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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 December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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