Tag: healthy food

Cali Girl Gets Macros!

Welcome to the wonderful world of macros which is both exciting and terrifying, for those who don’t know how to get started! Starting in January 2017, I decided to try using macros to calculate my nutritional goals because I saw a lot of people achieving great results with it. Below, I outline how to get started, but if you are already a macro veteran, you can bypass the How I Got Started section and scroll down to Lessons Learned.


How I Got Started

I heard the acronym IIFYM everywhere, and learned that it stands for “if it fits your macros!” I discovered that the site has a free macro calculator here: https://www.iifym.com/iifym-calculator/, so I used their free calculator, input the required information like age, height, weight, activity level, and goals. A lot of this is based upon how much exercise you commit to every day.

After entering your information and goals, the site gives your macros based on what you input (mine are below)! The great thing about it is that you can PERSONALIZE this to fit what YOU want to do with your body and what you want to consume. I actually adjusted mine a little bit to increase the protein, increase the healthy fat (to accommodate nuts and avocado), and reduce the carbs. The values all have a relationship (so as you change protein, fat, carbs, etc. the others change to fit within the same total number of calories). You can change it too! This is what I came up with for my goals.

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The IIFYM.com website has a place where you can sign up for their specific meal and fitness plans, but I decided that I’m going to put together my own meal plan. I love seeing how things work, and the DIY method is FREE! I asked around to find out what friends use to calculate daily macros, and the first app that was suggested to me was My Fitness Pal.

I downloaded the app, and it seemed very intuitive. You search for a food that you ate or plan to prep, weigh it, and input it in the app. The app then tells you the amount of calories and all of the macros in that food or meal! Easy enough right?

I started with chicken. I got a value pack of chicken breasts, cut them up, and weighed them on my food scale (I use that little “tare” button to offset the weight of the plate so that it’s not included in the weight of the chicken). The food scale that I have is unfortunately not available anymore, but here are a good selection of ones you can try from Amazon if you don’t have one already!

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From there, I input the foods from my recipes into myfitness pal individually. So if my recipe contains 6 ounces of chicken as seen above, 1 tbsp of basil, a dash of paprika, 1 tbsp of parsley, 1/8 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper, I enter all of those ingredients into myfitnesspal. From there, if I add a salad to my mealprep, I enter all of those individual ingredients as well to get the totals for that particular meal.

After entering all of the information in, this meal below came out to the following (I did not add dressing to my salad in case you were wondering why it wasn’t listed):

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As I mealprepped more and more meals to the week, I added them all into my app, under the categories Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks.

I then can make sure that my calories and macros fit within the guidelines I got as a result from entering my information into the IIFYM.com website!

I have to say however, that I’m not extremely strict and rigid with the calories and macro counts; I just keep them in mind and make sure they don’t fall too far out of range.

And that’s it! You enter in all of the foods you prep, or if you’re not a mealprepper, you can just add foods per meal as you eat them and get a daily total!


Lessons Learned

And now… for the lessons learned. So much information all in one week!

1 // My Fitness Pal Contains Incorrect Information

I was going along and entering in my food, checking the calories/macros for all of last week, blissfully without questioning the information in the My Fitness Pal app. After all, MFP  was designed for this, and should be smarter than me, right? WRONG! Here are some reasons why your information might be incorrect

  • User Generated Errors – MFP contains foods that are generated by users, meaning that anyone can enter information and it might not be correct. If you search for and find these incorrect entries and add them to your meal plan, this incorrect information will throw off your totals. I made the mistake of looking for a complete meal and found this “Western Omlette.” I recreated it not knowing that the user who input this was incorrect!

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  • My Fitness Pal generated errors – MFP has “verified” foods, noted by a little green check mark as seen below. Most of the time they’ve been pretty accurate, but for some reason, several times I’ve calculated the calories based on the macros and sometimes they too have a slight margin of error. For this reason, I did some research and learned how to verify the calories using simple math.

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2 // Verify the Calories Based On the Macros

I learned that:

fat = x 9 (that’s a multiply sign)

carbs and protein = x 4

To show how this works, let’s look at a nutrition label for gluten free pasta.

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If use the basic formula here, Fat (1 x 9) + Carbs (42 x 4) + Protein (5 x 4) = 9 + 168 + 20 = 197. That’s pretty darn close to 200 (I think they round up). I now have learned to double check to make sure that the total calories look correct/are within close range to make sure my counts are accurate!

3 // Scan Your Food

My Fitness Pal has a scanner feature, where you can scan the barcodes of most foods and it will show the information without you having to enter it directly! This saves me lots of time!

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4 // Getting Your Totals

A really awesome person from Instagram shared with me that if you turn My Fitness Pal to landscape format, it gives you your total macros per meal and for the day! Being a person who keeps the rotating feature on my iPhone currently on lock (so that it doesn’t rotate), I had no idea and was adding things up manually! But look no further to modern technology…. woohoo!

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A Huge Variety of Apps

There are a lot of tracker apps for this, and MFP is not the only one you can choose from. I didn’t have a lot of time to try them all, but I did download Lifesum, and really liked its fun and sleek user interface as seen below. However I think based upon some of the research I did, most of these apps are about the same in accuracy, but MFP has a larger database of food. If you’re looking for more information and not sure which app you might want to use, this article (http://www.imore.com/) has a great detailed breakdown of some of the most popular ones! The article is a few years old, so if you know of some better apps feel free to leave a comment in the box below!

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To Sum It All Up

So remember those results I posted from the iifym.com website up there? It recommended my daily totals be: 1969 total calories, 153g protein, 105g fat, and 103g carbs.

This is my meal schedule for the week and my totals are 1982 calories, 149g protein, 105.5g fat, and 110g carbs. I came pretty close!

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Well that’s all, folks! I hope you enjoyed my recap of my first week with macros, and hope it helps you get started if you haven’t already. I’ll be posting my weekly meal plans on my Instagram page @caligirlgetsfit, so feel free to follow along and tag me in your photos so I can follow your journey too! I love that so many people are doing this and we are helping each other learn and get better. #strongertogether

With love and yummy tummies from California,

Shannon @caligirlgetsfit

Carbs are not the enemy

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about low-carb diets, and I think for some people, it can help them lose weight and be healthier. In fact, I have a good friend who went full keto and was able to lose over 100 pounds through the keto diet + exercise! However, for me, I truly believe carbs are not the enemy. My 95 year old grandpa has been eating carbs all his life, especially white rice, and he is one of the healthiest people I know. His diet is balanced, combining the carbs with healthy protein from fish and chicken along with lots of vegetables. He still teaches a ballroom dance class, drives, climbs ladders to pick fruit off of his trees, and takes daily walks.

My point is that I think we all need to find what works for us, and any diet that is too restrictive and extreme is difficult to maintain for the average person. I believe the key to health is moderation and having a well-rounded diet. In addition, I walk an average of 5-7 miles per day (to and from work + errands), plus work out almost every day. Without carbs in my diet, I would feel sluggish from lack of energy!

tumblr_nqfpm0prEh1rjgem2o4_r1_1280Healthy avocado toast from my kitchen!

Here are some facts that I found on health.com supporting the campaign for carbs:

Eating carbs makes you thin for life

A recent multicenter study found that the slimmest people also ate the most carbs, and the chubbiest ate the least. The researchers concluded that your odds of getting and staying slim are best when carbs make up to 64% of your total daily caloric intake, or 361 grams.

Carbs fill you up

Many carb-filled foods act as powerful appetite suppressants. They’re even more filling than protein or fat. These special carbs fill you up because they are digested more slowly than other types of foods, triggering a sensation of fullness in both your brain and your belly. Research done at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom found that consuming Resistant Starch in one meal caused study participants to consume 10% fewer calories (roughly 150 to 200 calories for the average woman) during the next day, because they felt less hungry.

Carbs control blood sugar and diabetes

The right mix of carbs is the best way to control blood sugar and keep diabetes at bay. In one study at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Center at the USDA, participants who consumed a diet rich in high Resistant Starch foods were able to lower their post-meal blood sugar and insulin response by up to 38%.

Eat the carbs you want, but you need to combine them so that they don’t cause a spike in your blood sugar. Instead of eating white rice, switch to brown and combine it with beans, corn, or other high Resistant Starch foods that keep your blood sugar more balanced than low-carb diets.

Carbs speed up metabolism

Carbs high in Resistant Starch speed up your metabolism and your body’s other natural fat burners. As Resistant Starch moves though your digestive system, it releases fatty acids that encourage fat burning, especially in your belly.

These fatty acids help preserve muscle mass—and that stokes your metabolism, helping you lose weight faster. Researchers set out to fatten up two groups of rats, feeding one group food that was low in Resistant Starch. A second group was fed Resistant Starch-packed food. The rats fed the low Resistant Starch chow gained fat while losing muscle mass. Rats that ate the high Resistant Starch meals preserved their muscle mass, keeping their metabolism moving.

SOURCE: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20359383,00.html

IMG_3906Gluten free pancakes from my kitchen!

So I’ve concluded for myself that carbs are an essential part of my diet!

The moral of this story is that it doesn’t make sense to overly restrict any foods. Or as my friend Brooke says, foods do not have moral components; they are not either good or bad. I personally feel my healthies when I eat a balanced diet including carbs, protein, healthy fat, and natural sugar.

 

Of course each person’s results will depend on their level of activity, genetics, and type of carbs you eat. But the moral of the story is that it’s A-OK to stick with healthy carbs, like quinoa, brown rice pasta, and beans for a well-rounded balanced diet!

 

Why Chopsticks?

A lot of the food posts on my instagram show chopsticks as my only utensils. I’ve gotten a few questions about why I eat with chopsticks so often, and it’s not just because I’m Asian!

Although I’ve been using chopsticks pretty much all my life and consider myself rather adept with them, using them causes me to eat more slowly! And health experts have discovered that eating more slowly is better for the body overall. So next time you’re hungry, pick up a pair of chopsticks rather than a fork! Your body will thank you!

Here are some of the benefits of eating slower:

  1. Stopping when we are full. According to scientific research, it takes about 20 minutes for our brains to register that our body is full. This means that if you eat too fast, you might eat past the point of fullness, yet not really even know! Ever had that feeling after eating to fast of feeing “gross” or bloated? Chances are that by the time your brain caught up with your body’s feeling of fullness, it was too late, and you already over ate. By eating slower, you can still consume your favorite foods, but not overdo it!
  2. Better digestion. Eating more slowly allows you to more thoroughly chew your food, which in turn helps your body to fully digest it.
  3. Overall enjoyment and satisfaction. As in anything, if we take the time to enjoy it, we will be happier! Food is one of the wonderful and amazing things in life, and like a beautiful sunset or first dance, there is something calming about being able to fully enjoy the meals that we consume! I’ve found that slowing down during meals and taking time to enjoy them have helped me to not only be more mindful of what I put in my body, but to also appreciate all of the tastes and flavors!

Bon Appétit! I hope this post will inspire you to eat a little slower, enjoy your next meal, and maybe even try out a pair of chopsticks!

Love,

Shannon

 

Meal Prep On The Go!

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Life for me has been a bit crazy between my office job (I work at an architecture firm), workout schedule, and photoshoots (I work part time as a lifestyle model/commercial actress in SF). Most of the time, I’m running late for something, don’t have time for food, and end up eating unhealthy snacks or not eating at all, only to leave myself eating one big meal a day. This is HORRIBLE considering it’s bad for your metabolism to starve your body or to eat all at once. My solution? Meal prep the night before!

This was my first attempt at “meal prep” for a whole day of snacks for on the go. I had a business lunch planned for the day, so I didn’t need lunch, but at least my breakfast and snacks were planned so I could avoid stopping by a fast food place when I get hungry!

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For breakfast I packed some rolled oats, which was easy to make at the office by adding some water. Topped with a few strawberries, and it was good to go! I had a lot of driving to do, so the nicely boxed little snacks were convenient to eat in the car while on the go.

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I brought along my water infuser by dropbottle to infuse my water with lemon to keep me hydrated!

I was always hesitant to pack food to go in the past because I was worried about it not lasting in the car or getting spoiled or too hot from the California sun! I recently got a special insulated bag to carry my meals in that also holds ice packs to keep it all fresh! I highly recommend The Shield bag by Fitmark, but really any insulated cooler bag can work. The great thing about this bag however is that my snacks are accessible from the top AND the side, perfect since I have been driving a lot lately! They’re running a 4th of July sale right now – JULY4 for 20% off!

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I would love to know your experience with meal prep, how often you do it, and has it made a difference in your fitness results/health! I plan to continue this for a bit to track  my own results as well, so I’ll be posting what’s in my bag regularly on Instagram – @caligirlgetsfit!

Have a Happy 4th of July, beautiful fit people!

xx,

Shannon

Tofu Taco Tuesday (with vegan option)!

It’s Taco Tuesday!

IMG_4315   IMG_4302 Contrary to what most people think, tacos DON’T have to be greasy or unhealthy! For Taco Tuesday, I decided to whip up some vegetarian tofu tacos. I did use egg, so they’re not vegan, but if you want to make them into vegan tacos, you can substitute the egg for a bit of water and oil mixed together. Here’s how I made these!

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You will need:

  • 1 box of firm or extra firm tofu
  • 2-3 cups of Panko flakes
  • 1 egg (or sub with water + oil for vegan)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Corn tortillas
  • Cilantro
  • 1-2 tomatoes
  • Siracha sauce

First press the tofu. This basically means that you need to get rid of as much water as possible. What I do with mine is take it out of the box and put a paper towel on the top and bottom. Then I place a semi-heavy object (something about the size and weight of a soup can) works. Let it sit for about 10 minutes.

Once the tofu is pressed, cut it into rectangles about as big as you would like to put in the tacos.

In a bowl, put the Panko and season with a little bit of salt and pepper to taste. In another bowl, crack the egg. Dip the tofu rectangles first into the egg, then into the Panko. (If you want to make this vegan, this is where you substitute the egg for oil and water). When the tofu squares are covered on all sides with Panko, you are ready to pan fry them!

Put a little bit of oil into a pan. Place the tofu into the pan and fry each side until it is crispy!

While cooking the tofu, get another pan and lightly toast the tortillas. Once the tofu is done, assemble your tacos! I put tofu, diced tomato, and cilantro in mine. Then I topped off with some Siracha sauce for a little spice!

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And there you have it! Healthy tacos! Son muy deliciosa y saludable!

Blueberry Parfait

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Fruit parfaits are the easiest thing in the morning. I make this in 5 minutes, throw it in a mason jar, and run out the door! Here’s what I put in mine. What do you like in yours?

  • Bear Naked Maple Pecan granola
  • Chobani plain 0% yogurt
  • Fresh blueberries
  • Hemp seed from Trader Joe’s

My nice cream brings all the boys to the yard…

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…and they’re like, it’s better than regular ice cream! 🙂

Nana nice cream is my favorite things these days. It’s the best alternative to ice cream, and it’s vegan and dairy free. I use my cuisinart food processor to blend the ingredients, putting them all in and first pulsing the blade slowly, then getting faster as it begins to get creamy and smooth. I slice and freeze the bananas overnight before using them for my nice cream!

My most recent creation is blueberry and mango nana nice cream. Here is the very simple recipe for both.

Blueberry

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 and a half cups of frozen blueberries
  • a few splashes of soymilk or almond milk (you can mix in gradually)

Mango

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 and a half cups of frozen mangoes
  • a few splashes of soymilk or almond milk (you can mix in gradually)