Getting Healthy. Part 2. What to eat and when to eat it.

To read Part 1 of “Getting Healthy” click here.

What to eat and When.


Here’s what I did.  This wasn’t super specific.  It’s not an expert opinion.  It’s simply what worked for me.  The hard thing about weight loss and general health is that it is very specific to each persons body.  So what works for one person may not work for another.  But there are definite general guidelines we can all go by.


Burn more calories than you consume.
Eat wisely (not all calories are equal).
Eat small amounts more often.
Drink boatloads of water.
Eat breakfast every day to get your metabolism going.


5 meals smaller meals throughout the day.

This helps your metabolism keep going throughout the day.
The best analogy I’ve heard to explain this is comparing your metabolism to a fire.  You have to get the fire going in the morning by eating breakfast.  And then you have to keep the fire going throughout the day by feeding it small amounts of wood often.  If you don’t put wood (breakfast) on in the morning, the fire doesn’t get going.  If you put on large amounts of wood and then have long breaks, the fire dies down.  But if you consistently put smaller amounts of wood on the fire all day long, the fire stays consistent and continues to burn throughout the day.
Small amounts, more often.  I’ll repeat that over and over and over because I think it’s so important!


Here are some ideas of things I would eat.

*A protein bar.  This is what I ate almost every morning.  I found a kind I liked and stuck with it.     This will be very personal as some protein bars are horrific and chalky.  Shop around.  Right now I like the Zone Perfect protein bars.  I’ve tried the Chocolate Mint, Peanut Butter, and Cinnamon Roll.  I like Cinnamon Roll the best.  They have 15g of protein and are 210 calories.  I also like ClifBars with protein (usually around 10 to 12g).  My favorites are White Chocolate Macadamia Nut and Coconut Chocolate Chip.

*Eggs and Wheat Toast
*Occasionally I’d eat some sort of cereal high in protein (Kashi Go Lean cereals have protein)
*Breakfast burrito.  Scrambled eggs and a little cheese in a warmed up wheat tortilla
*Omelete with spinach, mushrooms and cheese


Mid-morning snack:
*Protein shake.  I used the Chocolate Whey protein from Costco.  1 scoop of that blended with half of a banana and a scoop of peanut butter.  Ends up being about 300 calories and 30g of protein.
*Or for the BEST spinach protein shake ever (that I am now having almost every day), click here.

I exercised around 10am on most days (6 days a week), so as soon as I finished exercising, I would drink my protein shake.  If you exercise at a different time, adjust eating so you have a high volume of protein within about an hour of working out.

A hand blender became my new best friend.

*Almost every day, I ate a Turkey burger (frozen ones from Costco that I would grill on a stove top pan), carrots, and watermelon.  If you don’t have a pan like the one picture below, they’re worth buying.  My kids will even eat Turkey burgers.  And that’s saying a lot.  Picky little buggers they are.

*Ham and Turkey sandwich on thin wheat bread.  You can get thinner sliced bread shaped like a bun at any grocery store.
*Chicken tacos on corn tortillas.  If I didn’t eat a turkey burger, I ate chicken tacos.  Just grill up the chicken on a stove top pan griller thingie (like the one I used for turkey burgers).  Or you could use a George Foreman grill.  Or if you’re really motivated, you can use a BBQ.  Then just grade a little cheese and some lettuce and put them on a warmed up corn tortilla (I put two in a pan on the stove and heat them up).


Afternoon snack:
*cottage cheese and crackers and an apple.  Cottage cheese is a great source of protein without many calories in one serving.  It’s not one of my favorite things to eat, but I grew to like it.  I like the Walmart brand.  It’s less thick.

*string cheese, triscuits and a banana

*handful of nuts (cashews or almonds) and carrots sticks or fruit


*different proteins on different nights.  Chicken, Turkey, Pork Tenderloin, Shredded Pork.  And one side.  Salad, vegetables, long-grain and wild rice.

For me, protein means meat (or cottage cheese).  I think yogurt is disgusting.  And Tofu, don’t get me started.  I know there are other sources of protein and you obviously don’t have to eat meat to get your protein.  But I like meat.  So that’s what I ate.


The biggest keys for me was eating  TONS of protein (way more than I ever use to eat on a daily basis).  I tried to eat around 100g of protein a day.

And, drink TONS of water.  I bought a Camelback water bottle and left it out on the counter throughout the day.  Every time I walked by, I’d take a big drink.  I tried to drink at least 5 of those a day.

You’ll notice there wasn’t a lot of variety in my diet.  That works for me.  I can eat the same kind of things every day.  And I’m a pretty simple eater.  There was some variation from this eating, but for me, it was easier to stick with a basic eating plan.  I planned ahead, made sure I had the food on hand I needed, and cut out most of the crap foods (anything processed).
Sundays were my free day.  I ate whatever I wanted that day.  But I noticed the more I exercised (smart exercise) and the healthier I ate, the less inclined I was to crave stuff that’s not so great for the body.  But still.  I ate dessert.  Almost every Sunday.  And still do.
In the beginning, I was admittedly a little hungry.  I’m used to three bigger meals throughout the day.  Not small meals. And I’m an eater.  I reeeeeally like food.  But it didn’t take long for my body to adapt.  And I honestly felt like I was eating all the time.  And after about the first 2 weeks, I never felt hungry in between meals.  In fact, several times I had to force myself to eat even though I wasn’t feeling hungry.
Small amounts, more often, of the RIGHT kinds of food.  This is huge.
To read Part 3 of “Getting Healthy.  Exercise” , click here.

Getting healthy. Part 1. Eat less, more often.

To read my history with weight and feeling healthy, click here.

I’m being completely honest when I say I don’t care how much I weigh.  I really don’t.  I just want to FEEL good.  And to look good.  Weight is irrelevant in that equation for me.  It’s an easy gauge to see if we’re on track to our goals, but it is not the end goal for me.

So.  Post baby number 4.  50 pounds to lose.  Where to begin.

I should add that I did not exercise the entire time I was pregnant with baby number four.  Partially due to 9 months of pregnancy sickness.  Partially due to laziness and lack of motivation.


There were two huge keys for me while losing weight getting healthy.  The first was WHAT I ate, WHEN I ate it, and HOW much I ate.  The food we put in our mouths will have THE biggest impact on the health of our body.  I don’t care how much you exercise, if you eat like crap, or don’t eat the right things in the right amounts at the right time, you’ll never be as healthy as you could/should be.

And not all calories are equal.  Eating a 250 calorie donut is NOT the same as eating a 250 calorie chicken breast.  For a better explanation of the non-equality of calories, click here.


So let’s cut to the chase.  Here’s what I did.

5 “meals” throughout the day.  Roughly 300 calories at each meal.  I was strict and religious about that.

Something to ALWAYS keep in mind.  Losing weight is WAY harder than maintaining a healthy weight.  So while I was losing fat and gaining muscle, I was very strict to the 5 meals throughout the day.  Now that I’m pretty close to where I want to be, I don’t always spread it out into 5 meals.

So.  5 “meals” with the calories spread out.  To calculate how many calories you should be eating just Google “how many calories should I eat in a day” and it will give you plenty of options to choose from based on your needs.


Once I figured out how many calories I should be eating a day, I spread those calories throughout my meals.  If you aren’t exercising, you have to eat less.  If you exercise, you can (and should) eat more and still lose weight (because you’re burning off the calories with your exercising)


Then with EACH meal, I had some source of protein AND carbohydrate.  I also tried to have 2 healthy fats with one (or two) of my meals (avocado, nuts, etc.).  And then I ate fruits and vegetables in there as much as I could, but I wasn’t as consistent about this.  The biggest key for me was eating AS MUCH PROTEIN as I could handle.


Part 2 of Getting Healthy.  What to eat and When to eat it.

how much do you weigh

While growing up, I paid no attention to how much I weighed.  We had a scale in the house and I’m sure I got on it, but probably only to weigh myself after Thanksgiving dinner to see if I packed in enough food to gain weight.

I paid no attention to what I ate either.  I could eat an entire Little Caesar’s pizza by myself (no, I’m not exaggerating).   I didn’t pay attention to calories.  I didn’t know (or care) what an “empty” calorie was.

I didn’t count calories.  I didn’t eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day.  I didn’t eat much protein.  I just ate.  Whatever.


But I’ve always been active.  Always been athletic.  I have four brothers and I’m pretty sure I was half boy growing up.  I lived to play steal-the-flag and tackle football.  We even formed our own NFL with coaches, a draft, practices, pamphlets full of plays, and scheduled games.  I’m pretty impressed with our creativity and organization with that.

When I was 11, I begged and begged my parents to let me play tackle football.  I may have even written an essay explaining why this was a good idea.  Mom didn’t agree.  It was one of the few times in my life she gave me an emphatic “no”.  Instead, I decided to play soccer.  Little did my mom know there was almost as much contact in soccer, only no pads.

Through middle school and high school, I gave no thought to what went in my mouth.  And I played soccer.   But I did not enjoy running just for the sake of running.  Who runs just to run?  And why?


And then I went to college and things changed.  I don’t remember how, or why.  But I suddenly became very aware of went in my mouth.  And by aware I mean, not very much went in my mouth.  I lost a lot of weight.  I was never over weight necessarily.  Average I guess.  But when I decided to stop eating most food, the weight peeled off.  And I became a shell of the person I once was.


I used to measure my cheerios in the morning so I only had exactly one cup.  I ate 3 jelly beans for lunch that I would space out over a half of an hour.  Every day at work, I’d have those 3 jelly beans in my pocket and that’s what I would eat.  2 whites ones and a pink one.

People started noticing.  And it’s nice when people notice.  When they say “wow, you look great”.  So it continues.

I wouldn’t call myself anorexic.  Not because that would embarrass me or because I’d be ashamed, but I don’t think it’s accurate.  I did eat.  And when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t think I was fat.  I knew I was thin.  But I really liked being thin.  Too thin.

But the problem was, I was just thin.  And I was barely eating anything.  And I wasn’t healthy.  I wasn’t nourished.  I wasn’t strong.  I was just…..thin.


In the middle of my college career, I decided to do a semester abroad in Israel.  And that’s where things started to swing the other way.  And the weight started creeping back on.   Turns out chocolate is really good in Israel and so is the bread.  And the pastries.  And the crepes.  And the homemade donuts.

The weight continued to climb after I got home.  But somehow I ignored it.  Because I don’t weigh myself after all.

Then one day, my friends Grandpa saw me and asked “Did you quit playing soccer?”  I tried to act like I didn’t know why he was asking.  But I knew.  Because old men don’t lie.  He let me know in the most delicate way an old man knows how that I was “gettin’ up there”.


So for the first time in my life, when I was 22 years old I started to pay attention to what I ate.  Only I didn’t really know what to eat.  Or when to eat.  Sounds silly since we’ve all grown up with the food pyramid chart our entire lives.  But that still didn’t mean much to me in terms of controlling my weight.  But more specifically about living a healthy, maintainable lifestyle.

It didn’t really help.  I didn’t know what I was doing.  And I get easily discouraged if things don’t immediately work.  I want to see results, like, yesterday.  This whole “enjoy the journey” stuff–yea, not me.  I just want to be there.

So my weight and body size throughout my life has certainly fluctuated.  My eating habits have gone from eating anything and everything, to eating almost nothing, back to eating anything and everything.


Having 4 babies had their impact as well.  When I’m pregnant, anything goes.  Pizza for breakfast, why not

And with each baby, I gained more weight each time.  So by the time I was pregnant with my fourth baby, I gained almost 60 pounds.  Six, Zero.  Sixty Pounds.  Why my doctor didn’t say “Slow down on the eating” I’ll never know.

But there I was.  With 50ish pounds to lose (I had only lost 10 pounds after he was born).  And I was sure I was done having babies (Oh please, God, agree with me on this one).  So it was time.  Time to do this the right way.  The healthy way.


And so, I did.


To read Step 1 of getting healthy, click here.


So there’s this quote out there. “Enjoy the journey”.  I’m generally not an enjoy the journey type.  I just want to be there.  I don’t want the road trip.  I just want the destination.  I’ve always been this way.  And it is something I am deliberately trying to be more aware of.

Trying to enjoy more.  Being present.  Not thinking too far ahead.  Not saying “when a b or c happens, then everything will be better”.

My kids are still little.  And there are lists and lists and lists of things I could get done if they were a little older.   But I’m discovering that lists are overrated.  And little kids are a blast.  Tiring and exhausting, but nonetheless, so. much. fun.

So for today. Right now. I will focus on enjoying the daily journey. For being present in this day.  And not be so focused on any one destination.

Our days are numbered.  Sometimes the journey is all we’ll get.  Maybe the destination was never the purpose in the first place.

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