I credit a lot of my success with maintaining a healthy lifestyle with planning ahead. I generally have an idea of what meals and snacks I’m going to eat the next day, based on my recent cravings and what’s seasonal and fresh. I also take into account what my schedule will be like and if I’ll have any limitations as to where and when I can eat. Will I be able to keep my food in the fridge or will it be sitting out all day? Will I be running from work to an appointment to the gym?
Every night, I pack myself enough snacks in case I get hungry and a healthy lunch. I have the most adorable lunch bag that I love toting with me, which helps get me excited about packing my food for the day. In the summer, lunches generally include a light, summery salad that incorporates veggies, healthy fat, a good amount of protein, and some whole grains as well, and fruit for dessert. In the winter, I tend to make healthy stews and casseroles (that have veggies, carbs, protein, and healthy fat) that I can freeze and bring to school so that I can mix and match throughout the week. Snacks often include apple slices with cheese or peanut butter (I stock up on Justin’s Nut Butter packets or keep a jar at school), greek yogurt with a little cereal and nuts, cottage cheese with fruit or veggies, or carrots and bell pepper strips with hummus. I’m also going to experiment with Larabars and trail mix this year, although I’ll only have a supply of one at school at a time so that I can’t binge on them.
In terms of dinner, my husband and I pick out tasty recipes each week and shop for those ingredients. We take into account what ingredients are on sale, if we’ll have a lot of time to make dinner that night, and any social plans we have. If we know that we’ll be getting home late one night without much time to prepare dinner, we pick a slow-cooker recipe for that night and prepare it the night before so that when we get home, dinner is already made and waiting for us. By planning ahead, we never find ourselves without a dinner idea. Knowing what’s coming up makes us excited for all of the dinners throughout the week.
I truly believe that if you plan ahead, it’s much easier to avert disaster. It’s no fun to find yourself starving with no healthy options. For that reason, I always carry a small pack of almonds, a bit of dried fruit, or a Larabar in my purse. When in a real pinch, supermarkets are a good place to find healthy eats. I try to keep some plastic silverware in my car and at work for that reason.
Another thing I plan for is exercise. Every night I pack my gym bag with sneakers and some exercise clothes and bring it with me to work. I go straight to the gym after work before I can find any excuses for myself. If I were to go home in between work and the gym, it’s easy for me to get comfy at home and then forgo the gym for the day. Making gym dates with a friend is another good way to make sure you get yourself to the gym. I have a friend who I tend to only see at the gym, so I get excited for our dates. I also have found a couple classes at the gym that I wouldn’t dream of missing, such as Body Pump and spinning. I also have a killer workout playlist on my iPod that keeps me motivated once I get to the gym and several (six!!!) magazine subscriptions to keep me entertained at the gym. Healthworks always has a couple movies playing to pass the time at the gym when I’m on the treadmill or the elliptical. Basically, I’ve made the gym a sacred place for me to decompress and unwind after a long workday at school.
Planning takes time and practice. It might not be easy at first, but it has become part of my daily routine. When you have all the tools you need to ensure you stick with your plan and healthy lifestyle, it makes it so much easier to be successful.