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The Shocking Power of Prepping Your Meals

The Shocking Power of Prepping Your Meals

It costs too much. Takes too much time. I don’t eat that poorly. Blah blah blah.

Over the years, I’ve heard these tired excuses over and over again from athletes and non-athletes alike when it comes to getting their nutrition under control. There’s this persistent attitude and belief that our food choices are out of our control, and that we must be resigned to them and the subsequent ill effects (bad skin, poor health outcomes, added medical costs, etc.) that happen as a result.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s possible to eat much, much better while also saving money and time. Not only all that, but you can finally take control of your nutrition once and for all.

How is this possible?

With the unbelievable power of doing meal prep.

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Here are just a few of the things that happen when you start planning and preparing your meals:

You grow confident in your ability to eat well.

The thing you will feel the most won’t necessarily be the cost savings, or the weight loss (or gain, depending on your goals in the kitchen). It will be that burst of pride that comes from eating well, consistently.

Meal prep will show you that you can master your nutrition habits.

Planning and prepping gives us a sense of optimism and a feeling of control that is lacking when we subject our nutritional intake according to our cravings and how we are feeling at the moment that hunger strikes.

Being freed from the constant need to be on alert to eat well is exhausting, and is one of the reasons that we falter when it comes to making good food choices.

Meal prep makes things simpler and gives you the confidence in knowing that you have more power and control over your urges and diet than you ever thought possible.

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You start eating better.

Planning your meals means that you are purposely eating.

Your meals are designed and prepared with a goal in mind, and not just to satiate a ravenous and sometimes ill-tempered hunger. Your meals aren’t prepared according to your cravings, or how you feel, or what kind of day you are having, but in consideration of what you want to achieve with your diet.

After all, when planning your meals you are rational and objective, unlike in the moments where we are starving and we are having a crappy day.

What happens next will show itself in a myriad of ways. For athletes who want to clean up their diet, this means faster recovery and better workouts (and is why it’s one of my top nutrition tips for athletes). For the rest of us, it means having more energy and maintaining a healthier weight.

Whatever our goals are, when we plan to eat well we are much more likely to succeed.

You save money.

As someone who is guilty of ordering pizza or sushi after a big workout, this was especially noticeable. The savings account grew by a stunning and slightly embarrassing amount of money over the course of my first couple weeks of meal prepping.

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Yeah, the first time you go to Costco to buy all the supplies you will need in bulk will be a kick to the wallet, but when you factor in all of the fast food, going out for meals, and last minute trips to the grocery stores the cost savings multiply quickly.

Don’t believe me? Start writing out how much you are spending each day in your workout log and contrast it when you are in full-blown meal prep mode. The difference will stun you.

You save time.

In addition to saving some of that sweet, sweet moola, you will also reap a savings in time. Not only in meal preparation, but from going out for food, and repeated trips to the grocery store.

Yes, there is an upfront time investment. The big trip to the grocery store, and then a couple of hours to bang out a week’s worth of meals.

But the return comes in fast and heavy from there on out. Consider that if you make yourself 21 meals on a Sunday afternoon, you are cutting the meal prep time from every single one of those individual meals. Not only the prep time, but also the standing before the fridge and the texts between you and your partner (“What should we do for dinner?”).

As an added bonus, if you pick up everything you need on your list once a week you’ll save yourself additional trips to the grocery store over the week. Standing in grocery store line-ups is no one’s idea of a good time, so let’s chalk this up as a big win.

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You are less stressed out.

Eating shouldn’t be stressful, and the act itself isn’t necessarily—but deciding what to eat often is. We are regularly pitted in a battle of what we want to eat (Pizza! Burgers!) versus what we should be eating (Salad! Fish!).

Even though it seems like a trivial thing, these types of decisions deplete our willpower levels over the course of the day. It’s why, at the end of the day, when we stumble in after a long day at work and a hard workout that we are so susceptible to making poor food decisions.

Meal prepping removes willpower from the equation altogether, freeing you up to wield it against other the other pressing matters of the day (Should I go to bed early? Should I go workout?).

The Takeaway

As a kid, I swam competitively, and for me this meant two-a-day swim practices bracketing a full day of school. I learned the power of meal prep in those moments out of necessity—if I didn’t pack myself a bunch of meals for the day, I wouldn’t be eating.

Little did I know that this experience would help encourage better nutrition habits later in life.

This Sunday, try planning and preparing a few meals for your week. You certainly don’t need to start out by cooking a week’s worth of meals if you’ve never tried it before, but you should at the very least try cooking for a couple days worth of food.

Your time, your wallet, and your health thank you in advance.

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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