Our Meal Prepping 101 Guide

 Our Meal Prepping 101 Guide

After successfully finishing the work day, picking up the dry cleaning, and picking up the kids from practice, you find yourself like many others–smack in the middle of a lava-flow of traffic desiring for nothing more than to kick-back and relax back in the comfort of your home. After the many stop-and-goes, you glance at what was quite possibly the fourth or fifth billboard showcasing yet another fast-food advertisement. Suddenly, half-way home you realize that you have yet to solve the dreaded-dilemma of figuring out what’s for dinner? In many cases, you are left with the undesirable options of Sunday night leftovers or some mystery frostbitten contents in the freezer from who knows when? On demanding days like these, convenience is often the motivating factor when making a decision on what to eat. But what if I told you these moments could be avoided?

Maintaining healthy habits when it comes to diet for you and your family is similar to creating unhealthy ones. Consider this: in the split moment when you’ve finished work and are scrambling to think of what to make for dinner, most decisions are made from a convenience-driven mentality, even if it results in compromising goals towards a healthier you. This isn’t to say you should completely override eating out. This is simply a gentle reminder that it is often easier to make better decisions for our health when we make efforts to prepare to have better options more accessible and convenient for us.  

It is far more appealing to swing through your local drive-through than it is to think about hovering over a hot stove after a taxing day at work. As convenient as it is to make unhealthy food choices, meal-prepping offers that similar convenience when approached with the same goal in mind.

The goal in this case, is to maintain good eating habits without having to put too much thought behind it, right? What if I told you meal prepping could be more than just steamed veggies and roast chicken piled high in your refrigerator? With a few pointers, meal-prepping could be the easiest decision you could ever make.

Below are some benefits and tips for the beginners out there and a new perspective for others who have the meal-prepping habit already under their belt.

Benefits of eating from home:


 

1. Control what is in your food.

Eating out may be convenient, but it often includes excessive amounts of processed ingredients that include trans fats and higher amounts of sodium and/or processed sugar. Cooking from home allows you to see what and how much you’re putting on your plate.

2. Spend more time with the family.

Meal-prepping doesn’t all have to fall on one person. Getting the kids or your partner involved in washing or cutting produce for your meals can be both interactive and more time-efficient. Including other members in the household for what is on this week’s menu is another great way to get more people involved in the kitchen.

3. Save money.

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, “as of 2018, the average household spends an average of $ 3,365 per year on dining out alone,” over time what you make up for convenience many households lose in long-term savings.

Execution Time!


 

1. Prep according to your schedule.

Determining how many meals you are going to prepare ahead of time ultimately comes down to the need at hand. I find it best to make this decision after asking myself what part of the day is the most demanding? If mornings are an impossible to time to cook, consider meal prepping with a couple of options you can grab and go before you start your day. If you can anticipate afternoons or evenings being more hectic, then do the same according to what your schedule demands.

2. Commit to prepping one meal a week.

Small steps to healthier living are more sustainable and also less intimidating when first beginning the meal-prepping process. Meal-prepping a whole week’s worth of breakfast, lunch, and dinner plus snacks is a bit of a daunting task for some, and quite honestly, maybe a bit excessive when you are just starting out. Commit to meal-prepping one meal based on your schedule and when you have become more accustomed to this new healthier habit, you can always add on an additional meal or snack to the mix. After a while, you’ll soon be able to conquer multiple meals or days if needed.

3. Purchase seasonally.

It’s completely understandable to have specific preferences in food choices and this might differ depending on what kind of diet you adhere to on a daily basis. Rule of thumb: for more cost-efficient shopping, purchase produce and other items that are within season. Doing so ensures the best quality of ingredients and more reasonable prices than say trying to stock on strawberries in the middle of December.  

Although this is just some basic insight to meal prepping and its advantages, it is a great start towards a healthier more stress-free-you that can be something experienced and beneficial for you and the entire family! The goal couldn’t be more clear – experience living healthy together.


1United States, Congress, He Division of Consumer Expenditure Surveys. “Economic News Release; Bureau of Labor Statistics.” Economic News Release; Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Government Publishing Office, 2018, p. 1.


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Super Snacking Guide

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Eating healthy between meals is easier than you think! LA Fitness registered dietitian, Debbie James, offers solutions to common obstacles for snacking right with ideas for on-the-go snacks and overall tips.

Fitness and Travel: How to Stay Healthy While Vacationing

Fitness and Travel: How to Stay Healthy While Vacationing

Your bags are stuffed to the brim with all of your favorite travel essentials: extra sunscreen, that summer outfit you’ve been saving since last year, and beachwear you’ve spent all winter getting summer-body ready for. It’s safe to say that you’re mentally checked out from pressing work responsibilities and ready to soak up the sun on warm sandy beaches, drinking a surplus of tropical refreshments and putting away your micro scale for your summer adventure!

As a freelance writer and model, my work demands that I be on call and be very mobile. At any given moment I can be asked to pick up and go, and that can range from just about any location, with no guarantee that I will have access to a nearby LA Fitness.

The great news is that you don’t have to let your commuting or upcoming travel plans get in the way of your fitness goals and progress! You might actually see added benefits to working out while traveling because you are subconsciously telling your mind that fitness is everywhere I am, not solely in the confines of the gym! Remember, it’s all about integrating fitness as a lifestyle not solely a destination for producing results.

Granted, in comparison to a weekly regiment, these workouts are a bit more “relaxed” in intensity, but hopefully, with these easy tips, you too can maintain the progress you’ve worked so hard to reach pre-vacation season!

Tips for increasing fitness during travel:

1. Skip the Uber.

If conditions are safe and you have time to spare, save the cab fare and take a nice stroll in the area. Not only will you acquire major steps towards your daily step-goals, but you will simultaneously be able to take in and explore the city or perhaps coastal regions of your vacation time.

I have been able to experience far more on foot when traveling than relying on the convenience of public transportation. So, at any opportunity, plan ahead, wear your comfy shoes, and get those steps in!

2. Indoor Workouts

Whether you are stuck inside your hotel room/Airbnb due to poor weather conditions or you aren’t familiar with the area, working from your “home-away-from-home” might be your only resort for added physical activity.

No worries here, a 15-30-minute full body HIIT blast can do just the trick!

Mini HIIT Blast Circuit:
(Repeat 2-5 times depending on your fitness level)

  • 25 squats
  • 20 reverse lunges
  • 15 triceps dips
  • 10 burpees
  • 5 pushups
  • *1-minute plank
  • 5 pushups
  • 10 burpees
  • 15 side lunges
  • 20 mountain climbers
  • 25 squats
  • *1-minute plank*Use resistance bands to give your body an extra challenge.

3. Working out under the radar.        

We get it, you’re on vacation. This is the time when you can completely sign-off from those at home responsibilities and break away from the mundane routine of every-day-life. The last thing you want to do is give yourself the chore of having to carve out time for a workout when truth be told, you would much rather sink your toes in the exfoliating warm sandy beaches.

Remind yourself that fitness can be experienced in many diverse and creative ways. You can swim, go horseback riding, hike, surf, go dancing, or boogie board and burn some calories while having fun. When we make fitness a part of the experience, it becomes more welcoming and less demanding to our physique!

4. Pack with intention.

What’s in my fitness travel bag:
Travel fitness essentials
•Tennis shoes
•Jump rope
•Resistance bands (1-3)
•Disks

Whether at home or island hopping, one thing you can always control is what you’re putting in your body as much as what you’re doing with your body on vacation. Enjoy what may seem like never-ending cheat meals and not counting calories or sticking to your macros. You’re on vacation—embrace it! While you’re enjoying the fruits of your labor, upping the hydration is the golden rule of all golden rules!

Consider that your body is probably working overtime in a week of relaxing and fun, so when you can— hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! If you have access to fresh citruses like lemon, limes, grapefruit or oranges, increased electrolytes and vitamin C will help replenish cells, relax muscles and keep that summer glow working from the inside out!

Wherever your travels take you, if you can’t find an LA Fitness nearby or much room in your suitcase for all your gym gear, know that your goals don’t have to start or stop solely on the convenience of your gym accessibility. Living well and doing well is based on intention and wherever you decide to take it!

To find an LA Fitness near you, click here.


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Super Snacking Guide

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Break Up with Your Diet, Start a New Relationship with Food

Break Up with Your Diet, Start a New Relationship with Food

It is near midnight. The house is quiet, and it’s officially “lights out.”  Then, suddenly you are alarmed by a loud and mysterious rumbling that begins to echo to every corner of your bedroom. You turn over and reposition your lethargic body on its side; hoping it was all just a part of a dream. A few minutes pass and the same resounding rumble begins to grow even more violent. You can no longer ignore the internal calling we all dread to acknowledge a quarter past midnight. No longer can its origins be disguised for anything other than the dark deep abyss of your hollow stomach.

Translation: You’ve got the serious case of the late-night munchies.

At this point, you have a decision to make. You try to talk yourself out of dragging your sluggish legs into the kitchen to satisfy your appetite, but the internal debate of “to eat or not to eat” is waking more neurons in your brain, making it nearly impossible to fall back asleep. Feeling restless and still hungry, you head to the kitchen and look for anything that doesn’t require any actual effort beyond pouring yourself a bowl of cereal.

Like many of us, we have all experienced a similar internal dialogue when deciding between making healthier choices over the not-so-healthy-ones. We are confronted daily with choosing between the salad or fast food, the workout before your 8 am meeting or hitting the snooze button for the fifth time. Unfortunately, we are often faced with the guilt and only momentary satisfaction when self-control is less effective on those days your supervisor decides to leave a free-for-all box of hot-and-ready-to-eat donuts in the conference room. Then there are those seasons of pure discipline when it’s strict dieting, no sugar, skip the happy hour, and the “I’ll just have a spinach kale salad with vinegar and oil on the side.”  Unfortunately, we are often faced with short-lived results only to return to the same habits as before.

So, if we are what we eat, what’s the secret in actually doing it well?

Food is Fuel

Let’s put some things in perspective – our relationship with food has gotten a negative rap throughout the existence of American mass media. It is either introduced as being the enemy or the solution to our overall well-being. It is either quick-fast and not nutritionally dense “meals” we have easy access to at your nearest fast food chain, or it’s posed as an almost militarized form of consumption, aka steamed veggies and grilled chicken Monday through Friday.  

This duality of “good and bad” types of eating sends many of us on an emotional roller-coaster when making day-to-day healthy choices. I carry the firm belief that our relationship to food is tarnished when used for reward or punishment. If we bring it back to basics, when we were first developing as a species, food was medicine, and a resource to aiding our bodies to function and fuel itself for our day-to-day activities. We have commercialized the food industry so much, that we as consumers feel trapped and often disempowered when making instinctual decisions about what our body’s actual need!

The fact that every single day we get to decide when and what we eat is nothing short of a privilege; especially when we consider people who geographically, socially, and economically don’t have the same luxury. So, when we take a step back and see the purpose behind why we eat, we might be able to lessen the pressure of making those healthier choices.

You might be thinking, does that mean I have to drop the cookies and grab the carrot sticks instead? Well…not exactly.

Food is Fun!

Looking back, I can attest that every great childhood memory, every birthday and celebration has good food somewhere in the picture. I’m talking about that feel-good-straight-out-of-Grandma’s-oven home cooking or recalling the greatly anticipated pizza parties when your class scored highest in the school’s spelling bee. There were no counting macros or guilt-tripping myself into burning extra calories on the treadmill at the gym the next day. Food was something to be enjoyed in those moments, and they still should be!

Navigating healthy-living through food shouldn’t feel like a death sentence to enjoying quality time with friends and family. Rather, it is acknowledging that food and these impressionable moments in life often go hand in hand, and we can find ways of empowering ourselves by setting ourselves up for success. For example, try introducing newer ways of enjoying more vegetable side dishes at the next family potluck, or adding more fruits and veggies in school lunches for the kids over fruit snacks.

When we surround ourselves with healthier options we are more likely to incorporate them in our lifestyle with greater ease than the polarizing feeling we often feel when we are under-prepared and just down-right hungry.

A person who knows a lot about eliminating the stress and pressure around food while still enjoying healthier choices is former White House Chef to the Obamas and Food Policy Advisor, Sam Kass.

Kass knows a thing or two about ways you and your family can feel more empowered on making better choices without the fuss! His newly released cookbook, Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World, is based on the philosophy that there is no “right way” but there is always a better way we can approach diet and nutrition to support our households and the planet. His approach to changing our relationship with food is approachable for anyone wanting to take a more proactive step towards optimal health, minus the excess will-power. Think “small changes that collectively make a bigger impact in the long run!

“Eat one vegetable a day. Just one. Eat whole grains and beans once more a week. When this becomes your new normal–in two weeks, ten weeks, or a year–you raise the bar again.”

Sam Kass

Former White House Chef to the Obamas and Food Policy Advisor

If there is one food trend I think we have all been neglecting it is that food is our friend when we allow it. It is the fuel and the fun in our lives that collectively make for a better, more enjoyable living. You were made to enjoy the fruit of your labor (literally!) So if that means working your butt off and enjoying that ice-cream with the kids on the weekend so be it. If it means learning new ways to cut out processed sugar and introduce fresh and dried fruits to curb an unhealthy habit, that’s great too.

Making better choices for you and your family ultimately comes down to meeting the needs that are going to support the lifestyle and results you envision having. For me, my “better” means throwing out fad-diets and picking up healthier ways to live for the long run. Call me crazy, but I’m a firm believer that you can live a healthy life and still have that cake and eat it too!

Sources

  1. Kass, Sam, and Aubrie Pick. “Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World.” Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2018.

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Super Snacking Guide

Super Snacking Guide

Eating healthy between meals is easier than you think! LA Fitness registered dietitian, Debbie James, offers solutions to common obstacles for snacking right with ideas for on-the-go snacks and overall tips.

Do Well, Feel Well, Live Well

Do Well, Feel Well, Live Well

So, you want to feel better but maybe you are like me and find that keeping up and adopting new “trending” wellness regiments only seems to add more stress, rather than alleviate it. A journey towards living well is just that, a journey, with an intentional beginning and an ongoing honest reflection of oneself.

We go to great lengths to “feel good” but how many of us make a conscious effort in taking the time to process when we are not? This is far from a self-help article, but it is calling to attention something more pertinent in the community of wellness; self-awareness.

Too often I find that the general populace is bombarded with a surplus of information from (quite possibly) good intentioned wellness experts and gurus explaining why celery juice is the cure-all for many of your life’s problems.

To avoid those overwhelming crash and burn moments or the feelings of added stress when trying to find the perfect beginner-friendly yoga class, we wanted to provide some simple and effective ways to assist feeling like a better you – mind, body and spirit!

Living well supersedes the latest classes and juice cleanses. Confronting your stressors and identifying key reasons for what may be causing stress in your life could be a great start towards optimizing new wellness practices you may be more inclined to try (and hopefully implement) on a more regular basis.

This isn’t to say that certain wellness activities and regiments are not beneficial. However, they are only beneficial to us when we can identify what our mind or body needs. Feeling well truly begins with acknowledging when we may not be, and honoring those feelings by identifying what could be the potential cause is a key first step.

Quick tips on living well:

  • Keep a stress journal: Writing down what is stressing you can be a productive way of releasing the crowdedness of the mind. Try writing or keep a notebook for deeper reflection to help identify what challenges you are dealing with, whether it’s physical, emotional, etc.
  • Go outside: Sometimes changing your environment can be the quickest way to change your perception on a given situation. Taking an average-pace walk gets your endorphins up and mind more connected to the body. A little nature and some fresh air can be the perfect reset button you need.
  • Breathe: Sounds simple, but taking a moment to close your eyes, sit in a quiet place, and take in some deep soothing breaths can help boost oxygen levels and settle minor anxieties throughout the day. At each inhale breathe in from your nose counting one to ten and exhale from your mouth counting down ten to one, repeat 3-5 times or until your only focus is that of your breath.
  • Gratitude: Speaking or writing out what you are grateful for is a simple practice that takes no special It does, however, shift your focus on what isn’t going right to what has (or is) working in your favor!
  • Eat clean: Before you grab that pack of cookies or down another coffee, brighten up your plate with colorful whole grains, fresh veggies, and fruit. Consider adding: walnuts, raw almonds, snap peas, bell peppers, carrots, apples, berries or citrus fruits which are natural energizers. The more fresh, raw, and colorful your meal is, the better. These make great snack alternatives and are packed with nutrients that your body and mind will thank you for!

Hopefully, with these tips, you too can take care of yourself by listening more intently, acknowledging when things may feel a little off, and taking small steps towards activities that address the anxieties or indifferent feelings that naturally crowd our daily lives.

It’s okay to pause, declutter, and simplify taking care of the most important relationship you’ll spend growing with – that abundant and proactive individual being none other than yourself!


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Super Snacking Guide

Super Snacking Guide

Eating healthy between meals is easier than you think! LA Fitness registered dietitian, Debbie James, offers solutions to common obstacles for snacking right with ideas for on-the-go snacks and overall tips.

Member Spotlight | Devin Ryan: My Journey in Fitness

Member Spotlight | Devin Ryan: My Journey in Fitness

Fitness was indoctrinated very early on in my life. Healthy competition and athleticism began with seasons of tee-ball, basketball summer camps, and track and field in high school, supplemented by dance on the offseason. With a buzzing household of four active boys and my bountiful curious female presence, my parents always encouraged us to “go outside and play.” My household was never not moving!

My earliest (and perhaps fondest) memory of fitness was watching my mother every day after school. She hastily preheated the oven before going to her bedroom as she got us settled into our school work. There, she removed her tailored office clothes, kicked off her favorite black patent-leather “cockroach-killer” heels and traded them for one of my dad’s t-shirts and her favorite spandex biker shorts. With her work files piled high on the kitchen counter, she threw some pasta sauce on the stove with a heaping amount of fresh and dry herbs simmering over low heat for that evening’s dinner. At exactly 3:30 pm every afternoon, she popped in her early 90s aerobics VHS tape and jumped right into her enthusiastic stepping. I marveled at the overly-animated, permed out fitness instructor sporting spandex and white ankle socks motivating my super-hero of a mom to “go for another 30 seconds more” as she panted between incoming house calls and me racing my sibling’s toy-cars by her feet.

This image of my multi-faceted mother trying to balance work, family, and self-care is forever engraved in my mind. I understand now why it was necessary for my mother to commit to fitness. To my mother, fitness was loving herself and caring about how she felt regardless of the external demands life asked of her to fulfill. To this day, I credit my mother for not only being an example for healthy living but continuing it as a practice today. She was, after all, the person I went to get a gym membership with. We worked out together, supported each other, and reminded one another (while thrift shopping) that the number on the tag of that dress is not as important as the way you feel in it.


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