One of the questions (and frustrations) I hear most often: “Why can’t I lose weight? I’m working out like crazy! What’s the deal?!” So, today I’m here to tell you that you need to STOP thinking that as long as you work out, you will lose the excess weight. To lose weight you need a caloric deficit; without this, you will remain in the same place you already are or possibly gain weight. So, if you go and “workout like crazy” don’t head over to the closest burger joint and get a triple bacon cheese burger with the works!
What I tell any of my friends that I hear in the above situation, and this might sound counterproductive (but it works), “Life happens! Try to stick as close to the 80/20 rule with your diet and lifestyle as possible.” Now if you haven’t heard of any of the 80/20 rules, don’t worry, I’ll explain below! These methods help you to not feel like you are on a strict regimen and will actually help you to create a lifestyle you love. This is the most sustainable method that I have found and sustainability is key!
80/20 Meal Plan
So, let’s get to it! First, 80/20 rule for dieting; this is also known as flexible dieting. Rather than focusing on “clean eating”, you maintain balance with the foods you love! When you look at your target calorie intake, simply allocate 20% of that to your favorite treats daily. Be sure that the other 80% of your target calories are nutrient –dense choices. This helps to eliminate feeling to NEED a “cheat day” as well as to curb the possibility to overindulge on those late-night snacks.
My favorite meats to incorporate into my daily intake are chicken and beef (Ground and steak). Fish is also a healthy choice but I find that I really only like it breaded and fried so that, to me, makes it not so healthy. When I make my chicken with garlic powder, onion powder and a pinch of salt I love using my Nuwave but when I can plan out my week that I can add some BBQ sauce to my chicken, I will bake it in the oven. This helps me get a variety in my meals and doesn’t seem like it’s the same old, same old every day. When I bake my chicken breasts in the oven, I usually bake 4-5 at a time and I just divide it out in separate containers/servings so that its easy to pop in the microwave and I’m good to go with my protein.
Something that I neglected when I first started on my fitness journey was making sure I had my greens. They are packed with vitamins, fiber and all the good nutrients. Research consistently shows that eating vegetables have a lower risk of many diseases so make sure that vegetables are included in all of your meals. My favorite veggies are broccoli and green beans!
Like I mentioned before, having a good balance of nutrient dense foods and the foods you love creates that balance to fight off those dreaded urges for “cheat meals”. To be honest, I don’t look at these as cheat meals because I feel that if your body is craving something, it’s because you are missing some element of nutrition. I have an issue with sweets and I love chocolate. If I could, I would just sit and eat an entire tray of brownies or sleeve of cookies. I am able to satisfy these cravings by adding in protein brownies from Kodiak Cakes (chocolate Peanut butter brownie) and my favorite protein bars from 1st Phorm (Chocolate crunch or Peanut butter lover).
Now that we are feeling good about our flexible eating, what’s this other 80/20 rule for our lifestyle? Looking at your day, 80% should be allocated to your diet and 20% to your exercise. So, if you wake up at 5 and don’t go to bed until 9 that’s a whopping 16 hours that you are awake! If you workout for 1 hour, that’s only a bit more than 6% of your day. The way I get in the rest of my 14% is to make sure that I park as far away as I can at the grocery stores or work. I make sure to take the stairs whenever I can and I swapped out my office chair with an exercise ball. There are so many ways to squeeze in extra activity during your day; you just need to be creative!
Now that we have looked at the numbers, here’s my way of looking at amazing workouts with garbage nutrition: It’s the same as putting lower (garbage) octane into a vehicle (your body) that runs on high octane fuel. Your performance will suffer and eventually, your engine will be destroyed.
So, if you are going to take the time to “workout like crazy”, do yourself a favor and don’t sabotage that amazing workout with garbage nutrition (if you would even consider it nutrition). Check back for some of my favorite protein packed meals that you cannot resist!