A Beginner’s Guide to Meal Prep

2015 brings us a fresh start to a brand new year. A new you. A time to get serious about your health commitments. Maybe you’ve done some research on the best ways to tackle your goals, or maybe you follow a few fitness bloggers or enthusiasts on Instagram and Facebook. Chances are you’ve come across some incredibly fit individuals who take pictures of their meal prep for what looks like an entire month, something like this:

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It was probably this exact picture that turned me off from prepping my food ahead of time. For one, I’m not trying to eat the exact same thing every day. Two, how is that food even still good by the end of the week? Finally, I don’t have room in my fridge for all of that. I decided I would keep things interesting by cooking dinner every night and make enough to take leftovers the next day.

But then things got really busy.

Now, most days of the week, I’m out of my apartment before 6am and not getting home until 9pm. Cooking dinner or even making lunch so early in the morning just became a seemingly impossible feat. With a typical NYC lunch costing $10-$15, and being so controlling about the food that enters my body, I felt stuck. It was time to give meal prep a try.

With such a busy schedule and wanting to get a list of errands done every weekend, I didn’t even want to marinate my own meats or bake a whole chicken on a Sunday evening.

This is where Trader Joe’s has saved my life. There is not one grocery store that I have been to that sells the same kind of quality, flavorful, unique, and most importantly, inexpensive foods. Here’s what I buy there:

trader joespollopesto

They have a bunch of different marinated meats like pollo/carne asada, sundried tomato chicken, pesto chicken, curry chicken, and more. I usually buy one of each. For veggies, I buy pre-cut broccoli (I feel too lazy to even cut my own broccoli these days, but feel free to buy the whole head if you’re feeling ambitious) kale, mushrooms, bok choy, and brussel sprouts. These are just some of my favorite kinds of veggies, pick the ones you like along with some fresh fruits, and nuts. Sometimes I just buy the kale and then get the other veggies later in the week when i’m ready to cook them so that they’re fresh. I also keep several items in the house at all times to fill in the gaps like onion, avocado, and tomatoes.

When you’re ready to prep, just defrost the meat and sauté it in a pan. This literally took me 10 minutes and gave me the most tender and flavorful chicken i’ve ever had. It gave me about 8 pieces of chicken, smaller than a full breast which was perfect for lunch. Then I cooked the whole bag of broccoli, which took less than 10 minutes as well. When the food was cooled, I put all of the chicken in a big container and all of the broccoli in another. In the morning, I get tupperware, grab a piece of chicken and some broccoli – boom. Lunch is done. For breakfast/snacks i’ll pack some almonds, fruit, and some sliced peppers. On day two, cut up some of that chicken and put it over a bed of kale with a little onion, avocado and tomato for a big, healthy salad. Day three, put the chicken in a wrap with some more kale and feta. Day 4, get a new veggie, maybe some brussel sprouts, bake them for 30 minutes with olive oil, salt and pepper and you’ve got another meal. Tired of chicken? Make some chicken salad with the leftovers, cook up your carne asada and keep it going.

At the end of the day, you don’t need to pack your fridge full of separated, boring, tupperware meals. You don’t even need to spend an entire weekend day cooking for the week. We’re all busy bees in New York, but if I can cook at home for the week, so can you. You’ll save 100’s of dollars monthly, you’ll eat healthier and feel better about life in general.

sydney

Sydney Stargatt                                                                                                                           Certified Health Coach & CPT

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Treating Your Cold Symptoms Naturally

We’re right in the middle of the season for holiday parties with lots of eating, lots of drinking and “0ver doing it” in general. What we put our bodies through this time of year can have a negative effect on our health and make us more prone to catching a cold. While there may not be a cure for the common cold, there are several ways we can treat the symptoms naturally and even prevent getting a cold all together.  Here are some household items that can help. Some of them you may have heard of, but others might surprise you.

Our healthy bodies have a natural pH balance that’s slightly alkaline. Bodies that are diseased usually have a highly acidic environment, which will repel oxygen and attract the overgrowth of disease-causing micro-organisms. By consuming foods that alkalinize the body, we allow for more efficient oxygen consumption  and create an environment in the body that fights off common cold symptoms.

If you’re feeling the symptoms of a cold, try these all-natural pH balancing remedies:

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 3.48.23 PMApple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar works wonders at creating an alkaline environment in your body that can kill unwanted bacteria and viruses. Just mix 1 tablespoon with a glass of water and drink up at the first sign of symptoms.

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 3.51.27 PMLemon: Lemon not only has pH balancing effects, but it also thins out mucus making it easier to unclog a stuffed up respiratory system. Try mixing 1 tablespoon in a glass of water and drinking at least twice daily.Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 3.50.49 PM

Baking Soda: Baking soda has been thought to help fight the common cold since the early 1900s. Again, it’s thought to create an alkaline environment in the body that can kill unwanted bacteria. Mix ½ teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it every couple of hours. Arm & Hammer has the specific instructions listed online.

Here are some other remedies to help ease the symptoms of the common cold in addition to the pH-balancing items above:

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 3.52.57 PMPineapple: Pineapple is thought to be 5x more effective at suppressing coughs than cough syrup! It contains an enzyme with anti-inflammatory properties, which can help ease a sore throat. One cup of pineapple juice also contains nearly 50% of the daily requirement for Vitamin C intake which can help prevent a cold before it happens.

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 3.49.42 PMGarlic: Garlic is a natural anti-fungal and antibacterial that’s been known to help prevent and treat many illnesses. However, it’s not nearly as effective when it’s cooked! It works best when minced or crushed and aired-out for a few minutes. You can put 1-2 minced cloves in a small shot glass of water and drink it in one sip.

Along with these natural remedies, the most effective cold-preventing measures are to get enough sleep, drink enough water and exercise regularly. These small steps help to build a stronger immune system, which is so important during the winter months. So heal yourself naturally instead of just masking your symptoms with over-the-counter drugs.

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How to Get and Stay on the TS track Over the Holidays

ThanksgivingThanksgiving is approaching, and with it comes the flood of holiday parties, dinners, drinking events and delicious desserts. We all know how difficult it can be to stay on track with our fitness routines and healthy eating practices over the holidays. In fact, data suggests that Americans typically gain an average of 5 pounds between Thanksgiving and the New Year! I’m not trying to have a set back like that. Are you?

I’m assuming not.

To help you overcome the health challenge brought on by the holidays, I just read a great article that offers some really helpful techniques to avoid that weight gain while still allowing you to enjoy your favorite holiday delectables. Here’s are a few of those points:

1.) Pick your Battles. Chances are you already have a few holiday events that you attend every year. You know what to expect, what foods will be served, and what you like the most. Decide which holiday dinner is worth loosening up your belt for, and which ones are not worth the extra calories.  For instance, if you know that thanksgiving dinner is the be-all and end-all meal in the forecast, do it up. If you also know that Aunt Jane is having a party the following week and can’t cook for her life, then make that meal the one you decide to hold back on – sticking to your healthy eating habits.

2.) Have a plan. Having a strategic plan of attack before going to a holiday event is key. Going into any holiday dinner party on an empty stomach to hold out for the food there is probably not a solid plan. You’ll end up eating more than you normally would on a regular healthy night.  If you know that the host is serving a million hors d’oeuvres before the meal, fill up on the veggies/hummus and hold out for the actual dinner (opting for high protein, low carb & low fat options).

Remember, these parties aren’t just about the food. Try to remember that you are there to be with the people you love the most and not there to eat your weight in cookies.

3.) Be Realistic. Don’t promise yourself that you won’t eat any desserts over the holidays. It’s not going to work and you’ll end up binging on something later and feeling super guilty. Telling yourself you’re only going to have one or two cookies after dinner is more realistic. Allowing yourself one plate of food with reasonable portions and not going back for seconds is also a realistic and achievable goal. and Set yourself some attainable goals and hold yourself to them.

4.) Eat Slowly and make an End Point. WheScreen Shot 2014-11-17 at 9.42.12 AMn you eat slower, you give your body time to catch up to what your putting in it. You’ll end up feeling full before that second plate of food you were planning on. Make an end point for yourself so that you don’t over eat and can avoid that bloated, near-death feeling you get after a big meal. Pop in a piece of gum when you decide you can put the fork down, that way you don’t mindlessly pick at the rest of the food.

The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate your traditions with  family and friends. It shouldn’t be a time to stress about weight gain and the inevitable guilt that follows it. With a solid plan and a few realistic goals, you should be able to enjoy the parties without compromising your health before the new year.

sydney

 

 

 

 

Sydney Stargatt

Certified Health and Fitness Coach

 

 

 

Posted in health, Uncategorized, Weight Management | Tagged , , , , , ,

THE SUPERIOR SUPPLEMENTS TO GETTING THE BODY YOU WANT

People always want to know what they could be doing to get into better shape. Usually the answer is work out more! Do more cardio! Do more weights! Eat this, not that!  Yes, those are some big factors to get into better shape, but here are some things you might not have thought about.  It’s no wonder these are the first few questions we ask our clients at TS Fitness when signing up with us.

Drink enough water

waterIf you didn’t know, your body is between 60%-70% water. Water is needed in order to burn calories and when you are dehydrated you can’t burn fat nearly as well.   Burning calories creates toxins and water plays a vital role in flushing them out of your body.  Just imagine all that excess garbage in your body and no way for it to get out….yuck!

Water helps maintain muscle tone by assisting muscles in their ability to contract, and also helps to lubricate your joints. Proper hydration can help reduce muscle and joint soreness when exercising.  This means you can hit the gym sooner and feel good doing it.

Get that sleep

The average adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep. If you think you don’t have enough time for it your probably not getting the most out of the hours when you are awake. Insufficient sleep impacts your hunger and fullness hormones, including two called ghrelin and leptin.

clock with sleepless at night.The hunger hormone Ghrelin signals your brain that it’s time to eat. When you’re sleep-deprived, your body makes more ghrelin.  It will feel like its time to eat all the time!  Leptin, on the other hand, cues your brain to put the fork down. When you’re not getting enough sleep, leptin levels plummet, signaling your brain to eat more food.

Those two hormone imbalances will trump the best will power.  Don’t deprive yourself of sleep or be ready to have trouble shedding those pounds and expect to spend extra hours in the gym.

Breathing the optimal way

You take an average of 20,000 breathes per day which contribute to a large amount of the calories you burn.  Most of us tend to breath through our chest cavity.  When this happens our rib cage rises our back arches and we use a lot of unnecessary muscles.  One of the muscles that gets under utilized is the diaphragm.

Diaphragmatic, or belly breathing, has been shown to help oxygen uptake up to 30%. Taking in more oxygen helps with all over body function and caloric expenditure.  Belly breathing helps to realign your pelvis which helps to reduce lower back pain and activates the core.   That means better workouts and less chance for injury.  Click on the image below to view a video on a way to practice breathing techniques.

breathe

If your missing one, two or all three of these in you definitely want to start putting them in.  Drink adequate amounts of water, sleep enough hours and use effective breathing techniques.  It will increase your vitality and is essential in feeling energized.     It will make a big impact on the level of your well being, I know first hand.

Noam Tamir, CSCS

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Japan: A culture to learn from

As some of you already know, I just returned from a 2 week visit to Japan.  The experience was incredible and Japan is perhaps one of the most fascinating countries, in terms of cultures, that I have ever visited.  There is a huge display of pride, from the construction workers to the high powered corporate workers. The way that people carry themselves in Japan is with dignity and honor.  You feel the outpour of courtesy when walking into any restaurant or shop like you are entering a five star hotel.  Being in the fitness industry, the acknowledgement and welcoming of people is something I found very pleasing.

Screen shot 2014-10-18 at 8.37.14 PMAs a fitness business owner, our clients are always working to stay young, feel good and be healthy.   The Japanese have the world’s highest life expectancy for a number of reasons that I was able to experience first hand.

A Culture of Movement

Screen shot 2014-10-18 at 8.44.38 PMThe Japanese are a moving culture. People of all ages ride bikes to get to and from places. They tend to stand a lot more than sit and use more trains and other forms of public transportation than Americans.  In addition to the constant moving, the Japanese squat when they poop! The old style toilets require you to hold a squat position as you take a number two.  If we know anything about squatting, we know that it’s a very healthy position that strengthens the whole body and improves your stability and mobility.

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They Keep Clean

Cleanliness is also very important to the Japanese. The streets are nearly spotless and, oddly enough, there are no trash bins on the street.  Before each meal, a hot or wet towel is used to disinfect the hands and shoes are removed when entering a home to keep outside germs from entering the house.  All of these sanitary behaviors help to minimize illness.

Nutrition 

vegtables_japanYou already know my favorite quality of Japan if you have been following my Facebook posts – the nutrition.  Rather than eating meat, the Japanese diet consists largely of fish. Check out the picture of me at the Tskigi fish market where tons of Tuna is auctioned off daily.  There is also a lot less consumption of dairy, wheat and processed foods. Instead, there are a lot of vegetables,  rice, and green tea which offer more nutritiously dense options.  Lastly, the portion sizes are smaller than that of other countries.  Over consumption is one of the biggest problems in today’s society.tuna

My journey has left me with a respect, admiration and better understanding for the people of Japan.  I highly recommend taking a trip there.   I want to give a special thanks to my friend Tom Devaney who lives in Tokyo and made the experience even better. I would not have taken this trip without him. He is also one hell of a Karaoke singer in both English and Japanese.

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Noam Tamir C.S.C.S

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