Left: October 29, 2016.
Right: December 14, 2016.
When I show people this picture, I always get asked, “how long ago was the first picture?” and “how did you do this?” The progress to lose the weight took only 6 weeks! I’ve always worked out regularly for the last 3 years and was constantly trying to improve my diet. But at the end of October 2016, I noticed my shirts were getting tighter, my pants were bulging and uncomfortable, and I was not feeling confident looking at my pictures. My partner and I decided to cut down on junk food for 6 weeks and just see what happens. I did not change my regular workouts and exercise, which I’ve always done about 4-5 times a week. 3 times the least. The only difference during these 6 weeks was changing my diet.
First, we threw out almost all of our sweets and junk food. I wanted to do meal prepping like a regular person, not necessarily for body building goals or anything extreme. I’ve meal prepped for about 2 years, but this time I intentionally did meal prepping to force myself to put vegetables in my meals. I don’t like salads, nothing against salads, it’s just not for us. I wanted to find a container which will be able to have multiple compartments because I don’t like mixing my food. I needed containers that were microwavable and reusable, and BPA free. But I didn’t want to spend too much so I found containers like these:
BPA Free 2 Compartment Meal Prep Containers
I know some diets can be strict, but we didn’t want to do that to ourselves. Eating clean is the goal, but we still want our food to taste good. I don’t measure my food with a food scale. For me it was mainly to make sure I had more protein, more vegetables, and less carbs. I put extra food for my partner who eats more than me with extra carbs. If I was hungry, I would eat. It didn’t matter if it was late at night or before sleeping. The main thing is I continued to focus on eating clean. I also noticed that I ate a lot more food and a lot more times than before. I was always hungry! Healthy food just has less calories, so you get hungry faster. The difference was avoiding eating my favorites after getting off work past midnight, like bread and cheese, or Animal Style Fries from In-N-Out. That was the hardest part, getting off the freeway before 1am and making that decision to turn left to go home instead of turning right to go to the In-N-Out Drive Thru.
Since we are also both so busy, the meal prepping is a way for us to make sure we have food to eat. I’m usually watching TV after work while I’m meal prepping. It might be cooking the vegetables, watching the oven while I’m baking, watching the saucepan, or letting my quinoa get cooked in the rice cooker. We try to do red meat once a week, but most of our food is mainly ground turkey, chicken, or fish. The fish is usually salmon or tilapia. Ingredients are pretty basic.
For vegetables, I can saute spinach, I can steam broccoli or cauliflower, but cauliflower does go bad quickly. I tried the cauliflower rice, which is just bits of cauliflower and can be mixed with the meat or the rice, but it goes bad in 2-3 days so it wasn’t really ideal for us. We do garlic spinach with no oil, I just spray the pan a little bit with Pam cooking spray. Put in the garlic, and then do the spinach. Don’t overcook it, squeeze some lemon in it and that should be good. I will also do asparagus or string beans. That’s for your veggies.
For chicken, I just buy the rotisserie chicken at Costco or Ralph’s, and then I tear it up into pieces and put them into several meal prep containers. I used to love eating the chicken skin, but now we don’t eat any of the skin. Or I’ll buy drumsticks from Costco, marinate them overnight and then bake them. We take off the skin when it’s ready to eat.
For ground turkey, I buy the Foster Farms packages that are 93% Lean and 7% Fat. I cook it in a pot with garlic and a mix of different vegetables like roma tomatoes, onions, and celery. One time we were brave and tried the Foster Farms 99% Fat Free, and it ended up tasting like rubber. That was the first and last time we bought 99%. We decided a little fat is OK 😉
For red meat, I buy beef steaks. Since we both have genetically high cholesterol, we try not to eat this a lot so sometimes instead of buying and cooking we just go out to eat. If we cook, the fastest and easiest way is to use the George Foreman Grill. We use the same grill my partner’s been using since college.
For salmon, I just do a basic baked salmon recipe. When I buy salmon I buy from Costco, you can buy farmed or wild. Some people may want organic and wild. If I buy a lot of fish, I bring it home and first I separate what I want to cook. Maybe 2 to 3 days worth of meals instead of 7 days because I want the food to stay fresh, especially fish. I filet it, cut it into portions, and then freeze what I don’t cook. It saves you time later because you don’t have to thaw the whole fish again, just thaw the portion depending on how much you want to cook. And then when cooking the salmon I just sprinkle some garlic salt from Lawry’s and ground pepper. Make sure you dry the salmon, because it gets watery. Take out the water by patting it down with a paper towel before you bake it. You can use lemon pepper or Cajun flavoring depending on what you like. If you’re on a no salt or low salt diet, you can use Mrs Dash Salt-Free Seasoning or Flavor God low sodium seasoning. Then that’s it, bake it at 400 degrees for 10 minutes and then take it out. It took me a while to figure out how long to put the fish, but I mastered it at basically 10 minutes. It’s juicy and not dry, even after microwaving later. That’s the big problem with fish is that it gets dry.
For tilapia, I will do almost the same baking recipe as I do with the salmon. Separate the filets to cook and to freeze. Sometimes as a treat, I’ll fry it lightly with less oil and a little bit of tapioca starch which I found very tasty. The tapioca starch came from my (soon to be) mother-in-law. It’s not the best for us, but it’s very tasty. For oil, I use canola or olive oil.
Fruits are our sweet snacks and keep us from eating too much sweets or desserts. It just depends on what is in season. I like apples and mangoes, but I also like to buy strawberries, blueberries and grapes which are really easy and don’t require cutting. I rinse them and then put them in small containers like these:
Small Rubbermaid BPA Free Containers
I always drink a lot of water, but I also used to drink a lot of sugary drinks like the dollar Sweet Tea from McDonald’s. I started making Green Shakes, which is a mixture of a lot of veggies, some fruit, and a little juice and some water. I’ll drink a shake when I’m not having fruits that day, so I don’t have too much sugar from both the fruits and the shake.
For veggies, I always use celery and add either raw spinach or raw kale. For fruits I buy the big bags of frozen fruits from Costco, usually it’s the Mixed Berries or Mango Chunks. I grab a small handful of fruits. The juice will either be orange juice or carrot juice, mixed with water.
Sometimes I will add in chia seeds to help with digestion. Then I blend it all together in a Nutri Bullet. I have a juicer at home, but I get lazy to wash it. It’s easy to wash but it’s still one extra thing to wash. The Nutri Bullet is just easier to clean and maintain and we drink everything including the veggie pulp. These shakes don’t taste bad, but they should taste “healthy” and not necessarily delicious. It should be mostly veggies, which honestly I prefer to drink than to eat.
We use the Nutri Bullet every day, and it doesn’t take up a lot of space.
FOCUS ON THE ACTIVITY
I gave myself a cheat day during the week, but I tried not to overdo it and eat too bad. It usually ended up as a cheat meal and a few snacks throughout the day. Or it could be a little bit of sweets like an extra piece of a cupcake at the end of the week. I cut down on a lot of carbs like bread and white rice, I love those but I have to just know my limits. And then I tried to avoid the peer pressure at work to eat sweets or oily food. It really helped to prepare my food ahead of time, so when I got hungry I would always have something to eat that would be a healthy choice.
I kept progress by weighing myself almost daily, and it was really inspiring to see the weight go down so quickly! I was surprised, but my partner said it was because my body already had the muscle underneath from the last 3 years of working out. It was just my diet that was keeping me from slimming down. 3 years ago when I first started working out, I was not toned. I got discouraged when I wasn’t losing weight, but he told me it was OK to not lose weight right away because my body was now building muscle that it didn’t have before. If you don’t see weight loss right away, don’t get discouraged. Focus on doing the right activities, eating right and getting good exercise!
IT’S WORTH IT!
It takes a lot of time and energy to meal prep, especially after I get home from work. But when I’m done, I’m happy because we now have food to eat and I don’t have to worry about us being hungry for the next few days. Food that is healthy and I choose to cook exactly what we both like to eat. And I’m excited with my results! Clothes that no longer fit on me now fit again. I don’t want to say that my confidence is better because I look better, but it really makes a difference and I feel better. You gotta take care of your health, better to do it now than later. I’m here to support you if you need any help!