01/ 06/ 2016
Ever since YouTube became a full-on passion, I’ve had little time for much else, like cooking or meal prep. Which means eating badly.
When I first embarked on this journey, I made huge progress in terms of getting active again and eating well. It showed–I lost more than 20 lbs and felt great. And after about 6+ months of taking on YouTube as a second full-time job, I’ve unfortunately gained that weight back, and more.
So now, I’m in the process of trying to find room in my new lifestyle if non-stop planning, writing, filming and editing (in addition to a full-time job), because staying healthy (and to be 100% honest, looking good) is still important to me. And my first success is a new and improved meal-prep routine!
If you remember the video I did on weekly prep last year, I used to have more time after work to make meals from scratch based on whatever I felt like eating in the moment. At the time, my weekly meal prep consisted of cutting up and freezing some fruits for smoothies, and picking up fresh meat and separating into individual portions.
That just isn’t cutting it anymore. I have a longer commute, and get home at 7 or 8pm–if I make a whole meal at that point, plus go to the gym, I’ll liable to be eating at 10 or 11pm=not good. Late eating just makes winding down and sleeping that much harder, which in turns ruins the following day.
Anyway, gaining this much weight means I need to be pretty strict about my eating. I never go too strict–I don’t believe in starving myself and hate fad diets–but it does mean cutting WAY back on carbs and eliminating all processed sugar. I use common sense, which means I stick my fridge with only healthy things, and can this feel free to eat and snack as much as I need to to get full.
My new routine is so efficient and delicious I’m kicking myself for not doing it earlier. But I guess that’s why we human beings do our best when pushed to our limits right? Basically, I now select only vegetables that I can cook for flavor, and that keep well in the fridge, and prepare them all separately so I can mix and match them for impromptu salads or to accompany an easy-to-make protein. This ensures I have ready to go healthy choices for any meal AND less fridge maintenance at the end of the week.
What does my shopping cart look like then? Five to seven different kinds of vegetables (including mushrooms and beans in that category for simplicity), fresh fruit, a few different kinds of meats, a few frozen backups, and some cheese and salami to snack on between meals. Notice, the vast majority of the list is fresh: if I picked any good habit up from living overseas in countries that weren’t yet saturated with processed foods, it was learning to enjoy the simplicity, efficiency, amazing taste and healthfulness of plain old natural food.
I did the prep while I worked. I wrapped all the beets up and popped them in the oven–they take the longest to roast (50-60 min). Then I washed, peeled and cut up the rainbow carrots, drizzled some olive oil on, sprinkled some sea salt and put those in the oven too.
I also cut up and sautéed fresh mushrooms and frozen edamame, separately. I made a simple tuna salad with onions. I left zucchini for a hot meal at the end of the week and also the cucumbers because they only taste good when they’re cut fresh.
I put each of the cooked/prepped ingredients in their own jar, so I can easily pick from them to combine with baby spinach or arugula for a salad. This is more than enough to feed me lunch and dinner the entire week. Fruits (bananas and clementines this week) are for breakfast and snacks. Chicken and beef are separated into portions to be cooked quickly in the wok when I need them. They can be pre-made too, but for now I still prefer it “made to order.”
If you’re wondering about what I drink: water. And tea and coffee with no sugar and limited dairy (in other words, no lattes, just black coffee or coffee with a splash of milk or soy milk tops). No juice, no soda, no bottled beverages. No Vitamin Water, no lightly sweetened Lipton. No drinking sugar!!!
!!!!!!!!!!! (Got the point yet?) If you’re not used to it, don’t worry–you get accustomed to water and will start to love how it tastes. I honestly normally drink exactly like this, except I do love my soy lattes. I should note however that if you substitute sugary drinks with artificially sweetened drinks, you’re only hurting yourself by perpetuating your addiction to sweet beverages.
Anyway, this meal prep is only the first step. Eating healthy is a huge part of being healthy, but I REALLY need to combine it with getting back in the gym. Eighty percent of that is going to depend on better scheduling, so I can take my weeknights a back by limiting my filming and editing time to weekends. I’ll keep you guys updated!