Meal Planning

Seeing as how I love food-- and love to cook-- you would think that I have the nutrition and meal prepping thing down. Truthfully, every Friday I skim Pinterest to see what looks good and ask Jon what he wants for our weekly dinners (surprise, surprise, it’s usually clams, steak, or lamb-- he’s so adventurous!), and then make my grocery list for the week ahead. I rarely take into account calories/protein/etc. (the important things in my food), when I’m going to eat each meal (rest day or hard workout day?), or even the small things like what would inhibit (or help) the areas I’m trying to work on (fun fact: coffee reduces iron absorption). Seeing as how I’m coming back from injury, feeling crappy, and have gained weight, these would probably be good things to pay attention to.

To help with my “what food should I be eating?” guessing game, I planned on taking another InsideTracker test to get this information… and commit to paying full attention to it (unlike my last test). Over the years I’ve seen a few suggestions come up time and time again-- raspberries, chia seeds, and avocados-- but I was figuring out a lot of the nutrition puzzle on my own. Thankfully, InsideTracker is beta testing a meal plan program and since we all know how much I love beta testing, I was asked to be a tester!

The first step was to get my blood taken and wait for the results to come back. I fasted, didn’t pass out thanks to Jon’s (dumb) dad jokes, and within a few days, I had my results. After that, Ashley, InsideTracker’s Lead Nutrition Scientist, took a look to see what was up. Most notably, my Ferritin is low (surprise, surprise) and my Cholesterol and Glucose are high.

Now knowing my results, Ashley and I talked about what my goals were. We decided on a few key ones:

  • Get healthy and stay healthy: I’m starting to ramp up the mileage (slow, but steady), and don’t want to get hurt again. I need to remember that fueling is a part of training and getting stronger.
  • Lose weight: I was at the doctor last week for a checkup and I gained 15 pounds since last summer. GULP. I’m sure it all happened when I wasn’t running, but I’m not super thrilled about it. Everyone that I mentioned this to said they don’t see it, but I feel it. My clothes fit differently… or just don’t fit (thank God for Lulu and Oiselle)... and as much as I know that I’m perfect the way I am (Hi @KellyKKRoberts!), I would like to lose some of that weight.
  • Feel better: Recently I’ve started to feel… crappy. My mood has shifted, I’m not always as happy as I should be, and I’m tired. I’m not sure if this is a part of being injured or the fact that I got an IUD in early winter (and my hormones are going crazy; read more about what InsideTracker says about birth control here), but I don’t think the food I was eating was helping any of this.

With all this information, and having discussed with Ashley my typical week (run 3-4 times, swim/aguajog 1-2 times, yoga 2 times, and lift 2 times), I felt confident that the combination of Ashley, my InsideTracker testing, and my meal plan could get me on the road to where I want to be.

All the planning!

All the planning!

After a few more days of patiently waiting (Ashley knows how much I like organization and clean lines, so she was making it look nice), I got my meal plan. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement… there so much (useful) information broken down day-by-day. What I should eat when (breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner), calorie and protein count, and what things are most efficient when paired together. After working with Ashley to make the meals for my week a bit more plug and play, so I wasn’t getting bored, I had a pretty good plan down and ready to go:

  • Breakfast:
    • Oats and fruit
    • Eggs and avocado
  • Lunch:
    • Beans, edamame, and vegetable
    • Grains, vegetable, and poultry
    • Beans, vegetable, and fish
  • Snack: yogurt, nut butter, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and fruit
  • Dinner:
    • Poultry, 2 vegetables, and olive oil
    • Red meat, 2 vegetables, and olive oil
    • Fish, 2 vegetables, and olive oil
    • Shellfish, 2 vegetables, and olive oil

On a higher level:

  • I would eat red meat and fish twice a week (each), shellfish once a week, and poultry 6 times a week
  • I would eat fruit twice a day, and make sure I was moving around before/after eating so it wasn’t a ticking sugar bomb sitting in my stomach
  • I would get 1 serving of dairy a day: yogurt
  • I would be eating 85-110g of protein and 1700 calories a day, to keep me full and energized
  • Higher activity days I would eat more calories
Grocery haul

Grocery haul

After discussing all of this, Ashley and I discussed how realistic this plan would be, knowing that I am an athlete who works 40+ hours a week, commutes an hour each way, and likes my ice cream and wine. If I knew I would want wine one day, I would eat ½ the amount of grains at lunch. I could make overnight oats (to help with grab-and-go breakfast in the morning) with no sugar added almond milk. Ice cream was okay if I went lighter on the olive oil and cut out a fruit during the day. Since I wanted to focus on weight loss, it was most important that I hit my protein goals. And If I can’t hit my protein goals (especially while traveling), I’ll supplement with protein powder (my favorite is Teras Whey!).

TBH, didn't love that yogurt

TBH, didn't love that yogurt

Diving more into my InsideTracker results, we then discussed supplements and what the IUD was going to my body. I’m going to continue taking iron, but trying a smaller dosage since my body doesn’t seem to absorb it very well. Eating a large(r) lunch would hopefully give me 3 hours before my yogurt snack to get in an iron supplement; iron is best taken during a 3-hour period of fasting-- 2 hours after a meal, and 1 hour before--to help with absorption. For once, I’m going to put some effort into making this happen, including buying a pill slicer (hello, hi, yes, I am 65 years old) and starting an alarm for 2 hours after I eat. I’m also going to put more of an effort into taking a probiotic (best taken with food). Lastly, I’m going to make more of an effort to stop eating by 8:00PM every night. As Ashley says, “Nothing good happens past 8:00PM!” (besides The Bachelor(ette)!) and this will give me another chance to take an iron supplement.

After following this plan for a few months, I hope the following will happen:

  • Improved Glucose, HDL Cholesterol and LDL Cholesterol thanks to increasing my intake of nuts and grains to 1 time per day
  • Improved HDL Cholesterol thanks to increasing my intake of fish to twice a week
  • Improved Ferritin thanks to increasing my intake of red meat to twice a week
  • Weight loss
  • Feeling less like the tin man when I run and like I can handle more load
  • Improved mood/attitude
Pad Thai FTW

Pad Thai FTW

I’m a few weeks into this plan-- and doing pretty well except for a few “slips” here and there thanks to tacos and donuts (hey, 80/20 rule, right?!). I don’t know if it’s the placebo effect, but I feel better (and even think I look better), so I can’t wait to continue! As cliche as it is, with things like nutrition (and training!), “failing to plan is planning to fail”; meal planning (and prepping) takes time and effort, but if I want to get back to being in the best shape of my life (and chase that sub 1:50 half), I’ve got to make sure I have all my details planned out and aligned with my goals.

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