Katie Lolas' Top Tips On Creating Healthy Habits (And Nailing Meal Prep)
Not only is meal prep beneficial in saving you both time and money, it’s a way of ensuring you’re staying on top of your health and fitness goals—and if there’s one person who’s mastered the fine art, you better believe it to be Katie Lolas.
Best known on Instagram as @lady.lolas, Katie (who's a full-time school teacher by day) has acquired a mass following thanks to her creative and easy approach to meal prep and game-changing Sunday routine.
Seeing as we’re all about establishing healthy habits this month (we hope you’ve signed up to our 10 day morning routine challenge!) it was only fitting that we have Katie along for the ride.
Here, we chat to the queen of meal prep herself (who FYI, also curated our February Health Box, so you might want to get your hands on that) about what she does to prioritise health and wellbeing. She also shares her best advice for getting meal prep right (so you're going to want to hang around for that, too).
What are some healthy habits that you personally incorporate into your everyday life?
Over time, I have been able to establish routines and implement sustainable strategies that have made it easy to incorporate healthy habits into my everyday life. Some of these habits are healthy eating, regular exercise and taking some time out for myself to focus on self-care. I attribute being able to stick to these healthy habits to planning out my week on a Sunday.
Name one healthy habit that you are struggling to maintain (or one you want to start doing) and the steps you will take towards this.
Running is a struggle for me! It’s something I’m really determined to improve at but it doesn’t come naturally to me. I’ve recently been cleared to start running again having successfully rehabilitated my back post-microdisectomy surgery. The long break from running has made it feel like I’m starting all over again, so to motivate me to get back into it I have taken steps like participating in organised group runs and booking in runs with friends, so I have a buddy to help me through it.
In what ways do you practice self-care and how does this benefit you?
I work full-time as a teacher and run a business on the side, so taking out some time for me is so important for my overall wellbeing and to ensure I don’t burnout. I try to fit in something for myself each day which ranges from something simple like meditating before bed or having a phone-free evening, or something like dinner out with my husband on the weekend, a spa session, or a walk along the beach when I finish work. I find that focusing on my self-care can be restorative, provides me with mental clarity, and gives me the energy I need to tackle my daily life.
What are your top 3 healthy habit tips for those wanting to make a positive change to their health and wellbeing?
It might seem obvious and cliché, but my first tip is to meal prep. I won’t, but I could go on all day about the positive impact meal prep has had on my life. It saves me time, money, and having nutritious meals ready to grab when needed has helped me overcome a range of health issues including restrictive behaviour around dieting and IBS.
The second healthy habit tip I can offer is to get moving! If you’re just starting out in making improvements to your health, something as simple as a daily walk can yield so many benefits. If you’re up for more of a challenge, a few sessions a week in the gym will do wonders for your mind and body. Whether it’s a swim, a bike ride in the park or a hit of tennis, setting some time aside for physical activity a few times a week will be a huge positive change for your health.
My third healthy habit tip is to prioritise your self-care! Life is busy, and full of challenges, so it is vital to take some time out to focus on yourself in order to ensure your own wellbeing. Read a book, lie on the beach, take a weekend drive, enrol in a dance class, enjoy a quiet dinner with your loved-one, whatever it is that is going to allow you to switch off from the trials and mundane aspects of life and achieve clarity, do it! Health is about way more than the physical, how you feel mentally and emotionally is just as important.
It's a Sunday and you have a huge week ahead. What do you do to get organised?
Meal prep on a Sunday is non-negotiable for me. It’s become so routine that I’m able to complete the grocery shopping and my prep in just over an hour, depending on what I prep. For the commitment of just over an hour, I have nutritious meals and snacks that will leave me fueled for my busy week at work as a school teacher.
My second non-negotiable is to look at my training schedule each week. My trainer provides me a program, so I will take a look on a Sunday and figure out which days a gym session will slot into my schedule. From there I will also set aside some time in the week for less intense physical activity like a walk or yoga class. I may not follow this to the letter each week—as how my body feels on any given day will dictate what kind of exercise I do—but having a plan in place provides me with structure which is important when I am balancing multiple priorities.
The final non-negotiable is to fill in my self-care goals template. The purpose of this is to commit to three things I will do for myself in the coming week that will benefit my overall wellbeing. It could cover anything from making sure I stretch for 15 minutes each day, to going for a morning walk or booking in for a cryotherapy appointment.
The best piece of meal prep advice?
The best piece of advice I can offer is to just START! I hear so many stories from people who put off meal prep because they think it is some arduous, daunting task, but it totally doesn’t need to be!
For those that have already started meal prepping, my best piece of advice I can offer is do what works for you! Prep things that you enjoy eating and you know will slot in well with your routine. You don’t have to prep chicken and broccoli every day because somebody else said you should. Yes, it’s very healthy, but if you aren’t going to enjoy it, or eat it at all, then it’s a wasted exercise. Social media and the internet are a great resource for meal prep and recipe inspo if ever you’re stuck.
The biggest mistake when it comes to meal prep?
I think the biggest mistake I see and hear of people making is trying to do too much too soon. If somebody has ever meal-prepped before, I wouldn’t advise them to jump straight in to trying to prep three daily meals and all their snacks in one hit. It will likely take them a long time and make meal prep seem like an enormous task and the last thing they would want to be doing on a Sunday.
I would suggest starting small and begin by preparing maybe one or two daily meals. This will allow you to develop routines around shopping and meal prep, figure out what you like prepping, what fits in well with your schedule, and also to build a library of recipes. As you settle into these routines, I would gradually add in additional meals and snacks to prep, and before you know it, you’ll be preparing a week’s worth of food in a fraction of the time it would have taken if you’d tried to tackle it all from the outset.
Words by Julia Giampietro