Five Easy Fast Food Meals That Don’t Require Hitting up the Drive Thru

We live in a society where we want many things fast. Don’t want to cook? We want to get a meal fast and sometimes that means hitting the drive thru. It doesn’t take much effort when you’re driving home from a long day of work. I remember these days very clearly. Wendy’s was my go-to. “I’ll take a number 1 with cheese and ketchup only with a diet coke.” Sometimes I would eat it in the car, other times I would wait until I got home. Next thing I knew, I was on the couch for a nap.

Two questions I had to ask myself:

  • Are Wendy’s cheeseburgers my absolute favorite burger?
  • What can I replace that’s also fast and convenient?

The answer was no, Wendy’s is not my favorite. So, I started to replace a high calorie mediocre fast meal with something more nutritious, but still satisfying.

 

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1.) Canned tuna or chicken

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This takes less than 5 minutes to make. I will add chopped celery, mayo (a super easy recipe I just started making) and light onion. I’ll eat it with a spoon or wrap it in lettuce if I have it available. This is one of my main items for emergency food and I always make sure I’m stocked up on it. Note: Be sure to read your labels on these canned foods. It should be about three ingredients (chicken/tuna, salt, water). Try to avoid buying canned food with soy.

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2.) Rotisserie Chicken

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This requires a quick stop at the store but a much better choice than my go-to Wendy’s. Plus, it is definitely more than one meal so you can use the rest for other meals throughout the week. Pair it with a salad in a bag or prepared in a box from the store and you’ve got an easy meal. Option four works too.

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3.) Cooked Meat at Deli Counter

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Another option I’ll use from time to time is just grabbing a cooked piece of meat at the deli counter. They also usually have salmon available too, but I’m not that much of a fish fan.

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4.) Stir Fry Vegetables

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This is a great side dish for any of the above, plus you don’t have to worry about your vegetables going bad since they are in the freezer. Grab a handful and saute your veggies. You can even chop your deli counter or rotisserie chicken to make it an official stir fry.

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5.) Omelets

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This is another easy five minute meal. If you have fresh vegetables to add, great! If not, use your frozen veggies & cook them up first. Deli ham chopped into chunks could be a nice addition if you want a ham and egg omelet.

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Practice Makes Progress

Since this is the beginning of a New Year, we all get excited about our goals. How can we not? Motivation is high and you’re ready to put in the effort to make it work. It’s easy to visualize what success looks like.

What We Think Success Looks Like

But many times that excitement fades because you will have days when you don’t want to put in 100% effort or you start to lose that motivation. It happens to all of us! The main reason people don’t follow through with resolutions is because of setbacks. It’s easy to think, “I failed and I’m giving up.” When your mental energy is burned out from making decisions all day, all you have left are your habits and they are either good or bad. But, how do we transform those bad habits to good habits?

There are so many success stories in our society. “I failed three times before I made it.” J.K. Rowling was denied by a dozen publishers. Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school basketball team. Bill Gates’ first business failed.

What success actually looks like

Working towards your goal is hard work and the only way to conquer your goal is to work it, accept that a setback or obstacle will come, but from learn it and move forward. 

This approach can help you with everything in life. Whether you are trying to become debt-free, lose weight, eat healthier, exercise consistently, strengthen a relationship, or land a big job.

Two questions to ask yourself when a setback occurs:

1.) What could have caused this?

2.) What can I practice next time?

Practice makes progress.

When you analyze why a setback happened, you’ll have the opportunity to get back on track faster. You may try something new and find out it didn’t work at all. Go back to the drawing board until you find what does work.

You may notice over time that the more you learn, the longer you will stay on track too because you won’t be constantly working through obstacles. You’ll have new work-arounds to keep you moving forward without slowing you down.

With this mindset and effort, results will happen. You will chip away at your debt, you will lose weight, you will consistently make better nutrition choices or get more exercise, your relationship will feel stronger or you will learn what it will take to land that job you want.

It’s easy to reflect on my own journey. Exercise is effortless for me but it’s because I have decades of practice with playing sports and loving the feeling of being active. But with my nutrition habits, I have decades of practice of eating processed foods, desserts and take out consistently. With seven years of practice for me, I’ve realized I’ve completely transformed my nutrition, but it didn’t happen overnight. If I never practiced getting better after my first nutritional setback (essentially given up), I’d be sitting at Day 1, starting over again.

Over the course of the year, I want you to remind yourself of all the success stories that happened due to failing first. Remind yourself that having a setback gives you an opportunity to learn, push yourself and eventually change yourself for the better. With this mindset, you’ll be able to reflect at the end of the year and realize how far you’ve grown.

How to do a perfect push up

How to do Perfect Push ups

Push ups are a fantastic strength exercise for building upper body strength, core strength and transforming your arms. Plus, you can do them anywhere! Most importantly, you want to make sure you are doing them correctly to avoid an unwanted injury.

Three common mistakes with push ups: 

1.) Low back sag – many times when this happens, your core and glutes are not assisting you with the exercise.

Key tip: squeeze your glutes and brace your core as you lower down and push yourself up. If you find this is challenging, place something between your legs, squeeze it and imagine you cannot let it drop the floor. This will naturally help you engage your glutes and core. Still too hard? Try elevating yourself so you are no longer on the floor, but using a bench, bar, etc. 

2.) Hand and shoulder position – many people like to place their hands wide and when they lower down to the floor, their elbows stick out to 90 degree angles. This puts your shoulders in a bad position and can eventually lead to an injury.

Key tip: focus on keeping your hands 45 degrees from your ribs. Your elbows should slightly tuck back instead of out. 

3.) Reaching with your neck – this is another common mistake I see often and it puts your neck in a bad position since it causes forward neck posture.

Key tip: focus on leading with your chest and keep your head still, as if it cannot touch the floor. By keeping your head back, you’ll keep your neck in a better position. 

In this video, you can notice my head reaches towards the floor and my elbows flare out instead of back.

What about girl push ups? Please don’t do them. By performing push ups from your knees, you put yourself in a different position where your core and glutes don’t work. You also shorten your hip flexors.

If you can’t do a push up from the floor, try elevating yourself to a higher position and focus on getting your chest to meet the bar, bench, couch or whatever else you are using. Remember, imagine your whole body coming down and up in one (head down through glutes).

Range of Motion is Key

To see your body and strength transform, you’ll need to make sure you are challenging your range of motion. If you are doing a push up on the floor, but can’t hit your chest to the floor, put yourself in an elevated position so you can get the full range of motion.

Many times when coaching, I have individuals use a bar for push ups to work specifically on a full range of motion. As they get stronger, the bar gets placed lower and lower until eventually they are doing push ups on the floor!

The Perfect Push Up

  • Elbows tuck back and flare out at 45 degrees
  • Head down to glutes comes up in one (glutes/core engaged)
  • Head stays still

 

 

Yes, You Can Enjoy Your Holiday Treats & Stay Fit Too

Yes, You Can Have Your Holiday Treats & Stay Fit Too

The holidays are here and we all have our own holiday traditions to celebrate. We all know it can be challenging to maintain your weight and weight gain is common during this time of year. But, it doesn’t have to be this way and by focusing on a few solid strategies, you can enjoy your treats and stay fit too.

Schedule Your Workouts Like an Appointment 

How to Maintain Your Weight During the Holidays

Exercise is essential to maintaining your weight over the holiday season.  Don’t look at exercise as a punishment for enjoying your favorites holiday treats, but more as a way of feeling good physically and mentally. The holiday season is busy and stressful for many people and it’s very easy to make it appear that you don’t have time for your normal workout routine. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, focus on what you can do for your exercise program. Take a look at your schedule week(s) in advance and plan your workouts like an appointment you can’t miss. No excuses allowed. Don’t pick days that *might* work because this makes it easier to possibly talk yourself out of skipping it if your day doesn’t go as planned. Remember, workouts don’t have to be an hour long to be effective. Simply find a way to consistently move at least three times per week.

Look Forward to Your Splurges 

Everyone has a certain “bliss” point. Some people may love their cocktails, while others like sweets or savory meals. Regardless what you love, have a plan for when you want to enjoy it. This goes back to looking at your calendar and writing in your fun activities. This helps you stay aware of days where you may indulge in something more calorie dense and it can help you say no to something tempting that may come up unexpectedly. I love looking ahead because it reminds me it’s important to make a good choice today because I know I will really enjoy (fill in the blank here) at my holiday party on Saturday.

Ask Yourself if It’s Worth It 

Temptations are everywhere this time of year. Whether it’s holiday parties, treats at work, or special “holiday” items that only come around once a year, it’s hard to say no. I’ve been there before where I found myself eating everything that crossed my path for years during the holiday season. In order to break this cycle, I had to start focusing on what foods I truly enjoyed and which foods I could easily pass on. Create a short list for yourself of foods or drinks that are too good to pass up. Also, think of items in the past that weren’t “blow your hair back” good and practice saying no this month.

My worth it foods: our family holiday cookies, homemade pie, Christmas Eve and Christmas day dinner, or a meal at one of my favorite restaurants.

Not worth it items: most store bought items, fast food and most alcohol.

Practice Consistency

The holiday season can really challenge your healthy habit consistency. Weight gain or weight loss occurs when you are consistent. During the holidays, if you find yourself consistently indulging and skipping your workouts, most likely you will start the New Year heavier than before the holiday season. However, if you consistently stick to your good habits during the holidays, but savor your favorites, you will start the New Year without any setbacks. Here are a few things to keep in mind this month.

  • Make 80% of your meals filled with a good source of protein & vegetables.
  • Stick to your workout calendar.
  • Find work-arounds when something doesn’t go as planned.
  • Bring your water bottle with you everywhere you go.
  • Find ways to decrease your stress that don’t involve food or alcohol (hot bath, tea, a good book, phone a friend, listen to relaxing music, etc.)
  • Learn what to say to friends or family members who pressure you to indulge when you really don’t want to.

Find Go-To Emergency Meals

Since the holidays are so busy, plan in the back of your head what you could eat in case you find yourself doing last minute holiday shopping, working late or anything else where you are not wanting to cook. It’s okay if you don’t want to cook a healthy meal, but don’t let it be an excuse to cave into comfort food. The old me always ordered pizza or went out to a comfort food restaurant. This is where having a go-to emergency meal is essential and if you do decide to make something from home, make it as quick as possible.

At home ideas: reheated leftovers, canned tuna/chicken, an omelet or lastly, a good protein shake. Keep veggies in the freezer (or in the fridge) that you can easily whip up for a side.

Have a few go-to restaurants: Preferably, pick somewhere where you aren’t tempted by comfort foods. I can definitely make a good choice at a Mexican restaurant, but if I’m tired or stressed, I will eat the free chips that come out right away. However, Chipotle works great for me because I have to buy the chips and it’s a no brainer to pass.

My two go-to places: Whole Foods Salad Bar or Chipotle (salad, chicken, salsa, fajita veggies and a side of guacamole)

 

The Best Strength Exercise You Aren’t Doing

If you have experience weight training, you are very familiar with the squats, split squats, deadlifts, lunges and step-ups. These are staple moves whether you are following a workout DVD, taking a group fitness class or exercising on your own. While these are great exercises to master, incorporating different movement patterns is essential to a balanced strength program. Whether I’m working with a client or talking to a friend about exercise, most of them aren’t familiar with a lateral lunge or lateral movement.

Do you find yourself moving laterally? If not, the lateral lunge is a must for your weekly strength sessions.

Coaching Cues

  • Initiate the movement by driving your hips back. Your knee (of the side you’re lunging towards) should be in line or slightly behind your big toe.
  • Push your heel (of the side you’re lunging towards) through the floor. Often I see the heel lift when individuals try this exercise.
  • Always work your range of motion. The goal is to sink your hips low enough that it’s level with your knee.
  • Brace your core as you start to stand up and transition your weight back to the starting position.

Where should you feel this? Your glute (hip) on the side you’re lunging towards, inner thigh and core are all working in this movement.

Before adding weight to this exercise, focus on getting into a good range of motion first. Once you can get into an ideal range of motion, choose one of the following exercises.

Goblet Lateral Lunge

20161101_111257This is the first progression from body weight lateral lunges. Holding the weight in a goblet position helps you sink into a good range of motion, while also engaging your core.

Complete 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each side.

 

 

 

Single Arm Lateral Lunge

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The second progression is taking the weight onto one side. This forces your shoulders to stabilize while challenging your core even more.

Complete 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps each side.

 

 

 

Lateral Lunge with a Pause

20161101_111304 Another great progression from the single arm example above. This exercise still forces your core to stabilize, but challenges your hips with the pause at the bottom. I always focus on letting the weight touch the floor for 1-2 seconds. Then, drive the force up through the power of your hips. It’s a tough move, but effective.

Complete 2-3 sets for 6-10 reps each side.

How To Quickly Shed Vacation Weight Gain

The last three weeks have been incredible for me! I had a wonderful wedding ceremony and reception on August 27th and then went on a two week honeymoon to Europe. I love exploring new cities throughout Europe and make it a priority to travel there every year. After traveling through Southern France, Paris, Belgium and Amsterdam, I came home with many pictures, memories….and 5 more pounds to my body!

That’s right, I gained five pounds in the last 2.5 weeks, while my husband lost four pounds (insert mad face here). Luckily, I have zero guilt about it because everything I ate in Europe was worth it and I savored every single bite! Now, some of the five pounds gained is water retention, while a pound or two may be fat. I wanted to share my five go-to strategies to shed my Europe vacation weight quickly.

1.) Drink Water Like It’s Your Job 

waterIn order to shed the water retention, you have to drink a lot of water. My focus is to drink 125 ounces of water, which equals to about five Starbucks cups. I like to use my water bottle to keep track of my ounces because it helps me stay on track.

2.) Let Veggies Be Your Carb Source Temporarily 

Even when I was in Europe, I made sure to eat vegetable every day, but it was no where near the amount that I eat at home. Since I consumed delicious almond croissants, chocolate, fruit tarts, bread and pizza throughout on vacation, I’m happy to take a break from any type of splurge food. For quick weight loss, eat 1-2 servings of non-starchy vegetables every meal. My goal is 5-8 servings a day. This helps me stay full, while also filling up on nutrients! I’m taking a temporary break from fruit, potatoes, rice, rice cakes (my normal go-to starchy carbs) for the next 3-5 days.

polar3.) Exercise Intensely

I walked a ton in Europe (185,000 steps in a week) but I did not have one intense workout. It was nice to get back to my routine!

This workout consisted of 20 minutes of stair mill intervals (Level 13 for 40 seconds and Level 3 for 20-30 seconds).

I completed the following circuit 3x.

  • 100 jumps with a jump rope
  • 15 up and overs on a step box
  • 30 second heavy ropes
  • 30 speed skaters

4.) Eat Plenty of Protein 

Each meal I’ve been focusing on eating at least 20 grams of protein. I have also stuck to very low fat protein sources like chicken breast, ground turkey and tuna fish. I don’t eat much dairy, but when I do, it’s normally cheese. Dairy can cause an inflammatory response in the body for some individuals, which could slow down weight loss, so I will eliminate any cheese from meals temporarily.

5.) Watch Salt & Eat From Home

Even if I’m eating a grilled chicken salad at a restaurant, I’m still consuming a lot of salt. In order to shed water weight, you need to watch how much salt you’re consuming. My goal is to keep salt to a minimum by watching how I season my foods and avoiding salty options like deli meats. Again, I’ll focus on minimizing salt for 3-5 days before going back to my normal cooking. To season protein sources like ground turkey or chicken breast, I love using no-salt seasoning.

Example Day 

Sun Warrior Protein Shake with unsweetened almond milk, 1 Tablespoon of Raw Almond Butter, 1 cup spinach.

Lunch: Baked Chicken with Olive Oil and No-Salt seasoning paired with veggies.

Snack: Can of Tuna with Celery, Onion, Peppers, Lemon Juice and 1/2 small Avocado

Dinner: Grilled Bun-less Turkey Burger with steamed veggies

Exercise: Walk 30+ minutes a day paired with a strength workout OR complete a high intensity workout (30 minutes) paired with 30 minutes+ of leisure walking.

This type of eating and exercising cannot be done long-term and it’s meant to be done in short cycles. Mentally, it’s challenging because food choices are more strict and carbohydrates are limited. As for exercising, you don’t want to tax your body every single day. So, after 3-5 days of hard exercise, a rest day is important. Rest days usually consist of stretching, foam rolling and walking.

 

Healthy & Fresh Pico de Gallo Recipe

Pico de Gallo with Avocado

I’m always trying to find new ideas to add to my meals. Luckily, my sister made this during our beach trip a few weeks ago and it was a hit! I put it on taco meat, fajitas or just take a few spoonfuls! Enjoy!

Pico de Gallo with Avocado

Healthy & Fresh Pico de Gallo Recipe2 Roma Tomatoes

1/2 onion (I’ve used red and yellow)

1 avocado, diced in small chunks

1 lime, juiced

2-4 Tablespoons of chopped cilantro

2 small jalapeños, diced & remove seeds

Salt to Taste (I used a little less than 1/2 tsp)

Stir all together and enjoy!

How to Stay Motivated to Eat Healthy When You're Craving Unhealthy Foods

What Inspires Me to Stick with a Healthy Lifestyle

Over the last eight years, a lot has changed in the course of my nutrition journey. Exercise has always been enjoyable for me. Being involved in different sports throughout my entire childhood inspired me to get involved in the fitness industry for a career. My nutrition, on the other hand, has been a work in progress, but I’ve come a loooong way. I enjoy looking back now.

My childhood and early adult life consisted of breakfast cereal, macaroni and cheese, fast food, crackers, chips, ice cream, cookies and take out. Since I lived most of my life on those items, I still find them enjoyable and when I find myself getting bored of my healthy meals, I always gravitate towards the old favorites.

Those old favorites never get boring.

I’ve learned that I have to consistently work at staying healthy. Here are three tools that continue to help me make healthy choices every week.

 1.) Find a new recipe.

Sometimes this can be as simple as modifying one ingredient in your current recipe. Lately, I’ve added raw cashews into my vegetable + chicken stir-fry and BAM it elevates the meal. Even Taber raves about how much he enjoys it. Pinterest, food blogs, and healthy cookbooks are also crucial for me. I don’t find a new recipe every week, but I use this trick when my healthy meals don’t sound good. The more you can increase your healthy recipe library, the more likely you will make this a complete lifestyle change.

 2.) Invest in your kitchen.

How to Stay Motivated to Eat Healthy When You're Craving Unhealthy FoodsRight now, I’m receiving wedding gifts for my upcoming wedding and it has been so fun to receive my gifts! My two favorite items are my wood cutting board and food processor. The wood cutting board stays on my kitchen counter and it allows me to continue to eat 5+ servings of vegetables a day. Since it’s on the counter, it acts a reminder, but it also saves a little time. The food processor helps me change the texture of my vegetables. Recently, I used it to shred cabbage and beets so I can use them for salads all week. Again, it changes the ingredients for my go-to salads, which keeps me wanting to eat salads every week.

3.) Move daily.

There is something magical about exercise and how it can influence you to make better nutrition choices. It helps you become more mindful about what you’re having for your next meal, especially if you just had a tough workout! Daily movement for me helps me feel better mentally, but even a leisure walk can reset my nutrition intentions if I’m craving something unhealthy.

Like anything in life, the more you practice something, the better you get. Plus, it becomes a habit. It’s the same with living a healthy lifestyle. I’ve transformed my nutrition habits the last eight years, but I still have bumps in the road. With these key tools, I work them right away.

How to Say No to Food Temptations and Eat only your favorite foods

Is it Worth It?

Let’s face it, temptations are everywhere! When you’re focusing on living a healthy lifestyle or seeking weight loss, this can be very frustrating. Junk food may randomly show up in your work break room, a neighbor may stop by unexpectedly with cupcakes or you might even be tempted by a candy bar as you check out at the grocery store because you’re hungry. It’s hard to fight off these temptations. However, two things can help you fight the urge to indulge.

For years, I would indulge in mediocre food. For me, I would settle for burgers, pizza, desserts and much more that really wasn’t that good. Many times I would feel guilty afterwards because most likely I was tired when I wanted to make that choice for a meal.

Two solutions helped me work through unexpected temptations.

1.) I asked myself if it is worth it.

2.) I asked myself if I had something planned later in the week that would be worth it?

What do I mean by is it worth it? Consider this an item where every bite is absolutely delicious. You eat it slow and savor it. You may even make great facial expressions or noise. This item may be a homemade cake or dinner. It may be a meal out at your favorite restaurant. It may even be something that brings you back to a special memory like going to Dairy Queen with your grandpa. Whatever this item is, it’s worth every single calorie. So, when temptations arise, I ask myself if it’s worth it? Store bought cake? Not worth it. A burger at Wendy’s? Not worth it. Papa Murphy’s pizza? Not worth it. I know these things now because these were go-to places when I was too tired to cook or was craving. In order to break the habit of going to those places, I had to ask myself what was worth it.

Food for thought: If you’re going to make an unhealthy food choice, shouldn’t it be absolutely delicious? I learned, “Yes! It should.”

Here are a few items for me that I absolutely love:

Mom’s Homemade Chocolate Cake
Zeeks Pizza
A burger at Local 360
Tillamook Ice cream, Udderly Chocolate
Mom’s Homemade Waffles
Homemade Potato Salad
A Swirl Cone at Dairy Queen
Mom’s Homemade Clam Chowder
Homemade Sugar Cookies

Once I found out what was worth it, it made it much easier to pass on the convenient options.

Next, I asked myself if I had any fun plans or parties to attend in the week. If treats showed up at work randomly, but I had a family party to go to later in the week, it was easy to say no to the temptation at work because I knew the cake at the birthday party would be worth it.

When I work with clients, this is how I teach them how to reset their mindset about temptations. When they plan for something that they love later in the week, they always find it easier to pass on other items. Read more on how to plan out temptations here. 

What if you don’t know if it’s worth it?

How to Say No to Food Temptations and Eat only your favorite foodsIf there is something you really want to try and you don’t have anything planned for the week, try three small bites or split it with someone. When I go to new restaurants or bakeries in new cities, I’m always looking to split it with someone or a few people. This allows me to do exactly what I want to do….taste it.

Picture to the left: Sweet potato pancakes from the Pancake Pantry in Nashville, TN. I wasn’t sure how they would taste so I split them with my mom and sister and ordered a side of scrambled eggs. They ended up being delicious. Still, I ate less because I shared them with two other people, but enjoyed the meal very much.

These two solutions take work and effort, but it pays off in the long run.

I’m going to admit, the first time you say no to a temptation that isn’t worth it stings. It stings because you’re forced to change your old habits. But, the first time you say no to a temptation, the more momentum you will build for the next time an unexpected temptation arises. With practice, you’ll find yourself getting better and better saying no to food that just isn’t worth the calories.

How to follow the 90% rule and eat moderately

How to Actually Follow the 90% Rule & Learn to Eat with Balance

How to follow the 90% rule and eat moderatelyMany people have heard of the 90% rule or maybe even the 80/20 rule. I love this approach because it allows you to focus on the right foods more often without feeling restrictive. I know for me, the moment I tell myself I can’t have something, I want it more! Don’t get me wrong, there are times throughout the year when I take a break from my favorite foods. But, my mindset is different. I wouldn’t be successful if I told myself “I can’t have this right now.” Instead, I’ll use the words “I’m choosing not to have this right now because (insert the why here). I’ll also focus on all the foods that I CAN have.

Back to the 90% rule.

The 90% rule focuses on eating the right foods 90% of the time, while keeping some of your favorite foods in your meal plan throughout the week. Everyone has their favorite foods. For me, it most likely is a dessert or going out to dinner for pizza or a burger. Consider this something that doesn’t provide a lot of nutritional value and is more calorie dense. Maybe even going out for breakfast. For others, it might be alcohol or high caloric coffees.

5 Steps for Following The 90% Rule

1.) Figure Out Your 10%

This is a simple breakdown of how many meals you eat a day. The average person eats 3 main meals. Others may do 3 meals and a snack. You’ll also hear some individuals doing 5-6 small meals a day. Any of these options work.

Once you’ve determined how many meals you eat on average, calculate how many meals you eat a week.

Example:

3 meals a day x 7 days a week = 21 meals (2 splurge meals determines your 10%)

4 meals a day x 7 days a week = 28 meals (2-3 splurges is your 10%)

5 smaller meals a day x 7 days a week = 35 meals (3-4 splurges a week)

Here’s what an example looked like for me last week.

90percentrule

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, should you feel obligated to follow this calculation? No. If you’re looking to maintain your weight, you may be able to have more wiggle room. If you are seeking weight loss, you may need to stick to the 90% rule or scale back more on your splurges more. Everyone has a unique metabolism.

2.) Plan Your Week In Advance

I keep a mental note at the beginning of every week. Do I have any birthday parties? Events? Family or friend gatherings? If so, I keep it in the 10% bank if I feel like I will want to enjoy something. Sometimes I don’t have anything going on for the week, but I still want to go out to dinner for fun or enjoy a cookie on a Saturday night. When you plan ahead on what you want to enjoy that may not be the most nutritious for you, most likely you are going to enjoy it. Years ago, when I didn’t want to cook, I would go to Five Guys, get takeout pizza or go out to Mexican food. I always felt guilty afterwards because I didn’t intend to make those choices at the beginning of the day, but I was too tired to care. I also found I didn’t enjoy my meal as much because I was tired from the long day (which brings me to #3!).

3.) Determine Your Emergency Meals When You Don’t Want to Cook 

I’ve written about this here. This is CRUCIAL to practice. The more you practice healthy emergency meals, the easier eating healthy gets. First, find meals that take minimal time to make. My favorites include a smoothie, tuna fish or an omelette. We all have days when we won’t want to cook (even the quick options). So, if you have go-to places to go that do not have free temptations, you will stay on track.

4.) Practice Saying No To Unexpected Temptations 

When I started practicing the 10% rule, I definitely had some slip ups. I would plan for enjoying my treat on a specific day(s), but then someone would bring in cookies to work. Ugh. At first, I would eat the cookies or whatever treats arrived in the break room. But, overtime, I practiced saying no. It stings the first time you decide to pass on a temptation, especially when you really want it. But, the more you do, the easier it gets.

When unexpected temptations come up, focus on your why. Maybe it’s because you want to enjoy your mom’s homemade cake on Saturday and it’s worth every bite. Remind yourself that this will be your treat this week, not the cookie today. Or maybe you really want to lose 10 lbs and you don’t want to slow down your progress. When you remember your why in these situations, you’ll have a good chance on passing on the temptation.

5.) Stay Mindful

When it’s time to enjoy your favorite meal, it’s crucial to stay mindful. Here are a few of my favorite tips.

1.) If I plan to indulge for a meal, I’ll scan the menu for what protein source and/or veggie can I pair with it.

  • Breakfast:  I love pancakes or french toast. If I can, I’ll ask if I can order one pancake or 1 piece of french toast on the side (instead of ordering a stack of pancakes because it’s too much food). If I can order a single, I’ll order a veggie omelette as my protein/veggie source or eggs & bacon with my pancake or french toast.
  • Lunch or dinner: I’ll order a side salad. This fills me up enough so I don’t overeat the main meal.
  • Split meals. Splitting meals allows you to get the taste of it without overeating. I’ve found over time I’m perfectly content with a 1/2 burger with a handful of fries & a side salad. When I’ve eaten the whole burger + some fries + a side salad, I’m too full.

2.) Be aware of your other meals. 

If I know I’m going to to dinner, I’ll be sure to get in as much protein and veggies as I can for my other meals for the day. My goal is to have at least 4 servings of veggies before or after my splurge.

3.) Ask yourself if it’s worth it. 

Does it taste amazing? Is it worth every bite? Sometimes it is, but other times it isn’t and you’re disappointed. When you find yourself disappointed, practice eating less of it. This takes time to conquer, but it’s do-able. I’ve been very proud of myself when I notice my splurge isn’t amazing and I stop after two or three bites.

4.) Be aware of portion sizes 

When I go out for pizza, I don’t eat the whole pie just because it’s my meal to indulge! In the past, I did eat up to 4 slices. However, I needed an immediate nap on the couch afterwards because I was so full. Now, by staying mindful and adding some veggies to the side, I’m perfectly content with up to 2 slices of pizza.

Enjoy your splurge by eating it slow, savoring every bite. Don’t scarf it down because most likely you’ll overeat, like I used to with 4 slices of pizza.

My biggest goal when dining out is to leave the restaurant feeling satisfied, not stuffed.