I am an avid visitor of the mid-sized Kansas City. Read on for some of my favorites and my experience with Agriculture Future of America.
We constantly see information about balancing life with health and happiness. It’s true. In this apple pie recipe, you’ll learn a bit more about my balance and also how to still enjoy some tasty fall flavors.
In a few days, I will be turning 24. What does my 23-year-old self think about while concocting a new smoothie recipe? Read more to find out.
Dang, I’m boring.
Alright, maybe I’m not that boring.
Humans are boring.
Humans are creatures of habit.
And this habit creates monotony.
It has been interesting to relate habits and personal development to eating and bodybuilding. I have had many friends not as knowledgeable about the fitness/health industry ask for dieting advice. I have read nine books to date out of my goal for 30 by December 31. I can safely say that at least 6/8 of them mention habits. This could be anything from the creation of habits, to bad habits to understanding habits and our development. After reading the book “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength“, and “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business“, I feel more confident in giving advice on how to develop workout, eating and healthy lifestyle habits.
Some might not realize that our brains and thoughts are within our control. As one of my favorite leadership gurus and sales leaders once said:
|Photo found on: this website|
“You are what you are and you are where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You change what you are and you change where you are by changing what goes into your mind.” – Zig Ziglar
I think this goes along with our bodies. Our mind controls our bodies. If we control what goes into our minds, we control our health.
This is great! Form a habit, stick to that habit and it all becomes easy, right?
This is where human flaws get in the way. We are constantly tempted. The monotony of monotony builds. Our willpower can only endure so much until we mentally cannot handle it any longer.
This is why many health professionals recommend a 80:20 ratio for clean eating.
Eighty percent of the time, eat a well rationed, balanced diet.
The remaining 20 percent allots for “stretching” your diet to things you like but aren’t as nutritionally beneficial for you… aka “cheats”.
However, you have to know your personal limits and keep yourself in check.
One of my good friends had this experience last weekend. He is very good about working out every day and eating healthier. However, he had been on a stricter diet for a few months now and went home over the weekend. He did not have a shopping spree. Instead, he had a calorie splurge.
The only reason I know about it was because he confessed to me this week. His experience goes to show that all of us have our moments of weakness. But, more importantly, we all have the capability to learn and overcome it.
Treat yourself to a bowl of ice cream every so often. Go out with friends one night on the weekend. That is the beauty of balance. Just don’t let the scale tip too far that it tips over.
As I am a few days out from my bodybuilding show, I don’t have the luxury to be as balanced right now. And I accepted that. This is my goal to achieve. I am embracing this experience!
After show, I am looking forward to more balance. More wine. More healthy protein treats. More gains. Until then, I overcome the monotony with variety in my cooking methods and seasonings… like these turkey burgers. Nom.
|Ingredients: 93% lean ground turkey, 1 cup broccoli, 1 Tbsp butter, and random seasonings on a bed of Jasmine rice. Delicious and nutritious!|
Or these protein peanut butter cookies garnished with Yup Brands B-Up Peanut Butter bars. Look for recipe soon!
|Because I love baking too much to stay away!|
What is one thing you can do this week to create a new habit? What do you want to try to overcome the monotony of our daily lives?
Send me a comment or email (email@example.com) and I would love to help you overcome monotony of our lives, especially in food and healthy lifestyle choices!
Meal prep and GO! That’s all it takes.
OK, in reality, it takes a bit more than that. I know from experience. However, like anything, you have to reach a point where you are willing to dive in, head first, and start. If you don’t, you will keep telling yourself you either might not have time, don’t have money for healthy foods or you are doing OK at selecting healthy foods or resisting temptations on your own.
It has been nearly one year since I began focusing on meal preparations and dieting, specifically for my body building shows. Whether you are training for a contest or not, I still think meal prep has aided tremendously in how much time I save. It has helped me better budget grocery expenses on a weekly and monthly basis. It has heightened my awareness about nutrition, serving sizes and food labels. All of these takeaways and more have maintained my interest and investment into the meal prep ideology.
Forewarning: it might feel weird or unnatural when you start making adjustments for meal preparations. However, do not let that set you back or scare you. I have had many friends reach out to me about my health and how to begin. I’d now like to share five steps to meal prepping for beginners.
Step 1: Research and reach out
The Internet is a glorious thing. When I began meal prepping, I immediately typed in www.Pinterest.com and began searching keywords like “beginner meal prep”, “meal prep tips”, “meal prep dinners” and more. There are so many resources available, it is hard to know where to start! Here are a few I found helpful. All of them include other tips on traveling or organizing food for preparation.
1. I Struggle With Meal Preps and Healthy Recipes
2. Tips on How to Meal Prep
3. How to Food Prep
4. Tips for Traveling With Food
5. Video on Traveling With Food
6. Printable Meal Prep 101 Poster
7. Video below on Meal Prep with Bite Sized Fitness
Step 2: Create a plan
Now that you have scoured the Internet or bugged your healthy nut friend for recipes and tips, it is time to take steps towards your meal prep endeavors. Like any goal, creating a plan is a step to empower you.
If you hired a meal planner, nutrition coach or dietician, this is the part that they can take ownership. However, if you want to manage and try food selections on your own, you have to make a plan.
Start with a list of meals for one week. Write them down, whether it’s on a calendar or spreadsheet. Then, go from there! It might be easier to go one week at a time. Depending on if you will be cooking for one (like I do) or a family, that can adjust how many meal options you want and need and what ingredient options you have. As mentioned in probably all of the links I shared, you need to know what you want to make before you purchase ingredients, storage containers or cooking utensils and necessities.
Step 3: Purchase and organize equipment
|Just some overnight oats. Recipe in post from Oct. 2015.|
Yes, I called it “equipment”. Let’s be real, it can be daunting going into Target or William Sonoma (love that store) to purchase kitchen supplies. If you devised your plan in step 2, you will know approximately what foods you like, will be cooking and how they might need stored.
For example, if you will be making overnight oats every day of the week, it might make sense to get round, glass containers with lids to stack in the refrigerator. If you will be doing more salads or vegetable and meat combinations, stackable plastic Rubbermaid or Tupperware is a great option. I’ve also seen people use Ball glass canning jars for storing salads to keep lettuce and greens fresh all week and to store all ingredients per salad in one container. Once again, so many ideas are out there… what did we ever do without Pinterest? 😀
The one mistake I made starting out was not buying enough tupperware. Also, get a lot of smaller storage containers. If you want to separate nuts, oils, dressings, or other small food items, it is helpful to get small options too. Who wants to waste plastic baggies all the time?
Step 4: Grab your lists, coupons and shop
One of the best advantages I’ve found from meal prepping is how much less time I spend wandering the grocery store. I do not spend money carelessly for ingredients or foods I spontaneously want. I stick to my list and get in and out of the store efficiently.
If you work with a conservative budget, this is where your plan comes in. If you clip coupons and scout local advertisements for sales on food, you can focus your meals on what is on sale and available in stores. Maybe you were thinking asparagus but see the brussels sprouts will be on sale. Swap them out! I also make the same route in the store, starting with produce and working my way through meats and dairy/eggs and back to the cash register.
Consistency is key.
Step 5: Cook, prepare and store
Cooking and preparing your meals is the fun part, at least for me! You do not have to cook all the meals at once. You can simple organize and prepare ingredients in the same container. Then, when you go to maybe cook dinner for the family, you just grab the containers with those ingredients and bam! No more indecision about “ho hum, what can I cook the family for dinner tonight?” You are ready to go!
Most times, you will need more storage in the fridge after separating out meals. However, if you cook enough in bulk, you can also freeze foods for later. This space is totally worth it when you can save time, money, focus on health goals and provide yourself and/or family yummy, healthy food options.
What other advise would you like to see around meal prepping and healthy eating?
Would love to hear your feedback and thoughts!
It was never difficult to find beef for meal options growing up. Not only did my family raise our own beef cattle [and still do], but we would often use our own cuts of meat to create home-cooked recipes for my mom, dad, sister and me. Beef was a staple item in my diet growing up. I was a cute little 9 year old with my first beef feeder calf named “Buddy”. Raising my own calf with the intent of harvesting him for my nourishment taught me a lot growing up. It gave me a strong appreciation for food and lifestyle.
Like many, changes in finances, location and life situations can alter our diets. In college, I suffered beef deprivation. I was not consuming as much beef while studying at the university. Part of that was finances and other part proximity and meal frequency. I also had no clue how to cook steaks.
I’m still working on that. Dad always grilled them for the family growing up. It kept things simple. Mom and I would prepare the side dishes inside while he got the steaks ready. Now that I am a college graduate, you would think I knew a bit more about beef preparations.
It’s a work in progress. Lucky for me, I am enjoying steak on a daily basis during this prep for my next bodybuilding show. I do not own a grill [yet]. Therefore, I have been experimenting different recipes, temperatures and timing combinations to cook a great steak to eat with my vegetables. Sunday is my meal preparation day and I had to go to the grocery to get my steaks.
Not so long ago, I could not have imagined buying beef from a store. Why did I need to? We usually had freezers filled to the brim with beef! It was easy to select the cuts for different recipes and prepare it. Because of that luxury I had growing up, I am more particular when shopping for my meat. No, not necessarily regarding the current lingo like “grass fed” or “antibiotic free”. Instead, it’s about the marbling, nutrient-dense protein that I need to fuel my body. I cannot necessarily track the individual steer or heifer the steak I buy in the meats section came from. But I can trust the food system we have in place that the store, the manufacterer, the processer and the farmer or rancher have provided me [the consumer] a healthy, nutritious steak.
That’s what eat is about, right? Providing necessary nutrients to sustain our body. Beef is full of vitamins! Check out this great infographic from the Beef Checkoff.
It’s nice to know the steak I eat is enriching my body. How are you fulfilling your meat-filled Monday? Any special steak recipes you know? Mine was pretty simple this time with Weber seasoning, 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes.
Just a few years ago, I spent my first National Ag Day in Washington, D.C., talking to legislative assistants and congressional representatives about agricultural policy. I have returned two times during this week to not only share my ag story from my family farm in Ohio, but also to network and learn from those whose careers have been shared by food.
Today’s food conversations are developing tomorrow’s future. Guess what? It won’t be stopping anytime soon. However, we have a duty. We must ensure the conversations are happening.
|Me and Congressman Latta, who is the representative for the Ohio district I grew up in.|
Challenges or excuses
When I look back on old photographs, I know I have learned a lot about today’s food policy and production. It is not all easy. It is not all the perfectly pruned barnyards and immaculate fields. There are many challenges in agriculture, besides what farmers are trying to overcome.
Monday night, I started typing this blog post to share on National Ag Day. What happened? My computer crashed. I use a MacBook Pro from college, so it is a little aged. That moment the screens began blinking and would not stop, I panicked. Many photos, files and experiences are on the hard drive of this computer. Guess what? That is just a little challenge. It is nothing compared to what others face on a daily basis.
People are fighting for their livelihood. People are working their butts off to put cash in their pockets or food on the table for their loved ones. It is easy to lose sight of what others might be experiencing. Empathy is important. It is even more necessary as we go forward in life to understand circumstances others might be in.
This brings me to a great friend named Adrienne. Her and I first met through AFA in college. We probably would not have met if it wasn’t for that. She is a Cali girl; I’m an Ohioan. However, we both share a passion for ag policy, health and fitness and good red wine.
Adrienne is one example of someone making an impact whom I have not connected with in a while. Why? There is no good reason behind it. I need to become more empathetic that her schedule is as busy as mine and make time to touch base with her.
|Adrienne and I would have never met if it wasn’t for agriculture policy and AFA.|
She’s not the only one. So many great people touch our lives (like my fellow AFA friends below) and we simply get side tracked in the whirlwind of life and do not reach out, make a phone call, drop an email or just a simple note card or thank you. This can be said for our policy makers influencing tomorrow’s future.
|These clowns are tomorrow’s future. Ready for us?|
Friends, family, networks, farmers and legislatures all deserve empathy, appreciation and attention. The knowledge, conversations and understanding about today’s food are shaping tomorrow’s future. What will we do about it?
Take some time this week, next week, the next few months to get engaged with your local community, your local network, colleagues, foodies, agriculturalists and policy makers.
Conversations should not only start, but also not stop. Continue the conversation after the first one. Continue building relationships and sharing the positives, challenges and opportunities. Above all, share what makes tomorrow’s future bright and how we can all collaborate to see that come to fruition.
Learn and share
Take 15 minutes and watch this Ted Talk. It made me think differently about what the food future could look like.
What do you think?
Piecing conventional agriculture like row crops and livestock with more computerized food production will be important for tomorrow’s future. We must all take time to actually learn and share ways that food is being produced, possibilities and needs to continue producing it and see to it that the correct policies and measures are used to help the cause, for everyone!