Yesterday was my first day back in the office after being off for 18 days. I really enjoy being able to take time off around Christmas. It gives me plenty of time to enjoy things that I normally don’t have time to do. I was determined this weekend that I would make every attempt to stick to my eating plan this week by planning. So late Sunday afternoon, I was able to prepare almost everything for the week. I cut all my fruits and veggies to snack on or that would be used later in the week to cook something else. I also fixed my oatmeal for the week. I used to do this every week but then for some reason I stopped. As determined as I was Sunday afternoon, I was also dreading it. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking “It’s going to take me 3 hours to get everything done. I could be doing a lot more stuff with these 3 hours”. And then after preparing everything I looked up and it had only taken about a hour – I was SURPRISED!!!
For anyone who knows me, I am a planner! I love to plan any events, meals, etc. But for some reason, pre-planning healthy food choices had slipped off my radar. When I woke up Monday and was packing my breakfast and lunch, it was so much easier to just grab my pre-made baggies full of veggies and fruits. I actually left the house 8 minutes earlier than I’m suppose to. Now it makes sense why I was always running a few minutes behind in the mornings. I am a morning person but for some reason I kept leaving 4-5 minutes later than I was suppose to and it was driving me crazy! So yesterday I actually gained 12-13 mins just for prepping my food on Sunday. In 5 days that 60-65 minutes gained, so it balances out with the time I sat aside for Sunday! That was encouraging to realize! And throughout the day I wasn’t worried about not having enough vegetables or fruits. Or am I eating too much of something else. I had everything planned and it felt great!
Some people may disagree, I don’t expect everyone to agree, but I believe that planning was a major key in my weight loss journey before. I can pin the exact 2 weeks I stopped planning because that is when the weight came on a little quicker. I hadn’t made the connection until last night. I knew this week what meals I had plan – just not the order of them – and I was thinking about how long it had been since I planned a week – and mentally/emotionally my mind has shifted back into a positive way for my weight loss journey.
I think the key to planning that people miss is to be flexible. If you plan BBQ Chicken for Monday night but you end up with another healthy choice, it’s okay! The fact is you just did a balance substitute! Instead of thinking “Oh since I can’t have BBQ Chicken I’m going to mess this up”. No – just make healthy choices. I remember one day I brought this beautiful piece of grilled mango chili chicken breast for lunch and placed it in the fridge at the office. The outlet in the wall stopped working and when it was lunch time my chicken was ruined. I remembered thinking, “it’s okay, I will just find a grilled chicken salad.” The salad was a healthy choice and so nutrition wise, things were about even. I hadn’t realized how far back I allowed my thought process to slide until this week. Now with this “tool” added back to my weight loss plan I think my journey is going to take off again.
I wanted to share some of the things that helped me start planning my snacks and meals for a work week and how I was able to get everything done in around a hour. I base my planning on 3 meals a day and 3 snacks a day = 15 meals and 15 snacks.
1. Make a list of 5-10 breakfast ideas, snacks, lunch ideas and dinner ideas – this way you have the list in front of you and you can see what each one takes. These lists will help you with meal planning each week. You will know what you would like with each one and may even buy in bulk and save a little money
2. Pick out Dinner ideas that would be great as left-over for lunch or in ways you can use it twice. I’ve baked a chicken and use part of it in a toss salad and used the rest as a meal with veggies – this could possibly be 4 of the 15 meals! Also, for hamburgers, I will pat out however many patties (seasoned) and freeze them until I need them and then cook an extra for lunch the next day.
3. For any fresh produce you bought, cut them all up and place them in a ziplock bag – bell peppers, celery, oranges, cantaloupe, watermelon, etc. The trick is to make each bag a serving. I will go ahead and separate my berries, cauliflower, baby carrots, grapes, etc into bags that way in the morning all I have to do is grab a bag. I don’t cut up apples or anything that will turn colors shortly after cutting until I’m ready to eat it. Then it’s just a “grab and go” in the morning.
*I will normally cut all my fruits and veggies while something is cooking on the stove or oven. I hardly sit during this hour, but in the end I’m happy with the results J
4. If you like to cook dinner each night – go ahead and prep your vegetables because then all you have to do is throw them in whatever skillet/pan – it helps keep me sane sometimes knowing that I have fresh broccoli or onion or carrots ready to go in the fridge.
5. Keep your snacks simple – I normally will do a fruit with yogurt or vegetables with hummus. I keep a container of hummus in the fridge at work, but before we had that, I would get 3-4 very small containers and put a serving in each so I didn’t have to do it every morning.
6. If you are making some type of soup that freezes well, make an extra batch and freeze it in SINGLE portion. Then if you need to grab something, it can thaw until lunch time and then heat it up.
So for anyone else out there who plans ahead or preps food in advance. Do you have any other suggestions or ideas?