Meal planning can be a real bitch.   Yeah, it all looks like fun and games when people post their perfectly curated prepped and planned meals on  social media.    But when it comes down to it?   You’re way too busy for that. You get freaked out just thinking about planning. You do way too much of that at work. It’s just another task. You have no idea how to make a week’s worth of meals without spending a shit ton of money or wasting a shit ton of food. You wander aimlessly up and down the aisles with an empty grocery cart wondering what the hell to buy.  Go ahead and stop yourself right there. Because I bet we can find 30 minutes in your jam-packed schedule to make a meal plan, which is going to save you WAY more than 30 minutes during the week.   Yeah, you heard me. 30 minutes. I *believe* this is where I’d insert a #micdrop.   I see the eye rolling. The scoffing. The complete and utter disbelief.   But I also see  you.  Not like in a creeper sort of way, but like an I *know* you and totally understand you kind of way.  You’re tired of spending hours poring over food blogs, cookbooks, Pinterest, and Instagram looking for something you think you  might  feel like eating next Wednesday.  You’ve gotten a little too cozy with easy. And by easy I mean drive throughs, take out, and delivery. You’ve spent more nights on the couch with three boxes of fast food French fries than you’d care to admit.  You feel stressed out trying to piece together meals from totally random and totally unplanned ingredients in your fridge.  So you dismiss this whole eating clean thing as too time consuming and too expensive.   But what if there was an easier way?   Presenting my as-yet-unpatented-but-totally-should-be-but-it’s-almost-too-simple-to-be-patented 30-minute meal plan approach.  Let’s dive in.   Step One: Take note of what’s on sale.   Bust out that grocery store ad (or circular or flyer or whatever you call it in your neck of the woods) and your shopping list because first thing’s first: We’re gonna see what’s on sale, what’s in season, and what looks good.  But what we’re not gonna do is go through that ad with a fine-tooth comb. No, this is not a leisurely meal planning session. This is a gotta-get-it-done-now session. So we’re only going to look at stuff we know we might want to buy.  For example, I usually give only a passing glance to the meat and seafood section, the deli section, the bakery section, the dairy section, and the personal care section. I’ll take a quick peek at the pictures to see what’s on offer, but I’m not spending time here. Instead, I’m diving in to the produce section and perusing the packaged and frozen foods sections.   Once you know what sections you really need to look at, then you can give them a little more attention.    And by that, I mean, look at the fine print. There’s only so much room in that ad, and they can’t put pictures of EVERYTHING. So sometimes you’ve gotta do a little reading.  A lot of deals will be under other deals. Like, right now, I noticed that veggie burgers are BOGO (love a BOGO), but if I look a little closer, under the picture of those veggie burgers and that BOGO logo, I see that some guac is ALSO BOGO. You might not see that if you’re treating the ad like a picture book.  You’re probably thinking this sounds like it takes MORE time. But I promise once you are disciplined and have a trained eye, you can get through your weekly ad browsing in five minutes or less.  Okay, so once you’ve written down all the stuff that’s on sale that you might be interested in buying, it’s on to step two.   Step Two: Consider those sale items.   Now you’ve got a list of sale items –  so what, right?   Think about any meals or recipes that use those sale items. Going back to those veggie burgers and guac, I might make that a lunch one day…a nice veggie burger with a healthy dose of guac and some sliced up tomatoes on top.   If any meals immediately come to mind, go ahead and write those down on your meal plan.   For me, I know that I’d get eight veggie burgers (BOGO y’all), but I’d probably get tired of eating veggie burgers EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. so I’d plan on having them only four days and save the other burgers for another week. (Check me out, saving money.)  Only spend a couple minutes here. Your favorite meals and any sparks of inspiration should be pretty instantaneous after wading through the ad.  If nothing comes up, that’s cool because we’re off to step three!   Step Three: Start picking your meals.   At this point, you’ve got a list of sale items and maybe the makings of a couple meals. Now we’re going to round out those meals.  First, you’ve gotta know how many meals you’re aiming for. I usually plan for four or five meals a day –  breakfast,   morning snack  (or second breakfast…or early lunch),  lunch,  afternoon snack (or second lunch…or, I guess, early dinner), and  dinner.  I don’t always eat all five meals, but, for me, I’d rather be over-prepared.  So, let’s say you’re planning to have breakfast and you know you need seven days of breakfasts. Here’s what you’re gonna do: Pick two breakfasts and rotate them throughout the week.  I like to have  smoothies  and overnight oats, so I know that I’ll need one recipe for overnight oats and one recipe for a smoothie. If I think back to what was on sale, maybe I remember that it’s strawberry season. And I remember a recipe for a strawberry banana smoothie, so I go ahead and pencil those two meals in as my breakfasts for the week.  If you want to take your lunch to work but know that you’re going to be away from your desk a couple days, you might only plan for four or five lunches. (Don’t forget the weekends! Classic rookie meal planning mistake.  And, uh, one I still make to this day, not gonna lie… ) That means you’re also gonna pick two lunches and switch between them. Maybe it’s a salad for a few days and leftovers for a few days. Or maybe it’s a sandwich and soup. Whatever sounds good and doable.   Dinner is where a lot of people get lost. I know I always used to struggle here because I wanted to make dinner, but I didn’t always want to cook when I got home and I didn’t necessarily want to be making something new every night. So I would stick to three different meals here. That way, I’m getting some variety, not having to cook every night if I don’t want to, leaving myself some flexibility for dinner out if I want, and using up some leftovers as lunches, too.   Okay, to recap this step: Decide how many breakfasts, lunches,  snacks,  and dinners you need to plan for. Then, start penciling the meals in to your plan.   Stuck? Not sure what meals you want to make? Not sure what sounds good?  A couple of quick tips here:   Have some go-tos at the ready. These would be meals that you know are winners, that always work, and that are practically no-brainers.  Don’t go for elaborate meals. We’re trying to do this quickly, and thinking through 17 different components does not lend itself to speed.  Don’t get caught up thinking you have to make something new every day. There’s always another week!  Don’t overthink it. Got a protein, carb, and vegetable, along with some fat? You’ve got a meal, my friend.   Save your recipes. This one is a little more organizational, but I like to save the recipes I want to make for the week to my reading list in my browser so I don’t have to look them up every time. Which is also gonna save you time on step four…    Step Four: Make your list.   The hard work is over. This step should be relatively painless, I promise.   Peek back at your meal plan and any recipes you earmarked and start writing down what you need to buy.   I like to go through all my  breakfasts  first, then my  morning snacks,  then lunch, then afternoon snacks, and finally dinner. As I go through each meal and recipe, I write down the ingredients I need and how much.  It’s super important here to take stock of what you’ve already got on hand. Sure, sure, you can always freeze any extra bananas and pantry staples aren’t going to go bad anytime soon, but it’s a money saver, you know?   (But, if you’re just in this to save time and don’t care about doubling up or being overstocked, just keep on building that list, my friend.)   Okay, to sum up: Look at all your meals and recipes. Write down all the ingredients (and the amounts!) you need. Double check to see what you’ve already got on hand so you’re not doubling up. And you’re done.    Step Five: Feel accomplished (but not for too long because you’ve still gotta go grocery shopping and that’s a whole other thing).   There’s really no instructions for this one…I know you know how to feel proud of yourself. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back.  Job well done.   But, honestly, taking the time to make a meal plan (and a grocery list) and doing it in under 30 minutes is something to be proud of. And, the more you do it, the faster you’ll get.  You’ll be an ad-scanning pro. A meal plan master. A list-making fool.     One final note: Just because it’s on your meal plan doesn’t mean you HAVE to eat it. Think of your meal plan as a guide, not a to-do list.   A lot of people get tripped up because they’re super rigid about their plan. That’s not really the point here. The point is to be prepared and have an idea of what you’re going to eat. If something else comes up, if you decide to have lunch with your coworkers, if Thursday night turns in to Date Night, no biggie. Just know you’ve always got a meal plan to fall back on.   Okay, you knew this was coming, but I’m going to say it anyway: Now it’s time to make your plan and list. You’ve got guidelines, you know what you’re doing, now get out there and do it.    Make me proud.   If you’re still tossing and turning, monstrous meal plans taunting you and jeering at you in your sleep, have no fear. I can help you tackle meal planning by working with you 1:1 to give you some accountability, even more tips and resources (like a snazzy meal plan template that I use each and every week), and whole helluva lot of woohooing. If meal planning is something you’ve always wanted to try but you’ve been a little intimidated even though it sounds like something that might make your life easier, step right up and let’s simplify meal planning.  I 'll see you on the inside.

Meal planning can be a real bitch.

Yeah, it all looks like fun and games when people post their perfectly curated prepped and planned meals on social media.

But when it comes down to it?

You’re way too busy for that. You get freaked out just thinking about planning. You do way too much of that at work. It’s just another task. You have no idea how to make a week’s worth of meals without spending a shit ton of money or wasting a shit ton of food. You wander aimlessly up and down the aisles with an empty grocery cart wondering what the hell to buy.

     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     We like to think the people we look up to are perfect. Whether it’s a celebrity, an athlete, an activist, a role model, an influencer, we look at them and decide that they’ve got it all figured out. That they couldn’t possibly struggle with ANYTHING.  But deep down we know that everyone is human, with their own behind-the-scenes drama and issues and  *shit*  that don’t make the highlight reel.  And I’ve got news for you:  I’m not perfect.  I don’t always practice what I preach. And today I’ve got one of those what-the-hell-was-I-thinking stories for you to illustrate EXACTLY how tricky it can be to get caught up in doing  #allthethings.    So, there I was. In the midst of  training for my first half marathon.   Before this half-baked plan of mine, I hadn’t run more than 3 miles. I used to struggle to finish the mile under the allotted time limit during the Presidential Physical Fitness Test in grade school. (Remember that??) I used to lag behind on warm-up runs during volleyball practice in high school. I used to huff and puff and want to crawl the rest of the way.  I was feeling pretty damn good about myself that – not only was I DOING this thing – I hadn’t walked a single step during any of my training runs. I dutifully stuck to my schedule, short runs during the week and tackling my long runs before 8 a.m. every single Saturday morning.   Training for a distance race is no joke, friend.   I spent literally hours every week not just running but making food and eating said food to fuel my runs, mapping out my routes, doing laundry so I had clean, non-stinky clothes to wear on my runs, sleeping so I had energy to run for two hours, stretching and foam rolling so my muscles didn’t give out on me, KT-taping my ankles and back so they’d hold up just a little bit longer, finding the right playlists to keep me motivated when logging miles was the last thing I wanted to do…  So it totally made sense when, one day, I decided that I was going to go gluten-free vegan overnight.   (Very formal-sounding disclaimer here: For the purposes of this discussion, I will use labels such as “gluten-free,” “vegan,” “plant-based,” and/or “vegetarian.” I in no way endorse the use of such labels and do not recommend labeling your way of eating. I sure as hell don’t.)   You might be thinking, “Good for you!” Or, “That’s admirable.” Maybe even, “Better to kill all the birds with one stone, cast a wide net, some other animal-type metaphor here…”  No. Just no.  I was doing the exact opposite of what I’m always climbing up on a soap box about:  I was trying to do too much.    If I could turn back time and coach myself, here are three things I would have reminded myself.    Focus on your goal.   I should have had one big goal and crossing the finish line fully upright, maybe even smiling and waving to the crowd of very supportive folk, not throwing up or passing out, or having my muscles completely seize up should have been that big goal.   By tossing one more thing on my plate, I was taking focus away from that one goal. I couldn’t give as much attention to my actual training because I was now also constantly thinking about if there was gluten in that sauce or if I could somehow order a vegan dish at my favorite Mexican restaurant without having my food spit in or if I was eating enough calories because, holy shit, sometimes it’s hard to eat thousands of calories of plants.  If I had given all my attention to the necessary parts of my training – the actual running, fueling, and caring for my body – I  probably  would have shown up as a slightly faster, better, stronger runner with a  strong AF mental game  that would carry me for 13.1 miles.  Instead, I was stressing myself out, worrying about this extra, self-imposed limitation. The time and energy I spent agonizing over my new diet should have all been directed right at my running – the original goal that was big enough I shouldn’t have tried to mess with it.   One big goal deserves all your focus. The more attention you give it, the faster you’ll reach it and the smoother the process will probably be.     Now is not the time to experiment.   If you aren’t a runner, let me quickly run down some of the things you shouldn’t be doing as you get closer to the race or even on the day of the race:   Wearing new shoes  Wearing new clothes  Running with a hat if you never trained with one  Wearing your race shirt before you cross the finish line (#sorrynotsorry)  Changing your schedule  Switching up your workout or adding in extra stuff  Trying new race fuel.   The days leading up to a race are not the time for experimentation. That shit needs to be done well before you’re in the taper stage because you don’t know WHAT’s going to happen.  You could totally get tons of blisters from your new shoes and they might not heal quickly. New clothes can chafe something awful and rub in  allllll  the wrong places. Wearing a hat can distract you if you’re not used to it. Your body could get confused and sore if you start messing with your schedule and throwing some strength training at it. Not to mention, ummm, you could get hurt and not even be able to line up at the start. Messing around with your race fuel can mess with your digestion, meaning a potential Porta Potty pit stop at mile marker 2.  All of these make for a pretty uncomfortable run.  By the time I decided to switch up my diet, I was only about a month away from race day. Not as panic-inducing as, say, the week before, but there were still so many variables AND WHY TAKE A CHANCE?  By adding some other random thing I just had to do, I was seriously jeopardizing my big goal. I didn’t think so at the time – I just thought, oh, hey, this will be fun – but now I know I should have been confident in my ability to actually finish the race before challenging myself with something else.   If this is something you still want to do, you can.   There is, of course, absolutely nothing wrong with  wanting to change your diet.  But there’s a time and a place for it.  The weeks leading up to a big race? Before a big vacation? After a life-changing event like a birth or death? The days right before a huge deadline at work? Probably not the right time or place.  But that doesn’t mean you CAN’T ever do it.   For me, I probably should have waited until after the race, after I gorged on all the beer and oranges and bananas available to me at the post-race party, after I recovered from my lost toenail, and after I settled back in to my everyday routine to try out a gluten-free vegan diet.  I should have asked myself if it was something I really wanted to do and, if it was a resounding “HELL YES!” I should have picked a date in the not-so-distant future that would have allowed me to give more focus to IT as my one big goal.   Because having more than one big goal at a time doesn’t do justice to any of the goals.    Take a look at your current goals. All the things you’re doing. All the things you want to do be doing. What’s one thing that might actually be hindering your progress? Holding you back? Keeping you stuck?  Ask yourself which goal deserves your focus right now. Honestly ask yourself if all those other things are things you want to be doing or things you think you SHOULD be doing because, you know, all the cool kids are doing it.   Pick one big goal and work on that one big goal until you and that one big goal are thick as thieves. Laser focus, my friend. You can come back to that other stuff if you really want to when the time is right.  Got so many goals you’re not even sure which one deserves the spotlight right now? I can help you narrow down your goals to ONE BIG THING so that you actually make progress on your goals. And I do that with my 1:1, totally customized to you coaching program Health.Simplified. If getting some support sounds like a resounding “HELL YES!” (much like my admirable if not well-timed attempt to go gluten-free vegan), head on over  here  and claim your spot. 

We like to think the people we look up to are perfect. Whether it’s a celebrity, an athlete, an activist, a role model, an influencer, we look at them and decide that they’ve got it all figured out. That they couldn’t possibly struggle with ANYTHING.

But deep down we know that everyone is human, with their own behind the scenes drama and issues and *shit* that don’t make the highlight reel.

And I’ve got news for you: I’m not perfect. I don’t always practice what I preach. And today I’ve got one of those what-the-hell-was-I-thinking stories for you to illustrate EXACTLY how tricky it can be to get caught up in doing #allthethings. 

     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Spoiler alert: They gain it all back.   Now a confession: I don’t watch much TV, but I stumbled across a show on TLC (which used to be The Learning Channel, but now I’m pretty sure stands for Totally Ludicrous Crap) that really bothered me.  Not because I think the diet advice isn’t QUITE right. And most certainly not because I enjoy watching the slicing and dicing.  But because most of the people fail. The show even tells you that the chances of long-term success are less than 5 percent.  I’m not professing to know how to up those odds, but I’ve got a pretty good idea how YOU can up your chances of sticking to a healthier lifestyle. Without a total health makeover, an extreme diet, or surgery.  The participants on this show go from eating whatever they want, never exercising  (or even getting out of bed sometimes) , and being waited on to a seriously restricted 1,200-calorie-a-day-high-protein-low-carb- low-fat  diet (don’t even get me started…) with major nudging to start standing or walking and going to the gym and taking care of themselves.  Some of them are terrified even thinking about this complete turnaround. But some of them think a  massive lifestyle change  is going to be a piece of cake.   Maybe that’s what you think, too.   While you’re probably not in a completely similar sitch, I’m willing to bet you’ve entertained a health makeover at some point. Like some of the patients on the show, you think it’s going to be easy.   After all, how hard can changing your diet and exercise habits really be?   You’re super enthusiastic at the beginning. It’s fun to try something new, and all the meal planning and prepping and cooking and  smoothies  and juicing and HIIT workouts and long runs and barre classes are exciting. There’s so much stuff to do, and you wanna do it all.  But the first time you fall a little bit behind or have to work late and skip a workout your whole plan stalls, you fall into a guilt trap because you couldn’t keep up, and you’re pretty sure giving up is the easiest thing to do now.  So that’s exactly what you do.    What if, instead of making these  grand changes  that always have to happen in a day and right now, dammit, you started with one thing?  No more cold turkey on every single thing you’ve been doing.   There are certainly peeps who would benefit from no longer smoking five packs a day, drinking two six-packs at happy hour, surviving on takeout for every single meal, and counting channel surfing as exercise.   (Just as there are peeps who would benefit from switching their pancakes-and-bacon breakfast to overnight oats and a green juice, from cutting back on the intense workouts, and unwinding with a glass of wine. Everyone’s different, yo.)   But most peeps aren’t gonna be successful if they’re making changes whole hog. And if those changes they’re making aren’t sustainable.   Because, let’s be honest: How long do you really think you’ll be able to keep up eating only organic whole foods you make in your own kitchen, working out for an hour every day, meditating first thing in the morning, keeping a gratitude journal, fitting in a morning yoga sesh (which totally doesn’t count toward your hour workout quota, by the way), and drinking a gallon of water a day while trying to stay sane, text everyone back, and hold down a job your parents deem respectable all at the same time when the week before you were perfectly happy grabbing some fast food on your way home from work at 8 p.m. and crashing on the sofa for three hours before dozing off only to oversleep and hurry to shower and grab a granola bar because you’re already late for your morning meeting?   You’ve got a life. And it’s going to happen.   If you don’t give yourself time to ease in to habits, they won’t become habits.  Life will get in the way, as it has a way of doing. And those habits will be more like a fad.    Like, remember that week and a half three years ago when I went to the gym at lunchtime? I wonder when that’ll make a style comeback.  Like scrunchies.    Okay, so what might this look like?  Maybe you start  eating a little breakfast  first thing in the morning instead of waiting until noon and then not having the energy to make a decent lunch (hell, to even pick up the phone to order a freaky-fast sandwich).  You might try eating one meal a day that’s a little more plant-y and a little less takeout-y. Or getting interested in new veggies at the store and experimenting with one new-to-you food once a week. Because you’ve probably always wondered what the hell to do with  yucca.    Or maybe you’ve really been wanting to try a  yoga  class. Instead of signing up for yoga teacher training straight away, you hit up the local studio and sign up for three Yin classes.    You start small. You ease on in. You grease that wheel.   Because those small things will create momentum. Those little choices every day, the ones you don’t expect to make a difference, the ones you don’t plan for, have the biggest, most lasting effects.  After you’ve got getting in some pre-lunch food, getting fresh with some veggies, and getting your zen on down, then you can make another small change. And then another. Until you feel good about where you’re at with your healthy lifestyle.  I have a feeling that this approach has a greater than 5 percent success rate. Just sayin’.  Here’s what I want you to do right now. Yes, right now. Make a list of ALL the things you think you want to change. You don’t even have to limit it to healthy stuff. It could be things you’re not thrilled about with work, your relationships, your car, your clothes, whatever is bugging you right now. Write ‘em all down.  Then? Take a look at the long-ass list and ask yourself, “If I could only do one of these things, what would it be?”  And once you’ve got your ONE THING, come up with one more thing – one step or action you can take to move you just a little bit closer to that one thing. And then do it!  If you could use some help narrowing in on one thing that will really make a difference, I’ve got you! Claim your spot in  Health.Simplified.  so I can help you cherry pick a health goal that will have you feeling all kinds of juicy.

You’ve got a life. And it’s going to happen.

If you don’t give yourself time to ease in to habits, they won’t become habits.

Life will get in the way, as it has a way of doing. And those habits will be more like a fad. 

Like, remember that week and half three years ago when I went to the gym at lunchtime? I wonder when that’ll make a style comeback. Like scrunchies.