I’ve always thought it would be refreshing to live in Europe for awhile, where the notion of weighing and measuring food is preposterous. But the reality of the situation is that we’ve learned bad habits when it comes to food consumption. Some of us eat too little, some too much, some sporadically; some people don’t even know when they’re really hungry or what controlling blood sugar means. So just going to Europe is not the answer. You have to re-learn the bad habits by practicing the new habits.
Meal planning and preparation are going to be instrumental to your success. The “just wing it” food mentality is admirable because it feels like we’re honoring our natural instincts, but the fact is, the lives we lead aren’t exactly what I call “natural.” Without learning how to organize your day with what and when you’ll be eating, you may eat more, pick at snacks all day, or just eat whatever calorie-dense, nutrient-deficient convenience food is available. You don’t have to weigh and measure food your entire life, but you do need a strong starting point to know what works.
Here’s how to plan:
– Review your weekly schedule: Where will you be? How long will you be there? What could disrupt your schedule?
– Plan your meals accordingly: If you’ll be away from home, choose foods that won’t spoil easily. If you’ll be constantly on the run or traveling, choose foods that are also easy to “grab and go” and that travel well. In some cases, you may need to carry a small cooler with you. If you’re on the go often, pack an extra snack or two, just in case. Eating out? Check out the restaurant ahead of time, have a plan for ordering and plan to use portion control. Many restaurants post their menus and nutrition information online so that you can make the wisest choice before you arrive.
– Prepare your meals and snacks: Do as much as you can ahead of time. On Sundays, prepare meals and portion them into single servings so that you may have them for lunch for a few days. You may also consider pre-portioning snacks into baggies, or pre-cutting vegetables for easy steaming.
Don’t look at this as a major ordeal. It’s just part of the process of re-learning the old and adopting the new. It’s not always easy, and it may take some trial and error until you develop a system that works for you, but every client I’ve ever worked with has been successful when they’ve planned and prepared ahead. The ones who didn’t because “it was too hard” or because they didn’t make the time did not make progress. When you were in school and wrote a term paper, you had to do your research and prepare your outline. Think of this in much the same way — your health and your weight loss is your project, and you must commit some time each day to “practice,” to learn and to be successful.
One last point — don’t forget to address the stuff that rolls around in your head and how it might try to sabotage your efforts (“the kids are driving me crazy and I don’t have time to plan” or “I hate my job – I’m always stressed and too tired to plan”). Take your pick, but there’s always going to be something that attempts to get in your way. Be prepared for those roadblocks, and give yourself an inner pep talk.
The more you practice, the better you’ll get, and the easier and more second “nature” this will become. And when you’re wearing your skinny jeans again, you’ll be happy you did it.