Thursday, December 23, 2010

Following a Meal Plan…Successfully!

Meal plans are for anyone interested in covering their nutritional needs without the fuss of figuring out proper ratios of protein, carbohydrates, and fat, for themselves. It takes the guesswork out of what types of carbohydrates, what types of fats, the amounts necessary for them to reach their goals, and how often it should be consumed. Meal plans are for the old, the young, and everyone in-between. Ninety-nine percent of my clients who order meal plans are athletes, determined, hardcore, consistent, athletes. These people do not have the time and/or desire to plan out their nutritional needs, it’s much easier for them and their schedules to have someone else do the figuring. Anyone serious about reaching their fitness potential should consider the asset that lies within a good quality meal plan. Anything less is guess work.

With me, the process is quite simple, you e-mail me, I contact you, we either set an appointment, or we handle things via e-mail. Once I’ve obtained the information necessary to put together a plan tailored just for you, I get started calculating your nutritional needs. At this point, when a first timer comes for a plan, and they leave their appointment, they usually spend the evening either going out to their favorite restaurant for their ‘last meal’, or they head home and do a last sweep over the kitchen for the goods they’d like to ingest before their meal plan pops up in their e-mail. This is common. I highly discourage it, but people will be people and people are generally afraid to make changes, even if they are healthy, and they are paying for the service.

Within 24-72 hours your meal plan shows up in your inbox. All you need to do is look it over, make sure everything is understandable to you, and print it off. Next, you tally up amounts of specific items. For instance, if you’ve got eight egg whites at breakfast, you’ll add up all the eggs you’ll need for the week, and write down the amount on your grocery list. Ditto other sources of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Now you know what to shop for. Shopping is easily done because you simply get what is on your list, period. I always allow for at least one ‘free’ meal a week, however, I encourage my clients to shop for this meal separately, on the day they plan to have the meal, so as not to be tempted during the meantime.

You now have your meal plan, you know what to eat, when to eat it, and how much of it to eat. Your nutritional bases are covered. Special needs have been addressed. This means you can now get to work, no more standing in front of the fridge for five minutes pondering what the next meal will be, or grazing in the closets, cabinets, etc.

Yes, as with anything else in life, you must plan on jumping a few hurdles to stay on track with your plan. Success here lies in beginning with the end in mind. Let’s take a look at some of the obstacles you can plan on encountering when following a meal plan.

This is a given. Anytime you are living with others and break away from traditions, there will be tension. You will be excited about your new plan, especially as you begin reaping the benefits within a week or two, and want to share this with your friends/loved ones, but they might not be as excited, in fact, they could even become quite critical, pass judgment, tease you, and be anything but a support. Know this now, you must have the strength from within to follow your plan, you will NOT have any cheerleaders cheering you on. Let this strengthen your resolve to stick to your plan, get the results you desire, and move on with your life. Some of my clients have everyone in their household on a plan, this is ideal, this is also extremely rare.

You’ll soon find it takes time to get your meals together, shopping for the items, washing, dicing, storing, etc. Some of my clients prep as much as possible on Sundays. They find this works well because they have more free time. They boil their eggs, get vegetables and fruits washed, cut, and stored in the amounts they need, bag them in ziplocks, or arrange them as a meal in a tupperware like container, with a date and meal number on it. Things that can be cooked as a whole, then cut to servings, are then placed in the freezer as well, if this is what works best for them. Others have the freedom to prepare meals as the day progresses, but they are far and few. You see, there will always be a duty or errand, work, assignment, etc., calling for your attention, you MUST plan ahead, and be ready to roll. I encourage all my clients to invest in a mid-sized insulated cooler, several small ice blocks, and plastic cutlery to store their meals for the allotted time away from home, camp, etc. I always advise to pack one extra meal on top of that because things can come up and they always do.

When beginning a meal plan, almost everyone has some type of detoxifying process to go through, some more than others. For instance, a person who has followed a generally consistent habit of eating relatively healthy, will have less detoxifying to do then the individual who’s eaten carelessly, or has taken prescription or over-the-counter medications. As toxins are being pulled back into the bloodstream for excretion, it could get uncomfortable, be prepared, drink PLENTY of water, keep flushing your system, and it will subside within a week or two depending on how backed up you are. This will be the topic of another blog. Plan on taking it easy sometime during the day for the first few days, take a power nap if you need to. Assist your body in its endeavors, and it will do you right.

Temptation when on a meal plan comes as the result of two things, mental attachments, and body composition. When I say mental attachments, I mean it’s more of a mental thing then anything else. Your nutritional bases are covered. Following the plan will leave you feeling more than satisfied, unless you're not following it properly, you're not drinking the proper amount of water, or composition has changed. Mental attachments also happen when there are temptations all about you, you see them, and go on autopilot thinking you must partake. Not so. I’ve had clients actually hire me to come to their home and clean out their kitchens, bag up everything that’s plan junk, toss. Box up everything that’s so-so, and take it to a shelter, and leave only those foods that are truly health enhancing. This is a drastic step, but it’s a wise one for many. If you choose to leave your favorite snacks in the kitchen you’d better have a mighty strong mindset. You must develop this mindset one way or another, as there are plenty of poor food choices around everywhere, however, when starting a plan I suggest lowering the temptation factor to zero, if possible. 

As body composition changes, so do nutritional needs. A person who began at 270 pounds will not necessarily have the same requirements as someone weighing 187. Your plan changes as you do, your goals, and your fitness level. When a client has jumped on the hardcore wagon, it’s not unusual to see nutritional needs change within 72 hours. This needs to be paid attention to, and modified as soon as possible.

You must mentally be prepared before entering any of these situations. Expect there will be rich foods around, or plenty of food that is NOT on your meal plan. Expect it will fall on a day you do not have a ‘free’ meal, and if it does, consider yourself blessed. Generally, at parties and during holidays, we are out for long periods of time, You must plan ahead for this or plan on failure! Load your insulated bag, keep it in your car if you need to, make a run to pick up some ‘ice’ (everyone needs ice), and have your meal. Have a Plan B, and Plan C, as well. No one is perfect 100% of the time, so don’t expect you will be either, however, do everything you can to plan for your success, as it will empower you in all aspects of your life.

When you’re out with friends it could be a challenge, especially if you’re considering having an alcoholic beverage. Alcoholic drinks contain a high amount of calories, and will thwart your plan as fast as a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts. Be prepared, maybe it’s time to sit back until you have enough in you to go and not partake, or perhaps it’s time for a lifestyle change, or perhaps you go and sip on the same drink all night, with many glasses of water in between. One way or another you must decide.

I see this mentality all the time. “I had a piece of cake at Johnny’s birthday, I couldn’t resist, it was just a small piece, but I felt so bad afterwards, I figured I already blew it, so I had three slices of pizza, too.” Not cool. So you had a moment of indulgence, look at it objectively, it’s not the end of the world, or your meal plan! Get back on the wagon, don’t ride yourself for it, and keep moving forward!!!

Yes, sometimes our taste buds will rebel. Try adding a new spice. If you have it cold, try it hot. If you eat items separately, try blending it all together. You get the idea. It happens to all of us, if all else fails, be in good company, get an interesting book, or something else to help you get down the meal, distraction is what I call it, give yourself something else to focus on other than your food.

Indeed, it will surely feel this way at times, as you perhaps make changes from a 'dead' food diet to a clean or 'live' food diet. Dead foods are generally less expensive and used as a tool to hook you as you enter a grocery store, "Ten of such and such for just $10.00", etc. Combine your new eating habits with supplements and paying your trainer/meal planner, and you could be feeling like you're going to go broke. Here's what I suggest: look at where you're spending your money, can you forego your Friday latte? What about the night out with the guys where you easily drop $40.00-50.00 bucks? Do you really need cable? What about all the stuff you've accumulated in the shed? Think of ways you can cut corners, be even healthier, and put that cash towards your new objective(s). 

In my opinion, it's much more expensive to pay doctor bills, co-pays, fuel traveling to and from appointments, missed time at work, medications, and in the end not even feeling well, due to eating a low calibration diet, than to invest in your health now. You decide. 

One thing is for sure, one way or the other you're investing in your health, one is preventative which allows for your quality of life to be all it can be, as well as your vitality, the other is used after the fact, after the fact you've become ill, diseased, and/or otherwise compromised. One allows you to enjoy life today and everyday, the other is merely a means of survival and tolerance. The choice seems clear to me. What about you?

Following a meal plan for success comes down to personal decision. Just as one must decide what to wear, who they’ll marry, what career to head into, or what kind of vehicle to purchase, only you can decide if the plan will work for you. Yes, it takes effort. It’s so worth it though. You can only know of its goodness when experienced for yourself. My people in the military don’t necessarily have the luxury of shopping as an ordinary citizen at times, due to their location and/or assignment, so they make due with what they can. Military, you can e-mail me, I can help you with choices to maintain a healthy body, and even grow stronger by making knowledgeable choices with the foods that are available to you. Meal plan or not, please, don’t take good health for granted. You never know what’s going on, on the inside of you. You only have one body. The human body is magnificent, reproducing cells on a regular basis. What you are assimilating is what your new cells will be made of, be it strong or weak, positive or negative, you are the builder of your self. 
Build strong. Stay strong. Be strong. Hugs!

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