By Kate Richlin-Zack
Bad news for all you cheesy poofs lovers out there: your body composition is determined predominantly by your diet. In fact, about 80% of what you look like depends on what you eat while only 20% depends on working out. Kinda makes you wonder why we work out at all, but trust me, building lean muscle mass boosts your metabolism which means you get a little extra leeway with your food. Which is why you need to make sure you’re lifting a weight or two on a consistent basis. The upside to your diet having such a huge influence is that you actually have considerable control over what you look like… assuming you have willpower. But let’s be honest, that’s not always the case. Donuts actually speak to me. They’re especially convincing when the light is on at Krispy Kreme.
But if you want a rockin’ bikini bod, you’ll have to watch your diet and ignore the donuts, at least most of the time. Eating healthy isn’t always fun and it can seem like an insurmountable task: counting calories, weighing food, all that broccoli. Ugh. So how can a Lazy Girl make healthy eating easier? Here are a few tips to help incorporate healthy food into your everyday life without making yourself miserable in the process.
Cook your own meals
I thought you said you weren’t going to make my life miserable?
Bear with me. I hate cooking. I’m terrible at it and despite numerous lessons, my attempts at a halfway edible meal are usually futile, but cooking your own meals is the only way to guarantee that you are eating healthy food. Even at the best restaurants, there’s no guarantee that your food will be free from extra sugar, saturated fats, and extraneous ingredients that will make your pants snug.
But cook it myself? That’s just ridiculous.
I hear you, but until we can afford to hire a personal chef (our day will come, I just know it!) we’re forced to be resourceful. The easiest and least disruptive way to incorporate cooking into your life is to get it all over with in one shot.
But spending hours on my feet slaving over a hot stove doesn’t sound like the kind of thing a lazy girl would do!
Let me put it to you this way: whether you cook or order take-out, you’re already spending around two and a half hours every week making or waiting for your food. Sounds crazy but here’s how I got to that number, Archimedes. Let’s say it takes an average or 30 minutes to prep and cook a simple meal. Since the days of delivery in “30 minutes or less” are long gone, take-out also has a 30 minute delay. I’m going to assume you actually have a social life so you go out for dinner on average two nights per week leaving you to fend for yourself the remaining five. According my calculations, no matter what you do, your weekly dinner prep/acquisition time is 30 min x 5 = 2.5 hours. That’s just for dinner. We haven’t even touched breakfast or lunch and that doesn’t include the time it takes to have the I-don’t-know-what-do-YOU-want-for-dinner conversation with your spouse or roommates which can easily tack on an extra 15-20 minutes per meal.
If you spend those two and half hours on one day preparing and cooking all of your meals for the week, when you come home from a long day at work, you don’t have to think about dinner. It’s already waiting for you. If you’re as lazy as I am, save yourself the 30 seconds and don’t bother heating it up. Just eat it cold. And if you eat standing up over the sink, it doesn’t count. (OK, that part isn’t really true but I like to believe it is).
Things like skinless, boneless chicken breasts can be seasoned and thrown in the oven in under thirty minutes and while that’s cooking you can quickly slice and stir-fry some veggies. If you have a big enough pan and a big enough wok, you can spend 30 minutes cooking 5 days worth of meals that can easily be portioned out into plastic containers.
One pot meals
The quintessential Lazy Girl meal! Throw all the ingredients into a slow cooker and go on with your life while everything cooks. It really doesn’t get more hands off. There are all kinds of recipes available online (I freakin’ love the internet) for healthy stews, soups, and chili that you can throw together when you roll out of bed on Sunday morning. Spend the day watching movies in your pajamas and by the time dinner rolls around, voila, it’s ready! Mmmm dinner rolls. Pass the butter.
You mean I have to control myself? That requires effort!
The word “control” makes this sound awful, doesn’t it? There’s nothing worse than having to count every last calorie or measure portions. Who’s got time for that? You certainly don’t. And most people don’t have/want a food scale. An easy way to estimate one serving of protein is the palm of your hand. Not your entire hand. Just your palm. And filling half of your plate with veggies can help you control your portions of other food groups. If half your plate is loaded with salad and you’ve got a palm-sized grilled chicken breast, there simply isn’t much room left for the truffle mac and cheese, now is there?
If you’re going out to eat, keep in mind that restaurant portions could probably feed a small country. It’s ok to be THAT person who asks for a to-go box before you dig in. Eat half and take the other half home. You might feel silly but you’ll have the last laugh when you’re running around confidently in your hot pants instead of your fat pants … and we all have fat pants.
Keep healthy snacks on hand at all times
I’m hungry ALL. THE. TIME. I can eat Hungry Man portions at the drop of a hat; there’s a reason I used to be over 200 pounds. Snacks are a great way to keep your metabolism up and stave off hunger between meals. The problem is healthy snacks are difficult to find most of the time. Vending machines and convenience stores rarely offer options like fresh fruit or unsalted nuts. Most of the time you’re choices include bear claws, honey roasted peanuts, and gum from the late ’90s. All full of empty calories and absurdly overpriced. Two PopTarts for $1.50? Only if I’m desperate and PMS-ing.
To avoid emptying your pockets and padding your waistline, keep healthy snacks on hand at all times. I keep a stash of unsalted, roasted almonds in my car. I know I’m going to get hungry wherever I go and usually I have to drive there so this is a great solution for me. Roasted nuts like almonds, pecans, and walnuts make great snacks. As long as they’re kept in well-sealed containers, they have a pretty long shelf life. Those little Ziploc snack baggies are also great because you can portion out individual servings so you don’t sit there mindlessly munching from the vat.
Apples and pears are also terrific snacks. They don’t spoil as quickly as some other fruits – who the heck wants to go to the grocery store every couple of days just to buy fresh produce? Not me. And they’re low on the glycemic index.
Translation: they won’t cause massive spikes in your blood sugar and leave you jonesing for carbs 20 minutes later after you wake up from your sugar coma.
So there you have it, folks. A few suggestions to help make healthy eating a little easier until we can afford a personal chef. A girl can dream, can’t she?
“The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Health and Fitness” is a column on Kate-book.com running every Tuesday at 10:30am. It is written by the irrepressible Kate Richlin-Zack, a former plus-sized model turned fitness enthusiast who lost 50 lbs in the process. She loves food and views exercise as a necessary evil in her quest for looking good and feeling confident in hot pants. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.