A while back (by which I mean the first post I ever wrote for you), I shared some of the reasons why I ate a mostly plant-based diet.   Give it a read and come on back.   Here’s the thing: I’ve been hiding what I’ve been eating for almost a year now. And, no, it’s not decadent raw vegan desserts, rare-ass T-bone steaks, or white noodles slathered in pasta sauce.   Before I get even realer with you, lemme get real: I’ve always struggled with  disordered eating.  Food has always been something I can control, and I love me some control. But I also really like to eat my feelings, too, and there have totally been occasions where I’ve lost that control I fought so hard to win.  So I’m going to admit that, even though it wasn’t on the original list of reasons why I went plant-based, being in control was certainly one of the driving factors. This label I put on myself made it even easier for me to say what I did and didn’t eat and for it to look totally normal.  That and it was something to create an identity around. You know, I was  that  vegan girl at work, which gave me (in my mind) a super legit, super convenient excuse to keep everyone at arm’s length. No ice cream socials for this gal.  I got really good at eating a plant-based diet. I was that person you love to hate (hate to hate?). I made 99.9% of all my food – everything from superfood smoothies to  my own freakin’ mylk  to go along with said superfood smoothies. I brought my own food with my everywhere. I was always prepared   (I was a real pain in the ass to be around…)   But, one random day in December 2017, I got sick. It started as what I’d describe as a migraine. My head hurt really bad. It hurt to lift my head or move it in any direction. The light was killing my eyes, making my headache even worse, and I had to put my sunglasses on inside. (I don’t wear my sunglasses at night (okay, sometimes, I do) but I totally wear them indoors.) Shortly after getting out of bed in the morning, I was immobile on the couch, fearful I was going to be sick all over the disgusting carpet in our condo that several other people had probably been sick on before me.   But I digress.  I had no appetite. I was nauseous as hell. I could barely keep my eyes open. I also spent a good chunk of the morning in the bathroom. It was like Tracie and the Terrible, No Good Rotten Bad Day.  And, for someone who prided herself on barely getting sick aside from a couple sniffles here and there, thanks to my super-clean, plant-based diet but of course, I was a little miffed, to be honest.  So I went back to bed. In the bedroom, with the lights off and all the blinds pulled shut, I still had to keep my sunglasses on. I tried to watch some TV (I know, I know, technology in the bedroom…), but I couldn’t keep my eyes open. But I also couldn’t sleep.  Around mid-afternoon, I eventually fell asleep. And I slept until the next morning.  When I woke up, I didn’t feel much better. I still didn’t want to eat. I still felt like I could puke at any moment. I still had my sunglasses on. I still had a massive headache. I still felt exhausted. I still spent way too much time in the bathroom.  After the second day, some of the symptoms started to lessen. But I still didn’t want to eat. You know how, when you’ve been ridiculously sick and you’re not hungry but you know you should eat so you have some energy and you’re not some frail…thing…shuffling around the house in super baggy sweatpants with sunglasses on and tissues falling out of your pockets?  The problem was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING LOOKED GOOD.   Not even a smoothie.  Which I attempted to drink but which put me right back in my old friend the bathroom. Which made me pretty concerned.  I tried to think back to what I had eaten before I got sick (some soggy food from a nearby Mediterranean restaurant) and to the last time I got food poisoning (in high school after a questionable Mexican pizza from Taco Bell).   And then my thoughts strayed even further, as thoughts tend to do, to my everyday diet. If I was being honest with myself, I hadn’t felt good in a long time.   You know how people want to tell you how AMAZING they feel when they changed their diet? How it was a miracle and they never knew they could feel this good?    Yeah, I never experienced that.    I was always tired. I had recurring digestive issues. I was moody, depressed, anxious, stressed to the max…  I was  still  a pain in the ass to be around.  So, entertaining the thought that maybe it was my diet, I decided to experiment with my diet. I tried some eggs. I tried some honey. I tried some fish. I even tried some turkey and chicken. (Yeah, it happened.)  Let me tell you: I did NOT take this decision lightly. It took me a couple months to even make a decision. I cried. A LOT. I felt guilty. I felt unsure. I felt confused. Frustrated. Sad. Even angry.   But most of all I was tired of feeling like shit.    So, yes, the way I eat has been going through a bit of a metamorphosis. Even though I never really identified myself as plant-based or vegan and I still won’t put a label on how I eat, how I think of food is changing. How I eat food is changing. It’s continuing to evolve everyday. And I’m learning to be okay with that.   I’m learning it’s okay to admit if something isn’t working. To want to eat something different. To not want to eat something different. To listen to what my body is asking for. And what it’s telling me it’s overloaded on.   No, I’m not a full-fledged meat eater. I’m not down with dairy (that one’s non-negotiable, actually, thanks to my sensitive tummy). I’m not paleo. I’m not flexitarian. I’m not vegetarian. I’m not vegan. I’m not plant-based.    I’m just a person who eats food as a way to fuel my body.    And, no, I didn’t tell you this just for funsies. I actually want you to know something: You have the right to feel good. You have the right to change your mind. You have the right to change things if they’re not working.  I’m not going to twist this in to some sales pitch. I just wanted to share a part of my life with you. And I wanted you to know that  no one is perfect.  That it really is important to listen to your body. And that you can’t believe everything you see on  social media.    I hope this post has helped you feel a little better about eating more intuitively. And stressed the importance of listening to your body. So you had some pizza on Friday night and you’ve been relying on frozen meals a little more often these days? Same.   But one meal, one day, hell, one year does not and CANNOT define you. It’s the choices you make the majority of the time that make all the difference. And there's nothing wrong with eating in a way that feels good to you, no matter what that means.

One random day in December 2017, I got sick. It started as what I’d describe as a migraine. My head hurt really bad. It hurt to lift my head or move it in any direction. The light was killing my eyes, making my headache even worse, and I had to put my sunglasses on inside. (I don’t wear my sunglasses at night (okay, sometimes, I do) but I totally wear them indoors.) Shortly after getting out of bed in the morning, I was immobile on the couch, fearful I was going to be sick all over the disgusting carpet in our condo that several other people had probably been sick on before me.

     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      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.