Often, when being healthy, you have to be a bit of a rebel.
It’s part of the gig.
Like this one time
(at band camp), a few work friends wanted to go to Five Guys. I wanted a burger (open-faced), but I also wanted my greens (instead of almost 1000 calories of fries). So, I brought a kale salad in my bag and snuck it out a little at a time, so I wouldn’t get caught. (I assume the Five Guys employees police for this sort of thing.) You millennials and your kale.
Or at last week’s company softball game, I needed some protein — so I grabbed a rotisserie chicken from WF and carved it with plastic cutlery on the bleachers. Whatever floats your goat.
You have to be a rebel. Our world is designed around the concepts of convenience and instant gratification. Living an active lifestyle requires more… activity. But you get to live longer and probably live a fuller life too, so that’s cool.
“why are you on a diet?”
Sophomore year of college was my first foray into real foods-based, healthy eating. I was working in an admin office at the Vanderbilt Medical Center at the time. Most of my coworkers were women in their 30s and 40s, and most of them had kids. I’ll never forget the first experiences I had having my (new) healthy habits questioned — ranging from “Why are you on a diet?” to “I’m sure you have time for that because you’re single, but real people don’t have time to eat like that.”
There was so much to unpack there, and I was not nearly articulate enough (or informed enough) to do it myself. At first, it made me want to question their habits. But then, as the questions continued, it made me really consider why I was doing what I was doing — spending so much time obsessing about nutrition, food, and cooking, avoiding alcohol-heavy socializing, bumping around in the gym like an awkward turtle, going way off campus to get groceries so I could have healthy snacks. Generally being a weirdo.
I won’t lie and say it wasn’t to lose weight — without the consistent activity of sports that I had in high school, I had gained some weight during my freshman and sophomore years. But I didn’t see it as a diet, I saw it as a conscious shift toward health and well-being, which is probably why it (for the most part) stuck. Calling it a diet means its temporary… and I didn’t want the weight loss (or newfound energy) to be temporary.
I can’t speak to feeding a family. But I can speak to feeding one person: You just have to be a rebel, and you have to prioritize it. You have to intentionally carve your own path. Take the road less traveled. That sort of thing. Usually, it’s contagious — whether you mean to or not, your healthy habits rub off on those around you. You grab an apple, they grab an apple. You take the stairs, they take the stairs. You bring kale salad to Five Guys… they have a few bites too.
As a rebel, you need to stay ahead of the game — plan meals ahead, always have snacks on deck, and know when to compromise for the sake of sanity. Be intentional with the way you eat, instead of letting life hit you in the face.
Bring your lunch to work as much as possible. If your friends want to go out to eat, be proactive and suggest restaurants that have a variety of options. If you’re going to a potluck, bring a healthy dish you can fill up on.
Finally, never go anywhere without water and some protein.
Next to carbs, proteins are the second-most difficult macronutrient to find in a ready-to-eat form. Carbs and proteins generally require some kind of prep, which means that planning ahead is pretty critical. Here’s where you’ll shine, little rebel. Once you get the hang of having ready-to-go protein around, life gets a lot easier. Figure out what works for you — some people love their protein shakes, while others need straight-up meat, while others crave something sweet. As long as it’s real food, your body will thank you. Here are few options for some of many scenarios when you need protein — stat.
Hard-boiled eggs: Make a dozen on Sunday and eat throughout the week as breakfast, lunch, or snacks. These bad boys are super versatile. For breakfast, I usually eat them straight up with a banana or a piece of avocado toast (on sprouted grain bread). For lunch, I cut up half an avocado with 2 hard-boiled eggs for a healthy egg salad. Or, I’ll have an egg and a (super crispy honeycrisp) apple for an afternoon snack. See? Super versatile.
In case you’re like me and always fail miserably at hard-boiling eggs, here’s a fool-proof method:
- Place eggs in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add a splash of white vinegar and a pinch of salt.
- Bring to a rolling boil. Once it’s there (make sure it’s rolling), cover the pot and pull it off the heat and forget about it. Watch an episode of something. Do some squats. Fold some laundry. Then, peel your eggs under cold running water and store in an airtight container. Donezo.
post-workout pump up
Bro-tein shake: 10 out of 10 bros agree — nothing beats a protein shake after a workout for a quick boost of protein. If you work out in the mornings, try mixing vanilla (grass-fed!) protein into your coffee with some iced cubes and almond milk for a deliciously filling, frothy iced latte.
For a hearty breakfast shake, try this time-tested classic: 1 frozen banana, 2 scoops protein, almond milk, 1 tbsp. chia seeds, 1 tbsp. peanut butter.
After a workout, just shake together some protein powder and your milk of choice for some solid muscle recovery fuel.
Just make sure you’re using the good stuff — there’s lots of gunk hiding in protein powders. I’m really liking the Promix Grass-Fed Vanilla Whey, which is made of: Grass-fed whey protein concentrate, non-GMO cane sugar, Indonesian vanilla bean extract, and non-GMO sunflower lecithin. It’s a little expensive for protein powder, but at $1.19 a serving, it’s still cheaper than most protein sources (bars, meats, nuts, etc.).
quick stop at whole foods, feeling super hangry
Hot bar: Get one of the soup cups at the hot bar and fill it up with chicken and roasted sweet potatoes. The soup cup keeps the portion snack-sized, and it keeps you from accidentally buying yourself a $17 snack.
Shrimp cocktail: Another option, if you’re feeling fancy, is to buy a ring of cocktail shrimp. Shrimp are a solid, clean protein — and this won’t spoil your dinner.
traveling a lot, don’t know when I’ll be eating next
Quest bars: This might be my most controversial recommendation on here. A lot of paleo people would recommend beef jerky and nuts as plane snacks, but I don’t necessarily agree — beef jerky is usually rather high in sodium, and it’s also expensive. Sodium is the worst during travel because it dehydrates you. I love nuts (walnuts in particular), but I’m not a rabbit — I won’t fill up on a small handful of nuts, and I probably won’t stop at just a handful.
Quest bars are high in protein (around 20g) and fiber (around 20g) and are made with reasonable (enough) ingredients. I always travel with several Quest bars, because they’re a great way to tie yourself over between meals and are light and portable (and non-perishable). They’re also not a bad thing to carry in your bag or keep at work, just in case. Favorite flavor: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, or Cookies and Cream.
bonus! happy hour at a sushi place (or again, at whole foods foraging for snacks)
Edamame: Protein-packed edamame will keep you full, and help you avoid the temptation of tempura-anything. At Whole Foods, you can find edamame by the sushi. Grab that and a coconut water and be on your merry way.
Remember, no one wants to see you hangry. Rebel against hunger and unhealthy snacking with these quick, easy protein-y snacks. What are your favorite protein-packed snacks? Comment below.