Ok. I know, I know. Halloween is over now but as I lay in bed last night waiting for sleep to come, thinking about what to write this is the title that came to me so I’m gonna roll with it. As least we’re still in the same calendar week so cut me some slack, ok? I’m giving you two different lists today. One list of nutrition tricks and another of non-food treats or rewards for a job well done. I use both on a regular basis to keep myself on track and heading in the right direction.
Trick #1 – Getting in more vegetables
Cook your veggies don’t eat them raw. Roasting and steaming are the preferred methods. I can hear some of you thinking “But aren’t some of the nutrients lost during cooking?” You get extra points for being such smart readers and yes you are right. When we’re talking about trying to get more volume inside your body where the veggies can do you the most good though, which do you think is going to be easier to chew through and digest, a pound of raw broccoli or a pound of roasted broccoli? The veggies can’t do you any good if you can’t get them all past your teeth and into your stomach in the first place. Cooked veggies are better than not enough veggies. Cook the veggies and get them down the hatch.
Trick #2 – Eating enough protein
If you struggle with getting enough protein there are a few tricks you can try to get
those numbers up where they need to be as well. Muscles are built from the protein we eat. More muscle means more fat burning. More fat burning means more fat loss. More fat loss means more changes in the size and shape of our body. My protein sources are egg whites, protein powder shakes, chicken, salmon and a very small amount of beef (beef is higher in fat).I cook my egg whites into my oat bran in the mornings. I roast a whole pan of chicken breast and I cook a whole beef roast then I dice and portion it out into single serving containers. I use prepackaged ready to eat wild salmon so I can just toss it in my purse on my way out the door and have snack away from home when I need one. You want to focus on lean protein sources. You can get a lot of protein from a pound of bacon but that pound of crispy deliciousness also comes with a large dose of fat.
Trick #3 – Dealing with cravings
Everyone has cravings for the stuff we shouldn’t eat on a regular basis. The truth of the matter is that our bodies want to stay heavy. It’s a survival mechanism. Our body’s #1 job is self-preservation. In case there’s a famine our body’s want to have a comfortable store of fat to rely on in times of need to keep us alive and functioning. In this respect, in trying to get lean we are in fact fighting against our body’s programing. Our body does not want to be lean as much as we want it to want to. But we know better than our primal coding don’t we? We know that it is healthier in the long run to be lean and not carry the extra weight “just in case.” So, we have to be stronger. We have to be smarter. Here are some tricks to give you the upper hand.
Craving Salt – Make sure you’ve had enough vegetables that day. If not lightly steam some veggies (white potatoes don’t count) and give them a generous dash of a really great sea salt.
Craving Sweet - Make sure you’ve had enough protein that day. If not mix a protein shake and sip slowly. You can buy single serving packets to have on hand if you don’t regularly use protein powder.
Water – Are you getting enough? Sometimes our body doesn’t know how to ask for the healthy things it needs so it asks for junk food instead. Try some unsweetened sparkling or mineral water for a change of pace.
Fresh Air - Get outside or at least away from your work space for some fresh air and a walk. If you remove yourself from the opportunity to grab junk food your brain will ease up with its demands.
Dental Care - Brush and floss your teeth. Distraction, distraction, distraction. Sometimes it works!
Exercise - Have you worked out today? If not then go work up some sweat and endorphins, STAT.
Last Resort – Gum. I don’t like sugar free products so I use regular gum. I figure if the craving is strong and persistent enough that I need to have a piece of gum to keep from downing a whole bag of double stuffed Oreos (which I don’t even dare keep in my house) then I count that as a good trade off.
"I've been doing so well, don't I deserve a treat?" Our response to this question can either help us or hurt us. Yes, we can reward ourselves for a job well done! Yes we most certainly deserve it! However, we are not dogs in need of juicy tidbits to reinforce proper behavior. Food is fuel not a reward. Non-food rewards are the better options when it comes to health and fitness goals.
I’m finishing up week 5 of my challenge and I’ve been dealing with some heavy cravings for fast carbs this week. I’ve employed several of these treats to stay on the wagon so to speak. As my body fat continues to drop and my muscle mass increases my brain will fight even harder to convince me to store up for the winter. I haven’t really had any craving up to this point and I’m told that it can signal your body switching metabolic pathways to more fat burning instead of carb/sugar burning. So, I’m considering this a good thing, a very good thing. I don’t have a body fat percentage goal in mind or a lifting number I’m striving for. All I’ve ever wanted from the beginning of this journey is to lean down to a comfortable, attractive body mass and build a decent amount of visible muscle definition. It’s worth it. I love lifting. I look forward to it when I lift my heavy eyelids in the morning, and hearing “My God, you look fabulous!” just never gets old. Never.
Stephanie Neher is a Tennessee belle living in Minne-SOH-ta with her very own Paul Bunyan. She homeschools their 2 little blue oxen and keeps her figure red-flannel-ready through Zumba, lifting heavy pieces of iron and anything else physical that strikes her fitness fancy.