Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Meals For Muscle Or General Health, Just Take Control.

Since my campaign to put on more muscle began some weeks back, I have been doing a lot of thinking about nutrition lately. Particularly around cooking my own meals and eventually getting into the idea of doing meal prep for a few days in advance the way bodybuilders and other athletes do. This idea may seem like a bit much to some, and even for me it seems like something I might struggle with. But like any challenge, I feel the first step to overcoming it is to understand it. One night a few months back I listed the top 5 reasons preparing meals for a week would be an issue for me, which are:

  1. Time (it can take half to an entire day)
  2. Consistency (would I be able or willing to do it week after week?)
  3. Monotony ( to keep it simple, I'd have to be willing to eat the same meal or similar ones very often, could I do that) 
  4. Am I a good enough cook? ( Kinda goes with # 3 but I'll elaborate soon)
  5. Would it be worth it?
For the moment, I'd like to skip questions 1,2, and 6 because the other two were pretty simple to answer. Well sort of, the thing about number is 3 I could absolutely eat the same or similar meals all of the time. Two reasons for that are that it makes it easier when you're looking to be in control of your diet, and in all honesty it sort of just naturally becomes your habit. Even if I'm not packing my lunch for work, I rarely find myself deviating from some sort of grilled meat, carb and veggie combo from the same place I get lunch nearly every day at work. For example, Grilled steak or chicken, Sweet potato or brown rice, and broccoli or spinach. See below for pics.



Even with the meals I make at home, they're pretty similar to one another and I don't often try new things, for examples of my home cooked meals see below.



Let me be clear, these are just some of the images I had readily available, I do vary things from time to time, like a healthy variation of Shepherd's pie made with green plantain mash instead of regular potatoes, or a turkey and vegetable lasagna with the middle layers of pasta being replaced with spinach. But those are every once in a a blue and typically something I cook up on the weekends when I have more time.

Now as far as me being a good cook, my friends and family who've tried my food have all enjoyed it. While my skill level is faaaaar off from master chef, I have to admit I do well enough. So saying I can't cook or cook well enough is not really a challenge anymore.

So this leaves me with the remaining challenges of time, consistency and value. I still can't really answer the first two since I've yet to try it. Now do I see the value in it? Of course I do, I wouldn't be writing this otherwise. Now while I'm not a competitive athlete, let me just mention that I think the biggest benefit of "meal prep", as it's known to fitness buffs, is the fact that you'd be able to adhere to an eating schedule. You don't have to be training for the Mr. Olympia or a marathon to do this, in fact it is a staple of being healthy, promoting a good metabolism and feeding a growing body. You have to eat well, often, and enough. I like many have been victim of long periods of time without a good meal due to the burdens of a hectic job or school schedule. But having your meals with you and ready to eat so you can squeeze them in is a good way to stop that and mitigate the issue of settling for a less nutritious or flat out bad meal,

In addition, while spending an entire Sunday cooking meals for the week may seem like a lot of work, when you have a crammed schedule you may find that coming home and having something pre made you can quickly heat up and eat so you can focus on chores, homework, family, or even best of all making time for exercise, is just invaluable. Think of the reason TV dinners took off the way they did when those horrifying dietary atrocities were introduced to the market. It was all about the convenience of them. Instead if a some time is set aside early in the week, you can have well made, balanced, natural, and actually nutritious meals ready to go.

Something to note here is even if you're not thinking about eating for growth like I'm currently doing, there are other benefits to this idea of focusing so much on your food. I don't want to go on and on about this, but instead I'd like to propose something before getting to my point and offering an alternative. If you're reading this and thinking it would be too difficult or too crazy to try meal prep. I say try this, think of 3-5 reasons meal prep would benefit you. Maybe weight loss? Maybe for better energy? You've already noted the reasons you couldn't do it, so now think of reasons you should. In fact, share them in the comments below.

Now to my closing point, while I don't feel I'm quite ready to try the meal prep thing let me leave you with this, at least make your own meals. Even if you don't know how to cook, the internet has some pretty simple recipes one can follow and as you do it more and more, like anything else you'll get better at it. I don't just credit my 60lb weight loss to hard work, it was mostly good and consistent eating habits which I reinforced by cooking for myself more often. Handling my food own food more often absolutely gave me a better picture of how to adjust my diet to maintain a healthier weight and life. It's been almost two years now and the only time my weight went up was when I wanted it to. And even then it's been good lean muscle. I take pride in my healthier body, and what goes into it. Shouldn't we all?

-FG


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