Hello VF community! This is a strange topic for me to talk about, because weight loss is not a very important priority for me. In many cases, weight does not correlate with health; however, there are times of our life where we may need to balance out a period of bad habits with good ones. If these good habits are healthy and also lead to body fat reduction – weight loss may correlate with your healthy decisions. In January my wife Michelle and I, committed to a healthy month and both lost over 10 pounds. We did this by eating healthy meals consistently and keeping active 5/6 days a week. The point of this article is to hopefully motivate some of our clientele that may want to have a solid month of healthy choices and possibly lose some body fat at the same time, while also showing you how and what I (we) did.
My View on Healthy Eating
I promote (what I consider) a very realistic view when it comes to eating. Life is a balance and when it comes to eating, our approach should mirror this balance. You will have weekends, birthdays, holidays and other reasons where food options may not necessarily be very healthy. Sometimes we get into bad habits where we are consistently making bad choices over a longer period of time. In order to relatively maintain our health, we need to balance these unhealthy choices with healthy ones. If the unhealthy meals are just a small fraction of an overall very healthy eating plan, you are in a good place: however, if we are in a period of consistent bad habits, we may need to take a month to regroup and get back into healthy habits. This is what my wife Michelle and I decided to do in January after a very disorganized November and December.
Never feel like you have done a bad thing when you consume an enjoyable (but unhealthy) meal. This is going to happen. This is part of the overall balance. Just balance out that decision with a few healthy ones or just keep going on with the overall plan. Like I said before, if you have a habit of eating unhealthily for a long period of time, we may need to balance that the other way until we get to a level of health we happy with. We can then shift to a maintenance state of being instead of being too far shifted one way or another.
What We Did
To simplify our month, we made a plan, we ate healthy meals and upped our exercise regime. Here are some key points as to why we both lost over 10 lbs of body fat.
- Did something active 6 days a week.
- 4-5 workouts in the gym each week
- 2-3 of those workouts with a Vaughan’s Fitness Trainer
- On days off from the gym, did 30 min run or bike rides.
- 1 day of full rest each week
- No breads, unhealthy fats, pasta, gluten, simple sugars, alcohol, extremely limited dairy.
- Eating plan is high in protein, healthy carbs and fats, and is low in inflammatory response.
- Did not measure food and rarely felt hungry.
- Toughed it out through weekends, stayed consistent.
It seems simple and it is. Simple does not mean easy though. Taking away food options eliminates many options when out and about. If coming from a high salt and high sugar diet, you may feel some urges at first to sway, but if you hold strong, you will start feeling a sense of clarity. This is because your blood sugar levels will start evening out and you wont feel those cravings that mimic hunger.
This meal plan is made for people that work out. It is high in protein which promotes lean muscle mass and repairs muscle after working out. It is what I ate during competition season as a sprinter. Here is a picture of what working out 6 days a week and following this plan 8+ months of the year looked like.
I am a different human now. While this look may be appealing to some, its not necessarily healthy if kept up for a long period of time. I can also say this: no matter how fit I have been, I always looked in the mirror and had ideas on areas I could “improve.” Know that you are not alone in those thoughts and it is natural, no matter what you look like, to feel anxiety or to compare yourself to others. I now live a more balanced life and in November/December, the balance swayed to be weighted towards many bad habits. This is why we chose to dedicate a solid month to grinding down a bit. This wouldn’t be a permanent decision because it is not realistic, nor healthy to lose 10 lbs every month.
To keep hitting the nail on the head, we are counterbalancing bad habits until we get to our “happy place” where we can live more balanced and maintain our health.
The food eliminates many items that cause inflammation. This is a newer concept within the last couple of decades and really helps with overall gut health, body composition and general inflammation. You dont have to be gluten or dairy intolerant to have minor internal inflammation. I can personally attest to the feeling of clarity on an eating plan like this.
To “lean out” is to lose body fat% while keeping or adding muscle. To do this we are eating a high ratio of protein to carbs while eating healthy fats. Do not worry too much about serving sizes. Just do not overeat and trust me, it is hard to overeat when you are eating meals like this.
We are looking to eat foods that are grown or live naturally on the Earth. This is not a vegetarian, paleo, or vegan diet. If you believe or need to be on those eating plans, then you will have to adjust the info in this article.
At the bottom of the article, I have provided a general template for this program.
Look for lean, healthy meats. Meat will be the core of almost every lunch and dinner. We will change the taste by using zero calorie seasonings, spices and sauces such as salts, peppers, garlic powders, parsley, Chile, hot sauces etc.
- Chicken Breasts
- Fish – Salmon, tuna, trout etc
- Lean red meats or pork
- Sliced natural meat
- Ground Turkey
Carbs are essential in replenishing glycogen stores in your muscles. When you work out at high intensity, your sugars get depleted. It is important to eat healthy carbs to restore these levels. Healthy carbs means carbs that are simple sugars. Simple sugars spike blood glucose levels and cause cravings, crashes and other negative hormonal effects.
You cant go wrong here. This is where you can have a lot of flexibility to change your salds, sides etc. Some common veggies for us were.
- Green beans
- Brussel sprouts
- Buk choi
Try to buy fruits lower in sugars such as many of the melon options.
- Cantaloupes and other melons
I will include these here because these items dont fit the overall meal plan but can be added to unique meals. Watch the serving sizes of the avo’s – although healthy, are very high in fats.
- Canned Black beans
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Zero calorie sauces
These are what you can eat in between meals. Try to balance these out and watch your serving sizes here because some of these options are dense in calories.
- Mixed high quality nuts
- Zero % Greek yogurt. (this is the only dairy option and is in this meal plan for the probiotic properties. Once could supplement with supplements if needed).
- Protein Shakes (Protein, water, ice, half a banana)
- Cut up meat leftovers
The only additional items we need are eggs and oats, because we will be using some of the fruits or meats above to compliment.
- Cashew Milk for overnight oats.
- Hemp hearts, chia seeds for overnight oats.
We are basically eating either eggs or oats as our core for each breakfast. Planning ahead is key. If you don’t buy your groceries you will be stuck. Ensure you have your items prepared or it is easier to make a bad decision in the moment.
Our goal is to eat healthy proteins while also getting healthy carbs that are not too high in simple sugars. Here are some examples.
- Scrambled eggs with cut up cantaloupe on the side. 3/4 eggs for males, 2 for females.
- Omelet style with cut up meat with small side of fruit of your choice.
- Oats with blueberries, protein shake with only water on the side.
- Overnight oats, (oats, almond milk, chia seeds, hemp hearts, and protein powder) Mix all together in a jar the night before. Great for on the go mornings.
Most of my lunches are leftovers from the night before. This makes meal prepping and on the go moments much easier. Yes it can be boring, but it is doable. A lot of the unique lunches are salads with the meat from the night before. These are some examples of a meat and side template.
- Salmon bowls, Salmon marinated in soy sauce, garlic, ginger and rice vinegar topped with;
- Avocado, cucumber, shredded carrots on rice
- Bok choy, celery, carrots, rice
- Avocado, cucumber, shredded carrots on rice
- Ground Turkey cooked with peppers, onions and spice on a salad with green beans leftover mini potatoes
- Salad (simple vinaigrette made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh garlic and Dijon mustard) with quinoa, peppers, cucumber and canned tuna
- Mexican chicken rice bowls with rice, topped with black beans, cherry tomatoes, guac, light shredded cheese
Meat, carb side, and vegetables or salad – repeat. These are some examples of a meat and side template.
- Roasted chicken breast and roasted sweet potatoes with steamed broccoli
- Steak with mashed potatoes (made with chicken broth and Greek yogurt) and green beans
- Salmon rice bowls
- Roasted chicken breast and roasted yams with green beans
- Chicken or fish burrito bowls – beans, veggies and rice.
- Meat bowl with either yams/potatoes and a variety of veggies.
- Taco salad – cooked extra lean ground beef on iceberg lettuce with black beans, avocado, chopped tomatoes, fresh jalapeño and light shredded cheese. Dressing for salad was 0% Greek yogurt mixed with a little salsa
- Cut up meat leftovers
- Greek yoghurt
- Protein shakes
- Small handful of mixed nuts – watch your serving size here as these add up
There you have it. If you can follow this and stick it out, you will see results. Again, this isnt to be followed forever, but it does provide healthy options that can be incorporated into your habits. Once in maintenance mode, I may follow this 5 days of the week and have more flexibility for the other 2. A big key is to push through weekends. I know this can be tough, but if you want the results, it will pay off. It all depends on what you want. If you want to see results, then you may as well do what it takes to get them. If you sway too much, you may feel close to the same mental demands as a healthy eating plan like this, but not with the same results. This is the reason you might as well go all out if that is your goal. If going all out isnt your goal, that’s totally fine too! Just be realistic with your expectations and goals. Long term, we are looking for a balanced lifestyle and approach and this can be different for every individual.
Were We 100%?
100% is also unrealistic. Even though it could be done, there are too many variables that may change a few meals along the way. This is ok! As long as you try to minimize as much as possible and make the healthiest choice possible, your body will continue on its path to success.
Here are the exact items I ate because of 2 birthday parties, running out of groceries, and going out to dinner.
- Grilled Chicken burger and fries with 2 (maybe 3) old fashions.
- Chipotle burrito bowl
- Poke bowl
- Sushi, 2 rolls
- Sal y Limon burrito
- Fried chicken burger with truffle fries
Two of those were restaurant meals and the others to go. So in the whole month, just 6 meals were off of the plan and it did not sway the results too much.
Exercising is key to so many health aspects and should be a fundamental core for optimal health. Cardiovascular health, bone density, stress, hormone levels, muscle mass, movement and function, are just a few of the multiple areas that exercising can help with. Of course, working out can burn calories and help you lose weight as well. Unfortunately, many people only think of this when working out. A healthy mentality rewards oneself with the knowledge and recognition of this healthy activity. “I have worked out 3x this week and know that with consistency I am in a happy and healthy place” is a much healthier mentality than “the scale is the same, its not working.”
For the sake of this article and for those with body fat% goals, exercise can be the base of the pyramid. Nutrition is going to be a bigger factor when it comes to body fat however. This is because we can much more manipulate the energy consumed than the energy burned. It takes an hour to burn 400-1000 calories depending on the intensity. The more we work out, the more calories over a week we burn. Eating is a 7 day a week ordeal and we are dealing with a much higher caloric amount we can manipulate. This is why, the eating side of things is so important when trying to manipulate body consistency.
Exercising consistently will help you stay healthy and yes, we burn calories which can help with our body fat percentage. Basically, the more you work out, the more calories you burn. This has to be quality workout time though. If you worked out 10 hours a day, your body would start breaking down and produce cortisol, which would then cause your body to go into a protective mode and hold onto more fat. Exercising at a good intensity 30-60 minutes a day is a good goal, 6 days a week potentially. If you have more aggressive goals, or want to counterbalance inactivity, then shoot for more, if your body can handle it. Talk to your professional kinesiologist if you have questions!
Supplements and Vitamins
The key supplement in this meal plan is the protein powder. We sell a great vegan and normal protein powder in the gym, but these can be found anywhere. You are looking for a protein with about 25 grams of protein and no more than around 140 calories pers serving. Protein powder helps with your lean muscle mass and works to repair muscles after working out.
Here are other supplements and vitamins that we take. For this section, I encourage you to do your own research to see if these would work for you. I just want to be extremely transparent with exactly what we did this month for the results we received.
- Greens Powder
- Collagen Powder
- Omega 3 fish oils
- Pre and probiotic
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
If you decide to follow this plan, let us know how it goes! Feel free to reach out with any questions. If you:
- Stick to this eating plan (here is a very similar 3 day template you can download)
- Be active 5-6 days a week
You should be able to see huge improvements in your overall wellbeing and health.