IIFYM as a step toward intuitive eating

I’ve seen plenty of people balk at the suggestion they should count macros. It seems difficult, time consuming, stressful, unhealthy to track your food that closely, and besides, why not just eat when you’re hungry?

All fair points. But what if I told you counting every gram of fat, protein and carbs you put into your body wasn’t the end game? What if I told you that counting macros will help you be a better intuitive eater? It’s true!

Before counting macros, my idea of intuitive eating was probably eating around 1300 calories and almost none of it was protein. No wonder I didn’t have any muscle mass.

Counting macros taught me about portion size and creating meals that have a good balance of macronutrients so that I perform at my best. Now, if I put even a small amount of thought into what my next meal is going to be, I tend to choose things that help me reach a macronutrient balance close to what I would want if I were counting. When I’m putting my meal together, I think to myself, “You need more protein,” or “That would be too many fats for one meal,” and I change my portions accordingly.

You can do it, too. Here’s are some things you can do while you’re tracking macros, so that you don’t have to track forever:

Pay attention to portion size. What does 4 oz. of chicken breast look like, or 2 oz. of uncooked pasta, or 100 grams of raspberries? When you’re no longer tracking, you’ll have a better idea of how much to put on your plate if you learn to estimate portion sizes.

Pay attention to the macros for your frequently eaten foods. It’s helpful to think of the macronutrient group the food mainly represents. I know off the top of my head that a quarter cup of uncooked jasmine rice has 160 calories and about 35 grams of carbs. It might have some trace amount of protein, but I’m mostly concerned with carbs. I know a 4 oz. boneless skinless chicken thigh has about 120 calories and 20 grams of protein. It also has some fat, but I’m mostly concerned with the protein. When you start to step away from counting, roughly calculate your macros in your head as you put meals together.

Pay attention to what a whole meal looks like. This can help if you’re not into memorizing macro counts. How much food is on your plate, and what kinds? How often do you eat meat, eggs, fruit, grains, rice and veggies? What should you eat throughout the day if you want a cookie before bed? What do your snacks look like if you have pasta for dinner? What about if you have steak and green beans? What are your go-to meals that usually fit your macros?

Do trial runs. Plan a meal as if you weren’t counting, then weight and measure the ingredients before you cook or eat them to double check if you were close to your macros or really far off.

Don’t panic. Just like when you’re counting, not every day of intuitive eating will be balanced. Some days, your intuition will tell you that breakfast should be a donut, lunch should be pizza and dinner should be a cheeseburger with some ice cream for dessert. Remind yourself that it’s okay. You’re not on or off any imaginary wagon, and you have the right tools to choose a more nutritionally balanced meal next time.

Did you make the switch from macros to intuitive eating? Do you have any tips?

Stay fit,

Marisa

Grocery shopping at the gym!? Amazon Fresh review

Our refrigerator died just before July 4. By the time we got a new refrigerator a week later, we had lost a bunch of food and needed to restock our supply of condiments. My husband and I both were very busy and didn’t have a chance to go grocery shopping. He noticed an ad for a 30-day free trial of Amazon Fresh for Amazon Prime members, so we decided to take advantage.

Amazon Fresh allows you to grocery shop online using your web browser or Amazon app. You add items to your cart, choose a delivery date and time, and check out. Your groceries show up at your door at the designated time. You can choose attended delivery, which means you have to be home to accept delivery or your groceries, or unattended, where the delivery person leaves the groceries at your door.

I’ve placed a few orders with Amazon Fresh so far and tried both delivery options. Here’s my review of the service.

Amazon Fresh pros

  • Free trial. It’s nice to be able to try a service to see if you like it before you have to begin paying for it.
  • Free delivery if you spend $40 or more. I grocery shop weekly, so it’s easy for me to add more than $40 worth of food to my cart. This might be more difficult for you if you’re someone who likes to get groceries every couple days. If you don’t have a $40 order, you pay a $9.99 delivery fee in addition to the $14.99 per month Amazon Fresh subscription, or just $9.99 if you’re in the 30-day free trial.
  • Saves time. This was the most obvious benefit. It takes time to get to the grocery store, walk up and down the aisles, stand in line, load your car, come home, and unload your car. Amazon Fresh eliminates those steps. Previously,  I had occasionally been using grocery pickup at my local store by ordering online, driving to the store and having someone bring the groceries to my car. It’s a great service, but Amazon Fresh saves even more time since I don’t have to go to the store. One day I multitasked by adding to my online grocery cart while doing steady state cardio. I was literally able to grocery shop from the gym!
  • Prices were similar to my normal grocery store. Some items were more expensive and some less expensive. In the end, I spent about the same amount using Amazon Fresh as I would at my normal grocery store.
  • Tried new brands. Amazon Fresh doesn’t have all the same brands as my normal grocery store. The plus side to this is I got to try some new brands and order brands I’ve tried and liked but aren’t available at my local store.
  • Produce was fresh. I was initially concerned the produce quality wouldn’t be very good, but Amazon Fresh proved me wrong. Everything I’ve gotten so far has been, well, FRESH. When you ask for a ripe avocado, they deliver a ripe one. When you ask for an unripened avocado, that’s what you get.
  • Groceries arrived on time. You can select a two-hour window during which your groceries will be delivered. I tried to select times when roads aren’t that busy. My groceries arrived within the first 30 minutes of my two-hour window every time.
  • Each order came with a recipe card. That was pretty cool because it gives you an idea of what to buy in your next order. I’ll include the recipe card we received in our first order.

Amazon Fresh cons

  • Fees attached. I haven’t experienced the fees yet since we’re in the free trial and my orders have been over $40. Eventually, we will need to pay $14.99 per month to keep the service. That’s not too steep for us, and it’s less expensive than if I used grocery pickup every week at $5.95 per pickup. However, it’s not all free everything all the time, so the cheapskate in me has to list the monthly fee as a con.
  • All my favorite brands weren’t available. I mentioned it’s been nice to try some new brands in place of things I normally buy, but some favorites I didn’t want to switch weren’t available on Amazon Fresh. I had to make substitutions or make a small trip to my regular grocery store to get some favorites.
  • The website had a few glitches, once. The first time I ordered, I experienced a problem where I tried to add items to my cart and got a notification that the attempt was unsuccessful and the item wasn’t added. So I tried again until it was successful. Turns out, some items were added to my cart two or three times because the unsuccessful additions actually had been successful. I ended up with a few duplicate items because I hadn’t double checked the cart. It wasn’t a big deal because I can use the duplicate items, but it would be inconvenient to get more produce than you can eat before it spoils, for example.
  • Attended delivery is weird. I tried attended delivery the first time I ordered. The person who came to my door was driving a regular car and wasn’t wearing any type of delivery uniform. I typically don’t answer the door for random people, and I almost didn’t answer it until I remembered I was expecting groceries. Some type of uniform or a more clearly marked vehicle might make some people more comfortable answering the door. I switched to unattended delivery so my bags could be left at the door and I just made sure to be home to bring them in from the heat after the delivery person left.
  • Lots of packaging waste. I normally shop with reusable grocery bags, so it was surprising to see all the packaging that came with my Amazon Fresh order. Paper grocery bags, cardboard cartons inside of grocery bags, temperature control bags inside of cartons, loads of ice packs (we can reuse them, but we only need and have room for so many ice packs), plastic baggies or netting for the different types of produce… I don’t like this. If we end up not renewing the service, I think it will be for this reason. Amazon Fresh, how can you improve your environmental game and create less packaging waste? Maybe re-usable bags and cold packs that you can send back or return with your next delivery, that come with a deposit you lose if you don’t return them?

 

Final verdict: I really like Amazon Fresh for the time-saving and convenience benefits. I do not like that the service produces so much packaging waste. I’m still undecided if I’m going to continue using it once the free trial is over. It would be a no-brainer if there was a better solution to the packaging waste problem.

What do you think? Did you like Amazon Fresh? Are you interested in trying it?

Stay fit,

Marisa

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Weekly meal plan #19 (June 26 – July 2)

Meal plans are back! The past couple weeks I’ve been traveling, and when I wasn’t traveling, I was eating at restaurants or throwing together random meals using food I had in the house, with no real plan. My body image has been struggling for it, so I wanted to get back on track this week before leaving town AGAIN for a long weekend at my in-laws’ house. The good part about going there is we’ll eat in while we’re there instead of going out.

Here’s what I have planned for the portion of the week we’ll be at home. Of course everything is grilled.

Monday

Grilled steak nachos. It’s really simple – just steak grilled with spices (chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, chipotle powder) – on top of tortilla chips and whatever toppings we feel like – lettuce, onions, diced peppers, jalapeños, shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream and guacamole.

Tuesday

BBQ chicken, pineapple and pepper kabobs with grilled asparagus. This is literally as easy as it sounds. Skewer cubed chicken, pineapple and bell peppers and grill it.

Wednesday

Honey chipotle tacos with BLT slaw

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Credit: Carlsbad Cravings

Thursday

Grilled chicken sausages (from Trader Joe’s) with canned beans on the grill and grilled asparagus.

Friday – Sunday

Out of town, hopefully cooking on the grill at my in-laws’ house.

Stay fit,

Marisa

Weekly meal plan #18 (June 5-11)

Big news! We got a concrete patio poured! It cost us all of our adult money dollars, but we’re very excited to have a real patio to grill, drink and relax. Not a narrow space between the garage and the house that’s really an extension of the driveway and right next to the trash cans. To celebrate, I have a few grilled meals on the menu this week.

Monday

Pulled pork ragu over butternut squash noodles. I got the noodles pre-spiralized at the grocery store.

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Credit: Skinnytaste

Tuesday

Buffalo ranch chicken tacos with lettuce and blue cheese dressing

Buffalo Ranch Slow Cooker Chicken
Credit: Sweet Little Bluebird

Wednesday

Pesto stuffed pork chops, sweet potato, broccoli

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Credit: allrecipes

Thursday

Chicken and veggie skewers with peanut sauce over rice

Friday

I’ll be running Ragnar Chicago and eating whatever food we have in our van! Blog post about Ragnar coming next week.

Saturday

Grilled steak, oven fries, salad

Sunday

Chili pineapple grilled chicken, sweet potato, grilled eggplant

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Credit: Plain Chicken

Do you have a lot of patio meals in the summer? What about patio drinks?

Stay fit,

Marisa

Weekly meal plan #17 (May 22-28)

This week’s meal plan is a little short because we’re going out of town for a wedding next weekend. I hope you get to do something fun Memorial Day weekend, too!

Monday

Sriracha burgers (pre-made from the grocery store meat counter), grilled eggplant, fries (I’m using the Alexia Foods Rosemary Fries with Sea Salt from the freezer section)

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Credit: The Spruce

Tuesday

Greek chicken and lemon rice, broccoli

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Credit: RecipeTin Eats

Wednesday

Buffalo chicken bacon ranch casserole (yes, again, because we love this meal)

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Credit: Civilized Caveman

Thursday

Spicy southwestern salad with avocado dressing (I’ll be adding chicken)

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Credit: Pinch of Yum

Friday

Honey chipotle pork chops and baked potato with broccoli and cheese sauce (I bought the broccoli and cheese sauce from the frozen section)

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Credit: Publix

Saturday – Sunday

We’re headed out of town for a wedding! If the weather is nice where you live, I suggest making simple grilled meat and veggies on the grill with potato salad, like the one I made last week.

Stay fit,

Marisa

Should I diet before vacation?

If you mean, “Should I continue an existing diet/healthy habits I had for several weeks or months prior to vacation?” by all means, continue!

If you mean, “Will crash dieting and exercising like a maniac make me look lean for vacation?” then the answer is probably not.

Here’s why: A one or two week diet before vacation will cause you to shed mostly water weight and MAYBE a pound or two of actual body mass. You’ll look lean for your first day of vacation and by day two, after you’ve traveled, eaten a burger and poured back a margarita, you’ll be wondering why you’re bloated again. It’s just a given with extra salt and carbs in your diet and the change in your routine.

Personally I don’t think two weeks of starving and crazy workouts are worth it for one day of results and no long-term benefit. I wouldn’t do a two-week diet for the sole purpose of going on vacation.

If I happened to start a diet shortly before but unrelated to vacation, I would ease my way in and keep in mind that my results would be delayed because of my vacation.

When you return from vacation and notice bloating or a higher weight on the scale, don’t panic, don’t starve yourself, and don’t spend hours doing cardio. Your best bet is to drink a lot of water and get back to a healthy routine.

How do you prepare for vacation?

Stay fit,

Marisa

Weekly meal plan #16 (May 15-21)

The weather is finally supposed to get warmer this week (fingers crossed), so I planned three meals on the grill! Here’s to hoping my propane tank isn’t empty.

Monday

Leftovers: Instant Pot chicken tikka masala from Sunday

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Credit: Kitchn

Tuesday

Grilled pork chips with garlic-lime mojo, foil pack asparagus, baked potato

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Credit: The Optimalist Kitchen

Wednesday

Grilled burgers, roasted potato salad with dill-scallion vinaigrette, kale salad

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Credit: Perry’s Plate

Thursday

Venison steak and kale tacos with garlic cream sauce

I’m using the same recipe as last week’s shrimp tacos except I’m substituting venison for the shrimp and kale for the shredded cabbage.

Friday

Pesto stuffed chicken, broccoli, rice

I’m using last week’s pesto-stuffed pork chops recipe but converting it to chicken. I’ll cook the chicken breasts at 375 degrees F for about 25 minutes plus 5 more minutes with the glaze.

Saturday

Grilled bratwursts, leftover potato salad, asparagus

Sunday

BBQ chicken pizza with sweet potato crust

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Credit: The Soccer Mom Blog

What do you like to cook when the weather gets warmer?

Stay fit,

Marisa