If you’re determined to figure out how to meal prep , you’re in luck. Nothing feels more adult than actually preparing your meals in advance. When your fridge is stocked with ready to eat grains, vegetables, and proteins, you can throw together a satisfying meal in a matter of minutes—bing, bang, boom…breakfast, lunch, dinner. You’re eating well, saving time, and living your best life.
Now if only meal prep were actually easy to do. Making enough food for a week’s worth of meals is time consuming, and if you’ve never done it before, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind before you get started. For one, you’ll need to carve out at least a couple hours a week to do it, because no matter how hard you try, one hour just isn’t going to cut it. You’ll also want to invest in the right cooking equipment and food storage units, and stock your freezer, fridge, and pantry with healthy ingredients that are built to last.
Once you’ve done all this, you’re still probably going to encounter the occasional meal prep bump in the road, because there are a handful of common mistakes that can trip up even the most expert meal-prepper. Of course, prepping healthy meals isn’t always about weight. There are plenty of good reasons to plan and make ahead, like saving time after work, saving money, and controlling what you’re eating by making it yourself. But if you are trying to lose weight, it’s important to note that what works for some doesn’t always work for others. And it’s incredibly important to think about why you actually want to lose weight—and whether doing so is a healthy decision that will make your life better. For example, if you have a history of disordered eating , you should talk to your doctor before starting a new eating plan. Even if you don’t have that history, setting healthy, realistic goals and expectations is key. Really, weight loss is about a lot more than what you make when you meal prep. Consider your stress levels and sleep quality, plus factors outside of your control, like health conditions and hormones. Above all, be kind to yourself!
With that said, whether your goal is weight-loss or healthy eating, these four mistakes could get in the way. Read ’em, learn ’em, and ditch ’em.
1. You’re prepping too much food.
When it comes to meal prep, better safe than sorry isn’t always the best attitude to have. Over-prepping can often leave you with more food than you actually need. And if you don’t recognize that you’ve gone overboard, then you’re likely to divvy it all up into Tupperwares and consume excess calories while patting yourself on the back for your hard work. It just takes a little measuring and math: If you only eat a half cup of brown rice at a time, and you’re trying to prep enough for five different meals, 2 1/2 cups should hold you over. Anymore than than and you’ll end up eating more rice than you meant to.
If you’re playing it too safe with your portions, you may find you didn’t actually make enough. This is annoying because you’re either going to run out of food by Wednesday, or you’re going to be stuck eating insanely small meal portions all week long. Too small meals won’t keep you satisfied, which may lead you to overcompensate with extra snacks, or by making your next meal too big. (Or both.)
Unfortunately, there’s no perfect solution to avoid under-prepping, at least not while you’re just starting to get into a routine. When you first begin meal prepping, you’re not going to know exactly how much food you’ll always need. So, for the first couple of weeks, take note of how you feel after each meal. If you find that you’re still hungry, you may want to up the portions. And if you find that you’re too full, do just the opposite.
3. You use store-bought sauces and dressings.
Store-bought salad dressings are often full of extra calories, added sugars, and more sodium than those that are homemade. It’s an easy way to take a meal down a couple notches on the health-o-meter without even realizing it . Luckily, there are lots of ways to add flavor without dousing your good intentions in compromising condiments. Try flavoring your food with a few sprinkles of your favorite spices (turmeric , anyone?). Even just a light drizzle of olive oil or spritz of lemon juice can do wonders to a meal. If you feel like making your own dressing, a simple vinaigrette is one option that you can throw together in a jiff. Start with three-parts oil to one-part vinegar, season it with salt and pepper, and (if you like to turn up) a splash of lemon juice, then mix it all up, drizzle, and go.
4. You don’t actually like the food you cooked.
This happens to me all the time. I make a bunch of food because I know it’s good for me, and I convince myself that I’m going to eat it, and I’m going to like it. But then the time comes to dig in and I remember that, no, I don’t like fennel, or I am not into this plain chicken breast, so I just end up buying something else to eat instead.
This is both a waste of money and time, and the food I usually end up eating isn’t all that healthy . If this is a problem you’re all too familiar with, the solution is simple: Don’t try to force yourself to eat something just because it’s “healthy.” Prep foods you know you like or that sound legitimately delicious. Because when recipes like these high-protein pastas exist, there’s no reason healthy eating should be a drag.
Have you ever wondered, “what is a hair mask and do I need a hair mask?” First, let’s be clear that it isn’t something you wear on your head. But it is something you put on your hair, and it can help you have the locks you’ve longed for. A hair mask is an easy and simple way to improve shine and manageability while providing nourishment to the cuticle, and it can be done right at home.
But who needs a hair mask? Well, it’s great for just about anyone, but can definitely offer hair health benefits for anyone who spends a lot of time in the sun, pool or adds color or other chemical products to their hair. While my DIY hair dye is the way to go, realistically, we know that most head straight to the salon for a change in color — but those chemicals truly damage the hair over time, especially if not used properly.
Whether you color your hair at the salon or at home, giving your hair and scalp a good mask treatment on a regular basis can help take care of those unruly strands. (Just like certain vitamins boost hair health.)
You may be thinking that your daily conditioner can do just as well, but because the conditioner just sits on the surface of the hair briefly, it can’t get to the cuticle, which is where the benefits occur. And if you are concerned about existing split ends, a hair mask treatment can make a difference. A haircut is part of the solution, but regular treatment can help those split ends retain moisture and be less noticeable. (1)
Background of Your Hair
To better understand, let’s learn a little bit about hair. Hair is a structured network consisting of the cuticle, cortex and medulla. The medulla is usually found in coarser hair like grey hair, thick hair and beard hair, and may have a lot to do with split ends.
The cuticle contains overlapping scales known as keratinocytes. Some people have thicker layers of cuticles, whereas others have thinner layers. Those with thinner layers are more prone to breakage.
You have probably heard about hair having protein. It is true. Beneath the membranes of the cuticle cells are three layers that contain proteins, some of which are responsible for the absorption of water and the hair’s ability to repair damage formed by such chemicals as hair color products. (2) The cortex contains the mass of the human hair and is comprised of protein and melanin as well as a matrix of fibrous structures called macrofibrils. When hair goes through different processes from cosmetic dyes, to perms and even hair straightening, it affects the strength of the hair and its ability to stay healthy. These products and processes can cause major damage such as split ends or cracks to the cuticle. And keep in mind that most shampoos out there contain a ton of chemicals too. It’s clear that excessive and repeated chemical treatments, poor grooming habits such as using shampoos and conditioners with chemical-laden ingredients, environmental exposure, and even poor management of hair ties and brushing techniques can produce changes in hair texture that cause that frustrating hair breakage, tangling and frizzing. (3)
Regardless of where you are in your battle to have luxuriously, shiny thick hair, preventing cuticle damage by using this DIY hair mask may be able to save you plenty of heartache.
How to Make a DIY Hair Mask for Dry or Curly Hair
To make this DIY hair mask, it is easiest if you use a blender, though you can use a bowl and whisk. Let’s start by placing the hair-benefitting coconut oil and avocado in the blender. For curly hair, you may want to try the olive oil per the ingredients list above.
If you are using the whisk method, you will need to soften the coconut oil first by slightly heating it. Coconut oil has long claimed reign as the king of oils for just about everything from whitening your teeth to zapping those zits, but it’s also the perfect ingredient for a hair mask. Coconut oil works because it’s high in fatty acids, which provide much needed nourishment and moisturizing for the scalp and hair. Studies have shown that coconut oil reduces hair breakage, possibly because it penetrates the hair follicle.
For the curly headed, olive oil is an emollient that can penetrate the hair. Olive oil is great for curly hair because it is naturally lightweight, allowing it to provide moisturizing without weighing down curls.
Avocado has long been used for improving the condition of the hair by moisturizing. The avocado is known as one of the most nutrition-packed foods on the planet, and it may prevent your hair from falling out while promoting hair growth! Being deficient in some vitamins can greatly affect the health of your hair from how shiny it is to to how thick it is. Avocados contain a fair amount of vitamins B and E, which can help protect and strengthen hair deep down to the cellular level. (4)
Now that you have blended the oils and avocado, add the eggs and honey for the DIY hair mask. Eggs are probably no surprise since they have been used to promote healthy hair since the 1940s, but what makes them so great? Eggs are jam-packed with lecithin and protein, two attributes that can help strengthen and moisturize your hair. And because egg yolks are great at binding all of the ingredients, it helps provide an evenly applied mask. (5)
A bonus is the sulfur they contain, which may help reduce dandruff. And, of course, honey can add to the emulsifying feature that the eggs provide, but it goes well beyond that. Raw honey is a humectant attracting moisture from the air. It’s antibacterial, containing lots of antioxidants, which leads to healthy scalp and hair all while sealing moisture and adding shine. (6) (7)
Now that you have blended all ingredients, let’s add the last ingredients for your DIY hair mask: rosemary and lavender essential oils. Rosemary oil has phenomenal properties, making it a great addition to this DIY hair mask. It has been reported that some experience an increase in new and rapid hair growth after using rosemary essential oil on a regular basis. In fact, people that live in the Mediterranean area have been using rosemary for hair care of hundreds of years. It works because it promotes cell division while dilating blood vessels. This action stimulates hair follicles that encourage new hair growth. Additionally, studies have shown an increase in healing of the scalp due to microcirculation. (8)
Lavender essential oil is great for hair, and like rosemary, can even help with hair growth. A study by a group of dermatologists showed that “44 percent of alopecia patients who were tested experienced new hair growth when they massaged their scalp daily with lavender and other essential oils for seven months.” (9)
Once you have combined all ingredients into your blender, blend again making sure they are well combined. To apply, dampen your hair, then apply the mask evenly throughout, making sure to cover all of the hair, especially the ends. Once you have applied it, cover the hair with a shower cap or towels so that you do not get it on your clothes. If you have long hair, tie it up first, then cover it. Allow the mask sit for 45 minutes to an hour. Wash out the mask with a natural shampoo and conditioner. For best results, try applying this mask once a week.
Most have no problem using any of these ingredients; however, if you notice any irritation, stop using immediately. One or more ingredients could cause an allergic reaction. Also, be careful avoid getting the mixture in your eyes. Make sure your essential oils are 100 percent certified organic for best results.
DIY Hair Mask with Lavender and Rosemary Oil for Healthy, Beautiful Hair
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 1 application (double the recipe if you have very long hair)
I love finding new ways to exfoliate and hydrate my skin, and this DIY cucumber body scrub not only makes my skin super-soft, the smell is also intoxicating! The best news is, you can blend this easy cucumber body scrub at home using just a few simple but nourishing ingredients.
Cucumber body scrub
This cucumber body scrub recipe offers a super way to have a refreshing scrub without harsh chemicals or bold scents overwhelming you.
A cucumber scrub is light and smooth while still cooling and energizing.
The freshness in the cucumber and optional basil will awaken your skin, while the sugar gently buffs off old skin cells and reveals healthy new layer of skin. The cherry on top is the moisturizing coconut oil that will absorb into your skin leaving it silky smooth.
Use as the last thing you do in the slower and simply rinse off, then pat dry (instead of rubbing), this will help keep the coconut oil on your skin and moisturize all day long, giving your arms and legs a gorgeous, healthy glow.
I really love cucumbers in beauty products. I’m partial to the fantastic scent, but cucumber is also full of antioxidants, reduces inflammation and ultra-hydrating.
This cucumber body scrub takes very little effort to whip-up, and it’s a great way to pamper your skin. I love using it to scrub the rough skin on my knees and elbows and find that my skin looks and feels plumper after I’ve used it.
Grab the recipe and instructions for this great DIY cucumber body scrub below and be sure to let me know how you like it if you give it a try!
Wash the cucumber and basil and pat dry then toss in the blender, you can pre-chop or slice before blending. Pour the sugar on top and then add in soft or liquid coconut oil. Whip until the cucumbers have broken down and you’re happy with the consistency; this took about 45 seconds to a minute in our blender. If the cucumber is chilled or cold when it goes in the blender then it may cause the coconut oil to solidify, this happened with mine and wasn’t a problem at all, yours might just look a pinch different from what is shown if the ingredients you use are all room temperature.
Pour into a jar that can be sealed and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. This should keep nicely for up to two weeks. Simply plan to take it out of the fridge a little bit before you will use it or you can scoop some out and put it into a shower or bath safe dish when ready to use. If giving this as a gift, be sure to remind friends that they’ll need to keep it chilled and an eye on the shelf life because of the fresh ingredients.
*Just make sure to take extra care when using oils (like the coconut oil in this) in the bath or shower as they can make surfaces and floors slippery.
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