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SAYEH'S LIVING LITHE! 27 Feb 2013

Sayeh's Living Lithe

Lauren's goal this week reminded me of something I'm trying to forget on this new journey to wedding dress wow time--the eating part matters. A lot. Like 80% matters as she always says. I've been doing pretty well at the going to classes part, but not so much on my diet. Last night, for instance, I ate a grilled chicken sandwich...smothered in ranch dressing and topped with bacon...and a side of fries. (What is it with fries? Why are they so good? Why is it impossible to be sick of French fries? Think of how many times in your life you've had french fries...and yet still ALWAYS want fries. What IS IT?)

Every week I tell myself I'm going to grocery shop and cook, and while I do that to an extent...I end up making pasta and breading chicken--less than healthy meals even if they are homecooked. They say that if you build the right pantry, then you can buy fresh ingredients throughout the week and whip up easy, delicious meals. What are the ingredients in this elusive pantry?? Why am I always feeling like I have NOTHING I need to cook any of the recipes I want to tackle? 

And then the grocery store? HELP! Most people in the know say...go to the market and see what produce looks the most fresh and buy that. Don't go to the store telling yourself you'll buy salmon for some recipe you've predetermined you will cook. Instead, see what fish looks the most vibrant, and buy that. HELP! I have a mom that can sniff and squeeze her way through a store and get nothing but the best in her basket. She can look at a fish's eye (should be clear and shiny, not dull and dark) and tell how fresh it is. She can look at the color of meat in the butcher case and determine if it's at its best. Pas moi. I will wander around the produce section looking at things like fennel and celery root and think...should I buy that? And if you do this buy what's fresh thing...what do you do with all the random things you brought home? Somehow whip them all together into a delicious, healthy, nutritionally balanced meal? HELP! 

Of course, I've decided that a Vita-Mix is the answer to all my problems. I imagine that I'll bring home all the things I never buy like chard and kale and beets (they're bulky and take a lot of prep) and put them into the Vita Mix and make delicious smoothies, soups and sauces and...other liquid forms of fruits and veggies for my consumption. But at 600+ bucks, that's a future investment and also clearly doesn't solve all my shopping and cooking woes. 

But when I think about the time I looked and felt my best, it was when I was going to 5 classes a week and eating tons of Lithe foods. I was doing all my push ups on my toes and feeling strong and energetic from beginning to end of class. With my diet now, I can tell I'm dragging in class even though I'm over the hump of just getting back into the workout. No more denying it. It's time to clean up my act!

HELP!

In addition to reading the blog and getting great ideas from Lauren's recipes, I'd love to know any tips, advice and tricks of the trade to shop and gather ingredients for making easy, tasty and healthy foods. Tall order, I know. There's a multi billion dollar business based on this very thing. But it can't really be this hard can it? I'm all ears. 

In the meantime...see you in class! That much I can figure out. 

 

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The best thing I learned was making multiple different meals on Sunday night and freezing them. This way I don't have to worry about cooking during the week which is when I usually settle for something that is quick and easy (and unhealthy).

Also, please bring back the 25 things. So many new instructors that we all know nothing about!

Thanks for the tip Christina, and 25 Things is not gone and is will certainly be coming back at you soon! Glad you find it helpful!

Grocery shop with a list and STICK TO IT. Prep and plan for the week's meals on Sunday. Know what produce is in season before you go so there is no guessing once you are there. When buying fish, freshness relies 90% on the fishmonger so find a good one. Simple as that.

Hi Sayeh! I stick with the Keep It Simple method during the week. On Sunday I season a bunch of skinless chicken breasts (organic) with a simple mix of olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper, garlic powder. Add any other flavorings but this is most basic. Put in a glass baking dish cover with foil and bake @ 400 for about 25 mins. I buy a big bag of baby spinach and mesclun mix, and whatever else I want to put in my salad, and voila, lunch for the week. I make my own vinaigrette as well at that time. I will also cook a bunch of other vegetables too- roasted cauliflower has been on big rotation with me as well as peas (the frozen kind cook up delicious with a touch of chicken stock and small pat of butter!). The key is making a list when you go to the market and also having a cohesive meal plan for the week. If I dont do that I end up with random ingredients that dont work well. Sometimes I will also make a giant pot of soup that will last me days. Frozen shrimp is also great to have in the freezer because it cooks quickly and goes with anything. Chop up cucumbers, red bell pepper, and a granny smith apple, toss with lime, cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper, and its a nice salsa to go with the shrimp. Sweet potatoes are another easy vegetable to make and 3 big ones will last all week (peel and slice into medallions, toss with EVOO, salt pepper, cayenne, cinnamon, cumin, and bake). It just takes repetition and experimentation when it comes to finding what works. You will find it!

Cooking when your busy to me is all about convenience- getting things that don't overwhelm you and make cooking easy and not a chore. I find a little prepping in the morning is really helpful. If you take chicken, salmon etc put it in quick marinade (lemon, red wine vinegar, olive oil- soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar) by night time all you have to do is pop it in your oven. If my week is crazy I also plan to buy vegetables that don't go bad that quickly- brussel sprouts, zucchini, broccoli- the worst thing is finding mushy bad vegetables that you forgot you had in your fridge! Those veggies in particular if you split them- sprinkle with some olive oil and seasonings, they can go in the same oven as your protein- hence, less tasking and easier success! Hope that helps :)

Sayeh,

I feel like I was in a similar rut back in November/December, and the thing that pulled me out was studying up on the Paleo diet ( I recommend the books Paleoista, and The Paleo Diet, and websites NerdFitness.com & Marksdailyapple.com). It's essentially a whole food diet, and reverts back to eating pretty much only what man ate before the agricultural revolution (i.e. pre-crazy-processing, refined sugar, etc.). The Paleoista helped solve my shopping dilemma with where to go in the store, what to pick, how to pick it. It has shopping lists all made out, and good tips. I find that most of the Paleo principles fit in line nicely with Lithe Foods, and their ingredients (sans soy, quinoa, and a couple other minor things). The Nerdfitness website has a good guide to basic paleo, and an app that helps you check what fits and what doesn't.

I also have begun some sunday cooking/cutting up veggies and pre-packing things so I can grab quick snacks that I not only like, but that reinforce healthy eating.

Also, I find a day of Liquid Lithe will kick me out of any rut I'm stuck in pretty quick! It's a great go-to if I feel utterly stuck. :)

Thanks for the blog, always inspirational material that seems to somehow, inexplicably line up with the real things we all experience. :)

Agreed with Christina's comment about making different meals on a Sunday night and freezing them. The only way I started cooking was taking the Whole 30 Challenge (check it out: http://whole9life.com/2012/01/whole-30-v2012/)
and committing to it!! I seriously never cooked a day in my life until the past 30 days. It was amazing. Add that on with Lithe and boom, you're gonna be golden :)

I agree with the meal planning tip! Every Sunday morning I sit down and write down all the meals I want to make that week. I find the recipes on pineterst and open them in a window on my iphone, so when I go to start to cook, it's right there! I make a grocery list (don't forget look in your friedge to see what you have from the previous week)and head to the store. I usually have a long list of things I plan to cook and/or prep for the week and that is what my Sunday afternoon and evening is spent doing. I always make some sort of oatmeal or baked egg dish that I can portion off for breakfast during the week and a big pot of healthy soup/stew/chili that becomes my lunch. I like to make a big batch of black bean burgers that I indivudually wrap up and freeze for a quick meal (top with salsa, avocada, and plain greek yogurt!). My other top is to buy big bags of frozen scallops, mahi mahi, shrimp, and whatever other seafood you like. I take a few out in the morning to deforst in the freezer, and then they cook up so quick after work- make a side of sauteed spinach or bok choy and a baked sweet potato- easy peasy! My current dessert obsession is chia pudding 1c non dairy milk, 2 tbsp chia, vanilla, & cinnamon.

Sayeh I feel your pain! Years ago my hubby and I did an incredible nutrition program (very similar to the Lithe eating Lauren teaches) and it took me a LONG time to slowly change the way I eat, and my attitude about food. So I'm more than happy to add my 2c cause I'm super opinionated about good eating :) This is what I live by:

1) Focus first on adding more good foods in rather than making a laundry list of foods you can't have. And by good I mean filled with nutrients! They will actually change your cravings. (I still love french fries but only really want them once in a while)
2) Start realistic and small. Upgrade one food choice at a time so you aren't frustrated, or overwhelmed. Don't try to go all Martha-Stewart gourmet 'diet' food!
3) Don't give up experimenting with ways of cooking/eating new foods. I refused to eat Kale for a year (after really discovering it) until one day I found a simple dressing so good that I now eat about 2 kale salads every week and love it!
4) To stay in the right frame of mind about food, always think of it as fuel that wards off disease and gives you energy. I started looking at what I was eating and asking if it was going to help me - what was I going to get out of it? If you make most of your food nutritious fuel, then relax and enjoy sometimes indulging in other foods that aren't. You won't want them that much anyway :)

it doesn't need to be super complicated. chopped up veggies in an omlette or egg scramble is really quick and i normally default to this in a pinch. bonus-french fries don't complement eggs very well so need to even be tempted

Sayeh, you live in my head! I'm in the same place, not knowing what to eat/make for dinner every night of the week. Not to mention lunch too! Lots of great ideas already that I will use/look into. As for that Vitamix investment- it's totally worth it! You can get the basic model at Costco for $375. It works wonders! I make a smoothie almost everyday. I use spinach or kale, bananas, apples, avocado, protein powder and more. This is a great snack to have after class. I hope this helps, see you in class!

I ditto all the other comments. I want a vitamix too! But especially because it's winter, there's less expensive alternatives- slow cookers and pressure cookers(don't worry, the new one's don't explode.) I make whole grains and beans (bought in bulk) in the pressure cooker over the weekend and mix it up with whatever is fresh, on sale or looks good at WFM. Soups are so easy to make too. During the summer I'm the member of a CSA- that way I get the freshest veggies at a decent price, and try all kinds of new foods. And if you really want to take the plunge- I highly recommend cooking classes with Marilyn Waxman (thenourishingwell.com). She's an AMAZING teacher and can definitely demystify cooking (as well as teach you how to use a BIG knife.)

I've also taken to freezing vegetables and fruit for smoothies, which would otherwise go bad before I could eat it all. I make one big haul from the grocery store, then cut up ingredients for 10-12 smoothies at a time which I store in freezer bags. Then when I'm ready to go I just blend that with a little bit of water or tea with kale or spinach. Saves time and money and makes the whole process a no brainer!

I also cook a bunch of basics on Sunday night that can be combined in different ways: quinoa and chickpeas, kale, hard boiled eggs or roasted root vegetables, which I eat in different combinations throughout the week. Ditto on comment above re: grilled chicken breast or salmon filet if I'm looking for some additional protein. I'm also a planner and would lose it if I went to the store without a list.

Grocery delivery! Seriously. I LOVE to cook and eat but realize that, like you, I got distracted and discouraged in the actual grocery store. Too many cheese displays and beautiful loaves of bread and things that I don't need to buy calling from the end of the Whole Foods aisles.

When I lived in Chicago it was too cold to go to the grocery store half the time anyway so I started having groceries delivered and loved it. In Philly I recently started using Fresh Direct and it's even better (www.freshdirect.com). Decide what recipes you want to make at the beginning of the week, order only the ingredients you need (they have lots of great whole-foods-y organic and local stuff), click send and they drop them off in your kitchen the next day. And you end up with way fewer impulse buys and random stuff. You only buy what you need to stick to your recipe plan, you don't end up with six pounds of cheese that looked good, and you don't come home with four eggplants that looked really tasty only to realize that you don't have any other ingredients for eggplant parm. They rate the fish by sustainability and the produce by what's freshest right now. You can even tell them how ripe you want your avocados.

Also, when you're sitting on your laptop thinking "do I have any tahini?" you can just go check as opposed to ending up with 4 cans of it because you keep buying the darn stuff.

I'm with you on the weight loss kick right now, but I could never give up french fries. I can only hope to avoid the places that offer them!

Sayeh, Sunday is key! Grab really great tupperware or cute containers and peel, cut and prep those fruits and veggies. Julie, I'm with you. I couldn't live without my grocery delivery.

Ladies, I can't promise this now due to lack of time, but would any of you like a very uncomplicated Lithe approved meal plan along with a grocery list to get you started? I could post an "unofficial" one to the blog next week if anyone is interested.

I would like that Lauren! I get in a rut with my snacks sometimes especially as I try to get away from dairy (for skin reasons) so my greek yogurt standby now has to be replaced by something low sugar but high protein. Help!

I have found that the less junk I eat, the less I crave it! I've virtually eliminated any processed foods, baked goods, and fried food from my diet and I miss them less and less every day! Instead I stick to a mostly Mediterranean diet that is almost vegetarian, but heavy in fruits, vegetables, nuts and olive oil. I do allow myself dairy, but mostly because I think that Greek yogurt - with 18g protein per 6 oz - is a miracle food. I let myself indulge when I eat out, but 95% of my diet is homemade/prepared at home. I make sure to eat three full meals plus an afternoon snack, and find that I am consistently fueled throughout the day. For me, eating a substantial breakfast is key. My cereal recipe is below:

breakfast cereal:

1/4 cup plain rolled oats
1/4 cup high fiber cereal (I like Trader Joe's)
1 mini apple or 1/3 of a large apple
1/3 to 1/2 a banana
Cinnamon
1 Splenda or stevia (optional)
Skim or almond milk (1/2 cup to 1 cup, depending on desired consistency)

(This plus 1 egg keeps me full for 5 hours. You could use other types of fruit but the apple gives you fiber and the banana gives you sweetness and potassium and is filling!)

If you want it to provide extra energy add:

- 2 tbsp flaxseed
Or
-2 tbsp chia seeds
Or
- Mixed berries (I like the frozen Very Cherry Berry Blend from Trader Joe's)

I've been eating this way for years and I can honestly say that I feel great. (One bad habit I can't seem to kick is my addiction to Wawa's non-dairy creamer - it's my food nemesis!)

Lauren, an unofficial meal plan and shopping list would be wonderful!

Sayeh, since I started Lithing and religiously reading this blog about 6 months ago, I'm (very) slowly coming into a healthier eating lifestyle. For me, it's not so much that I want to eat crap; like you, I am just completely intimidated by the overwhelming process (and expense) of eating whole, healthy foods. But I have figured out that attempting one thing at a time is a great approach. Frankly, I steal ideas from other people. I discovered my favorite Lithe drink for taste, energy and fullness if the Greenest Smoothie, so I started making it at home (sorry Lauren!). No Vitamix necessary, a good old fashioned blender works just fine, and boom, I got some greens into my diet where once I never ate any. I make several different versions of Lauren's Lithe Bowl a few times a month, and the leftovers are several more meals that week. I just change up the vegetable and seasoning choices for some variety (it's also a great way to use up veggies that are about to go bad). I also like to check out the grab-n-go meals and salads at stores like DiBruno's and Wegmans to get some ideas. DiBruno's has a wonderful seafood salad that was surprisingly easy to replicate. Experimenting with the recipes that I "borrow" made the process a little less intimidating, and I've started to learn what ingredients are good together, what ingredients should be in that "elusive pantry" consistently. Now I've started thinking about ideas and coming up with really great things on my own (my favorite - lump crab meat on a bed of avocado, asparagus, tomato, red onion, and arugula, mixed with homemade lemon vinaigrette). Some have been successful, where others have not been. But it's all confidence boosting. I agree that you should shop with a planned meal in mind until you get the knack for what ingredients should always be on hand and what meals can be thrown together based on what you happen to have in the fridge. I've gotten in the habit of stopping into DiBruno's after Rittenhouse Lithe classes, or Sassafrass after Old City Lithe classes, or Reading Terminal Marktet on the walk home from work to grab ingredients several days a week. That helps to keep the fresh stuff handy.

Good luck and thanks for all the wonderful insight!

Lauren,
I'm not sure if your Lithe 10 recipes are what you intend to post, but I wanted to let you know that they got me started cooking (which I had never done on a regular basis in my life). And yes, I even do Sunday prep now. If you have more to share, I'm all ears!
— mc

I third (or fourth) the Lithe meal plan/shopping list! (as well as the promised cookbook list from earlier in the week!)

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