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.
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.
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.
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.
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?