I'm a big believer in planning. I write everything down, and my husband jokes that my day planner is a work of art (color coded for every member of our family). Whether it's playdates or business lunches or meal plans, I jot almost everything down.
But after working with clients for so many years, I've learned that most people don't share the thrill I get from planning. Whether they're too busy, too tired, or just think it's unnecessary, many of my clients like to just take things as they come, making most of their decisions on the fly.
Unfortunately, this can spell diet disaster. I know countless people who tell themselves they're going to start living healthy tomorrow, only to wake up in the morning to find they're missing some essential piece of the puzzle to ensure weight-loss success, whether it's a clean set of workout clothes or the main ingredient they need for a healthy breakfast.
Remember, your healthy eating plan is only healthy so long as you're able to stick to it. And planning ahead is absolutely essential for ensuring your success. When crafting your personalized healthy eating plan, keep the following questions in mind:
- What are your goals? If you really want to succeed, plan out both short- and long-term goals. If you're starting a weight-loss regimen solely because you want to look great for a high-school reunion in six months, your plan will be more strict than it would be if you were gearing up for your sister's wedding that isn't for another two years. But whatever your goals are, make sure you're dedicated to them. If you don't really want to go to that reunion, you'll be less likely to stick to your healthy eating plan.
- What are your triggers? The vast majority of people eat when they aren't hungry, and it's likely that you're one of them. The next time you find yourself compelled to snack, take note of where you are, what you're doing, and how you're feeling. Are you in front of the TV, working on a troubling report, or annoyed with your spouse? Emotional eating is a serious problem, but if you know what makes you snack, you'll be able to avoid those sticky situations - or at least plan accordingly.
- Where are your soft spots? We all have foods that we know are bad for us but that we indulge in anyway. Rather than deny the craving, think about healthy foods you can substitute. For example, if you have a sweet tooth, make sure you have fruit in the house. The natural sugars in fruit will satisfy that craving while weaning you off the hyper-sweetness you've grown accustomed to over a lifetime of eating processed candies and pastries.
- What do you expect? If you expect to go from eating McDonald's twice a day to thriving on a gluten-free, all-natural, vegetarian diet, chances are good that you'll crash hard when you realize how tough weaning yourself off processed foods can be. The less junk you eat, the better you feel, but sugars and processed food additives have an effect on brain chemistry that makes quitting them tough. Be realistic about where you're starting and where you hope to end up. That way, bumps in the road won't throw you off track!