10 Tips and Tricks for Eating Healthy - Burn Boot Camp

10 Tips and Tricks for Eating Healthy

 

Chelsea Theodoropoulos

Happy New Year! Chances are you’re hard at work chipping away at those annual declarations of self-improvement. Keep it up!

If you’re anything like the old me, the new year has you amped up to make some serious changes in your life and body, but you’re no stranger to summer indulgences and often struggle to keep your motivation on pace and nutrition intact throughout the year to reach your fitness goals. Sound familiar? You’re not alone.

Year after year, I’ve made dozens of resolutions trying to create discipline and structure around my nutrition and eating habits. Every year I’ve held on strong for a few months and seemed to have fallen off by the time the weather turned the corner. But not anymore, and you don’t have to let your hard work dissipate with the sunshine either!

As we raise the bar together across Burn Nation, we must first understand that physical fitness requires proper nutrition to fuel our bodies and help build strength. Creating a lifestyle with whole foods and healthy habits can be overwhelming though. You may ask yourself questions like, where do I start? How do I stay motivated? What if I fail? What if I’m addicted to sugar?

Let 2018 be the year you finally forego those predictable resolutions and commit to a lifestyle change, once and for all. As you’re raising your bar inside the gym and taking your PR’s to a new level, consider taking your nutrition to the next level as well. Small changes create BIG impact!

Below are my top 10 tips and tricks for staying on track with nutrition year-round.


1. Always meal prep.

Meal prepping is the secret to success. It requires just a couple of hours every week, yet still saves you time. Having food pre-cooked (and already portioned if you’re on the go a lot) will keep you from making impulsive decisions that hinder your goals.

I use different seasonings, dressings, and/or marinades from week to week to change flavors, and I also change my vegetables from week to week to keep my meals interesting. Simply adding hot sauce can make a meal feel completely different!

I don’t overcomplicate meal prepping. Instead, I find creative ways to combine my favorite foods to create endless options. I cook 8-10 chicken breasts every Sunday, a few pounds of ground turkey, and 3-4 different kinds of vegetables that I like. I may toss chicken and vegetables in marinara sauce one day, toss in coconut aminos and cauliflower rice another day, or make a naked burrito bowl out of my ingredients the next day. I may change seasonings from lemon pepper to Italian to garlic to onion.

Meal prepping gives you the ability to always be prepared and grab something healthy even when you’re on the go.

Not only can you switch up flavors to add variety, but you can also change your method of cooking to prevent meal prep burnout. For example, you can bake, sous vide, shred, or grill the same chicken breast to make it feel different each time!

If I’m looking for a recipe, I always rely on the Burn Community for new ideas. Meal prepping gives you the ability to always be prepared and grab something healthy even when you’re on the go. Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail.

2. Don’t eat what you dislike.

Regardless of how healthy a certain food may be, I only eat what I like. For example, I don’t like eggs and I don’t like fish—both of which I’ve tried to force feed myself. I failed.

If you try to eat foods you simply don’t like, a healthy habit will never be created. Just because you’re eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t look forward to meals anymore. Know what you like and rely on those foods to make up your healthy habits!

If you have favorite meals (mine is spaghetti and meatballs), find healthy swaps so you can still enjoy your favorite foods. For example, try swapping ground beef for ground turkey, or swapping spaghetti for zoodles or spaghetti squash. Being disciplined doesn’t mean you must feel deprived.

3. Travel with food, or eat before you go. 

When you meal prep, you no longer have an excuse. Whether you’re going to work, going out of town for a long weekend, or just traveling down the road to a child’s birthday party, you can plan for all of this.

You may want to consider bringing a cooler of food or eating before you go if you know you’ll only be gone for an hour or two. Don’t put yourself in a situation in which you know you’ll be hungry—and therefore more likely to indulge!

I’ve taken food with me to the strangest places and have always been grateful to be prepared. If you’re going to a party where you know pizza and cake will be served, eat before you go. Don’t allow yourself to be influenced by these temptations every time. Once you feel the physical difference of nourishing your body with whole foods, you’ll look forward to these meals on the go!

4. Enjoy cheat meals. 

Eating healthy doesn’t mean you can never sink your teeth into a slice of double chocolate cake or greasy New York-style pepperoni pie. Allow yourself one cheat meal per week, plan for it, and enjoy it. Don’t settle for an alternative, and don’t waste your cheat meal on something that’s not going to satisfy your craving.

When you gain control over your temptations and plan for cheat meals, you’ll no longer experience that black cloud of guilt we often face.

When we settle for cheat meals that are only “okay,” we’re still left with that desire to cheat which often leads to a multi-day binge of a few bites here and few bites there trying to satisfy that craving! For example, if you want pizza, get the best pizza possible—don’t settle for a frozen alternative or your child’s half-eaten pizza rolls. If you want cake, don’t settle for a few bites if you’re not fully satisfied–eat the whole slice.

When you gain control over your temptations and plan for cheat meals, you’ll no longer experience that black cloud of guilt we often face.

5. Drink lots of water.

Staying hydrated is a true test of hunger. When we’re dehydrated, we tend to snack more. When we’re both thirsty and hungry, similar messages are sent to our brain and how we respond to those signals are often mistaken.

If you’re a heavy snacker, ask yourself if you’re drinking enough water. I strive to drink one gallon of water a day (about 8 water bottles). When I fall short, I tend to lose focus, develop a headache, and dip my hand into my child’s snack trap. Be proactive about drinking water, because when you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated! Prevent thirst and unnecessary eating by drinking your gallon a day.

6. Drink less alcohol.

There is a reason that Olympians and bodybuilders don’t drink alcohol. Alcohol prohibits fat loss, makes us feel lethargic, and impairs our judgement.

Have you ever seen someone drink too much alcohol and then eat a grilled chicken breast with broccoli? Probably not. When we drink alcohol, we’re more likely to make decisions about food we normally wouldn’t make. If I’m going to be in a social situation where I may want to both drink alcohol AND eat unhealthy foods, I’ll normally pick one or the other. Prepare for these situations and commit to your decision!

7. Log your food (occasionally).

When I first started my fit journey, I logged every bite of food that I ate. This was the only way I could wrap my head around what I was putting into my body when it came to my macronutrients. I quickly learned the macronutrients for the foods I was eating daily, which has allowed me to make changes to meet the 45% protein, 35% carbohydrates and 20% fat target we recommend at Burn Boot Camp.

I became familiar with my own macros and found myself eating many of the same foods every day to stay on track which later made logging food a breeze.

I committed to logging food every single day for several weeks. This was time-consuming, but so was the energy I wasted feeling poorly about my postpartum body. Logging food kept me disciplined and focused. I stopped snacking because I didn’t want to log 37 goldfish and stopped drinking alcohol because I now felt accountable.

I became familiar with my own macros and found myself eating many of the same foods every day to stay on track which later made logging food a breeze. Logging food is the most time consuming when we’re not eating whole foods.

Today, I log occasionally. Even though I’m aware of the macro content in my meals, it’s important to log occasionally to spot-check my macros. If you’re on point, perfect! If not, it’s an opportunity to make changes to get back on track. We often only need to make small tweaks to get our macros back on track and refocus on our goals.

8. Don’t buy food that tempts you. 

If ice cream is your guilty pleasure, don’t leave ice cream in your freezer! If it’s in your house, you are much more likely to eat it when you’re stressed, bored, exhausted, or overwhelmed.

My kids have never had a bowl of sugary cereal at home or experienced the joy of an Oreo cookie. It’s not because I’m supermom—it’s not because I don’t allow sugar from time to time. My kids are deprived of these things because if they are in my pantry, I WILL eat them.

Yes, they still beg, harass, and plea for tastier snacks, but I never cave. When my kids snack, they eat cheese sticks, fresh fruit, Cheerios, Goldfish, applesauce, and other healthy snacks. These are all foods I either don’t like, that don’t tempt me, or that I also enjoy and can share with them.

Your home is a safe place. You shouldn’t feel threatened or tempted by foods that will hinder your goals. If it’s too hard for you to avoid certain foods, simply get rid of them.

9. Schedule focus meetings.

Focus meetings aren’t just for newbies. I still have focus meetings and walk away every single time with either a tidbit of new information or feeling reenergized to tackle my goals. Having a log of measurements allow me to see progress or gives me a wakeup call when I’m off track.

There is always more information to learn, recipes to be shared, and tips and tricks to help us stay focused.

Focus meetings are meant to keep us accountable, focused, and constantly learning. There is always more information to learn, recipes to be shared, and tips and tricks to help us stay focused. You are never too fit for a focus meeting! Fitness is a journey, so leverage the resources available to you. (To schedule a focus meeting with your trainer, download the Burn Boot Camp app!)

10. Don’t expect to be perfect.

Perfection is impossible, so why would anyone expect to be perfect when it comes to nutrition? Well, I did…and failed. I was so strict that when I did “fall off,” I reverted to unhealthy eating habits. I lost control and lost all semblance of balance.

Being disciplined means wanting to achieve your goals more than giving into temptation. It means saying “no” because you know how happy you are when you feel good. Discipline doesn’t mean perfection. We’re all human. We lose focus. Life gets in the way. Understanding that set backs ARE part of the fitness journey will prepare you to handle situations better.

So, you ate a hot dog when you shouldn’t have, let it go. You haven’t meal prepped in weeks, move on. Leave these setbacks in the past and simply do better next time. Balance, balance, balance!


 

Chelsea Theodoropoulos is the owner of Burn Boot Camp Manchester (St. Louis, Missouri). Her life transformation through health and fitness began three years ago as a member at Burn Boot Camp Huntersville which led to a career in the fitness industry and mission to change lives. Simple “recipes” with macronutrient breakdowns can be found on her Instagram @chelseatheo_fit.