Part 4 of 6: “Repeat After Me: Lean & Green!”
If you have read the first 3 parts of this series and implemented the Tricks offered, you are already on your way to improving your health, your shape, and your life! That is wonderful news! As I have said elsewhere, real and lasting weight loss requires taking different action. When you use your Fitness Avatar, practice Mindful and healthy eating, and keep a Food Journal as suggested, the actions they require work on both mental and physical levels, enhancing your diet and workout efforts. Keep me posted on your progress!
I have said that these Tricks will work for ANY balanced weight-loss diet, and that is true. But there is another facet to weight loss that can become an obstacle: if the diet you choose is narrow in focus, or so difficult to follow that you have to bring a cooler of appropriate food with you wherever you go, you can be frustrated into quitting.
I don’t know about you, but I love food. I’m not a “foodie;” in other words, I don’t live to eat, I eat to live. But I love good food. I enjoy preparing healthy meals for myself and my family, or going out to my favorite Italian or Mexican restaurants for dinner.
However, if I want to stay lean and feel good, I really can’t indulge in the bread basket or the nachos. I have to follow my Golden Rule of Dieting:
Trick #4: Always, always eat Lean and Green!
When choosing what to fix for dinner, for example, I always start with a Lean Protein and a Green Vegetable; say, grilled salmon and asparagus. (I know, salmon’s not that lean, but the fat is the healthy, Omega-3 kind.) Other choices might be roasted or grilled chicken breast with spinach salad, ground turkey with marinara and broccoli, or lean beef fajitas with grilled onion and green peppers. Once you start there, the rest of the meal is easy, but I focus on the first two items, and they take up at least 2/3 of my plate.
Adding a starch can be as simple as a small serving of roasted white or sweet potato; ½ cup of brown rice or whole-grain pasta; or another starchy vegetable like corn or peas. These serving sizes must remain small because when it comes to starch, a little goes a long way. Another food to minimize is cheese; the fat and sodium in most processed cheeses are prohibitive in a healthy diet. If you really want the flavor, opt for a shake or two of Parmesan cheese; it adds a lot of taste, and won’t break the calorie bank.
I also make a big green salad with lots of raw vegetables almost every night. We all have our favorite dressings, but the healthiest choice for a large salad is about a tablespoon of olive oil and a splash of red wine or balsamic vinegar. If you want to stay really lean, just use the vinegar!
The same principles apply when eating away from home. Start with a protein, and have it prepared to suit—sauce on the side, for example. Add in a healthy helping of green vegetable and minimize your starch. As always, starting with a big green salad, dressing on the side, will make sure you are satisfied and don’t over-indulge.
How do I get around this at Italian and Mexican restaurants, or places that only seem to serve burgers, hot dogs, or pizza? For burgers and hot dogs, eat them without the buns, which are usually highly processed, white-flour items. Most places have some kind of salad or fruit cup, and you can make that a double order.
For Mexican, I usually get some kind of fish or chicken taco in a small corn tortilla with shredded cabbage and ask them to leave off the cheese. I also like chicken burritos, but I rarely eat much of the flour tortilla—I just open it up and eat the “insides,” and it’s always without cheese. I enjoy the flavor of the seasoned chicken and sauce without the starchy tortilla much more. I will have a little guacamole or avocado but never sour cream, and a very small serving of black beans or rice.
For Italian restaurants, I have to be honest: I rarely eat pizza, and when I do, it’s usually loaded with veggies like peppers, onions and zucchini. I may have one slice, but then I want something healthy! I tend to order everything separately; I would much rather have a tomato-based sauce with veggies than pasta, and I keep the sauces on the side, so I can indulge a little but not too much!
Eating this way—emphasizing the Lean and Green, and minimizing the starchy and processed—will make a huge impact on your body. This is how athletes eat and behave. Keep your Food Plan Lean and Green, and take one more step toward achieving your health and fitness goals!
As always, I would love to tell you more! Nancy@N2Fitness.com