Let hilarity ensue, people are actually reading my blog! I’m feeling all the feels, guys: shocked, honored, grateful, a little horrified, and loved. I kinda thought I’d be writing to myself, at least for awhile…so, thanks for being here.
Today, I want to talk about something that’s always on my mind, near and dear to my heart, and of utmost importance to me: food. No, but really. I think about it all the time. It’s almost creepy. From the minute I wake up until those last fleeting moments before I finally fall asleep, I’m wondering what my next meal will be (even when I know good and well what it is, since I meal prepped already). It’s as if I have been starving myself. When, in fact, I have absolutely not been.
About 5 years ago, I found myself overweight, exhausted, and with a constant stomach ache that slowly became what my normal, day-to-day felt like. I was working out pretty regularly, so that meant (gasp!) that my diet was clearly the problem. I realized pretty quickly that I needed professional help. Dieting has never been my strong suit – I used to think that dieting meant you could only eat salads while you cut your daily calories down to nothing. Spoiler alert – this is not what you need to do.
I searched and found a great gym (that has since moved and closed) that also helped with nutrition – it was pretty revolutionary 5 years ago. These guys just about forced me to meet my goals, which took about 6 months time (with a lot of pain and suffering from me, and a lot of pushing from them). It was the first time I had heard of the Paleolithic Diet, and the plan worked really well for me for a while. I waved goodbye to most dairy, grains, and processed foods, and said hello to lots of healthy fats, protein and veggies (and some stuff I still can’t for the life of me pronounce). See my before and after pics below (and I don’t want to hear one negative thing, since it takes some serious guts to put these photos out there, ya’ll):
It was great! However, I got burned out, and after about a year, I stopped being so strict about the diet. Of course, I started to gain the weight back slowly, and somehow ended up 4 years later at the same size I had started (after I swore up and down I’d never be in that place again!) — and guess what? It came with the same problems.
This year, I realized this whole “being your best self” thing really is a lifestyle change. It’s dedication, day in and day out, forever. This time when I began, I started slowly — becoming more active as I, in tandem, became more strict about my diet. The pounds started to drop off pretty immediately, and I once again sought out help. This time from one of the owners of a fabulous gym that my office got me hooked on, Coach Courtney at Of the Lion Fitness. Check her out – she and her hubs are wonderful people, know their stuff, and have made me feel motivated again! I’m eternally grateful for their assistance.
Instead of cutting out carbs and dairy completely, Courtney showed me how to add some of that good stuff back into my diet (along with plenty of protein and veggies, obvi) – and it’s been a whole lot more sustainable. I feel full, have a ton of energy, and don’t ever end up hangry from eating just salads. I’m eating 1,800 calories a day!
Give me some lessons learned, you say?
- Plan, plan, plan. Plan your meals, plan your workouts, plan your cheats. You’ll never stay on track without a solid game plan. When I know I have a social outing coming up, I plan accordingly so I can enjoy it.
- Meal prep. The easier you make it on yourself to grab that next meal, the better it will be. Put some time into your weekly menu, cook it, and portion it out. That way, you won’t have to do the thinking on a day-to-day, hour-by-hour basis. It works.
- Drink at least a gallon of water per day. A gallon, you ask?! Yes, a gallon. While it sounds like a lot, it’s really not once you get used to it. And it helps keep you hydrated and more full. In addition, you will likely see skin benefits + more.
- Be active, often. Don’t love the gym like I do? Find something active that you do love. Take your dogs on a daily walk after work, join a cycle or yoga class. Just move regularly, and I think you’ll start to appreciate it – can you say #endorphins? Plus, when you’re drinking all that water, you’ll be on the go all day long, too. 🙂
- Even though it’s hard, don’t weigh every day. I try to weigh on the same day and time once per week (usually first thing in the morning). If you watch the scale every day, you’ll be watching your water weight fluctuate, instead of seeing actual results.
- Take weekly photos and measurements to track your progress. Don’t worry, you never have to show anyone, like I did (inexplicably). BUT, it’s totally important because you’ll start to see changes in your body from week to week, and those changes can really be better than looking at what’s on the scale.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things. Don’t fancy yourself a good cook? It’s okay. You have to start somewhere, and like anything else, you’ll get better at it with practice. Try some recipes that are simple with few ingredients to start, and build up from there. Push yourself to try healthy foods that you never thought you’d touch before.
- Don’t be too serious about it. But be serious enough. If you don’t do the basics regularly, you won’t gain the results. But if you slip up from time to time, try not to beat yourself up (I probably need to take my own advice on this one). You’re only human, and you just need to live a little sometimes! Have a glass (or 3!) of wine, eat that piece of pizza, or whatever you like. Just don’t do it all day, every day.
Here’s one of my favorite Paleo recipes (yes, I still love Paleo meals, even though it is nice to have a diet that can withstand dairy and grains) that we make in the Instant Pot.
Side note: You guys, if you don’t have an Instant Pot yet, you totally need one, stat. It makes cooking just about EVERYTHING easier (and faster!). It’s a meal prep life-saver.
*Note that you can sub brown rice for the cauliflower/broccoli rice, corn starch for arrowroot powder, and low-sodium soy sauce for the coconut aminos, if preferred (or if you’re not down with Paleo-style).
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into bite sized pieces
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup coconut aminos
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 1-inch knob ginger, fresh
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 10-12 ounces of broccoli florets
- Black sesame seeds, for garnish
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
- 2 tablespoons water
- Place chicken in your Instant Pot.
- Add in broth, coconut aminos, sesame oil, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Cook on manual, high pressure for 12 minutes.
- Quick release.
- Add in the slurry and mix to combine.
- Press off, then turn on the sauté function. Add in the broccoli and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring often, or until broccoli has softened and sauce has reduced slightly and thickened. Add apple cider vinegar and mix.
- Garnish and enjoy. Serve with cauliflower or broccoli rice! Serves 4.
Thanks for reading! Xo.