The last two weeks my meal planning has gone down the toilet. I didn’t realize it until the other day when I was wondering why I felt so off, all I could think about was oh I’m just tired from the past three weeks. While that may be true, it didn’t account for the reasoning behind my stomach rebelling against me. Then I realized that due to my lack of meal prepping my lunches resembled an array of random snacks pulled from the cupboards throughout the house.
Over the last year I have really discovered the joys of meal planning and prepping, acquired due to my realization that food is a good thing when you are training hard (a realization I will delve into in a minute). Through my research for competing I discovered a lot of articles on meal prepping and planning ranging from the mantra of IIFMM (if it fits my macros), to carb cycling, and just plain old macro counting.
Before I go any further I want to make clear that I am not telling you how to eat, or what diet to go on. I am not a certified nutritionist (though I would LOVE to be) nor am I an expert. I am merely telling you about my journey (as per the basis of WhereYourFeetTakeYou) and what I found to work well for me.
My food journey has been an interesting one ranging from always eating everything in sight, my mom used to pack me lunches that weighed a couple of pounds I swear, to anorexia, coming out of anorexia, the whole living on my own and having no money diet, to learning how to appropriately feed my body so that I can continue doing the things that I love.
This journey started the end of freshman year of college and hasn’t stopped since then. I wish I had a picture at the “height” of my eating disorder, cause I would love to be able to compare that young, scared, naive girl to who I am now; and not compare for judging sake but to show myself how far I really have come. But all the pictures from that time period are either no longer existing or I am very much clothed as I tried to hide my figure a lot by wearing baggy clothes.
Anyways, despite my eating disorder I did learn a lot about clean eating during that time because I was so in tune with what I was putting in my body. I stayed away from simple carbs (well truth be told basically away from carbs in general) and when I did eat them they were complex carbs, I learned that eating multiple times a day was a great way to keep your metabolism high, and that not having enough calories gives you a constant headache ALL THE TIME. My issue was that I was not eating much, my dinners would be half an apple with peanut butter, or half of a can of soup, a small salad with no dressing, you probably get the picture. Calorie count was minimal and with all my exercising my weight began to drop quickly. I went from about 128 (which was the heaviest I had ever been) somewhere in my freshman year (gotta love freshman 15) to a mighty 100 lbs at the end of my sophomore year and still dropping. Thankfully I have amazing parents who were able to give me some tough love and threaten to either send me to the hospital or get therapy (I had a choice) as this was not a road they were going to allow me to go down.
That being said I entered my Junior year having gained 12 lbs and joined the cross-country and track team, something that probably saved me from spiraling back down as I had no choice but to eat or I would not have performed. I would love to say these were some of my healthiest years during cross-country and track post eating disorder but I would be lying. While I ate healthy for the most part I wasn’t taking care of my body the way I should have been, I just figured I could do what I wanted and the body would come.
Next comes graduating college and moving out on your own. This is when life got interesting, and I went through a whole lot of growing experiences. I started lifting again during this time frame and experimenting with different food plans. However, living on your own and not having a ton of money related back to a very simple meal plan…..hardly any food.
Is what a little over year ago that I really began to research the importance of meal planning and different types of meal plans. My fiance had really dove headfirst into the “fit life” world and due to changing our meal planning around he was down a couple of pounds and I had leaned out to a body weight that I LOVED.
I found that for me personally my body did not handle simple carbs well, they leave me bloated, sluggish, and uncomfortable. Yet I was having a hard time finding a diet that fit well with my endurance training as well as high level lifting; the “recommended” diets for these two activities can be so different. What resulted through all of my researching, personal dieting, experiences, and following of other athletes was my current meal plan for a high protein and fat diet with smaller amount of complex carbohydrates.
Here is what a typical day is for me:
Breakfast: Oatmeal created in a wide variety of ways
Mid-Morning snack: fruit, trail mixes, hard-boiled eggs, etc
Lunch: around 6 oz chicken and a half an avocado
Mid-afternoon snack: Protein balls, protein bar, and fruit snacks (all doesn’t happen at once)
Dinner: Salad with rice, chicken, eggs, cheese, small amount of dressing
Dessert: chocolate power bar, or a bit of chocolate
So where do I get my protein, fats, and carbohydrates from:
Proteins: chicken, beans, pork, ham, fish, nuts, and sometimes lentils, eggs
Carbohydrates: rice, oatmeal, fruit, quinoa, whole wheat breads (when I do eat breads), vegetables, sweat potatoes
Fats: cheese, avocados, peanut butter, nuts, olive oil
The past couple months I found that meal prepping makes a huge difference in how you eat. By the time we get home from the gym in the evenings the last thing I want to do is cook, so if it isn’t already made it’s probably not going to be eaten resulting in us eating a lot of bagels with PB or a quick sandwich thrown together. It’s not my favorite thing to do but by making sure that we have the basis of a meal all laid out for the week on Sundays has helped to ensure that both of us are following a plan that works well for us.
What meal plans do you follow? Do you meal prep?