Don’t you love how each New Years comes with great pressure to make massive changes. And each year these enormous, dramatic, “permanent” positive changes last about ….. three weeks. At best.
I won’t get fancy here. I won’t announce that I will exercise daily (which I essentially do now). Or that I will stop eating chocolate (that will never happen). Or that I will never touch meat again. Or that I will always speak slowly, calmly, and never raise my voice at home. These “always” and “never” promises don’t work for me.
And yet, I do recognize that I have some room for improvement. We ALL do. For example, those who know me well, know that punctuality is not a strength of mine. I wish it were. Year after year, it yet it is still not. In an attempt to address this (outside of a New Year’s Resolution that “I will never be late again”), I am trying a technique that just may come in handy. I classify this tidbit under the category of “planning ahead”.
Passionate about serving good food, I have always spent an unusually large quantity of time daily to preparing and packing lunches for myself and my family. This is what I love to do, and even I get bored… sometimes leaving lunch prep for the next day’s to do list. And thus, I am left to create these well intended and executed meals for the morning, when I am (usually) rushed. The result? Chronic lateness. For me and everyone else in my house. This week I resolved to do something different. No need for you to take notes. It was all very simple.
Earlier this week, after a morning run to my local Trader Joe’s, where I purchased many colorful, bright varieties of dried and dehydrated fruit snacks packs, I came home and mixed them in different combinations in snack sized zip lock baggies. Granted, purchasing dehydrated fruits is expensive, and using many disposable zip lock bags, not very earth friendly. Two major hang ups in my book. And guess what? It made snack preparation easy. As in, takes seconds to grab a premixed bag and toss it in with a drink and crackers or pretzels. And it works with other food items that can be pre-portioned out in advance.
A nice bonus about this exercise? Is that it can apply to all meals and snacks. For us big kids too! Imagine if during your busy day when you hit that “wow, I’m really hungry!” moment, you had small mixed bag of nuts and dried fruits with you. Or carrot sticks and a small container of hummus. Or a cheese stick and apple slices. Or ….. (This exciting list of pre-planned healthy snacks goes on and on.)
Anticipating and addressing your hunger in a timely and healthy manner is a key component to eating well and weight maintenance. Fueling up between meals makes you more productive, keeps you focused, and prevents that anticipated and dramatic change in mood. Getting ahead of your hunger prevents that desperate sensation of being ravenously hungry that suddenly makes even papaya shampoo appealing. Or worse: leads you to indiscriminately eat just about anything in excess.
Whether you choose planning ahead can keep you eating healthy or to keep you moving faster, the bonus is that it can do both at the same time. As with any change, it will require a bit more effort up front. And as time goes on this will become less of an issue and really just a detail in your week. And this change in habit can generate a great and lasting outcome. Other benefits include less stress, more time to focus on people versus food, and less time fretting about “did I just eat all of that?”
For me, being organized and planning quality snacks and meals ahead of time is key for health and staying on schedule. For example, I will dedicate an hour over the weekend to wash and cut / scrape / peel vegetables, placing them in zip lock bags in the fridge, and have them ready to go for the upcoming week. I can pull them out when I need them and toss them in a pan or baking dish in literally seconds. The same works with meats: I marinate them in zip lock bags until I am ready to cook them.
Planning ahead is how I am trying to keep myself on track. It is how I am working towards achieving better time management for my family. Setting a New Year’s Resolution of “be early, always” may not be realistic for me. And, planning ahead is a tool that I can use to be able to say “early, much more often – and healthy too” instead.
Happy New Years. Wishing you small and steady realistic changes to keep you healthy. (And sane.)
Peace & cheers