Save Time with Meal Prepping

Meal Prepping

 

Meal prepping might seem intimidating to someone who’s never done it before. Or it may seem super time consuming. However, it’s actually pretty straightforward – and ends up saving you a TON of time – once you get started!

As someone who used to hate meal prepping, but now actually enjoys it … I want to share the best tools that will help make you a meal prep MASTER!! These tools help make prepping food easy and fast.

I mean, no one wants to spend 2-3 hours meal prepping, right?

Make meal prep fast and easy with these 7 tools

Here are 7 tools that will make your meal prep fast, easy, and almost effortless.

1. Grocery List and Meal Planner

Never underestimate the power of writing out your food plan for the week and making a grocery list – AHEAD OF TIME.

It can save you a ridiculous amount of time at the store and will help you stay on track.

For Grocery Lists, there are two tools I found really helpful:

  1. The free family app called COZI. With COZI, you can not only create and share Cozi.Shopping-list-1shopping lists with family members, but also calendars and to-do lists – keeping you all on the same page and organized! Nice, huh?
  2. The 21 Day Fix grocery list is also another super helpful tool. Click here to download it.

For Meal Planners, I also have two tools I love:

  1. Here’s one that’s super easy to use and FREE! It’s my FitGirls_Weekly Workout & Meal Planner, you can download here.
  2. Also, if you want something a little more robust, you can use this online meal planner by clicking here.

FitGirl Tip for any program: Write out your meals for the week first before writing your grocery list.

2. Slow Cooker

Meal Prep Monday Slow Cooker

Slow cookers are an easy way to make flavorful dishes, like chili, stew, soup, a roast and oatmeal, in large quantities. Slow cooker meals also usually freeze well … so you can make extra portions to freeze for another week!  With the holiday season in full swing, now would be a great time to invest in one (or request it as a gift 😉 ).

3. Sectioned Containers

Meal-Prep-Monday-Containers

Having the right containers for your food is essential for staying organized. These ChefLand containers from Amazon.com come in all different sizes, are dishwasher safe, and are awesome for re-use!

What I love doing is using my 21 Day Fix containers to actually portion out my food and then I store my meals in containers like these.

4. Mason Jars

Meal Prep Monday Mason Jar

Mason jars are super cute right?! Especially when you use them for tea, lemonade, cocktails … or even as flower vases. On top of that they are SUPER practical when it comes to food prepping! Plus, they are pretty inexpensive and can be purchased by the dozen at stores like: Target, Walmart and online on Amazon!

5. Spices

IMG_0077

Chicken breast and asparagus are a meal prep masters go-to, however, it can get boring quickly if you don’t add flavor to it. Use spices and salt-free seasoning mixes to add loads of flavor without adding any calories. Mrs. Dash and Flavorgod have many different flavors to choose from and I love both!

6. Insulated Cooler

IMG_0078

You can now easily bring your food anywhere and everywhere when you have a proper (and cute!) insulated bag. Whether your schedule is full of traveling, you’re going somewhere for the weekend, you want to replace your current old school lunchbox … or you just want to avoid temptation at events, coolers like Jaxx FitPak or 6 Pack Bags change the game for all meal preppers!

BONUS TIP!

Order your groceries from Shipt (or a similar company).

It’s a “bonus tip” because it’s actually a service and it’s my new favorite tool! This is a fairly new service in the southeast but it’s RAIDLY expanding! Think of it like a Lyft or Uber for grocery delivery. It’s $99 for the entire year and all orders over $35 have free delivery. Dang! That’s a deal.

This saves me SO MUCH TIME and my time is well worth $99!

If you want to give it a try, use my link and get $10 back when you sign up! Click here to get your $10.

……………………………

I hope these tools help you stay on your meal prepping A-game!

If this helped you out, I would LOVE to see your meal prepping photos! Comment below with your new skills or email me at vanessa@toughknockouts.com.

OR find me on Instagram! @vbaviles

 

<3 Vanessa

Follow:

Fitness Training Kickoff of 2014!
Here is my progress so far…

On January 7th, I started my 6-week training for Spartan Race! I had gained some unwanted pounds during the holidays and I needed a push. Plus, on my list of fitness goals was to really define my abs – which has always been my trouble spot.

Instead of focusing on “losing weight” or “starting a new program” or “dieting” … I decided to relabel my efforts that would keep me super focused and determined. I wanted to TRAIN for something. You know, like an athlete! And conveniently enough I had an upcoming mud race in February. Perfect! That would be my fitness training goal: Spartan Race!

So if you haven’t figured it out by now … I’m not trying to really lose weight. But tone, gain strength and TRAIN LEAN AND MEAN!

To measure my efforts I not only took my before weight and measurements, but I also decided to take weekly photos specifically focusing on my abs. But to make things really interesting, I decided to wear a pair of workout pants that were low-cut and SUPER SUPER tight on me. That way I could really see the difference in my stomach at the end of the 6 weeks. {Believe me this was scary and hard to do, but I knew it was necessary.}

My 6-Week Fitness Training Goals:
1) Teach my group fitness classes as usual, which include a combo of cardio and toning
2) Add in 1 extra personal cardio workout
3) Add in 3 strength training days and 2 intense ab days
4) Carb Cycling Meal Plans + Shakeology daily
5) No alcohol
6) One cheat day to eat/drink whatever
** Turbo Kick/Fire and P90X3 were huge players in my success!!

All in all I am happy with my fitness training outcome. Although I did cave and had a total of 2.5 cheat days instead of my original plan, that’s not too bad considering it was 6 weeks. Six week fitness training. Lost 11 pounds and nearly 9 inches. P90X3 and Turbo Kick. Vanessa Aviles. Beachbody Coach. Shakeology.

My results:

  • lost a total of 11 pounds (which the majority was holiday weight.)
  • lost 8.625 inches all around, with almost 3 of those inches from my waist!

So this has INSPIRED ME to continue using the “training” relabeling as a means to really focus on my goals. It keeps you so much more motivated and on-target. I mean, who wants to “diet” and “hate” working out??!! It should be fun, yet challenging right!!

So moving forward … I will be doing focused fitness training periods. It’s very similar to my monthly challenge groups I host for my customers, but for myself. And I will be sharing my results with you each time.

Since my training period just ended last week, I’m taking a recovery week this week with lighter workouts, but still eating well overall.

Next week my next fitness training period will commence and I’m thinking it’s going to be for 7 weeks. Ouch!! Wish me luck!

I want to share this with you because I hope it inspires you to keep REACHING and PUSHING for your goals, whatever they are, and NEVER GIVING UP!  It often starts with wanting to “look good,” but it ends up being about feeling good and just living a healthy life, which ultimately becomes an example for your family! So know this is NOT where I started … and it’s NOT where I’m stopping!! Each day, week, month, year — is a new opportunity to grow.

If you want to know a little more about me, my background and my transformation — I welcome you to read the 2 following posts so you can see how this entire journey has truly changed my life in so many positive ways!

Any questions, any time! I’ll be happy to help you!

Follow:

Keep Your Workout Motivation Going on the Weekends!

Workout Motivation: How to Stay Focused on the Weekends

 

There’s a natural tendency to want to have some fun on the weekends. 

But you can still have fun AND stay on track! I mean, why throw away all your hard work you did during the week to then feel guilty about it on Monday, right?!

Here are 5 ideas to help you stay focused and motivated on the weekends:
  1. Get on the buddy system.  Having a friend or family member helps you stay accountable, especially on the days you don’t “feel” like it.
  2. Surround yourself with affirmations. Put these positive quotes on your bathroom mirror when you wake up, on your fridge, in your car, in your planner … where ever you will see them throughout the day. There’s also a variety of different free phone apps that you can download! A couple I use are called, “Affirmations,” and “Inspiration.”
  3. Goal Photos. Another visual that is motivating is choosing an old photo of yourself when you were ROCKING it! OR … cut some out of a magazine. Caveat: if you choose to clip from magazines, please please please be REALISTIC. Choose a model that has YOUR body style.
    • For example: Jennifer Lopez. She’s got a great body! But guess what?! I would NEVER cut her out of a magazine and put her on my fridge because my body shape is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than hers and it just wouldn’t be a realistic choice. So if you’re going to use someone other than yourself as your visual motivation, choose wisely because you don’t want to set yourself up for unnecessary disappointment.
  4. Plan your cheat meals. This is very important. The weekends should not be a free for all. Instead, designate AHEAD OF TIME at what meals you will have some fun and stick to it. I like to plan my meals every Sunday night or Monday morning. By then, I know all my upcoming events and activities so I can plan ahead.
  5. GO OUTSIDE! Exercise is NOT limited in the gym. You can run/walk outside, ride a bike, roller blade, jump rope, hula hoop … or try a new fitness class. I know in Tampa there’s a ton of group fitness classes offered outside, as I’m sure that’s the case around the country. And if you can’t find one outside, it’s okay. The point is try something different 😉

>>> I hope these were helpful to keep your workout motivation going! I would LOVE to hear what helped you the most by sharing below!

Follow:

how shakeology helped Kelli with her Crohn's DiseaseShakeology and Crohn’s Disease – how this nutrition dense shake helped Kelli gain control 

The best success stories arrive in the most unexpected ways!

One of my December challengers was struggling with being consistent with her exercise due to a variety of things from some personal matters and a VERY hectic work schedule … on top of it being the holidays. The challenge was an opportunity for her to FOCUS and get back on track. Working out to ChaLEAN Extreme and drinking Shakeology every day, I followed up with her progress within our challenge Facebook group along with private messages. About mid-way through the 30-day challenge she she shared with me that she had Crohn’s Disease and Shakeology was giving her RELIEF and CONTROL like nothing else had before. I was stunned and very excited and asked if I could share her story on my blog.

You know what she told me, “Yes. Absolutely! This was no info the Dr’s could ever provide me so if it can help someone else then I am all for it!”

I’m SO HAPPY for her … and when Kelli emailed me her story, it brought happy tears to my eyes! I’m absolutely thrilled that she’s been able to receive help in way she never imagined!

So here’s Kelli’s story – directly from her!

“I began experiencing stomach irregularities and knew something about me was different then anyone else was around 7th grade. Every doctor I went to tested me for anemia, low blood sugar, thyroid issues, diabetes, and the regular string of blood tests. I was very underweight for my age but ate very normal. Every doctor said it had to be low blood sugar and passed it of as “I would grow out of it.” Around 11th and 12th grade I starting missing more school because I always felt sick, and was finally referred to a Gastroenterologist.

I went through every test known for upper GI, lower GI, and tests for my colon.  No doctor could give me an exact diagnosis, but deferred it as Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS).  Still unsatisfied, I got a second and third opinion.  I had documented my symptoms in a diary by time each and every day and documented what I ate. The third and last Gastroenterologist pulled my Mom aside after reviewing my file and all my tests and recommended I see a psychiatrist, as he felt that my symptoms couldn’t be diagnosed so my symptoms must be something equal to a psychological issue.

At that point I gave up….for five years. My stomach controlled my life. I missed parties, couldn’t eat the same foods as everyone else, experience extreme irregularity, and at the same time, I worked out 6 days a week as a college athlete and ate very healthy.  In many circumstances, this could control IBS symptoms.  Yet, nothing got better.  I struggled through 4 years of multitasking 5am workouts, 18 credit hours, and working 30 hours a week.  Yet, nothing got better.

I moved to Florida from Michigan for graduate school and decided to give it one more shot.  I did a lot of reading on Crohn’s and knew medicine had advanced in the last five years.  The first Gastroenterologist I went to, now knowing that during the appointment I was experiencing a ‘flair up’ was quickly able to diagnose me.  Up until 2 months ago, I took my medicine to control my disease, but just could not gain remission.

I met Vanessa through a Bootcamp class, that up until now, I would not know how impactful this avenue would be.  I recently joined a small group run by Beachbody Coach Vanessa and I started the ChaLean Extreme challenge that included a product drank daily called Shakeology.  After two weeks I noticed immediate results.  I was regular, not getting sick as frequently, and finally starting to control my Crohn’s without it controlling me.  After four weeks, I can’t start my day without it and am finally feeling like there is hope at the end of the tunnel.  With my medicine, ShakeO, and living a healthy lifestyle, I am finally in control.”

Follow:

Hey Cardio Queen — Slow It Down!

A few years back I was definitely “cardio queen!”  This was during my “big gym” days when my efforts were focused primarily on the treadmill, elliptical or group fitness classes. Cardio was my focus … I wasn’t really friends with the weights section. I would attempt a few reps … not really knowing what the heck I was doing. But who cared! I needed to lose weight and all I needed to focus on was my cardio. WRONG! 

Unfortunately, there’s a huge misunderstanding about fat loss in our society. Many people, especially women, think that if they starve themselves and put in 2-3 hours of cardio daily that the pounds will melt away. Here’s a rude awakening: performing too much cardio is actually BAD FOR YOU … and can put your body into a catabolic state and even burn hard-earned muscle. Yikes! The loss of muscle mass slows down your metabolism and reduces your strength … which means you will struggle burning off fat (especially with those last stubborn 20 pounds).

My girl Chalene Johnson says, “muscle burns fat” in her at-home workout program ChaLEAN Extreme. I learned SO MUCH doing this program … things like the importance of strength training, proper form, being consistent, creating balance and better nutrition. It was like I had my very own personal trainer in my living room!  Turbo Jam/TurboFire and ChaLEAN Extreme were the main programs that changed my life and, unknowingly at the time, were setting the stage for my future line of work!

Extreme Cardio/Exercise

Unfortunately, there’s no exact answer for how much cardio is too much.  I’ve read all sorts of different recommendations, but the one I like most is Jillian Michael’s. She says, in a SELF Magazine interview, “you shouldn’t clock more than 60 minutes of high-intensity or two hours of low-intensity cardio daily unless you’re on a sports team or training for a marathon. Any more than that can cause overtraining, a condition that develops when you haven’t given your body a chance to rest and recover.”

In a nutshell, if you are exercising efficiently and correctly (and you are NOT a a distance runner), anything over 60-70 minutes per day is likely counterproductive, in my opinion. I can tell you my cardio workouts DO NOT last more than 1 hour. Why would I want to do that? I can move on to other things or incorporate some weight training…

Additionally, over training — whether too much cardio or too much weight lifting — can be especially detrimental if you are not consuming enough protein or calories to support the daily caloric expenditure. In order to build or maintain muscle, you need to eat enough food … and the right kinds of food!

Is there such a thing as TOO much cardio?

5 Tips to Avoid Excessive Cardio

  1. Cardio + Strength. It’s important to incorporate strength training into your cardio regiment so you can lose weight AND get a toned, sculpted, tighter body. If you’re only doing cardio, you will plateau and as you lose weight your skin will look flabby.
    • If you’re used to working for 2+ hours a day, split up your time and do half cardio and half strength/weight training with AT LEAST 20-30 minutes of cardio.
  2. Add in different kinds of cardio such as long and short duration workouts, interval training and circuit training.
    • If you’re local come check out my Live 30 Minute INSANITY Class — it’s a great interval training workout that is short and sweet but will make you WERK! Every minute counts in this workout!
  3. Ease into weights! Especially, if you ‘re a little scared or unsure. Don’t get crazy trying to lift heavy off the bat! It’s very important to use proper form so you can get the most out of your workout and avoid injury. More important than the size of the weight is FORM! And by using proper form, you can make 5 or 8 pounds feels a lot heavier!
  4. Try to lift a minimum of 2-3 days a week. Incorporating some strength/toning exercising will help your cardiovascular efforts and help you lose more weight and more importantly, inches!
  5. Change up your routine every 2-3 weeks. Love a particular workout? You don’t have to give it up. Just mix it up and add in some new workouts that will trick your body and avoid the dreadful plateau.

 

>>>>> What does your current routine look like? Are you cardio queen, or king? How can you change things up?
I would love your feedback! Please comment below.

 

References:

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?id=6977663

http://health.yahoo.net/experts/healthieryou/tone-jillian-michaels

 

Follow: