the grocery store to lose weight?

Also, with a small list like this you will reduce the amount of times that you have to clean out your refrigerator of all the expired, dried out, moldy and very questionable items. You will use what you have and keep things interesting. And with keeping your list simple, your trips to the store will take you less time and get you more time to do things that you actually like to do.

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The Ultimate Grocery Guide to Lose Weight can help you make wiser choices about what you are actually consuming and keep your budget intact too!

Need more help, guidance, assistance? That is what I am here for! Join my email list, and sign up to get tips and tricks that I have learned and am using to help my clients achieve their goals of losing weight.

XOXO Meggs!

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A Formula for Making the Perfect Salad Every Time

When someone mentions the idea of having a salad for lunch or dinner,
your first reaction may not be excited. You know salads are “healthy,” but
you seem to never feel satisfied after eating them. I have great news —
salads can be incredibly filling and packed with interesting, delicious
flavors. The perfect salad should contain a balance of micronutrients and
macronutrients. This will keep you satisfied for a long time and will provide
you will all the essential nutrients that you need.

  1. Carbohydrates (Fiber!)
    While carbs might make you think of bread, pasta, and pizza, this
    macronutrient contributes a lot to your salad as well. Fiber is a component
    of carbohydrates that your body is unable to break down and absorb. It is
    broken down by the bacteria in your gut, meaning that this carbohydrate
    won’t increase your blood sugar levels. Salads are loaded with fiber. Dark,
    leafy greens such as lettuce, kale, and spinach are the very base of your
    salad, and these veggies contain a lot of fiber!
  2. Healthy Fats
    This is the part that will keep you full for a long time. Fats will also help you
    focus as they play an essential role in fueling the brain. They also keep
    your skin looking bright and youthful and are important for hormone
    production and balance. If you skip the healthy fats, you’ll end up with a
    sad salad! Add some avocado, olives, or salmon to your salad to really
    make it a satisfying meal. You should also toss your salad with olive oil and
    top it with crunchy nuts at the very end to add an additional source of
    healthy fats.
  3. Protein
    Proteins break down into amino acids, which are the building blocks of
    most molecules in your body! Add a source of lean protein to your salad,
    such as chicken breast, tofu, fish, chickpeas, or beans. [edit to your
    coaching preferences: vegan, paleo, etc.]
  4. Probiotics
    You’ve already added your prebiotics (fiber) which will feed the healthy
    bacteria, but now it’s time to make your salad extra nutritious by adding the
    healthy bacteria itself. Probiotics are found in all fermented foods, such as
    kimchi and even pickles. You can also make a kefir dressing to add some
    extra good bacteria.
  5. Extra Toppings
    This is the fun part—add whichever toppings you like! Play with textures
    and flavors, such as adding crunchy nuts and seeds, chewy dried fruits, or
    freshly chopped herbs. Instead of adding cheese, which can be high in fat
    and might trigger intolerances in some individuals, try adding some
    nutritional yeast. It has a very similar taste and contains lots of essential
    vitamins!
  6. Dressing
    No salad is complete without dressing, but this is often where store-bought
    salads go from being healthy to unhealthy. As previously mentioned, add
    olive oil to your dressing for some extra healthy fats. Lemon, apple cider
    vinegar, and tahini are also great and healthy liquid bases for your
    dressing. Finish it off with some sea salt and pepper, and you have yourself
    a substantial meal.
    What’s your favorite salad toppings? Comment below and let me know. I’m
    always looking for some new ideas I may not have thought of yet.
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Simple Ways to Liven Up Your Leftovers

You had the best intentions of using up those leftovers from the weekend. At first, your Meal Prep Sunday seemed like a dream idea. You’d prep food for the week, have it all stored and ready, and you’d have a home cooked meal every day without much effort. But by day #3 of it, your family is giving you the side-eye, and you can no longer bear
to eat the same dish again.

I feel you. It happens to us all. We all want to make use of our leftovers, but we get bored, and food goes to waste instead. Instead of forcing yourself and your family to eat the same things day in and day out, try these leftover tips that will help you liven things up and reignite the spark that makes you excited to dig in.

1. Add avocado
Leftover brown rice and sautéed veggies? Eh. Leftover brown rice and sautéed veggies with fresh avocado? Now you’re talking! Drizzle on some sriracha too for a spicy hit and facelift on your leftovers.

2. Add some crunch
Sometimes, we just need more texture to make things interesting. Adding a crunch to your meal can spice it up quite a bit. Try adding it to your leftovers any way that makes sense. Look in your pantry for walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almond slivers or anything else that might add a crunch along with a nice dose of healthy fats that are good for you, too. I even love having crispy onions or crispy jalapenos atop a salad when I want something different.

3. Top on some greens
Or even layer them below. Sometimes that leftover shrimp tastes excellent warmed up over a bed of fresh kale, spinach or lettuce. Or you can make some quick brown rice or zucchini noodles and mix it all together to create a new dish that tastes like takeout without the cost (or the heaps of calories).

4. Reheat it on the stove
A fresh re-preparation tends to bridge the gap of meh to marvelous, doesn’t it? The microwave can zap the freshness right out of your food, so skip the microwave when warming up leftovers. Toss your items in a pan and sauté it fresh with a teaspoon of olive oil. Add some new, fresh herbs and spices, and you’ll have to remind yourself  you’re eating leftovers.

5. Try a new condiment
Salsa and sriracha can each help dress up leftovers. If your refrigerator looks anything like mine, your shelves are lined with different condiments and sauces to choose from. Experiment with them to create new dishes by adding a few drops of different flavor. It can make all the difference and completely change the taste of your meal.

Give these a try and see if you’re making better use of your leftovers. Remember to freeze big meals so you can pull them out another time to make on a busy night. You’ll appreciate them better when you do!

So, spill the beans. Are you a leftovers person or do you struggle with eating the same meal twice?

My specialty is spaghetti squash! Once it has been cooked and we eat it as spaghetti, the left overs are cooked in a small amount of olive oil the next day (or you can air fry them in you have that awesome appliance) and make them into “cakes”. Add some salsa and a “fried” egg and you have yourself a new meal!

XOXO Meggs

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Why You Should Try an Elimination Diet

That tiredness, bloating, skin rash or brain fog you’ve been experiencing could be the  result of food intolerances. These discomforts we tend to write off as normalcy can be directly related to what you’re eating, and the way to know for sure if what you’re eating is causing you trouble is to try an elimination diet.

To make it simple, an elimination diet consists of you avoiding certain foods for a few  weeks. After you get these foods out of your system, you’ll begin reintroducing them to your diet one at a time. If you have kids, it’s much like starting them on solids and watching for any symptoms of sensitivities, but in reverse.

Food Sensitivity Symptoms
Intolerances aren’t always a major allergic reaction with a swollen tongue and puffy eyes. In fact, the majority of food intolerances present themselves as common discomforts such as dry skin, itching, bloating, digestive upsets, headaches, fatigue, migraines, and achy joints and pains. You might only have one of these or a combination of them.

Yes, it sounds like just about every other illness, but you might find that with an elimination diet, you’ll pinpoint the source of that mysterious bloating that isn’t during your period and actually be able to do something about it, finally! You’ll feel more like yourself, and you’ll be aware of what foods cause inflammation for you.

Of top importance is getting rid of any chronic inflammation you may be dealing with. Over time, it can cause significant damage and lead to illness. Don’t panic if you only feel these symptoms once in a while, but if you feel like this daily, for example, fogginess when thinking, small aches, skin issues, or bloating, you should definitely try the elimination diet to see if you can get back to feeling like yourself.

How to Do It
Want to get started? The elimination diet has 2 phases. The first one is about eliminating while the second one is about reintroduction. You should keep a rigorous journal to help you spot any changes, good or bad.

– The Elimination Phase
During this phase, you must eliminate any foods you think are triggering symptoms for about 2 or 3 weeks. Most of these are things like dairy, citrus, corn, nuts, eggs, seafood, pork, gluten, wheat, and nightshade vegetables. Generally, you’ll notice your symptoms clear up which will mean you’re ready for the next phase. If nothing changes, you should
schedule a checkup with your doctor as soon as possible.

– The Reintroduction Phase
Next, you’ll slowly start bringing those eliminated foods back onto your plate. Only introduce one food group at a time over a period of 2 to 3 days. Be watching for those symptoms we mentioned. If anything you reintroduce sets off your symptoms, then you know you need to eliminate it.

One word of caution though: some of you may find several groups of reintroduced food to bring your symptoms back. Should that happen to you, schedule a checkup with your doctor or see a dietitian to help you get the right nutrition while avoiding the foods that trigger your symptoms, so you don’t become nutritionally deficient.

All you need now is the willingness to devote the time. You will be saving yourself a lifetime of discomfort, and the time you invest is absolutely worth it.

Like and Follow Life Stride Fitness Training on FB and join the community that meets you in your current stride of life!

XOXO Meggs

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But Why…

I am not at this stage in parenthood yet, but my day is coming I assure you…

“But why??”

This small question from a toddler has peaked my interest in the reason for people making a certain decision…

A few posts back I spoke about what got me back into my journey of health and fitness several years ago.  You can read it here if you want to take a look – but it got me thinking about the reason behind people’s decisions…

Every decision you make has a why to it. Whether you do something or choose not to do something there is a why.

So what is your why?

Why do you want to lose those last 10 pounds?

Why are you having a hard time getting started?

Why are you unable to put your health as a priority?

Once you have answered those questions – ask yourself this final thing…

Why are you letting something hold you back?

I am not saying once you have the answers, BOOM, magic is going to happen – but what I am saying is that once you have the honest talk with yourself about why it is you make the decisions you make – you may be able to make some changes and see some results.

Let me know your reasons why – and let me know if I can help get you started!

<3 Meggs

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Caloric Deficit? WHAT?

caloric

I am sure if you have looked at anything fitness, health or diet related you will have seen something from someone stating the best way to shed weight is to be in a caloric deficit.

So what exactly does that mean?

Burn more calories than you consume – simply put… but you know there has to be more to it than that… and in a way there is.

If you are someone who eats in excess of 300 calories a day – it would not be wise to cut down to an 1800 calorie per day diet on your first day… here is why:

If you drastically reduce the amount of calories you are eating on day one the likelihood that you are going to be starving by noon is very probable. You are starving… trying to hold off… but then it gets the best of you and you binge to satisfy the hunger. So you decide to start again tomorrow – only to have the same thing happen again. You then get discouraged and give up… and then the hopelessness you feel just takes you further and further away from your goals. Being restrictive in the types of foods you eat can also cause the same effect. While focusing on the extremes of being perfect – we can often set ourselves up for self-sabotage.

Here is what SHOULD happen… You should start reducing your calories by 200 – 250 a day for the first week. Then a few more hundred calories the next week – and so on until you get down to your calories consumed goal. Gradual decrease in the calories consumed will leave you able to maintain, and help you get to your goals.  The important thing about changing your habits is that you want them to be long lasting and not just until you reach that ultimate goal.

Sure if you are able to cut it down and not binge, and treat everyone horribly because you are so hungry all the time – congratulations you are of the very select few… If you are one of those people (with a pat on the back) I do ask you to be wise about your accomplishment when you get to your goal. Many people who have restrictive diets will gain their weight back (and very quickly) once they have met their goal.

Again – this is a lifestyle. Cutting calories gradually will help you be able to maintain when you are able to reach your goal because it will be second nature to you.

Want more information – need a little more help? Reach out to me and let me know how I can help you start meeting your goals!

<3 Meggs

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The Power of a Balanced Diet

SPECTACULAR

This was mentioned in passing the other day as a part of the “easy” answer to the most popular fitness and exercise question of 2017: “How to lose body fat?” – a balanced diet!

So let’s dive in a little deeper shall we? EASY HINT AT BOTTOM OF THIS POST! (Don’t cheat and scroll down…)

First lets talk lean protein. You can check out the post from earlier on protein here, but I will summarize again for you now.  There is a nifty calculator on Bodybuilding.com that you can access here, that will give you an accurate amount of protein you should be consuming daily (whether plant based or animal based). Some lean protein sources include: fish, chicken (white meat), lean beef. You can also classify eggs and some dairy in the protein category.

Next, fruits and vegetables. It is recommended to have a variety of fruits and vegetables in your daily consumption. The darker the green the more vitamins A, C and Calcium they have. Red and Orange vegetables also carry a lot of  Vitamin C and A as well as potassium. Filling your plate with several colors and flavors of vegetables will keep you feeling full and satisfied throughout the day. Also it keeps things from being boring and bland.

Then there is carbohydrates – they are not from the devil… but be smart about your choices of carbohydrates. Whole grains and whole foods are your best options. Stick with potatoes, rice, and quinoa type of carbohydrates. If you need a refresher see the previous post on carbohydrates here.

And finally FATS! You need them. Did you know that your body will tell you if you are getting enough fats?  Ever notice your hair start to get dull, brittle and break more… it could be a sign that you are not eating enough fat in your diet. Stick with healthy fats such as avocado, olive and coconut oil, and nut butters.

Here is your trick and tip to getting more of a healthy balance to your diet: Stick to the outside aisles of the grocery store… Shop the perimeter.

 

 

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Swapping Carbs

Continuing the theme of “Best Ways to Lose Fat”, changing the type of carbohydrates you eat could prove to be very beneficial.

Here is what I mean…

Carbohydrates are crucial for energy and glycogen stores when you are working out. However there are different types of carbohydrates, and some can be beneficial and some can stall your fat loss goals.

Processed carbohydrates such as breads and pastas can put a damper on your weight and fat loss progress while whole grains such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, and oats are healthier options of carbohydrates that can sustain your energy, help the keep you feeling full, and combat bloat.

I am not saying cut bread and pasta type carbs out of your diet completely – but do limit them to keep yourself of track and your goals in sight.

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Create a Caloric Deficit

One of the most important ways to obtain fat loss is to create a caloric deficit.

The best way to do this, is to know where you are starting. Meaning how much on average are you eating daily. If you don’t normally count calories, it is hard to know if how much you are overeating (or if you are undereating). Without knowing that number it is going to be hard to gague where to go to be in a deficit. Sure if you KNOW you are eating 4 bags of chips, 2 loaves of bread, 3 tubs of peanutbutter, and 2 half gallons of ice cream, then just cutting back could help you start to lose body fat – but let’s face it, most of us are not that extreme! So knowing where we start, will help us know where we need to  make adjustments. It’s not comfortable sure – but it is helpful and will help us get to where we want to be.

So how do you figure out where you currently are calorie wise… log all of your food you eat into an app such as my fitness pal for a period of time. It could be anywhere from one week to one month. If you track for just a day or two – it will not give you an accurate calorie average. Once you have your average calories you eat in a time period you can calculate your calorie goal by looking up IIFYM on bodybuilding.com and calculate your macros.

Once you have your macros and calorie goals you can start to see where you have been overeating or undereating. This is just a tool to use to try and get your caloric intake back under control.

Once you start to eat in a caloric deficit and start to make healthier habit choices in your diet, you will start to notice OVER TIME that your total fat loss will increase and you will start to shed weight.

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Water

One of the top health and fitness questions is: “What is the best way to lose body fat?”

Simple answer first: Healthy Balanced Diet and Exercise

However, if you are like me and think that sometimes the answer has got to be a little more complicated than that – let’s break down some of the mind barriers we tend to have and find some simpler solutions shall we?

Today – let’s talk about water. If you have been following Life Stride Fitness Training for a while, you know we have discussed the issue of water before. Many times we don’t realize that we are dehydrated until it’s too late. We have headaches, we are craving sweets, we become lethargic. These are all things that are quick to onset during the holidays too…

Not everything we drink hydrates us. Sure we can already state that alcohol dehydrates us – but do we understand that coffee does too? I know – our love affair with the warm and indulgent wake-up juice could be setting us back. And I don’t know about you – but after the time change in the fall and the Holidays – some days I feel like I need that caffeine IV drip.

Let’s take a look at some simple ways to increase our hydration instead of decreasing.

Water – yup that is what it boils down to – water… simple answer right? Well some of us are not a fan of water. So what are some ways that we can increase our water intake and hydration without just boring ourselves to death with plain water. According to the Institute of Medicine, it is recommended that women get 2.7 liters (11 cups) of water per day.

Infuse it – We can make a pitcher with cut up fruit and or cumber and make a refreshing pitcher we can refill and reuse all day. One of my favorite infusions is lemon and raspberry. The combinations you can choose are close to endless and it is a great way to keep that hydration up!

Warm water with lemon – the benefits of this cup or two of warm lemon water are bountiful. From the obvious hydration benefits to the tummy tamer – warm lemon water is one way to keep your body in check.

Eat more fruits and vegetables! Many different fruits and vegetables have high water content in them and help your daily water intake when you consume them.

These are just two ways to increase your water intake and keep yourself from being dehydrated.