Ten Ideas to Help You Plan for Success
By Elizabeth Carruthers, RN MSN CNOR CBN CHHC
No one likes to feel deprived or leave the table feeling hungry. That’s why it is no surprise that Americans are as overweight as ever. Many people who were lean at one point in their lives have put on weight as they age. So any solution to this growing problem should be of great interest to all of us, not just those who are currently overweight.
In the past, too much emphasis has been placed on single factors in our diet, but best results can be achieved by managing all of the factors that play a role in maintaining our weight, like monitoring the amount of exercise we do or what types of food we eat.
People don’t become overweight overnight. Instead the pounds creep on us unnoticed until one day our clothes don’t fit. To curb this tendency of weight gain, we should keep one thing in mind: a well-conceived plan is one of your best allies. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!
It’s easy to prepare and eat 400 calorie meals when you plan ahead, but it’s much more difficult when you dine out or just grab something fast for lunch. You cannot rely on being able to just 'pick something up' on the way or 'fitting in' a workout without having these non-decisions effect your weight loss success in the long run.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid these pitfalls. All it takes is planning and keep in mind, a little planning can go a long way!
1. Keep and Use a Food Diary. What’s your most powerful tool when it comes to losing weight? Forget the bike or the treadmill. It’s a pen. Research shows that people who keep food journals lose more weight than their non-journaling counterparts. A journal can help you keep track of, not only your daily food and fluid intake but your exercise too. A food diary will take away some of the guess work of what should be in your diet.
2. Pack Ahead of Time. Pack and keep your gym bag in the car. Pack your lunch the night before.
3. Buy Your Groceries and Prepare Them Immediately. Cut up vegetables when you get home from the supermarket. Portion out large containers of meats, yogurts, cheeses, fruit, nuts, etc. ahead of time so they’re ready at a moment’s notice.
4. Cook Ahead for the Week. Make several servings of a few health-conscious recipes on the weekend. Then portion the cooked dishes into smaller containers. Utilize your freezer! Make up a menu for the week using these dishes so that all you need to add is a small side of vegetables and a salad each day.
5. Reserve Protein. Keep emergency protein shakes or bars in your work desk, handbag, or car at all times to deter unplanned trips to the snack machine or the drive thru.
6. Dining Out. Make a list of favorite restaurants in your area and the healthy options at each. If someone asks about going out for dinner, take out your list and make an educated decision about where to go.
7. Schedule It. Use your calendar to make appointment times with yourself for exercise, cooking, meal prep, shopping…and do not miss these appointments!
8. Parties. Plan ahead and offer to bring a dish. Be sure it is a healthy dish that fits into your meal plan.
9. Vacations. Make reservations and stay at hotels with a gym, pool, jogging trail, etc. and pack your workout clothes. In addition, utilize ideas # 5 & 6 above while traveling!
10. Holidays. Now that you just went through the holiday season, reflect on what you ate. Decide ahead of timefor the holidays this year, which holiday treats you can give up and which you will savor so you don’t have to make on-the-spot decisions. You can have a chocolate chip cookie anytime…but Aunt Martha’s cheesecake is not to be missed!
So come on! Start planning your very own journey to weight loss success—and get the body and health you know you deserve!
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!