“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
By learning to plan, you are learning to empower yourself for success. Quite simply, it stacks the odds in your favor. Below are three quick and easy ways you can begin to do just that and reap the benefits planning will provide.
PLAN YOUR MEALS
Here is the “why” of this crucial step: it gives you a framework for your meals during a set period of time; it takes the guess work out of what you are going to eat; and guess work can often lead to poor food choices.
Knowing what you are going to be eating naturally segues into step 2 of your planning,
deciding what you are going to be buying (the list)!
This is a great opportunity to pull out the new recipe book you recently purchased (or dust off the old one) and find a healthy dish you would like to try.
It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate; jot the items down that you will need, and thus you have already started your list.
Many people fear that having a meal plan restricts their choices. Fair enough that on Monday afternoon you may not know what you will be in the mood to eat for dinner on Thursday.
Flexibility is easy to achieve when planning your meals in advance. If you are shopping for the next four days, decide on four breakfasts, four lunches, and four dinners. If you snack twice during the day, you will need to get enough for eight snacks.
This will allow you more “in the moment decisions” about what you are going to eat. You are assured of having all the ingredients you need on hand, while also having the great benefit that your meals will be healthy, nutritious and ultimately support your weight loss goals.
Helpful tip: Break up the meal planning into smaller segments, especially in the beginning. It is much easier to plan three days worth of meals than a whole week.
Also, if you shop several times a week, you can be certain of getting the freshest produce and reduce the risk of spoilage!
PLAN YOUR LIST
This task now becomes quite easy because it will naturally follow from your meal plan!!
Make the list, and stick to it. If you forget to write something down, don’t just “grab” it in the store. Actually add it to your list — even if you are already in the store.
It may sound “silly” or trite, but psychologically it will shift your mindset to knowing that if it is not on the list, it is not going in the cart!
Having a list will significantly decrease the chances of “emotional shopping”, which in turn significantly increase your success!!
PLAN YOUR SHOPPING!!
Once the list is done, pick a day and a time that you are going to shop.
ALWAYS eat prior to shopping. Plan for this!! Everyone (even the healthiest people) knows that it can be the “kiss of death” to walk into a grocery store hungry, yet we are all guilty of it at one point or another.
Get in the habit of going to the grocery store immediately after eating. Eliminating hunger from the equation will allow you to stay focused on the task of shopping from your list.
If you are hungry, the foods that will sing to you are the foods that will not support your long term goals.
It is the sugary, processed foods that will practically jump off the shelf by themselves, calling your name as they do it.
The likelihood is high that it will be more than one or two “unhealthy choices” that end up in the cart, and in these moments it is the hunger driving these decisions.
Helpful tip: If possible, avoid shopping on Sundays. Most grocery stores get new deliveries on Mondays, and usually the pickings are slim when it comes to fresh produce as the week goes on, especially the weekends.
If you shop twice a week, Mondays and Thursday will give you the best selection and the freshest meats, vegetables and fruits. And if it’s once a week, Monday or Tuesday is the day you want to shoot for!!
Plan your meals; plan your list; plan your shopping. All these things will start to establish a pattern, and following this pattern will start to engrain these behaviors as habit.
Establishing healthy habits will increase your success over the long term, and that is, after all, the ultimate goal of any healthy weight loss strategy.
As with any new endeavor, perfection is not necessary for success. Especially if this approach is completely new for you, it may take several tries before your figure out what works best for you, in your life.
The most important thing is you keep at it. Create the plan and you create the power… Plan to succeed!!