Fitness Archives - Steven's Homestead

5 Nutrition Tips from a Semi-beginner

5 Nutrition Tips from a Semi-beginner


Coleslaw for a day.

I keep getting asked, “How do you do it?” and by that people at work mean set up my daily lunch so I am staying up on my nutrition requirements as I work out. I mentioned this statement to Sam, my trainer, who suggested I write a blog about my experience. For many years, I have always prepared my breakfast and lunches for the week on Sunday. Today I am going to share with you some of my tips for meeting your fitness goals through nutrition. Be warned, I am not going to give you diet tips but more about planning your meals.

My Top 5 Nutrition Tips

  1. Plan your menu
  2. Shop smart
  3. Prepare in advance
  4. Portion control
  5. Pack your lunch

Plan Your Menu

When getting my nutritional requirements for the week ready, I start on Saturday. The first thing I do to get ready for the week is pull out my cookbooks. Some cookbooks I reference most are The American Heart Association’s Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol and The New American Heart Association Cookbook. I find the recipes in both of these cookbooks to be easy to prepare and fulfilling at the same time.  Other times, I just think about what I want to eat and come up with some form of “recipe”; for example, the image here is of a coleslaw I made. It is half a head of cabbage, one red pepper, one green pepper, and shredded carrots. I then made a vinaigrette dressing I found in another cookbook.

The next step is to take those recipes (usually no more than four) and put them into an Excel Spreadsheet along with the rest of the meals for the week. After this, I check the coupons in my grocers mobile app and go to the store.

Shop Smart

The grocery store can be a bit overwhelming for anyone trying to stay on a diet. Your first instinct may be to buy those “low-fat” frozen meals to help meet your nutrition needs. Let me tell you, those things are full of salt; don’t believe me read this article “Should you defrost your diet?” from NBC. Over processed foods have been shown to hurt your diet rather than help your diet, but there are exceptions. For example, the coleslaw I made can be made with pre-shredded cabbage and carrots instead of having to shred them yourself. Take about a time saver! Next, if you are buying any meet, check the label. Chicken, for example, can have a lot of sodium added in the processing so read the labels carefully. When you get home you need to prepare your meals.

Prepare in Advance

On Sunday, I start my day off by preparing many dishes like vegetable sides that will reheat well and making things like the coleslaw. This process takes some getting used to as if you are over eager, you will spend the entire day cooking. Instead, prepare what you must for the next day. As an example, yesterday I knew I only needed the coleslaw for lunch today so I made that and the dressing. Tonight, as I prepare dinner I will make a vegetable casserole that will get me through the rest of my nutrition needs for the week. Next comes portion control which is key to meeting your goals.

Portion Control

Controlling portions is probably the easiest way to help you meet your nutrition needs when trying to slim down. My typical breakfast is cereal, cottage cheese, yogurt, and fruit. I measure out both my cereal and cottage cheese using the recommended serving size from the container and put it into individual containers that I can reuse each week. For lunch, I made the coleslaw so I measure out the  serving and the dressing for the week into another set of containers along with some carrots in a different container. This way, when I get ready to leave my house in the wee hours I don’t have to think I just have to pack my meals.

Pack Your Lunch

So I am sure you are asking yourself, is all I eat for lunch the slaw and carrots. The answer is no. I have a serving of protein and some cheese. Each night as I am cooking dinner, I take a few seconds to make a sandwich. In the morning before I leave for work, I pull out my breakfast and eat that before I leave for work. Then I pull out my planned lunch and daily snacks and put them into my lunch bag. Remember that Excel Spreadsheet I talked about? That document is printed and hangs on my refrigerator so that as I pack my lunch and snacks I can reference it to make sure I am putting the right things in my bag. I have already portioned out everything for the week so it is pretty easy to stay on my nutrition plan for the week.

I hope this helps you plan your meals better. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask either in the comments below or send my a message using my contact form. Please feel free to share this post with anyone you feel would benefit.


Month One of My Fitness Plan

Month One of My Fitness Plan

If you have been following along, last month (June 2014) I decided to start on a path of fitness to get into better shape. It has been an interesting month and I have had some break through moments.  Over the last month I have learned somethings about myself, changed my diet, and had some successes.

Things Learned in Month One of my Fitness Plan

Some of the things I have learned about myself during the first month of my new fitness plan are eating out is not hard, listen to my body, and you have to feed the fire within.  Eating out has always been a challenge and is most likely a challenge for anyone trying to improve themselves. You just have to make better decisions. For example, ask for grilled chicken and steamed veggies with no oil. At times when working out in the past, I have ignored the simple things like over extending my arms on some exercises. Over extending your joints during working out will hurt your recovery time and get you out of sync. Instead, make note to change your form. If you have a trainer, tell them! Your trainer should be able to change up the work out to help you still meet your goals. Finally, you have to eat. When trying to loose weight you have to keep the flame inside you burning during the day. Eating smaller meals five times a day will help you get into the groove of things. I did notice in the beginning that I could not eat as much but over the last few weeks I have noticed I am getting hungry between meals. To combat this issue, I added more veggies to my meals.

Diet Changes

I have touched on my diet changes but I want to explain more of what I have learned. Sam uses a nutrition plan he calls Zig-Zag. It has various levels of low-carb and high-carb days. He explained to me that the reason his plan works is that it keeps your body guessing and your metabolism going through out the day. Six days a week, I alternate a low-carb day with a high-carb day and it has surprisingly worked out very well. I start everyday eating a high-carb breakfast, within 30 minutes of waking, to get the body going. At first, eating this soon after getting up was extremely difficult as I used teat about an hour after I got up.

Successes so Far

The biggest success so far has been that I have lost 13 pounds to date and I have noticed my clothes fit a little better. A few weeks ago, before I started the fitness program for the first time in my life I started having body issues. It was a strange feeling as I have pretty much been the same size since high school. I hated looking in the mirror and seeing myself after I got out of the shower. A week ago, I got out of the shower and instead of seeing my current situation, I saw the future me looking back. Another success was today for the first time ever, while working on my chest I actually felt my chest. Before when I was working out, I think I used my arms more when doing chest exercises. Having proper form when working out makes a world of difference. These are not the only two moments but they are the two I wanted to share because they are the most important.

Guilford Courthouse

Welcome back!

Guilford Courthouse Visitor CenterI was not able to go hiking in the Los Angeles area the weekend of May 5, 2012 as I was out of town on business during the week and took a side trip to visit family.  While I was in North Carolina I took a trip to the Guilford Courthouse to “hike” around the park.  It was more a walk than a hike but there are some nice hills and woods to go through.

Guilford Courthouse is the site of one of the Revolutionary War’s most fierce battles.  According to the National Park Service’s website, “This backwoods county seat of Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina, was the site of a pivotal battle in the Revolutionary War’s decisive Southern Campaign. The engagement set the stage for the region’s liberation from enemy occupation and impelled British general Lord Charles Cornwallis to take the ill-fated road that led him to final defeat at Yorktown, Virginia, seven months later.”

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Paramount Ranch

Today we went hiking at Paramount Ranch; a former movie ranch producing those great old westerns my Dad grew up loving.  The ranch is really easy to find and not one you would realize is located just a couple of miles off the 101 in Agoura Hills.  The main drawback for the area is noise; there is a high amount of traffic on the roads around the ranch and the noise carries quite well.  Which is interesting considering at one time there was a racetrack on the site, Paramount Racetrack.

We wanted to make sure we got a good hike in and there are ample opportunities in this park.  We started going around the Medea Creek Trail which is about a one mile loop.  We the ventured through “Western Town which is the old movie set; however, to keep the pace moving we did not stop to enjoy the town.  Instead we headed toward “Coyote Canyon Trail” which turns into a loop as you go to the picnic area which sits on top of a hill.  The disappointing thing about the picnic area is there is no view.  After the picnic area we headed around the overlook toward the Hacienda Trail which meanders into Witches Wood.  We then started to take a trip on Backdrop Trail but decided we were ready to head back into the town via part of Medicine Woman Trail.

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Circle X Ranch – Grotto Trail

Today we hiked the Grotto Trail which is located in the Circle X Ranch located next to the Point Magu State Park.  Circle X Ranch is a former Boy Scout Camp sitting in the Santa Monica Mountains South of Thousand Oaks, CA near Malibu.  This is a great hike for those looking for a non-fire road type of hike.  The hike is considered a moderate hike and the elevation gain is around 650 feet.

One of the complaints I have of the local hiking spots is most are fire roads that allow for hiking.  Grotto Trail is a true path winding through the hills and woods in this 1655 acre park.   The hike is around 3.5 miles but if you park a bit further you can easily turn it into a four mile hike.

On your trip you will encounter a meadow, dash in the woods, fording a stream, and over some rather large rocks.  Your trip starts by going down a nice shady path just past the camping area.  After going downhill a bit you start to climb and come out looking over some impressive valley view’s where you can see some rather impressive boulder formations.

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