3 Things I Learned from Menu Planning

After a summer of eating out, grilling out, and spending time on vacation, I used labor day weekend as an opportunity to get my “life” back in order.  

I woke up on Labor Day feeling out of sorts.  In my head, I had deemed September 1st “the first day of the rest of my life.”  And, as an important “start-over” date.  Despite all these great intentions, I just felt nervous.

Would I be able to stay on “plan” this time?  

Would I be able to curb my night-time eating that had been spinning out of control?

How would I incorporate all my work-related dining out activities?

Could I make this work again?

In the midst of all the fears that were running through my head, I realized more than anything that I didn’t have a plan.  I did what any girl in 2014 does, I jumped on Pinterest to find a meal planning resource that would help me along my way.  First and foremost, I wanted to decide what it was that I would be eating for the next week, and food-prep the crap out of my Monday afternoon.

I found several different meal planners out there, some that tracked daily meals, many that focused on family dinners, and only one that tracked all the meals and snacks I wanted to plan.  This one ended up being my favorite, and I have plans to create my own on a rainy day.  We’ll see…

In filling out the squares last week, a lot of lightbulbs went off and I learned more than I ever could have imagine.

3 Things I Learned from Menu Planning | No Thanks to Cake
1.  Without a plan, I had no plan.

We’ve all heard that saying “failure to plan is planning to fail.”  When you write everything down that you plan to eat on paper, you realize this very quickly.  I quickly began to reflect upon how previous weeks had gone.  I had to make healthy choices every single day, and competing with those healthy choices were their unhealthy cousins… unhealthy meals.

I was counting on my will-power to help me make it through the week.  When co-workers asked me to join them for lunch, I could easily say yes… because I was hungry.  I hadn’t had a snack all morning and was ready to eat anything I could find.  When friends suggested dinner out, I didn’t have a plan otherwise… so, why not join them for Mexican food?  And, then, sitting at the table, I’d have to once again make healthy decisions.  To stay on my “virtual” plan, I’d need to muster up the willpower to skip the chips and salsa, and to forgo the quesadillas in lieu of a simple grilled chicken salad.  Sometimes I did well, other times, not so much.

In the end, there were too many decisions to be made every single day, and too many opportunities to slip up.  With a concrete plan in place, I found myself with structure, convenience, and peace of mind.  I’m not saying I executed the plan perfectly, but I was about 150% better than weeks without a plan!

2.  My kitchen was snack-deficient.

By the time I filled out my meal plan, I had already gone grocery shopping for the week.  Now, I was sure I had healthy foods busting out of my fridge and cupboards; however, when I looked at the food I had planned to eat, I found out very quickly that I was completely deficient in the snack department, and I made plans to correct it immediately.

Why are snacks important?  Because in those moments where you get hungry, you define your day.  Do you reach for a bag of carrots and Laughing Cow cheese (a favorite snack of mine) or do you start digging through the cupboard for something-anything that might be tasty?

I had healthy snacks on hand to get me through maybe Wednesday, but I needed snacks for a full seven days.  Outlining what I would eat each day shone a flashlight on the situation and helped me make sure that I had plenty of snacks on-hand, pre-packaged, and ready to go.

Food Prep | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Having a Plan Reduces Stress

Overall, I felt much less stressed throughout the week when it came to making healthy decisions.  I was able to anticipate the needs that came up throughout the week, both planned and unplanned.  I was able to travel out of town and stay completely on-plan with oatmeal from home and a build-your-own salad at a pizza place.

Meal Prep | No Thanks to Cake

My schedule is also nuts.  By the time I get home, I’m tired and hungry.  Having a plan of what was for dinner… and having those foods on-hand and ready to eat/prepare made things so much easier!  And, again, kept me on track…

I felt at-ease, knowing that this area was all planned out… all week long!  One less things to worry about!

I’m going into the this week and have once again written up my plan.  It may change a little bit.  I may eat Subway on Tuesday, and eat chicken on Monday.  Who knows… but I’ll stay within this framework and make good decisions.

3 Things I Learned from Menu Planning | No Thanks to Cake

Mostly, I’ve got all the foods I’ve outlined in my home… prepped and ready to go.  Even if I hit 80% to this plan, I’d call that a win!  I love the feeling of being prepared to be healthy for the week, and I plan on doing just that!

Have you considered meal planning? 

Related posts:

Yoga on the Rocks {and a Breakthrough}

July was quite a month for me.  I was movin’ and shakin’ all month long.  Non-stop.  Every day, there was something.  Every weekend, I over programmed myself.

While it was a wonderful month, I came back from San Diego…. EXHAUSTED.

Throughout the month of July, I was a little more open to dining out… to having a cupcake… and to skipping the gym, en lieu of working at night.  Seriously, I don’t even know how I wrote content for NTTC there was so much going on.  Thanks for hanging in there with me, folks…

And, when the end of July arrived, I felt as though I had been changed…. in many ways, for the better, but in other ways, I had slipped back into an uncomfortable place.

Uncomfortable in an eerily familiar way… uncomfortable in that way where I didn’t know if I could get myself back on track.  Truthfully, I was worried.  Very worried.   Not only had my eating habits slipped significantly, but I also hadn’t been to the gym regularly since… well… Fitbloggin.

For the past month in regard to healthy living, I’ve felt like I was on the edge of an avalanche… where the ground feels unsteady, as though it’s about to crumble.

I knew I had agreed to go to Yoga on the Rocks bright and early on Saturday morning.  My friends over at Core Power Yoga offered me free tickets to attend, and I even roped my friend Erin into joining me… but, did I really want to practice yoga?  Most definitely, no.  I was out of practice and had felt lethargic for the past week.

What I wanted to do was sleep… but I’d committed to going, so I set my alarm for what I like to call “the butt-crack of dawn” on Saturday morning.  I’ll let you in on a secret amongst us friends… I am so not a morning person. Not even close…

Saturday morning came quickly, and I dressed and headed to Red Rocks Amphiteater for the event.  I’ve talked about Red Rocks here before both for a concert and for Film on the Rocks, but I realize that not everyone is familiar with my amazing state… so I’ll give you a peek at its amazingness.

Film on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

It is one of the best venues in the country for live music.  Surrounded by gorgeous red rocks, the acoustics are phenomenal… and then, there’s that view too.  I’m guessing that not every state has this little gem.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

When we arrived, Erin and I checked in… grabbed our free Core Power mats and orange sunglasses and went to find a spot to practice.  I knew I was in for a treat when I saw my favorite concert venue filled with brightly colored mats and yogis practicing their favorite headstand poses throughout the amphitheater.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

As we set up our area, I was still hesitant about how I my personal practice would go.  Knowing that I’d be practicing on unforgiving cement, I layered the giveaway mat underneath my Affirmats mat for extra support… as if those the words staring back at me weren’t enough support.  I love this mat… and I love that these words stared back at me for the next 60 minutes.  I needed them, and I repeated them throughout the class.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Can we again pause at the magnitude of this venue??

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

As the class began, Amelia Earhart kicked the event off… what an incredible and beautiful story she has.  If you’re not familiar, she recently just flew around the world!

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

She also reported that she is a huge fan of yoga… and spoke about her practice.  The instructor, Inanna Jessop, took over shortly after and we got to work.

Inanna described the purpose of the class was to “ground down in order to rise up.”  How beautiful is that?  And, truthfully, I feel like that is exactly what happened to me during the next 60 minutes.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

We warmed up, and then completed the most beautiful sun salutations and balance poses.  We spent some time working the core (they don’t call it “Core Power Yoga” for nothing!), and as we were working our way into savasana, I had that moment… the “I’m practicing my beloved yoga at freakin’ Red Rocks” moment… and it was then that I realized things had begun to shift.

When our time in savasana ended and Sam Smith stopped singing (love him!), I wanted more time.  When we sealed our practice with a collective namaste, I almost didn’t want to say that beautiful word… because it meant it was over.

Erin and I packed up our stuff to leave, and it took me forever to roll up my mats.  In that moment, I thought I was just too relaxed and not focusing… but in reality, I didn’t want to leave.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Something else happened that was incredibly significant… I realized that my body and my mind was craving yoga.  My cells hadn’t forgotten how this practice serves them.  It remembered, even when I took a month off… it remembered.  And, it responded.

I was energized, poised, and for the first time in weeks… empowered and inspired.  I knew that I COULD again… and with that, I knew that I WOULD.  

And what would I or could I do?  Ever since, I’ve felt the possibilities to be limitless.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Since then, I’ve had a laser focus on being grounded, fueling my body with healthy foods, and setting intention of what will come in upcoming days, weeks, months…

This journey that I’m on has lots of ebbs and flows.  I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t… but the recent pause scared me.  After that beautiful practice on Saturday morning, I don’t fear a thing.  I’ve got too much that I want in my life to worry about fears… and it appears that when I get lost, all I have to do is get back on my mat.

Divider

Thank you to Core Power Yoga for providing Erin and I with complimentary passes to participate in Yoga on the Rocks.  I can’t wait to join you guys again next year!

Related posts:

Happy

Do you ever just feel happy?

Octoberfest | No Thanks to Cake

Do you find yourself smiling extra wondering what fabulous things are going to happen next?  And wake up grateful for the day that lies ahead?

That’s how I’ve felt for the past month.  

Every.  Damn.  Day.

I’d like to say that something changed.  That I’d found a new outlook or found a new man (seriously, he must be wandering aimlessly at this point :) ) or had a bright new opportunity that brought a smile to my face.

Something MUST have triggered the happy.  There must be a hidden reason… NOPE.

I am just 100%, prime-time, unabashedly and completely HAPPY!

This past month has been a whirlwind… and, frankly, I’m exhausted… with a freakin’ smile on my face.

For the past few years, I’ve been struggling with being happy.  Wanting it with all of my soul… wanting to be so incredibly satisfied with every aspect of my life… all the while, falling short in my own expectations.

I’ve been working to improve myself, working to change my weight (which I most certainly did!), and kept thinking if I just kept going….  If I just worked a little harder, that happiness would show up…. and, there were times when I thought it just wasn’t in the cards for me.  That maybe I was going to live my life slightly disappointed, never feelIng that ultimate sense of happy.  Listening to Anna Nalick’s Shine on repeat… hoping that at some point I would “stop following misery’s lead…”

Now, and in this moment, I can 100% say… that I am on the road to having it all.  That I love everything that’s going on right now, and that me and my happy are going to create some fabulousness in days, months, and years to come!  Of this, I am 100% certain!

I am a believer in the Law of Attraction.  (Wait… don’t click elsewhere!  This is important!)  Everyone has their belief system, and this one has just resonated with me for years.  What it means is that I put my desires out to the universe (some call this prayer) and I wholeheartedly expect them to come back to me in the form I’ve requested or in a state that is even better than I could have ever imagined…  We all have goals, desires, passions that we wish to achieve.  This is just my way of making them all come true.

Per this law and the power of this beautiful world we live within, I know that my happiness is attracting other happy things in my life…. I’m seeing it every day.  Frankly, it’s all around me.  LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE, after all….

Whether it was that night a few weeks back when I had an opportunity to hear Lionel Ritchie at Red Rocks (yes, that happened!)

Happy | No Thanks to Cake

The fact that I won a HUGE contest at work last week.

I still need to tell y’all about this!

Happy | No Thanks to Cake

Or that I’ve got to spend a lot of time lately with some of my favorite people…

Race re-caps coming soon!

Happy | No Thanks to Cake

Happy | No Thanks to Cake

All of this is a result of my renewed attitude and is generating even more fabulous things in my life.

I’m finding myself surrounded by people that smile more often than ever before… by people that share interests who are sincerely warm, kind, and good-natured… and by people that make me laugh and be ever-so-grateful for this life that I’m living.

I usually write about weight loss on Mondays, but today, folks… this topic seemed more important.  Everyone needs an effervescently happy post on Monday, right?

In the end, I definitely feel like a room without a roof… and I absolutely know that happiness is the truth.

I can’t help it.  I won’t apologize.  And, gosh… I hope you all are too!  xoxo

What makes you happy?

Related posts:

Independence Day

This day means a lot of different things to different people.  There’s so many wonderful ways to celebrate.  Let’s talk about traditional celebrations to start….

Something I won’t see this year….

BTW:  There won’t be any fireworks in Colorado this year… and I speak for all the Coloradoans when I say, I’m perfectly fine with that.  There’s too much fire devastation going on here.  To all my neighbors if you follow one rule this year, please follow this one.

We also have to think of these guys…

I also can’t help but think of all the men and women that fight for our freedom on 4th of July.  They do so much to keep us safe every day and to make the world a better place.  Thank you to each and every one of you who put your life at risk to make sure that mine is not in danger.

Happy Birthday, America.  You look SO good at 236 years old, and I have faith that you’re going to continue to get better with age.  So beautiful.

Another Guy that I think of on the 4th of July is this one… he’s exactly 230 years younger than you, America.  I just love him to pieces.

Happy Birthday to the Small Boy! My handsome nephew is turning 6 today!

Overall, I like to equate independence day with celebrating life, celebrating summer, and celebrating this fantastic country we live in.  Ironically, I used to also associate it with eating a burger and a hot dog, a heaping pile of pasta salad, and whatever dessert I could get my hands on.

Now, I associate this day with treats that look more like this. (Source)

Today, I’ll spend my morning at another Spin/Yoga class, celebrating my FREEDOM from 79 lbs that I used to carry on my frame.  Despite being in pain for 3 days, I’m going back again for some additional sweating because I am FREE to choose to do so.

February 2006 – Meeting Hayden

Oh, if you were to say that I would have been heading to a spin class on a holiday, I can honestly say I would have laughed at you.  See, at this time last year, I was still sedentary and trying to avoid working out by all means.  The last thing I would have done was to wake up at dawn to get to a workout class.  That‘s too early for this girl on a day off, I would have said.  Since the light bulb went off though, it’s all changed.

If you haven’t yet made the decision to get healthy… I ask WHY!??!?

January 2009 – Las Vegas

 

If I had known then that I would feel as amazing as I do now, I may have started this journey sooner.  I would have started eating right and working out sooner.  I would have started putting me first more often… and honoring my body sooner.

This year, I can’t help but celebrate my independence from my previously unhealthy life.  It’s one of my most prized possessions and it deserves a day in its honor.  For me, it’s November 1, 2010 which was my first day on Jenny Craig… but yours could be today.

So, you eat a lot of fast food.  So, you’re 20-100 pounds overweight.  So, you have a family that likes to eat junk food.  So, you’ve been on every diet and have had minimal success. So, you think it sounds hard.

Honestly, so what.

December 2011 – Family Christmas

My challenge to you is to celebrate today as YOUR Independence Day:  the day you decided to free yourself from your food demons and your weight loss barriers.  I can’t promise that it will be easy, but I can promise you that you will never EVER regret making the decision to head down this path, making better choices, or going to the gym for 30 minutes.

Today is a day for us to honor those that give their lives for our freedom.  If they’re willing to do all of that, don’t you think you need to fight equally hard for yourself and your health?

June 2012 – Las Vegas

Think about it.  If you’re not convinced, revisit it later today.  I promise you, you’re worth it.  Trust me… it’s worth it.

Please know that I don’t say what I say here to be harsh; instead, I say it because I want you to feel wonderful, to have good health, and to conquer obesity.

I’m not the only one celebrating my independence today.  My current independence is from the 79 lbs. I used to carry around every day.  How many pounds are you FREE from today and do you ever regret declaring YOUR INDEPENDENCE?

Related posts: