Meal prep is a must- make time!
It's a common mistake when you're new to the fitness game- you line up workouts and plan healthy meals for the week, but fail to account for prep time or grabbing ingredients. In a pinch, you're left trying to buy a "healthy" meal (and paying too much for it), or even worse, just putting it off until tomorrow and settling for fast food, while chicken breasts and broccoli begin to turn in the fridge.
This inevitably happens to even the most dedicated; sometimes life just gets in the way of the best laid plans. But we often prioritize and make time for everything else in our life and leave shopping and meal prep for whatever time is left over.
Ask any bodybuilder or fitness model and they'll tell how important meal prep is. Not of all us want to get to their level, but the lesson is crucial- if you want to get the body or energy levels you've been dreaming of, you're going to have to make time to buy and cook your own food!
Money solves some problems, but not all
I know what you're thinking- I'm busy and I'm going to buy my way out of this problem. There's a million places offering healthy meals that meet lofty nutritional goals without lifting a finger.
If you're clearing 75k a year, don't have kids and don't live in a real estate market like Vancouver- congratulations! You can probably pull it off. But seriously, even if you have the money to spend $50-$100 a day on high quality prepared meals, there's still issues:
- Businesses selling healthy prepared meals, regardless of price point, can be less than trustworthy when it comes to how "healthy" they are
- Ditto for any packaged foods
- You're inevitably going to encounter situations when you run out of or can't access prepared stuff
And if you're on a budget like most of us, you don't stand a chance in terms of having a healthy diet without some form of meal prep or cooking. Relying on what's in the cupboard for something to eat when you get home is almost always going to be trouble.
The problem most people have is a mental one, not a matter of time. Having meals ready to go in the fridge or having ingredients prepped (ie veggies chopped in advance) is looked at almost like some sort of luxury, something that only gets done on a day when the stars align perfectly and you have nothing else to do. It has to be made a priority.
Bottom line- shopping and meal prep is more important than exercising. Missing a day at the gym to line up your food for the week is always going to be a good trade (unless you're preparing nothing but cookies and lasagna or something).
You'd have a tough time trying to find a doctor or nutritionist that thinks bench press or jogging is more beneficial than a balanced diet free of unnecessary preservatives, sugar and other weird shit found in just about anything prepared.
And for those of us who aren't wealthy, it's also the only way you'll get to enjoy high quality, nutritious, delicious food on a budget. I can make a lethal ragu bolognese for about $3 a portion that would probably be $20-$25 in a restaurant or an amazing apple crisp for around $2 a portion that would be $8 from the grocery store.
More importantly, once I've done the work, both are ready to go in the fridge or freezer and can be ready in no time, and aren't loaded with preservatives and artificial shit.
Prepare meals or prepare for consequences
Most of us do a much better job at pushing through obligations or stress to get to the gym than we do for shopping and meal prep. Instead of planning your life and then using whatever time you have left over for this stuff, start getting serious. Skip the gym, cancel plans, leave work early to get it done. There's some great videos of bodybuilders and fitness models on YouTube showing how they do it, a great place to pick up tips and ideas for how to be more efficient.
Otherwise, you'll be scrambling for every meal and left at the mercy of fast food joints, supermarket delis or high priced prepared "healthy' meals. Prioritize shopping and meal prep or your waistline or pocketbook is going to take a hit!
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