HAPPY FRIDAY! I don’t know about you, but it’s been a crazy, long week for me. Every summer during the first week of August, the company that I work for has a huge annual conference in downtown Austin. In addition to my usual weekly routine, I had a few trips to the convention center, my first experience with public transportation to and from downtown, and a couple of happy hours to attend.
I always consider August to be the hardest month for me in terms of sticking to my health and fitness goals; with NIWeek, the end of summer (lots of boat/pool parties), and my birthday all in the mix, I used to casually accept that I’d gain anywhere from 5-15 pounds during the month. Two years ago, this type of week was a perfect excuse for me to neglect my workouts, turn to food that was “convenient” (completely unhealthy), and use the abnormally busy time as an excuse to eat WAY more than my body needed.
Last year, I started learning how to not do those things. It was a little overwhelming, to say the least. I had just started watching what I ate earlier in the summer, and I was so nervous about screwing it all up with one “bad” meal. I brought my lunch throughout the week and consciously committed to making boot camp at the end of each day, and I ended up losing almost 10 pounds during the month of August. The progress was awesome, but the stress of learning how to manage social settings with my weight loss goals was awful.
This year was a breeze. :o) Sure, I had a couple more glasses of wine than I normally do, and I went out to lunch with a few coworkers on Monday instead of eating what I prepped, but I still made healthy decisions (like ordering the roasted chicken and sweet potatoes instead of macaroni and cheese, or leaving happy hour a bit early to make boot camp) and didn’t let the week become an excuse to overeat or under-exercise. Instead of allowing this week to be a source of anxiety for me, I saw it as an opportunity to test my self-control while still enjoying the social scene.
THIS is the whole point of flexible dieting, or sticking to the “everything in moderation” mindset. I kept my sanity the whole time. Not once did I worry about whether or not I’d gain two pounds by the end of the week or stress out about going to a happy hour. If I ate a bigger lunch than what my “normal” is, I toned back on my snacks and dinner for that day. I still tracked and logged all of my food as I would during any other week, and I still finished as many workouts as I usually do.
My point here: don’t let an “out-of-the-norm” day/week/month be an excuse to undo weeks of dedication. DON’T passively accept a change in routine as a deal-breaker for your health goals. Be present. Take control of your decisions as they come. You CAN make healthy choices in almost any situation (happy hours and conference lunches included).
I want to share a meal prep staple that helped me immensely during the busy week. This is also something that gets re-ordered time and time again by my boot camp friends whom I cook for. It’s simple, flavorful, filling, and SO easy to make in bulk.
You can make the chicken either on the grill (my favorite) or cut it into chunks and saute it if you don’t have access to a grill. I usually serve it with roasted broccoli to get a good portion of vegetables in.
Nutritional Overview (1 serving of chicken and potatoes)
Cook time: 45 minutes (15 minutes hands-on + 30 minutes marinating)
- 4 oz chicken breast
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/2 tsp dry ranch seasoning
- 150 g baby red potatoes, diced
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Mix chicken broth, ranch seasoning, and minced garlic in a Ziploc bag. If grilling, place your whole portion of chicken in the bag. If sauteing, cut your chicken into one-inch cubes and place in the bag. Set aside and marinate for 30 minutes.
- IF GRILLING: preheat your grill to medium-high and lightly oil the grate. Place chicken on grill for 2 minutes per side (or until cooked through — cooking time will depend on your grill’s heat)
- IF SAUTEING: heat a skillet over medium-high (6 or 7). Add 1 tsp of olive oil to the skillet, then add your diced chicken and cook for 7-10 minutes (or until evenly browned and cooked through) stirring continuously.
- Heat your oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Spread diced potatoes across your lined baking sheet and toss with rosemary, salt, and pepper
- Bake potatoes for 20-25 minutes, tossing once in between
Basic dishes, like grilled chicken and roasted potatoes, don’t have to taste as boring as they might seem. Adding simple seasonings and strong herbs can easily spike the flavor-factor of even the plainest meals. And sometimes, especially when prepping a week’s worth of food, simple is the best way to go!
If you’re planning on prepping your meals for next week, fire up your grill and try this out. Happy weekend, everyone.