Today I wanted to talk about the long game and feeding your body properly as opposed to the “short game” and trying for quick gains. I want to talk about fueling your body, not just “eating food”.
To see me, today, you would think I have no business talking about such a topic. However, I would suggest I’m the PERFECT person for this, perhaps even the poster child given my terribly history of eating and now finding the perfect balance for me.
Let’s start with a pretty picture. Last night, I fed myself this smoothie.
I re-used the smoothie pic from an earlier post. Sue me.
Why have a smoothie? Why not? Seriously, I just completed a 60 minute cardio workout. This smoothie chugs in at 639 calories – 105.5g of carbs, 18.9g of fat, 22g of protein. This was after 2 previous days of relatively the same cardio workout. For many of you, you probably can split this between 2 days. For me, I was severely under my calories for the day and just completed an intense workout, so I decided to fuel and feed my body.
What is in this?
- 4 oz milk
- 4-6 oz white grape juice (or acai or pomegranate)
- 1/2 cup plain full fat greek yogurt (tons of protein and good for the gut flora)
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 1 cup mango (reduces the sweetness)
- 1 banana
- 2 TBSP of chia seeds (great source of everything on the planet. You can grind flax seed and use that here too)
So to recap, I really pushed my cardio the last three days, then I fed it good carbs, fats, and proteins.
In the wayback machine……
Years ago, like maybe high school, I would have maybe 1600 or so calories in a day when exercising. The foods I ate were also not good fuel. At all. I was (and mostly am still) a picky eater and I was rather limited on foods I ate. This might have been the typical foods I ate in high school when trying to lose weight:
- spaghetti Os and fat free hot dogs for dinner
- skip lunch or eat spaghetti
- bagel with butter
This was early 90s, when people would tell you to eat “low fat”. If you notice, the food is heavy on the carbs, and shitty processed foods. I would exercise a RIDICULOUS amount, and one time created massive deficits to lose 76 pounds in 67 days. One might say…IMPOSSIBLE!! Well, I was there. I was the one running 2-3 miles every day, playing tennis, wrestling, baseball practice, going to the gym, playing basketball. To describe how tired I was…well…I ended up having a melt down some time into this. By brute force tactics, sheer will power, and more exercise than you can contemplate, I took off a lot of weight. After going off to college, I would gain the weight back I lost over 3 years of partying at college, then shred my ankle and add 50 for good measure over 6 months of being on crutches.
Other times I’d just eat a banana after a 3 mile run.
Other times I’d choose 1200 calories a day.
My fitness pal suggests 2400 a day for me. OK. Let me try that. Let me also eat nothing but healthy foods. I’m finding that it’s HARD to eat this many calories a day. I’m now meal prepping with chicken, pork, rice, potatoes, broccoli, etc. I’m eating really well now.
Let me explain something else…off day.
I’ve done this before, but something interesting I’m noticing this time around. I’m drinking tons of water, eating right, re-fueling, and after 3 days of intense cardio…I find the scale to be 2 pounds heavier. This is something that back in the day used to destroy me mentally. However, I did not have the internet in high school (yes, I’m THAT old) and no ways of knowing things I know now. First, apparently when you are recovering and the like, your body can hold water to help repair itself. Second, foods you eat – I’m monitoring my sodium, mostly, and the occasional cheat meal can really be high in salt – and hold water. Drinking more water can help release this. Anyway, I noticed the day AFTER my rest day, a lot of this water is released and my weight goes back down.
The moral of the story for me this time is not to see a straight line of weight loss, and every ounce that is put back on is me failing…rather, it’s like a roller coaster of sorts with peaks and valleys – with trend lines that go down over time. I mean I knew this, sort of, before, but what eventually would happen would be the trend line would flatten out. This time, it is still moving, and I feel GREAT rather than being beaten down all the time.
Anyone in the audience – hands up – did you ever project your weight loss out? Like “I lost 5 pounds this week, I could lose another 15 this month…that’s 20 pounds this month. That means by February or March I could be at my goal”. Then week 2 and three you lose barely anything, and gain a pound in week 4. Then you get discouraged, go back to your normal eating, and not gain/lose a pound for a year.
My goals before were “weight loss”. I focused everything on the deficit. I knew the math. But I’m sorry, I didn’t know the physiology. Apparently, you need all of these macros in harmony. You need all of the micros for things to work properly. When you say “fat free” or “low carb”, you essentially set yourself up for failure before you even start.
This time my goal is “healthy living” and I’m eating a balanced diet and getting as close to the 2400 or so a day they want me to have. I’m eating the proper nutrients. I’m exercising with cardio. I’m using resistance weights. I’m resting when appropriately. Guess what? My byproduct of this is weight loss, and it’s been about 2.5 pounds per week. Some weeks it’s been 3, some it was 2. Some it was 4, some it was 1. Slow and steady. Do the work. Be the best version of you. Everything else will sort itself out.
Some popular staples I’ve had around to “do the work”:
- free range eggs. I get these literally off of a farm with my CSA, but I can also get something similar at the store. They are more expensive, but these chickens eat grass and bugs as opposed to feed, and their eggs are rich with omega 3s. Something to look at is the omega 6s and 3s. 6s = bad, 3s = good.
- full fat greek plain yogurt. It’s not “terrific” in itself, but I use it in smoothies as a great source of protein and some days when I’m really low in calories, I will add some fresh fruit and maybe some honey to it and have a cup.
- chia seeds/flax seeds. Chia seeds are like the best thing ever for your body. Easy to add to oatmeal and smoothies
- Oatmeal. I get the rolled oats from the bins at health food stores. I didn’t like the quaker oats ones as much that you see a picture of from an earlier post. Definitely stay away from “quick oats”. I use a half a cup for a run that’s maybe 30 mins, and I’ll use a full cup for a lonnnngggg bike ride over an hour. Use 1/2 cup oatmeal to 1 cup water ratios.
- Add a pinch of salt while it’s cooking on the stove to keep it from being bland.
- Use cinnamon heavily
- Use fresh (or frozen) fruit to give it a nice taste/texture
- Add chia seeds at the end
- Add 1 TTBSP of local raw honey for sweetness
- Chicken. Be careful with portions. Years ago, I didn’t have a food scale. I’d eyeball it. Often times, to be “healthy”, I’d have a salad with chicken. Well, the chicken might have been two big breasts, and I may have had too much dressing. My healthy salad could have been well over 1200 calories and I not know it. I use a food scale religiously today, and I keep my chicken portions to 6-8 oz. Maybe if I’m seriously in a calorie deficit for the day (too much), I might bump this to 12-16 oz to get more calories and protein.
- Spinach/salad. At all times, I have this available and might have a 200-250 calorie salad at 4PM or when I’m pretty hungry and it’s not near my dinner time. Or, I might have it before dinner which might be a 350 calorie prepped meal.
- Prepped meals. ALWAYS have these in your freezer, when you get low, make more. These are great to have when the situation arises you don’t have a meal planned or your plans fall through and you don’t want to cook for an hour.
- Milk. I might move to an almond milk down the road when I have to cut more calories. For now, I like the protein.
- Frozen fruit. I like the strawberries, mango, and blueberries. Great for smoothies, I can also add the blueberries to oatmeal when I make it over the stove.
- Bananas. Great in smoothies, but also great by themselves for potassium, which helps your body recover from some of the soreness. They are a little high on the sugar/glycemic, so I try to put them in with oatmeal or other fiber to reduce the effect on the blood sugar.
- brown rice. So I used to make this up and it would be kinda gummy/chewy. All the time I powered through it. But the secret is to rinse the shit out of the rice for 3-4 mins. This removes all of the powdery starches and allows you to make fluffy rice.
- Whole grain breads. Breads are not bad. Don’t eat too much of them, but they are great sources of fiber and nutrients.
- Nuts – I keep walnuts/almonds in the fridge and have cashews around in case I need a salty snack with some calories/fats.
- frozen veggies – Broccoli, carrots, etc etc. Have plenty of these stocked and you can make up anything in a hurry
- Broth – often overlooked, but have some chicken broth or beef broth hanging around. This might also have some diced tomatoes too. You can make yourself and ad hoc soup with some rice, lentils, veggies, broth. Or, use broth instead of water to infuse more flavor in your rice.
- Stevia in the Raw – I use this rather than sugar for my coffee. Tastes better than Splenda.
- Spray butter – something that can literally save you hundreds of calories a day.
- Spray olive oil – I spray this to fry eggs, under chicken when I’m cooking, etc.