Thursday, January 29, 2015

Healthy Meal Prep | Grilled Chicken Salad

Today (Thursday) marks Day 7 of our 40-day Fat Loss Challenge.  I measured in on Day 1 at 24% (calipers) and today was at 22%!  Woo-hoo!  A 2% difference in 1 week is a big deal!  I'll show you some progress pics soon so you can see what it looks like.  I'm also using my heart-rate monitor (twice) and have been surprised at how little amount of calories it says I'm burning during my workouts.  I'll get into more detail on that in another post soon too.

Today, I'm sharing one of the meals I've been eating- a Grilled Chicken Salad and I always make multiples at a time so I can just pull the assembled salad out of the fridge and I don't have to spend time reprepping.  

Step 1 is to always have grilled chicken on hand or prepare enough for several salads.  If I'm just cooking 4-8 chicken breasts at a time, I use a grill pan.  Spray that pan with cooking spray, and heat to medium-high heat.  I pound my chicken breasts a little so they are thinner and cook evenly.   My seasoning of choice is Mrs. Dash, which I put on both sides, then cook for about 4 minutes per side   or so until they are cooked through, and let rest before eating so they stay moist. 

I measure my chicken to 4 ounces and show you below what that looks like if you don't have a kitchen scale.  See the bell pepper beside for reference.  

A super simple salad I enjoy is with prewashed spinach/kale/romaine, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and a little fat free dressing.  Buying the prewashed lettuce is awesome and they tend to stay pretty fresh in the bag, but I find my salads stay fresh in the tupperware too for several days.  

One of my favorite things to do is chop veggies and I'm not sure why.  To chop my peppers, I cut off the top and bottoms, then slice them open, removing the core.  Then chop into strips and finally, a smallish dice. 

Grab a big handful of greens and add in the other ingredients.  I leave the tomatoes whole since they're small and so they don't start getting my salad all wet.  I think these tupperware containers hold 3 cups.  If I'm eating this meal for 2, 3, or 4, I might add a small side potato or 1/2 cup of rice to bring in more carbs so I'm more satiated. 

When it's time to eat, I always transfer the salad to a nice bowl because I really don't like eating out of tupperware unless I have to and I did that a lot when I was training for my competition.  Had to eat in the car or at my son's swimming lessons or wherever. 

If I'm eating this meal for 2, 3, or 4, I might add a small side potato or 1/2 cup of rice to bring in more carbs so I'm more satiated.   Even though it may only save a little bit of time, making several salads at a time ends up being so much more convenient during the day than having to prep each one individually.  I'd say my grilled chicken can last up to a week in the fridge, but I try to eat it all in 5 days to be on the safe side.  

What would you like to know about meal plans, prep, training etc?  I'd love to hear and use your comments for future blog posts.  :)


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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

40 Day Fat Loss Challenge

At the beginning of last year (2014), I challenged myself to get in shape for my first ever NPC bikini contest and reached that goal after 5 months of training (July 2014).  Since then, I'd been pretty much slacking on the diet and workouts, but by October 2014, I was not liking how I felt physically when I had gotten used to being in great shape.  My weight was creeping back up and my muscle was turning into fat.  In November, I started back with my trainer and by December had started embracing my bikini meal plan again, but not nearly as strictly and not without lots of "cheats".  It was the holidays after all.  And I like to eat as much as the next person.

40 Day Fat Loss Challenge

Now that we are back at a new year, my husband has surprised me by entering our gym's 40 Day Fat Loss Challenge.  And he's determined to win.  His friend won last year and, being an investment banker and "numbers guy" though not a nutritionist, has come up with his formula for what it would take to win- win being lose 50% of your body fat in 40 days.  To be clear, our friend came up with this plan, not my husband.  Last year, there were two people who lost 48%, so he's considering that losing 50% would win the contest. 

I'm NOT saying this is the healthiest way to go or that you should follow this type of challenge, but what HAS been interesting to me is the numbers and science of it all.  We KNOW that to lose weight, we have to eat less than we burn, creating a caloric deficit.  You can Google "weight loss calorie deficit calculator" to find online calculators to help you figure out how many calories you should eat to lose weight.

It's amazing to see on paper how many calories you can consume, in what quantities, and how much you need to burn through exercise (tracked via a heart rate monitor) to achieve a desired outcome; weight and fat loss.

Body Fat Test Results

My trainer measures my body fat with calipers and I've always wondered how accurate the result is. I found out recently he's been pretty much right on.  Last Thursday, he measured me at 24% body fat.  I went that night to the gym for the challenge and was measured, like everyone else, with the InBody Analyzer at 23.4% body fat.  I weigh 111.6 pounds.

So, back to the friend and his data.  

The Fat Loss Plan on Paper

Below, is just an EXAMPLE of what I would have to do for the next 40 days to get down to 16% body fat.  I'm showing you this just so you can see how the numbers play out.  Of course, I'm eating way more calories than this (in fact, when I was training for my bikini contest I was eating about 2000 calories a day!).  I just asked our friend to input my numbers so I could see what they looked like.

  1. My BMR 1208 (Basal metabolic rate is the minimal rate of energy expenditure at rest) 
    Fat loss 31.6% (23.4% (current) - 31.6% = 16% target fat percentage) 

    Daily calories:  870 divided by 6 meals = 145 calories per meal 
       (carb 59 grams, protein 57 grams, fat 29 grams)

    Energy output:

    BMR  1208 + Exercise 505 = Caloric output 1713

    Caloric output 1713 -  Required deficit 842 = 871 calories per day 

    (Note: He has me losing 31.6% of my body fat because that's about what the women's winner did last year.)

    As soon as I saw that to lose 8% body fat (31.6% of my current body fat; i.e. go from 24% to 16%) in 40 days, I'd have to burn 500 calories through exercise 6 days a week (I just got my heart rate monitor, so I'm not even sure how many calories I burn during a workout, but I'm anxious to learn) AND have a calorie deficit of 842 calories per day, meaning I only eat 871 calories per day, I knew that was too low for me in terms of calories.  

    I modified my meal plan to about 1250 calories per day, and after 2 days, found I was still hungry, so I'm upping it even more.  I don't want to lose muscle along with fat, so I know I still need a sufficient amount of calories, along with carbs, protein, and fat.  As soon as I figure out my happy medium in terms of calories a day and wear my heart rate monitor during a workout, I'll give you an update on those numbers. 

    Also, I'm not trying to win this 40-day contest, just continue to see results from my workouts, lower my body fat and lose about 6 pounds, so I don't have to be THAT strict with my calories.  I am curious to see where I'm at in 40 days though.  

    We are setting up my heart rate monitor tonight, so I'll be sure to tell you how I like it.  Have you used one?  

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