Sticking to a diet and exercise program isn't just about determination and willpower. Planning and preparation are also important elements.
Aaron Hepker can attest to that. Since starting his weight loss journey six months ago, he's learned how to use a crock pot and shop the produce aisle at the grocery store like a pro.
Terri Good, owner of Infinity Training Center, is all about making as many healthy meals as possible in a limited amount of time.
"We're gonna have breakfast, lunch and dinner for four or five days," says Good.
The total prep time - about an hour.
She starts by showing Hepker how to make breakfast burritos with five ingredients; ground turkey, spinach, liquid egg whites, reduced fat cheese and whole grain tortillas. Good says putting spinach in burritos, quiche and casseroles is a great way to sneak vegetables into your diet. Another tip - wrap burritos and enchiladas in waxed paper rather than aluminum foil so they're easily defrosted and heated in the microwave.
Dinner is a pork roast, tossed in the crock pot along with carrots, potatoes and green salsa.
"It's delicious, it's fast and it's easy," says Good. "And it took you all of five minutes to put together."
For lunch, Hepker likes turkey or roast beef wraps. Each contains about six ounces of meat, which is weighed and individually wrapped at the deli counter to control portions. Like the burritos, the wraps can be frozen and grabbed while on the go.
Good likes to set aside time on the weekends to prepare several meals at once. She also recommends making double batches of meals. One batch goes in the fridge for the week, the other in the freezer.
"In our society today, if we don't get our food prep done at home and we just wait to see what we run into out there in the world, we're going to end up eating things that have a lot of fat and processed carbohydrates.”
Prior to taking this challenge, Hepker's culinary skills consisted of throwing a frozen pizza in the oven. He says viewers and those following him on Facebook keep him motivated.
"As stupid as it sounds, I printed off all the comments on the Facebook page and I look at those every day and I keep those in mind before I do anything."
He also keeps pictures of those he cares about on his refrigerator. For him, this challenge isn't about fitting into a smaller size or losing weight for a big occasion. It's about living life to the fullest.
"I wanna be here for my friends and family, and I wanna do things," says Hepker. "I wanna be able to live my life and not have a wasted life. This is why I’m doing it."
Brown 1 pound ground turkey, drain fat. Pre-cooked turkey crumbles may be substituted for even faster prep time. Add 3 cups fresh spinach. Saute spinach until wilted. Add 16-ounces liquid egg whites and cook until eggs are preferred consistency. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of mixture into tortillas. Top with 1 tablespoon 2% cheddar cheese and salsa if desired. Roll burritos into waxed paper.
Combine 1.5 pounds new potatoes, 1 pound baby carrots and 1.5 pound pork roast in Crock Pot. Cover with the desired amount of green salsa. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
Spread 2 tablespoons hummus on tortilla. Add 3 to 6 ounces (depending on your dietary requirements) of turkey, chicken or roast beef. Top with 1 to 2 tablespoons reduced fat cheese. Add desired vegetables, such as spinach, avocado or cucumbers. Roll wraps into waxed paper.