Meal preppin'

This weekend I did something that I have never really done before.
I meal prepped.
That’s right…I’ve managed to lose 100 lbs almost twice now, yet I have never really done a meal prep. Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t plan ahead and just eat whatever on a whim, but I’ve never really made, portioned out and put together meals in advance.

At work recently there were some changes and my lunch time is cut down a bit since my husband (we work together) needs to get back sooner than I do. We live right around the corner from work so we go home at lunch but when you factor in the travel time there’s really only about 20 minutes to sit down and eat lunch. In our obscenely small kitchen it is impossible for both of us to be in there making lunch at the same time, so I have found my lunches to be bland, boring and not really satisfying. It’s been a lot of ham or peanut butter sandwiches. What’s next…cold square shaped pizza and chocolate milk in a pouch?!

I decided that I wanted to try and meal prep some lunches and snacks. This way I know I have something that is satisfying and Points+ friendly for my lunches. And having them all prepared and ready to heat up if necessary solves my time crunch issue.

I didn’t do anything for dinners. See, I really love cooking and so does The Frank. I don’t mind eating leftovers or reheating things for lunch but for dinner I like to prepare it fresh. And a lot of the time we are deciding what to eat that very day. By doing that it helps the meal to feel more satisfying because I don’t know about you but sometimes there is no worse feeling than having to eat something you don’t really want to eat, LOL.

But for my lunches? This is can prep up and look forward to. So I did just that!! And to break out of the sandwich rut I broke out the crock pot. I made 2 different meals from the SkinnyTaste site: Balsamic Pork and Santa Fe Chicken. Not only do I have these for lunches but we also had them for dinner the night they were made. This saved $$ on extra groceries. Score!! After we ate them for dinner I would let them cool a bit then I portioned out the serving size. 

First thing I did was get some containers. I wanted something that I could store everything into one…not 4 or 5 different containers. I found these at the dollar store and my mom found that red one at the Christmas Tree shops. Amazon also carries some that are a reasonable price. Not crazy about them being a circle as they take up more space in the fridge but for a buck you can’t go wrong. Plus it will just encourage me (hopefully) to clean out the fridge more.

I also got these little containers (also at the $1 store) to hold dressings & dips. They fit into the large tray perfectly too.

I said OK, I got my protein…how can I add some flare to it? SO I put some fat free re-fried beans with the chicken and some quinoa with the pork. Now I need some sides, because I’m all about QUANTITY…I roasted some broccoli to go with the pork because it just sounded good and added a brie cheese snack to give me some extra protein because I am a total protein slut. With the chicken I decided to cool things down with some cucumbers and fat free black bean dip and/or yogurt ranch dressing.

The lunches feel kind of big but I think that’s because the circle container makes it feel like a giant dinner plate. The Weight Watchers Points+ Values are 10P+ for the Pork and 7P+ for the chicken.

For snacks I just did simple things, like portion out more ranch dressing and dip, cut green peppers & cucumbers and portion out edamame (which after MANY years of just thawing and eating it I learned it needs to be cooked…oops). Other good snacks to do are hard boil some eggs, string cheese which is a lot easier to grab if you break them apart from each other instead of having to rip one each time you want one, cut fruit and portioned out crackers & chips.

So some good tips to get started:
  • Buy something to store your food in that is easy and accessible to you. Don't over complicate things because you're likely to grab something else.
  • Keep it simple when you start...sliced up cucumbers and pre-portioned cheese. Things you can just throw in there. Just like when you start out on a the program (or any program really) too much too soon can feel suffocating. Keep it simple.
  • Make something that provides many servings. Both of these recipes made 8 servings a piece. This left me with a lot of leftovers. I don't want to eat the same thing everyday of course but with each of meals I can mix it up by adding a different side or adding it to something else.
  • Set aside some time. It doesn't take a TON of time but it's nice to block out an hour or so on the weekend and dedicate it to yourself and your wellness. Due to my extremely small kitchen it takes me a little longer to prep but it was fun and it was worth it. Plus I'm on my feet and moving around so it's something active as well.
  • The internet is your BFF when it comes to meal planning. There are SO many sites out there with meal prep ideas, especially for lunches. Pinterest is my BFF when it comes to this and with a lot of Weight Watcher friendly recipe sites a lot of the Points+ calculations are done for you!  

I really hope that this is something I continue to do each week. It’s nice knowing that I have a decent lunch waiting for me and that all I have to do is heat it up when I get home. Money was pretty tight this week (ok every week really) but these meals were extremely cheap to make and we got so many servings out of them that there are enough for Frankie to have as well if he wants or we could have them for dinner again…though if I’m eating them for lunch that probably won’t happen, but it’s an option! Hell, I could even just have the chicken or pork by itself for a snack if I wanted. Throw some of it in a piece of baby romaine lettuce and yum yum in my tum!!

Do you meal prep?? Any good tips or meal suggestions??

My body...

So many things change when you lose weight. Especially when you lose a significantly large amount of weight. No one can really prepare for these changes. They go far beyond anything the scale can show you. I can write this post and try to paint a picture of my experience, but it really won’t do much. 

I was in the shower last week (cue porn music) when I reached behind my back and felt something funny…it was sticking out and had a curve to freaked me out! What was it? My shoulder blade! I had completely forgotten what it felt like to feel my shoulder blades in that matter…or to be able to actually bend my body like that so I can.

Shaving my legs is like going through a whole new terrain. Muscles that I have built…muscles that I have forgotten about. My strong calf muscles that almost roll like hills. I have knee caps again! I have ankle bones! And did they get longer?! I swear it takes me twice as long to shave now. ;)

I have elbows! I have a collar bone! I have hip bones! Who the hell knew I had all these bones in my body?!?!

It’s not about the bones though…it’s about the shape. The shape of my body that these bones create. I shape that was long forgotten about when I regained the weight. I forgot what all of these things felt like. Sometimes I will rub my arm and feel something and think there’s an issue. There’s no issue…it’s just my body expressing itself in a new way. It’s not being hidden under excessive pounds of my own gluttony.

One of the biggest times I notice the changes in my body is while I am running. The way my arms don’t rub against my hips. The air between my thighs...I mean they still rub together, just in a different way. The weight I lift off the ground feels different so therefore my form has been different. This is something I have needed to stay aware of while I run.

I’ll be honest and just come out and say it (Grandma, don’t read this part…skip to the next paragraph)…sex has changed too….with and without my husband, ifyaknowwhatimsaying, LOL!! #brownchickenbrowncow Obviously my confidence level in my appearance has greatly increased, but also the way my body moves…the way it feels…the way it reacts. Now I’m not saying it’s any better or worse than it was at my previous weight. I mean, skill is skill…but…it has been something that has been noticeably different.

Then there is the fact that I can cross my legs again. I think this is something most women forget about when they gain weight. I think I definitely took it for granted last time. I realized about a month or so ago that I could indeed cross my legs again. Eat your heart out, Sharon Stone! I don’t have to question whether or not I can squeeze between those cars (unless you park like a total jackass). I don’t have to worry about whether or not the towel will wrap around my body. I don’t have to worry about not fitting into the movie theater seat. The knuckles on my hands…the length of my toes...the shape of my jaw. My face! My face is so different and I have talked about this on my Facebook page. I think out of everything this is something that I've had to adjust to the most. And I still am adjusting. That change brings a lot of emotions with it.

Look, I’m not bragging here. I’m still overweight (though happy to announce to that I am no longer in the obesity category!). But maybe because I had lost/gained/lost all within such a short period of time I noticed these changed to strongly this time. I remember the feeling of being able to wrap a standard size towel around my body…but this time it just felt different. The feeling of joy was stronger. Maybe because I don’t take any of it for granted. Maybe because I never want to go back to NOT being able to wrap a standard size towel around my body.

I wish that I had paid a little more attention to my body in this way the first time around. I think we get so caught up in the scale and numbers and goal weight, maintenance weight, Points, calories, Activity Points, miles, ect. that we forget one of the biggest recipient’s to receive the bounty of our hard work with weight loss…our physical bodies. No matter your size, I encourage you to really take inventory and learn the map that your body creates. You are in this body 24/7. This body LET'S you lose & gain & maintain. Learn it...accept it.  

Catching the Excitement Bug

Excitement is a very contagious emotion. At least for me it is. When those around me are buzzing I tend to start buzzing as well. I can easily get caught up in the excitement, not really paying attention to if it’s the right thing for me to be excited about or not.

A good example was this past weekend. Here in Syracuse we have a 4 mile run called the Tipperary Hill Shamrock run. Pretty much every single person I know who runs in this town was going to be there running this past Saturday. I myself have never ran it…even years ago when I would run most local races that are 10K’s and under.  But I have just never had any interest. Though the after party always sounded nice, the hills did not. It’s in an area I’m not familiar with and while my Irish blood loves a good shamrock themed run, it just didn’t appeal enough to me.

But hearing everyone talk a few days before about the race and seeing everyone post their excitement on Facebook about it got ME excited. I contemplated signing up. Even though in my head I told myself no because A.) Hills and B.) The post party does not interest me any longer, obviously and C.) I had planned to have my own running adventure the next day, when the weather would be a bit warmer.  But all of a sudden I was double questioning myself and these plans. Maybe I really did want to run this race.

No…no, I didn’t. I just caught the excitement bug.

I’m glad I didn’t run that race. Because the day after I went out on my own adventure and ran a glorious 10 miles. I even tackled….HILLS!! I even did…HILL REPEATS!! Who am I?! It was a great run and I had a really great time. Those 10 miles were completely unplanned and spontaneous. I ran those 10 miles like I had hoped to run the Lake Effect ½ marathon….and how I hope to run the Syracuse ½ in 2 weeks (seriously...PUUUUHLEAAASSSEEE let me have a run like this during a race...I can't handle another struggling race.)

Running with the Lake Effect Run Club has been one of the best things to come into my life. The friendships I have made and the support and encouragement is like nothing else I have ever experiences before. It’s very similar to a Weight Watchers meeting…but I’d even go as far as saying a bit more intense & involved. But I don’t need to do everything that the club does. I don’t need to run every race that most of my friends are running. For one, I can’t afford it and also, not every race is for me. That doesn’t make me less of a runner or not as dedicated.

Listen…I love running (mostly after I am done actually performing the physical motion of running). I don’t dedicate my life to it. I don’t consider myself a “fanatic” of running. I don’t live in running clothes (hell I don’t even wear sneakers other than when I am running) and I don’t consider half marathons to be something that I can do in my sleep…and that’s A-OK.  It doesn’t take my miles away from me, or weaken the heart that I put into running. 

I have to remind myself that I run for *ME*. I should be signing up for races because *I* want to run them. I have to be careful to not get caught up in others excitement and put myself into situations that maybe are just not for me. There will be many other races coming up this year where I will feel like I should be there. Maybe some of them I will be, but there will be plenty where I wont...and that's OK. That’s not to say that I shouldn’t get inspired or challenged by their enthusiasm. But I should always be keeping my own goals in check.

This really goes for anything…whether you’re wanting to lose weight, enter your first race, start a family, try that croissant/donut hybrid love child…you have to choose to do something *when* it is right for you and because it is right for *you*. Let others excitement inspire you to reach for greatness within might not always be the same path, and the details may not be the same, but in the end it's all for the same outcome...and that's to be a stronger version of your current self. 
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