The very first step in making any kind of change in life is knowing what you want and making the decision to achieve it. Without a clear vision of what you want and more importantly, why, you want it, we often fall short of our goals. Once we’ve made the commitment towards a goal, we need a plan to get there. Without a realistic plan, our ideas remain just that-ideas.
It can be awfully frustrating to put in effort towards reaching a fitness or weight loss goal but not see the results. What we need to do is break it down in to bite-size chunks and make it concrete and doable. I don’t know about you, but for me if it is not scheduled on the calendar, it just stays a plan in my head and that causes clutter in my brain and overwhelm about what I “should be doing”. It’s a recipe for sabotage because we’re expecting positive results but not carving out the way to make that possible.
So, like we plan our kid’s schedules or our work schedules, we need to plan our own schedule for fitness and healthy eating. If we can get in to the habit of planning, we are much more likely to succeed. It may seem like a lot of work to plan, but what you will find is putting in the effort of planning upfront brings ease to the rest of our week and a greater chance for success. Our brains respond favorably and it gets easier and easier to make this new habit second nature. This is the recipe for how we can have lasting success.
1. Menu planning-Decide on meals for the week. You probably tend to eat the same meals on a regular basis already. Review those meals and see if they need a “healthy makeover” using more vegetables or healthier oils. Can you make a double batch for the next day’s lunch or dinner or even freeze a portion for the following week? Include healthy snack items for grab and go options. This is a necessity for running out the door with the kids, your commute home from work, or during dinner prep so as to avoid munching on your kid’s leftovers. If nighttime is your biggest temptation, keep a batch of homemade high fiber nut bars on hand (filling!) or some air-popped popcorn with a sprinkle of parmesan or nutritional yeast.
2. Grocery shopping-The next step is to clean out your pantry and fill it with healthy options and ingredients for meal prep. It’s an uphill battle if your kitchen is full of temptation or not filled with foods to support your health. Why tempt yourself with things you wish to avoid (and that do not have any nutritional value)? Go shopping with a grocery list and stick to those items. Make sure you have food at home so you are not dependent on eating out. Restaurant dishes tend to have a lot of hidden calories. Reserve those for special occasions.
3. Cook ahead-Pick a weekend time for food prep for the week. Mine tends to be Sunday afternoon or evenings. Use the menu plan that you created and cook some items in advance-baked eggs in a muffin tin or a veggie frittata, oatmeal or quinoa porridge, cook a pot of beans, lentils, brown rice or quinoa, boil hard boiled eggs, grill vegetables, make a pot of soup, chop veggies for quick stir-frys. Create lunches-my favorite is the salads in a jar which I prep for the whole week. Create small snack bags of raw nuts and dried fruit or chop veggies to keep in the fridge or bring to work for healthy snacks.
4. Have water available wherever you go-keep water bottles available at home and work so you can sip throughout the day. (Remember, the number of ounces you need per day is your weight divided in half.) Add extra flavor with slices of lemon, melon, or cucumber. Make a pot of herbal tea and sip through the day or chill for iced tea.
5. Plan a weekly exercise schedule-I have found it’s easy to rely on the Body Back workouts and “intend” to do other workouts in between but without scheduling exact times to do so, you may get to the end of the week and find that you didn’t complete your other workouts. The key is, make it doable. If your nights are filled with dinner, bath, and stories and you’re ready to pass out the second your kids fall asleep, plan a workout video for first thing in the morning, before they awake or throw them in the stroller for an after lunch walk. If you’re at work during the days, try to fit in a lunchtime walk or if you can manage a yoga class on your way home. Look for fitness classes that offer babysitting. Check out Stroller Strides or Stroller Barre! Plan weekend activities with friends to include a hike or a swim. Make sure to make it doable so you can accomplish your fitness goals!
6. Review your goals-keep a reminder of what your wish to achieve visible so you can remind yourself regularly of why you are making this effort. For some, it may be a photograph of yourself at a healthier weight or a collage of how you wish to live your life-running with your kids, hiking or scuba diving. Maybe it’s pictures of a new wardrobe. Or maybe it’s a perfect medical exam and great lipid panel! Whatever represents the WHY you are working so hard will keep you focused on reaching your goal. Eye on the prize!