Healthy Eating Tips for Beginners

Happy Monday everyone!


I have spent a couple of days recuperating  after the Redbud Ride, but I will have to say it was absolutely fantastic! One of the single most best things I’ve ever done. Recap to come soon!

After sharing some of my ride photos online, one of my relative’s contacted me for some advice in the healthy living department. As you all know from my little blog space here, I am a huge advocate for healthy living and I am always willing to help others in search of incorporating a healthy lifestyle.

That said, I thought I would share with you all, the exact same advice I shared with her. Keep in mind, she has three beautiful children and is a working mother, so I tried to keep that in mind when conversing with her. The following is the message I sent back to her.

Healthy Eating Tips


Amber Madden



First of all THANK YOU, but I think you’re giving me too much credit and yourself not enough! You have two beautiful children that I’m sure keep you busy, not to mention you’re a working mama! That’s not to say you can’t make some healthy changes, though! I definitely did make a lot of healthy changes to my lifestyle beginning in high school. Like you said, we do have a significant family history of heart disease along with other illnesses. Plus, I was simply unhappy. I had always been an overweight child and had no idea what to do about it. My Mom and Dad didn’t really understand how unhappy I was, so they never did anything to help me. Early on in high school, I began running and that pretty much changed my whole life. Running turned into a passion for health and fitness, and I am slowly working on making it part of my career.

As much as I do love to workout, in all honesty I think my diet is the most important. If I have no time to workout through the week, then I make sure I pay close attention to what I’m eating throughout the week. Abs are made in the kitchen!

As far as my eating habits go, I definitely started out very rocky with trying to figure out what exactly is “healthy.” There are a lot of different products out there advertised as “healthy” or “low-fat” that really aren’t that good for you. So, here are some of my tips and what works for ME. Keep in mind, you definitely don’t have to do ALL of these! I started out very slow, only incorporating a couple of things, and then worked my way up to making an overall change. All of these things are second nature to me now, but they definitely weren’t in the beginning.

– I eat mostly “clean.” To me, clean means eating about 80% of my meals with food that either grows from the ground or has a mother. I try to stay away from anything processed (packaged meats, crackers, cookies, frozen meals, etc.) This is a great list of foods I often eat. If it’s not on the list, most of the time I don’t eat it.

– I cook almost all of my meals each week from home. We ordinarily only eat out at the most about 1 time a week, and most of the time that’s a Subway salad for me. This saves money that I can spend on healthy food. -Along with cooking at home, I try to cook once, eat twice. I work a lot and there’s simply no time to cook everyday. I try to cook double for each meal so we will have leftovers for the busy days and I have more free time to do what I want.

-Meal Plan. I have about four weeks worth of meal plans full of healthy, nutritious recipes that I rotate through each week. This keeps the guesswork out of me having to figure out at the last minute what I want to eat and making a poor choice when I’m tired. If you want to see my meal plans, I have them posted on a blog I write. . Just search Meal Plan Monday and you should be able to find them.

-Meal prep. I definitely think this is more advanced. Sometimes, if I know I’m going to be really busy. I will prep all my meals on Sunday. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and just store everything in tupperware in the fridge. It makes it super easy for the week when all I have to do is reheat something.

– I am lucky enough to actually LOVE all vegetables. I eat a ton a veggies and I often consider “green” veggies FREE and I eat as much as I want of them. Roasting and grilling veggies with Mrs. Dash seasonings tastes amazing! With each meal, I try to fill half my plate with veggies, 1/4 with a complex carb (brown rice, quinoa, cous cous, swt. potato, etc.), and 1/4 with a protein. – Speaking of protein, I try to stick to leaner cuts of things. Chicken, Ground turkey, Fish, and 90/10 beef.

– Focus more on eating lots of vegetables and protein and less focus on complex carbs. If I’m trying to cut weight, I usually will limit my complex carbs and not eat anymore after lunch. – Food journaling. I can’t say enough about keeping a journal of what you eat. This has definitely been the single most thing that has helped me with tracking what I eat. Myfitness Pal is a great one and you can even customize it so it will tell you how many calories you should be eating each day to lose/maintain weight. My username is almadden on there if you want to add me and see what I’m eating. – NEVER go below 1200 calories a day! This will jack-up your metabolism.

– Don’t drink your calories and try to limit soda. Drink TONS of water. I still drink soda because I’m eternally addicted, but I try to limit it to only when I eat out.

– When I first was trying to lose weight, I would only allow myself a “cheat” meal OR dessert (not both) once a week. If I stuck to my plan the whole week, then I would eat whatever I wanted for that one meal. After I reached my goal weight, I began having a few more treats throughout the week, but I definitely don’t have treats everyday. Most of the time, I drink flavored hot teas for “dessert.”

-Before you go out to eat with the family or friends, look at the menu of the restaurant before you leave and figure out what you’ll have before you go. This gives you control over the calories. Most places have the nutrition information online and you can plug this into your fitness pal to make sure you stick to your plan. Stay away from the bread basket! If you must eat the bread, eat half of a piece. I sip on unsweetened tea or coffee while we’re waiting for the meal and I try to drink a whole glass of water before the food comes. I also typically will only eat half of what they bring and take the rest home for the next day. Portion sizes in restaurants are crazy!

– A typical day for me looks like this. Breakfast: 1/4 c. oatmeal, 1/4 c. frozen blueberries, 1 tsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp peanut butter (combined and heated in microwave). Lunch: Large salad with mixed greens and veggies, Starkist Lemon Pepper tuna packet, Vinaigrette dressing; 7 Triscuit crackers. Snack: 1/2 c. cottage cheese mixed with cinnamon, banana protein muffin. Dinner: Baked lemon pepper chicken 4 oz.; 1/2 c. quinoa or brown rice; 1 – 2 c. steamed broccoli w/ Mrs. Dash. Snack: Chobani Greek Yogurt cup with 1/4 c. kashi cereal.

– I also suggest keeping in mind WHY you want to get healthy. Perhaps because you want your children to have a healthy parent to set a good example, or because you want to be around a long time for them and keep up with them. I think if I were a parent, it would be easy for me to feel guilty about taking time away from them to workout/meal plan, etc. But keep in mind, if you’re healthy and happy, they will be, too. It’s hard for me sometimes because my husband does not have the same passion for health and fitness as I do. Because he loves me and thinks I look fine, sometimes he tries to talk me out of going to the gym to stay home with him instead. And sometimes I do. But other days I tell myself that this time is for ME and for ME to feel good and feel confident, which I know he also appreciates. Happy wife, happy home.

– As far as fitness goes, as I said before, I focus more on healthy eating. I love to workout, but sometimes I only get to do so 3 days a week. Recently, I started going to the gym at 4 a.m. in the mornings and this has made such a difference for me. It was extremely tough in the beginning because I typically have worked out in the afternoons, but it’s so nice to get it done and out of the way. This really helps me with my work schedule, too. I lift weights in the gym, and sometimes do about 20 minutes on the elliptical. A couple of afternoons I might do a 1 -2 mile run outside. I mostly try to focus on just MOVING 30 minutes a day MOST days of the week, even if it’s just a short walk. I find as long as I watch my food intake, then I am able to maintain without worrying about all the exercise. I WILL say exercise helps keep me motivated and makes me feel better. It’s my ME time.

Well, this is getting really long, but I definitely have a passion for this and wanted to lend as much help as I can. I know exactly how you feel. Just remember to give yourself time. Even if you just make small changes, they will add up over time and you will see results as long as you stay consistent. I’m my own worst enemy at times and I get easily frustrated. I say things to myself like, “Well, I already blew my meal plan 2 days this week, might as well just start over next Monday.” Or, “Well, I’m not seeing any changes fast enough, so what’s the point.” All of these thoughts are self-destructive and will only lead you back to where you don’t want to go. Stay positive and be your own cheerleader. “Well, I blew my meal plan today, but I stuck to it all week until now, and tomorrow is a new day!” Or, “Even though I’m not seeing automatic results, I know progress takes time. It took me awhile to get to where I am now, and it’s going to take me a while to get to where I want to be. Slow and steady wins the race!”

I hope all of this is helpful, girl! If I can help you in any other way just let me know!