7 Tips to Prevent Overeating

Wrestlers and athletes spend years learning how to eat better for performance, and then transfer that knowledge to life. Once you've weeded through all the nutritional knowledge, you'll find that a few tips are tried and true. Below are techniques that help with learning your body, and how to appropriately portion your meals throughout the day. 

Start your day with 1 glass of water

Wrestlers need a lot of water to stay properly hydrated. Our workouts consist of high intensity burns that include a lot of sweat and often is not replaced. Besides needing the fluid for sweat, water helps support the functions of our organs. Stay on top of your hydration to optimize your performance by drinking 1 glass of water as soon as you wake up. This sets the tone for your day as you should plan to continue to drink 2 glasses around each meal. This will help keep you fuller longer and ready to sweat at practice. 

Include protein in each meal 

Protein helps you stay fuller, longer. Including protein in your snacks can be beneficial to help prevent overeating at meals. This category includes chicken, fish, beef, eggs, dairy products, beans, and nuts. Be diverse in your protein intakes, and use a protein supplement for when you cannot consume enough protein in your snacks or meals, or as a convenient tool around training sessions. A protein supplement will also be a great tool for athletes who are vegetarians or vegans. 

Focus on 5-6 meals a day 

There have been many studies which concluded that eating smaller meals more often has lead to less over eating. For athletes, this is also a great way to avoid the midday hunger pains. High level athletes will eat almost every 2-3 hours depending on how many calories they burn. Remember, as your muscle mass increases, so does your metabolism. Make sure to eat before and after each workout. 

Use visual cues when building your plate 

How often have you been to an all you can eat buffet and stacked your plate with food you had no business even trying to eat? I know my eyes have been bigger than my stomach! When you have visual queues for your portion sizes, it becomes helpful when filing your plate at home or in any situation. Your protein choice should be about the size of a deck of cards or the size your palm. Carbohydrates should be about the size of your fist, and the rest can be filled with vegetables (I know you ALL eat your vegetables). Healthy fats such as nuts and oils should fit in about 2 spoonfuls. 

Meal prep to help prevent raiding the pantry 

Meal prepping is becoming a great tool for athletes and everyone in between. It helps limit choices, and you will always have your staples of a favorite protein, veg, and carb available for a meal. When you know what you are eating, you won't turn to unhealthy snacking before the next meal. You also won't have that worry about being full enough, as long as you are meal prepping efficiently. Check out the blog I wrote on how to meal prep for beginners here

Make your own snack packs 

There is nothing worse than being in a major hunger emergency. If you are in the middle or end of your season, you are getting in awesome shape and starting to burn the most amount of calories. This means your body will be demanding nutrients every 2-3 hours to sustain all that muscle mass you have put on. Don't get caught in a place where having a nutritionally balanced snack is not on hand and fast food or unhealthy choices are your only option. Check out the blog here on great snack options. 

Start a food journal

This is not a calorie counter. Let me say this again: this is not a calorie counter! A food journal is a tool that helps you recognize patterns. It is very difficult to make changes in the way you eat if you don't have a clear understanding of your habits. I used a food journal when I needed to go up a weight class and I had to find opportunities to add more nutrition, even when I didn't think it existed. They only way I was able to find change was by journaling and reflecting on my habits over weeks and months. If you have goals to include more water and more vegetables in your nutrition, you need to know where you have a deficit to make up. Log what you eat for meals, snacks, and how much water you drink. Don't try and eat perfect for the journal's sake, eat how you normally do so you can actually make improvements.

How to Jump on the Meal-Prep Bandwagon

If you are up to date on athlete trends, you'll have heard about meal prepping. Not only are there countless articles you can read on how to actually meal prep, but also instagram accounts showing others' gorgeously stacked tupperware for their week's meals. But who is actually using this and using it well? And is it actually benefitical for athletes?

I was certainly skeptical of the trend when it first came around. It seemed like it was only for the people who decide to restrict their nutrition for a certain reasons, or for the elite body builder. After speaking with many nutritionists and dieticians, I started seeing the benefits of what could be of meal-prepping and decided to give it a shot. 

I incorporated meal-prepping into the 2015-2016 year leading into the Olympics. I was noticing that I would have a hard time with snacks and being consistent with my nutrition in between practices. Have you ever found yourself so desperately hungry before a workout that you resort to eating an entire box of mac and cheese, only to still be hungry? Yup, that was me too. Once I started incorporating structured meal-prepping, I discovered that I remained fuller longer, and I was no longer having to cook when I was fatigued after a workout. Here's some tips that help you get started with meal prepping:

Get yourself a serious tupperware collection

I used big ones, and meal sized ones to store all the food I prepped. You don't have to divide all your meals up day by day into smaller tupperware. Unless I took a meal to go, I typically kept everything in larger containers and served myself as needed. You can employ whatever strategy works best for you. 

Plan to cook twice a week 

It's helpful to change things up half way through the week, and it's also difficult to have a lot of your cooked items remain fresh for a full 7 days. Schedule time to meal prep at the beginning of the week, and half way through. 

Stick to a protein, carb, and veg for each meal

Make things simple and use a plate model. Depending on how much you are training, your protein/carb/veg proteins will change, so be prepared to prep the right nutrition pertaining to where you are in your training cycle. Never seen a plate model? I'll be doing a blog on that soon!

Be prepared to get sick of eating the same way 

Consistency means sticking to a plan, and sometimes that plan can be boring. However, it certainly works! You are getting the proper nutrition you need for each meal, and often that is well worth the monotony. Read up on others who are trying new things for their meal-prepping to get inspiration for changing up the routine! 

Rice cookers are an added bonus 

There aren't a million tools you need in your kitchen in order to meal prep. However, having a rice cooker that will make perfect rice can make your life easier. Cooking rice in a pot often requires your attention, which is not ideal when you already have the other components of your meals to prep. Something simple that makes a few cups of rice (check a local thrift store!), will do just the trick in making your meal prepping a little less involved. 

My sample meal prep

Sunday Meal Prep:

Cook One 5oz chicken breast per meal

Roast sweet potatoes for a snack or instead of a grain

Roast mixed vegetables for about 1 cup per meal

Cook brown rice or quonia for about 1 cup per meal 

Have apples sliced for snacks with peanut butter

Wednesdays or Thursday Meal Prep:

Prepare Turkey/Beef Chili

2-4 cups of rice 

Roasted vegetables 

Apple slices for snacks

I made my breakfast fresh each morning, which included 2 eggs and 1 cup of oatmeal. Either can be prepped if you have limited time in the morning. If you've tried meal prepping, post what you liked or didn't like about the process! 



What's Your Motivation for Cutting Weight?

Wrestling has a stigma about weight cutting, and often the wrestling community is perpetuating it ourselves. In my opinion, it is emphasized much too heavily and much too young. Through competing, coaching, and educating young wrestlers about the sport, I have observed that our young athletes are taught they might only be successful if they compete at a lower weight. The number of males and females I've spoken to who have decided not to continue their career onto a collegiate or international level, have mostly been due to burn out from weight cutting. When does it become impractical to maintain a weight class? Should our minds, bodies, technique, and love for the sport suffer? This post is meant to be a guide for young athletes to navigate the pressures they may be receiving to cut weight.

I'll Win More

It is easy to think when you are the bigger wrestler in a smaller weight class, you are guaranteed to win. Once you come to terms with the concept that we are never guaranteed anything in life, you may realize that your desire to cut weight is taking away from your focus. Wrestling takes full accountability on good nutrition, technique, conditioning, and mental strength. These are the factors that will contribute to your success on the mat and give you an edge over your competition. By relying on a weight cut to help you win, you are mistakenly putting all your eggs in the wrong basket. 

I'll Look Better in My Singlet 

I hear it over and over! From middle school, to senior level – "I look way better in my singlet when I cut to the lower weight!" As senior level women, we don't realize how much this mentality trickles down. We have so much to deal with as women; societal pressures, media pressures, self pressures. Being in the sport of wrestling is empowering and gives us the opportunity to do amazing things with our bodies. By putting emphasis on being a smaller size, we are not recognizing that the real reason we are in this sport is because we are capable of amazing things at the exact size we already are. That is the beauty of multiple weight classes! If you have a personal goal of changing your body composition, that is a very different concept from cutting weight and looking smaller only for a weigh-in. Weight cutting is not a long term approach to coping with how we feel in our own skin. Set goals for yourself that include increasing strength and good nutrition. Our bodies will make significant changes when we seek overall health, not when we cut weight for a season. 

Making the Line Up

Making the team is important to every athlete. We may recognize a line up spot that could be made at a different weight, however it should not interfere with being your most healthy self. 

Moving a weight class should be a decision made by you, your coaching staff, and your family.

It should be a well thought out decision and you shouldn't feel pressured. Your own health and longevity in the sport should be taken into consideration. The mental and physical well being of an athlete is always more valuable than the need to cut weight. If you are still feeling pressured, come up with a strategy that helps everyone involved understand your goals. Here are some questions you should be asking yourself:

1. Am I currently at a healthy weight? Should my goals include strength and nutrition to help change my body composition so I am competing at a healthier weight?

2. Do I have to starve myself each week in order to make the weight? 

3. Can I seek the right professionals who can help me achieve and maintain this weight class in a healthy way?

4. What is my ratio of time spent on wrestling technique versus weight cutting? If the time and energy spent is mostly on the weight cut, this should be a tell-tale sign that your not spending enough time actually wrestling. 

Remember, this is YOUR athletic career, no matter how far you take it. It is important for you to leave the sport with a positive out look and great memories. We want you to come back to the sport through coaching, supporting, or one day with your own children competing in wrestling!   

My Experience with Weight Cutting

I was fortunate to have full support around me that did not encourage weight cutting. In high school, I changed weight classes each year to allow for natural growth as a teenager. As I got older, I made conscious decisions to not make excessive weight cuts because I wanted to compete for as long as possible and enjoy wrestling. I had seen too many examples around me of unhappy weight cutting wrestlers. I knew going into the 2012 Olympic Trials that I would have to make sacrifices and move to a higher weight class. It was more important for me to use the 2011 year to acclimate myself. Getting use to the bigger Olympic weight class became priority, instead of focusing on cutting weight in order to possibly make a world team at a smaller weight class. I had to center in on a future goal that was more important to me. I strongly believe this is what helped me stay competitive in the sport for so long, and allowed me to remain a happy athlete. With all the pressures, challenges, and emotions wrestling brings, adding years of weight cutting to my body could have led to less longevity.

The athletes I have worked with over the years have dealt with many different weight cutting pressures and scenarios. Once they decided not to cut weight, or had a strategic weight cutting game plan, they came back a happier and more successful athlete. They realized that great wrestlers are at every weight, and their focus on technique made them successful against those athletes. Have you heard the saying, "a happy fighter is a dangerous fighter?" The same applies here. The happier we are as wrestlers, spending productive hours training and not sucking down weight, the more dangerous we become on the mat.

How to Balance Real Life and Nutrition

Whenever I speak with my adult female friends on nutrition, I often hear them speak about wanting to "get back to eating clean." When I ask them what does that mean or look like for them, it is often "oh, super super healthy and I do everything perfect." 

Honestly, that immediately sounds stressful to me! If you've been reading most of my blogs, you'll start seeing the pattern of how I talk about things: first mentality, then lifestyle change. The problem with starting off on a kick of strict "clean eating," is that this means DIET. It means that you will go on it and then eventually, you will go off it. This is an exhausting yo-yo that tends to never lead to lasting change. The second problem with this idea is that as soon as you break your perfect clean eating streak with one yummy muffin from Starbucks, it is too easy to decide to scratch the whole operation and "go back" to eating the way you would rather... which mostly means you would rather not feel under stress about your choices! 

Lasting change does not come out of binging... on carrots or on chocolate. Just like you cant expect to stop biting your nails in just a few days, you can't expect actual life long change and balance from "clean eating" for a few days or weeks. The change has to come gradually, and you need to achieve milestones that you can actually commit too. Can you commit to drinking a glass of water each morning when you wake up? Great, add that to your routine. Do you want to include a vegetarian meal one time a week? Perfect, make that a goal and it starts becoming second nature. 

And who is rewarded when we decide we are the worst person on earth for eating a cookie? Do you really want to live in a "clean eating" world where you have banned yourself from some of your occasional sweets for life? I sure don't. And the more you punnish yourself for it, the more you go for your 3rd, 4th, and 5th cookie... in secret... in your closet when you get home. Stop living in shame! By allowing yourself to have that craving you wanted, you don't have to go into binge mode because you are fearful that it's the last time you will never allow yourself to have it! And in time, your craving for those sweets become less and less. Its the law of attraction: when you allow yourself to have something, it becomes less attractive to you. 

I'm sure there are quite a few people who have stopped reading by now. They wanted me to tell them the quick fixes towards balancing their life and nutrition. They wanted to hear all the fast lane gimmicks that help them get to "clean eating" the quickest way possible. That's not what I'm telling or teaching. But I am excited to write about steps towards life long change that can really help people. If you're still reading, then I know that's what you are searching for too. Moderation is everything, and I'm excited to write a series on this very subject. I want to help others improve their lives, so I hope you enjoy everything in the nutrition section moving forward! 

Habit Changes for Picky-Eater Athletes

We are inherently influenced by what something looks like that we are about to eat. It's in our DNA, as a visual cue was what protected us from eating something poisonous while we were hunters and gatherers. Second cue? Taste and texture. I know this well as I was an extremely picky eater as a child, and my fight or flight radars went off often with new foods. Texture was big for me and I was extremely resistant to trying anything new. I was encouraged to not give up and am proud to say that today, I will try anything once (well almost anything). Your body needs fuel to go, and recognizing that your choices make a difference can help you make changes for the better as an athlete, and for the rest of your life as a healthy human!

1. Lay off the sugar, salt, and processed foods

As you get older and are not told what to eat by your parents, your own choices can become a detriment to your own health. Sugary, salty snack foods are easy to access and cheap to buy, and they become an easy substitute for hunger pangs. It can be convenient to think that something that fills you up now, will be most effective for your team practice later in the day. Remember that being full does not mean being fueled! 

The more you can reach for whole foods, the more you will realize that they are more effective in keeping you full. The fullness you receive from a bag of chips can never replace the fullness that you receive from brown rice, sweet potatoes, or whole wheat breads. Your body processes whole foods more efficiently, making the energy you spend working out more efficient. Recognize where you become tempted to buy the snacks, and make sure to prepare for that moment. Pack a higher protein whole food snack like peanut butter, or slow digesting carb like whole wheat bread (or both!) as they will fuel you and keep you full throughout your workout. 

2. Limit Sauces and Ketchup 

Most of the picky eaters I know like to mask the tastes of foods through sauces and especially ketchup. These are adding extra sugar to your nutrition and are not going to help you develop the necessary habits which help you try new foods. Instead, use seasonings and herbs to flavor your food. You will never salt your broccoli to the same level as process foods contain salt for preservation, so flavor away!

3. Don't skip breakfast 

Your body functions best when it knows there is fuel coming. By skipping on breakfast, you are telling your body to go into starvation mode and hold on to or store whatever is the next meal you eat. Picky eaters will often skip on breakfast because they don't like many breakfast options or it seems too hard to prepare something healthy. Work on adding 1 new breakfast option to your routine a month. I suggest plain quick oatmeal that you add your own fruit, honey, or peanut butter to.  Stick to it and record your progress. Look up recipes that vary your options and don't give up, consistency is key! Try overnight oats, or cold oats in the fridge that soften with yogurt. 

4. Three bites 

Always try 3 bites of something new. It's been researched that it can take 6-10 tries of something new to even get the ball rolling! If you are adding a new fruit or vegetable to your menu, try incorporating it in a few different ways over a week or more. It could very well be the way it's prepared that changes how much you like something. Steaming, pan searing, or roasting vegetables have very different outcomes in taste and texture. Just because you don't like one form, it doesn't mean you wont like another! If you keep an open and adventurous mind while you explore something new, you will take a lot of the pressure off forcing yourself to like something! 

5. Not drinking the right fluids

In order to drink the right fluids we must first assume that you are consuming enough fluids. You  are, right? Drink a glass of water as soon as wake up each morning and keep a water bottle with you through out the day to monitor how much you take in. Dehydration is very common among adolescents and among athletes. The strategy becomes to try and catch up on what was missed while by drinking a ton at practice. By that point, it is already too late and your workout only continues to dehydrate your body. 

Stick to water as often as possible. I can't tell you how many picky eaters have told me they don't like water! Time move past this mentality! If you are really struggling drinking the amount of fluids that help keep your pee out of the bright yellow zone (brown = totally dehydrated, clear = hydrated!), choose sports drinks without high fructose corn syrup. It's often the easier route to choose only what comes out of the closest vending machine, usually Gatorade or Powerade. Consuming rehydration drinks daily means you need to make smart choices about what you put in your body. Ingredients matter! I recommend Nuun Hydration tablets because they are convenient and are made of the good stuff!