How to meal prep for normal, busy women who aren’t trying to land the cover of a fitness magazine

Doing a simple search for  the term ‘meal prep’ is likely to elicit tons of results. Great. Except there was one teeny tiny problem. Most of the meal prep videos or articles that came up  were incredibly detailed and regimented, and had you eating pretty much the same thing all week long.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a place for sure for that kind of meal prep. But let’s be honest that is not the place that the majority of women live, at least not on a regular basis. Nor should they.

So how do you meal prep like a normal woman with a to do list a mile (link to other post here) long?

You keep it simple. Like so simple it will probably feel like your 10 year old could pull it off.

I’ve been there…ya know the place I described up above. I used to weigh out each meal ensuring my portion sizes were perfect and that I was counting my macros correctly. I ate each meal on a timer and rarely ever skipped a meal.

Eating like that served its purpose while I was prepping for my first and only two figure competitions. Thinking about that kind of meal prep is sort of exhausting these days. And actually quite unnecessary.

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Meal prep like you have a life

If you don’t get paid to look a certain  or  perform a certain way as a job, then likely you don’t need to go through the painful process I outlined above. If however, you are just treading water trying not to drown in all of your life’s responsibilities and you want to start chipping away at some of your dusty ol health and fitness goals then this is for you.

Meal prepping will save you a ton of time throughout the week as well as money (thus helping you stick to your budget), and will make weeknights far less stressful. As if all of those reasons weren’t enough, you will most likely even end up feeling better while moving the needle towards your personal health goals.

No need to get fancy. Simply follow the steps below, and bam. You’ll be meal prepping like a boss.

Steps to meal prep:

  1. Sit down with your calendar and create a meal plan for yourself for the week. Know what meals you’ll have for dinner, lunch, breakfast. Do you have any days you’ll be eating out or exceptionally busy? Mark those down with an ‘x’ or something. The busiest of the busy days will be a day when you want to have something prepped and ready to go so you don’t have to think about it. * Try slow cooker meals or instant pot meals for those days.
  2. After you’ve created your menu for the week, you need to compile a list of things to grab at the store. Pro tip: check your pantry and your fridge so you don’t end up buying too much or too little of an ingredient.
  3. Pick a day to prep. Is it going to be the same day as when you grab your groceries? Will you need to do a couple days of prep?
  4. Prep made easy: Keep it simple. Cook up some smart carbs like rice, quinoa, potatoes/ sweet potatoes, or a pot of beans. Cook up a couple different kinds of protein or prep them ahead of time if for example you plan to eat tuna salad or chicken salad just make a big batch. Have your healthy fats on hand and your fruits and veggies. You can cut those up as well ahead of time, though they do lose some nutritional value if they are left sitting too long before you eat them.
  5. Bonus tip:  you can put your food in smaller containers so you can grab and go or you can just pull it out and pack it the day of.
  6. Extra bonus tip:  only season with salt and pepper. By doing it that way, you’ll be able to mix and match your flavors throughout the week by adding salsa or curry seasoning, etc.

Do you have a meal prep tip that you are crazy about? Share it below in the comments.

 

You can meal prep like a pro all the while being the totally normal and slightly busy woman that you are 😉

 

xo,

Alisha Carlson (8)

Keep your nutrition simple if losing fat is the goal…

For Fat loss, keep it simple..

Photo Credit: Court Prather

Like most women, I have spent years and countless dollars trying to lose weight. I overcomplicated things, followed super restrictive diets, and was a habitual quitter. I used the word diet like a verb and not the way it was originally intended to be used. Diet culture and the weight loss industry kind of likes it that way. Because if we can’t ever truly figure out how to lose weight or fat we will keep coming back looking for more. That is exhausting, discouraging, and not at all anything I want to be a part of.

I want to see women lose weight, lose fat, get healthier, and stronger. I want to see women become more confident and live the lives they were created to live.

No, I am not saying that it is your weight or the amount of body fat you’ve got, how much weight you can lift, or your health score that will give you worth, make you loveable, or beautiful. However, I do know that for myself and for so many other women that I’ve helped, the more they started taking care of themselves and started seeing progress in the arena of their health and fitness, they changed. They became more of themselves, more relaxed, and more confident.

With so much information out there, how do you decide what is right for you?

Keep it simple. Like almost so simple it seems silly.

Whether your goal is to lose weight, body fat, get stronger, tone it up, build a bikini body, or whatever you can use the same principles. You don’t need to completely cut out any certain foods or restrict yourself to the point you feel like you’re going to kill someone.. (I’ve been there!)

If you’re tired of riding the ‘diet’ rollercoaster, you wanna lift weights and stay lean, or just wanna have more of a relaxed relationship with food here are some pointers to get you started.

  1. Whole foods > Processed foods
  2. Eat mostly plants (fruits and veggies), lean protein, and quality/complex carbs, healthy fats in that order. It’s time to rethink the “my plate” slightly..
  3. Eat slowly—-> this one is a big one! Especially if losing is a goal. You gotta give your brain time to realize your stomach is full.
  4. Eat slightly less than you usually do.

If you wanna catch the video version (where I go in to detail a bit more on each of these), you can click here to >> catch my latest IGTV <<

What do you struggle with the most when it comes to your nutrition? Drop a comment below with your questions, successes, and struggles.

 

Healthy snack ideas for any diet

Yep, you read that right. I used the word diet, without even a blink of the eye. It’s not because I want you to buy into ‘diet culture’ which is in itself a pretty destructive and ineffective way to manage your weight, your health, or your sanity for that matter. Instead I use that word because the word diet itself simply means a way of eating…for life. So whatever diet you choose to follow, whether it be paleo, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, clean eating, keto or any other diet created make sure it is one that will allow you to reach your physique + health goals and is something you can do for life.

It was that little shift in mindset that really was the catalyst for change in my own life. Before deciding I was going to create a new lifestyle, I had approached every diet with a temporary mindset. I chose things that were restrictive and designed to give me maximum weight loss in the shortest period of time…in other words, limit my carbs, eat veggies and protein, and lose a bunch of water weight. Not sustainable and not really what I was after. Fat loss, was really what I wanted. Sustainability was another thing I craved.

Speaking of fat loss, these snack ideas I’ve prepared just for you are sure to help with that. Not to mention give you sustained energy- think no more energy crashes and feeling satisfied longer.

Mix protein + healthy fat + carb

One of the best tips I can give when prepping any sort of snack for you or your kids is to make sure you are mixing lean protein, some healthy fat, and even a little carb in the form of fruit/ veggies/ or whole grains. When choosing carbs think about fiber content, look for carb choices low in sugar, and overall ingredients.

Focus on minimally processed

I touched on this a bit above, but let’s dive into this a little more…Whether you are choosing your carbs, proteins, or your healthy fats aka your macros, you want to look for ones that are in as much of a natural state as possible. Ask yourself how this food would have looked in nature. If you wouldn’t find the ingredients in nature, put it down and walk away.

It took some time for me to start reading food labels, and there was definitely a learning curve to it as well. Essentially if I can’t pronounce it and it looks like its a chemical compound, or I recognize it from sources other than food, I am not eating it and neither is my family.

Ditch the ‘diet’ foods

If you are doing the above, then this will be pretty easy. However, if you are still drawn to the 100 calorie snack packs and diet soda (like I used to be), or “snack” foods like crackers/cookies/bars then let’s chat about why these may not be the best choice for helping you curb your hunger mid afternoon.

Diet foods may have the calorie thing under control, as in they are either quite low in calorie or have no calories (like diet soda), however what they do have is probably a lot worse than a few extra calories from whole food sources. Often snack foods are laden with extra sodium, sugar, and ingredients that you likely wouldn’t find in nature. Diet inspired snack foods are also pretty low in nutrient density meaning the amount of good-for-you stuff is pretty low compared to the calories.

Some of my go- to snack ideas

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  • Hummus and veggies
  • Guac and veggies,
  • Hard boiled eggs and veggies or fruit
  • Greek yogurt and fruit (opt for a coconut or other non-dairy yogurt if you’re vegan)
  • Apple and almonds
  • Apple and peanut/nut butter
  • Fruit and cheese/ Veggies and cheese (can also use nut cheeses like almond)

It doesn’t matter if you make these yourself or get a little help from your local grocery store these are all good choices whether you are on the go or relaxing on a Saturday afternoon. There are tons of great options already made for you, just be sure to read the label, and when you’re snacking listen to your body’s hunger cues. Try stopping before you finish the whole thing. Take a breather between bites. Remove distractions that make it easy to finish the whole thing.

Keep in mind these are also great ideas you can use to fill out a lunch for yourself or your kids. Try making it a game if you’ve got picky eaters. Everybody has more fun when we make it a game!

What are you already doing that is helping you live a healthier life? Drop your tip in the comments below, I’m always looking for new strategies to try!

 

Cheers to a wonderful day,

Alisha Carlson (8)

 

 

A super simple and delicious peanut sauce you can make in less than 5 minutes

Do you secretly {or not so secretly} have a slight love affair with peanut butter?  I will find any and every way to have some just about every day. It’s the absolute cherry on top if I get it with a little dark chocolate too..but hey, I won’t be too picky 😉

If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard that learning the art of  clean eating was the one thing that finally worked to help me lose weight for my wedding and has been pretty much the way we have eaten every since. Learning how to eat, changed my life. This was the first big step in getting off the yo-yo diet rollercoaster.

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Photo credit: Alexandra Andersson

Sauces and dressings I came to quickly learn are some of the easiest places to cut the crap aka chemicals, additives, and preservatives as well as the sugar content and overall calories.

I came across this peanut sauce recipe in a magazine I used to subscribe to, and it is seriously so simple, goes good with everything from stir fry to Thai, and takes less than 5 minutes to make. Count me in!

Forgive me, if you are someone that likes exact measurements as I am not the best at measuring things (maybe that is why I don’t do a whole lot of baking 😉 )

But here is my best guess at what you will need to make a single serving..If you need or want more just double or triple the recipe. And as always feel free  to play around with the ratios a bit!

1 T. Peanut Butter or nut/seed butter of your choice

2 T soy sauce/ coconut aminos (if you are gluten free or trying to limit your soy intake, use the coconut aminos)

1 T  Sweet garlic chili sauce

Sriracha to taste if you like a little heat

Add all of the above ingredients to a small bowl if you want to eat it chilled or to a sauce pan if you want to heat it up a bit. Heating it up slightly  will help the consistency and make it spread easier especially if you are using natural peanut butter. Mix all the ingredients until blended, top your fave dish with it, and let me know how much you love it!

 

Do you have a favorite recipe? Sharing is caring, drop a link in the comments below..

 

Cheers to you and peanut butter,

 

Alisha Carlson (8)

 

 

 

Power smoothies

Summer seems to be in full swing here with hot days and balmy nights. In the summer time my appetite seems to go way down and very few things actually sound good to me. Some of my staples include: coffee on ice (of course 😉 ) , big ol’ salads, chips, salsa & guacamole (another no brainer), and some cool beverages in the form of rosé or bourbon mule. Another favorite at our house just about year round are smoothies. I love smoothies because you can get a whole meals worth of nutrients packed into a single glass. Plus the ice cold consistency is a treat on a hot day…

Now because it is liquid it will fill you up pretty quick, but can also have a tendency to leave you hungry a short while after you sip the last sip. I’ve learned a few tricks along the way and I wanted to share some of them with you today.. brooke-lark-186926-unsplash.jpg

Get all your macros..

One of the best ways to ensure you stay full for a few hours is to balance it out. I’m not huge on counting macros, but I am a big fan of making sure at just about each meal I’ve got some protein, healthy fats, and carbs. My smoothies or power shakes are no different. For your protein you can either use your favorite protein powder or you can get your protein from things like yogurt, nuts/nut butters, milk, etc. For some of my favorite fats check out the section below. Your carbs can come from your fruit added in, any dairy you add in. You can also add a 1/4 c of dry oats per serving if you want to make it more of a meal or if you know it will be a while before you eat again.

Drink your veggies..

Another tip is to pack as many veggies in as you can handle. Some of my favorites are beets and greens. You can buy pre cooked beets or you can roast them up ahead of time. If you buy greens for your smoothies and notice they go bad before you can use them up, try storing them in your freezer. You can also play around and try adding in some different herbs or veggies to see what you like and what you don’t like. One of the advantages of smoothies over juicing is that you keep the fiber which helps stabilize your blood sugar and helps with the full feeling. So if you’ve juiced in the past or are thinking about it, try adding those same ingredients into your smoothie instead.

What should I mix it with?

Depending on your current goals and how many calories you’re aiming for each day you can play around with the bases a bit. Some of my favorites are cold coffee, water, and plain milk. You can try coconut water for extra hydration or milk substitutes.

Sweeten it up a bit..

Part of what makes the smoothie so good is the fruit you add to it. I usually keep it pretty simple with bananas or frozen berries. However, sometimes I like to go tropical and add in some mango or pineapple. The best part is you get to decide what you wanna add. Smoothies are also a great place to experiment because the flavors can be masked a bit. It’s great to add variety to make sure you’re getting all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to function at its best. And it just keeps things exciting, who doesn’t want that?

Don’t forget your fats..

Fat is no longer a bad word. In fact there has been so much research done lately that supports our need for healthy fats in our diets. Some of my go-to’s are avocados, nuts or nut butters, and seeds like chia or ground flax seeds.

A few last tips..

If time is of the essence on those crazy mornings, you can make up some smoothie bags ahead of time and store them in your freezer until you are ready to use them up. This will shave off a little time in the morning routine and will ensure you’re getting the right amount.

I know there are so many places that sell smoothies/shakes these days and sometimes they can be a good option if you’re on the go. I would however, just caution you to look at the sugar content and the ingredients. Sometimes “healthy” foods are simply a glorified junk food which is ok on occasion. Keep those goals in mind and ask yourself if it is a worthwhile trade or not. Ultimately you know what works for you and what doesn’t, remember you are the expert of your own body–just be informed.

What are some of your favorite smoothie/shake combos? Comment below and let me know! I’ll be sharing some of my favorites that are perfect for this time of year.

Until next time,

Alisha

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overcoming Emotional Overeating through Mindset

 

I wanted to chat with you about kind of a sensitive and private topic emotional overeating and I would say honestly for myself, this was something that I really struggled with probably as early as middle school.  I grew up in kind of a crazy household. I watched my parents struggle with alcohol, drugs, infidelity, and abuse. My parents’ marriage seemed like it was always falling apart. And my brother and I were just along for the ride.

When my mom wasn’t numbing her pain with substances (illegal and legal) I remember seeing her numb her pain through food. Eating became what you did, whether you were having a good day or a bad day, you just kind of turned to food. It didn’t matter if it was a  celebration or a stressful event you went to food–or alcohol–or drugs. As I got older I knew more and more that  didn’t feel confident about who she was and I don’t know that she ever saw herself as beautiful. She may not have been the type of person that would have turned your head by her physical appearances alone, but her smile was warm when it was genuine and she had a heart of gold. Willing to give and to serve and to love to the best of her abilities. She carried a lot of wounds.   She would tell me stories of hurtful things said to her by her parents and others.  I see that she turned to substance abuse as a way to cope, and in this case food was used as one of those substances.naomi-august-138149-unsplash.jpg

When I really think about my own food story and how I’ve interacted with food over the years,  I see that it’s really been kind of this dysfunctional relationship. It’s taken years to overcome and honestly, I am still always editing my food story just as in any other area of life. As long as there is breath in our lungs, there is room to grow, and ways to be useful..a purpose to serve.

My use of food as a way to cope only seemed to get worse the older I got. We’ve all either heard  or have been the leading role in the painfully awkward stories of the teen years. No doubt, I started putting weight on and I started to become even more uncomfortable in my skin. I already sort of had this sense that there was something wrong with me. I felt  broken or like I was damaged goods. I didn’t know if there was a place for me to belong.

As my weight continued to climb I started to become desperate for a solution. I had no clue what to do, and I felt so out of control. I just wanted to feel like I could do something, anything… I tried starving myself. I tried gagging myself. I tried all the quick fixes that promised quick weight loss. Little did  I know at the time those quick fixes would only make things worse. Either because I would only fail again and again. I’d gain all the weight lost and more, or I wouldn’t actually be making any healthy and lasting changes. I wanted to do it in a healthy way, I just didn’t really know how to do that.

Like so many women I see, I just kept trying one thing after another hoping something would stick. What I didn’t realize at the time is that I was always only trying to fix things on a surface level. Trying to use a bandage on wounds that needed to be healed from the inside out, not just covered up. It really wasn’t until I started doing some deeper work around my thoughts, feelings, and ultimately my beliefs around food that things started to change for the long term.

So, today if you find yourself in any part of my crazy story I want to ask you if you’re doing the thought work? Are you allowing yourself to be healed from past wounds that you’ve been trying to cover up with food? Have you ever questioned where your feelings/thoughts/beliefs around food have come from?evieanna-santiago-589692-unsplash

I know this is not necessarily fun work to do, but friend, it is SO necessary if we want to make lasting changes. Nothing will change unless our minds are changed. And unfortunately that starts by questioning our current way of doing things.

So today’s assignment, is to spend a few moments pondering your current relationship with food and with yourself. Ask yourself the tough questions and allow the answers to come forward. Then decide what you want your story to look like going forward. How do you want to feel around food? How do you want to feel about yourself? Who do you want to be? This is the fun part! This is the part where you decide what you’re going to do and who you are going to be from this moment on.

If you are struggling with over eating, emotional eating, or anything else mentioned in this post please don’t struggle alone! I’m here to throw a lifeline, just like I wished had been done for me.

I’ve got a 5 day free challenge coming up that will help you get the start that you may need. Email me and we can see if this is the best next step for you 😉 alisha@alishacarlson.com. I can’t wait to hear from you!

xo,

Alisha