You remember the shouts from basic training: “Run faster!” “Don’t stop!” “Push harder!” These statements sometimes become echoes of faint memories when we leave our military careers in the past. The truth is, once we step into a civilian career, the routine, monotony and discipline of a regimented workout and nutrition schedule become null and void in comparison.
Rather than spend time on how to stay fit, let’s just be honest and give you three conscientious steps to take daily to not obtain a spare tire where your abs used to live in happiness. I’m not going to boast about fantastic, life-changing workouts here. Today is all about portions, planning and fueling your body.
1. Maintain your early wake-ups and workouts
Just because your uniform has changed doesn’t mean your personal uniformity to a successful routine should. I know, I know (insert whining about loss of sleep here); press on troop! I mean it: Bench press now! 20 minutes of heart invigorating exercise of interval training daily can shave off pounds and add years to your life. No excuses! Who doesn’t have 20-30 minutes a day to press play on a DVD or do a quick circuit at the gym. Remember: Weight training is imperative to strengthening that muscle you love the most — your heart!
Drum roll here, for the best part of your weight and health maintenance journey:
2. Weekly meal preparation
Take half a day every week to take care of yourself and family via food prep. Sure, it’s time-consuming to prepare meals and correct portions in advance, but the extra calories from the vending machine at work due to the “hangry” monster you’re becoming isn’t worth the sugar crash or useless calories. Let me outline what you need at a minimum in your day to drop some excess pounds and fuel your body:
- 3-4 HEAPING cups of veggies a day: Stay away from corn in this quantity, as it is a sugar when processed. Excess sugars aren’t needed in your veggie groups. Also, when prepping these to add to meals, do not overcook your yummy veggies. You want to absorb as much as you can from these gemstone, antioxidant greens, reds and golds. Be adventurous! Life isn’t about piling raw veggies into the same salad daily! Steam some yams, make some broiled/roasted brussels sprouts with a dash of sea salt and butter, and keep your grocery cart parked in the perimeter of your market where you’re inclined to try produce vs. products.
- 2 fruits a day (Approximately 3/4 cup each): Berries, plums, peaches, oranges, nectarines, cherries, starfruit, pineapple, whatever! Word to the wise: Stay away from the starchy banana in excess. If you choose a banana, truly enjoy it and build it into a pre-workout breakfast high in protein to help your muscles recover post-workout. Pre-pack washed and cut fruit and freeze for a quick smoothie, or to pop into your lunch sack. I’m an advocate of frozen grapes: They satisfy my sweet tooth, as well as the brain freeze and bite I associate with ice cream treats.
- 2 grains a day (1/3-2/3 cup each): That means a sandwich with two slices of bread is your two grains! That’s all the body needs, so stay away from HEAPING plates of lunchtime pasta bowls (unless you ask for a to-go box to divert the four extra servings accordingly). Quinoa, brown rice, whole grains, gluten-free for those who desire. However you do this, don’t cheat! I love to prep oatmeal with chocolate protein powder, measure it out after it’s cool and freeze it in ziplock for a quick grab to toss in a dense smoothie or reheat for a grab-and-go breakfast with blueberries. DEEEELISH!
- 4 proteins (1/4 cup each): Chicken, beef, salmon, shrimp, eggs, protein powder, almonds, cheese, etc. I pre-cook and chop chicken for easy salads, and prep things like sardines into a dip for grab-and-go snacks. It’s tasty, hits the spot and it’s easy to dole out into my lunches.
- Fats (4 Tbsp daily): Olive oil, butter, coconut oil, salad dressing: Your hair, nails, muscles, and skin will thank you. Fat-free is ridiculous. You need fat. Don’t argue, just accept it in the dosages above, and enjoy it.
- Water: 8-10 glasses a day of 8-10 ounces each. Stay away from adding sugar-free mixes to “motivate” you to hydrate. Do you really need the chemicals to help you drink water?
- Treats: Yup! You can have treats! If it fits in the palm of your hand, you can have that quantity daily. All things in moderation. (Now, if you think the palm of your hand extends past your fingertips, and overflows bountifully, let me be your nagging voice of reason. NO troop, no.) So what defines ‘”treats,” you ask? Chocolate, wine, beer, ice cream, potato crisps, what not… Basically, if someone has done a study on how bad it is for you, it’s a treat that isn’t bad for you in moderation. Don’t cheat. Plan accordingly, and make that daily indulgence one that you savor. Remember: Variety is the spice of life. Change it up!
3. Don’t Self-Sabotage:
Don’t be the “scale runner” who defines themselves by a number. Don’t knock yourself down for skipping a workout, or eating half a jar of peanut butter. We slide sometimes! Drink some water, get back into the kitchen and prep those meals weekly. Make it a family event, and it becomes creative, fun and a commitment you all can thrive from.
Let me know how you feel! Try this lifestyle for three or four weeks, and share this article. Drop a note under it with your newfound measurements, and share the progress you make to motivate others to NOT go from fit to fat. Happy trails at the market, and remember: Change it up!