“Works best with diet and exercise.” Does this statement sound familiar? You might recognize it from the label of every nutrition and workout supplement on the market. While the supplement may or may not live up to its claim, it’s safe to say that this familiar statement is on the label for a reason. Exercise is important, but so is your nutrition if you’re serious about reaching your health and fitness goals. Since you’re working hard at boot camp, you’ve got the exercise portion covered. Let’s discuss what you can do to fuel your body well by utilizing a habit/tool called meal planning. 

Being a creature of habit is not a bad thing, in fact, structure and routine build a great foundation for consistency. However, eating the same foods day in and day out can limit the vitamins, minerals, types of fat, and plant chemicals provided to your body. If variety is the spice of life, then it would serve us well to spice things up regularly by eating various fruits, veggies, proteins, carbs, fats, etc. (instead of the same ol’, same ol’) to enhance the fuel for your body. While macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat)  have been in the spotlight often, we’ll dig into micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), phytonutrients, and more in future posts because nutrition and fueling your body is so much more than calories. 

Each weekly blog, we’ll provide you with recipes to help you keep things fresh in the kitchen. While we hope these recipes are helpful to you, wouldn’t it be awesome if you had a meal planning template to use beyond the seven weeks of boot camp?! We think so too. Here’s our recipe card for meal planning made easy. Enjoy!

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

Meal Planning Made Easy
(Servings: a lifetime, Time: minimal, Difficulty: easy)


  • Protein (animal or plant-based)
  • Carbohydrate (the less processed the better)
  • Vegetable (fresh, frozen, canned, raw, baked, broiled, grilled, steamed, etc.; unfortunately corn, potatoes, and peas fall into the carb category instead of the veggies)
  • Healthy fat (optional, but a great addition when possible)


  1. Grab a pen and paper OR your favorite piece of technology 
  2. Make a list of your favorite foods in each category of the “ingredients” above. Keep this food bank somewhere safe because you’ll be referencing it every time you meal plan.
  3. UPDATE: Review that list and then add in the foods it’s time for you to try again or for the first time. This might be cringe-worthy, but variety is important for well-rounded nutrition.
  4. In a column, jot down “P:” for protein, “C:” for carb, “V:” for veggie, “HF:” for healthy fat. Repeat for as many meals as you would like to plan.
  5. Fill in your columns by choosing from your food bank. Repeat until you feel like a meal planning champ or planned the number of meals you were aiming for.
  6. Scan your pantry, fridge, and freezer for the ingredients you need for the planned meals. Don’t have it? Start your grocery list.
  7. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done! Find a friend at boot camp and swap meal plans to tag team the following week.

Workout Focus: Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

One way to gauge the intensity of your workouts (without a heart rate monitor) is a rating system called the Rated Perceived Exertion scale. It’s also known as the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion, which includes a scale of 0-20. That may be too many numbers to think about while you’re working out or in recovery mode, so many fitness organizations have dwindled it down to a more manageable, 0-10 scale. The Cleveland Clinic’s handout makes it very simple, see here.

Shape Magazine gives us a little more structure below:

RPE 1–2: Very easy; you can converse with no effort

RPE 3: Easy; you can converse with almost no effort

RPE 4: Moderately easy; you can converse comfortably with little effort

RPE 5: Moderate; conversation requires some effort

RPE 6: Moderately hard; conversation requires quite a bit of effort

RPE 7: Difficult; conversation requires a lot of effort

RPE 8: Very difficult; conversation requires maximum effort

RPE 9–10: Peak effort; no-talking zone

Another source, VeryWell Fit, shares, “In general, for most workouts, you want to be at around Level 5-6. If you’re doing interval training, you want your recovery to be around a 4-5 and your intensity blasts to be at around 8-9. Working at a level 10 isn’t recommended for most workouts. For longer, slower workouts, keep your PE at Level 5 or lower.”

Our challenge for you over the next 7 weeks is to use this scale to rate your workouts. Start off with rating the first week’s fitness test, so that you can compare it to the re-test in week 7. Feel free to rate workouts weekly to make sure that you’re not taking it too easy on yourself, but at the same time, not compromising your form and going too hard.


By: Victoria Emmitt RD

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