Batch Method Meal Prep

There are many different ways to prepare food for your family, so it may take a little time to find what works for you. I personally use something called the “Batch Method”  (which I didn’t know had a name until I researched other meal prep tips).

What is the Batch Method?
This is a type of meal prep strategy that includes creating large batches of food to be used over different meals. Stews, soups, or large batches of a versatile protein or veggies work best here.

What tools work best?
I prefer to use my large crock pot, but for those of you with insta-pots those would be a wonderful choice as well. You could also do a large roasting dish inside the oven.

Planning

  • Choose how many days are in your meal plan. Mine is typically five days in rotation.
  • Pick different “batches” or meal components for your days. I do three for the five day rotation.
  • Choose recipes that can be doubled or tripled in your chosen method of cooking. (Bonus for picking ingredients on sale or in season!)

Prep

  • Clean and cut up the raw ingredients needed for each batch
  • Write cooking directions on the outside of a zip bag 
  • Add all raw ingredients in zip bag (if you need to add broth, keep that aside in another container unless it works as a marinade)
  • Add seasonings
  • Put in fridge or freezer as recipe calls
  • Defrost the necessary time, per recipe, before cooking
  • Cook according to directions
  • Enjoy!

Do You Need More Focus?

Our family has been hustling around, working through school, two plays, and our new adventure as Superheroes. Who knew all those good things would be hard to juggle? I find it so easy to lose my focus because I want to do it all.

This is also the time of year that everyone starts thinking about upcoming holidays and comfort food. Taking care of ourselves becomes less of a priority and we start pushing thoughts of health and fitness toward the New Year.

But, what if the end of this year could be different? What if we didn’t wait until the New Year to care for our own health? What if we didn’t gain an extra 10-15 pounds over the Holidays like the average American? What if we could make a few small course corrections and up up healthier at the end of this year instead of waiting for the “resolution season.” Can you even imagine how good we could feel through the Holidays? 

Here are a few ways to add a little health focus to your Fall.

Eat what is in season.
Fall has a great bounty of veggies and fruits. Choose from all sorts of squash, peppers, and mushrooms. Check out fruitsandveggiesmorematters.com for a big list of in season choices.

Choose one day per week to indulge.
I know many people may frown on this, but when temptation for all the food is high, I plan a day to indulge. It gives me freedom from guilt and a way to plan for events that might only offer food choices that deviate from my regular meal plan. 

Get outside and move that body!
Fall is the perfect time to get outside. The temperature is no longer scorching and it has not quite gotten to be freezing yet. Go outside and play football, go for a hike, walk around the park, or visit an orchard and pick apples!

Words Matter

Ladies, when was the first time you remember that someone mentioned your weight and how it affected your appearance? Do you replay these words said to you in your youth? If you’re anything like me, the answer tends to be yes more often than you like. Not all the comments are negative in nature but they tend to still be influential to our beliefs about our own beauty and value.

The way we view our own health, beauty, and yes, even value has been molded by the words we’ve heard said to us by both well and ill meaning family members, friends, bullies, and yes even strangers. Our society is all convoluted about where the value of our ladies is found and the pressure to conform to that image is large and heavy to our young people.

I had two separate conversations with young girls where they both told me they had either been called fat or their nickname was “chubby.” My heart broke for these two beautiful girls. One, probably ten or eleven told me she was on a “diet” and that people sometimes call her “fat.” These words, unless combatted with love and deliberate attention will follow these girls into adulthood, just like it has you and me.

We as grown men and women have a chance to help mold our young ladies opinions of their own bodies by how we treat and speak to them. Please understand that I’m not an advocate for turning a blind eye to the health needs of children at risk for obesity, but that we handle it with care and carefully choose our words. Sometimes it is tricky because we want our kids to be healthy and make good nutritional choices.

I’ve spent some time working with grown women and young teen ladies about their own health and fitness and along the way I’ve come up with some general guidelines of what to say when it comes to addressing health and nutrition with not only our young people, but also to our selves.

Kick the word “diet” out of your vocabulary.
It has no place. It creates tension and dread. Instead use the words “meal plan” It holds intention and does not hold a negative connotation.

Avoid the words “I have to lose weight.”
Unless there is a medical necessity to lose weight this phase needs to follow diet to the garbage can. Instead choose phrases like “I want to be healthier.”

Do not use the words “skinny, thin, fat, chubby etc” in relation to your self or others.
Those words hold the weight of value or condemnation in reference to outer appearance. They also stay in someone’s inner dialogue if not combated. Our value is not based on how we look but from who we are. Using these terms tend to change that perspective in our beliefs.

Encourage using phrase with positive messages.
Try making healthy and balanced choices and getting stronger, and choosing good nutrition the majority of the time.

Indulge in treats.
Yep, I said indulge in treats. But view them only as treats and not a staple in your regular nutrition. Attempt to build a healthy view of food with a balance.

We need to retrain our own brains to choose the words we allow to run through our own inner dialogues with intention and practice.  But can help stop the negativity from ever beginning in our young by how we speak to them as they are growing. Choosing the words we speak is incredibly important and we have a responsibility to choose wisely.

What’s the easiest way to reduce carbs?

Well, the short answer is super simple and comes off a bit snarky… you just stop eating them. But you know as well as I do that our food choices don’t always follow this clear and simple directive. So, let’s explore this a bit.

Let’s back it up a few years ago. I followed a meal and exercise plan called Body for Life. Honestly, I still use some of the foundational strategies I learned during this program. The basic idea is that for each meal you have a serving of protein, a serving of veggies, and a carb. It was the first time I had to choose one kind of carb. Did I want to eat the roll or the fruit? This very simple choice became profound in the way I choose what kind of carb to eat. When I started this journey, I didn’t know there was a good carb, bad carb battle going on in the world. I just knew that I enjoyed the taste and how I felt after eating the fruit instead of the bread. I naturally started choosing a more complex carb without knowing what I was doing.

So, what is the difference between carbs and what does it matter?
According to Brent Brannen of gotswag.com…

First, to understand what makes a good carb “good” and a bad carb “bad,” you have to understand what a carb is. Carbs are one of the three macronutrients (along with protein and fat), all of which break down into the body’s primary source of energy known as glucose. After eating carbs, your body either uses the energy immediately, or stores it in your muscles and liver as glycogen for later use.

So, what in the world is the difference between simple and complex carbs? At the risk of oversimplifying the science, simple carbs such as breads, pastas, and baked goods, cause a quick spike in blood sugar and insulin response, creating a quick energy burst, also known as a sugar rush but because the fuel burns hot and fast the energy leads to a crash. This is why we often experience a let down and need more sugar to keep our energy level up. 

Complex carbs like fruits and veggies have more fiber and therefore take longer to digest, allowing the energy to have a more sustained release and less chance of crash. They allow us to have more energy over a longer period of time.

At this point, if you’re still reading, you’re probably wondering how all of this matters in reducing your carb intake. Well, I have found that the easiest way of reducing carbs is to replace their spot in my meals with other carbs. Yep, that’s what I said I replace carbs with carbs!

It all starts with that little question, do I want the roll or the fruit? For me, I found that eating a serving of fruit or veggie greatly increased how good my body felt and functioned. Also, when we just cut something drastically out of our meal plans we tend to focus on our loss instead of how good we are feeling. 

So, the bottom line here is to choose the healthier version of carbohydrate. over time the habit of choosing a more complex carb over a simple one will reduce your overall intake of carbs.
Some simple examples…

Instead of spaghetti…
serve zoodles or roasted veggies covered in meat sauce.

Instead of a flour tortilla…
use a corn or spinach tortilla

Instead of the bread…
pick the fruit.

Reboot: Have you tried turning it off and on again?

Last week we talked about looking over our “why” and determining the deep set reason that we are working towards a particular goal. It really is crucial to find the inner motivation for the goal or we tend to jump ship easily.

But you might be saying, I already know my why and I’m still struggling to stay with the plan. This reminds me of the IT Guys skit about restarting the computer. The first question they always ask is, “have you tried turning it off and on again?” But in reality it takes just a little more examination. Could I suggest that it could be a couple of simple things keeping you from fully investing in that journey?

Your WHY isn’t strong enough.
Many times the reason we choose to pursue a goal doesn’t have a strong enough inner conviction. Choosing to lose weight to fit into certain size rarely holds enough “weight” to keep us on track. It just simply isn’t important enough to us. But, choosing to lose weight to avoid a major surgery or heart attack obviously would create a stronger sense of conviction. How strong is your why?

The plan is too dramatic of a change.
I can’t tell you how many people, including myself, want to change all the things at the same time. We completely overhaul our schedule, throw out all the junk, and then try to subsist on carrots and celery all week. My friend, we are just not wired to change everything overnight. 

Start by just addressing a couple of the areas first. Add a twenty minute walk to your day instead of choosing to do a three hour lifting session. I know that sounds like it may be less effective, but if you jump off the wagon the first couple of days because it was too overwhelming you won’t experience any results outside of feeling like a failure… again.

You are afraid.
Ugh, this one hits me hard. I spend a lot of time second guessing myself, telling myself I can’t do it, or actually being afraid of success (what the heck is that about?!). But many of us really struggle with the confidence of actually following our plan. We think the plan is flawed, we are flawed, and there is no way this is ever going to work.

My friend, this is Evil speaking into you and me. That fear is a liar. Let me say it again. Fear is a LIAR. It wants you to fail and stay miserable, but the truth is that you have everything you need to succeed available to you. And so do I. We just need to learn how to speak truth into ourselves and when we can’t, we need to have someone that can. That can be a friend, a coach, a trainer, a Bible study leader, but the best one is Jesus. He speaks truth about us all over the place. We can find that Truth written through scripture and it is life altering. Truth is the best way to battle that fear and walk boldly toward our goals!

What’s love got to do with it?

Love. We use the word for so many different reasons…

I love summer.
I love Star Wars.
I love reading.
I love my family.
I love tacos.

We use the word love so often I feel we have become over familiar with the term. We often misinterpret or miss the full meaning of the word, especially when we hear it said to us. “I love you” is a phrase we all long to hear, but often doubt the authenticity of the meaning. We live our lives wanting to be filled with love but often doubting the giver. What about loving ourselves?

In scripture we are often commanded to love others, neighbors, and even our enemies but we often gloss over the phrase hidden in Mark 12:31:

“Love your neighbor as yourself.

Whoa! How many of us love ourselves? I know that my inner dialogue most days includes a plethora of phrases loaded with anything but love regarding myself. How often do we come into our health and fitness journeys because of something we hate about ourselves or find disgusting? I started my own personal health and fitness journey because I loathed what I had let myself become and for a while that was a good motivator.

Being tired of being sick and tired can be a good jumping off point, but it does not provide lasting motivation to pursue a healthy lifestyle. In fact, if we still feel disgust and hatred toward ourselves then we will speak negatively into our inner dialogue and continue believing we are failures, disappointments, and unable to succeed. 

What if we began from a heart place of self love instead of disgust or disappointment? What if we learned to care for our bodies because we loved them? Let that sink in for a minute. Don’t we treat other people we love with much more care and respect than we do ourselves? Would you ever speak to your spouse, child, or friend like you do yourself?

How do we do this? How do we learn to love ourselves? Positive mantras and “surfacey” platitudes will not create a new heart perspective toward ourselves. In fact, the Bible says in 1 John 4:19 that we “love because He first loved us.” My friend we must inundate ourselves with God’s love before we can learn to love anybody else well, especially ourselves. We must sit with Him, ask for his love, read about his love, and choose to believe and receive his love. This is the heart of our health and fitness journey. We cannot be healthy without Him.

Monday October 1st we are going to start on a 30 day journey of discovering how to love ourselves well by exploring scripture, our own personal beliefs, and moving our bodies out of thankfulness and gratitude. Are you interested in going on this adventure with us? Join us today!

Perspective: Friend or Foe?

I was thinking about new beginnings, contemplating what makes us stop things we’ve started? Was it because it was hard? We got busy? Life does actually get in the way at times, but by and large the biggest reason we quit is because we’ve lost perspective on why we were doing it in the first place.

I was struggling this weekend with motivation. The get up and go to do some of the things I am responsible for, had got up and gone… I mentally struggled with what I wanted to do versus what I needed to do. Well, actually I didn’t want to do anything.My husband looked at me and said…

“You need to remember your why.”

My WHY. I haven’t revisited it in a good long while. Why am I a coach?Why do I exercise? Why do we homeschool? All of these are valid questions and important priorities in my life. It is important for me to remind myself of the reasons why they are important.

Why is the driving force. It is the purpose and desire behind the activities we do. When we know WHY we do something there is more passion, more drive, more commitment to the activity. It is especially important when we have a certain goal we are working toward yet we feel so far away from attaining it or the motivation to work of it.

When we know WHY we want or need something the motivation is natural and organic. We won’t have to create it out of thin air and we will feel more purpose in the journey. More purpose will produce more satisfaction and therefore more motivation. How we think can work us toward or against our goals. Our perspective can help us or hurt us. How is yours treating you?

Celebrate!

It is an amazing thing, this life we live. We have so many opportunities to enjoy life, but we often get caught up in the chaos and frustrations that come our way that we miss the good stuff. We can lose sight of the blessings that we have because we are focused on the struggles we experience. I feel like this is not only true in work and relationships, but also in our health and fitness journeys.

Many of us start new programs and meal plans only to become frustrated with not being able to perform the moves perfectly or that the meal plan is “too hard,” “too strict,” or that we are just “no good at this healthy thing.” I often hear people talk about doing a workout for two or three days only to be “so sore” that they couldn’t keep going or when they miss a day they just stop and say they will start again on “Monday.”
WARNING: Tough Love Moment!
These phrases are just not true. They are simply excuses to quit something that is hard for us. Yes, they are legitimate things that need to be addressed, but they are not reasons to throw in the towel.

Our mindset is what moves us forward. it is not our physical abilities or that we are simply “good at” whatever the program requires. It is what and how we think, fueled by our inner dialogue.

So, let’s talk about what we can do to create a mindset that moves us forward in our journeys.

Pursue Progress
When we focus on perfection we lose sight of the small steps of progress that we are making. Every day we can choose to see the small steps that we have made that move us in the right direction. In our workouts, we can modify a move and then watch the progression towards doing the move without modification. We can make small choices daily that move us closer to eating in a healthy way. These things all take practice because they are skills not natural talents. The good news is that skills are learnable and we can get better at them because we can practice.

Surround yourself with Positivity
Ever heard the phrase “you become the sum of the five people you are with the most?” This might be an exaggeration but I do believe that the people you spend time with the most do contribute to your mindset, to whether or not you see possibilities or problems. Positive people have hope and tend to be able to inspire hope in others. Now, I’m talking about people who have hope and the ability to see solutions, and are willing to encourage others in their pursuits, even if they don’t entirely agree with you. If you don’t know anybody like this, start reading personal development books and creating the positive mindset inside yourself!

Give yourself grace
All of us are going to fail and make mistakes. None of us are perfect. We are going to choose poorly, miss a workout, or eat something (aghast!) not on plan. When we do this we often berate ourselves or even give up. This is more detrimental than the small mistake or choice we made initially! Choose to give yourself grace to fail. Choose that when you fail or make a “mistake,” because you will, you will choose to just pick yourself back up and make the next choice a better one. Don’t give up when you fail, use it to try to become better.

Celebrate!
This is my favorite one. Celebrate your victories! Celebrate small progressions in your physical fitness. Celebrate lifting one more rep or jumping one more time. Celebrate your ability to meal prep for one more day. Celebrate eating healthy for five days in a row. Build on those small steps, don’t just wait to celebrate when you “arrive” at your goals. Healthy is a lifestyle not an endpoint or destination. Celebration builds happy hormones and will help keep you motivated to keep going.

You CAN live a healthy lifestyle with grace and hope. I completely believe in you!

 

You Are Free to Eat

Have you ever seen the movie, Kung Fu Panda? The story follows a large panda named Po pursue his dream of becoming a Kung Fu hero. Po, unfortunately is not adept at learning Kung Fu early in his endeavors. He spends his time failing daily, his “mentor” abhors him and doubts his calling, and his peers believe him to be hopeless.

In an effort to comfort himself, Po eats. A lot. In fact, he is amazingly clever and adept at finding any and all food to appease his desire. Shifu, his mentor catches him climbing cabinets in the corner of the kitchen in the middle of the night. Can any of you relate with Po here? Hiding? Eating to ease the pain of failure and feeling left out or in the wrong place?

Shifu, being the clever and inventive mentor, now knows that he can use food as a motivator in Po’s training regimen. If Po performs well, he gets a delicious reward, if not, he cannot eat. The training montage continues, rewards of dumplings fill Po’s motivation and belly as he perfects Kung Fu. It culminates in what really is my favorite scene…
Po finds Shifu sitting at a table with a bowl of dumplings and says…

You are free to eat.

Po, is surprised, looking for the catch and then sits to eat. Every time he tries to take a bite Shifu snatches the dumpling out from under him, every time uttering…

You are free to eat.

Po responds with “Am I?”
to which Shifu says…

“Are you?”

The battle for the dumpling is epic! Flips and kicks and chopsticks. Oh my! Finally, Po is victorious and goes to eat the dumpling. But in a surprising turn of events he plops the dumpling down in front of Shifu and says…

“I’m not hungry.”

How often do we make our life about food?
Celebrations of every kind. Rewards for grades, chores completed, goals attained. We obsess about tacos, peanut butter, chocolate, the list goes on and on. We go to it when we feel sad, angry, or left out. We fill our bellies to soothe our hearts. Or we punish ourselves by withholding food because we don’t look like what we would like or because we splurged and ate something off the diet. We use it as a motivator and a deterrent, and a punishment/reward system, just like Po and Shifu.

Are you held captive by food?
Sometimes, without noticing we start going to food first. We allow our emotions, circumstances, beliefs, happiness and fulfillment to be affected by food and our manipulation of it. When we go to food first to feel better we have created a false god out of something God created to sustain us and for us to enjoy. Yes! He wants us to enjoy food! Why do you think he gave us taste buds anyway?

Alisa Keeton says in her book, The Wellness Revelation
“Remember, it is never about the food. The food is not the enemy. It is something deeper. Our relationship with food is broken because something deep within us is broken. God wants to heal us in those deep places!”

In Isaiah 61:1 it says that He has come to bring freedom to the captives, that’s us! When we learn to seek God first for our emotional, physical, and mental needs we learn to put God in His rightful place in our hearts and restore balance to where food is placed. It will take time to retrain our brains and hormone systems that food is indeed enjoyable fuel but not god. The journey to freedom comes through worshipping the One true God and not our bellies or our bodies.

Yes, we must learn to care for our bodies in self and God honoring ways. Learning to fuel our bodies well and enjoy food is sometimes a battle but one that is so definitely worth it and rewarding in the freedom we can find and the ability to say that we’re not hungry when what we really need is Jesus.

You are FREE to eat.

 

Start Something and Finish It

Summer has officially begun here! There is a whiff of “what-ifs” and I think I cans swirling around. We talked about staying motivated the other day, but what should we be motivated to do? Only you can decide what is important to you but the greatest thing is that you actually have the ability to choose! So, how about making a plan to fit your goals? Here are a few steps to create your own plan.

Decide what it is you want to accomplish
Do you want to feel healthier or get in shape for the swimsuit season? (Nothing like the glare of fluorescent lights bouncing off dressing room mirrors to motivate you onto a new meal plan!) Do you want to be able to swim across the lake or hike through the trails this summer? Decide what is important as a priority to you, not just “oh it would be nice if…” kind of thing, but something that really hits you deep that you would love to accomplish.

Reverse Engineer Your Goal
Take whatever it is that you decided was your priority and figure out the things you would need to do to be able to reach that goal. Make a list of the necessary things and steps. Your list may include things like buy new hiking boots or invest in a set of weights or Beachbody On Demand.

Create your Plan
You can create a plan on your own or seek the help of someone who has experience in your particular goal. If you don’t know how to swim, you would obviously start with finding an instructor to teach you lessons. If you want to become more healthy and fit you could ask the help of a coach, like me, to help create the plan that would provide the best path to reach your personal goal. This is a great step because coaches also provide accountability which is part of the next step!

Share your goal with someone who will help you be accountable.
Accountability really works! Find someone or join a group that understands your goal and will help keep you motivated and on track. Having to “check in” or tell someone else how you are doing creates a sense of consequence to go with your choices, both good and bad.

Start your plan and follow through to the Finish!
Start strong. Take each day one step at a time. Focus on your desired outcome, not the obstacles and you will find that you are fully capable of reaching your goal!