Preparation is one of those behaviors that often help us feel in control. When someone I’m coaching admits that they went off their program, most of the time the reason is because they weren’t prepared with their meals. So much emphasis is placed on meal planning and prepping alone as if that were the main factor involved in weight management.
At the start of my fitness career, I worked for a personal catering company that did all my meal prepping. Imagine, having all your meals customized, cooked, and delivered to your door? In 2 months I lost about 5 pounds. Great, right? The only thing is that I was starting to get bored of the food. Everything started to taste the same. I desired to be more social. I missed going to dinner or having drinks with friends. I wanted to travel more. But, I felt like these meals were tying me down. I received this wonderful food for another 2 months after the initial weight loss, but actually gained weight back.
Overall, my life somewhat became focused on fitting into the meal plan.
Instead of me feeling in control of my food, I started to feel like food was in control of me. I craved more in life that celebrated my own freedom especially around food. Like trying the new restaurant that got rave reviews, going out for drinks with a new date, or trying a delicious French cheese on a fresh baked baguette. Heck, I’m a foodie at heart!
So how do we find that mid point between freedom and structure?
It really comes down to lifestyle and self-empowerment.
Our lifestyle is what we create from our daily habits and behaviors. We commit to these practices based on our own core beliefs.
A simpler way to think about it is that it’s a series of systems that may or may not support you.
For example, you may get up early in the morning and first thing you do is check your phone, browse Facebook for a while, and drink coffee for breakfast. That’s a system.
Before you spend time meal planning or prepping, ask yourself these questions:
“Does the lifestyle that I currently have support who I aspire to be?”
“What lifestyle systems are working for me and which ones are working against me?”
“How does food support into the lifestyle I aspire to have?”
The system I have with food is simple. I meal prep a few proteins, grains, and veggies twice a week. That way I have access to healthy quick meals at all times. To prevent boredom, I only choose foods I love like beans, rice, meat, and my favorite veggies. I don’t keep processed foods in my home. If I want to have something decadent, I have it when I dine out so that I know that I can share it with a friend. If and when I need to trim down for a special occasion, I know that I just need to be more conscious of portions.
This system goes beyond self control….it’s actually empowering for me because it provides flexibility. This establishes trust in my own ability to make the right choices for myself. Ultimately, this is what keeps me satisfied in the long run.
Other than food, there are other systems to consider for a healthy vibrant lifestyle. Well-being is our wholeness or our ability to nourish our mind, body, and spirit. Also, consider creating systems for the following:
- Movement (fitness/exercise)
- Relationships (connection)
- Self Care (relaxation/personal development)
- Livelihood (values/desires)
Some of my personal lifestyle systems include:
- Waking up early to meditate and write (livelihood)
- Calling my grandma 3 times a week (relationships)
- Dance fitness classes in the morning (movement)
- Yoga or Stretch in the evening (movement/self care)
I practice these systems daily.