Sunday, February 22, 2015

5 Tips for Meal Prep

The fuel you put into your body is one of the keys to your success at any health program.  Preparing your meals ahead of time is a great way to get control of your nutrition.  Here are some simple tips to follow which will help you succeed.

1: The word “Meal” is misleading.  
When people say the word “Meal”, the layperson tends to envision a 3 course dinner and that makes trying to fathom eating 5-6 “meals” a day insane.  This is the furthest thing from reality.  “Meals” can be as small or as large as needed in your nutritional plan, as long as they have a good nutritional balance of Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats.

2: Is it 3 meals a day… or is it 5?
You need to eat around your work, sleep, and training schedule all while keeping yourself from being hungry.  Eating more frequently will stave off hunger and help keep you from overeating.  The number of meals does not really matter, it could be x10 if it fit your schedule and provided the right nutrients.

3: Protein Shakes
Protein Shakes can be a bane or a boon.  One has to understand that the body needs balanced nutrition based around their goals.  This means getting a balanced meal, every meal.  Protein, Carbs, and Fats are all necessary for optimal health.  That being said, protein isolate powder with water in a shaker cup may be good for a bodybuilder on a cut, but not for the normal gym client.  
4: Don’t try prepping for an entire week
Some foods keep, some don’t.  I always suggest planning prepping for 2-3 days worth of food and not beyond that.  I have done a week at a time before and if your food turns, you will have a bad day.  Look at your schedule and fit in 2-3 times during the week to prep your meals and have them ready to be consumed.

5: Seek help

Even professional athletes have support teams.  You need one to.  See a Licensed Registered Dietitian and get a consult for a meal plan.  This will help you make sure you have optimal nutrition while building the perfect eating schedule for you.  Dietitians are educated and experienced in helping even difficult cases where people have odd schedules or specific nutritional needs.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Slowly returning to normal

A short blog post about returning to normal eating after trashing myself for 3 months…

The first morning back to eating normal I went to my kitchen at 5AM.  I sprayed down a frying pan and got it heating up while I put some sliced bacon in the microwave.  I cracked an egg in the hot pan and fried it up.  I tossed the bacon and egg on a wrap with cheese and breakfast was ready.  3 minutes total prep and cook time.  

The sad thing is the entire time I was cooking, I was thinking “Dammit, I really just want to go to the diner next door to grab a breakfast wrap.”

That’s how irrational my mind had become over the 3 months.  It took me 3 minutes to make something that cost me around a dollar to make that tasted fresh and healthy…  and in my mind I was thinking I’d rather spend 10 minutes to order and receive something that is flash frozen and cost me $5.  

This continued to haunt me the rest of the day…  Lunch was a nice balanced meal but all I craved was something fast, like ramen noodles.  Even at dinner as I ate a huge plate of Pork tenderloin, mixed veggies and noodles, cottage cheese, and glazed apples I found myself craving frozen pizza.  

This went on for 3 days straight...

As my diet returned to normal, I began to feel "right".  Less headaches and less fatigue during workouts were the first noticeable affects.  My blood pressure dropped back to a ~120/70 by the end of the week (a great decline since it was spiking into the 140/80 range-the highest it had ever been in my life).  My mental state improved and over the week less anxiety spikes occurred.

Things are slowly returning to normal.    

Next step: Weekly Meal Prep

Monday, February 9, 2015

Picking Up The Pieces

For the majority of the last year, I monitored my health, fitness regimen, and diet rigorously.  I controlled every macro and micro that went into fueling me, home-cooking my meals regularly and planning weeks ahead of time.  All my workouts-multiple per day-led up to increased performance across the board.  My budget for food was set and my variety allowed me to enjoy every meal like a foodie should.

I kept thinking to myself, “this is easy for me…” and showed my clients how to do this throughout the summer months.  My findings were depressing though, many clients once I stepped away did not stay regimented and adhering to a meal plan.  

I decided after a photoshoot and my last Crossfit competition that I wanted to put on some size during the winter months and realized this would be an interesting opportunity to perform a small personal experiment.  I looked at my engineered diet and decided to throw it all out the window.  

I kept my reasoning quiet from even my close friends and coworkers-most thought I had just gone off the deep end.

Almost overnight, I went from eating my usual 3200-4500 calories each day (usually following a Zone-esque plan at a Macro split of 40/30/30) to eating donuts, ramen, and cheap lunch meats.  I went from eating out once every week or two, to going to a restaurant every other day (sometimes even as much as twice a day).  Needless to say, this had several repercussions.         

So I started off this journey at 165lbs, 8%bodyfat, with optimal vitals.  I was lean, ripped, and strong.  I ate 3 to 5 meals a day and trained several hours a day with barely any fatigue.

The first place I felt the impact of this new lifestyle was my recovery time between workouts.  I was eating close to the same amount of calories (averaged 4000 daily); however, my macronutrients were off, closer to 70% carbohydrates.  I felt great for a few hours after eating, but would end up bloated or having the bottom drop out after the sugar rush ended.  The lack of protein and fats definitely had an impact on protein synthesis and hormone levels, my multiple training workouts per day soon became hard to keep up with and soreness levels skyrocketed.

Joint pain and muscle soreness became regular.  I had to limit my training time and start living off a regimen of Ibuprofen.  My blood pressure slowly went from 115/75 to being regularly in the 135/85 range.  

The second place I felt the impact was in my wallet.  Making all my meals and eating enough food to feed 3 average people with a healthy diet usually only cost me around $400 per month ($500 if I splurged).  Fresh fruits & veggies, lean meats, and healthy fats were plentiful.  Then I started eating junk…

It started with stopping all the homemade foods.  I switched to eating out 2-3 times a week at restaurants and switching out my healthy home cooking to quick and easy meals high in carbs;  Pastas, frozen pizza, icecream, chips, lunch meats, and tons of cereal.  Soon my food bills had doubled.  The all-you-can-eat buffets became a staple in my life.  As the months went on my food budget went from $400 per month to easily $1000, sometimes more.

This started in late October and has lasted for 3 months.  In early February I knew how much damage had really occurred.  It took friends and coworkers observations to be objective.

My blood pressure had skyrocketed, my body hurt all the time, and I felt sick for the first time ever.  My joints ached, my stomach turned, and skin constantly was irritated.  I was chronically dehydrated and my body composition changed for the worse.  While I had gotten stronger in my powerlifts, I had lost some of my “engine” and my Crossfit Wod times had suffered.  Mentally I wasn’t as quick and it took me longer to react.  My mood had suffered as well, where I went from being energetic and fun to be around to regularly brooding and depressed-even affecting my job.

8% bodyfat to 11.5% bodyfat in 3 months...

So, where do I go from here?

Well, I do have an edge here but it’s going to take hard work to reverse this.  First off, my diet has to be overhauled.  I am choosing to do a diet that is very Zone-esque with dairy included.  This is the diet I have found that works best with my body.  I will be checking in regularly with my dietitian, Lauren Leatherman to make sure I am making the right choices and adhering to my diet.

Heck, with the money I save from switching over to the healthy diet I’ll easily be able to afford her services.  Budget is no excuse.

My training regiment will follow.  I’m instituting my old workout plan.  This is going to be a lot of work, but it will all be worth it.  I want to keep my strength and get my engine back.  

I am planning this change to begin over this week, and that it will take me around 3 months to fix the damage I’ve caused.  I will update this regularly to keep you guys and gals motivated and to keep you abreast of all the struggles and tips I can relay to you.  

Remember that no matter where you start, it’s never too late.  

Your Trainer;
Richard Tarleton