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There’s no ‘cheating’ or ‘treating’ with your meal plans over here
What is a ‘flex meal’? A flex meal is a term I created to help me with my mindset around eating and staying on track with my meal plans. It’s what most people would normally call a cheat or treat day.
What I’ve found with the words ‘cheat’ and ‘treat’ is they imply that a person isn’t sticking to the rules, and it’s a bad thing. Also, that all the other foods they’ve been eating aren’t something to look forward to while focusing on improving your overall nutrition.
This still isn’t a free-for-all day, but you still want to make sure your cravings have been satisfied. You don’t want things to a point where you feel like you’ve been deprived and now need to make up for all the times you’ve denied yourself. Things could get ugly going down that road.
I’ve always been a big believer of including all the food groups into my meal plans. Since doing so, I’ve found all the ladies I work with are significantly more consistent with their nutrition and have seen greater progress with their health and fitness overall.
Sure looking at your results daily or weekly can fluctuate, but teaching them to see the bigger picture of what was accomplished over the past month or two has resulted in a much more enjoyable health journey.
If you like to incorporate meals that have a lower nutritional value, then the best time to do so is always before a workout.
Especially exercises dedicated to larger muscle groups, like your back and lower body. The extra energy from the surplus of calories helps you push harder throughout your workout and assists the larger muscle groups to burn more calories.
So for example, if you want to give yourself two consecutive rest days, plan to have a flex meal or flex day on the second rest day, instead of the first day. That way your workout is scheduled for the next day where you can use those stored extra calories to fuel your workout.
2. Enjoy What You Crave, Then STOP
There’s nothing more annoying than when you’re flexible with your meal plan but still feel unsatisfied. Take note of whatever you’ve been really craving and go for it! Don’t shy away from what you really want.
Remember though, there’ll be other flex meals so no need to treat this like your ‘last meal’. If your craving is satisfied with eating a slice of pizza or doughnut or something, then stop. No need to turn it into an entire day or weekend if you’re good to go.
If you’re not preparing your own food, keep in mind portions at the restaurant aren’t necessarily proper meal sizes. Don’t feel obligated to finish the whole thing in one sitting. Take a to-go bag to finish the rest the next day or share it with a friend.
3. Hold Your Alcohol
It’s totally fine if you wanna have a drink, stop at one or two though. A hangover is only going to mess up your workout and/or your energy levels and choices that day, as well as, the following day.
My own personal opinion is to just stick with water to drink. I love saving those extra calories for the food. But hey, that’s just me.
4. Avoid Flex Meals When You’re STARVING
When you’re in survivor mode and want to eat everything in sight it’s probably not the best time to indulge in your flex meal cravings. Similar to alcohol, our thinking isn’t clear and can lead us to overindulge.
Our goal is to satisfy our cravings and enjoy the flavors we love, not scarf down as much food as possible. Take the time to enjoy your meals. Make them special and savor each bite.
5. Try Swapping For Healthier Ingredients
This tip has dual sides to it. One side is the healthy side and the other side is more for your personal well-being. There can be a few easy adjustments made which don’t really take away from the experience of your favorite flex meals.
For example, instead of having dairy ice cream, opt for cashew or coconut based versions. They taste just as good but are a bit nicer on the waistline. The other side of this is understanding that at this point (if you’ve been staying on track with your meal plan), you’ve been eating higher quality, nutritional foods. Our bodies begin to get accustomed to a healthier way of eating.
So for the majority of us, switching over to the chosen types of flex meals (ie. pastries, cheesy things, etc) can be a shock to the body at times. I’m sure we’ve all experienced the discomfort that comes later or even the following day, or even two days or more for some!
Gas, bloating, and inflammation galore. Hello! So looking for alternative treats that have healthier ingredients is a little gentler on the stomach. I’ve been there though, sometimes you just want to have foods made the traditional way you grew up knowing and enjoying them (cue tip number two above). If this is the case, have at it my friend.
Might I suggest, it’s super helpful to invest in a good digestive enzyme to take beforehand. I take two about 20 minutes before I eat richer foods in my flex meals.
All in all, our aim is to enjoy the process of living more healthier lives. For us, food can association with special occasions and fond memories throughout our lives. There shouldn’t be any deprivation needed to be able to see progress towards your health or fitness goals.
Keep in mind that your goal is a goal for a reason. If you’re desiring to make a change in your health and fitness, you won’t be able to do so while maintaining your old habits.
A consistent routine of some form of exercise is needed and, of course, eating more nutritionally based meals.
If you’re not sure where to start or need help with a new routine, please fill out the contact form (Select Recipient: Coach Elulu) and let’s set up a plan!
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