We've all jumped on the healthy food band wagon at some point in our life or at least thought about it. We read or watch something, find inspiration and say, "That's it. I'm tired of ______(feeling like crap, losing energy in the afternoon, feeling bloated, fill in the blank). I'm ready to do this!" Only to peter out two weeks down the road. Why? Because eating healthily takes planning and is time consuming. I can make it easier for you. I'm going to share with you my latest pitfalls and inconsistencies in my own eating to help you avoid making the same mistakes.
I'm a big fan of journaling. Writing thoughts on paper brings ideas or realizations into my conscious mind where I can act on them. I've found a lot of value in this practice which is why I included an area to journal in my Massage Therapist Fitness Planner. As I was reflecting recently on my eating I identified three areas which always derail my game-plan.
SUGAR is my nemesis. I have a sweet tooth and even though I've read and researched extensively on what sugar does to your body, I can't seem to rationalize with my cravings. When I am stressed, I want something sugary. The stress might come from mismanaging my schedule for the day (I tend to pack things in). It might be the actions of people with whom I interact. It might be a last minute change to one of my kids' sports schedules. I don't have to tell you how many things can raise our stress level a notch or two during our day. Now that I know this about myself what can I do? For a start I can monitor the things I have control over, like my daily schedule. I can begin by giving myself enough time between appointments and not trying to complete that one-more-thing which leads to rushing.
The other stressors I mentioned I don't have control over but I do have control over how I react to them. If I have people at work that stress me, I can keep my distance. If I know I need to deal with people regarding bills, services or calls that require long waits on hold, I complete those in the morning when my patience is higher. Last minute changes I've come to realize are going to keep happening and I have to accept that. I can get frustrated and let my stress increase or I can meditate, call a friend or go for a run. We all have our own ways we deal with stress and the key for me is to manage it so it doesn't get to the "give me sugar" level. Yes there will be days that stress is unavoidable and in those instances being prepared is key. Knowing which food choices are more healthy than others and having food on hand helps. Something with 6 grams of sugar might end your craving and is a much better choice than something with sugar grams in the double digits.
Remember the last time you were starving and grabbed something at the drive through or convenience store? Most likely you ate lower quality food. High quality foods like fruits and vegetables, high quality protein, healthy fats, whole grains and legumes are hard to find at a convenience store. Not impossible but hard.
Eating healthy is easy when you are prepared with the right foods. But it does take time and effort to have the right foods in the house. Having a plan is half the battle. When you have a plan success is easier to attain. There are two main areas of preparation which will help you stay on track. Planning meals ahead of time and weekly food prep. This takes grocery shopping one to two times per week for fresh produce. Most of the other foods you'll eat can be frozen after buying bulk. Planning meals for the week can be as simple as planning the dinners and using leftovers for lunches. Or going with the same lunch for a week. Or rotating between two or three breakfast options and two or three lunch options. I personally pick the proteins for dinners for the week and add a vegetable. Salads are my go to for lunches and breakfast rotates between a couple different things with coffee. I do like my coffee ;) Keep it simple at first to establish the routine. Having fresh produce on hand can be a chore but it's fun to walk the produce department and find something new to try. It's a colorful playground of options all of which will make your body feel good.
Let's talk about meal prep. Plan to spend one evening or part of the weekend prepping what you'll eat for the upcoming week. You already planned the meals and shopped for them so now you cook. This can be cooking lots of chicken (or your protein of choice), making a batch of brown rice or quinoa, and chopping those fresh vegetables. It's not hard and once you put it in your routine it's efficient and time saving. Make it more fun and invite a friend over to meal prep together. After things are cooked and chopped you can prepackage the portions. This makes for a weekday time saver when you can reach in the fridge, grab your lunch and go. When you get in the habit of taking your lunch to work, you'll not only save money but you'll always have high quality food items which will make you feel better and keep your energy levels up.
We all been there. You are on your last massage of the day and you are starving. You didn't bring a lunch and haven't had time to run and get something. When you're finally able to get food you eat way too much. Then you have the overly-full discomfort and know it all could have been avoided. This is me. If I don't eat enough in the first part of the day I've sabotaged my healthy eating and have a higher chance of eating poorly. Usually I recommend eating a few times a day. Breakfast, a snack, lunch, snack and then dinner. When you consistently eat at the same times your digestive tract works at its peak. When you eat is as important as what you eat. While journaling I realized I would eat too much from 4:00pm-7:00pm if I didn't have food with me throughout the day or didn't have time to eat. I often didn't leave myself a meal break in my schedule. Even when I did, other things would come up so a change needed to be made. I have control over my massage schedule so I can make sure to set aside time to eat. I have control over whether I make time to meal prep which allows me to bring food to work. I don't always have the ability to eat lunch at the same time every day due to different work shifts but it's close.
Think about your own massage schedule and do your best to bring healthy food to work and eat meals and snacks about the same time each day. Eating quality food is the key to keeping your energy levels steady and you feeling your best throughout each day.
Let's work together to stay the course on our healthy eating journey!
Until next time
Be fit and strong,
Come hang with us, where we are happy and massaging pain-free.
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