Have you ever had some of your favorite low-quality foods staring you in the face day after day? The temptation to consume those foods hour after hour drains your willpower battery. Before you know it, you’re elbow deep in a bag of chips when you started the day with the best of intentions.
We only have so much willpower. Automating decisions and lowering the options for each decision will help preserve precious mental energy. If you have a zillion different breakfast options to choose from in the morning, over a dozen outfits with different accessories, a debate over what to pack the kids for lunch, and a scattered morning routine (whew!), you are sure to feel zapped before you arrive to work or drop the kids off to school (or both).
The strategies I suggest for my clients include planning and organizing their fridge, pantry, and counter tops in a fashion to promote success and healthy eating.
Taking the time to plan your meals will help you from spending unnecessary energy deciding what to eat at each meal.
You may have objections to meal planning when you first begin.
“This takes more time.”
“I don’t know what I will want to eat.”
“I planned my day, but I didn’t feel like eating what is on the menu.”
“I am always on the go; I can’t plan my meals.”
These thoughts try to reinforce your old ways. Change is difficult. I promise that with effort and persistence, you can create a new routine that will someday become as effortless as the current one.
Planning will take more time at first. You have been eating differently- and are not thrilled with the results- for some time. It is unlikely that a routine you’ve been doing for years will come undone in 24 hours with minimal effort. I suggest to clients to skip the gym one day during the first week- yes, skip the gym! Take the time you would use to commute to the gym, workout, and travel home to plan a menu for the week. No need to complicate things with multiple menus. Create one menu and prepare food for that menu and have the same meals for an entire week. It is perfectly ok to have the same meals for one week. You’ll want to focus on the variety of food over time and be less concerned with variety day to day. Too much variety each day can lead to an overwhelmed feeling. More choices are not always better!
If you don’t go to the gym or a place of exercise (yet!), carve out the time by sacrificing your favorite TV show or social media time or phone time with a friend to make a plan for the day. Give yourself ample time- at least one hour- so you can relax and focus.
Look around your home to see what obstacles stand in your way. Your home should be your safe place. Consider the thoughts you may have that will sabotage your efforts to get things in order.
“I have kids, and they have to have this food in the house.”
“My husband wants these things.”
It is understandable that your kiddos will want a few extra items that may not be the most macro friendly. I would attempt to get things that are not personal trigger items. For me, those are items that include trail mix or certain cereals (I love you, Cinnamon Toast Crunch.) I’ll let Nolan choose a cereal that I’m not crazy about and snacks that aren’t insanely tempting like cheddar flavored popcorn. Then, I put those items out of plain site.
I use the same technique in the fridge or freezer. The macro friendly/ nutritious items sit front and center. I will cut and clean veggies and fruit, so they are ready to go. Ice cream and the like sit in the back of the freezer. If you have a significant other that won’t get on the healthy eating bus with you, ask them to put their items out of plain sight for you, so you don’t know they are present.
Soon, you’ll be craving nutrient dense foods over the low-quality items. You’ll start to like how you feel- you’ll be satisfied on fewer calories, often less bloated from watching your overall calorie intake, and providing your body with vitamins and minerals on a regular basis. The increased energy you will feel and the motivation you’ll get from seeing physical changes will help build momentum. Momentum is everything with transformations!
I used to feel incredibly guilty if I discarded food that was not expired. If this food item is a trigger for you and causes you to overeat on a regular basis, it’s more beneficial to waste the food in the trash. I have a hard time donating or disposing of anything that is still in working order as well. Letting go of items that no longer serve a purpose to me is a skill I have acquired to free up my personal space and maintain desirable eating habits.
Put this into effect ASAP and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much easier it is to reach your fitness goals.