Bonjour, mes chéries! I’m back from the Dominican Republic shore and darker than I have ever been in my life. Lesson learned: make sure you and your friends do not all accidentally fall asleep in the sun at the same time. Consequences include burning your entire body, turning into the actual shade of a mocha cappuccino, and having a world map on your chest and back you as you peel right before your birthday… #NotWorthIt
About two months ago, I published my guide to “Thick Thighs and Thicker Patience” on becoming healthier and fit. Although spring break is over, the quest for your very best “bikini body” is not! While my spring break pictures turned out cute, I know I’m only 65% of the way to where I want my body to be. I’ve shed a good eleven pounds out of the fifteen pounds I gained in college (and want to lose before graduation) and my muscles have finally become much firmer and defined. Although I’m not trying to look totally shredded, I do want more definition in all my muscles and to lose the little kangaroo pouch that is made up of my less-than-optimal snacking. It all starts in the kitchen!
With these changes in my diet, I’ve started a new diet and already dropped 4lbs since those photos were taken. It will take much longer before I see the full effects, but for now I’m happy with where it’s headed.
How to Become Leaner
While exercise and intense fat-burning workouts are effective, you can’t see all your hard work if there is a layer of stubborn fat over your beautiful muscles! Here are some tips and tricks to becoming leaner through a cleaner diet.
- Eat foods with higher amounts of protein and GOOD fat in them. Protein keeps you very full since it takes longer to digest them than it does carbs or sugars. Good fat also keeps you fuller on less food, aka less calories.
- Leaner protein: chicken breast, tuna, white-meats, grass-fed animals, whole eggs, fatty fish, (small portions) dairy
- High-Fat: avocado, almonds, almond butter, dark chocolate, salmon, flaxseeds, small portions of cheese, olives, chia seeds, coconut
- Eat a little bit throughout the day instead of three big meals and no snacking. To be honest, I’m not a nutritionist. However, I’ve received this advice numerous times and tried it out myself. If I eat small portions 4-6 times throughout the day, my metabolism is always slightly working and my stomach is often lighter and flatter. If I eat two or three main meals, I tend to over-eat and eat unhealthier as I am often hungrier. I will go through my daily diet in the next section.
- Go paleo OR lower consumption/ditch the carbohydrates, grains, and processed foods. I will talk about the paleo diet later on in a different section. For now, just know that your body doesn’t need to be fueled by grains, dairy, or processed foods. It can run on stored fat!
- Practice. Portion. Control. I have the biggest problem with this because FOOD IS GREAT. Even the healthiest things can be bad if you overconsume it! Good news is high fat and protein foods fill you up so well that at one point it becomes almost impossible to overeat. Still, be careful.
- Stop eating at least 2 hours before bed. Let your body digest all your food before going to bed. Otherwise, there’s a chance it will store what you ate as fat.
- Drink a lot of water with lemons. This helps cleanse your system and leave you feeling refreshed.
- Add chia seeds to your tea or water. They are full with nutritional value and health benefits and fill you up quickly so you don’t snack as often.
- Use Himalayan pink salt to season things. It has numerous nutritional benefits that a lot of common table salt does not have! Don’t overdo it, but definitely don’t hesitate to buy some and sprinkle it onto your meals. Your body needs salt on a daily basis to function properly.
- Cook with coconut oil. Coconut oil is pretty much medium chain fatty acids that go straight to your liver to be turned into energy. It suppresses appetite and boosts metabolism up to 120 calories a day. It can also help you get rid of a kangaroo pouch (@me).
- Drink green tea. This increases metabolic rates and helps with digestion.
What I Eat in a Day
*Note: in this post, some photos are off Google search.*
Below is a pretty specific list of things I typically eat in a day. Since I change up my meals every day, I’ve listed all the options I tend to rotate through instead of my exact meal a day.
Breakfast (105-215 cal)
I always start with a cup of coffee with a dash of half&half/skim milk (15 cal) and one or two of the following:
- 1-2 scrambled eggs made with a tiny bit of butter (105-210)
- 1/2 Kashi Crunchy 7 Grain w/Quinoa granola bar (90)
- a banana (105)
Lunch (350 – 680 cal)
My lunches often vary because of class/campus job and in the future will also vary depending on how long or short my lunch break is each day at work. For now, I’ve listed things I eat as a student, as the general food item will remain the same once I start working.
- Harvest Turkey Salad from Au Bon Pain (390) with 1oz balsamic vinaigrette dressing (55)
- 1/2 Chipotle Turkey & Avocado sandwich from ABP (330)
- bowl of Asian styled noodles or pasta with protein and vegetables (420-680)
- light amount of sashimi (350)
- water with 1.5 tbsp of chia seeds (90)
- Room temperature green tea with 1-2 slices of lemons (0)
- fruit (40-100)
Snack @ 3PM (25-420 cal)
Around 3pm, I turn into a cranky mess until the clock hits 5pm. I know that I need to stay energized since I usually work out in the evenings. In order to combat the mid-afternoon slump, I pick up another cup of coffee with half&half/skim milk (15) and one or two of the following snacks depending on my hanger level:
- 1-2 sticks of Frigo Cheeseheads Light string cheese (60-120)
- fruit such as 2 clementines, 1 banana, or 2/3 of an organic Fuji apple (80)
- 1/2 of a serving of C2O Baked Coconut Chips (28)
- 10 baby carrots dipped in 1-2 tbsp of roasted red pepper OR edamame hummus (80-105)
- Chobani vanilla Greek yogurt with blackberries and/or a few C2O Baked Coconut Chips (120-150)
- 1/4 cup of mixed nuts or 1/2 of a KIND nuts bar (180)
- 1-2 tbsp of almond butter (98-196)
- an açai bowl with granola, banana slices, coconut flakes, dark chocolate, blueberry, strawberry, date, bee pollen, agave (420)
- 1/2 of an avocado drizzled in lemon juice and dusted with cayenne powder, garlic powder, and Himalayan pink salt (161)
- 1/2 of an avocado drizzled in 2 tbsp of soy sauce and 3 sheets of seasoned seaweed (142)
- Seasoned seaweed (25-50)
I don’t like using pre-workout purchased for fitness purposes because I don’t want to push my body past its natural abilities. My typical pre-workout snacks (eaten an hour before) are:
- 1/2 or a full SimplyProtein whey protein bar in chocolate mint (75-150)
- 1/2 Kashi Crunchy 7 Grain w/Quinoa granola bar (90)
- a banana (105)
- 1/3 CLIF Builder’s Protein bar in chocolate mint (90)
- lots of lemon water OR bottle of water with 1.5 tbsp of chia seeds (0-90)
You need to fuel your body for recovery! I tend to eat about 45-60 minutes after working out, as chugging or shoving food down your throat right after working out can make your body store it as fat instead of properly digesting and extracting nutrients out of it.
- Core Power High Protein milkshake (240)
- the rest of whatever protein bar I didn’t finish (75-90)
- vegan/vegetarian protein powder with either skim milk or water depending on how bad it tastes (130)
- Naked Green Machine juice and a scrambled egg (235)
This is usually the dangerous tipping point. Luckily, my body is craving the right things lately so I’ve been breaking the diet much less. Since I don’t have time to cook as much as a student, I tend to eat out or on campus a lot. I do know that I will cook much more in the fall, but the types of meal will stay the same – just with better ingredients. These are the things I whip up/order:
- Some large portion of meat (chicken, lamb, beef, fish, lobster, shrimp) with string beans, broccoli, carrots, cut plain/grilled potato wedges
- Lobster tail with a vegetable assortment (200-300)
- Some sort of sushi or sashimi with salmon, tuna, yellowtail and avocado (350-500)
- Kale/spinach/arugula/romaine/some sort of leafy mix salad with carrots, chicken, apple slices, 1-2 slices of sopresseta or proscuitto, 1 slice of provolone cheese OR a little crumble of asiago or roquefort cheese, avocado yogurt dressing (350-480)
- Kimchi with cooked vegetables, red meat dish, and half a cup of rice with quinoa (330-650)
- Pasta with spinach and arugula, red sauce, chicken, parmesan cheese (480-550)
- Asian noodle dish with vegetables and protein (450-680)
- A sandwich or wrap with chicken in it (330-500)
- Warm medium cup of soup with vegetables and protein (135-350)
If I eat out somewhere, I always make sure that the dish I eat is full of protein, low in grains, contains vegetables, and is not cream based. Once a month, I always treat myself to a Chipotle burrito bowl or fancy Neopolitan pizza. Sometimes, a Chick-fil-A spicy chicken sandwich or a delicious seafood pasta dish sneaks in there. And sometimes there is a guilty pleasure of macaroni and cheese. But most of the time I make sure my dinner reflects my diet at home.
I always eat some sort of fruit about an hour after my meal. Pineapple is great for your digestive system, but when it’s not in season, here are my other options:
- 1/4 of a pineapple (113)
- 1 organic Fuji apple (130)
- 2 clementines (80)
- 1/2 serving of coconut chips (28)
- 1/4 cup of mixed nuts (180)
I always drink a cup of low caffeine/caffeine free green tea in my favorite mug before bed in hopes that it will help speed up my metabolism when I sleep, since your body does burn calories while you rest. I couldn’t get a great shot of my favorite mug it due to the poor lighting in my room, so I’ve grabbed the image off Anthropologie (mine has an E on it, of course).
The Paleo Diet
So as I mentioned in the first section, there is something called the paleo diet which is intended to help you slim down, stay healthy and lean, and build/cut/shred/define your muscles as you work out. The gist of the diet is eating as if you were a caveman. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s actually not as hard as you think. In fact, it allows you to NOT count calories and needs minimal portion control!
| What You Can Eat
|| What You CANNOT Eat
As you can tell, you are basically eliminating anything that cavemen would not have had back in the day. If you think about it, cavemen were much stronger, leaner, and less prone to illness than people nowadays. That’s because they stopped eating any dairy products after nursing as a baby, did not process grains into pasta or bread or granola bars, and definitely did not have technology for candy and processed foods, or factory farms for meat and fish. They ate from what was naturally given on Earth. While alcohol is usually made from grains, enjoy life and don’t worry about it too much. Do control your intake, as overconsumption of alcohol doesn’t benefit you anyways.
I’m personally choosing to not go entirely on the paleo diet, because I enjoy a little dash of half&half or skim milk in my coffee and am addicted to cheese. I’m also not going out and buying a bunch of nutritious powders or products made for those on a paleo diet. They’re incredibly healthy and I know I will purchase them in the near future when I’m settled in New York with my salary in my bank account. For now, I am sticking to a student version “paleo diet” Sundays through Thursdays with Fridays and Saturdays being my cheat days. The only time I will cheat during my “paleo days” are when:
- I’m eating somewhere and don’t know if the meat is grass-fed or not
- I am running late and need an easy boost in the morning (Kashi 7 Grain granola bar)
- As a pre-workout (whey protein bar)
- If I’m stressed, I always peel at a string cheese stick to relieve it, so I opt for one with very low calories and higher protein to fat ratio.
- Desperately need more protein or fiber that day (Chobani greek yogurt)
- The rice around my sushi is a very very thin layer
- Peanut butter because I always forget to buy almond butter *sigh*
- Naked Green Machine (there is wheatgrass in it, but F it)
You’ll notice that even when I do “cheat” during the paleo days, I cheat in a very small amount. I’ve been on this diet for almost two weeks now (except with 3 cheat days) and have already noticed a significant loss in fat, weight, and hunger. I feel lighter, cleaner, and more energized on much less calories. Like I said in the beginning, since those spring break photos at the start of the blog post, I dropped 4lbs while eating just as much food as I always have, bringing me one pound closer to my goal. My abs are much more defined as well, as the top two of my whatever#-pack under my kangaroo pouch is starting to show.
Starting this Sunday, I plan on cutting it down to two cheat days and increasing HiiT workouts over lifting in my workout routines. Let’s see how far I’ll go…
On my cheat days, I still try to stick as close to the paleo diet as possible. For the things I love to indulge in, I opt for these options or serving sizes:
- Chips: Terra original mix vegetable chips
- If you want to indulge in vegetable chips but don’t want to break the paleo diet (as Terra fries the chips in non-paleo approved oils), here’s a homemade chips recipe.
- Rice: brown rice or quinoa over white rice
- Pasta/Noodles: 1 serving a week or opt for whole grain or vegetable noodles
- Popcorn: lightly sweet or salted Boom Chicka Pop or SkinnyPop
- Candy: only 1 serving of my favorite sour candy a week
- Artisan cheese: up to 2 servings a week of my favorite artisan cheese
- Cured meat: 1-2 servings a week
- Cured meat isn’t NOT paleo, but avoid low-quality cured meats if possible. They have many added ingredients and preservatives that are unhealthy in general.
There you have it! I hope this information is (mostly) accurate (@nutritionists, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) and helpful for anyone trying to detox and live a healthier lifestyle. Keep up all the hard work in the gym, but remember that most of weight loss and body building occurs in the kitchen.
Je vous souhaite bonne santé et bonheur, mes chéries!