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meal prep

Ditch the Take-Out, Dine In

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Ditch the Take-Out, Dine In

Calling all novice chefs out there! Your time is here! It is time for you to shine! Creating a healthy relationship with food and developing simple cooking skills can have so many benefits for you! I know we can all get into the habit of ordering too much Postmates, or participating in one too many happy hours and we can see the effects in our wallets and our pants, but look no further, I’ll let you in on some of my best at home eating secrets to pump you up for your next home cooked meal!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

1. Invest in a good couple of knives, or maybe just get some honing steel.

You really only need 3 knives: a chef’s knife, paring knife, serrated knife. A chef’s knife is a definite kitchen essential, you can do everything with it- chop veggies, cut meat, etc. The paring knife is for smaller scale things like mincing garlic and slicing strawberries. A serrated knife, also known as a bread knife, can be used to slice bread, but also handle waxy fruits and veggies like tomatoes and pineapple. Now once you have your knifes, please make sure you keep them sharp! A dull knife is never a fun thing, for you or your food. Invest in some honing steel, or you can always take your knives to get sharpened.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

2. Buy fresh ingredients.

There is such a difference buying fresh than frozen. If it is not feasible for you to buy all our your ingredients fresh, just choose a couple! If you are worried about not being able to eat all of your produce in time, choose the essentials to buy fresh. For example, I typically have frozen green beans in my freezer at all times in case all my fresh produce ran out, but once you buy fresh, it’s really hard to go back to frozen.

Photo Credit: Tookapic

Photo Credit: Tookapic

3. Follow a recipe!

There’s a reason why most people enjoy going out to dinner, it takes the work out of cooking. But there is something really satisfying about eating the food that you worked hard to make and knowing exactly what went into it. If you’re not the best cook, there are a ton of recipes online as well as food bloggers who show you step by step instructions on how to make a meal. Another benefit of eating at home rather than in a restaurant is that you are in control over how the ingredients are prepped and put into your meal. Another plus is that you can post a picture to social media and show off your skills!

Photo Credit: Kaboompics / Karolina

Photo Credit: Kaboompics / Karolina

4. Have a dinner party!

San Francisco is blessed with such great food, it is really hard to turn down dinner invitations. But one way to get out of dinner ( if you can) is to throw a dinner party. You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to put something together, think of the rule of 3- an entree and two sides. Don’t get me wrong, it does take a little planning, but assign your friends to bring a side dish and all you have to worry about is the main course!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

5. Focus on one thing at a time.

The last and final tip to make home cooking fun and exciting is to focus on one thing at a time. If you cannot be bothered with revamping your eating habits just yet, get good at one meal. Focus on cooking at home for one meal- if breakfast is your thing, try recreating your favorite brunch meal! Who doesn’t love a good homemade eggs bennie? If brunch isn’t your thing, try pizza! Premade dough is sold at most grocery stores so now all you need to focus on is the toppings- here’s your chance to channel your inner Chopped winner and make some kooky combinations!

As you can see, eating at home does not have to be a chore. It can be fun! I challenge you on your next date night, or night out with friends- surprise them with dinner, and who knows, maybe a new tradition will be made!

Happy eating.


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Lessons on Loving Yourself

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Lessons on Loving Yourself

A DAY IN THE LIFE

My average day looks a little like this -  It starts with a 20-30 minute commute to work. I clock in, check my inboxes, and get to work. Four hours later, I tend to get hungry, so I might go walk to a nearby cafe or grocery store to grab a quick bite to eat. Back to work, and I'm grinding until it's 5 PM, and now I'm getting "hangry" and restless, but it's almost time to go home. 6 PM -it's time to clock out. My eyes are fried from looking at the screen all day. My fingertips have probably punched thousands of keys. My index finger feels lost without my trackpad, and my body is sore from sitting at a desk.

My name is Emily, and I am the Marketing and Graphic Design Coordinator here at Perform for Life. Before I start talking about my journey to healthyness, I'll give you a little background on who I am and what my life is like. I recently graduated from the University of San Francisco, and I quickly jumped into "adulting." My way of doing that was working multiple jobs to pay for rent for the first time in my life, but working at this gym specifically has made me realize how unhealthy and unbalanced my life has been.

When you read the P4L blogs, you're used to hearing from an expert. I am just an everyday person, and honestly, I've never been fit or athletic. Let's take it back in time - I was the kid who was picked last or finished last in the mile. The other kids used to make fun of me and say, "You're skinny, why are you last?" This made me even more shy about exercising because I felt that my body type gave people the expectation that I must be fit. 

In college, I was blessed with gym membership at Koret...but I only went to eat their sandwiches. I was intimidated by all the "gym rats," and I couldn't even bring myself to work out with my friends, because I was self-conscious about the way my body moved or that I was doing it wrong. Long story short - I've never worked out and this needed to change.


THE WHY

I decided to embark on this journey for a few reasons.

  1. Simply put, I need to move more! A sedentary life makes me restless and damages my body in the process. If I'm in my twenties, why do I feel like such a grandma on the inside? 
  2. My energy tank is feeling low, and I'm going to have to start paying attention to what I'm eating. Was the food I was eating making me feel sluggish?
  3. I want to look and feel good. I want to feel confident in my body as a whole and comfortable in my own skin. My overall goal is to have a better relationship with my body.

THE PLAN

  • Personal training once a week for 3 months.
  • Swing dancing or another form of exercise at least once a week for 3 months.
  • A focus on a low-glycemic diet every day for 3 months to help me store less fat and get more complex carbohydrates instead of simple sugars. 
  • Cutting down on some of my guilty pleasures - cookies, pastries, and boba.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED IN 2 WEEKS

1. The more people there are involved, the more exciting it is. Happiness and healthyness are contagious. My boyfriend felt inspired and joined me along the way, my bosses are helping me figure out ways to eat better, and sometimes people occasionally cheer me on or check up on me. If you're doing it alone, it's harder to keep yourself accountable.

2. Being healthy is an investment in yourself and your future. Everything adds up quickly, especially as someone who didn't have a good diet or workout routine as a part of her life before. I bought new shoes, new clothes, and new food. Plus, if I wasn't already working here, I would've had to search and pay for a gym and personal trainer.

3. It's super hard to be a one woman crew with a whole lot of extras. Now, this is more on the technical side, but working out while recording myself or just editing the videos, in general, is a lot of work to manage on my own.

 
This is an example of one of my set-ups.

This is an example of one of my set-ups.

 

4. You're stronger than you believe. I'll admit, I am a carb queen! I love love love bread, and I've always loved sweets. It's been hard for me to resist sugar, because I never realized how many things had added sugars.

5. Social settings can be hard, and I feel like there's a stigma around being on a "diet." I put it in quotation marks because I'm basically weaning myself off of processed foods. I also often feel shy about telling people I'm changing my diet, because from my exterior appearance, they would assume I am trying to get skinnier. Let's face it - here in San Francisco, we've got a lot of great food, and it's hard to go out with friends and not eat all of the things I used to eat so freely. The first day of my low-glycemic diet my boyfriend decided to take me out on a date - let's just say I started the diet the next day.

6. These minor changes have fueled the foundation for a better me. It's like Emily 2.0. Upon exercising and eating healthier, I started wanting to do more to keep improving myself and taking better care of my body.

7. I really crave the taste and feeling of eating cookies. My favorite dessert is a freshly baked, chewy chocolate chip cookie, and I've been thinking about it every day since I started. Dark chocolate alone and Arctic Zero just aren't enough.

8. It's challenging to prioritize meal prepping. For one, I don't usually like eating the same thing all week. Plus, by the time I get home, I'm exhausted. As someone who works an office job, I find myself eating out more often than not, but I'm working on it!

 
 

9. I'm crooked! In high school, my godmother stopped making a dress for me, because she said my shoulders were uneven. During my first session with Brandon, I discovered she was right! One of my shoulders is higher from the other (as seen in the photos below), so we're working on correcting that.

10. Cheat day turns into cheat week, and suddenly, you've fallen off the tracks. My best friend and I went to Ghiradelli Square this past weekend, and I caved. I got a strawberry nutella crepe AND clam chowder bread bowl. From that day on, I had been craving cookies more often and found myself cheating more frequently. Justine has reminded me of the 80/20 rule (or sometimes 70/30), which allows me to eat the things that I loved before but in moderation and to not judge myself for it. We're all human. This is a process.

 
This is the smile of someone who was overjoyed to be eating a crepe after over a week or not having sugar.

This is the smile of someone who was overjoyed to be eating a crepe after over a week or not having sugar.

 

Follow Emily's P4L journey on our Instagram and Snapchat to see more videos like this!


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Gains on the Go Series: Fueling the Metabolic Fire

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Gains on the Go Series: Fueling the Metabolic Fire

Greetings P4L family! My name is Michael Phillips, and I'm a new addition to the P4L team. I'm introducing a blog series called Gains on the Go. It's all about learning new information, upending fallacies, and using that knowledge to make healthy eating and exercise more sustainable and adaptable to a busy lifestyle. I want everyone to find a way to overcome the obstacles that life likes to put in the way of your fitness goals. I've been in the industry a long time, and fads are more rampant in fitness than just about anywhere else. Thankfully, geeks like me love to sift through the data to separate fact from fad, so you don't have to. Without further ado, let's kick things off by talking about something that is very status quo in the fitness industry: meal frequency.

If you’ve been given advice on a diet for fat loss in recent years, you’ve likely been told that you need to eat every 3 hours to keep your metabolism revved up and burning calories all day long. It sounds good, but I’m not even sure where this information originates. The body of literature that exists on the subject of TEF (Thermic Effect of Food) does not support this suggestion in the slightest. It is true that some portion of the calories you consume is used to power the digestion and absorption of the food itself, but the impact of meal frequency on that is virtually non-existent. If you eat 5 slices of bread in one sitting, or spread those feedings evenly throughout the day, the energy required by your digestive system to process this food is the same. This should be very empowering for you folks out there that find eating so often is incompatible with your lifestyle.

Besides constraints that work may place on your eating habits, food is also an important part of socializing. You can eat dinner with your family, have lunch with a coworker, or try the dishes at your company holiday party without sabotaging your gains (or losses). That is to say, you can eat like a normal person! If you transgress, just adjust the amount of food you consume in the subsequent meals; it's really that simple.

Similarly, you don’t have to force yourself to eat breakfast in the morning if you aren’t hungry. Again, the idea that breakfast stokes the metabolic fire is pretty pervasive, but the support for this idea simply doesn’t exist. The research surrounding the consumption of breakfast is very correlative in nature. It merely shows that those who regularly eat breakfast tend to have lower body weights. However, there are tons of confounding factors: people who are generally hungry in the morning may just regulate their appetite better, or they may eat breakfast because they consider it an important component of health, thus making them more concerned with health in general, or many other possible co-factors. How can you adjust this to help you? Well, a lot of people don't have a big appetite in the morning, have trouble getting up in the morning, or simply just want to wait until they can eat breakfast at the office. If that's you, then you can redistribute the calories to later meals (e.g. dinner with your friend from your hometown), wait a couple hours after waking up, or just have a very quick and easy snack. Make it work for your life and schedule.

The pendulum has even begun to swing the other way, with intermittent fasting diets becoming increasingly popular. Although there is some promising research to support this strategy, I still feel that more research needs to be done on humans, and it needs to be done in a more realistic way. Right now, most of the research showing the positive impact this eating pattern has on health is based on research done on rats, and using an alternating day fasting protocol where you literally skip eating every other day. However, I suggest you keep an eye out for emerging information on this topic, as it certainly shows some potential. If nothing else, this strategy seems viable; I'm just not sold on it being superior yet. A lot of people love this dietary routine because of how well it jives with social eating. If you don't eat anything for 16 hours, then you can cram a lot of food in the remaining 8 hours, relatively speaking. It's not a free pass to clean out an entire buffet, but it's easier to eat like a normal person if you have the flexibility to eat a large meal if you want or need.

My suggestion for using this information is to avoid getting caught up in adjusting your whole life to accommodate a different meal schedule. Eating is too important to our social lives and emotional well being to try and adjust it to fit an unrealistic schedule. Try to make your eating schedule as sustainable as possible. Do you like to sit down and eat a larger dinner with your friends or family in the evening? Do it! Just make sure the calorie consumption throughout the rest of the day is a bit lower to compensate for a larger dinner. Are you the type of person who wakes up starving in the morning? Then have a big ol’ breakfast and let calorie consumption taper off later in the day. Do you want to take advantage of the catered meals your company provides? Go for it. The key is to make your diet work for you.

Dieting requires enough sacrifice and behavior change already; don’t make it harder than it needs to be.

There is also a caveat to keep in mind with this piece of advice. Frequent feedings have some support for improving satiety. That is, smaller, more frequent meals may help you feel more satisfied (i.e. less hungry) than an equivalent amount of food consumed in larger and less frequent feedings. Thus, if you find through experimentation that this describes you, then it may be worth trying. As well, if you simply enjoy more frequent meals and it's not a hassle for you, then by all means go for it. I'm not suggesting it's a bad practice; I'm merely suggesting that eating every 3 hours is not a requirement for you to reach your goals. Meet your calorie requirements in the way you see fit. I promise you that finding a diet you can adhere to consistently is the most important thing you can do to set yourself up to succeed.

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Photo Credit : LUM3N


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Grocery Shopping With Coach Amber!

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Grocery Shopping With Coach Amber!

Do you find yourself eating take out more often than you would like? Or do you find yourself never having food in the fridge?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, keep reading!

With everyone’s busy schedules, it's hard to make time to make a home-cooked meal. Most of people don’t even cook on a daily basis, which is something I struggle with as well. It’s much easier and more time-efficient to go out and order food everyday, but the downside is that you don’t always know what goes into your food. The benefits of having home-cooked meals are significant: you are able to choose what you fuel your body with, you save money, and you get the satisfaction of being your own chef! Don’t know where to start?

Here are some tips:

1. Don’t go shopping hungry.

This is probably the last thing you want to do. When you are hungry, there is more of a chance that you will buy more food than you need and in turn, settle for more unhealthy foods.

2. Make a list!

Make a list and stick to it. This way, your grocery shopping time is cut down in half because you won’t be walking up and down aisles searching for the items that you want to get.

3. Avoid prime times!

AKA Weekdays after work 4pm-6pm

Sunday at ALL TIMES, unless you try to go when they first open.

4. Lastly, purchase simple food.

If you find yourself struggling to make a meal at home, don’t go and buy lavish ingredients that only serve one purpose. Purchase ingredients that can be used for multiple dishes that way nothing is going to waste.

Here’s an example of a week's worth of simple ingredients for easy-to-prepare meals at home. If you are cinched for time and really don’t have the time to go shopping on your own, you can try productivity apps and services such as Instacart, AmazonFresh, and CurbSpace that allow you to choose your groceries and have them available for pickup/delivery to save time! Listed below is a solid, go-to shopping list as well as a few recipes that can be easily made with those ingredients.

Sample grocery list: Eggs, milk, yogurt, berries, banana, onion, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, chicken/other protein, grain (brown rice), avocado, garlic , tortilla (corn), black beans, lemon/lime

 

Here are some example recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Breakfast

Veggie Omelette

Prep time: 5 minutes. Total cook time, 10 minutes. Serving size 1

Ingredients

2 eggs

2 Tbs chopped onion (yellow)

1 clove garlic minced

3 cherry tomatoes chopped

2 mushrooms chopped

Handful of spinach

¼ avocado

1 Tbs olive oil ( other cooking oil)

Salt and pepper to taste.
 

Directions:

Heat up pan to medium heat. Add olive oil. Chop up onion and garlic. Add to heated pan. Stir until soft and brown, about 2 minutes.  Keep stirring so that you don’t burn the garlic. Then add the tomatoes and mushrooms. Saute for 1 min. While you wait, crack the 2 eggs into a bowl and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Whip with fork so that the yolk and white come together. Add the handful of spinach into the pan and stir for about 30 seconds, or until wilted slightly. Finally add the eggs. Carefully stir the egg and veggie mixture until it starts to come together. Once cooked thoroughly on one side, flip over with spatula. Once flipped, then add ¼ of the avocado slices to one side of the omelette. After 1 minute or the other side of the omelette is cooked to your liking, fold in half and serve! Enjoy!

Quick Breakfast Smoothie 

Ingredients

½ cup yogurt

¼ cup berries (fresh or frozen)

Handful spinach

¼ cup milk (almond, soy, coconut)

Handful of ice

Directions:

Put everything in your blender of choice and blend until smooth.

Lunch/Dinner

Wannabe Chipotle Burrito Bowl

I love chipotle just as much as the next person, but with all of the controversy regarding the health of their restaurant I don’t want to take any chances. This would be a great recipe for date night in! Or to double up for a lunch and dinner!

Prep time: 10 minutes. Total cook time: 20 minutes. Serving size 2.

Ingredients

6 oz chicken, preferably tenders because they are easier to cook evenly ( fresh or frozen)

3 TBS onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic minced

4 mushrooms chopped

6 cherry tomatoes chopped

½ zucchini chopped in small squares

½ avocado

½ can of black beans, drained and rinsed

4 tortillas (corn or flour)

1 cup uncooked rice

Cayenne, paprika, cumin to taste.

Directions:

Chicken prep: Time to season!  Add 1-2 TBS of each seasoning: cayenne pepper, paprika, and cumin as well as salt and pepper to taste.

While your chicken is absorbing all of the good flavors. Start chopping up your veggies and put to the side as well as draining and rinsing your black beans.

Now you're ready to cook!

Start the rice next!

Add 1 cup of uncooked rice into a sauce pan. Turn on heat, then add 2 cups of warm water. Bring rice to a boil, then simmer (low heat) with lid until rice is cooked through and no more water is left in the pan. Check occasionally and stir.

Time for veggies!

Turn on pan to medium heat. Add 1 TBS olive oil. Then add the onion and garlic. Stir until brown and onions are translucent. Next add the tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini. After 2 minutes, or veggies are soft but not mushy add black beans and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then remove from heat and place aside.

In separate pan, time to cook the chicken! Turn on pan to medium heat. Add 1 TBS olive oil. Then add seasoned chicken to pan. Cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes depending on the size of the tender. Once cooked through, remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes before you cut into bite sized pieces.

Time to assemble!

In a bowl, add ½ cup of cooked rice, ¼ cup of the veggie mixture, and ½ cup of the diced chicken. Top with sliced avocado. Feel free to enjoy with a tortilla, a squeeze of lime, or a dollop of plain greek yogurt for a healthier version of sour cream! Enjoy!

Now that you have some easy staple meals, there are no excuses! These recipes use up all the groceries I listed above, which saves you a ton of money and nothing goes to waste!

 

 

Learn more about Coach Amber here

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WORRIED ABOUT YOUR NUTRITION?

WORRIED ABOUT YOUR NUTRITION?

HERE ARE A FEW SIMPLE RULES.

 

What’s the number one question I have asked to me on a daily basis? The answer, what can I do with my nutrition to best supplement my workouts? Unfortunately there isn’t a simple answer to that question as everyone’s body is very different. I have some simple rules though that can help those who question whether their diet is helping them:

CARBS:

First off, please don’t stop eating carbs… They are the number one source of energy for our bodies, without consuming them your workouts will suffer! If you are trying to lose weight what I have found as a good rule is to limit your carbs to 2-3 servings per day. This means if you have a bagel for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, and rice with dinner you have had 3 servings of carbs. Cutting down to 2 carbs a day still keeps your energy up throughout the day but still keeps your overall calorie consumption down.

 

Ok now second off, which carbs you eat matter. Whole grains are the best carbs you can eat as they break down slower in your body so that they give you energy throughout the day. Examples of whole grains are brown rice, whole grain pasta (whole wheat if whole grain isn’t available), sweet potatoes (all colors), and oatmeal.

PROTEINS:

Ok so this portion is for those of us who indulge in animal meats for our diet. Sorry to my vegetarian friends, but I will write something for you soon. General rules for meats in your diet, try to limit red meats to 1-2 times per week, and that white meat is your friend. Chicken breast meat is the best possible, pork is also a good choice, and I love me some ground turkey. If you can stand it the next level is throwing fish in there 2-4 times a week. I know a lot of people can’t do fish and that’s fine if that’s you, but if you can get it into your diet a couple times a week at least the fish oils are great for your health. Lastly, eggs are great! One of my favorite foods for sure, and it’s cool if you get rid of the yolks and just go egg whites but you really don’t have to.

WHEN SHOULD I EAT?

EAT BREAKFAST!! Haha but seriously eat something in the morning… it’s not that hard and once you start it will become easier and easier until you’ll feel incomplete without it in the morning. Ideally beyond breakfast you should eat every 3-4 hours, so the exact time will depend on when you start your day. Think about having 3 full meals and 1-2 snacks, if this sounds like too much food for you then cut down your meals!

 

VEGGIES:

I know this is getting long so I’m going to keep this short, mix the colors of your veggies, get in mostly green but also red, orange, purple, and yellow. Secondly, from the section above I’m suggesting you have 4 or 5 meals per day, so try to have 3-4 of those include some sort of veggie.

 

WATER:

The recommended daily water intake is half of your body weight in ounces. This means if you weigh 140 pounds, you should be having about 70 oz of water per day, if you don’t know how many ounces of water your water bottle has feel free to ask us!

 

That’s all for now folks! I will come out with a second version of this soon with sections including: fats, alcohol, fruit, and more. Please feel free to reach out to me for any bits of advice on the side or if there is a section you would like me to cover in the next post!

 

 

Learn more about Coach Anthony here

 

 

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