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Nutrition: How to prepare for our upcoming 30-day weight loss challenge

Participating in a weight loss challenge can be an exciting way to shed unwanted pounds. It comes with motivation, a time frame that will push you and support from a community of like minds to help everyone involved reach their desired goals. But, just as with setting any other goal, you must establish a plan that will set you up for success. Without one, one can argue that while you can still be successful, you may risk minimizing your weight loss potential or creating unhealthy habits in order to lose weight. There are two components that must be considered: physical fitness and nutrition. Honestly, the physical piece is easy to plan out. Choose a mix of cardio (for calorie burn) and strength training (muscle building) workouts that you enjoy for at least 30 minutes per day; at least 3 times per week. However, choosing the right foods to eat may take some extra thought to ensure that you will be able to stick to it. One of the biggest threats with nutrition and weight loss (in my opinion) is that many think you have to eat boring and tasteless foods in order to lose weight. First of all...not true. Secondly, knowing what's important to you (i.e. taste, economical options, quick cook time) will make choosing healthy foods much easier. Ask yourself these question...Can I eat this way the rest of my life? When the weight is lost, how must I eat to ensure it stays off? Your response to these questions are important in finding what nutrition plan you need. It's no secret to people who know me that I'm not a fan of dieting unless you're at a life-threatening weight. I believe each of us should make healthy food choices that we can live by and make it a part of our everyday lives. There are so many ways to approach creating a healthy eating plan; but if you have no idea where to start, I can offer some tips that have helped me over the years that will give me the fuel I need to sustain me while allowing me to lose weight if I so choose. Please note that the following are only tips to help you begin planning how to eat healthier. If you have a medical condition or need a tailored nutrition plan for dietary restrictions, please consult a physician and/or certified nutritionist.

How to begin eating healthier:

  1. Don't bring it home: It's a simple but effective concept. When food shopping (or "making groceries" as we said growing up in, don't buy the sugary drinks or snacks and limit the purchase of processed foods. I say limit because sometimes it is unavoidable. Excessive sugar and salt is known to promote weight gain. Most soda and juices are extremely high in sugar content. Similarly, most processed food are high in sodium content as a way for them to have a longer shelf life. (Case and point: We used to pour salt on the ice in the ice chest because it helped keep the ice frozen longer).

  2. Fresh is best: As mentioned in item #1, processed foods contain a lot of additives that aren't so good for healthy weight loss. Fresh foods are a healthier choice and should be consumed as often as possible. Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli are packed with nutrients that have loads of nutritional value. Similarly with fresh fruit, these foods are lower in calories and higher in vitamins. Some of my favorites are watermelon, peaches, blackberries and my beloved Pineapples. These are also my go-to snacks when I want something sweet!

  3. You must eat: This one can be a challenge if you're used to skipping meals. However, when you're physically active, you have to give your body fuel to burn. We are taught that we have to be in a calorie-deficit to lose weight...which is true. However, we have to consume some calories along with carbohydrates and protein to provide us with the energy we need to sustain a workout. Think of your body as a vehicle that needs gas in order to move. But, not just any gas. The "type" of gas is crucial in order to get the best performance possible. Your body is no different.

  4. Water is king: I know that you've heard this one a million times, but the truth need to drink a lot of water in order to be healthy. Water keeps you hydrated when you sweat out fluids, flushes toxins out of your body, helps your organs to function properly and a host of other benefits. Trust me...drink water.

If you're saying to yourself, this is good information, but I still don't know what items to buy to get started. Let me help you out by sharing some of my shopping standards to make my favorite go-to meals and snacks:

Breakfast items:

McCann's Irish Oatmeal, Earth Balance Vegan Butter, Chopped Dates, Walnuts and Pumpkin Seeds (My favorite Oatmeal)

Lunch items:

Avocado, Bob's Bread, Eggs and Everything Bagel Seasoning (Avocado Egg Toast)

Dinner items:

Chopped Sweet Potato, Stir Fry Vegetable Mix, Sweet Chili Thai Sauce, Brown Rice (Power Bowl)

Snack items:

Bananas (ripe), Oat Milk, Chia Seeds, Cinnamon, Ice (Banana Smoothie)

Google is also your friend in finding healthy recipes and snacks, so don't be afraid to try something new.

Our 30-day weight loss challenge begins on September 11th, so there is still time to get your nutrition plan figured out. Anyone can participate whether you are looking to lose weight or just wanting to create healthy habits for your overall wellness. Check out the challenge details below and sign up by clicking the link on the home page of the website. Let's do this! #champlifestyle

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