A Guide To Planning Your Meals

A Guide to Planning Your Meals by Coach Pat

You’re signed up for our Nutrition Challenge. You’ve cleaned out your cupboards and pantry of all the unhealthy food you shouldn’t be eating any more. Now it’s time to plan out your week of meals. This task always seems super daunting, but just a little thought goes a long way. It helps to know right now that some weeks will go better than others. There will be a little bit of research and trial and error to be had – but we’re here to help. Remember, this is a process.

Once you get your InBody results, you’ll know exactly how much you’re suppose to eat each day based on your goals (weight loss, general health, and performance). Use this Katy Hearn Macronutrient Calculator to figure out your daily expenditure. Read Coach Travis’ post about how to calculate your daily macro needs.

Scour Pintrest, google search “healthy crockpot recipes”, or hit up Mark’s Daily Apple, OMG Paleo, or one of the thousands of other paleo websites for recipes. Choose 1 or 2 recipes that look tasty. Plan on making more servings than the recipe lists so you can have leftovers. Use our nutrition chart to compare ingredients. Consider substituting ingredients out if they don’t fit your nutrition plan – that’s okay.

Or just use the meal template guide and the recipe and grocery list that you’ll receive when you sign up for the Nutrition Challenge. 

Based on the recipes and what you need to eat for each day for the week, make a grocery list of the foods you’ll need to buy at the store.

Example – Figuring Out Breakfast

I usually eat 4 eggs every morning along with a cup of oatmeal mixed with a massive tablespoon my favorite peanut butter (Buddy’s Cinnamon Raisin) and either sliced bananas or berries on top. 4 eggs times 7 days equals 28 eggs for the week. Based on that I’ll need at least 7 bananas or 4-6 packs of berries for the week. I typically buy bananas because they are cheaper and I usually only buy berries if they are on sale. I usually make a big batch of steel cut oats (2 cups worth) that will last me 6 or 7 days. Each bag is roughly 4 cups. So one bag will last me two weeks. One jar of peanut butter lasts me 2-3 weeks. I usually buy two so I don’t have to worry about that ingredient for a while.

The peanut butter item brings me to another point. If planning your meals out, doing any cooking whatsoever, and grocery shopping is new for you, your first couple of trips to the grocery store will be more expensive than the subsequent trips. This is because you’ll need to buy salt, pepper, any condiments, oil, butter, spices, etc that you don’t have. You only have to buy these things once in awhile, so after your first few trips, things will get much cheaper.

Now your trip to the grocery store has never been easier. No wandering the isles wasting time. You know what you need to get ahead of time. Get in, get your groceries, get out. As the weeks and months pass, you’ll begin to know off the top of your head exactly what you need each week, making things even easier.

Plan on making most of your meals early on in the week. As the week goes on, typically what happens is we get tired and decide against the extra effort. Next thing you know – some of the food may have gone bad and you’ve eaten out 50% of the time.

You can do all of your cooking in one day, or spread it out over a few dinners (Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday dinner). I find that doing one prep day takes too long for me and is kind of exhausting, which deters me down the road from doing it. That’s why I spread it out. Other people prefer one big prep day – try both ways out and do what works for you.

An important note about “Plan Bs”

Planning is a fantastic thing. However, we all know that “no battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” Part of good planning is factoring a back-up plan, aka a “Plan B”, when things don’t go according to plan. There will be a weekend or weeknight when you may have been out of town or had a long day of work, and when you come home you are tired and not feeling like making any meals or going grocery shopping. This WILL happen. Have some fall back options.

Plan Bs

  • Non-perishable food items or frozen food options
    • Canned tuna with a tasty condiment + frozen vegetables + sweet potato
  • Healthy restaurants
    • Chipotle is my go to
    • There is a restaurant a couple of blocks from my house – I’ll order their grilled chicken and walk over if I’m in a pinch
    • Ordering a burger and removing the bun or half the bun is a great way to go in just about any restaurant.
  • Leftovers!

Take a minute or two every day and look at your calendar or just think about the day ahead. Consider when you’ll take the time to get in your nutrition. Consider any long periods of time where you won’t be able to eat, and how you’ll fit in a break to fuel up before or after. Some days will allow for more time to sit down, other days you’ll have to get creative when you’re crunched for time.

The first few weeks of planning will seem a bit stressful. This is because it isn’t a habit yet. Stick with it. Soon planning will become second nature to you.
Good luck!

Stay tuned for more posts about how we’re setting everyone in the gym up for success with our upcoming Nutrition Challenge! 

  • The CFM Nutrition Challenge starts Sunday, January 8th at 8 AM – 11 AM
    • Cost – $60
    • Length – 6 weeks
    • Baseline workout before and after the challenge
    • Paleo Pot-luck and Q&A on February 4th
    • InBody testing before and after the challenge
    • Grocery lists, meal plans, community, and results

Click HERE to register.

Using Your Body Composition Numbers to Find Food Intake

What Is Your Body Composition & Food Intake?

At the beginning of the Challenge we will be testing your body fat percentage. This, along with your goal, basic body measurements and activity level, will determine how much you can eat each day.

During the Challenge, you will track what you eat and at the end of the day you will find that you either ate the right amount, ate too little or you ate too much.

Each of you will have a set amount of macronutrients and total calories you can eat each day.

What are Macronutrients?

Macros are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

How to Determine Your Intake Levels

Now that you’ve chosen your nutrition options and you’ve done your In-Body test it is time to determine your intake levels:

  1. First, go to https://www.katyhearnfit.com/macro-calculator.html. Ignore her “flashy pictures”. The calculator is worth it.
  2. Enter in your height, weight and age. Mark imperial.
  3. Use the lean body mass formula. Enter your activity level. Be honest about your activity level. Most of us will be somewhere in the middle. If you overestimate your activity level your numbers will be too high and you will eat too much. Enter your BF%.
  4. Hit Calculate TDEE and record BMR and TDEE here:   BMR______   TDEE ______
  5. Next, choose your goals. Weight Loss, Wellness (Maintenance), for Performance choose either Maintenance or Weight Gain. Record total calories/day here: _________
  6. The “Customize Your Nutrition Plan” question will autofill based on your previous responses. Leave whatever is filled in for this.
  7. Click “Calculate Results” and select how many meals per day you will eat.
  8. Record your grams/day here (this is what you can consume each day):

Protein______  Carb______ Fat______

9.   Record your grams/meal here (this will help you plan your meals):

Protein/meal______  Carb/meal______ Fat/meal______

How to Use Your Numbers:

At the Nutrition Challenge Kick-off, we will be providing templates for Paleo and Clean levels for meal planning. We’ll also have a digital packet full of grocery lists and meal plans.

You will also notice that for many of the groceries there is a breakdown of carbs, protein, and fats per Gram. For those – the groceries that do not have a breakdown listed – you will need to check the labels on the packages.

You will use grams/meal numbers (Step 9 from above) to help you plan your meals accordingly. There are sample templates (also attached) and sample meal plans that you can use for this.

How will we track our intake?

During the Challenge, you will track what you eat and at the end of the day you will find that you either ate the right amount, ate too little or you ate too much.


We will be using the MyFitnessPal App, to track everything you consume. This is a practice that can be carried on post-Challenge – if you so choose. The MyFitnessPal app is awesome for tracking your daily consumption. There are many features of the app that you are not required to use but you may want to explore on your own. For the purposes of this Challenge all you need to do is use it to track your daily food consumption. Anything you put in your body, you will enter into MyFitnessPal. It can be done on your phone on the app or on a computer.

1.Go to http://www.myfitnesspal.com/ and sign in or create an account.

2. Enter your vitals – height, weight, gender, and age. If you are starting a new account you will be prompted to enter this. Then it will give you recommended totals for your macronutrients and total cals. These won’t be as accurate to what we went through above, ignore these.

3. Go to the link in the top right that says “Goals”. Change your Total Calories to what you found above with Katy Hearn’s Macro Calculator.(Step 5 above)

4. Next change the percentages of protein, carbs, and fats to be as close as possible to the numbers you found above. Don’t worry too much if it is not exact. (Step 8 above)

5. Now you are ready to start tracking your food!

6. You may want to download the app to your phone. An additional option available is to upgrade your app for $9.99 a month to unlock some awesome features, such as  a label scanner which makes recording very easy. (This can be canceled at any time)

If tracking isn’t your thing, by the time you are done with this challenge you will be an expert at “eyeballing” your food. Essentially, we want you to track during this Challenge to learn about quantities and how to apply them to your everyday nutrition moving forward.

Stay tuned for more posts about how we’re setting everyone in the gym up for success with our upcoming Nutrition Challenge! 

  • The CFM Nutrition Challenge starts Sunday, January 8th at 8 AM – 11 AM
    • Cost – $60
    • Length – 6 weeks
    • Baseline workout before and after the challenge
    • Paleo Pot-luck and Q&A on February 4th
    • InBody testing before and after the challenge
    • Grocery lists, meal plans, community, and results

Click HERE to register.

20 Reasons You Should Register For The CFM Nutrition Challenge

  1. The focus on real food. No processed stuff.
  2. It works. You’ll gain energy, lose unwanted fat, and gain muscle.
  3. The self-discipline and organization you gain during the challenge will overflow to other areas of your life and set the tone for the rest of the year.
  4. You’re busy. You need your immune system to be as strong as possible – otherwise life is going to be rough. That starts with fueling with the right stuff in the right amounts.
  5. After a rough 2016, it’s time to reclaim your life. It starts with your health and nutrition.
  6. When the time does comes to indulge – you want to enjoy those times, guilt free.
  7. Your hormones are going off the rails – the energy of your day is a roller coaster – and everyone in your life is in for the moodiness ride, whether they like it or not. You want that to change.
  8. You want to stop mindlessly eating and actually savor your food.
  9. You’re tired of giving your all in workouts, and not seeing the results.
  10. You’ve developed a belly as of late…
  11. Dairy has always disagreed with you. You need the extra push to get it out of your nutrition.
  12. You want to embrace the challenge and make yourself proud.
  13. You’re addicted to sugar!
  14. You know that taking control of your food intake will be empowering.
  15. You’ve tried losing weight by eating less – it didn’t work.
  16. You want to optimize your performance in the gym and see your scores go through the roof.
  17. You want to sleep longer and more soundly.
  18. You want to wake up feeling alert and optimistic.
  19. You want to find some new favorite (and healthy) foods.
  20. You need to drink more water and eat more vegetables!

Stay tuned for more posts about how we’re setting everyone in the gym up for success with our upcoming Nutrition Challenge! 

  • The CFM Nutrition Challenge starts Sunday, January 8th at 8 AM – 11 AM
    • Cost – $60
    • Length – 6 weeks
    • Baseline workout before and after the challenge
    • Paleo Pot-luck and Q&A on February 4th
    • InBody testing before and after the challenge
    • Grocery lists, meal plans, community, and results

Click HERE to register.

Nutrition Challenge Scoring & A Word On Quantity

With the nutrition challenge quickly approaching, I figured it would be a good idea to run everyone by the daily scoring system we will be using for the challenge.

Below is our daily scoring system:

  • Nutrition 5 pts –
    • You start each day with 5 points. For every non-compliant item you consume you will take away 1 point. (i.e. I had a cookie, so I scored 4 points. Or I ate a whole pie. You get 0 points)
  • Intake Levels 3 pts –
    • Did you eat the right amount of carbs, proteins, fats and total calories?
    • What is the right amount? We’ll help you find this amount based on your InBody results. 
    • We want you to come as close as possible to your macro and calorie number each day.
  1. We will allow you a window of 10% less than your recommended total Calories for each day, but you cannot go over.
  2. For each of your Macros you are allowed 5% more or less on each but you must not go over on total Cals.
    • If yes, you score 3 points. If no, you get 0. This is all or nothing – either you score a 3 or a 0.
  • Water 1 pt   
    • Drink 1/3 of your bodyweight in ounces each day of water and receive 1 point.
  • Exercise 2 pts available –
    • If you exercise, that is worth 1 point.
    • If you workout at CFM, that is worth an additional 1 point – so you’d score 2 points in this category.
  • Sleep 1 pt –
    • Get 7 hours of sleep (or more)  and receive 1 point.
  • Lifestyle 2 pts –
    • Each week there will be a lifestyle element. Complete it each day and receive 2 points.
  • Reflection 1 pt –
    • Write a note and stay active in the community and you receive 1 point.

The scoring system is based on the system used for the Whole Life Challenge. Nutrition, Water, Sleep, Exercise, Lifestyle, and Reflection points are all the same. (Unfortunately – we can’t be as fancy as the WLC and offer mulligans, bonus points, and/or a bunch of extra time to record your score.)

The focus of the scoring system is to bring awareness to our daily habits which will bring about the transformation in health and fitness you are looking for. 

We’ve added a small caveat to the exercise score. If you workout at home you receive 1 point. If you workout at CrossFit Mendota, you receive another point. We believe our athletes get the most out of a workout done in the gym. You’re guided by our coaches to scale correctly, you’re pushed by your peers, and you’re doing the most effective workout program for balanced fitness – CrossFit. We set up the scoring system to reflect that.

Probably the biggest difference in our nutrition challenge is the Intake Levels score. We included the portion size score because we believe maximum nutrition is a two sided coin. On the one side is quality. This means minimizing junk food and maximizing the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body is receiving via whole, natural foods. On the other side is quantity. This means managing your portion sizes based on your goals.

Everyone’s journey to good nutrition and ultimately, the results they want is going to be different. By providing education and an approach toward quality and/or quantity provides more paths to your goals.

You may have also noticed that the score for hitting your daily total calories and macronutrients is 3 points. This is slightly more than the other 5 questions and slightly less than the nutrition question. Why?

It May Not Be Easy

Counting your macros is going to take some time and effort. The first few weeks will include some trial and error. It may even be a little stressful at times. We want to reward that effort with a higher score because we believe that effort will ultimately pay off.

Quick personal side story. About 6 years ago, not long after I started CrossFit, I began experimenting with my nutrition so that I could get the most out of these super tough CrossFit workouts. This was when I was working full time as an engineer, working crazy odd and long hours in the boonies of Texas on oil rigs (so my life wasn’t conducive toward spending a great deal of time on tinkering with my diet). I started with what was called the Zone Diet, which is essentially a variation on tracking your macros and focusing on quantifying your food intake. For three weeks a journaled my food and tracked all the quantities. The first week was difficult but toward the end of the week I had essentially tracked everything I typically eat. By the end of week three, I could drastically back off the amount of measuring I was doing because I could use the “eyeball” method on 90% of my food intake and be accurate. I was essentially on auto-pilot at that point because quantity control had become a habit.

I saw fantastic results. My energy improved, I had toned up, and my workout scores were improving a ton. The best part was that the information I’ve gathered from that 3 weeks has lasted me until today. It was a lasting change and lifestyle thing for me. I’ve done a couple weeks here and there to re-check my intake but even that’s required less effort than that first week.

By putting forth the time and effort during the challenge to track your food intake will be 100% worth it. Not only will you develop a long term grasp on your food intake and results, but also you’ll learn a ton about yourself.

Logging Your Food and Scores

We’ll be using the MyFitnessPal website and app for food tracking. 

If you don’t want to use the app on your phone, you can journal your food with pen and paper during the day and log your information on a computer later on. Either way – it would be a good idea to create an account and play around with it before the challenge begins. If you are scoring well in the macro/total calories department and near the top of the leaderboard – we should be able to see on your MyFitnessPal app that you are logging your food intake for the days you are scoring.

We are currently developing a website that will be used to record your daily score and to check the leaderboard. We’ll be publishing that closer to the start of the challenge.

Stay tuned for more posts about how we’re setting everyone in the gym up for success with our upcoming Nutrition Challenge! 

  • The CFM Nutrition Challenge starts Sunday, January 8th at 8 AM – 11 AM
    • Cost – $60
    • Length – 6 weeks
    • Baseline workout before and after the challenge
    • Paleo Pot-luck and Q&A on February 4th
    • InBody testing before and after the challenge
    • Grocery lists, meal plans, community, and results

Click HERE to register.

Use Your Fitness!

There have been some events in the past few months that have given me a new appreciation for CrossFit. Everyone is already aware of the benefits – getting in shape, community, new friends – all great attributes, however it also allows us to be good at being ACTIVE.

The first event occurred this past winter when I went snowmobiling with my cousins up north. On a particularly tight turn, one ski got caught in a rut and my 13 year old cousin and I went tumbling as the sled flipped (she was ok, my pride was only slightly bruised). Out in the middle of the woods, our only option was to flip the sled over and try to start it up, hoping that it wasn’t flooded. So I got in my best tire flipping/deadlift stance and flipped the sucker right over – no problem. I’m confident I wouldn’t have been able to do that in my chubby/ skinny emo high school days (depending on the year).

The second instance occurred on a ski trip last February. Some friends and I drove out to Colorado to ski Keystone for a few days. After the first day, half of the crew could barely walk. I’m not sure if this was because of the 8 hours of skiing or because they did ‘leg day’ two days prior to ‘get their legs in shape.’ Right. Either way, they were not so spry the next two days of skiing. Was I tired? Of course. That much skiing is taxing, however I always felt just as fresh after a good night’s sleep. While a couple of the guys were walking funny for a few days after the trip, I felt just fine. We won’t talk about how out of breathe I was after climbing 3 flights of steps, though. I blame the elevation.

The last instance came just a few weeks ago after playing tennis with a friend (who will not be named). We played two sets, which took us about two hours. A couple days later, I get a text saying they could barely walk, and ‘OMG my forearms hurt so badly.’ That day I remember going to the morning class, playing tennis, then going back to do some extra work, and I felt fine!

Am I ever sore after a tough week of CrossFit? Absolutely, but I know it’s good for me in the long run. Not only are we getting better in the gym every day, but we’re prepping our bodies to be ready for whatever odd activity our friends, significant others, children, etc. throw at us. Long story short, I know we all love to go to CrossFit every day to sweat, suffer, and get demolished by Travis’ tough programming (seriously what is wrong with us), but get out there and use your fitness. Most of us aren’t going to the CrossFit Games anytime soon, so you might as well put your hard work to good use AMIRITE? Brag about it!

Be proud that you’ve conditioned yourself to be ready for anything!

– Coach Marco

Heads up!

There is one great way to get start improving your fitness both inside and outside the gym – fill out our form to schedule a free intro session!

Here’s what to expect:

  • We’ll get to know you, what motivates you, and what your current fitness challenges are
  • You’ll receive a tour of the Twin Cities’ best functional fitness training facility
  • An overview of our unique training methodology and class options

Register HERE.

Struggling With Consistency? Try these 6 Tips

Struggling With Consistency? Try these 6 Tips

You’ve been there.

You get the motivation to…[insert routine here…running, biking, classes at the Y, etc]

You are going strong for… [insert time less than 3 months here]

Then next thing you know…

…it’s been a week since I’ve worked out. Then that week turns into a month, and that month turns into a year, and you’ve got to get the motivation to start it up again. And starting over SUCKS.

In order to get results in any fitness program – one has to be consistent. Consistency beats intensity any day of the week.

“Just show up”

That is the biggest piece of advice I give to new members.

Here are a 6 things you can do to establish consistency into your fitness routine:

1. Set a schedule

When I started Get ‘Em Boot Camp in 2011 (which eventually became CrossFit Mendota and CF Boot Camp) – we only had….

6 classes a week!

Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6 AM and 6 PM. We only had a 3 day a week membership – but if you didn’t make it in – you missed out on your session and your money went down the toilet.

This tight, unforgiving schedule gave people no option but to make sure they could show up at those times. Those early members showed up, got into a routine, and saw amazing results.

Even as our schedule grew to close to 40 hours a week these past 5 years – a lot of these same members were chugging along…

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 6 am or 6 pm, week after week – nothing was going to distract them from their routine.

Put some blinders on your calendar and make up set days and times that you HAVE to work out.

2. Change your schedule

Maybe you had a set schedule and now a change in schedule is necessary.

  • Try working out in the morning. There are typically no interruptions before works starts, you start your day on a positive note, and you don’t have “that workout later” hanging over your head.
  • Switch things to later at night – you’ve already had dinner with family, your spouse or significant other can watch the kids, or maybe you absolutely need to decompress after work but before hitting the gym.
  • Try heading to the gym before you go home. For some people, getting home and hitting the couch after a long day at work can be the biggest killer of your consistency and momentum.

3. Find a supportive community, enroll others, or BOTH.

Having the accountability of a group of friends, co-worker, or family member is HUGE. A reliable fitness friend is going to give you a bit of hard time when you miss a session, push you a bit harder when you need it, and be supportive when you’re having an off day.

The sense of community at CrossFit Mendota is unique. A CrossFit community is full of like minded individuals who are okay with giving 100% and training hard.

Just like in the show “Cheers” – everyone knows your name at CFM. Fellow CrossFitters are always helping with technique, comparing WOD results, or talking about the next competition. At other gyms, this doesn’t happen except for the occasional “are you using this?”

Research has shown that working out in a group can even change us physiologically. An Oxford University study found that working out in a group resulted in a greater release of endorphins than when working out alone, even when the same amount of work was done. The release of endorphins is what causes that “high” you feel when you finish a workout, sometimes called “runner’s high”.

4. Sign up for something

There’s nothing more motivating – and scary – than that 5k race looming on your calendar. It keeps you honest and on the straight and arrow when it comes to staying consistent.

Register early and make the commitment to be in great shape on race day.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical challenge either. It could be that you want to look good in a bikini by June – whatever is, write it down on the calendar and stick to it.

CF Boot Campers work hard for 6 weeks to crush their baseline workout at Graduation.

At CrossFit Mendota – we reschedule your “Baseline” workout (done during your intro workout or beginner course) every 3 months. We’ll also set up a phone call to review your goals every 3 months – we know how important they are to your consistency and success!

5. Change your perspective

Starting viewing yourself as an athlete. Athletes have goals they are training for – they aren’t just “getting a workout in”.

When you think of an athlete – you think of someone healthy, fit, and in great shape. They’re excited about what they’re bodies are capable of – and that confidence spills over EVERYWHERE.

When you begin shifting your focus toward improving your performance – whether that means shaving 30 seconds off your mile time, doing 1 more push-up, or lifting 5 more pounds that last time…

I guarantee you’ll look better, feel better, and be in much better health.

6. Mix it up

Boredom is often the cause of death to so many fitness routines and good intentions. Humans need novelty to be attracted and intrigued by something. A workout is no different.

A good workout program will be based on constant variance – routine should be the enemy.
From Greg Glassman’s “World Class Fitness in 100 Words”:

“Five or six days per week mix [different] elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.”

Our bodies are amazing at creating homeostasis – a steady environment and system. If all you do is run 20 minutes on the treadmill a few days a week – your body quickly becomes very efficient at running 20 minutes on the treadmill a few days a week. You hit a plateau and no more change occurs.

Fortunately at CrossFit and CF Boot Camp – our workouts change daily. Our programming has an overall plan and direction – but we make sure vary our workouts to keep things fun, interesting, and to keep your body guessing.

Coach Pat

Heads up!

There is one great way to get started on improving your consistency – register for our next CF Boot Camp. Kick Off is on June 4th.

Here’s what to expect:

  1. Coaches you can count on
  2. An environment you will love
  3. Results you can measure

Register HERE.