Meal Planning and Prep

The busy life of a mom, much less a working mom, can easily get in the way of clean eating efforts. Today, we are often on the go from here to there, from sun up to sun down. It’s nearly impossible to stay on track with your nutrition without proper planning ahead of time.

My best, cleanest eating weeks are those where I set aside a little time after the boys have gone to bed, usually on a Sunday evening before the work week begins, to prep and package my food to be easily thrown in my lunch bag every day of the week. You will also find, you might save a lot of money this way, as you hopefully will spend a lot less on meals out.

Here’s a peek of how I do it:

This week, my plan was to have a leafy spinach salad with cucumbers and grape tomatoes for lunch each day. {Some may prefer more variety, but I absolutely love this salad, so I have no issue eating it every day.}

I often make the salad in a very large Tupperware container I own:

And I spoon some into a smaller Tupperware dish to take with my in my lunch bag the next day.

I then make sure to have a small dish with my current favorite salad dressing in it. This is Newman’s Own Lite Sesame Ginger…it is sooooooo good…and only 15 calories per serving. I make sure to take just a serving’s worth.

Additionally, I like to have some good protein to go with, so I hard-boil some eggs to get me through the week {and a few extra for Tanner’s lunches}.

As far as snack foods to get me through my long work days, I pack things such as string cheese, raw almonds, carrots, apples, grapes…just anything that is naturally low-cal and nutritious.

As soon as I’m done with prep, I pop a day’s worth of snack and lunch into this super-cute lunch bag I found at Marshall’s for $9.99:

Isn’t it cute? I just love it. And it’s the perfect size, like a purse. I plan on getting it monogrammed eventually. So everything goes in here when I’m done, and into the fridge. The next morning before work, I take it out, pop a freezer-pak in it and go.

As far as breakfast, I usually carve out a few extra minutes in the morning to scramble up some egg whites, top them with avocado and drizzle with hot sauce {to get that metabolism going!} If I don’t have time for that, I make a whey protein smoothie…I’ll have my personal recipe for you here on the blog soon.

How do you plan for a healthy week?

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Make The Most of Your Routine

I strive to find a little time each day to dedicate to fitness. And knowing how hard it is to carve out that time, I want to make sure I am making the most of it. My workout needs to be effective and worth the effort I put into it. I make a point of not “phoning” it in.

Here are some tips I have for making the most of your exercise routine:

1. Change it up and often. I would say that the biggest game-changer for your fitness routine is making sure to keep from plateauing. You need to switch it up. I see so many of the same people at the gym doing the same things over and over. It’s like their body is coasting…5 miles on the treadmill {check}, abs {check}…and so on and so forth. A great rule of thumb is to change things up every two weeks. Especially with strength-training. This may simply be adding in more weight/reps, or trying a completely new exercise for the muscle group you work. I found a book a few years back that changed my fitness routine forever and highly recommend it – The Body Sculpting Bible For Women. It taught me what my routine needs to entail in order to be effective. Keep those muscles guessing…and you will see better results.

2. HIIT. Another effective way to keep from plateauing is high-intensity interval training {HIIT}. This is a form of workout that keeps your heart rate high while switching off and on from different forms of cardio/strength moves that for the most part use your entire body {think Insanity}. It’s also a great form of workout when you are short on time…these quick bursts of intensity keep that metabolism high and burning calories long after your workout is done.

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3. Focus on one or two muscle groups per workout {strength-training}. I don’t like to be all over the place when strength-training. I find it best to focus on one big or two smaller groups of muscles per workout. If I jump from arms to legs all the time, I’m not sufficiently tearing down those muscles enough to rebuild and tone them. When you focus on a single {or two smaller} group{s}, you are able to tear down the muscles…and afterward provide sufficient recovery via rest {wait 48 hrs to work the muscle group again} and nutrients to rebuild them…which brings me to my next tip:

4. Simple Carb + Protein after each workout. You have to refuel your body with the right nutrients post-workout to rebuild what you just tore down. This is the best method I have learned. Great examples of this type of post-workout snack would be – chocolate milk, fruit protein smoothie, string cheese + fruit, nuts + fruit, etc. Your simple carbs are sugars – try to get those from something like fruit, not candy…and then any protein source – nuts, eggs, cheese, lean meat, whey protein, etc.

5. Aim to workout 5-6 days per week. An ideal workout includes a focused strength-training workout {one large or two smaller groups as described above} and at least 30 minutes of cardio. Here’s an example of the workout schedule I try to follow and rotate week to week:

Day 1: Legs/Glutes, Cardio – Elliptical 30 min
Day 2: Shoulders/Biceps, Cardio – Treadmill 30 min
Day 3: Back, Cardio – Elliptical 30 min
Day 4: Legs/Glutes {I work these twice a week}, Cardio – Treadmill 30 min or a Spin Class
Day 5: Chest/Triceps, Cardio – Elliptical 30 min

And I just keep on rotating those, while maybe adding in a barre class, outdoor running, etc. in place of something else to keep mixing it up. One rest day a week is important…and always listen to your body.

Do you have any tips of your own for making the most of your workout routine? I would love to hear them!