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A day on my plate

unnamed-30I’ve mentioned before that I eat from a formula (not a “diet”) that I call my “Food Blueprint.” It’s a blueprint in the sense that it’s a master plan for my food strategy. I devised it while I was losing weight, and it’s how I have kept off my 120-pound weight loss for the nearly eight years since.

Because I firmly believe that you should never, ever substitute anyone else’s judgment for your own, I offer my Food Blueprint as simply an idea for you to contemplate for yourself. It might work for you, but it might not. I certainly encourage you to try it, and of course, tweak it to suit your own needs.

What I show here is the basic structure of the Food Blueprint and what mine looks like on a typical day. I tend to eat in a pretty predictable, repetitive way – which lends itself very well to the Food Blueprint. But part of its beauty is that it’s also extremely flexible. I can plug in a handful of cashews and an apple for a post-workout recovery snack if there’s no time to make a protein drink, or I can turn on the crock pot in the morning with my favorite Slow Cooker Moroccan Stew. As long as I have a small portion and pair it with lots of veggies, it fits into the Food Blueprint.

I like flexibility, and I only eat foods that I absolutely love. I never did very well on diets that dictated a specific meal plan, where I was supposed to eat exactly what they told me. I’m a big girl (well, a little less so now) and I can decide that for myself, thanks very much.

Here’s the Food Blueprint:

Time  Meal/Snack      Purpose                     Nutritional breakdown     

8am    Breakfast              Fuel workout             1 protein, 2 carbs*

11am  Post-workout   Recovery                       1 protein, 2 carbs, 1 fat**

1pm    Lunch                    Light + satisfying       1 protein, 2 carbs, 1 fat

4pm    Snack                    Stave off hunger         1 protein, 2-3 carbs,

6:30    Dinner                  Veggie-palooza!         1 protein, 4 carbs, 1 fat

9pm    Treat                     Mental sanity               (Ummmmmm… it’s just for fun)

Nutritional breakdown: Protein, carbohydrates and fat are the building blocks of nutrition; they are macronutrients. While each macronutrient provides calories, they are not created equal in that regard. Their caloric breakdown is:

Protein = 4 calories per gram

Carbohydrate = 4 calories per gram

Fat = 9 calories per gram

*I prioritize carbohydrates this way: vegetables (yes, they’re carbohydrates!), fruits, slow-burning complex carbs like whole grains, and then simple carbs (for me, this means typically natural sugars like honey or pure maple syrup, but there’s a little bit of regular sugar in my nightly dark chocolate fix.)

**My healthy fat sources are olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, and avocado.

Here’s the Food Blueprint in action in A Day on My Plate:

6am    Metabolic Detox Tea (I gave up caffeine, so this is how I get going and kickstart my metabolism, all in one cup!)

8am    Marilyn’s “First-Thing-In-The-Morning-Let’s-Go-Get-It” Smoothie

11am  Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie (seriously, you’ll thank me for this one)

1pm    Spicy Black Bean Soup with pico de gallo and diced avocado

4pm    Whole grain wrap w/ greek yogurt, cucumber and tomato

6:30    Arugula w/ Chicken, Pears and Toasted Pecans

9pm    Dark chocolate

A day on my plate adds up to about 1700 calories. My basal metabolic rate (the rate at which we burn calories when we’re at rest) is 1300. (Here’s a link to a calculator if you’d like to know yours.) And I exercise at a pretty high level, so adding 400 for my regular activity plus workouts is reasonable. Of course the true test is that my weight stays stable when I eat this way, so that’s how I know it works for me. It’s important to note that, for weight loss, you’d certainly want to drop that daily total down, but it’s critical that you never go lower than your basal metabolic rate. Doing so will stall your progress because your metabolism will come to a screeching halt as your body tries desperately to conserve energy. And super important: I aim to drink half my body weight in ounces (145 lbs. ÷ 2 = 72.5 ounces, or approximately nine 8 oz. glasses) of water each day.

My Food Blueprint works because it gives me enough flexibility to eat foods that are healthy, delicious, easily attainable, easily prepared and that I love every day, while maintaining my weight. I’ve come to believe that if a plan doesn’t work for you – for whatever reason – then it doesn’t work. Scrap it and move on. I can’t tell you how much time I wasted bashing my head against the (figurative) wall of trying to force myself to do some diet because it “should” work. All the while I’d feel guilty that I couldn’t do it or that I had “failed.” The simple truth is, we’re all different. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. If you haven’t had success with a system of eating yet and you’re genuinely committed to losing weight, plug yourself into my Food Blueprint and take it for a test run. I’d love to hear if it works for you!



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