Tips for Breaking Out of a Food Rut

I’m three weeks out from my first competition of the season/my first competition as a lightweight competitor. Three weeks out means my nutrition has to be really dialed in so that I can make weight (I will water cut some weight but I’d rather this be minimal). Dialed in diet + tiny bit more caloric restriction + holidays should be a very interesting combination. Add traveling for a week into the mix and things are sure to get a little weird.

Speaking of diet things, I won’t lie, I’m ready to BE DONE with this weight cut. I haven’t minded the process all that much and it really hasn’t been insanely tough but it will be nice to have a small temporary break from constantly thinking about weigh ins and what I’m eating. Because I’ve been a little bored with my food lately, I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to try some new recipes and make things a little more interesting. So here are my best tips for breaking out of the dreaded boring food rut:

 

1. Try new recipes: I will be the first to admit that I very rarely cook actual recipes – my style of making food is a little less involved usually because I’m short on time. However, whenever I get sick of my usual menu items, I turn to cook books for inspiration and new recipes. I like to look for recipes that use a common ingredient (like chicken or ground beef) in a different way or that has a completely different flavor profile.  Alternatively, I’ll find a recipe that uses an ingredient that I don’t commonly use and experiment with that.

Example, this Mongolian beef recipe from Real Life Paleo. I pretty much always have beef on hand and was getting tired of the same meals so this recipe was a great departure from the norm – it was fast, easy, and insanely delicious.

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2. Change up ONE meal: Changing up all of your meals at once is a little overwhelming so I like to change up just one meal at a time when I get bored. I’m normally not big on sweet breakfasts but lately I’ve been rotating sweeter influenced stuff into my morning repertoire. For example, my bro-tastic egg whites with oatmeal and peanut butter and pomegranate arils. I alternate between this and an omelette with sweet potatoes most mornings and it’s enough variety to keep me from being bored.

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3. Try new ingredients: I’m very guilty of buying the same things over and over and over again so I make a conscious effort to buy a new and different ingredient every so often, just to keep things interesting. My newest obsession is this coconut butter which, to put it mildly, is LIFE CHANGING. Although I’ve had coconut butter before, it’s not something I regularly buy, so purchasing this jar of deliciousness was a break from my normal litany of nut butters. Also – pumpkin spice doughnut flavor. BUY IT. Nuff said.

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4.  Swap out your proteins: Most people buy the same proteins week after week because it’s easy, convenient, and most of the time, it fits whatever dietary preferences/protocol we’ve got. Routine is nice but you can only eat so much chicken.  Changing up your protein source is one of the quickest ways to beat food boredom since protein tends to be the central component to any meal.

I’ve been getting a little bored with my usual lean protein selections (I’m looking at you chicken) and have been wanting to up my fish intake because I love fish and I prefer to get my fish oil from actual fish rather than supplements (plus fish oil supplements makes me bruise like a peach). Luckily, Sizzlefish sent me a giant pack of goodies that is sure to keep me stocked for awhile!  I made this super simple shrimp and pasta dish last night:

 

What are your best tips for getting out of a food rut?

Acceptance, Weight Loss, and Sanity: How to Have It All

Can you love your body, change your body, quantify your goals, and not lose your damn mind?

I’ll save you some time and tell you the answer to the question: YES.

But this would be a pretty crappy blog post if I just left it at that. So allow me to elaborate…

A few weeks ago I wrote this post on Crossfit Full Circle’s blog about the experience of losing 20+lbs to move down a weight class. I had NO idea that so many people would email, text, message,  and contact me about it. And all because I said that it’s possible to lose weight (or achieve any physique goal really) while quantifying your nutrition and not turning yourself into a neurotic basketcase. From a personal standpoint, I didn’t think much of it – I’m a data geek who loves numbers and like quantifiable things. When I was writing said blog post, I was honestly stumped on what to say. All I wanted to say was “I made a plan based on sound principles and followed the plan.” And while I will say that losing weight was not insanely easy, it really wasn’t that hard. In my mind, it was a simple as “Set goal. Work the plan. Achieve the goal”. However, when I actually stopped to think about it, I realized that it really wasn’t that simple – I had adopted habits and thoughts and a perspective that allowed it feel that simple.

 

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As I’ve mentioned before, there are a whole lot of feelings and emotions associated with women and body image. This has been a major reason why I wasn’t successful at losing weight or making physique changes in the past and I think it is a huge reason why so many women feel lost when it comes to making nutrition changes to reach a goal. Quite a few people have asked me how I’ve managed to take such a “detached” approach to this whole losing weight business. And while detached may not be the best word to describe the whole process, it is fairly accurate.  What I’ve gathered from talking with others is that is women are curious about how to turn losing weight into a positive experience and how to leverage the feels we all have into something positive rather than negative. This isn’t something I had put a lot of thought into until recently and I realized that there were a few key changes that I’ve made over time that have made it easier for me to approach something like dropping a weight class in a much more  sane and logical way:

1.Accepting physique change for what it is: Physique change is just that – changes made to your body. It doesn’t magically give you happiness or fulfillment. It doesn’t change the circumstances of your life. If you’re trying to lose weight because you believe that walking around at a certain body fat percentage is going to make everything better, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Accept physique change and the process of change for what it is – it’s changes made to your body and you are much, much more than your body. Changes made to your body do not equal changes made to yourself or your environment. Being a certain size will not give you the key to happiness, it will not make people love you more or less, and it certainly won’t give you a full life – YOU as a person can do all of those things, your body cannot.

2.Give a sh*t about something other than your abs: I’m not saying physique goals for the sake of physique goals are inherently bad. In my experience, having something else to focus on besides my body made losing weight much, much easier. This can be your gym performance, your performance in any sport, or just simply how much energy you have or how well you sleep. Having something else to use when measuring progress was incredibly helpful and I think it helps eliminate a lot of the neurosis that can be brought about by only tracking physical progress.

 

3.It’s not X or Y: There seems to be this underlying notion that if you love your body, you are not supposed to want to change it and if you do want to change it, then you don’t love it. To me, wanting to make changes and self acceptance are not incongruent thoughts. I think saying that someone either “loves” their body or wants to “change” their body is a falsely dichotomous statement that trips people up. You do not have to be forced into a box of either “loving” or “hating” your body. The desire to change your body, when it comes from the right place, is a great thing – it means you honor your body enough to want to make it the best damn body it can be.

4.Practice: People often forget that thoughts and outlooks are not fixed things – they are fluid, ever changing, and often times, they need a little bit of attention. Practicing things like reminding yourself that physical changes are only physical and measuring progress in unique ways is a skill. And like any other skill, if you want to get good, you have to practice. Eventually, these things become habit and having that solid foundation makes it much easier to achieve your goals.

Are all of these things necessary for you to achieve in order to reach physique goals? Absolutely not. Cultivating some awareness about the mental aspect of weight loss and all of those feels can be extremely helpful throughout the entire physique change process. Examining items like the ones mentioned above can help you get mentally prepped for a change you’re about to undergo. They also serve as good “checks” throughout the entire process to help keep you grounded when things start to get tough or you start to feel a little crazy. Again, weight loss or body change does not have to be a hateful, dreadful process; instead, it can be a time to cultivate new positive habits.

Things I’m Loving Lately

Since this week is a busy week, I thought I would keep it lighthearted by sharing a few things that I’ve been loving the past few months.

  1. Fabletics!

 

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[photo by Stephanie Lau]

These bright blue capris. Let me just say that I am firmly on #teamninja when it comes to my workout gear but these bright blue pants have been making several appearances lately. They’re super comfy, durable, and they’re obnoxiously bright.

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I also scored a hoodie from Fabletics (Chelsea hoodie) that I’ve been living in – it’s very warm, cut really well, and is perfect for when it’s chilly in the gym. (note – affiliate links)

  1. Real Life Paleo

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I’ve met Stacy of Paleo Parents several times at strong(wo)man competitions, during which she always feeds everyone insanely delicious treats. I was super excited when she sent me a copy of their new book “Real Life Paleo” and let me tell you, I LOVE this book. I love the three-tiered approach to diet change, the detailed weekly meal plans (!!!), and the gorgeous and delicious recipes. I’ll be doing a more in-depth review here soon (whenever I can actually cook something for more than 3 minutes) but I would highly recommend snagging this book for yourself or anyone who is interested in making dietary changes.

 

  1. Ladies Lift Here

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[photo by Stephanie Lau]

I’ve written for Ladies Lift Here a few times (see here and here) and I’m competing in the first of their Strongwoman competition series, the Ice Queen, in January. This competition is a SOLD OUT WOMEN’S ONLY SHOW. Let that sink in for a minute – SOLD OUT. There are 60 female competitors in a range of divisions, TONS of sponsors, and seemingly  more awesome things happening every day. My first competition I competed against 3 other women. In January, in my division alone, I will be competing against over a dozen women. That’s amazing.

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They were also kind enough to send me a few tank tops and I’m in LOVE (no pun intended) with them. They’re super comfy and the designs are fantastic. All of the details, even down to the tags, are so well thought out and well branded. I highly recommend grabbing a few shirts while you can – well worth it!

  1. Coffee

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All the coffee, all the time. Nothing new about that.

  1. Implement training

    Taking 415# on a short ugly walk (if you pick unevenly, you’re gonna have a bad time). Walked 450# (3x bodyweight) for 20 feet and I think it broke my soul. Shirt courtesy of @startingstrongman, shorts from @fabletics. #deathbyyoke #strongwoman #strongman #startingstrongman #ladieslifthere #fitfluential #fableticsmaster

    A video posted by Gabby (@gabbysgfree) on

    I have missed training on implements oh so very much. Here is a snippet of me walking a 415#  yoke – I actually got 450# (triple bodyweight) for about 20 feet the same day and it was soul crushing. Yoke is still my favorite though.