July 11, 2013
Healthy Eating Tips + “Prep Mode”
First off, I want to thank all of you for the uplifting comments you left on yesterday’s post! With 10 days to go (but who’s counting?
), I need all the encouragement and confidence I can get to put myself out there and audition for (what I hope to be!) my last season as an NBA Dancer.
After reading through some of your questions, I realized that a lot of you are actually interested in what I am doing and eating to prepare for Detroit Pistons Dancers Auditions.
As my (hopefully going into my) sixth season, I have my routine down to a science. Throughout the season, I follow an overall healthy eating lifestyle, but it is just more strict and focused during this time of the year.
So… exactly what do I do?
“Audition Prep Mode”
(Go ahead and take an inhale, exhale. It’s going to be a long one!)
One of the main reasons I started blogging was to share tips and tricks of the healthy living trade with you.
While training, dancing, and auditioning for the Orlando Magic Dancers down in Florida, I often got approached about my eating plans, workouts, and routines that helped me stay on track during auditions and throughout the entire season. Eventually, I compiled the longest email I think I have written… ever, explaining healthy, quick and easy meal and snack ideas.
I got a lot of positive feedback, and as the years went by sent my healthy eating tips out to the group and told them to pass it on to whoever they think it might help throughout the audition process.
Soon after, some of my friends started asking me the same thing. They didn’t necessarily have a focus on an audition or end date in mind, but instead wanted ideas of how to make changes into their every day eating habits to get on the healthy train. <Challenge accepted.>
That is the day I realized I wanted to focus my blogging on healthy living (WOO!), and here we are talking about it today.
In a nutshell, here are my “Audition Prep Mode” rules:
• Every meal must focus on protein and fruit and/or vegetables.
• All snacks must be low-fat/low-carb/low-sugar.
• Must complete at least 30 minutes of cardio a day + at least one weight training/toning workout every other day.
• All complex carbohydrates (breads, pastas, wraps) must be whole wheat, and consumed no later than lunch.
• Attend any dance class or audition-prep clinic offered.
• Drink plain water as much as possible.
Basically, this is everything I do on a normal day-to-day basis anyways… just with a few more workouts and without the allotted “cheat days” and indulgences every now and then.
My most noticeable changes include: cutting out dessert, cutting out complex carbs (those found in fruits and protein bars are just fine!), and keeping my only beverage intake to coffee, water, protein shakes, and drink mixes to mix into water.
*I had a few questions about everything I just said above. Feel free to ask anything below in the comments section! If I get enough, I might continue on this subject for entire new post.
Healthy Eating Tips
Without writing a novel (believe me… I could totally go there), here are the main points from my email I started years ago.
By the way… this is also one of my very first subjects I posted on this blog! If you have some time, check out My Top 10 Healthy Eating Tips for extra ideas.
The most important thing to remember when eating healthy and to have enough energy to get through your day and workouts is to start it off eating breakfast. If you skip breakfast, your body will seem to be hungry the entire day and you will end up consuming more calories. Also, eating after you wake up jump starts your metabolic burn for the day.
Almost any fitness blogger would recommend starting your day with egg whites, or egg beaters. No fat, no carbs, ALL protein!
They come in little upright cartons and you can find them in the dairy section of the grocery store.
You can add more protein and veggies by scrambling almost anything you want to into them: turkey, chicken, broccoli, green/red peppers, olives, tomatoes, spinach, etc. The more you cook with them, the more creative you will get.
If it is an extremely active day, I need more than that in the morning to fill me up. Healthy sides include tomato slices, fruit, turkey bacon, turkey sausage, chicken sausage, turkey patties, etc. Have you tried MorningStar Farms products yet? I’m obsessed.
I am a fruit junkie, and I buy any fruit that is on sale. When it starts to go bad, I put it in the freezer and save it for fruit smoothies.
Get To Know Your Blender
Smoothies can be good for you if you keep an eye out on sugar intake. Smoothies using fruit, juice, and ice only are the best for you, and you want to try to keep away from smoothies with yogurt or ice cream in them.
Greek yogurt is the exception here. I often use that or a scoop of protein powder to add protein and substance to it.
Also, don’t be afraid of adding greens like spinach, kale, and avocado in to make green smoothies. It may look scary, but I promise it’s not.
When in doubt of what is good and how to order it, make one yourself!
Here are a few other concoctions I often make for “dessert” during my weeks of extreme clean eating:
Crystal Light Slushy:
Empty 1 Crystal Light packet into a tall glass of water, add ice, and blend. Perfect for a late night snack, and you can mix it up by putting different flavors. Only 10 calories!
Diet Chocolate Milkshake:
Put 1 serving of Ovaltine (Chocolate or Chocolate Malt flavor) into a tall glass of skim or low-fat milk, add ice, and blend. Sometimes I’ll throw in 1 Andes Mint to add a mint flavor. You’ll be amazed how much this combo tastes like ice cream, and it’s only around 240 calories.
Breakfast Protein Shake:
Mix 1 package of Carnation Instant Breakfast (also a great breakfast food) with a tall glass of skim or low-fat milk, add 1 banana, add ice, and blend. This shake is less than 300 calories, only 1.5 grams of total fat, over 25% of your daily protein needs, and 13% of your daily carbs you need for energy.
Snacking is actually a great thing to do! When you snack healthy, you are keeping your metabolism going and curbing cravings to indulge in heavier foods later.
A few of my favorite healthy snacks include:
• celery and peanut butter – great for protein and energy.
• sliced apples- carbs, but also give you energy. They sell pre-sliced ones in a bag and you can get all tart or tart + sweet bags in the fruit section at the grocery store.
• bananas – gives you enough energy for a 90-minute workout (seriously!).
• rice cakes – try to get the lightly salted ones.
• Greek yogurt – differs in brands and more expensive than regular yogurt, but completely worth it. Little or no fat, low sugar, and packed (usually 30% of your daily need) with protein!
• cucumbers – slice them up and keep them in a container in the fridge, you’ll be surprised at how fast you go through them!
• veggies or whole wheat crackers with hummus – I have this one at least four times a week!
• almond/nut/sun butters – great to have a tablespoon on its own or on a whole grain cracker for energy. Try chocolate peanut butter for a *treat!*
• cottage cheese – try to get the low-fat version. I like to eat mine with a side of tomato slices and sprinkle ground pepper on it all.
• almonds – alone, or mixed with dried fruit like cranberries, raisins, bananas, etc.
• lunch meat - great to roll up and take on the go. My favorite is turkey.
• protein bars – great for a pick-me up. I literally have at least one a day!
Try to look for bars that are highest in protein but not super-loaded with fat, sugars or saturated fat. My top picks include Zone Perfect, Soy Joy, Fiber One, Designer Whey, Quest Nutrition Bars, and Balance Gold. Also, watch the calories on these, as a lot of them sneak in 300+ calories for meal replacements. Instead, try to stick to the 220 or less brands. You can find the majority of these brands in the toiletries/health isle (weird… I know) where the toothpaste and medicine is.
Heavier Lunch, Lighter Dinner
It gets tricky, but for the most part I try to eat more for lunch and less for dinner during “Prep Mode.”
Letting yourself have a bowl of whole wheat pasta or a sandwich is fine, but I have a general rule of eating most of my carbohydrates before 2 p.m. Instead of cutting them out all together, I consume what I need in the afternoon to get me through the day, then keep it light for dinner.
Since we usually have practice and games during the evening, it is a challenge to stay on track when I come home hungry and ready to eat. This is where I turn to monster salads!
Notice the lighting is awful. This is the salad Scott made just last night, when I got home around 9:30 p.m. I was very grateful for him and the greens!
If I have to eat late at night, my goal is to curb my hunger with food that will actually do my body good. Occasionally, I will eat salads with a tall glass of milk on the side to help fill me up.
Choose Fiber Cereal
Like I mentioned yesterday, in no way to I deprive myself of any food. During “Prep Mode”, however, I keep my focus strong and cereal is probably my biggest indulgence.
If you want to have cereal, skip the Fruit Loops (empty calories + loaded with sugar) and go for the brands that pack their boxes with protein and fiber instead.
I used organic skim milk and topped it with fresh sliced strawberries, and it held me through lunch!
I could really keep going with little tips and tricks of what I do to let my body think I’m indulging, but I will save it for another day. I am curious though…
What are some of your healthy eating tips?
What are some of your favorite quick + easy healthy snacks?
If you have any specific questions, please feel free to comment below.
I love hearing what you guys have to say!
*Disclaimer: I am not a registered dietician, nutritionist or certified fitness professional. I consider myself a health and fitness enthusiast, and do not post everything I eat. All content that I post on this blog stems from my personal experience and knowledge. Before making any changes to your diet or fitness routine, I always recommend consulting a doctor or health professional first.