As an athlete, or even aspiring athlete, we spend hours in the gym refining our body to pack on muscle and keep the fat off. One critical thing that many of us overlook is our effort that we place into the kitchen, into providing our bodies with the nutrients and energy that it requires to recover. How often will we push ourselves to exhaustion in the gym, spending extra hours on the bag, or doing those grueling burnout rounds, but when it comes time for eating or recovery, we skip out on meals, or eat junk food.
If you want to take your training to the next level, your nutrition is definitely a great start. Here is 3 ways that I plan to use to stay on top of my nutrition in 2017.
1. Meal Plan/Meal Prep
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” - Benjamin Franklin
As a critical care registered nurse, writer and competitive boxer I can attest, I am busy. I often start my day at 4:45 am and do not get off work until 7:30 pm! then I head to the gym for a workout!
Now, I know you (my readers) are also very busy dealing with life, so I understand how it can be very easy to neglect a proper diet. I mean, who has time to be cooking three - four healthy meals a day! So, naturally, it’s easy to skip breakfast, then have a granola bar, get a burger for lunch and so on. This is a huge problem that many people face, this lifestyle is going to destroy your metabolism, and cause your body to develop unhealthy results due to a lack of nutrients. There is no way you can accomplish everything in your day, if you plan on cooking each individual meal. What you need to do is meal plan ahead of time, which is cooking a large amount of food and portioning it off so you can eat it throughout the week.
In order to stay on track towards your 2017 nutrition goals, you must meal plan. In order to eat your four healthy meals a day, you will need to meal plan. On Sunday’s and sometimes on Thursdays, I spend 2 - 3 hours and cook 8 - 10 ready made meals, pack some items into lunch containers and have other things ready to be heated up. I usually cook a few big items such as Pasta, Steak, Bulgogi (Korean style beef) or Kalbi (Korean style ribs). This way, every morning, all I need to do is put water on boil, fry eggs, as I brush my teeth, then grab my lunch (pre-made). In the evenings, sometimes I cook, or I can simply heat up the food that i already made. This saves a lot of time throughout your week, and allows you to have a delicious and healthy meal.
2. Change Your Environment
“We are what we see. We are products of our surroundings.” - Amber Valletta
I think this is something that many of us are aware of, but do not realize the true power of it. We are all easily influenced by our surroundings. Whether it's the choice of people we surround ourselves with, or even the food that's in our house. I remember, I went to a client of mine and she was complaining that her kids were fat and inactive. She wanted to pay me to change her kids mindset about fitness. You know what's funny? The first thing I said to her was, “Who buys the food in the house?”. Her drawers and cabinets were filled with snacks, oreos, cookies, chips! I told her if I lived there I would be fat too!
What I do is that I never allow myself more than 1 “cheat” item in my house. I don’t leave a cabinet full of snacks. In fact, I keep fruit in a bowl on my counter so that it reminds me to eat it.
3. Give Yourself Cheat Days
We are all human, we all get those cravings and we all feel weak sometimes
That is okay! Believe me, I get the same way!
They key here is to give yourself a day to look forward to. I personally LOVE fried chicken, I mean I could eat popeyes (a chain in Canada), all day. Chicken Tenders are delicious but fried chicken isn’t going to get me to my fitness goals. However, I give myself 1 day a week where I can eat whatever I want. Personally, I don’t go crazy and eat fried chicken the whole day, but i’ll have it for say lunch.
By giving yourself a day to have a cheat meal, it gives you something in the back of your mind to work towards. It’s kind of like a mini accomplishment, each week to reward yourself for your efforts that week.
Anita Hoang is a Critical Care Registered Nurse in Toronto, Canada. She has trained at York Muay Thai, Atlas Boxing and Sinbi Muay Thai in Thailand. She has stepped into the ring numerous times as a competitive athlete. She was also on her high school volleyball team for four years. She has two bachelors degrees, one in Kinesiology and Health Sciences and one in Nursing. She is a firm believe in the application of the fighters mind set in all areas of her life. She has won numerous academic and athletic achievement awards.