As a kid growing up in the scouting movement and with a father who was an avid Scout leader, I was very familiar with the motto: BE PREPARED. In the book Scouting for Boys Robert Baden-Powell explains its meaning: “When you are prepared you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty”.
Like a good Scout, when you prepare your food and workouts ahead of time, the chances of eating poorly or skipping your training are greatly diminished.
Regularly planning and preparing food for the week will help prevent the “OMG I’m so hungry I need food NOW” moments (which usually lead to eating chips, cheese and crackers or whatever quick processed food that is available). Scheduling your exercise and respecting those times like any other important appointment (like a doctor’s appointment), will generally ensure that you make it to the gym. Creating a routine will help with this.
Being prepared doesn’t mean being super regimented and strict all of time. That’s just no fun! And we all know that life has its ups and downs. It’s about having some forethought – a bit of planning so you can make the best choices most of the time.
Here are a few key strategies to help you with your fitness and nutrition prep.
At the beginning of every week (or month) take your calendar and manually write or type in your workouts for the coming week(s). Be descriptive: “Cardio – ½ hour”, “Essentrics class 1 hour”, “Weight training at the gym”, “Training session with Lynne”, etc. Write it down and treat it with the same commitment that you would a medical appointment. Exercise is medicine!
Planning & Preparing
Waiting until you realize your fridge is empty before doing groceries almost guarantees two things. First, you’ll likely eat something processed and quick (ie cookies, crackers, chips) if there’s nothing healthy and easy to prepare in your fridge, and second, that it’s more probable that you will buy something processed and quick (ie cookies, crackers, chips) if you go shopping when you’re starving!
Plan your meals
Sit down for a few minutes and plan your meals for the week. From there make your grocery list.
Sunday Ritual, Evening Ritual and Breakfast Ritual:
- On Sunday (or any other day of the week that works best for you), do groceries and prepare food for the upcoming week. This will help save food prep time during the week and ensure that you have healthy foods ready to eat.
- After shopping, set aside a few hours to mass prepare some food. This would include cooking a large batch of chicken, fish and meat. Hard boiling a dozen eggs. Cutting and chopping various vegetables. Once everything is cooked and ready, you can divide it into individual portions and store it in the fridge or freezer, ready to eat throughout the week.
- Store cooked meats in the fridge or the freezer in individual portions. Be sure to label them “Monday Dinner”, “Wednesday Lunch”, etc. Labeling removes any guesswork and makes it a no-brainer when you open the fridge door and are looking for what to eat.
- For lunches during the week, you can also prepare one large Ziploc bag for each day, and stuff them with a variety of veggies so you have enough for the day. This way you can snack on them right from the bag while you’re at work.
- A GREAT tool to have is a special container from Tupperware called “Fridge Smart”. This is for storing vegetables and fruit in and truly prolongs their shelf life. Once veggies are cut they will spoil more quickly. BUT if you store them in the FridgeSmart container, they will last a lot longer (I’m not a Tupperware representative! Do a Google search to find your local Tupperware lady).
Individual packages of 5oz cooked chicken breast (I will freeze them and take out as needed)
Steamed sweet potato (I will end up freezing some in ½ cup portions)
Raw veggies (peppers of various colors, zucchini) – you can cut up anything you want!
5oz portions of cooked salmon
(I cooked a whole salmon a few days ago.
These are the leftovers that will be frozen and taken out as needed.)
- In the evening (or as you are preparing dinner) prepare your snacks and lunch for the next day. Get into the habit and it will become second nature. Measure out your protein, veggies and fats and put them in individual containers or baggies. If you are going to microwave something at work, place it in a glass container rather than plastic.
- Breakfast can be another time when you prep your food for the day. Get your lunch and snack foods ready from previously prepared proteins and veggies.
Make healthy meals a No-Brainer
The biggest obstacle you’ll face to eating healthy is the time required to prepare the foods. So get all your preparation done in one block of time, and then you’re merely combining the ingredients, heating them and spicing them at each meal occasion. This makes healthy meals a no-brainer.
Don’t make this more complicated than it sounds. It might seem a bit daunting, but once you get started you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to do, and even more amazed by how simple it is to eat healthy most of the time.
With the right planning and preparation, healthy meals are more easily attainable. You just have to take action and make it happen!
In regard to your training: Write It Out. Your workouts will be “prepared” and your chances of doing them will go up.