A (Medicine) Ball of Confusion

On any given day, when you walk through the doors of Unity Fitness, there will be an abundance of noise. Coaches and members greeting you, the blender drowning out all conversation within a 3-foot radius, weights and plates being racked and unloaded. But as you walk further, it’s often likely you’ll hear a rhythmic pounding coming from the large group training space. This noise is common. We often don’t acknowledge it. It blends in with the others, all part of the gym atmosphere. However, it signals the use of a medicine ball.

At Unity Fitness, I would argue that the medicine ball is one of our most highly utilized tools. And rightfully so! They’re a versatile implement that offers balance and support during a press-out squat, the ability to train power with a medicine ball slam or other exercise, among a host of other strength and power benefits.

In this blog post, we’re going to focus on the use of medicine balls in power movements. This will specifically relate to ballistic movements, such as the chest throw, slam, rotational throws, rollover slams…all of the exercises that make the loud, rhythmic slamming which we drown out amidst a busy night on the training floor.

Types of Medicine Balls

Before we go any further, let’s look at a quick review of types of medicine balls. This will specifically focus on the three we use at Unity.

First up, the Dynamax medicine ball. These are widely used in the gym from training power to press-out squats to throw-and-chase finishers. They offer a little bounce, don’t hurt if we miss a catch, and are easily to hold and handle for most people.

Second, the SPRI medicine ball is highly reactive. After we throw it, it bounces back, fast. We have to make sure we catch the ball…or get out of the way! Just kidding, the reactive quality of this ball is usually why it’s chosen. It challenges us to not only throw as hard as we can, but to also catch and control the ball through its deceleration.

Our final type in the gym is the jam ball. As we perform the exercise using a jam ball, it stops moving. There is no bounce back that we have to worry about controlling or catching. This makes it ideal for testing out a movement you’ve never done or moving faster through a movement that you’re experienced with.

What can we do with each of these types?

What is the goal?

Ultimately, when utilizing medicine balls, our goal is to develop power using movements that allow for the generation and resistance to outside forces. Secondarily, we want to decrease risk of injury by increasing our tolerance to loads at a variety of speeds, directions, and sizes. The second goal is simple – by exposing ourselves to a variety of different stimuli, we’re able to build our ability to react to it. The first, however, takes a bit more unpacking.

What is power?

Power is equivalent to force multiplied by velocity. In other words, it’s the ability to express a maximal amount of force within a short period of time. We can see this in movements such as jumping, accelerating into a sprint, and throwing a medicine ball, for example.

Let’s take a closer look. Force is the “strength” component. The amount of force we’re able to produce is proportional to how strong we are. But, with these medicine ball exercises, it’s important to note that strength is not the only factor. When we chose a ball, we have to consider how fast we’re able to throw the ball.

Take the side rotation throw for example. Typically, we see this performed with a Dynamax ball. At Unity, this offers us choices in weights ranging from six to twenty pounds. So, which do we choose? It’s like bowls of porridge; we have to find the one that’s just right.

First, I look at strength; which ball do I feel comfortable throwing? This takes the 14- and 20-pound options off the table. Left with six, eight, and ten-pound increments, I ultimately decide based on which ball I will be able to throw fast while maximizing the strength required. For me, it’s usually the eight-pound ball. The lightest ball is too easy; the heaviest ball is too slow. The middle is perfect.

At the end of the day, it’s not just about going heavier.

We have to take into consideration how fast we can throw. If we don’t we’re leaving power on the table and not utilizing the medicine ball training to its fullest extent. As with any exercise, our weight selection matters but I would also argue our form matters as well. Our form is crucial when we talk about the transfer of power into our medicine ball.

The Transfer of Power

Quick high school physics review of Newton’s First Law of Motion:

“Every object in a state of uniform motion will remain in that state of motion unless an external force acts on it.”

In other words, if the medicine ball isn’t moving, it’s not going to move unless we move it. To do this, we need a transfer of power. To do this, we utilize a concept call kinetic linking. Simply put, this is the transfer of power, typically initiated from the lower body into an object or the ground. This usually results in a kick, throw, jump, bound, etc.

Universal Medicine Ball Cues

Throw the ball through the wall or floor.

We want to throw that ball as hard as we can! If we’re not maximizing the power output, we’re not maximizing the training stimulus we could be achieving. Whatever way you choose to throw the ball, make sure it’s hard. Throw it through the wall; don’t just play catch.

Throw from a stable base.

You can’t shoot a cannon from a canoe. If you’re trying to throw something as hard as you can, which is what you should be doing with our medicine balls, we cannot have our feet be moving all over the place. Our feet are the connection to the ground. If we’re unstable at the base, it’s going to continue and leak power, instead of transferring it all into the medicine ball.

Keep your core engaged.

Just as we can’t shoot a cannon from a canoe, if the second reinforce of the cannon is made out of rubber, that cannon ball is going nowhere fast.

If we can’t take the force, generated in our lower body, and preserve it as it transfers to our arms and ultimately the ball, we’re not maximizing our power output that we’re trying to improve. 

In Summary:

  • We have a variety of different medicine balls and they’re all utilized for different exercises and to train different qualities.
  • As with everything, FORM MATTERS. When we throw from a stable base, we can transfer our power with the highest amount of efficiency and utilize our medicine ball training to the highest extent.
  • It’s not just about the weight. We have to take into consideration how fast we can move the ball. I might be able to chest throw a ten-pound medicine ball, but how fast does it go?

Written by Emily O’Connor, NSCA-CPT, Pn1, SFG1 . You can contact Emily through email at emily@unityfitnesspro.com or follow her on Instagram @coachemilymeyer.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Rotational Power

Rotation is a useful and extremely valuable movement to grasp and use for power, particularly in rotation sports like golf, tennis, baseball/softball, la crosse, etc.  You can see the transfer of force generating through the body and into the equipment with each swing or hit.  You can also see when force is lost!  That’s where we’re going to take you through a step-by-step approach on how to build your rotational power, creating more force transfer into your sport and increasing your overall strength!

Keep in mind, there are a set of prerequisites that your body should go through to make sure you’re ready for sport or rotational action.  We like to use the Fundamental Movement Screen (FMS) as our baseline screen as well as the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) Physical Screen for rotational athletes.  There’s several other screens and assessments you can do, but the big thing you are screened for your appropriate activity.  With that said, we’re going to assume you were cleared for rotational activity as we show you how to build rotational force from the ground up.

The first thing about rotational training is that we need to learn how to resist the movement before we apply the movement.  This is a concept that is often missed in training, however it’s something that should be addressed early on in the training program.  We like to use the ½ Kneel Anti-Rotation Press (also known as the Pallof Press) for core development as well as teaching the body how to resist rotational movement.  Even though we’re only demonstrating one side, make sure to ALWAYS do both sides!

This is one of the best anti-rotational exercises you can do as we’re also creating a ton of hip stability by using the half kneeling position.  It allows us to take the ankle and foot out of the equation and almost single out the hip one at a time, teaching your body how to stabilize correctly.  It’s an incredible exercise that activates the core as it prepares to transfer force through the body in multiple movement patterns.  It’s shown with a resistance band here, but cable systems can work just as well. 

Don’t forget: you can try this out in tall kneeling for another nice addition in your core training.

Like we said before, when we build anti-rotational resistance from the ground up, it gives you an opportunity to find your true core engagement while simultaneously minimizing any common compensations we may see.  However, once your foundation is built, we can then move you up to your feet and have you “find and feel” your core in the same type of exercise.

This is a version we’ve recently built into our core training programs (especially for rotational athletes) and it gives the athlete some more feedback by grabbing the Ultimate Sandbag (USB) and having them “grab the bag and pulling it apart through their fingertips”.  It helps engage the shoulder blades and other upper body stabilizers as it connects the body together through the feedback.  We call it the USB Split Stance Anti-Rotation Press w/Lateral Core Strap.  It’s basically a standing up version of the half kneeling version.

You can also do the bilateral stance version of this by keeping the feet even.  Activate and connect your body by “pushing the floor apart” just a bit.  You’ll feel stability instantly build within your body as you do this. 

Now that we’ve got you standing, we can get you prepped for some rotational movement.  Keep in mind, that we have a set of PRE- and PRO-gressions built into these exercises, which means we may revisit some exercises on the floor from time to time as we build new patterns into your movement, like the ½ Kneeling Anti-Rotation to Rotational Press (Pro Tip: make sure to keep that glass of water balanced on the up knee).

Continuing with the use of the USB, one of our all-time favorite categories of core exercises is pulled from the “reactive core” piggy bank.  We like using your core to have to “react” to the movement, enabling your body and mind to activate slings throughout your movement which produces more stability and force for you.  If it sounds like a win-win, it’s because it is!

Furthermore, the addition of the superband not only provides the reaction we’re looking for, it also provides some core pre-activation through the movement.  We call this exercise the USB Rotational Press Out w/Lateral Core Strap.  Make sure to initiate the exercise with just a bit of resistance coming from your superband, then push off the floor with the leg closest to the anchor and fire the bag away from you with a complete press.

We can add a bit more freedom in the movement, which means more focus on you and your core, by getting rid of the superband.  This is the USB Rotational Press Out. 

Keep the USB pressed out at chest-height without letting it drop as we sometimes see the bag’s line of force dip just a bit once we take away the superband and Core Strap.  You can instantly add more stability required from your body, metabolic effects, and motor control by alternating the USB from side-to-side with the USB Rotational Press Out

Now that we’ve established stability, control, and strength in rotational movement, it is time to unleash some force and build your power! 

Keep in mind that the exercises we just demonstrated may take weeks to master.  We like to have a frequency of 2-3x/week through a 4-6 week progression-based program before we add in new elements.  Don’t jump from exercise to exercise too quickly – OWN IT before you progress!  (More on this when we wrap up.)

This is our baseline rotational power exercise we use for our golfers and rotational athletes.  It’s called the Medicine Ball (MB) Side Rotation Throw.

Rotate into the hips, through the chest, letting the hips power the hands into a “scoop-like” throw.  Make sure not to grab a weight that is too heavy because it usually leads to you getting “handsy” with the exercise (using too much hands and upper body and not enough power from the hips transferring through the movement).  Remember: “Hips power the hands!”

We can work on independent hip stability and power through this exercise utilizing the half kneeling position once again.  This PRE-gression is great for teaching your body how to transfer force through your core on both sides of the body while gaining more control (remember to balance that glass of water on the up knee!).  We call it the MB ½ Kneeling Side Rotation Throw.

There’s plenty of progressions you can add to the Side Rotation Throws.  You can obviously increase weight, but you can also change foot position by adding in a split (asymmetric) stance, a lateral step, elevating the front foot on a box, etc.  One of the other progressions you can add without changing foot position is changing the position of the med ball through a “figure 8” motion.

Adding the figure 8 movement into the throw gives you a chance to feel your body absorbing and transferring force during the pattern.  We call this the MB Figure 8 Side Rotation Throw.

You don’t have to move quickly because we want you to find the “flow” of the movement.  Once you feel your outside hip is loaded during your flow, then fire the ball into the wall by pushing off the floor.  It isn’t absolutely necessary, but you can add a pivoting motion with your feet to this exercise.  It can help you rotate through the movement and make up for any restriction in hip internal and/or external range of motion.  It’s simply called the MB Pivoting Figure 8 Side Rotation Throw.

Now that you’ve seen our step-by-step approach for building rotation power from the ground up, it’s time to put this plan into action!  The first priority is to get someone who can screen your movement to make sure progressing into these exercises is safe and suitable for you at this time. 

Next, start with the first exercise and build up from there, always paying attention to your form and movement.  One of the worst things we can do in the gym is progressing too quickly or adding too much weight too quickly, especially through power movements.  Repetitions and sets can vary a bit, but we like to use 1-3 sets for 8-10 reps each side with the core exercises, 2-3 sets of 6-8 reps for the strength, and 2-4 sets of 4-6 reps for the power exercises.  We recommend you start with your non-dominant side as you go into each set.

Give yourself a few weeks through each exercise before your progress.  We offered some in-between PRE-gressions for you to use along your path as well.  Use them!  They only help build on the next exercise you’re trying to get to.  There’s also plenty of other exercises that we implement into the programming, including more strength and mobility exercises to help maintain the pattern.

Finally, OWN THE MOVEMENT before you progress!  In other words, “Own your progression”.  The movement should almost become natural before you move to the next exercise.  If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Two Tools and Seven Years Ago…

I joined the industry just over 7 years ago.  Fresh out of the college, out of the research lab, and out of graduate classes that consisted of advanced statistical analysis, biochemistry, and biomechanics.  Sure, I could really nerd out behind a computer screen and build a 3-D model of the alpha-amino acid tryptophan and put together a really solid statistical analysis on, well, basically anything.

I didn’t have much experience working with people through exercise, but I loved exercise and I wanted to help people, so I used that combination to help jumpstart my thirst for knowledge and align my course once joining the ranks of the fitness industry as a personal trainer.  I knew from the very first session I shadowed that this was the industry I wanted to be in.  Soon, any thoughts of being a physical therapist were put on hold and I transitioned to another point on the spectrum.

As I began my career as a personal trainer, I had to make myself familiar with the gym, the equipment, and get creative with the space we had available with my clients.  I didn’t have any questions on the strength and cardio machines available at the gym.  In fact, I actually taught some of the other coaches the automated programs on some of the cardio equipment and gave tours to new members on all the strength equipment.

However, there were two pieces of equipment that I was unfamiliar with: a foam roller and a kettleball…Yes, I used the word “ketteBALL” intentionally because that’s how I initially referred to it.  We had two of each in our gym, both of which belonged to our head trainer, so only his clients could use them (we were independent contractors, so to speak).  I get a good chuckle out of that memory these days (and I cringe when I hear the word “kettleBALL”, but I remember being there too).

Is this how you use this thing?

I’ve said it before, but I learned more about personal training and exercise and exercise sports science and nutrition in the next couple years than I had in the previous six.  There were so many “aha” moments along the way, too many to remember, but the two “aha” moments I remember most during my first couple years were the power of the foam roller and kettlebell.  Both pieces of equipment reign supreme in my mind today, but in different ways.

I’m a big fan of the foam roller.  I was skeptical at first and I know what the research says (conflicting in some areas), but I’m a big, BIG fan of beginning and ending sessions with some rolling and soft tissue work as well as some recovery work on the off days.  The roller offers so much to your soft tissue quality, your recovery, pain thresholds, nervous system, etc.  I was quoted on my first podcast with Clinically Pressed as saying it was “My favorite piece of equipment under $100.”  That statement still stands true today.

The kettlebell is still that piece of equipment that you seem to discover new things about yourself and the bell each time you use it.  It keeps you honest, humble, and excited.  It’s an incredible tool for teaching movement patterns and stability.  It’s one of the best bang-for-you-buck tools you can invest in and it’s probably right under the foam roller on the list of equipment I love under $100. 

Even though I feel like I’ve learned so much and I can handle my own with a kettlebell, I decided to learn from the masters of the kettlebell and have undertook a Strongfirst SFG L1 cert with two other coaches from Unity Fitness.  Our cert weekend is coming up at the end of this month and I couldn’t be more excited to learn even more about this amazing tool in our tool box and how we can help harness more out of each time we touch the bell, which will in turn help us help more people.  It still blows me away how much you can continue to learn about ONE THING the more you want to learn about it.  The adage reigns true: the more you know, the more you don’t know.

As I go into my seventh year as I coach, there are a few other pieces of equipment that I continue to learn more and more about, like the barbell or ultimate sandbag or TRX to name a few, but the roller and kettlebell still stand hold that iconic feeling to me.  Regardless of the piece of equipment, as long as you’re investing your time and knowledge into it you are bound to find out more and have your own “aha” moments.  There’s plenty of rabbit holes to go down ?. 

But, if you’re interested in learning more about the foam roller and soft tissue mobility rabbit hole, then make sure you stop by the facility this Saturday for our Foam Roller and Soft Tissue Mobility Workshop where we’ll be going over how to use the foam roller correctly as well as other soft tissue mobility tools.  There’s still a few spots left for you to learn how to feel better and move better!  See you there!

Transitioning from Aesthetics to Performance

Hey there, UF Fitfam! For my first blog post, I thought I’d take you down a little journey and behind the scenes of my training for my upcoming SFG Level 1 certification. If you’ve been in the gym while I’m training, chances are I’ve (jokingly) tried to trade my kettlebell circuits for your finisher. But truth is, as much as I joke about it, I’ve been loving my training lately!

The start of training for the SFG certification marked one of the first times I’ve solely trained with a performance goal in mind. Prior to this, there was always an aesthetic goal underlying my programming, even when I had performance goals in mind. When I played sports, I was concerned with the calories I was eating after games and practices so as to not gain weight. When I ran a marathon, I was focused on using that for fat loss, not hitting a goal pace. When I started lifting weights, I yearned for fat loss and body re-composition.

However, for the last six weeks, it’s been an entirely new experience. Taking care to plan meals around my workout to optimize performance, instead of staying below a set number of calories. If I felt hungry or needed a little extra fuel, I didn’t subtract that from my planned meals I had left for the day. I ate it and moved on with my training.

It’s been refreshing. I’ve felt great during and after workouts. I’ve enjoyed seeing the progress I’ve made so far. Moving quick and fine-tuning form as I build strength and endurance. I feel like I’ve been more energized, moving more efficiently, and, even though it wasn’t a priority, looking better too! Then, out of the blue, I decided to step on the scale… I was about eight pounds heavier than I thought. Everything I had been feeling good about came crashing down in an instant.

What about all my training and time spent in the gym?

What about the meal planning and prepping?

Why did I let myself have those extra snacks pre-workout?

Did I really need them or was it slipping back into overeating?

How could I have let myself lose some of the progress I made last year?

Should I go back to a lower calorie diet and be more strict?

This is just a glimpse of the spiral of thoughts that raced through my mind as I looked down at the number on the scale.

I think there’s sometimes a misconception that it’s easy for coaches and trainers. We always want to train, a salad is an easy choice over pizza, and we don’t struggle with our weight or appearance. While I can’t speak for other coaches, I can certainly tell you I’ve struggled with all of those, even after my job title became “Coach and Personal Trainer”. I’ve written about it before I joined Unity in {this article}.

Link for hyperlink above: https://emilymeyerfitness.com/2018/09/04/your-trainer-struggles-too/

Now, as I transition from my aesthetic goal to a performance goal, I encounter new struggles. It’s difficult to see that number on the scale go up. Initially, I’m hit with the same disappointment, guilt, and frustration I felt years ago when I was struggling to find healthy eating habits and lose weight.

But why am I letting an inanimate object determine my mood at all? Not to mention, letting it ruin all of my positive energy surrounding my progress I’ve been making in the gym? The scale doesn’t always tell the truth. I know this as a fact. But emotionally, seeing the number go up stings. I shouldn’t let it, and neither should you.

This can be especially true if you are in a fat loss phase. You’ve been putting in the work and come weigh-in time, you expect to see the results on the scale. While we can reflect and use the feedback as a tool to either continue what we’re doing or adapt to change future results, it’s important we remember the scale does not discount the work we’ve done.

We all go through struggles sometimes, but at the end of the day: fitness is about more than a number on the scale. Frankly, it’s about more than the weight lifted in the gym. It’s about where that takes us. It’s about what we can do and accomplish outside the walls of Unity.

We’ve asked before and I’ll ask again: Where will fitness take you in 2019?

Fill out our form on the “Your Life, Your Program” tab or send me an email at emily@unityfitnesspro.com and let’s get your journey started!

9 New, Fun Ideas to Make Meal Prepping More Exciting

Here at Unity promote a weekly or biweekly meal prep that we call a Sunday Ritual or a Wednesday /Mid-week Pick-me-up. The Sunday Ritual is based off of PN’s model of planning your family’s weekly schedule, make a list of ingredients and heading to your local grocery for fresh ingredients. The Mid-Week Pick-me-up involves a go-to or a brand new, exciting recipe you can use during the week that you can batch and use for the remaining days.

Weekly meal prep is efficient in many ways, but I would say there are the Big 3 Wins of meal prep.

The first Big Win is that you save valuable nuggets of time the mornings, afternoons and evenings during your week by spending just a few hours in one shot on Sunday. Instead of taking approximately 10 to 20 minutes three times per day during your week, you maybe spend 5 to 10 minutes just once or twice, which gives you more time with family.

There’s different “versions” of meal prep to try (see below), but it typically takes an average of 2 to 5 hours to complete (counting the trip to the grocery store). The simple version is quicker and easier but may be more boring to some while the complex version will be closer to 5 hours and more for the person who likes to cook and wants variety (versions listed below).

In all, this Win saves you time during the week. I actuality like to refer to this as you are now given more time. You become The Time Saver.

The second Big Win is reducing stress and anxiety by giving you full control over your week. No more “what if’s” or pockets of anxiety moments spread throughout your week when you and your family don’t know what to eat. You are in control and you’ll feel that way too (a damn good feeling).

This will in turn make everything seem easier so your left to focus in the big picture items at work AND at home. You should not notice better performance at work and happier lifestyle at home. You can easily base your performance at work (or should be able to use your job’s system), but you can use a daily 1-10 scale on how you’re feeling or even a happiness scale. Of course, there are several factors that go into being “happy”, but overall, we’re leading to better awareness. More awareness leads to mindfulness and more mindfulness leads to better choices. You become The Boss.

The third Big Win is you get to eat delicious and nutritious food that keeps you accountable towards your goals. When you prep this food ahead of time, it’s only human nature that you wouldn’t want to waste it plus you receive the benefits of fueling your body the right way throughout the entire week.

You can use the same or similar 1-10 scale to see how you’re feeling through each day as well as after each meal. Your health and fitness performance will be easier to identify as it all pertains to your goal. You become The Nutrition Ninja.

Ultimately, the weekly meal prep is measured on efficiency by how much time you save, a boost in performance, mood, and over happiness, and accomplishing your health and fitness goals. Unfortunately, weekly meal prep doesn’t always seem like a fun task. As a matter of fact, it often feels intimidating or stressful.

This is why I created several different ideas to gamify this process.

Idea 1: Time Created

Through my personal research, I have found that for every 30 minutes spent meal prepping on Sunday, you can “create” (free up) about 60 minutes’ worth of time through your week. This goes back to the concept of being “given time”.

For example, if I cooked and scrambled my eggs for each morning I could them store them in sealed bags or containers and have them for breakfast. This process takes 30 minutes at most. It then saves me at least 10 minutes each day during the breakfast time (the time to crack, prep and heat, and then clean). Now I just need to reheat the eggs and add my fruit and veggies.

The same goes for creating to-go lunches and snacks. It takes 10 to 15 minutes to get 5 Tupperware dishes ready for a salad kit. Add my protein that I made in a slow cooker or pressure cooker and I save time from running to the cafeteria, restaurant, or store during lunch, which is half of our lunch breaks.

The cool part is that you have to award yourself with you’re going to do with the time you were given back. I’ve seen things such as sleep, more time with kids, reading, project work, etc. You can take this a step further by having them send or post pics of the meal prep and what they did with their extra time.

Idea 2: Lost in a book 

This idea is pretty simple and one of my personal favorite. Simply download the audio version of a book you’re interested in and listen to it while you work. It’s a bit tougher when you’re following a new recipe, but besides that it’s an easy way to enjoy your morning or afternoon as you get lost in your imagination (or thoughts if you’re reading a professional development book). This can be taken a step further with Google Home or Alexa as you can tell it to stop and take notes when you want. The biggest thing to remember is to not get too lost and forget an ingredient in the recipe…which may or may not have happened once or twice.

Idea 3: Create your own cookbook

This one takes time to develop, as in weeks and weeks, but you eventually create your own cookbook with all the recipes you accumulate. The catch is you have to try at least one new recipe each and every week and then save the ones you like. Now you can make your own notes, prep variations, recipe mods, etc. by creating your own cool book.

Idea 4: The Family Tree

I like this one for being at home with the family and it creates a sense of belonging. There’s two ways I’ve used this one: 1) you ask a family member which type of food they would like, and it becomes “their recipe” this week; and 2) you can look up your own family tree and maybe make a dish that is from your ancestors. I like the second option for more of a personal experiment, but it entertains me nonetheless.

Idea 5: The Buddy System

You can do this with a loved one or a close friend that also meal preps. Doing this together allows conversation to happen and the time flies (so make sure you do it with someone you really care about!!).  Basically, you find a partner in crime and go into the meal prep together.

Idea 6: The Groupie

This is a fun one, especially when you see the power and over impact it plays on each person. It’s essentially The Buddy System amplified by 1,000. A group of people come together and meal prep together. It takes a bit more coordination and the right location, but A LOT gets done. My ultimate dream for my future training facility is to own a building that also includes a commercial kitchen that allows members of the facility to meal prep together on Sundays.

Idea 7: The Meal Swap

This one is another HIT with the members of my gym and it stemmed from a group of ladies that I recommended get together to meal prep. Now they’ll meal prep and swap meals. One person cooks a ton of breakfasts, one does lunches, one does snacks, and one does supper. This one is easier because you just do a ton of the same food so there’s no prep change and re-cleaning. It’s harder to make sure the budget is split equally.

Idea 8: Tiers of Meal Prep 

I touched on this earlier, but I basically broke down meal prep into different versions of easiness. The easiest version is done with a meal-delivery service that prepares the entire meal and delivers it to your door step. The next easiest version is some prepared meals and some meals you do yourself (the meals are simple as well).  The next version, for example, is bulk foods and using tons of slow-cookers, instant pots, “Steamable” veggies, and my gym’s “EZ-PZ Recipe List. It requires only one new recipe per week that is typically used as a base protein that can be added to nearly anything. The complex version is for one who likes to cook and involves +3 new recipes each week.

There’s a couple other different versions in between the simplest and most complex, but this allows for a “change of pace” for someone who does meal prep on a regular basis. Unfortunately, it also shows different time constraints. The simple version is typically done in less time with the complex being more time. Depending on the person/family, this one varies quite a bit, but I created it to help with structure (along with the PN meal prep infographic).

Idea 9: Outsource 

This is a growing trend in our industry. A member can go with a company of preference and choose how far they’d like to go with the service. They could go with a company that sends all the ingredients and requires some prep, or they could go with one who cooks and preps the meal and sends you the final products that just need to be heated. This idea can get a bit expensive, but the trade-off is the time saved.

A few of these ideas were created over the last couple years, but some were created and need to be experienced to get the full feedback. I have a few members who are supposed to be doing these, so I can’t report the full details yet. However, I know that I’ve done each of these and I feel like as long as I am doing at least one of those ideas I am always keeping meal prep “fresh” and not growing complacent. It provides a new yet familiar experience every time, like going to one if your favorite restaurants and trying another dish on the menu.

This process could use work. I tried to compile previous ideas and make some new ones. The 3 Big Wins almost always help a person get started with meal prep. I know most of our members do it and reap the benefits of it. I also know it can get boring, so I tried creating ideas that would work well with each person. We can always go back and see if there’s an idea that leads to more efficiency by using the methods above.

I personally use The Buddy System (with the girlfriend) on a weekly basis.  If there’s a Sunday when one of us needs to be out of town, the other will pick up the slack and we’ll square up the following weekend.  If I go solo, I almost always have a book on.  Like today, while Mandy went shopping, I listened to Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Habits on Audible.

I also really like the “time given” or “time gained” system.  I am always creating a schedule for my week and it works well to plan some stuff around 15-minute increments that you save.  I think this idea has more potential, but people must really value their time to make it work at its best.

Now it’s time to put this into ACTION.  At Unity we stress that as long as we’re taking action, we get 1% better every day.  And action beats intention every day of the week (and twice on Sundays…as the saying goes!).

Pick an idea and PUT IT INTO ACTION this week.  That’s your goal.  Then let me know how it goes!