Simple lunch & snack swaps

Man, taxes suck. Owing over $1,000 in federal taxes REALLY sucks. I’m turning my side hustle meter way up and applying to every date-night babysitting gig I can find!

I’m also sticking to packing  lunch and snacks- it is such an easy way to NOT spend money. I’m so used to it, I don’t even know where I would find that money to spend on eating out! But if you’re not, then think about how much you could save if you switched. Here are some things to keep in mind for lunches:

  • For salads, instead of boring iceberg lettuce that has really no nutritional value and a bottle of dressing, trade it for spinach or another leafy green that is chock full of vitamins and minerals. For dressing, I throw together olive oil, balsamic vinegar and mustard for my usual lunch salad- so yummy and there are no additives, sugar, or carbs that can sneak into those bottled dressings!
  • Packed a sandwich? Instead of slathering on mayo which is filled with fat, spread mustard on your (whole-wheat) bread! It’s fat-free- just make sure the sugar count is low. Also, watch your meats! Fatty meats like bacon (and this goes for breakfast too), beef, and pork just should be avoided or cut down on if you’re trying to lose weight. Because it’s not the good fats! It’s the bad fats that cause heart attacks and the like. Choose leaner meats like turkey and chicken, especially at lunch.

For snacks (not just at work, but anytime!):

  • Instead of pulling out a container of cream cheese based dip for a party or before dinner, put out salsa! Who doesn’t love chips and salsa? Plus, it’s spicy and we know that ups your metabolism!
  • Now, I’m not saying to dip your popcorn in salsa, BUT swapping air-popped popcorn for greasy potato chips is definitely a better bet.
  • Don’t just dig into the box! Remember when we talked about measuring things out? Measure your portion out and eat from a bowl or plate. Mindlessly grabbing into a bag is a surefire way to empty that bag without noticing.
  • I am a peanut butter lover. I really am. But I have been trying to cut down on my consumption and swapping it for raw nuts. It makes a big difference because there are more fats and sugars in nut butter than in almonds. Also, unless you’re measuring it out (which you should be), it’s easy to over do it.

Also, just some friendly reminders about things that we’ve discussed in previous posts but that are very easy to forget or not be consistent on!

  • Chew slowly! I’ve really been working on this as I am a speed-eater at heart. This morning was difficult because I was late- but really like to slow down and give your food a good chew.
  • In keeping with slowing down, eat at the table. This allows you to focus and slow down instead of mindlessly eating in front of the TV. I rarely eat in front of the TV but I do eat in front of my computer at work which is very hard not to do!
  • Cut your portion sizes down easier by swapping out your large plates for medium or small ones. It tricks your brain and you probably didn’t need all that anyways!
  • When you eat slower, you should get those satiety signals sooner. That should prevent you from cleaning the plate (unless it’s the right portion for you!). But don’t feel forced to clean the plate- that’s something that has been ingrained in us as small children and it’s very difficult to break that habit (I really struggled with it). Stop when your full and keep it as leftovers.

Yesterday’s food journal

Pre-workout coffee

Breakfast- protein shake & 3 eggs

Coffee

Lunch- normal salad

Green tea

Mid-afternoon snack- yogurt with strawberries & flax

Dinner- leftover casserole and some pineapple

Adult breakfast or child’s dream?

Happy Monday! Just kidding. What Monday is happy? Did everyone have a fantastic weekend? Mine was the perfect mix of social, relaxing, and productive- plus I got two workouts in!

Now it’s back to the grind- but still packing lunch, writing down what I eat, eating chocolate, drinking wine, smelling my food (anyone else slightly struggling with this??), taking a break from the gym a couple of days a week and having a gym buddy, all while losing weight! What’s next? OK, this one is a controversial one but hear me out- have dessert at breakfast.

Now, notice I’m not saying have dessert FOR breakfast. But apparently there is science that backs the idea that if you have a big breakfast, which includes protein and carbs, along with dessert, you will lose weight. Now, the reason behind this is because in the morning is when your metabolism is at  its peak so you’re better off burning calories versus having dessert after dinner, when your metabolism is slowing down before bed (so you can’t have it both ways). If you cut out sweets entirely, you end up craving them (which is why we eat chocolate daily, right!?) and there becomes a cycle of addiction.

I repeat: the key here is to indulge in the morning, when the body’s metabolism is at its most active and we are better able to work off the extra calories throughout the day. Attempting to avoid sweets entirely can create a psychological addiction to these same foods in the long-term and if you add dessert items to breakfast, that can alleviate cravings throughout the rest of the day. As many of us know, if you restrict a bunch of foods, you’ll likely fall off the wagon and overindulge, putting all that weight back on. With this, you’re more satisfied and full as a result and you don’t crave sugar and carbs, causing you to cheat on your diet. This goes along with everything else I’ve been saying- in order to adopt a healthy eating LIFESTYLE it must be realistic and fit in with the rest of your life!

 

So I’m not saying to go eat a giant cupcake every morning with your eggs. But, when faced with a high calorie treat, you’re better off consuming it in the morning than you are later in the day- something to keep in mind when an office birthday rolls around! Hm…maybe I should be having my chocolate squares in the morning then??

Let me know if you guys try this out and what your results are! I for one will be eagerly awaiting the next time I get to try this.

Yesterday’s food journal

Breakfast- 2 whole-wheat waffles with peanut butter and a banana

Lunch- 2 spicy black bean veggie burgers on a 100 calorie whole wheat English muffin with 2 part-skim mozzerella sticks as the “cheese” (I ran out of shredded!)

Dinner- Chicken with bacon, roasted Brussels sprouts and half a sweet potato with leftover garlic lemon mayo. 2 dark chocolate squares and 2 glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon

Take a whiff

Happy Friday everyone! It is time to kick back and really take yesterday’s advice about drinking wine seriously! I did last night while catching up on This Is Us- because who doesn’t want to go to bed sobbing like a baby??

Today’s trick is one that I actually do not practice but I am really going to try to start! Since you’re only adding one trick on a day, it is so easy. So now that you’re packing your lunch, writing down what you eat, eating chocolate and drinking wine, what’s next?

Smelling your food. According to Science Daily, even if you’re eating something as mundane as a bowl of cereal, smelling your food affects the size of your bites. They become smaller! And when you eat small bites, you tend to eat less.

So sniff your bowl of oatmeal, sniff your salad, sniff your coffee! Just inhale the delightful aromas of the food that is here to fuel you and make it a habit. That is what’s key- making it a habit. Don’t just use this trick on homemade food either- use it at restaurants too when you probably need it most. The quicker you get full, the quicker you’ll ask for a doggie bag to go! Anyone have any ideas as to how to remember to do this?? That’s always the hardest part for me!

What are everyone’s weekend plans? Here in Charlotte the weather will be gorgeous so I am definitely trying to spend time outside. I can’t believe it’s early March!

Yesterday’s food  journal:

Breakfast- Smoothie made with almond milk, pineapple, frozen banana, ground flax & chia seeds, a little bit of plain low fat Greek yogurt, vanilla protein powder and peanut butter. Higher calorie than my normal breakfast but it was filling and kept me full until lunch!

1 mug of coffee at the office

Lunch- normal salad

Mug of green tea

Mid-afternoon snack- non-fat plain Greek yogurt with flax and strawberries

Dinner- Half a roasted sweet potato, Brussels sprouts and a chicken breast with bacon

2 zeppoles

1 glass of Pinot Noir

Wine it up

My legs are still sore and I woke up to the wonders of being a woman so, needless to say, the gym was not happening for me today. I have very few weekend plans so I will be hitting it hard then! It’s tough getting back in shape huh?

So remember when I told you guys yesterday to eat chocolate and I was your favorite person EVER?? Well, guess what. I’m about to continue being your favorite person ever! Because my trick for you today is to drink wine.

How is this a “trick” you ask? Because if you’re anything like me you can down a bottle in a night like no one’s business and when people consider it a feat, you’re confused- that’s just Friday night! No, this is where, once again, willpower comes into play.

Women who drink a glass or two of RED wine a day are less likely to be overweight. So, already some ground rules:

  • Do not chug.
  • Do not pair with ice cream. This is not a Bridget Jones movie. (Although COMBINING the two every once in a while might be fun.)
  • Do not replace food with wine. We are not in college anymore. We do not want to die.
  • Do exercise moderation. This is always hardest for me because during the week, sure, fine I can have one or two glasses, but Friday night rolls around and that goes out the window. So I am going to try REALLY hard for this one and will need your support!

And that’s really what this comes down to. Restricting your wine consumption to a glass of wine every night is once again an exercise in moderation. It teaches you that you can treat yourself and still see results. It feeds a craving so you don’t go overboard and start slugging back margaritas. Wine is also rich in antioxidants- it can reduce cholesterol and blood pressure (again, when used in moderation). Digesting alcohol also requires your body to burn calories since we have less of the enzyme that helps with that (that’s why your boyfriend can drink as much as you and you get drunk and he doesn’t). But it (like chocolate) still has calories- about 125 in a 5 oz pour (it should hit slightly below the widest point in the glass to give you room to swirl). And drinking too much has been linked to increased rates of breast cancer (sorry to be a Debbie, but just trying to give you the facts!)

Now, if you’re like me 5 years ago, you don’t like red. Hopefully you’re out of the only Moscato and Riesling stage of super sweet white wines, but if you are still only drinking Sauvignon Blanc (my favorite) and Pinot Grigio, try Pinot Noir. It’s light and fruity and definitely not as heavy as a Cabernet Sauvignon. I also find that drinking red slows my consumption of wine as it’s less “chuggable” and I feel its effects faster.

So, if you’re looking to drop 10 pounds for your sister’s wedding next month- this may not be the trick for you. But if you’re looking for a healthy LIFESTYLE that is something that works within your actual LIFE- then cheers! I’ll be having a nice glass of red along with my TGIT TV tonight.

Yesterday’s food journal:

Breakfast: Oatmeal made with almond milk, topped with ground flax, strawberries, and mixed nuts

1 mug of coffee

Mid-morning snack: Banana & peanut butter

Lunch: Normal lunch salad

Mug of green tea

Mid-afternoon snack: Apple, sliced turkey*, and string cheese

Dinner- roasted broccoli & baked tilapia seasoned with smoked paprika and garlic salt

2 squares of dark chocolate

1 zeppole (4 inch deep fried dough ball) filled with ricotta cheese & Nutella**

*I felt like such an idiot after planning a meat-free dinner for Ash Wednesday and then accidentally eating turkey without even thinking about it. Didn’t even realize it until HOURS later.

**My sweet boyfriend was at a business dinner at an Italian restaurant and brought me home dessert- how could I say no!? There are 4 more sitting in our fridge…

 

Let them eat chocolate!

Guysss, I started up this leg and butt blasting workout again. And every time I take a break from it and start it up again, I cannot walk the next day! Every fiber in my legs aches. I attempted to foam roll this morning and it was brutal. I did NOT make it into the gym this morning- I knew the treadmill would be futile. But this is such a reminder to keep at it! Strength training, like most things, gets better with time.

Today’s trick is going to be your favorite. I’m almost positive. And it’s to *drumroll please* eat chocolate! Yes, every day!

Now, do I mean to house 3 Hershey’s bars after lunch? No. Absolutely not. This is where WILLPOWER comes in, people. Chocolate is still high in fat, sugar, and calories. But it also has antioxidants and other ingredients that boost weight loss, help your heart and protect your skin from sun damage. My pick is dark chocolate- not only does it have more antioxidants but a little goes a long way. You’d be surprised by how satisfying it is when you have a really rich piece of dark chocolate, even if it’s small! At this point, milk chocolate doesn’t even do it for me anymore.

Now remember, you cannot say “Oh, I’ve been avoiding chocolate for the last three months, I’m gonna load up now!” That is not how this works. A few pieces a day or a few times a week is the name of the game.

I’ll be honest- the real reason I follow this trick and have seen it make a difference? It keeps my cravings under control! By giving myself a regular dose of chocolate, this keeps me from diving head first into the Nutella jar. All of the other benefits are great, but this is what really keeps me in control and ALSO  it is an exercise in willpower every single day. The more you use that muscle the better and bigger it gets. So you can buy a big bar of Lindt or Ghirardelli and break a couple squares off yourself. Or you can buy individually wrapped squares or even Hershey’s Kisses. I have leftover Valhrona chocolate from the Paris airport that is individually wrapped- I will allow myself two squares of chocolate after dinner. I look forward to it and it keeps me from indulging at other times of the day because I know it’s waiting for me in the pantry. I’ve fallen off of this trick lately but it’s time to get back on the chocolate wagon!

So how easy is this- you’re doing everything the same that you’ve been doing (which includes eating healthy and working out) but also packing your lunch, writing down what you eat, and now you’re eating chocolate! And hopefully, all these little changes are making you more aware of what you’re putting into your body and helping you cut down on other wasteful calories.

Heading to a career night hosted by a real estate’s market center tonight! Any followers or readers in real estate? Pros, cons, encouragement??

Remember to record what you ate today! Here’s mine for ya’ll:

Yesterday’s food journal:

Half a cup of coffee before working out

Post- workout breakfast- 2 eggs and 1 egg white scrambled with hot sauce, 12 oz unsweetened almond milk with vanilla protein powder

1 mug of coffee once in the office

Mid-morning snack- Apple & 2 wedges of light Swiss Laughing Cow cheese

Half a mug of coffee- it was one of those days! I blame The Bachelor (even though it was only an hour last night.)

Lunch- standard Lunch salad

Mug of green tea

Mid-afternoon snack- cucumber slices with roasted garlic hummus (great for your breath!)

Dinner- Leftover chicken enchilada casserole (not the lowest calorie meal but high protein and filling and easy to prep in the slow-cooker which was needed for Monday night!)

 

 

 

 

Pack your lunch

Monday Mantra:

Feel a little bit good, feel a lot bad later. Feel a little bad now, feel a lot good later.

This is to remind me that eating that cupcake will only make me gassy and bloated, and while waking up at 5 AM to work out sucks, it is worth it in the end. Repeat it as needed, every day, every hour, whatever you need.

I’m not gonna start with the basics. Everyone knows to eat right and hit the gym. That’s the “easy” part. These other tricks are the seemingly simple things that will make all the difference but for some reason they are SO HARD. That’s where I come in- some of these I mastered, some of these we are going to master together.

On to the trick of the day! It’s a super simple one. But it’s one I see people around me struggle with constantly.

Pack. Your. Lunch.

Yes! Women who eat out for lunch, even just once a week, weigh more than those who don’t. And while eating out in general can cause weight gain, lunch is a big one that can be easily fixed.

My first job out of college was awful. Lunch hour was our sacred hour. If you didn’t go somewhere for lunch, you were stuck and no one wanted to be in that God-forsaken office longer than they needed to be. So it was Subway, Panera or (worse of all) the greasy local pizza place. This did not help my post-grad body. When I quit, I got a job nannying. You can’t just run out to grab something to eat when you’re watching an infant and a preschooler. And the mom didn’t exactly buy “lunch-appropriate” food for me. Or even snacks. It was the one babysitting job where I had no desire to raid the pantry.

So I had to bring my lunch. If I didn’t bring it, I didn’t eat. I carried this over in NYC too- mostly because I was poor but it had become a habit as well. But I made some rookie mistakes that led me to fall out of the habit on occasion (3 out of 5 days I did bring lunch though. That’s always remained pretty consistent). And if you’re in a job where you MUST escape the office- take your packed lunch to a park and eat it there. Just remember to grab a napkin and silverware if necessary.

Here are some of the traps I fell into early on that I hope I can help you avoid.

Mistake #1: Overcomplicating it. I tried to bring a little variety to my lunch so one day was a sandwich, one day a pita, one day a wrap, one day a salad, etc. Not only did this lead to longer prep because I had to make up a combo or look at a recipe for ideas but it added to my grocery bill too. Keep it simple. I make the same salad every day- that may sound boring but I have perfected the combo for myself and I know exactly what ingredients to buy each week and I can throw it together in under 15 minutes. I  give myself variety with breakfast, snacks and dinner.

Mistake #2: Not prepping the night before. If I was hungover before work (a common NYC occurrence), making a salad was not going to happen. Now I have my morning routine down to the minute so that if I don’t make my salad the night before, I will be late to work, which forces me even when I don’t feel like it. Also, why handle a sharp knife at 7 AM if you can avoid it? Eventually it just becomes routine. When the clock strikes 7:30 PM, I know I need to prep for the next day before I can relax in front of the TV or read a book.

Mistake #3: Making the meal TOO healthy. Listen, if you’re going to eat the same lunch every day, it needs to be healthy but it also needs to TASTE GOOD. You will not go more than two days eating dry lettuce or soggy leftovers. Choose something you know you will eat- if you don’t like salads, make a healthy sandwich every day. Or just bring your leftovers from your healthy dinner you cooked the night before. Make sure it’s something you want to eat.

My Veggie Mediterranean Salad Recipe:

2 handfuls of baby spinach (better for you than iceberg!)

5 grape tomatoes

approx. 2 tbs roasted red peppers, chopped

4 baby carrots, chopped

2 thick slices of cucumber, chopped

4 kalamata olives, halved (Healthy fats!)

1/9 of a block of feta cheese (full-fat. This is where that flavor comes in and making it something you actually want to eat.)

approx. 1 tbs sunflower seeds (for crunch)

Protein- normally 3/4 cup of chickpeas but sometimes I swap black beans or I’ll get a rotisserie chicken and use it for the week if I need something more feeling (i.e. that time of the month because, yes, you do burn more calories then).

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The ingredients for this recipe at MOST cost me $30 if I’m starting over from scratch. A bag of baby carrots will last me 2 months and the jars of roasted red peppers and kalamata olives last about a month as well. The feta takes 2 weeks to use and the sunflower seeds can be used for over 2 months as well. So on average I’m spending about $15 a week on lunch groceries max. Compare that to the MINIMUM $35-40 you’re spending on eating lunch out every week. Now, my budget is so that if I had to eat out lunch every day, I don’t know what I would do! It’s just not worth it to me to go to Chipotle. I can make a better burrito bowl anyways. I’ll save my money for dinners out that I can’t make- an amazing etoufee at a Cajun restaurant or the best pulled pork BBQ in Charlotte.

So what will you be packing for lunch tomorrow?? If you can just make this ONE change tomorrow- and the next day- and the next day- think of the changes to your wallet and waistline. What will you do with an extra $100 in your bank account at the end of the month?? And if you still think you can’t pack your lunch, let me know why! We’re in this together- let’s work as a team and brainstorm ways to make this work.