By Amanda Peters
“Life moves pretty fast if you don’t stop and look around you could miss it.”
This is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and I have found that this quote couldn’t be more true. Every one of us has busy schedules filled with full-time jobs, school, mothers who need to stay late at the office or fathers who need to shuffle their child to soccer practice. Daily tasks and responsibilities make living your best life impossible, or do they? When it comes to eating sensibly and getting proper exercise and rest, many make the excuse that there is no possible way to manage to stay on top of their health.
Why meal preparation became my biggest hassle and how I pulled it through
Being a paramedic, I do know first-hand that is indeed sometimes difficult to take the best care of yourself. My typical work day consisted of waking up, commuting an hour each way and responding to countless emergencies. By the time I would get home, I would be completely exhausted and found myself reaching for anything I could get my hands on which would be something full of sugar or salt. After years of making excuses and ballooning to over 200 lbs., I decided enough was enough. I sat down at the table and started doing some research on Google, looking up different recipes, benefits of different fruits and vegetables, and some great food combinations. These were key factors of which I built my strategy to change my unhealthy lifestyle along with other little rules for me to follow.
Meal prepping has many benefits in that it helps control what I want to put in my body and what I don’t. Frozen meals at the grocery store fail in that they are all loaded with salt and preservatives and attribute to weight gain, high blood pressure, and accumulation of toxins, not to mention I was still hungry after eating them. By prepping my own meals and storing them in the freezer, they were comprised of everything I wanted and nothing I didn’t and at proper portion control size.
Healthy and easy meal prep – the tips I tested out
Meal prep is something that everyone can find time to do and I recommend designating a day to devote to doing this. Keep in mind you may also want to plan your grocery shopping trip on the same day. Before you go food shopping though, make sure you make a list of all the foods you want to prepare including lean meats (i.e. chicken) or fish (i.e. salmon) and a few different vegetables. Don’t forget to buy healthy snacks that are easy and quick for times where you may not have time to eat a meal. When choosing different fruits and vegetables, I like to be sure I am creating a rainbow so that I get different flavors and textures every single time and also helps to prevent the meals from becoming boring along with key nutrients.
The cooking part is the easy part because all you have to do is preheat your oven, divide all bought items and put them on a baking sheet, sprinkle with just salt and pepper or add your favorite herbs, a drizzle of olive oil and voila! Put it in the oven and let it bake for 40-45 minutes. With this method, you can be as little or as much creative as you want and it makes each complete meal you separate into a container more exciting to eat. My favorite meal to prepare is salmon, Brussel sprouts, dried cranberries, butternut squash and chopped pecans with a honey lime glaze, it always makes my home smell so good.
Other rules I implement
While I always say that 80% of a lifestyle change is proper nutrition, you can never forget the 20% supporting players that help maximize your results.
- Exercise. This is a must for a strong and busy body on the go. Try to find time to get 60 minutes of activity throughout your day whether it be going to the gym or your favorite aerobics class. If this is not feasible, take 10 minutes of each hour and do simple ones like lunges, or squats.
- Water. Start by drinking half your weight in ounces and then increase slowly. Water is extremely important as our bodies are comprised of 70% of it, not mention all the chemical processes that happen on a daily basis happen in water. The kidneys and intestines also use it to flush out waste and toxins from the body and keep your skin glowing and hydrated. A really good indicator of whether you are getting enough water or not is pale yellow urine.
- Steps. I aimed to take 10,000 steps every day whether it be taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking a little further away from a store I was going to. Walking this many made sure I wasn’t sitting on my butt for most of the day and while it may look like a lot to accomplish, you would be surprised at how fast they add without even thinking about it.
Dedicating myself to prepping my own meals and also following my supporting rules helped me so much in achieving my goals and I hope they help you as much they helped me!
Easy Salmon Dinner
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced, divided
- 4 (5 oz) skin-on salmon fillets
- 2 1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup cranberries
Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 13 x 18-inch half sheet pan with cooking spray.
Combine 1 tablespoon of the oil, honey, lime juice, and 1 clove of garlic in a large bowl and set aside.
Place salmon fillets with cranberries, Brussel sprouts, butternut squash, and pecans on baking sheet and season with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.
Drizzle with honey lime mixture and place in oven for 40-45minutes. Remove from oven, let cool and divide equally into 4 containers.
Do you suffer from healthy meal prep? Leave your comment below and