As we begin the 4th month of the year, it’s a good time to reflect on how your goals are progressing now that 25% of the year has passed. Maybe you planned to work out a certain number of times each week or lose a certain amount of body fat by the start of summer. How consistent have you been in taking small steps towards those goals? Confucius said that “the man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” Small steps over time really do create big changes. How can you help facilitate those small steps? Planning ahead!
For most of us, life gets too crazy too quickly. When it comes time to cook a healthy meal or squeeze in a workout, if you haven’t planned for them they often get pushed down the priority list along with your health. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a healthy week.
- Meal planning: Grocery shopping can become overwhelming if you haven’t thought about what to make with your ingredients. Take some time the day before going to the store to plan out your meals for the week. Try browsing healthy cookbooks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas. Use these recipes to create your grocery list. Double the recipe to make enough for a few days to save time in the kitchen during the week. Knowing what healthy meal you’re going to have each day eliminates the guess work and nudges you down the path of eating well.
- Sunday ritual: It doesn’t necessarily have to be Sunday, but that’s typically when we start to think about the week ahead and what we need to do to prepare for it. Take a few hours out of each Sunday to stock your kitchen with healthy foods, but don’t just stop there! Use the rest of your time to prepare and cook your healthy foods so that they’re available and ready to eat during the week. Wash, chop, and store produce. Grill, steam, or bake your lean meats. Cook up a few meals in bulk so you can just reheat and eat or even store some in the freezer for later. Every Sunday I chop and wash numerous raw vegetables and store them in a large Ziploc bag. My goal is to finish them by the end of the week and I’m much more successful when I wash and prepare everything ahead of time.
- Pencil in your workouts: I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again. Make your workouts a priority by scheduling them in your calendar. Don’t decide that day if you want to work out or not. Chances are you’ll find an excuse not to. Treat your workouts like any other appointment and make time for them in your weekly schedule. Pack your workout bag the night before.
When you make fitness a priority and carve out time for it you’ll be more likely to cut back on other sedentary activities like watching TV or surfing the web. Always remember too that doing something is better than nothing. Just because you don’t have 60 minutes to exercise every day doesn’t mean it’s not worth sweating it out 3 times a week for 45 minutes. Do what you can.
- Have a backup plan: Things don’t always go according to plan but having a backup arrangement will help you stay on track. If you can’t get to the gym, have a few home workouts or fitness DVDs to pull from. Store healthy snacks in your bag or car such as raw nuts or Kind bars in case you get stuck out of the house and hunger strikes. Have several nutritious meals stored in the freezer in the event that you find nothing in the fridge to eat.
I hope these tips will help you on your path to wellness. I’d love to hear from you! What are some ways you plan ahead for healthy living?
In good health,
Ryan Healy, BS, NSCA-CSCS