Why would you Even Meal Prep your Food?


So, my life is back to super busy, as I’m sure all of you are experiencing as well!  Whether you’re a student, working, have a family of your own (or knowing lots of you – doing all three!) life is busy and can get stressful.  Eliminate the stress and time factor of having to scrounge to find something appropriate at each lunch-time and having to cook every single night by meal prepping!  It saves you time in the kitchen and helps keep you on track with healthy eating!  You can prep and plan for just dinners, for lunch and dinner, or even all three main meals of the day and snacks too!  The amount of prep you do, depends on how much time you have to dedicate to prepping and your personal preferences.

I prep my lunches for the week, cut up my veggies for snacks, as well as all my dinners for the week.  At different times, I’ve prepped my breakfasts as well but I seem to have a bit more time in the mornings to make it now that the boys are a bit bigger.

So what exactly is meal prepping?  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, essentially it is planning and prepping your meals in advance for the week.  This means cooking items in bulk and eating leftovers!  For those of you who just groaned and are turned off to the thought of left overs, listen up, I used to hate left overs when I was younger, well actually up until I was at uni!  Now I rejoice in their existence and you should too!  Left overs are a wondrous time saver!

If prepping and planning can stop you eating off track and keeping you eating good wholesome and nutritious food one extra time each week – that’s a fantastic result and will certainly help you on your way to your goals faster!

And no, I’m not ‘preparing’ for anything special at the moment. Not competing, no shoots booked any time soon. This is just my life. And meal prepping is a life-hack I’ve really grown to enjoy and see the benefits of.

What do you do to keep your weeks prepped and ready to enjoy?

With hugs I prepared earlier,

Bella

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What’s up?

Yeah yeah, I know. Long time no writey.

Life has been busy. Wonderful but busy.

I’m setting new goals. It’s hard for me as I have really enjoyed the not being held to a strict time-dependent goal the way that competing is. Essentially, comp prep is “look AMAZING and LEAN in xx weeks or you will be an utter embarrassment”.

That’s pretty strong motivation.

There is an INBA show in 19 weeks.

  • I’m in a frame of mind where I don’t mind the dieting.
  • I’m enjoying my training
  • I have some bad-ass coaches
  • I feel like my body is capable of doing what I want of it.

BUT:

  • It’s a lot of pressure
  • I have a lot on with 2 jobs, 2 businesses, 2 kids, 1 husband and A LOT TO DO
  • My body is notorious for just packing up and falling apart when I stress too much.

SO:

All I can do is run it down. Try as hard as I can, staying as mentally balanced as I can and see where 19 weeks gets me.

Who’s keen to follow along? There’s no promises that it will always be pretty, or that I’ll get where I want to be in time – but I promise it will be real.

Weekly check-in is in 2 hours – eeeeeeep!

Love.

Bella

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms – Crazy Easy, Crazy Tasty!

I’m not a great cook. If it has more than five ingredients or more than five steps in the recipe I can be pretty confident I’ll make a mess of it!

The issue is, that I love food. Argh, so I spend my life looking for ridiculously easy, tasty recipes that also need to fit my particular/perculiar dietary needs (many intolerances and preferences for high protein foods).

Well, these were a total winner!

Stuffed Portobello Mushroomspotrobello-700

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
  • Spray 1 large portobello cap lightly with a good quality olive oil.
    In a bowl, shred/grate 1 small zucchini and toss with about 1/3 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta.
  • Place mixture inside mushroom and bake until mushroom is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  • Approx 230 calories!

Enjoy!

Bella

What I learned about myself from a DEXA scan…

Sometimes I choose not to blog things. Sometimes because I am too busy to write. Sometimes because I don’t think whatever it is is interesting enough to interrupt people with. And sometimes, it’s simply stuff I don’t want you to know.

Yep. I got secrets. Sorry.

So when I preemptively told the blog-o-sphere that I was having a DEXA scan, I sort of set myself up to NOT be able to do that. Which kinda sucks.

To clarify, the whole reason I wanted the scan was I know that I need to move away from the significant obsession I have with weighing myself at least once a day. I do KNOW it’s a bad idea, not a great reflection of my body composition and can’t really be trusted to give me accurate information. In fact, Cathy knows my level of pain with the scale and tagged me in this post on IG during the DEXA day:

weigh

So I had the scan. I had it done at the University of Tasmania sports science unit. To be fair, the scientist did advise me that it was a very old machine and not capable of the type of information that modern DEXA units are. I still was a little taken aback at the sheer age of the thing. It looked like it was made in the 70’s from a factory conveyer belt and my Grandad’s camera. Fo Realz.

The UTas DEXA is older than this model and not in quite as good condition. Notice the natty computer it runs off.

The UTas DEXA is older than this model and not in quite as good condition. Notice the natty computer it runs off.

Also different is the level of information you get back from a modern DEXA. I was hoping for detailed information about the specific location of body fat held, but sadly this model was only capable of averages per limb and the trunk. You don’t get a print out of the information, but a written summary of what the operator interpreted from the scan. Even my sports scientist wrote though there was some ambiguity in the scan and the results may have been skewed in certain aspects.

But hey, enough blaming the equipment.

I came in at just over 32% bodyfat.

Huh. 32%.

In all honesty – I was expecting 25-26%. I would have been annoyed but understood 27-29% and would have been stoked with anything under 25%.

Nope. The machine in all it’s science-y wisdom says 32.4%.

I waited to feel crushingly sad. I put my polite face on, paid the man and walked to the car in the eerie drizzling rain, wondering if I was going to cry. I sent a message to a friend letting her know what it had come back as and said that I might cry. But I wasn’t crying. Not even close.

I sent a message to The Captain. I had promised him that getting a DEXA would end ‘the crazy’, which is the umbrella term we use for just about anytime I talk about my weight or size based on ridiculous perceptions I have of myself.

Message read:

wpid-2014-09-10-21.00.19.png.png

Being the awesome husband that he is, he offered to come out and hang out with me for awhile. He knows this stuff can knock me about a bit. But still, I was fine.

Not quite fine enough to leave it alone though…..

I mentioned in my previous post that I have in recent times been using an Inbody scanner to do a electrical bio-impedance measure of weight, muscle mass and body fat. So….

I drove straight to the gym and did another one. To compare apples with apples. As best I could.

On scan 2 months ago exactly I came up as – having 31.6kg muscle mass and 28.7% Body fat.

Yesterday – 33.2kg muscle mass and 23.8% Body fat

So, what did that experiment tell me? That comparing data from the same machine with conditions as similar as I could (same time, similar clothing etc) showed that I was heading in the direction I need to.

AND – because I want a third and independent non-scale reference point – I have an appointment to have my body fat read with calipers next week.

But what did I LEARN from today?

That peace of mind for me in not in the numbers. Not even in the better numbers from the InBody scan. It doesn’t put my soul at rest. It doesn’t make my life easier or even really validate my feelings about the work I put in being worth it. I wish it did. Some part of me really, really wants to cling to data to tell me it’s all okay. Numbers are part of a sport that I really enjoy. Transforming your body in incremental steps is far easier to celebrate when you know the height you need to climb and the progress you make each week. That’s going to be the ongoing struggle.

But at the very end of the day, hanging out at home, I kept coming back to the idea of what I wanted to know from this whole exercise. I wanted a non-scale baseline where I could come back and reference this point in the preparation in three, six, twelve months and know then what I’d been doing for my body.

It was never going to tell me if I was happy with myself. Only I can do that.

So I did. Stripped down, no make-up, at the end of the day with 4 litres of water and 1900 calories in my belly – this is me.

wpid-img_20140910_145610.jpg

This is me. At 32.4% Body Fat. Or 23.8%, depending on who you ask. Look at that smile and ask me if I care 🙂

And if this is 32.4% body fat, or 23.8% body fat or 40% body fat – I’m pretty darn okay with where I am.

Yes, I want to grow and develop and be lean and have a physique that others aspire to. But feck it – I’m strong, happy and healthy and capable of doing anything I want.

And I want to continue on this fun-filled adventure of eating lots and well, lifting heavy things and generally living life like a boss without guilt or shame or feeling like I am supposed to be anything other than where I am.

So yes, I’m going to change. I’m happy to be open and honest with you about the road and the fact it’s not going to be easy, and sometimes not pretty. And yes, there will be more scans, and tests, and weigh-ins.

But what did I actually LEARN from the DEXA. I learned that I’m okay. I’m better than okay, I’m good. And that I don’t need a machine to tell me that.

Beep. Boop. Beep.

Night all!
SV

Tomorrow is DEXA Day!

So we are coming to the end of my year off. Balance achieved, muscle growing nicely and health is finally back on track.

Which means… it’s time to think about the next goal.

I make no secret of the fact that I still struggle with having an accurate perception of my body. I freely admit also that I am a lot heavier than when I competed last week – about 10kg above that stage weight actually!

I am known for throwing massive tantrums, some angry, some in tears, because I want to be super lean again. As much as I know this time off was needed, it hasn’t been easy. I get crabby at The Captain because he is naturally slim and can’t possibly understand. I don’t believe him when he tells me I am not “fatty-fat-fat” as I may have ranted. He reminds me that I am healthy, stronger than I was a year ago, with more muscle and for the most part – less crazy. Not right at that moment. But mostly.

I hate the scales. Which is funny, ‘cos I’m pretty sure they hate me back.

Measurements are good but if they go down is it because I’m losing muscle? Or should I look at an increase in size as new muscle under my body fat and not get too worked up about it? And where the hell did I measure my ‘waist’ at again last time anyway?!

Honestly, I like hard numbers. When I was initially losing weight all that mattered was the number on the scale. When I was competing it was still largely about the number on the scale, but also about measurements and being calipered. Calipers…urgh.

Urgh. Don't touch my fat!
Urgh. Don’t touch my fat

So tomorrow, I’m having a DEXA scan.

What’s a DEXA? It’s a groovy machine! DEXA stands for Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). It assesses total body bone mineral density and highly accurate measures of the body’s soft tissue composition (muscle mass and fat mass). By measuring my body’s muscle mass, fat mass, and bone mineral density, it can determine the total body fat percentage, and changes in regional body composition. So, HOW MUCH fat I have and WHERE the fat is hiding.

Woohoo. Or yikes. Depending on how mentally prepared I am for the outcome.

Last time I had a DEXA was when I was at a ‘goal weight’ for weight loss but before I had really dreamed much of training heavily with weights or cared about much more than my BMI. I came in at just under 30% body fat then and coming from obesity (I estimate I had been 40-45% at my heaviest) I was pretty happy.

I didn’t have any DEXA scans while I was competing last but did have my body fat percentage tested by someone very experienced in it each week. In the week of my last ever show I came in at a fraction under 14%. There is a lot of literature about DEXA readings coming up higher than caliper readings as a DEXA also includes the fats in your body NOT held in your skin (so internal fats around your organs etc aren’t reflected in a caliper). So it can’t be a direct comparision.

I do sometimes use the InBody scanner at my gym which is a bio-electrical impedence type (like a VERY expensive version of bathroom scales that do body fat) and it had me back at about 28% a few months ago.

This infographic isn’t perfect, but is a helpful visual of how different percentages might look. Keep in mind the women pictured are all different ages/heights/builds/poses etc so it is a ROUGH guide:

body-fat-percentage-picture-men-women

I don’t really mind where I land on the body fat percentage tomorrow – I’m just more excited to have firm data as my start point which will allow me to build and shrink in the right ways again in the future.

Wish me luck!

Bella

If It Fits my …. What?

I wrote a while ago about finding my food religion. If you’ve forgotten you can see the rambling thought-process here.

About the time of writing that post I started looking into IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros). For a really quick run-down of what that means, see below:

What Is It?

IIFYM simply means eating a diet that meets your macronutrient needs.

To break it down and start from the beginning, macronutrients are the three main food groups – proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Each macronutrient has its own role to play, and is needed in different quantities depending on your goals, metabolism, training history, and many other factors.

IIFYM eating flies in the face of conventional dieting, and the notion that anyone who wants to get in shape has to eat a stringent diet, composed of a limited number of so-called “clean foods,” needs to eat at precise times throughout the day, must have certain types of food pre and post workout, and that any deviation from this strict structure is breaking the rules of dieting.

The idea of IIFYM is simple – you eat whatever foods you like the fill your allotment of proteins, carbs and fats.

AND

That is the basic idea behind IIFYM.
There is more to it but it really is quite simple.
1. Know how many calories your body burns throughout an average day (your TDEE)
2. Eat 15-20% less calories every day than that number
3. Split those calories up between fat, protein and carbs in an ratio that is most beneficial for muscle preservation, fat loss, without a drop in daily energy.

So, the good news is that my life would be less regimented. So less broccoli and chicken six times a day. The bad news is that as soon as you mention IIFYM to anyone who has prepped the ‘old-school’ way, they immediately think of this:

IIFYM

Okay, I’ll be honest. You can do IIFYM and eat crap foods. It’s the truth. And people do.

It’s not what I’m about. I’ve worked my ass off the hard way to lose 50kg and be the healthiest I’ve ever been. While a big part of my new-found health is just through being lighter, I believe a large part is also just that I don’t eat and drink rubbish foods anymore. I don’t enjoy them, most of them don’t agree with my tummy and up until now they haven’t worked with the diet plans that I have been following. So why change now?

For me, IIFYM is about flexibility and diversity in the way that I eat. It’s my goal for 2014 and beyond that I learn to ‘live lean’. For me that means not having such a huge difference between my ‘on-season’ or show body and my ‘off-season’ body. To achieve that either meant following a comp diet year-round which is restrictive and well, boring. OR follow the rabbit hole to the promised land where I can eat a varied diet comprising of all food groups,  cheat/treats when I want them and still maintain a lean body and muscle mass. And that is where I found IIFYM.

I got some initial advice, stalked a lot of interwebz and made myself a plan. I’m pretty sure it’s wrong, but I’ve been following it and my weight has been coming back down and muscle mass is increasing.

BUT, I’ve been lucky enough now to have been accepted as a team member in the IIFYM Challenge and will be undergoing some one-on-one coaching about my macros and targets to get myself back to that lean and happy place that comp prep got me to but that I couldn’t maintain. The challenge starts off properly in a few days and I’m excited as all get-out to learn more and see how this works for me.

IIFYM Challenge participant

You can find out more about the Challenge, register for future intakes and say thanks to the gorgeous sponsors of the free program HERE.

Until then…

IIFYM Cookies

Talk soon,

SV