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? 

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Thanking My Rock

I got an email this week from Red Envelope, that made me pause.  They have a new campaign that they are running: #RedGift Thank Your Rock.

Hailey from Red Envelope reached out and asked me if I wanted to take an opportunity to “Thank My Rock.”  That person that has been there through my weight loss process, who is always there when I need someone to lean on.

I could resist participating…. so today, you’re going to hear all about my rock:  My Sister-In-Law Beth.
Thank Your Rock | No Thanks to Cake
I have the best sister-in-law.  I don’t say that lightly… yes, I only have one, but seriously, she’s amazing.
Thank My Rock | No Thanks to Cake
She took the plunge and married my stinky brother back in 1999.  I always jokingly tell her that she got so lucky that day, because she picked me as her sister-in-law as part of the process.  But, looking at our relationship, I completely know that I am the lucky one.
Thank Your Rock | No Thanks to Cake
She is a wonderful wife to my brother, shares my passion for cooking, and is raising the two most adorable Guys I know.  And, she makes it all look so easy… aside from the many loads of laundry she washes. That still scares me.
Thank My Rock | No Thanks to Cake
Even though we’re more than 1600 miles apart on a daily basis, I always have a chance to catch up with Beth.  During my hour plus commute home during the week, my first call is always to Beth.  It gives us a chance to catch up, chat about the kiddos, and ponder about life.
Thank My Rock | No Thanks to Cake
When I first started my weight loss journey, Beth was one of the first people that I talked about it with.  And, REALLY talked about it with.  I always feel like I can tell her anything… and she heard all the nitty gritty details of how I felt.  How the weight felt like it was holding me back, and she witnessed all the tears.
Thank Your Rock | No Thanks to Cake
Beth encouraged me to try the Jenny Craig program, and even joined the program with me.  We lost weight and shared Jenny stories back and forth… and shared recipes!  When I began to eat non-Jenny foods, Beth introduced me to the Weight Watchers cookbooks I love so much…
Thank Your Rock | No Thanks to Cake
This process hasn’t been easy.  I always say that it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, the most valuable change I’ve ever made, and the thing I’m most proud of… and I couldn’t have done it alone.
Thank Your Rock | No Thanks to Cake
You’ve been such an amazing support throughout this entire process and beyond.  I can’t even begin to thank you enough for the countless hours you’ve spent encouraging me, offering suggestions, sharing ideas, and mostly, being you.  
I absolutely know that you came into our lives for a few reasons:  1) To build that beautiful family that you share with my brother, and 2) to be my sister.
I think the world of you and can’t thank you enough.  Love you, mean it!
xoxo - 
Everyone has a rock…. someone who’s there with you, supporting you through life.  Who’s yours?
Disclosure:  RedEnvelope.com did not compensate me for this post.  I just loved their campaign and couldn’t resist participating.

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A Product of My Lifestyle

As usual I am amazed by how much the Fitbloggin experience means to me every year… and how darn different it is every single year.  The faces change.  New voices emerge.  New opportunities for selfies appear. :)

I feel particularly compelled to write about one of my biggest takeaways of the weekend:  A simple phrase uttered by our fearless leader, Roni Noone, who is responsible for the organization of this yearly retreat.  And, who is a stunning example of how to lose weight, keep it off, and rise above the challenges that appear along the way.

On Saturday morning, exhausted and geared up in an 80′s workout getupI stepped into a session called “Life after Goal” with very little expectation.

Realistically, I am not at goal.  I am still about 30 lbs from it, which to me is pretty significant.  So, why in the heck did I have my butt in that room?  I was there because I wanted to listen. 

Everyone wants to be at their goal weight.  Everyone wants to be safely across the finish line.  And, I too have dreamed of being one of those people.

Even moreso, I’m a girl who is amazingly happy in her skin right now.  Even with the extra pounds I carry every day.  Still happy, but I wanted to hear what the group had to say and to see what I might be missing out by not chasing after my goal right now.

Overall, I heard Kelly, Sarah, and Roni talk about how life is several years after weight loss.  I tuned into Roni’s comments most, as I’d never really heard her speak about her journey and frankly, she has such wise things to say.

My Body is a Product of My LIfestyle | No Thanks to Cake

THIS IS SO ME and resonated completely…

My ups and downs all relate back to my lifestyle.  I’m never truly SURPRISED when I gain a pound or two… I can always track it back to a specific week and what did or did not happen during that week.  And, when I’m feeling GREAT, I can also tie that right back to my lifestyle… it’s all interconnected.

And right now, my body with that regained ten pounds is reflective of my lifestyle for the past few months… and I totally own it, rock it, and I’m happier than I’ve been in a year! I’ve been getting out a little more, vacationing without a hyper-critical eye on my food intake, and I’ve been living freely.

For the past week, I’ve been at the beach.  Wearing the same bathing suit that I’ve worn for the past few years… but feeling that extra weight more than normal.  When it’s all out there and exposed, it’s hard to ignore… but I had these words in my pocket to reference.

Rather than jumping into that space where I criticize every bit of my existence, I took a deep breath and remembered.

It’s ok… my body is simply “a product of my lifestyle.” What a kind way to look at the current state!  Shifting my lifestyle will yield the results I am looking for… and I looked at these words as a gentle hug that I needed during this moment of realization/discomfort.  Now, when I start structuring my meals, making it to my mat regularly, and getting the sleep my body craves… I absolutely know that my body will shed the extra pounds.

I don’t see these words as an excuse, simply a confirmation that my mind has been elsewhere… and that a shift will once again bring change.

Take a look at your lifestyle… is your body reflective of your lifestyle?  I suspect it is…

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How Kelly Got Her Groove Back

I’ve shared a few times over the past month or so about my struggles with losing the pesky poundage that decided to reappear over the past 6 months.  You likely read about it here, and here, and even here.

Now, we’ve talked about weight loss before and even simplified it by saying it’s just calories in, calories out.  Eat Less, Move More.  As I struggled for a solid month, I heard a lot of recommendations about how to fix it.  Those logical recommendations that mean nothing to someone struggling with motivation.

And then… it happened. I found my motivation.

Excitement | No Thanks to Cake

Cue the bells, the whistles… sound the alarms… and play the lottery!  

Hot damn, I’m back!

I had looked everywhere for it, and I know how this goes.  There is a level of “fake-it-til-you-make-it” that I employ… you know the drill, where you’re working out on the elliptical trying to pretend you’re having a good time in hopes of actually start having a good time!  But, I still wasn’t enjoying it…

I tried to force myself to “just do it,” but that didn’t work either… and then one day, it happened.  Finally.  After a month of trying to get back on track, I finally was.

In retrospect, I can see clearly what was holding me back and frankly, what took me so long… and I’m going to share my ideas with you here today.

How Kelly Got Her Groove Back | No Thanks to Cake
Power through your Excuses

This one was CRITICAL for me, and most applicable to my lack of motivation to get to the gym.

Often times, I’m like a trial lawyer.  I can argue my case better than just about anyone I know… and I can convince myself that my excuse is valid.

It’s too HOT / COLD / LATE /EARLY.  


In order to move forward, I really had to have a “conversation” with myself about the situation.  I really had to push myself out of my own way.  And mostly, I had to just get there.

Walking back into the gym the first time was the hardest, but since then… it’s been fairly easy.  Sometimes, I still have to trick myself to get there… but I don’t let myself convince myself that it’s a bad idea to go.  It never is.

Pause to Reflect Upon Your Journey

For the past few months, I’ve been a little down on my progress.  I wanted more than anything for that little ticker over there to the left of this post to read 80 like it used to.  Because 80 is so much better than 65.  What???

I took some time to go through pictures of where I was 65 lbs ago, and to reflect upon all the progress that I had so far.  Rather than letting myself get caught up in the numbers any longer, I just wanted to enjoy where I was at.

Before - After | No Thanks to CakeIt took looking through pictures to make me realize that I’m not the girl I used to be (physically) and that my goals are different… but important.  I’m also pretty darn proud of that above picture, so it was a nice reminder!

Don’t Skip the Gym for More than Three Days (unless you’re legitimately injured!)

This is an important guideline:  Once you go past that third day, it makes it even harder to work exercise back into your schedule.  And, if you’re like me, your body forgets how delicious all those endorphins are that you pick up at the gym.  Bottom line:  Don’t go past three days.  Get there.  Make it happen.

Choose a Non-Competitor to Hold You Accountable

In this healthy living world, it is very easy to play the comparison game.  Avoid it at all costs!!!  Find someone that you can count on to hold you accountable, who wants to hear about your healthy day… and share!  I recently started sharing my workout schedule with a guy at work that I know is trying to eat healthier and exercise regularly.  I call him and “check in” on how my workouts are going, and he cheers me on.  I do the same for him.  He is a dad of 4 and has figured out how to spend 2 hours a day at the gym getting it done.  I have zero kids, zero pets, and right now, I don’t even have plants!  If he can do it, I can definitely do it!

While we both have very different lifestyles and fitness goals, we’re both having to  squeeze gym time into our schedules and we’re both getting it done!  He’s the perfect accountability partner for me right now.  (Note to Self:  Must mention this when I speak with him today!)

So, not everyone has this awesome co-worker, but if you’re reading this blog, you probably have some connection to social media.  Consider checking into the gym via social media.  I do every day… it’s my way of “checking the box” as I walk out of the gym.  To me, there’s a strange sense of satisfaction with announcing to the world that I got my workout in.  And, it can’t be any more annoying than the political ads or Candy Crush-related posts.

Quick NTTC Safety Tip:  As a single lady, I always check in as I’m leaving… and not as I’m arriving.  A tip I received from a friend as a way to stay safe.

Reward Yourself… Often

I set up a formal rewards program for my weight loss journey in the very beginning… and I highly recommend doing something similar.  These days, far into my journey I still have rewards, but they’re just little things I want to do.  I feel like I really earn them this way, and it seems like daily there is something I’m working toward!

“If I go to the gym tonight… I can do the laundry tomorrow night instead of tonight.”

“If I eat a healthy dinner and stay within my calorie count… I’ll have just enough calories left for a Skinny Cow ice cream cone.”

“If I finish my meal prep tonight, I can schedule a spray tan this week…”

Consider What You Want Most

When I went to see Jillian Michaels perform a few months back here in Denver, she shared that if you haven’t figured out “WHY” you want to do something you may never get there.  That’s kind of stuck with me ever since.

I have my bigger long term goals of being at a healthy weight, building muscle tone, being physically stronger, and assuring I live a long, delicious life with my future husband.  For me, some of those long term goals seem really far away (for example:  I haven’t even met “him” yet), so I also have more short term goals like fitting comfortably back into my favorite pair of pants.  They fit today, but I’d really like them to fit well again.

So, when I’m considering not going to the gym or maybe driving through at a local fast food joint, I go back to my goals.  And simply ask myself if my momentary actions support my goal.  Most times the answer is an astounding no.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

True Story:  Stuff is going to get in your way.  You’re going to get distracted.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Every day, I get to wake up and start over and try, try again… I firmly know that those cute pants are going to fit well again, and that there will probably be an even cuter pair of pants that I find along the way.

I know that the gym is going to be smelly one day, and I’m going to want to leave.  I might even leave if it smells as bad as it has in the past.  BUT, that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the story.

The key is to JUST KEEP GOING.  With your efforts focused upon your goal, you will get closer every day.  And, life is truly not a sprint, it’s a marathon… you have the time.  You’ll get there.

How do you get your groove back when it’s escaped you?

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