Thursday, February 4, 2010

Meal Planning Epiphany

One of my goals since the first of the year has been to plan meals for the week over the weekend and shop accordingly. I have this extra large sticky memo pad with a weekly calendar on it that I write my planned meals on and stick it on the fridge. Hi tech.

Last weekend I didn't plan out my meals. It's not the first time I haven't done this when I said I would. But it is the first time this year with my rekindled enthusiasm and focus and time back in the gym working with Trainer Ray and Hubby.

At the beginning of the week I felt the usual self pity and self hatred and annoyance for not planning. I managed to eat my typical lunches and did OK on dinners. .  but I threw in a few random and a tad over-the-top snacks (like I'd make a smoothie--an ok snack--but I'd toss in just a bit of coconut and just a few peanuts and a healthy, unmeasured pour of chocolate malt--to turn it into a not OK snack.)

Then yesterday--Wednesday--it finally hit me. Moving through the week without a meal plan is like me trying to find my way around without my GPS. You may not know this about me, but I am hopeless when it comes to having a natural sense of direction. I just get more and more lost and more and more panicked. I recently got lost--with my GPS on. I knew it was taking me the wrong way because I was heading away from town. But I also knew that eventually it would correct itself and turn me around. I called into work saying I was running late from my appointment. And I said to a colleague, "Do you know the difference between me getting lost with a GPS versus me getting lost without a GPS?"

"What?" she said.

And I said, "With a GPS, I'm not crying."

And so it goes with a meal plan, my map for the week. I feel uncomfortable many times with my size and my eating desires and habits. I feel this discomfort sometimes even when I am trying very hard to eat the healthy way. But a meal plan puts me on track. It's the difference between whirling around corners anchored to the rails of a roller coaster and whirling around the corner in an out-of-control car. In both cases, you might have the same physical reaction--a quick sense of heat, the rise of hair on your arms and neck, an involuntary squeal--but in one instance you feel out of control and in danger, unsure of what will happen next--and fast. And in the other case, you are safely tethered; you know you will follow the rails around the next corner and up and down the upcoming hills, feeling your stomach lurch and the angst rise--and just when you feel afraid, you remind yourself that you're on a track, so you can just relax through the sensations and thrill and experience the ride.

And that is how my meal plan works for me. When I feel out of control or angst ridden, unsure of myself, I can look to my meal plan--the steady path that will lead me to a calm end of the week. So I can exit it delighted, sure footed, and anxious to race to the beginning all over again.

Creating my meal plan isn't a chore, it's a gift, functioning like a safety net, a set of dance steps on the ground, a sheet of music, allowing me to progress gracefully without too many misteps or dischords until I am skilled enough to solo, and finally to improvise.


  1. The GPS is a godsend for those of us who are directionally challenged. And they're worth their weight in gold when you're traveling.

    I'm with you; planning is a big part of my success story. I've packed my car and office with healthy snacks and emergency meals, and work hard to keep myself out of situations where I know I'll fail miserably.

    Sometimes real change comes slowly. Stick with it!

  2. I was going to say "what an epiphany", then I realized that was very similar to your title. This is a great way of looking at it.

    Oh, and for the record, I couldn't find my way out of my house without a GPS. They are a real godsend for me.

  3. I love the analogy to a GPS. I'm actually like a homing pigeon when it comes to having a God-given sense of direction. But not so with the food. Like you, if I do some prep over the weekends, I then have a roadmap for the week, esp. for bringing my lunches to work each day.

    Without a plan, I'm on a collision course with self will and unexpected emotionally triggered food moments. Thanks for reminding me of this.

  4. I am hopeless with my internal sense of direction too. Ron laughs at me all the time. I so easily get turned around.

    Planning is very important to me as well. I can't succeed without it. I have to have everything mapped out or I tend to go off plan more than I want to.

  5. Meal plans are huge! They eliminate so much thinking I would have to do each day about what to eat.


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