Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Off-season nutrition goals

Well, here I am in that limbo state called "off-season". Rather than just float out here in never-never land with no goals and nothing to obsess (!) about, I thought this would be a good time to learn more about nutrition and meal planning. I have always felt better when I followed Jake's race week meal plans. My energy levels are good, hunger pangs are minimal, and it takes the decision making out of it.  I actually prefer that.  I've never been a big foodie.  I hate to be hungry, but I also don't need every meal to be a gourmet experience. Cooking is NOT my thing....just ask my kids! I'm very basic and utilitarian!

Two years ago, with Jake's encouragement, I used SparkPeople ( to log my food and manage macronutrients, and I lost about 20 pounds.  There is a lot of research to support the use of food logs for weight management and we have found SparkPeople, although not perfect, is about the best online tool there is.

For a long time after that initial weight loss, I was good about keeping an eye on the scale, but not since last winter when I decided I would just go by how I felt. For some time now I have been subtly aware that I am no longer quite where I want to be and my eating has gotten too haphazard.

It's easy to think when you are working out a lot that you can get away with eating whatever and however much.  It's not true, I think especially as we age and our metabolism slows. "Whatever" for me has all too often meant easy-to-grab carbs that don't fill me up and cause fluctuations in my energy.

So I'm back on the scale, back on SparkPeople, back to conversations with Jake, back to more veggies, back to eating at regular intervals. I'm realizing that like my kids, who take basically the same lunch to school every day and are happy, I am fine with having some basic meals to work from for the majority of the day and then going a little wilder at dinner.

I have found what works for me is to prepare quantities of the basic foods (brown rice, chicken, ground turkey, steak) and dice them up, package double servings in ziplock bags, and freeze them. I can pull out what I need as I need it. Each morning I prepare everything I need from mid-morning to mid-afternoon and pack it in my cooler.  Most of my meals are four or fewer ingredients. It's all ready to go, and ready to be eaten anywhere, virtually eliminating temptations to grab other things. It's a real cost- and time-saver too.

This approach is a radical departure from the misconception and belief that we need elaborate meals and vast choices to be satisfied. Simple is better.  Simple foods and simple plans.