Hope you’re loving summer, wherever your summer might have landed you!
If there’s one summer meal must-have, it’s grilled fish. Or grilled chicken wings. Or, grilled anything. If there’s two – oven-roasted veggies are going on at the same time.
I’d like to let you in on the secret to perfect roasted veggies, because I feel like it’s a complete game-changer. If you already know about this, you know exactly what I mean. And once you’ve got a method you like, it’s easier to want to try different veggies and easily bring a lot more variety to your plate.
Who ever thought asparagus could look so tempting? 👀
Start by preheating your oven to “bake” around 375 F, or a little hotter for potatoes. Maybe 425. You’ll figure out what works best for your oven/each veggie pretty quickly, but you can always cook longer or less depending on how toasty you want them to look!
Wash up your veggies if they’re fresh – use a scrubber to get all that dirt off 😝
(This works great with frozen veggies as well! Just pour them right outta the bag onto the pan.)
If you’re using potatoes or something bigger like that, you can chop them into thin strips, little wedges, chunks, “fries” – whatever!
The fun part- drizzle a little olive oil all over your pan of veggies. About a tablespoon for a decent-sized tray, or just enough to lightly coat the veggies.
The good fats in olive oil help us absorb more of the vitamins and minerals in veggies, so it’s a win-win for taste and nutrition.
Then, hit em with a few pinches of salt. Sea salt, pink salt, whatever! You can add other spices if you have some you really like. If you’re roasting sweet potatoes or butternut squash, you could skip the salt and add cinnamon. But they’re good salted too!
P.S. – If you’re watching your sodium, either a) measure the total amount of salt you use and make sure you don’t consume more of a serving than you need, or b) substitute other spices or one of Mrs. Dash’s salt-free seasonings. Or skip it all together, because just the olive oil will make these pretty darn good.
Once you get ready, stick your pan in the oven! You should do this about 1 hour before you wanna eat.
Cook 25-30 minutes, pull the tray out (with hot pads!), flip all the veggies over with a spatula, and cook 25-30 more.
If you wanna add some Parmesan, pull the tray out again with 10-15 minutes to go and sprinkle some on. This is especially great on green veggies like asparagus or broccoli! 😊
And after about an hour, here’s your final product!
Veggies should be crisp and lightly browned. YUM 👅
Temperature, time, etc. are totally modifiable to suit different ovens, vegetables, and tastes – but this should be a good outline to cooking veggies well. It’s hard to mess up – and if you turn the oven light on, set a timer, and stay nearby, you’re not likely to!
It’s also a nice method because you can put these in, forget about them until your timer goes off and it’s time to flip, and use that time to get the rest of your meal ready. Or, if you have some chicken or something already cooked, you can roast these and keep studying or cleaning or whatever, heat up the other stuff in the good old ‘wave, and you’ve got a super low-maintenance but awesome dinner.
This method has also been known to win over even the pickiest of veggie eaters, because it makes them taste super crispy like french fries 🍟
Hope you love ’em!
If you have (or find) a favorite roasted veggie or a favorite spice to add, let us know in the comments below!
There are a ton of recipes out there using oatmeal, eggs, bananas, and other simple ingredients to make pancake-like creations. Until now, most of my attempts have been just that – “pancake-like”.
But, I had some leftover oatmeal last week, and an idea struck me. I blended about 1/3 to 1/2 of a serving of cooked oatmeal with 1 egg (my last egg) and 1/3 of a banana (also left-over) in my blender. I stirred a pinch of baking powder into that batter as an afterthought, to help it rise. Then I sprayed a skillet with some cooking spray, and made 6 cute mini pancakes.
Oh. My. Gosh.
They were so good! So good that I immediately pulled up the blog and started typing away.
And this may be the secret –
When I cooked my oatmeal, I had stirred in a couple of heaping spoonfuls of pumpkin puree, which I had bought for another recipe, and some cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. It’s good in any season 😉
And, when I cooked the pancakes, I sprinkled in a few chopped pecans. Then, after cooking, I topped them with a few more pecan pieces, a sprinkle of ground flax seed, about a tablespoon of melted almond butter, and BLUEBERRIES. Fruit and almond butter just cannot be beat as a pancake (or anything) topping.
And I began the hot (rainy) summer day in Fall bliss 🙂
Highly recommend a cup of Blueberry Muffin Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee with unsweetened Silk Soymilk. Absolutely perfect with this breakfast, and rounded it out with some more protein.
Why was this breakfast so exciting?
#1. It was delicious.
#2. It made me feel awesome.
#3. I knew it was healthy, but it tasted like it wasn’t 😉
Every meal should feel this way, shouldn’t it?
It doesn’t have to be butter-smothered to be delicious. No matter your health goals, you can enjoy awesome food. Just be creative! (Or get a little help)
I hope you like these pancakes if you give them a shot. I used things I had on hand, clearly, so feel free to substitute different fruits or toppings for things you have around or things you love.
Our days are already mapped out. Did you know that?
Every single one, written in God’s book.
We get to choose how hard we work at our jobs, what we watch on TV, what we eat, who we spend time with, how often we blog… but He already knows every choice we’ll make before we make it. If we are believers in Christ, His Spirit continually draws us to the places we need to be to make an impact for Him. He knows we’re not perfect, and He will use us and bless us anyway. He actually couldn’t use us if we were perfect… because there’d be no room for Him. People would just see us.
Human perfection is a myth, and this principle bleeds over into every area of our lives. The desire for perfection can actually hinder progress – it’s hard to keep pressing forward when we’re continuously looking back and trying to fix what we messed up, or mentally beating ourselves up over our mistakes. So much can be gained from being accepting, especially of ourselves, and getting back at it.
I can name countless areas where I’ve done both – beat myself up, or kept going – and the latter is always more beneficial. Sports, relationships, eating healthy, school… yeah. Even if you win at everything you attempt, there might still be something you could’ve done better. But that’d keep you from celebrating your victories!
You know what I’m really not perfect at? Among a lot of other things… cooking.
My first cooking experience at my new home in Auburn involved making a huge mess in the microwave (should’ve used a bigger bowl). I know how to make oatmeal… but sometimes new variables enter in. My new microwave is way more powerful than the one in my dorm was. I used a different bowl. The list goes on. However, I could’ve saved myself some cleaning if I had been watching the oats while they cooked. So, that was my takeaway from this – the first time you do something new, keep an eye on it.
My first time using the oven here… I burned my thumb. Don’t try to watch TV while you’re getting a pan out of the oven. But, if you do, life will go on, and the roasted carrots will still be pretty good.
I’ve made some really yummy food for myself and my family, and I’ve learned a ton about cooking for one person. Some of my top tips include buying what you like, buying frozen veggies and meat often (because you can’t use fresh as fast as you think), and keeping staples on hand for quick meals. Also, I’ve learned that (though I’m definitely a snack lover) cooking real meals is so much more satisfying, and so much more nourishing to the body, than just eating some stuff out of the cabinet for dinner. Cooking for yourself also gives you a sense of personal pride (Yeah, I made that, and it was darn good!) and is SO much healthier than eating out all the time. Eating out is good for the soul, sure, and can be perfectly healthy a few times a week, but home-cooked meals have the potential to be so much better for the body. Plus, you pick exactly what ingredients go in (Don’t like mushrooms? You’ll never have to pick around one), how much goes on your plate, and you don’t have to wait on somebody else to put your order in with the chef.
People like to say they “can’t cook.” Well, don’t take my word for it, but…
“Anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great” – Chef Gusteau (Ratatouille)
You can do it. To make it good, you just need practice, and maybe a little help from somebody whose cooking you like. And if you don’t enjoy being in the kitchen, I’ve got some tips that might help you out with that.
Pick out things at the store that make you excited to cook. I love anything breakfast-y, anything with the word almond in it (almond butter, almond milk…), fresh fruit, dark greens, and whole grains. Oh yeah, and sweet potatoes. When you’re the chef, you’re in charge – why not make a meal out of your favorite healthy foods?
Make some noise in the kitchen. Listen to your favorite music, turn on the TV, call a friend, or recruit others to hang out with you while you cook. You don’t have to isolate yourself! The kitchen should be one of the warmest and liveliest places in the house. Just don’t let yourself get distracted while you’re pulling a pan out of the oven!
Cook ahead. I love already having the tough part of a meal done, especially during the week. If I cook 2 decently large chicken breasts one night, I can work that into 3 or 4 meals and only have to cook the veggies and rice. If it’s been a long day, I’ll just throw that chicken on a tray with corn tortilla chips and a little cheese, chop up an avocado or a tomato, and call it nachos. Or, if it’s been a really long day… salad takes 2 minutes. It’s always there for me.
So yeah, cooking can be really fun. Therapeutic, even. At the very least, you can definitely do it! Never let fear of failure or imperfection get in your way. With cooking, diet, exercise, sport, school, a new job, or anything else in life – Go for it, and you might surprise yourself!
I hope you all had a great Mother’s Day 🙂 Ours was perfect. We started off the day making some “real deal” chocolate chip waffles with bacon, and ended with seeing our grandparents, picking up my sister from dance rehearsal, and scarfing down some amazing grilled shrimp that I was too hungry to consider taking a picture of.
One day or one weekend to celebrate moms is absolutely not enough, because they are the reason all of our lives are possible. On top of that, they do so much thankless work. Thank them for everything you can think of, because there is always more that goes on behind the scenes.
That being said, we ought to just be able to give moms a rest day, but I know mine always ends up working, even on Mother’s Day. Laundry is still running, and Mom is still full-throttle getting us ready for the week ahead. She’s superhuman.
However, it is possible to incorporate restfulness into even the busiest of days. Whether it’s a yoga session, enjoying a good meal, watching a little TV, or just going to bed early, rest is important to your mental health. We weren’t created to run 24/7, and many moms (like mine) have figured this out.
You’ve probably heard it before, but if you want to be present for others, you need to take care of you. Why not take initiative and incorporate planned rest into your life? In my experience, if you try to be “on” all the time, you’re going to crash. Give yourself the satisfaction of taking breaks, on your own terms.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, probably because they thought the M’s would be cute. May is actually a really good time to think about it, though, because for many of us the school year is coming to a close. Things get really busy, and then they just drop off. If you’re in the busy phase, it’s a great time to consider how you can improve your performance by keeping your mental health strong. If you’ve made it through, congratulations! Allow yourself to relax, and definitely consider de-stressors that you can incorporate into your life when it winds back up again. If life is calm for you, considering your mental health can boost your happiness, help you to care more for others, and just overall make you whole and healthy.
Many say that mental health is just as important as physical health – and I agree. You might work your tail off for a performance, or to look good for an event… but when you get there, can you enjoy it? In our everyday quest to keep our bodies healthy, if we stress ourselves out, we will not succeed. We might make the grade, reach our body goals, or lower our cholesterol, but we are not fully healthy or successful if we are not mentally healthy. Mental health will determine the overall quality of your life. Everything you experience is processed in your brain… the way you interpret life is ultimately what matters.
It’s not just a concept – physical proof of the negative effects of poorly managed stress on the body includes elevated cortisol – a stress hormone that is naturally elevated when we stress the body. Cortisol isn’t all bad – levels go up when we work out hard. It’s essential for performance, but if elevated all day long, it can negatively influence fat storage (more around the middle), among other negative effects. A workout only temporarily spikes cortisol, but not getting enough sleep or being under constant stress can result in chronically high cortisol levels. Additionally, stress itself has been linked to an increase in heart disease! You can do all the healthy things, but if you don’t live life with moderation and allow yourself rest, you could seriously impact your physical health.
Exercise, though it temporarily stresses the body, is good for your mental health because it releases other “feel-good” hormones, like serotonin. Encouraging, not forcing, the body to move will give us the best results. I don’t mean stop if running or lifting is hard- challenge yourself, but don’t work beyond sense. Don’t push exercise to the max if you are feeling drained. Work with your body, not against it.
Being mindful with exercise ties right in with one of my favorite things in the world – mindful eating. Learning to listen to my body’s true needs when it comes to food has been one of the best changes I could ever have made in my life. God gave us hunger and fullness cues, and emotions, for a reason- and it’s our job to listen and nourish ourselves well.
A healthy and varied diet full of good fats, lean protein, whole grains, and colorful fruits and veggies can really make you feel and look your best. And the body is happy. However, food was also meant for celebration! Though I do feel rejuvenated after eating most days, there’s something fulfilling about enjoying a special meal with family. Though my healthiest breakfasts might contain more antioxidants than chocolate chip waffles, those waffles we had yesterday had their own sort of benefit. Happiness, letting go, not caring that they’re full fat and full sugar. Letting yourself enjoy a total splurge is good for the mental state.
The thing is, we don’t have to deserve good food. We don’t deserve anything in life. It’s all a gift. Our bodies are a gift, too.
I have also found that good old fashioned dessert loses its luster if you start feeling “entitled” to it. What’s there to celebrate is you eat this way every day? I say, enjoy healthy food most of the time, and fearlessly indulge when your body needs it. You don’t have to have cake on every occasion, but you should certainly have cake in your life. Or ice cream. Or whatever you love. Structure and groundedness in your diet are good. Making treats healthier is good. But chocolate chip waffle mix from William’s Sonoma is good, too.
And don’t call it a cheat meal. Call it living your life.
To close, here are some of my favorite ways to keep my mind healthy and happy –
Going to bed early
Drinking hot tea ☕️
Watching the sun rise
Reading my bible
Relaxing with friends/ family
Bubble baths 🛀🏼
These are just examples, and I encourage you to find your own ways to incorporate rest and healthy movement into your lives on a daily basis. Your mind, body, and family will all thank you!
There’s how you think you’re going to feel when you finish your 4 years… and then there’s how you actually feel. I always thought I’d be so relieved after running at Troy was done, because as much as I love my team and the sport… it’s not easy.
I’m proud of everything that the Lord and my coaches and teachers helped me to accomplish, I’m proud of my big letter, and I’m proud of the braver person I have become! I know that I’m ready to move on to grad school, and to help others in areas that I am passionate about.
I thought I was ready to move on. Checking out of the dorm for the last time was SO liberating. But then, y’all, I cried all the way out of Troy city limits. I’m going to miss everything and everyone so much.
Don’t ever be mad at yourself for crying “good” tears. Sometimes, they come to remind us how invested we actually were in an experience. I love Troy, I loved my 4 years, and I wouldn’t trade any second for the world. My friends will always be my friends, and we’ll never be far apart in heart. Especially with the house party app 😉 Troy fam, if you haven’t yet… get the app. It’s gonna make our lives better!
What do you do when you’ve achieved your goals? Naturally, celebrate and then set new ones. It’s important to set new goals for every stage in your life. Even if they’re big, or vague, we all just need to have direction. Whether you’ve reached a fitness goal, or a life goal, or a career goal, it’s important to continue your forward momentum. Of course, take rest for yourself. Then, think, what do I want the next phase of my life to look like? What can I do to make it better?
It could be staying active or encouraging others more. As for me, I definitely want to continue to pursue a positive mindset, encourage others, develop my cooking skills (goodbye, dining hall!), and put even more into my studies. I also want to explore some other areas of fitness besides running (though I’ll never be able to resist a good run). Right now, I’m also enjoying having time with my family, who I missed like crazy. That’s always important!
Feeling like the world’s all in front of you is exactly how you should feel – because no matter what your situation, it is. There are always ways to make every single day better. Our lives will never be perfect – but there are always goals we can set and qualities we can aspire toward.
Never give up. Be innovative. And, be you.
This post wouldn’t be complete without me sharing today’s breakfast with y’all, because it was bomb.
Double Berry Almond Butter Toast ^^
2 pc. Sara Lee Delightful Multigrain Bread
1 1/3 tbsp Publix creamy almond butter
1 tsp Polaner Strawberry All-fruit spread
1 handful fresh blueberries
Coconut oil spray
I just sprayed each piece of this awesome fluffy bread with some coconut oil spray (just enough to coat), and put it in the oven on broil with the oven light on. After a few minutes, it’s golden brown (gotta keep your eye on it!) and I pulled it out and spread almond butter on each piece. I added strawberry all-fruit to one, and some amazing fresh blueberries to the other. This was perfect with a glass full of ice and Stok cold-brew coffee.
Starting your day well helps you tackle those goals you’re setting! 😉
Long road trip… you pull up to a gas station… you’re hungry. You’ve been on a roll lately with your nutrition, and you don’t really want to settle for the Cheetos today. What do you choose?
On Friday, I drove down to Gulf Shores to present research at the ASAHPERD Conference (7.5 hrs, just me!), and I realized there really were some decent snack options at the gas stations along the way.
Here are my top healthy picks!
Bottled water. Of course, you can’t drink too much on the road, but staying hydrated is key to keeping your mind alert while you drive. You just can’t beat a cold bottle of water.
Bai drinks. I’ve loved this stuff lately! The mango and coconut flavors are really yummy (felt like I was still at the beach). Yes, there are some artificial sugars (erythritol), but this drink is relatively natural compared to many others, and has little impact on your day’s diet at only 10 calories per bottle. A yummy drink is a good choice when you’re bored and want to snack, but aren’t really hungry yet.
Unsweetened tea. A favorite in my family. We’re unsweet tea people. Some flavor, a little caffeine, and no bad stuff. Again, if you need it sweet, I recommend Milo’s Splenda Tea. You won’t miss a thing except the sugar and calories, and you won’t spike your blood sugar like real sweet tea will.
Skinny-pop. Popcorn is naturally whole-grain – it only hurts us when we cook it in a ton of oil and drown it in butter. Air popped popcorns, or those popped in less oil and seasoned lightly, give you a lot to munch on for not a lot of caloric cost. And everybody loves popcorn!
Nuts, especially almonds. I like the single-serve pouches – you know, the tall skinny ones. They usually have around 20 almonds inside, which is perfect, because you won’t eat too many and get a tummy ache. Cocoa roast, blueberry, and lightly salted are some of my faves. They’ll give you a boost of healthy fats, protein, vitamin E, and calcium, as well as taking the edge off of your hunger.
Jerky. I tried “Perky Jerky” Brand turkey jerky today, and I really like it. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better source of on-the-go protein than jerky – just check your ingredients. Beef jerky is great, but turkey is even leaner (and yummier, in my book). And of course, we want minimal preservatives. Look for things you can pronounce, and watch sodium and sugar.
Clif nut butter bar orQuest bar. Two of my favorites – I like them because the ingredient list is relatively short, and they’ve got less sugar and more protein than the average bar. Reach for this if you’re too hungry to mess around with popcorn – they’ll fill you up more like a small meal.
Apple chips or Freeze-dried fruit. Traditional dried fruit often has added sugar – yeah, it’s fruit, but it’s not your best choice. Freeze-dried options are better because they’re closer to the natural state! Natural = better. And they’re SO GOOD.
Mints/ Gum. Great for taking the edge off, keeping the breath fresh, and keeping you focused. Mint is really good for that! They’re also a great option when you just want to buy something, but you’re not particularly hungry.
Starbucks Coffee+Milk. Hands-down, it woke me up after hour 3 and got rid of my headache. A much better option than Starbucks’ bottled Frappaccinos – this deliciousness is made with just milk, sugar, and coffee. No crazy stuff. My favorite is the Vanilla 🙂
And when you get home and you’re too hungry to cook (or you missed Saga), grab one of these from Chik-fil-A! (Southwest salad with chili lime vinaigrette) 🙂
Hey gorgeous (or handsome), you already have a great body 🙂 We only get one, and it’s honestly so amazing what it’s able to do. It’s the vessel we live through, and without it we’d be nonexistent and useless. You can make a vast difference in this world through your body no matter WHAT it looks like.
HOWEVER – we are all allowed to have goals and aspirations! It feels so good to feel good and healthy, and proud of the fitness and appearance and strength of our bodies. At times I have let others tell me that I shouldn’t aspire to a healthier, fitter body, or that I shouldn’t set high goals because I “might not be able to” reach them. Yes, while we must be happy with who we are in this moment, we are SO allowed to improve our bodies. Lift heavier. Run harder. Experiment with changes in our diets. Tone up. Lean out. We are allowed to pursue more defined abs, and more muscular shoulders to do pull-ups with. We should never let these things define us – but wouldn’t it be fun to see ourselves make the progress we’ve dreamed of?
Aside from aesthetic and functional improvements, we can pursue health solely because our body deserves it. It’s respect. If you’re a Christian, your body is the place where God’s spirit dwells! It deserves to be taken care of in the best way. Personally, I’ve struggled with both obsessing over perfection of health and giving up – just eating everything I wanted in order to feel good. Sometimes, I’ve even struggled with both extremes in the same day. Can you relate? Have you ever measured out your cereal just perfectly in the morning, flicking one piece back into the box, only to dive face-first into the nut jar later without a care in the world? Our bodies deserve so much more stability than that. More love and care.
Discipline is good, and healthy, and necessary for us in all aspects of life. If you think about people you respect, they probably put a good deal of discipline towards the things that they love and succeed at. Discipline in school gets you the grade – show up to class, study what the teacher says until you understand it. Of course, you aren’t going to study every second, but you’re going to study the right things, and you’re going to put effort towards it. The same principles apply to diet. Eat for your goals, move closer to your goals… eat however you want, move further away from your goals (or maybe stand still if you’re lucky). Of course, every little bite doesn’t make or break the bank, but an accumulation of little bites will. The planning and effort have to be there. As a general rule, reaching toward our goals is healthy, is admirable, and will help us achieve them.
So what prevents people from wanting to change their diets/lifestyles to reach their health and body goals? Whether it’s losing 50 lbs., pursuing better bodily health, or just leaning out the legs a bit for summer?
Not knowing how.
Fear of failure.
Fear of discomfort.
Let me just settle these. #1 – If you really don’t know how, I’m going to teach you – keep in mind, there’s always more things to learn, but you don’t have to know everything to make some progress. Also, it’s fun to keep learning. #2 – Complacency is always, always worse than failure! Even if you fail, it’s worse to have never tried. And if you fall, you can get back up and try a different approach until you make it! #3 – Discomfort will come for you if you don’t seek it out. If you’re not willing to fight it during your race, it will come for you afterwards when you see your time on the clock at the finish line. If you’re never willing to feel it in your eating habits – never willing to wait till you’re truly hungry to eat, never willing to say no to anything yummy – discomfort is coming for you later when you have to face not meeting your goals.
So let’s get started.
I’m about to share the most basic (nutrition-based) method for determining what will get you to your goals. Let’s say you’d like to tone up before summer. You want to lean out a little bit, and keep your muscle mass, so you’ll look good on the beach. Let’s call you Jane, and let’s say you weigh 145 lbs, are lightly active on a regular day (maybe some cleaning, walking, etc.) and plug your numbers into the MyFitnessPal app (myfitnesspal.com works just as well). Technology makes this all so simple to figure out. We like to complicate things, but I’m taking away your excuses here.
Home screen for the app.
Your (Jane’s) goals page.
Here, I put in “your” stats. Now it’s time to choose a goal – let’s say there are 5 weeks till summer, and Jane thinks she’d like to lose about 5 lbs. by summer.
I’ve set your goal to lose 1 lb. a week, which will totally get you there! And, because we want to make sure you preserve muscle mass, let’s up your protein a little. Here’s what you need to eat in a day – as stated above, 1,490 calories – 168g carbohydrates, 93g protein, and 50g fat. How are you going to do that?
Ahhh, a new day.
Let’s start with breakfast.
Here’s your blank canvas – a new day. Tap on add food, and we’ll start with breakfast. You can plan it out in here, or log as you cook, or after you eat. Let’s say you cracked an egg… here’s an egg. 72 calories, 6.2g protein. You add that to your breakfast. Then you made an omelet out of that egg, with 1/4 cup of egg whites and some spinach. You popped a couple of pieces of toast in the oven with just a dab of butter on them, and then ate all this with a side of gorgeous strawberries. Here’s breakfast –
And it’s setting you right on track to your goals. Check this out.
We’ve had a good chunk of the protein we needed, some sustaining carbs, and a little fat. We just have to do this 2 more times, and balance any snacks and drinks we might have in as well. You can monitor progress here, see your totals all day, and give it your best shot at reaching your goals! Many people call this method “tracking your macros” – trying to consume goal quantities of the macronutrients (carbs, fat, and protein) – and sweat by it as a great method of accountability. It gets easier as you learn about tracking, and what’s in the foods you commonly eat. You’ll quickly discover that one chicken breast has generally about 20g of protein. Boom. See, it’s already getting easier!
This system has also been nicknamed “If It Fits Your Macros” or “IIFYM,” because, well, you can make progress eating even some “not-so-healthy” foods if they fit your macros! For example – I could have a donut for breakfast, and make the rest of my day fit around that. However, after a few days on IIFYM, you’ll realize that you’d rather have that big ole’ breakfast of egg whites and oatmeal, because it’ll fill you up more for a whole lot less “cost.” You can get way more volume when consuming foods like lean meats, fruits, veggies, etc. It’s way cheaper, if you think of the macros like money. But, if you want the donut, you can splurge, and it’s totally cool! Then a big cheap salad with chicken for lunch balances you back out.
All goals aside, MyFitnessPal and other diet trackers can be a great tool for evaluating your diet and where you’re “at.” You can see your daily consumption of many vitamins and minerals, and you can assess this over a few days and see what you need to work on (like iron, potassium, or even protein – those are what I’ve noticed in my stent of tracking lately). You become more aware of what you’re eating even after tracking for just one day, and can think about the positives of what you’re doing and what you might work on.
It can also be a great tool to help with weight maintenance. You can check in every so often, log your weight, and compare it on a graph with your weight over time, even if you only log it once a month. Then, you can even plug in what you ate yesterday, compare it to MyFitnessPal’s estimated calorie needs for your day, and see what is or isn’t working for you. You can see weight trends over time, and think about what you were doing at times when you were most happy with your weight, even if you never log a single bite. There’s also a new progress picture feature, and you can use it to make before-and-after’s! Because, remember – it’s not all about weight.
MyFitnessPal can also be used to work on gaining a little muscle. You can set a goal to gain a certain amount per week, increase your protein a bit, and lift weights like crazy. I may try this at some point, after I shift my focus away from running and more towards overall fitness. I’ll let you know how it goes if I do!
Once we’ve got our plan – lose fat, gain muscle, or just get healthier – and we’ve taken the leap to go for our goals, what stops us from being able to to reach our goals?
Our own conflicting desires. We want it, but we want cake more.
Others, who knowingly or unknowingly tempt us into falling off the wagon.
Not enough preparation for when “life happens.”
Lack of progress – needing to tweak the plan or get help, and giving up instead.
Stress – is tracking too much for you?
Sometimes, you have to fight against your own emotional desires that conflict with your true needs and goals. Remember, you want to treat your body well, not abuse it, and that means for the long haul. Other times, others will unknowingly try to drag you down when you’re actually feeling strong and good. It’s not their body, so ignore them! I’d love to do a whole post on shaking off the “well-intentioned” comments of others. I think I will. Also, you need to be prepared for when “life happens” – when you get hung up at work and are tempted to grab “something quick” on the way home – oh wait, I prepped my meals on Sunday. I’ll just go home and have my wonderful grilled fish and baked sweet potato fries that’s waiting on me. Preparation is good. Or if you’re in class forever, but you remember you threw an apple in your bag, so you eat that as soon as you get out and then can think rationally about your decision. And finally, don’t let lack of progress derail you! It takes time, and hey, you might need to reassess your activity level and adjust your macros. You might need to throw in another workout, or see a dietitian for more professional help. Whatever the case, don’t give up on your goals just because you’re not getting there overnight! It’s going to be worth it!
If you don’t think you can manage to track all the time, take heart – you can use it as a means for awareness, and remember how it felt to hit your calorie goals one day. Model your other days after that! When you’re a seasoned pro, you’ll even be able to estimate the macros in a meal if you wanted to!
My final advice – treat yourself. Make health and fitness fun. Because, especially when you look good, it so is!
Disclaimer – I don’t track my macros all the time – only if I have specific goals or want to check in with how I’m doing on my consumption of certain nutrients. Other times I eat intuitively, which involves listening to my body, its hunger and fullness cues, etc. I’m also not a dietetic professional yet, so don’t take any of these tips as medical advice. Use them at your own discretion, and consult a RD or RDN if you need help determining the right intake levels for you.