There’s a storm coming. Each and every week for most people. We spend Monday through Friday in “go, go, go” mode and, if we’re lucky, we get to take a deep breath on the weekend before we rush back out into the fray. Wouldn’t it be wise to bundle up first? Maybe take some precautions to be sure you’re ready for the madness that will inevitably ensue? Not doing so would certainly seem like a foolhardy, perhaps even irresponsible act. After all, when it snows you don’t throw on your bathing suit, right?
OK, enough with the metaphors. This is a website aimed at helping you move, eat, think, feel, and live healthier – not a meteorological community.
Today I simply want to cover the idea of proper preparation for the week ahead. More specifically, food-wise. And instead of merely handing out advice, I want to offer some actual tools that I use with my clients to help them build successful habits and create real change.
Fast food fallacy
I get it, you’re busy. You don’t want to eat that double cheeseburger and fries, but you’re pressed for time. Or you thought at least you could get the salad, thinking it’d be a healthier option – until you realized it had more sugar than the large soft drink you originally wanted! MAN!! All due to a crazy schedule.
I have yet to come across someone who has all the time in the world. Most of the problems I help solve with my clients stem from them simply being too busy. Face it, most of us are stuck in a lifestyle that forces us to be reactive rather than proactive. We feel as if we are merely along for the ride when we should feel like we controlling the show. As a matter of fact, we should feel like we’re the maestro, conducting the symphony that is our life. But hey, I aim high.
Living a reactive lifestyle forces you to be at the mercy of not only your schedule, but also that of your boss, spouse, children and possibly even your pet. With that in mind, it’s understandable why people make quick stops into fast food restaurants. I would rather most people do that than to have their blood sugar bottom out while picking up Foo-Foo from the vet on the way to get Mr. Ripplebottom’s dry-cleaning before you drop your kids off at soccer practice. But still, there’s gotta be a better way.
P P P P P
It’s a saying we’ve heard since grade school; Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. It made sense then and it makes sense now. But how do you apply it to your current routine? How can you possibly make any more free time? Here’s where you pick up a little responsibility and run with it. It starts with being aware.
Throughout your day, be aware of how you’re spending your time. You can do this mentally, by simply thinking “what am I doing, does this help me towards my goal or am I wasting time?” Or you can do this with a pen and paper by writing down how you spend your time. There are even apps like TimeTune and Any.do to help you plan, organize and track your productivity.
The process of tracking your time is beneficial to those who constantly find themselves questioning where the day has gone or how other people can get so much more done. It’s not a necessity for everyone, but certainly can help you identify where you can actually free up some time in your day. I’m fond of saying that everyone that has ever lived, from Michael Jordan to Michelangelo, all had the same amount of time in their day as you do now. Many times, they just had better time management.
I’ve got time, now what?
Once you’ve identified where you can free up small chunks of time, we can get down to business. If you’re completely new to healthy eating, I have a few small handouts that I frequently give to new clients. One is called the 21 Super Foods Checklist and it serves as a beginning shopping checklist. The other is titled Proteins, Fats, and Carboyhydrates. It’s slightly bigger and breaks down numerous foods into their macronutrient category, which can help you to better prepare a healthy, balanced meal.
Just as it’s important to know when you’ll be able to make you’re food, it’s equally important to know what food you’ll be displaying your culinary excellence upon. I highly encourage you to take some time and create a shopping list, using the tools above and by adding in some personal, healthy favorites. Don’t go to the grocery store all willy nilly. Have a game plan. Get in, get out. It’s proven that the longer you stay in the store, ANY store, your likelihood to buy more increases dramatically.
Time, Check. Food, Check. Now?
Now that you’ve identified when and what you’re cooking up, it’d be a good idea to track you’re eating habit. Just as you did with your time earlier, there are many options. It’s best to start with either the old fashioned pen and paper or a food tracking app like My Fitness Pal, LiveStrong, or Lose It. As far as feedback, they’re all the same to me – some good, some bad but they get the job done. Once you’ve gained a good understanding of calories and macronutrient amounts, you can generally keep track mentally, though this tactic can take time to develop.
One last handout I’ll offer is the Three Day Dietary Record. It’s simple and it allows you to write down and see what you eat, which can sometimes lead to a shocking revelation.
At the end of the day, don’t use your food journal as a means of judgment. You didn’t do “good” or “bad.” You simply want to focus where you excelled and what you can improve upon. Don’t attach morality to it. It’s just like the scale, a simple way to track your results and become aware of whether what you’re doing is working or if you need to make adjustments.
Now go get your jacket, umbrella and suit of armor and tell next week that you’re prepared!