Learning to Eat Well For Results & Balance

By Valerie Solomon

Watch the Periscope

To reach your fitness goals, you need a solid exercise plan and for most women, a change in the way you eat.  If you are anything like me, the workout part is not the hard part… we learn to love that.  The hardest part of a fitness journey is DIET!  You workout for maybe an hour a day, but food seems to be everywhere for the other 23 hours, right?!  I know from experience, it can be overwhelming and difficult to stick to a restrictive plan…. and to even navigate through all of the restrictive diets out there!  

We know from experience that DIETS DON’T WORK (you reach that short term goal and then rebound)!  What is the answer then?

I have this goal for YOU, and all of the women that I work with, to get to the place where you know what to eat that moves you forward and still have BALANCE!   I REALLY do not want to create a bunch of crazy women that are obsessed about counting calories or macros forever.  Learn what you need to know to lose weight or build muscle to buckle down when needed, and then give yourself freedom to eat normally as well, too.  Food is yummy.  I want you to have that date night with your loved one, cake on your birthday, and wine with me on Periscope chats (I’m selfish, I know!).

It is possible to pair your workouts with a doable nutrition plan to really help you reach your goals for good.  Let’s stop crash dieting and really make lasting changes for yourself and your family.

But how do you eat in order to look great, feel great, AND still enjoy life? Learning the basics is key as well as allowing yourself some leeway. That’s what the diet in my programs is all about; building a solid foundation and making it work with a busy life.

I am a firm believer and example of “progress not perfection”.  Set goals to eat well 80% of the time.  Life is sweet and often made sweeter by enjoying special treats with loved ones.

In my Beginner & Next Step plans, I encourage you to buckle down and hold yourself to the plan, but allow yourself 1 “treat meal” per week until you meet your goal.   I’ve included guidelines in my Beginner & Next Step plans for the treat meal to ensure that you still meet your goals.

It’s not realistic to think you can stay on a meal plan for life.  It’s no fun.  We all have different tastes and preferences, and quite honestly, one certain breakfast, for example, may not help you lose weight better than the other.  What is doable long term is to fit in the foods you like and work within certain parameters that have some flexibility.  Learn to track calories (at least for awhile).  Learn what to eat & eyeball the right portion sizes for the choices you make.  And start making lasting changes slowly.

3 Key Basics for Learning to Eat Well For Results & Balance

Learn What to Eat & Start Making Swaps

When I first started my fitness journey and wanting to eat better, I really had no idea where to start.  I wanted to know what “Perfect” looked like.  There was a time I didn’t know what “processed food” meant, I really wasn’t sure I knew what “protein” meant,  and I didn’t own even 1 shaker cup!  I was a total newby.

So I dug in and started figuring out the answers to my questions.  I started replacing items in my pantry with better options.  I started tweaking the meals I cook for my family (you’ll see this in my Beginner & Next Step plans! I didn’t reinvent the wheel here!)  For example, my kids love spaghetti so I cooked it with lean beef and whole grain pasta.  I got rid of the greasy garlic bread and just had a healthy salad or veggies on the side.  I started buying less and less of the boxed mac and cheese type stuff and more fresh foods.  I still buy my kids cereal, but I have them choose some healthier options.  It’s been gradual, but 80% of the time, my family eats much better than we did before.  I feel great establishing those habits with them that will likely last for generations.  

Learn How Many Calories to Eat

Although I mentioned that I don’t want to create crazy ladies that count calories forever, I do think it’s important to buckle down and keep tabs on your calorie intake as you aim to reach a short term goal.  It’s often eye opening to see where we are over eating, and often, UNDER EATING!  When you buckle down and keep track of calories for while, you will know what calorie point works for you.  You will have a visual of what a plate of food to meet that number looks like.  Then in the future, when you reached your goal, you can backoff of the calorie counting for a bit and use those visual cues instead.  I’m often going back and forth in different seasons of calories counting to get myself back on track, and just eyeballing things to maintain for a bit.

In my Beginner & Next Step plans I start by having you follow a meal plan and then lead you to picking the foods that you like to eat on your own and making it work within a certain calorie point.

The number of calories a woman should eat largely varies based on body type, her level of activity, the state of her metabolism and her goals.  That’s a lot of “it depends”.  However, a good rule of thumb for a healthy-weighted woman looking to control her weight while staying healthy, is to begin at 10-17 times her bodyweight in calories (10-12 if you want to lose weight, 13-17 if you want to maintain, 18+ to gain).  As you progress and want to shed more fat, you can lower your calories slowly over time, but we do not recommend going below 10 times body weight for any extended period of time or staying at 10x your bodyweight forever.

Beware of undereating.  If you have dieted over and over and find that now your body will not respond, it’s likely that your metabolism has stalled from the undereating.  It’s a good rule of thumb to not eat below 10 x your bodyweight for an extended period of time as mentioned above.  So a 200lb person eating just 1200 for a year…. you can see why the body is now in starvation mode.   I coach more women to lose weight by eating more than I do to eat less!  Fact!

Become Protein Minded

This is a phrase I love and teach in my Beginner & Next Step plans. To really support muscle growth which is key to being fit, you need to fuel your body with the protein in needs.  Most of us women do not naturally eat enough protein.  I tend to crave things like tomato soup for lunch, for example.  Now that I am protein minded…. I will have that tomato soup with a side of whatever protein I have left over from the night before.   To be protein minded, you think about having protein at EVERY snack and meal.  It’s not that you can’t have the carbs, you just also need to have that side of protein.

I like to coach people to first just start thinking about eating more protein, but if you are wanting an actual number, 1-1.2g protein per pound of bodyweight is a good rule of thumb.  So figure that number out and divide it into how ever many meals you will eat.  For me, I have 3 meals and 2 snacks a day generally.

So often people say to me, “What?!  You are eating THAT?!”  It’s a common misconception that because I maintain a fit physique year around, that I am very restrictive with my diet.  I eat the way I’m sharing with you.  I love to work hard (strength training burns a lot of calories!), I have developed healthier LASTING eating habits, and I still keep lots of treats in my diet.  There are seasons I buckle down to shed a bit of weight.  There are seasons where I am much more relaxed and rely on my habits I’ve developed.  I can’t wait to hear from you someday about how you’ve navigated along your fitness journey to this place.  We will toast a glass of wine to the occasion…. and not feel one bit guilty about it.  #cheers

-Valerie Solomon