8 weeks in.. how I'm doing on a nutrition plan
Starting my new job coincided with starting my nutrition plan and it has given me a good amount of conversation topics as I have got to know people in the new company...
I eat at my desk for both breakfast and lunch.. breakfast I prepare fresh each day and then lunch is either pre-made and heated up or a simple mix/heat. I'm generally eating out of a tupperware bowl, and have my own salt (Himalayan no less).. and water bottle by my side
The office doesn't have a donut culture, but I've still had to politely decline the occasional cake, the biscuits and also offers for joining people at lunch.
The most common question I've been asked is "How do you stick to your plan... it must be so hard??"
Hmmm.... good question.. and 8 weeks in I'd say it is easy to stick to the plan, BUT you have to plan ahead and deliver to that plan...
If you don't it is equally easy to veer off the plan., and I think the key is to minimise and manage the times when you could go off plan. By doing this, you will also be actively managing and helping to break habits.... some of which you may not even know you've formed.
So, what do I mean by that..
Here's what great looks like. For the week ahead I will have:
1. A clear understanding of my food targets
2. All ingredients for the week ahead, and all prepared food done
3. You know where you will be each day
4. You have identified any days and times when sticking to plan is just not going to happen.
But it is rare that everything falls into place, and for me, it is managing the uncertainty and minimising the opportunities to go off track that has helped me..
The situations where I can easily go off track are:
1. Going shopping without an organised list... if I just browse, I am far more likely to add in a couple of comfort picks. As I have gone from week to week, my increased understanding of food and labels has helped me and in addition I am far better at picking the right choices of pre-prepared food that are good options.
2. Going shopping when hungry... if you can, eat first and you won't be as tempted to add in poor choices as you walk round the supermarket.
If I've just eaten, I can plan my route around the supermarket to just get what I need and I won't be tempted to wander..
3. If you have endless meetings at work, or you are travelling and you just aren't able to get appropriate food... this is a difficult one and a more common one than you would think. I have managed this a couple of ways..
a) Drink plenty of water, have a coffee and buy/eat fruit (banana, apple).
b) Don't eat anything.. not ideal, but you can fill up later... and it is better than just eating the wrong things for the sake of it..
c) Plan for the day ahead and take a safe option to put in your locker at work or in your bag.. something that doesn't need to be in the fridge is best!
4. Eating out..
This is probably my most common issue, as on a weekend it is always nice to go out for lunch or dinner.
For lunches, most of the places we go have a good salad option on the menu, either chicken ceasar or a ploughmans and I've now weaned myself off latte/cappucino and I'm quite happy with a straight black coffee. For dinners I tend to have 2 options.. the first one being "I'm going to make sensible choices tonight" and the second being "I'm going to eat what I really want as a treat for being good for the rest of the week"
Generally the second option wins.. I'm not a professional athlete and I want to enjoy my life, so the occasional reward is allowed! .. but I also need to recognise that if I am too giving and get loose and unstructured, I won't hit goals or targets as quickly (or at all).
I have to both manage the process and take responsibility for getting the balance right.
Here are some of my top tips...
1. Create a new basics list.. mine is apples, blueberries, cottage cheese, skyr yoghurt, single portion rice..
2. When you review your current diet, look to see where the obvious gains and changes can be found and spend time working out a good alternative. For me, this was breakfast.. I used to have a huge bowl of granola.. full of good grains, fruit, nuts... but it was also giving me WAY too much sugar, and huge amounts of poor quality calories. I'll write more about this in my next blog on Habits..
3. Work out a couple of basic meals that you can get virtually anywhere.. for me; chicken, rice, tomatoes ;
4. Watch your empty carbohydrates and pay careful attention to recommended portion sizes. A good example of this is the supermarket packets of rice that you pop in the microwave. I always thought they were single portion packs, but they are actually for 2!! Carbs are all still an important part of my diet, but I am eating WAY less than I used to.
5. Find and eat foods you enjoy!