You don’t have to work in Corporate America for very long before you hear about preparation and planning, right? We’ve all heard the quote by Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” And I’m sure that you would agree that this applies to all areas of our lives. So how do you prepare for health?!?
To my clients, I suggest that they create a weekly plan the week or weekend prior. It should include all meals, snacks and beverages. If you leave that to happenstance, then you limit your options, thus diminishing the opportunity for success. We all know how the common story goes…
You can barely get going Monday morning from all the running around you did on the weekend, so you reach for immediate ENERGY…coffee loaded with sugar and any sweets you can get your hands on, that sugar will fuel your brain for now and get you going!
A couple of hours later you’re sluggish and hungry again…you roam around the office to see what you can find to eat (because, of course, you didn’t take anything for yourself…you didn’t have time!). You have not one, but two donuts with the extra cup of coffee you’ve poured yourself.
Finally lunch rolls around and you’re ravenous! Where’s everyone going for lunch? Who knows? Maybe pizza, burritos, burgers with fries and a milk shake, Chinese buffet? But whatever it is, you’re not holding back, you’re starving!
You come back to the office, waddling in, and in the next hour, you find yourself fighting the urge to fall asleep; you’re miserable. You’ve got to have more coffee so you can get some work done!
A few hours later, you’ve hit the afternoon slump…maybe more coffee AND one of the cookies someone brought in because you didn’t have dessert at lunch.
Whew! You made it through the day! Now, what’s for dinner? Dinner?!?!? You’re exhausted! Who wants to think about dinner? You get take-out and snuggle up in your PJ’s in front of the TV, too tired to even think about moving.
And now you’re definitely too tired to think about the rest of the week. Anyway, you blew it today, so maybe next Monday!
Sound vaguely familiar? Maybe your story isn’t so bad, you think. Maybe yours is filled with black coffee, skim milk, artificial sweeteners, granola bars, frozen meals, diet sodas, microwave popcorn, pretzels, etc., but in reality, it’s still missing so many nutrients, and you’re still lacking so much energy!
Many of us, being professionals, are aware of the value of automation. It certainly saves time and can often save money, as well. The same is true in our personal lives. Our brains are limited to the amount of decisions that we can make in a day, especially if those decisions involve will-power and self-control. Our brain is like a muscle, easily exhausted, so it only has a finite amount of resources before we drain it completely during a given day. The more we have to decide, the more we drain our brain and will-power. The solution? Make ONE or a few KEY decisions that will help you to achieve your goals, so that you can avoid having to make hundreds of decisions each day, which often leads to the same frustrated feeling of lacking self-control, while never achieving your goal(s) in the end. It's all about upgrading your routines. If you've already decided what your routine will be on a weekly basis, it’s much easier to just stick to that and be done with it! No mind-games, no questioning, no excuses, JUST DO IT!
Keys to Successful Preparation:
Make it a routine to set aside at least an hour to prepare for the week ahead. Think about it, if there are 168 hours in a week, of which you are probably awake for 112 of them, one hour of planning is less than 1% of all of the week’s time awake, a small investment to your health. Wouldn't you agree?
The planning session should include a review of your schedule, to carve out exercise time, selection of all meals and beverages, selection of recipes, creation of shopping list (including a review of current inventory), and preparation time.
Exercise time: blocking out the time(s) of day you will work-out.
Meal-plan: includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, two snacks and beverages for all days. If you can repeat meals, it will definitely save time, so get used to leftovers!
Recipes: getting the recipes needed to make the meals, whichever way you prefer: paper, book, online. If you like to work from your iPad when cooking, take a picture of the recipe from the book, if that helps to simplify it for you. Visit my Learning Tools page for some great cookbooks. I also like the following smart device apps: Garden Plate (FREE), Forks Over Knives, and My Eclectic Kitchen.
Shopping: reviewing your recipes, check your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer first, then create a list of needed items, categorizing by sections in the store (Produce, Bulk, Canned, etc.). There are some really useful apps out there that help to make this chore much easier to tackle! The FREE app Food Planner provides one place for meal-plans, recipes, shopping lists, and even inventory.
NEVER go food shopping without a list! You will almost always get what you don’t need and not get what you need! Stay away from the inside aisles of the store as much as possible. Most of the healthy foods are all in front, where the produce is.
Preparation time: creating a schedule to prepare for the meals. It’s so much easier to cook throughout the week if you cut up all the ingredients on the weekend! My husband and I cook most of our meals on the weekend and package them in containers for work so all we have to do is grab and go! It’s also very important to wash produce as soon as you get home and store it in the refrigerator properly. There’s nothing worse than spending all that money on healthy food then throwing it away because it spoiled! Besides, if the snacking vegetables and fruits are already washed and chopped, you’ll be more likely to eat them when you’re hungry!
I hope that you'll create your own "easy button" by automating healthy habits and simplifying your routines for a HEALTHY LIFESTYLE that works!
Do you have any helpful tips or tools for our community of healthy professioals? Please be sure to share them by leaving your comments below. I look forward to learning from your suggestions!