“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” – Benjamin Franklin
When we’re looking to create a new healthy habit (or get consistent with one that shows up only a couple times a month) most of us are truly seeking one or more of the following results:
• A change to our body
• Self Confidence
• Less daily stress!!
• More energy
• Improved productivity, mental clarity or mood
• Ditching any unwanted habits
• Consistency in healthy habits that feels effortless!
Before we dig into how weekly meal planning sets us up for success and can check off many of the above boxes, I have a very important message.
If you are wanting to make any type of healthy change in your life- it needs to come from a deeper place than vanity. Simply saying:
“I want to lose weight…”
“I need to stop eating bad foods…”
“Appetite control is a discipline I need!”
Is not going to work!
I want you to take a big step back and hear me. That is our societal conditioning talking, not your body. You are beautiful. You are amazing. And you are always doing the best you can.
Stepping into self-care and nourishment is a wonderful accomplishment and, yes, it takes work. But it shouldn’t feel like a punishment for the body you have now! Let that sink in. Remember the reasons outside of a certain weight goal that you are looking to form new habits.
If your meal planning routine becomes “diet-like” and is founded on restriction, guilt, fear of food, and over-obsession with “getting it right”, you will ultimately fail. You will miss the various other amazing benefits meal planning has to offer, and you will likely not stick with it.
When it comes to making lasting changes, the most difficult part seems to be consistency and planning. Most people start out doing great, being committed and organized. Then, one thing happens that throws them off track a.k.a LIFE and meal prep is no longer a part of their routine. How do I know this? Because I have been there myself.
I get it, meal prep does take time and organization but what it really comes down to is your mindset. You have to be okay with having to incorporate an extra step into your day or week. Change, unfortunately, is uncomfortable and is not always easy. Sure it would be nice, but if you’re set on changing the way you eat (or changing anything in your life for that matter) you have to plan for your success.
Meal Planning can be fun, help your body find balance and it will make you feel good. The more we celebrate our consistency and non-weight accomplishments, the happier we will be!
Let’s Dig into six empowering results you can experience from meal planning.
1. You Will Perform Better
So many of us are out of sync with our appetites and metabolisms. Hands up, if you sometimes rush to work on just a sugar filled coffee to realize you’re starving by 10 am? When your colleague runs to Starbucks, it’s all too tempting to grab a sugary pick-me-up of some kind. I’m all for a treat now and then, but at 10 am on a Tuesday, all it’ll do is give you a sugar spike, and when your sugar levels drop an hour later, you won’t be feeling so great. Irregular meal timing can make us crave unhealthy foods more often, it can impact our sleep quality, and it can fog our brain clarity.
Instead, a light breakfast like a bowl of overnight oats or a protein filled smoothie will set your brain up for a productive morning (fact- the brain works off glucose. It needs good food to work effectively). A midmorning snack of protein-loaded hummus and veggie sticks will nourish you nicely until lunchtime, empowering you to conquer everything on your to-do list that day!
After a weekend of heavy eating or drinking, it’s easy to feel guilty or anxious about getting back to ‘healthy eating’ on a Monday. If you’ve overdone it over the weekend, guilt, shame and punitive restricted eating are only going to reinforce those overindulging and restricting cycles.
Your body still deserves a nourishing Monday morning, no matter what happened the night before.
If meal prep is a normal part of your lifestyle, the anxiety of ‘getting back on track’ is destroyed.
Continue checking in with yourself to make sure you feel balanced and in moderation with your food choices, not in restrictive guilty diet-mode. Of course, there’ll be treats per week, but as part of a balanced lifestyle.
3. Kitchen Confidence
For those of you who were like me and are thinking that meal planning and fancy recipes will never be your thing because you burnt oatmeal last week… take a deep breath. If the kitchen is NOT your comfort zone, I hear you!! I know it’s possible to change those mindsets because I have done it myself! I could barely boil water in my early 20’s and now I love to cook, and my life is so much better for it.
Simple one pan recipes are a great way to start- veggies and lean cuts of meat with some spices are super easy and quick to make. Just throw everything on one pan, in the oven and VOILA dinner is served!
If you have a favorite meal you always order when going out, why not have a go at making it as a treat on a Friday evening? The feeling when you sit down to a dish you’ve lovingly made yourself is like no other. I guarantee you all the feel-good feelings of joy and accomplishment.
Before you know it, you will have a roster of go-to recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner! You’ll find yourself putting your own spices on things, mixing up the ingredients slightly, and even experimenting with your own creations!
4. Eliminate Hump Day Burnout
Isn’t it interesting how even if we work on the weekends, there is still something about that Monday through Friday energy that feels like grind time? So, let’s work with that!
Our brains are constantly working. Our decision-making capacity works thousands of times each day, and usually by Wednesday our mind is ready for a break. Maybe why many of us experience that mid week slump finding it more difficult to get up and go to the gym or make dinner and way easier to pick up the phone and order a pizza.
Getting up every day to a ready breakfast, packed lunch, and snacks for work means no mad scramble in the morning and no stressing about what to have at lunchtime, leaving you with energy to spend on more important things. Getting in from work and defrosting a healthy, nourishing stew for dinner leaves you way more time to spend your evening how you want. And, don’t forget the most important factor: Meal prepping means fewer dishes.
5. Save Money!
Eating healthy tends to get a bad reputation for being overly expensive. But meal prepping saves money because you can buy ingredients in bulk, freeze extra food for later, and most importantly, spend less money ordering takeout. A fancy salad from the work canteen can set you back $10 a day! If you plan and prep your meals, you’ll save over $1000 per year (which is an actual statistic btw). That’s a fancy weekend staycation or a reasonable deposit on a dream family holiday!
6. Your Body Will Thank You.
Health isn’t about what you look like; it’s about how you feel. A week of home-cooked nourishing meals will take you into the weekend feeling good in your own skin (and your jeans!) with more energy (and cash) to spend it how you want.
When you change your mindset from it being a dreaded thing you have to do to this is an investment for your health you will find enjoyment in doing so. While you’re at it, play your favorite music or podcast, have a glass of wine or tea or whatever you’re into. Make the experience pleasurable and you’ll associate meal prepping with pleasure every time. (Yes, a little psychology goes a long way)
Even if meal prep feels like a chore at first, like all disciplines, you’ll get more motivated when you start to see results. Remember to celebrate your progress, not perfection. Start simple and build from there. When you find a recipe you love to make, you’ll get more inspired. And meal planning will become a habit just like any other – one that will do wonders for your health, confidence and make you feel empowered!
Now aren’t those extra couple hours of planning time a week worth it??
Which of these results is most appealing to you? I’d love to hear!