weight loss

Eating Clean on a Budget

I know it sounds impossible, but I can assure you it’s not! I agree that it is unfair that we have to pay more for healthy food than for junk, but that is something that we just have to grit our teeth and bear. Just the other day I found a 10 pack of little bear-shaped cookies for $1 but had to spend about $5 on a bag of little oranges for my kids. This is when we have to decide where our priorities are and how badly we really want to make a change in the way we eat.

My husband and I don’t go out to eat that much; we choose to spend extra money for healthy groceries and therefore sacrifice a weekly dinner out. One meal for two people at a restaurant can easily cost $50. Think of how much that can buy at the store - definitely more than one meal. Even eating fast food can cost more than a homemade meal. We have three children and just to take them to a fast food restaurant is at least $20. For $20 at the store, I can buy five pounds worth of chicken, a marinade, a two liter bottle of sparkling water, a bag of vegetables for steaming, four sweet potatoes, and probably get back some change.

Let’s say you have a $100 budget and need to buy groceries for a week for you and your significant other. Here is a sample meal plan and grocery list that will keep you under budget:

Meal 1- 2 scrambled eggs, ½ cup oatmeal
Meal 2- 1 can tuna, 2 rice cakes, 1 tbsp. natural peanut butter
Meal 3- 4-6 oz. chicken breast, ½ cup cooked brown rice, 1 cup steamed veggies
Meal 4- 1st Step Pro-Wellness shake and 1 banana
Meal 5- 4-6 oz. marinated chicken breast, 1 small sweet potato, 1 cup veggies
Meal 6- 10 almonds, 2 boiled eggs

*7 lb. of chicken (1.99/lb.) = $14 *14 bananas= $2.50
*2 Large bags frozen veggies ($7.50 each )= $15 *2 Bottles Marinade= $5
*Oatmeal = $3 *14 sweet potatoes= $7
*14 cans tuna ($.68 each) = $9.52 *bag of almonds= $8
*2 pkg. rice cakes = $4 *5 dozen eggs = $9
*Peanut butter = $3 *Bag of brown rice = $3
*1st Step Pro Wellness Protein Powder = $17

That makes a grand total of $100.02! Not too shabby.

There is a good rule of thumb when purchasing food: fresh is better than frozen, and frozen is better than canned. Depending on what your budget is, we all understand that you just have to make the best decisions possible. Just remember, eating clean is essential to losing weight, but most importantly, being healthy.

The Myth of Spot Reduction

Everyone has a body part that they think is the best. On the flip side, they also have the body part that they would probably sell their first born for in order to change (not really, but I have to throw some humor in here somewhere). The truth of the matter is, there is no such thing as spot reduction. You can’t focus on burning the fat from one body part. It just doesn’t work that way. To burn fat, you must burn it over the entire body through a combination of weight training (yes ladies, lifting weights!), cardio, and a healthy diet.

Doing just one of those three you will not produce changes. You must do a combination of them to see results. Fat cells are released by the body to be burned for energy, and unfortunately, you cannot choose which part of your body the fat comes from.

You also can’t focus on lifting for one body part in hopes that the fat will come off of it. Take your abs for example. You can do 1,000 crunches a day and still not have a visible “6 pack.” That comes from…you guessed it! Cardio, diet, and weight training. Many times the muscle you focus on when you try to spot train is so small that you aren’t doing your body a bit of good. When you try to target the larger muscles then you inevitably hit the smaller ones.

So the next time you hit the gym with every intention of focusing on one small muscle, work the whole body part instead. You’ll not only hit the area you’re trying to improve but you’ll increase your overall level of fitness!


What's in a Calorie?

They’re so small, but they add up so quickly. I would go over the technical definition of calories, the chemistry of a calorie, and calories versus kilocalories (which is what we actually use to quantify our food) but for the sake of brevity, I’ll just say that a calorie is measured as the amount of food energy per unit of mass. Calories equal energy.

Grams of fat, protein, and carbohydrates have caloric values. Fat has nine calories per gram, while protein and carbohydrates have four each. This means that something with five grams of fat, 20 grams of carbs, and 10 grams of protein would have 165 total calories (45+80+40).

If you want to lose weight, your calories consumed must be less than the calories burned. Three thousand five hundred calories equal a pound. So if you want to lose a pound a week then you need to cut an average of five hundred calories a day from what you consume, or burn an extra 500 in the gym (or some combination of the two like consuming 250 less and burn 250 more at the gym).

To figure out how many calories that you need to consume, you must first determine how many calories a day you burn. To get a rough estimate of how many calories you burn a day, you need to figure out how many you burn in the gym (several heart rate monitors can do that) and what your BMR is.

Basal metabolic rate, also known as BMR, is the minimum number of calories that your body burns to function. Basically it is the number of calories burned in a 24 hour period if you stayed in bed the entire time. Many websites can help you get a rough estimate. Obviously you don’t always know how many calories you burn outside of the gym doing regular every day activities so that’ll be a little extra.

You can see now that you can use calories to your advantage. They no longer have to be a hindrance, but a tool that you can use and manipulate in order to reach your goals.