Bel Marra Health’s first sponsored amateur athlete, Amanda Pereira, has been on an incredible health and weight loss journey that has inspired thousands of people to improve their well-being and lifestyle. Growing up as an overweight child and struggling with weight issues her entire life, she shares some of the nutrition and eating tips that have helped her shed the pounds and get into the best shape of her life.
It’s no secret that diet and exercise will help you lead a healthier lifestyle. But when it comes to actually making these changes, it’s never as easy at is sounds. I want to share with you how I finally managed to do it, transforming from a person who struggled with weight issues ever since childhood, into the most fit and healthy version of myself that I’ve ever been.
After struggling with weight issues my whole life, I developed a passion for fitness and nutrition. Growing up as an overweight kid, it took a toll, not only on my social life, but also on my self-confidence as well. When I was 17 years old, I finally decided to take control of everything that was contributing to my weight problems. I spent many hours researching nutrition tips online and in books, and talking to nutritionists to help me lead a better, leaner lifestyle.
Changing my eating habits was not easy. And it continues to be more of a mental battle than a physical one. But when you’re so determined to accomplish something, as I was, it eventually becomes less difficult. And as an added bonus, when the results of hard work pay off, it only becomes more encouraging to keep going. Eventually, making everyday healthy choices became a lifestyle, and second nature to me. This is not to say that I don’t continue to face challenges, however. We’re all human and have bad days and moments when your body craves restricted foods, like chocolate or wine. But it’s okay to indulge once in a while – just as long as it’s in moderation, and you get back on track right after.
Unfortunately, it seems to be easier or cheaper to eat processed foods instead of wholesome foods. But it’s all about timing and organization. I go through the paper every week and check what’s on sale at the grocery store. If there is a freezable food on sale, like chicken or fish, I’ll stock up and freeze. Then I choose a less busy day, like Sundays, to cook and prep my meals for the week. All my meals are then put in to containers, to make sure they’re portioned properly and placed in the fridge or freezer to be readily available. It’s a great technique for anyone trying to lose weight or watch what they eat – when healthy food is already available, I’m less tempted to dig through the cupboards for junk when I’m craving a snack!
Another trick to stop binge eating and cheating is to eat more often. It may sound counter-productive, but eating smaller portions more often can really fight off the desire to snack on unhealthy or processed foods. My first meal is around 7am, and I make sure to have my meals ready to go to be eaten every 2-3 hours after that.
When I’m training for competition, I have 6 small meals per day. During my off-season, I’ll have 3 meals with 2-3 healthy snacks in between, consisting of high quality macronutrients. These are nutrients that our bodies need to provide us with energy and calories; your proteins, fats and carbohydrates. A great dish I love to have is egg whites, made with a bit of Stevia and cinnamon tossed in a frying pan. My favorite snacks also include seaweed, cucumbers, and sliced green and red bell peppers. My meals almost always include high protein lean foods, such as chicken, salmon, white fish, lean steak and Greek yogurt. I also eat more green vegetables, like green beans, broccoli, and mixed green salads, and for a great source of complex carbohydrates, I love oatmeal and sweet potato.
As I get closer to competition days, I have to cut foods high in carbohydrates. I also increase my water intake and I have to stop eating out for a while, because meals at restaurants tend to have bigger portions with added fats or added sugars. Whether it’s on or off season, I always try to limit any refined sugars, and also to limit artificial sweeteners. However, this doesn’t mean I feel deprived on my diet; I allow myself a cheat meal every 10 days, to keep cravings down and to avoid a complete binge. My treat food of choice is sushi!
Most people on a diet might think I’m crazy, but I love white fish. Tilapia is my favorite, and if it’s on sale, I’ll stock up on it and have tilapia as many as four times a day! My favorite dish is baked tilapia with salt-free lemon juice and spicy seasonings, with a side of broccoli. Tilapia is one of the cleanest forms of protein you can get, and your body can break it down and use it very easily.
Healthy eating habits are the foundation of any lean living and healthy lifestyle. But I’ve also gotten lots of help from amazing natural supplements like Lipolose, Real Green Coffee, and some others. Lipolose helps me remain full after meals, keeping me out of cupboards looking for junk foods. Real Green Coffee and NOx Booster help to increase my energy levels before workouts. And the product I use the most is Clinical Strength Ageless Complex; it helps me maintain my fat loss.
I continue to struggle with my weight to this day – it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Of course, some days are harder than others, and I’ll find myself low on energy or mentally second guessing if I can keep going. Like everyone else, sometimes I can be my own worst enemy. But then there are days when I wake up and see the results of all that hard work, and it motivates, encourages, and gets me excited to keep on going and continue a healthy lifestyle. No matter what age you are, or whatever lifestyle you had before, it is never too late to pick up and start leading a healthy life today.