Most of my clients are busy people who have very little time for themselves and their families. Needless to say, that fitness and healthy eating often take a back seat to my clients busy schedule. This has been a growing problem in my practice and I don’t think that it is going to get any better, so I figured it would be a good idea to create a post that may help you make time for fitness. So, how do you get fit with a busy schedule?
Making and Sticking to a Schedule
This may sound like a no-brainier, but scheduling the time to workout and putting it on the calendar gets often overlooked. I don’t know about you, but I am a planner, so if there is an open time slot in my schedule it will be filled with meetings, appointments, and other things that need to get done. That’s why I always block off an hour and a half at the beginning of my day to dedicate to fitness.
You will miss workouts, that’s just a fact of life. You will forget or run out of time to meal prep and will have to find a way to get healthy food elsewhere. The important part is not to beat yourself up about it. Since you have already missed your session and / or already ate something you are not suppose to, move on. Every minute is another chance to start fresh. Just because you had a fried chicken biscuit for breakfast, doesn’t mean that you should go ahead and eat fried chicken and pie for lunch. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on. You got this.
Just Let it Go and Stop Obsessing
For those of you who love to track your food, don’t obsess about nailing your macros 100% all the time. The macro percentages in the food tracking apps are more of a suggestion rather than a requirement.
If your coach or your dietitian gave you a specific diet to follow, meal prep rather than going by the numbers. The nutrient logs in food tracking apps are riddled with nutrition facts errors and will often be wrong. Additionally, food tracking can contribute to food anxiety and a host of other issues.
My advice is that you should concentrate on your portion size and on the types of foods you eat rather than on the amount of food you consume. Check my Resource page for a helpful, free guide on portion size, pre and post workout meals and a healthy grocery list.
Time Saving Tips for Meal Prep and Workouts
If you have a hard time sticking to a schedule, you may also have a hard time setting aside the time to create your workouts and meal prep. A few months back I wrote a blog post detailing money and time saving meal prep tricks. Here’s a link. The tips in this blog post will save you time and hopefully help you stay sane and fit.
As for your workouts… We post a lot of free workout content on our social media pages. Go through our picture albums on Facebook, look at our Instagram account, there are literally hundreds of free workouts designed to annihilate fat and build muscle.
Who to Hire to Help You Cook and Workout
Of course, if you have no time to do any of that, you can hire people to do it for you. Obviously you can hire a personal trainer to help you with your workouts and motivation. Some people find it much easier to get to the gym when someone is waiting for them there, alternatively, you can hire an online personal trainer or an eCoach. Most eCoaches are also certified nutrition coaches and can help you with meal plans and meal prep advice.
As for food prep, there are a few things you can do here. Look up paleo meal prep services in your area. Many CrossFit boxes and small neighborhood gyms work with a catering company or a local chef to supply their members with healthy food options. The food is usually pretty reasonably priced and costs only a few dollars more per serving than what it would cost you to prepare it yourself. The biggest advantage of local meal prep services is the amount of time it will save you on your weekly meal prep. Usually, a meal prep service can cost between $9-$11 per serving.
If you actually enjoy cooking but have no time to grocery shop, a produce delivery service from Whole Foods or Kroger, Publix, and Walmart grocery curb side pick-up services are amazing. Alternatively, you could also sign up for meal delivery service such as Blue Apron or Hello Fresh.
Personally, I prefer a combination of local meal prep service and just regularly grocery shopping and prepping. In my area (Lawrenceville, GA), I order my meal prep from Sabor Fresh. I usually get anywhere between 6-12 meals (just enough for 2 meal a day for 6 days) and the rest of the meal I make.
When I have time I prepare “dump” dinner kits and freeze them to use later when my husband and I are both slammed and have no time to cook or think about dinner. Dump dinners are simple. Just put a bunch of veggies and protein in a large plastic bag, and freeze. When you are ready to cook, just dump it all into a slow cooker and cook it on low for 8 hours. By the time you get home – your dinner will be ready. Dump dinners usually last about 4-6 weeks in the freezer.
Download the freebie to get more quick dinner ideas and dump dinner kit recipes.
If you are just starting out, it could be tough to know what you are getting into. How do you know if the gym you are joining is actually worth it? How much should your monthly membership be? Should you get a trainer? How do you know if this trainer is any good? Not to worry, this blog post will prepare you to take your first steps into the fitness world with confidence.
Picking a Gym Membership
Should you pick the gym with the pool, sauna, and tanning beds or should you stick with one of those “non judgmental” chains? Should you do crossfit or should you join a small lifting gym owned by a local entrepreneur? Well, it all depends on your budget, where you are in your fitness journey, and what you have available to you in your area.
I will break this section down by the exercise experience. I will outline the benefits and drawbacks of the major gym types. Although I will not name any names directly, you may recognize some of the gyms I am talking about. First, let’s talk about the types of gyms that are available.
A large chain gym: this category encompasses any large gym. Whether this gym is catering predominantly to the bodybuilding community, families, or that one gym that claims to have a judgement free environment by isolating 40% of the fitness industry.
Benefits of a large chain gym:
- A chain will usually have more than one location, so regardless of where you are, you will likely be able to workout in any one of the locations.
- Large gyms also offer a variety of programs (from guided classes to personal training) that you may be able to join by only a slight up charge.
- Usually a larger gym will have a staff of personal trainers. Having more than one trainer available to you allows you to pick the specialty and skill level of a trainer to help you meet your fitness goals.
- Larger gyms have more equipment, therefore you may not have to wait as long to get on a treadmill or for the bench press rack to free up.
- Larger facilities also often offer access to a pool, spa, track, and larger locker rooms.
Drawbacks of a larger chain:
- Although there is plenty of staff on hand, it’s easy to become “just another face in the crowd” at those gyms.
- Unless you are training with a personal trainer, the accountability structure is virtually nonexistent.
- The price point for the membership is also significantly higher.
Small chain gyms:
You see these gyms a in strip malls rather than stand alone buildings. They usually have a number in the name, such as 19 or 24. You know the ones I’m talking about.
- Smaller facilities usually have a more personalized service (if there is an attendant on duty).
- You are less likely to “slip through the cracks” if you really need help.
- The price point is significantly lower than that of a large gym.
- These gyms are usually open 24 hr / day.
- Smaller facilities have smaller staff and a smaller staff of personal trainers to pick from. So, if you have a personality conflict with one of the trainers it will be tougher to get on the schedule of another trainer.
- Although there usually are a few surveillance cameras installed and there may even be an attendant on duty, the 24 hr facilities can be dangerous. No, not necessarily in terms of crime, but in terms of workout equipment safety.
Small lifting studio or privately owned gym:
You have likely seen them around your community. It is a small gym, usually specialized in training a specific segment of the fitness population. There are lifting gyms that usually cater to a more aesthetically inclined group of clients (body builders, people who would like to look good and feel good). CrossFit box that usually caters to crossfitters, people who enjoy high intensity workouts, and cross training. Cardio based studios include zumba, spin, aerobics or a combination. Then you have a collection of sport specific gyms and dojos.
- These small gyms are better suited for immersion in your specific field of interest. If you want to “tone” and look great, a lifting gym will be perfect for you. However, if you enjoy being a sweaty mess and like eating meat, CrossFit will be right for you.
- Smaller gyms are usually run by local entrepreneurs. More often than not, the owners are heavily invested in the success of their business venture and will do anything to compete with the larger facilities. The customer service and accountability is usually much better than at a larger facility and if you have a complaint you will likely deal directly with the owner.
- Small studious usually employ top notch personal trainers. If the owner is truly determined to make a difference with his or her facility, personal trainers go through intensive interviewing process and usually have a pretty detailed specialty.
- There usually isn’t a pool, spa, or other amenities of a large gym chain.
- The price point is higher than the small chain gyms but could be lower than the large chain gyms. Honestly, the price point for a privately owned facility can fluctuate wildly depending on the services they provide and what they specialize in.
- If the owners are not invested in the quality of training and their facility, the atmosphere and quality of training will suffer.
- There are less personal trainers to choose from. So, if you have a personality conflict with one, you may not be able to get on the schedule of another.
Fitness Level: Beginner
If you are absolutely new to fitness, this is the section for you. So, who is considered a “beginner”? If you or someone you know have not exercises in more than 5 years, you are a beginner. Yes, even if you were a running back in high school and you are coming back to train 15 years later – you are a beginner. Sorry. Obviously, if you have never worked out, you are a beginner as well.
The gym types that are perfect for a person new to exercise:
Small, privately owned gyms or personal training in a larger facility.
Usually, even if you decide to train by yourself at a small privately owned gym, chances are the employees or the owners, or both will keep you accountable and help you with using the equipment. Often, smaller fitness studios will have introductory seminars for their newer member where they teach beginners how to use the equipment, build their diet, and change their lifestyle to be healthier and more fit.
Fitness Level: Intermediate
If you have been working out for a couple of years or you have a generally good understanding of fitness, you are intermediate. You already know which gym is best for you, however if you just want to double check…
The best gym for an intermediate fitness hobbyist is a large chain gym or a small privately owned facility.
Fitness Level: Pro
You guys know who you are. If you are rolling around with a cooler and a gallon of water, speak in fitness jargon and can school some of the best personal trainers in the field.
You also know where you fall in the gym spectrum, but in case some of the novice folks are wondering the pros can be found in every gym… well, maybe not in the “non judgement” gym because their non judgement philosophy does not cover the pros.
Interviewing Your Personal Trainer:
Are you nationally certified / accredited?
Most gyms require nationally recognized certifications. Being nationally certified insures that the trainer received the appropriate training and isn’t just a weekend warrior. Nationally certified trainers usually have to take anywhere from 3-6 month long certification process. The process usually involves learning major muscle groups, mobility, queuing, kinesiology, and understanding of human movement and injury prevention. Nationally accepted certifications include: National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), ACSM
Most gyms have umbrella insurance that covers their trainers, however, even if the gym umbrella insurance is extensive, you will likely get very little in terms of compensation should serious injury occur. If you choose to sue and go after the trainer for the remainder of the money, chances are you won’t get very much. Yes, you guessed right, trainers are not the richest people on the planet. In fact, most are struggling to make ends meet. However, the trainer who carries additional insurance will be able to fall back on their policy. Really, the additional insurance is there to protect both you and your trainer and make sure that their life is not ruined in case of an injury that they may or may not be responsible for.
Is you CPR/AED certification current?
You really do not want to end up in a position where you need your heart restarted and your trainer forgets where to attach the electrodes. Better safe than sorry.
What is your specialization? If so, do you carry corresponding certification for your specialization?
Most trainers have a specialization. It can be anything from rehabilitation to strength training. However, some trainers are just “general practitioners” meaning they train a little bit in every field. If you have special needs like pregnancy, orthopedic injuries, age related problems, or specific sports goals, you will likely want to train with a specialist trainer. Specialists usually charge more per hour, but it is one of the sure ways to prevent injury.
What is your session cancellation policy?
Some trainers have pretty strict cancellation policies. The reason for that is some clients really take advantage of the trainers time. Most trainers will have charge you for a session if you no-call-no-show. However, trainers at busier gyms may have a cancellation grace period during which you can cancel your session and reschedule without penalty. Life gets in the way, we get it, but no-call-no-shows derail our day just as much as clients running late or cancelling at the last possible minute. Knowing your trainers cancellation policy will help you get the most out of your training and potentially save you some burpees.
Do you have a sports nutrition certification?
Many trainers will advise a nutrition plan or a diet. There’s nothing wrong with the general advice of what eating healthy should look like. However, some will try to go further and attempt to modify their client’s diets and dictate specific caloric intake and macronutrient breakdown. If that is the case, the trainer should hold a current sports nutrition certification or be a registered dietitian. Sports nutrition coaches and registered dietitians go through extensive training and can help you modify your diet in a safe way. Trainers without proper certifications may advise dangerous diets and severe caloric restrictions which could be dangerous.
What events, seminars, group classes are offered with personal training?
Some gyms will offer additional classes and seminars at no extra charge for their personal training clients.
Are you associated with / a distributor of any supplement company?
This is a touchy subject but I will talk about it nonetheless. Some coaches and trainers are affiliates or distributors for supplement companies. There is nothing wrong with trying to augment your income by selling supplements, especially when they are safe, clean, and effective. However, not every trainer is in it for the right reasons and may try to sell you thing you do not need or supplements that have not been tested by independent labs for safety. Always do your own research before taking any supplements. Check our resource page for links to independent labs that test and review supplements and supplement brands.
I’m sure that a lot of us are wishing we were more organized especially when it comes to fitness. A couple of years ago I wrote a post about the importance of logging your workout numbers and keeping track of your progress. Well, today we are going to talk about how to create and set up a beautiful fitness journal.
Yes, this is a bit different from my usual posts, and it may get a touch “crafty” but bare with me. For those of you who could care less about setting up an actual, full binder to track your fitness life, but still want a straightforward way to keep track of your workouts, click here to download my free Workout Log. The printable explains how to get the log printed and spiral bound to make a convenient gym notebook for under $10.
For the rest of you crafty people who are itching to get your hand on some craft paper, dividers, paper clips, folders, and beautiful printables… Well, this is a blog post for you. To tell you the truth, I had so much fun writing this post and making my binder, that I haven’t had it out of my sight the entire week. One may say that I truly have a problem. …an office supply and crafting problem. Ok, let’s get started.
Benefits of Staying Organized
We all know that organization leads to productivity, but why do you need to organize your workouts? Isn’t it a lot of work? What are the benefits?
Most of you who are still reading this post were not scared away by the disclaimer that we are about to get crafty, so that’s a plus. That means that you know you need some clear cut ways to keep your fitness and dieting in order.
The number one reason for keeping detailed records of your fitness journey is knowing HOW FAR YOU’VE COME. It may not seem like a big deal, but on the days when you are whining and don’t want to hit the gym or eat your meal prep, looking at your progress shots might just make you put your sports bra on and tie your shoes. Additionally, a well kept fitness journal is a good tool to diagnose and correct stalled progress, show your healthcare provider what you have been doing, provide inspiration, and figure out what truly works for you and what is a total waste of time.
Fierce Miles Special: Fitness and Nutrition Journal
If you are one of my log time followers you may have noticed that a lot of the printable / downloadable material on the site has 1″ margins on one side. Yep, that’s because I am leaving room for you to use a three hole punch so you can put the pages you print into a binder or bind it in a spiral journal.
When I first started out, I had a graph paper composition book that I used to track my workouts in. However, as years went on and I started to learn more about fitness, I started clipping articles and saving recipes, keeping track of my measurements, and keeping a detailed food log. At that point a composition notebook was no longer enough. I had to get a binder and later on a large 5″ binder. To this day, I have my huge binder with all of the notes, questions, workouts, etc. It’s nice to look back and see how far I’ve come.
Now, I don’t recommend carrying the binder with you to the gym every time (that’s why Fierce Club workouts print out with their own special workout log. You can just take the pages and put them into your journal later), a workout log will do just fine, but having a special place to keep your inspiration, recipes, and progress tracking sheets may be a nifty idea.
Things You Will Need
There are a lot of ways to get organized. I mentioned one of them above. However, for the Fierce Miles Special Fitness and Nutrition Journal you will need the following:
- 1 (1″) Binder (with a clear sleeve in the front if possible)
- 1 (4- 6 count) Dividers
- Clear plastic presentation sleeves
- Color markers, pens, writing utensils that make you happy (I love Paper Mate Flair Pens)
Organizing Your Fitness and Nutrition Journal
I put together a few awesome journal pages for your fitness and nutrition journal. They are available for download here or just put in your email above and I will send them to you ASAP.
I always put my Weigh-in and Inspiration section at the front of my binder. Seeing my numbers is motivating for me, however, if you have a “scale problem” – you weigh yourself constantly and attach your self worth to your weight, you may want to move the measurements to the back of your folder.
The second section of the binder is the Planner. This is usually where I keep my meal plan, grocery lists, workout schedule, and my gym bag checklist. Yep, I have a check list for my gym bag. I pack my bag in the evening and forgetting a towel, or flipflops, or shampoo really makes it rough to get ready for work after the gym. I am lucky that I have the luxury of working from home most of the time, but when I have to go into the office in the morning, a well packed gym bag is key.
The third section is the Workout section. If I am training for a competition or getting ready to run a race, that’s where the workouts my coach sends me go after I am done with them. This is also where I usually put my Fierce Miles Workout Log. I take the log to the gym and leave the binder at home.
The fourth section is the Recipe section. I order a lot of magazines and read a lot of cooking blogs. If I find a recipe that sounds good, I clip it or print it, put it in a clear sleeve, and make a note to make it later. It’s much easier to eat on plan when you know you have a bunch of great recipes on hand.
The fifth section is the Article / Research section. This is the section I use to put all of the articles I found about working out and eating well. Now I just use it for notes and random workouts I come up with to test later.
There are a lot of resources out there to help you put together a great fitness and food journal. Check Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook for inspiration. Recording your progress is the only true way to measure how far you have come and to determine what works for YOU and what doesn’t. Over time you will build a huge collection of workouts and notes which will clearly illustrate the pattern of your fitness journey. Remember, no one stays fit all the time. Even the pros will lose and gain weight. Life happens, but when you clearly track your cycles of weight loss and weight gain, you can get ahead of it much easier.
A few months ago I was rebuilding my office and came across a box of my old workout journals and workout notes. It’s hard to believe that at one point I was just as lost as some of my clients are when they first come to me. Looking through that box of notes, questions, logs, and articles that I clipped so I can reference them later was such a humbling experience. As coaches, we often forget that once upon a time we were just as new and green as the most deconditioned client we get whose only reference into the world of healthy eating and fitness is Dr.Oz and maybe that one “quick abs” program DVD.
The thing is, for most of the “new comers” to the fitness and wellness lifestyle, working out 5 times a week seems like a whole lot of work. Forget meal prepping! Have you ever wondered why so many people fall into the trap of “take this pill and lose 25 lbs. in one week”? It’s because no one wants to hear that it’ll take 1-5 years to lose 100 lbs depending on your health conditions, hormonal health, social support structure, funds, and general availability. …but I digress.
Where to Start When You are Just Starting
Before you set foot in a gym or buy a set of dumbbells and DVDs you will likely have a moment when you will wake up, sit on the edge of your bed and know that it is time. Maybe you will have that moment in your doctor’s office or standing in front of your bathroom mirror after your morning shower, but you absolutely will have that “that’s it, I gotta turn myself around or I’m in trouble” feeling and you will turn to google or Facebook or your fittest friend for advice. I’ve been there. In fact, I have experienced all three of those moments within a course of 2 years of my false starts and almost immediate stops.
The key thing to recognize when you have that feeling is that everyone (even the absolute fittest workout god) has had that moment. Everyone of us was there and made a conscious decision to pick up the weights, change our eating patterns, and eventually ask for help. I am also pretty well aware how hard it is to ask for help. Chances are you are afraid that people will judge you, that you will be laughed at, that the fit person in the gym that was just looking at you was thinking something along the lines “how the heck do you get yourself to that point?”. I’m here to reassure you – they are not. In fact, most of the true gym rats I know are a friendly bunch. We are glad you are in our world and we welcome you. The fact that you have crossed the threshold of the “glorious house of gains” (aka gym) is a blessing to everyone involved. Here’s how: 1) the world is a better place when you are healthy 2) more people active = better gyms = happier gym rats 3) we already talked to everyone at the gym and know who’s doing what, when, and where. It’s nice to meet a new person. 4) We are more than glad to help you and point you in the right direction. Don’t be shy. Talk to the super fit folks at the gym. Just make sure that they are not in the middle of their set. 🙂
I remember feeling really lost when I first struck out on my own. I would wonder around my gym and look at the pictures on the machines and try to figure out if I needed to work that muscle or if I should just do cardio. Now, being on the other side of it, I often see those lost looks on the faces of newcomers. I usually try to come up and introduce myself (even if I am in the middle of my own intense workout) and offer my help if they need it. I also offer to introduce them to one of the personal trainers on staff if they seem really lost. It’s always nice to feel that there’s someone looking out for you. No, I don’t do it because it is my job, I don’t train at the same facility I work in, I do it because I know how tough and scary the gym can be. In this section I put together a few helpful resources which may help you feel more comfortable at the gym and in the fitness world.
bodybuilding .com – even if you are not a bodybuilder and don’t want to be one, bodybuilding.com has a great library of exercises with demo videos and explanations of which muscle group is being targeted. The site also offers a lot of information about dieting and supplements but, you have to be smart and always check your sources if you are going to use diet advice from bodybuilding.com as not everyone who publishes articles there is a trained, certified, professional coach / trainer.
Informedchoice.org – if you are wondering about the quality of your dietary supplements check out this website. This is an independant lab that tests various sports supplements to make sure they are safe, steroid free, and don’t contain harmful compounds outlawed in the United States.
Consumerlab.com – same as Informed Choice. When I am introduced to a new supplement, I check both sites to make sure that the information is accurate.
Examine.com – This site is designed to give you as much scientific and peer reviewed information on individual supplement compounds. So, if you have no idea what creatine is and whether or not you should take it, this is a great place to start your research.
Workoutlab.com – great site to create your own workouts with detailed demos, target muscle groups, and rep ranges. It’s like having a personal trainer in your pocket.
Myplate.org – a website that covers nutrition and dieting. Everyone should read this.
Printables & Resources
This is a shameless self promotion plug. You have been warned. 🙂 The resource page on Fierce Miles has a lot of printables and guides that will help you get started. I am a very verbose writer, so you get a lot of information from me for free.
I would highly recommend you download our workout log to help you keep track of your workouts and meals as well as put together a workout binder. More on that next week.
Precision Nutrition blog and website has some of the best diet related information out there. They are unbiased, scientific, and stand by the principal of sustainability and safety.
Bro Science or Science
This is a tough one for me to talk about. I see this in my practice every day and I wish more people knew the difference. The world of fitness is riddled with false information and false “science”. I try to be gentle with my clients and encourage them to stay away from broscience resources. Unfortunately, and as often as I explain the difference between the two, my team and other true fitness professionals still have to deal with it every day. I will try to be as concise as possible, and this could get a bit complicated, but I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t talk about this subject.
Broscience (noun) – Broscience is the predominant brand of reasoning in bodybuilding / fitness circles where the anecdotal reports of jacked dudes are considered more credible than scientific research.
That’s basically the definition of what broscience is. However, in the recent years, broscience has spread outside of the lifting circles. Some examples of broscience include: waist trainers for smaller waist (look up what corsets did to the bodies of women in the 1800s and you will understand why your waist looks smaller, it has nothing to do with fitness), fat burners, fasted cardio, detox of any kind, body wraps for weight loss, and the list goes on.
I know some of you are reading this and saying, but Coach Kay, my friend lost [number of pounds] eating just carrots and coconut oil and doing fasted cardio, how’s that broscience if I can see the results?! Simple, anecdotal evidence is not science and I wish more of my clients understood this. Here’s a link to an article that talks about broscience vs. actual science in fitness. https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/5-nutrition-training-myths-bro-science-vs-exercise-science-part3.htm
To make sure that you are not following a broscience tip, always check the sources, make sure that the study is actually credible, peer reviewed, isn’t based on anecdotal evidence, and has a large enough sample to draw a proper conclusion. If in doubt, ask yourself, “if this was true, why isn’t everyone doing it already?” and then reach out to a trained medical professional for advice. As much as I would love it for lemons to have magic healing powers and for pineapple to burn belly fat, these things are simply not true.
Finally, if you found none of this helpful, please email me and I would be glad to talk to you about your first steps on your fitness journey. Next week, we will be discussing how to build a great, detailed fitness binder to help you get organized and stay on track.
Chances are, at least once in your life, you have found yourself starving, standing in front of a vending machine full of colorful snacks, wondering what you should get? There is even a good chance that you stood in front of that dispensers of sugar and fat and mentally beat yourself up for not packing a healthier snack. The struggle is real. It is real for everyone. Yes, even the fitness pros.
After all, fitness pros are people too and we have our temptations and cravings just like you. So, what separates a completely ripped fitness god from the average, slightly fluffy, Joe? I can almost guarantee that it is not the hours spent in the gym, it’s the ability to eat strategically even when proper prior planning has failed.
In this post we will discuss some strategies and healthier, on the go vending machine choices that may not turn your muffin top into a set of washboard abs, but at least it is not going to ruin three weeks of hard work at the gym. With that said, ideally, I would urge everyone to have the foresight of bringing your food with you or at least dropping by a salad bar before you hit the vending machines. You will be better off with some lettuce than you will be with a Kit-Katt. In case you have completely spaced out or salad bar is not an option, lets talk about staying fast food healthy.
Vending Machine Snacks
Listen, I am not going to sugar coat it. You are basically screwed here. If you are a slightly overweight female in her early 30s and beyond who’s, looking to lose weight, walk away. If you are a guy… Also walk away. If walking away is impossible and you HAVE to get something, the following will offer a greater nutritional density while delivering the least damage.
Pretzels (lightly salted if available)
Trail Mix – pick out all of the M&M, chocolate, and yogurt drops.
Nature Valley Bars or any other breakfast bar.
I obviously don’t need to tell you that you should not purchase chips, candy, and fruit snacks (they are not real fruit, just like eating apple pie does not considerate as eating an apple).
If you have access to “healthier” vending machines, this is the combination of nutrients you are looking for on the nutrition labels:
- More protein than carbohydrates, less than 5 g of fat (the lower the better).
- Low carbohydrates, higher fat, high protein.
- High Protein, low fat, low carbohydrates.
Try to eat foods that have higher carbohydrates and lower protein early in the day or around the most active time of your day (before / after workout, or before you run to catch your train). If you are eating a snack that has a high amount of carbs per serving, you should make sure that the snack has lower fat. So, if you are going to eat a bag of trail mix, you know that nuts are high in fat and protein, chocolate is high in carbs. At this point you have a choice – eat less nuts or no chocolate. Because fat keeps you fuller longer and offers less of an insulin spike, eat the fat and forego the chocolate.
If you absolutely have to get food from a fast food joint, here are a few fast food healthy restaurants that will deliver the least amount of damage to your results.
Nope, you still can’t get that deep fried chicken, nice try. If you are rolling through the drive through early in the morning, grab an Egg White Grill Sandwich (300 kcals) and a cup of black coffee or unsweetened iced tea. Calm down, Southern folk, you can still add some Splenda to it to make it into sweet tea if you insist.
If you are going in the evening, Grilled Chicken Sandwich or a Grilled Chicken Wrap are the better choice. Of course you should say no to the sauces and condiments (unless it’s yellow mustard).
Yes, I know, I love that stuff too. I kind of wish they didn’t have that salmonella scare a few years ago. They get a bad rep now. Anyway, back to the food.
If you are at Chipotle getting dinner the first thing you should know is that you are NOT going to get EVERYTHING on your bowl. Forget it. Just resign yourself to the fact that you are gonna get the necessary nutrients for your body and none of the junk. Ready? Let’s do this.
Get a bowl: black beans, fajita veggies, beef or chicken (double portion if you can), lettuce, pico, salsa. That’s it.
Usually, cheese has way too much fat, i don’t need to tell you why sour cream is bad for you when you are trying to lose weight… Avocado is also very high in fat. So, unless you are vegetarian, you will let your calories come from the protein you consume and avoid the fats. The reason why you should forget the rice and corn is simple — both have a lot of carbohydrates and Chipotle fills the bowl with mostly rice. Black beans offer a lot of fiber (which keeps you full) and a bunch of complex carbohydrates which do not spike your blood sugar. Keep it to complex carbs, y’all.
If you have to get KFC, your best choice is grilled chicken. Take the skin off, do not get the biscuits, corn, mashed potatoes, gravy, nothing. It’s chicken and green beans for you.
There are plenty of other fast restaurants that offer healthy food options. Panera, Atlanta Bread Company, Sweet Tomatoes, even Waffle House and IHOP (egg whites scrambled with fruit is a good way to go). Of course, depending on where you live, the restaurant selection may be larger or smaller. Just use your best judgement and try to go for things that you could hunt or gather rather than the foods that were at one time a homogeneous past of ingredients.
A lot of you a planners and I admire that. My type A personality really kicks in when I have to be away from my house all day and I know I’ll need to eat. In the winter, I just bring the usual assortment of foods that could be eaten hot or cold, but in the spring, summer, and fall my story is significantly different. You see, I live in the southern parts of United States where it is not unusual to have 90 degree heat and 80% humidity. Honestly, you feel like you live in the jungle without the beautiful foliage and tropical fruit deliciousness. Folks in warmer climates and in Arizona (it’s a special place. The kind of place that even a acclimatized southerner has a hard time dealing with. Y’all their roads melt in the summer, ok. It’s crazy!) know the struggle of trying to keep your meal prep from going bad or over cooking in the car between you breakfast and lunch. Even if you AC is on full blast and your cooler is loaded to the brim with cold packs and ice, sitting on the floor board right under the AC vent, you are gonna lose your lunch or come back to a nearly warm soggy mess of a sandwich. Ah, the struggle is real in the summer.
In situations like that I try to keep a few snacks on hand that are heat resistant and / or keep well if they get wet, warm, or otherwise compromised.
Raw, unsalted nuts are great. Keep them in a food storage container or a resealable bag in your car and at least you won’t be rolling through a KFC drive-through because you left work late, you are starving, and traffic is a nightmare.
Fair warning, if the temps are high enough, these will melt. I usually keep a bunch in a plastic bag in my glove compartment right next to a packet of dry Pedialyte (emergency re hydration).
Protein Pancakes keep well and can be eaten hot or cold. I prefer them cold, but you know, if you are into nice warm pancakes and you live in the South, just leave them in your dashboard for 15 minutes. 🙂
A few pre portioned bags of protein powder and a protein shaker are great. You can get a bottle of water at any gas station and it beats eating junk any day.
Dry, Low Sugar Fruit
Dry papaya is my jam, but I am also a fan of paprika sprinkled dry mangos, pineapple, apricots, and dried cherries. They keep well and you can find them virtually in any store. Just make sure that the berries and fruits that you are getting have no added sugar.
Now, this is up to you. If you can’t have sodium or have high blood pressure, I wouldn’t recommend it. However, if you are a healthy person with no medical conditions and issues, beef jerky can be a lifesaver. High in protein, mostly low in carbohydrates, dehydrated meat keeps well and survives hot weather nicely.