The most common question I get asked as a weight loss consultant is “How do I lose weight while being so busy all the time?” With all the fast food choices, junk food being more convenient and less expensive, and not having the time to plan ahead, this can be a real challenge!
I can relate, I know what it’s like to be busy. I have three kids, I live on a farm, I own my own business and I am currently 30 weeks pregnant. I am almost always running around somewhere with three kids. I try to keep a consistent schedule, but it can be huge challenge. There is preschool, swim lessons, Tee Ball, laundry, cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping! It takes time to plan healthy meals and snacks for my family. I not only have to feed myself, but I have 4 other family members that depend on me to feed them. I will be the first to admit, it is not always easy. Eating healthy takes planning, and preparation. If I plan out all the food in advance (usually on Sunday), it will lead to an easier, less stressful week. We save money also because there is less eating out and more eating home cooked foods.
A large number of my clients claim that they can not lose weight or stay on track due to a busy or unpredictable schedule. I realize more than anyone that life can get in the way of our goals. The key to long term commitment and sustainability is to have a gameplan and make it habit! In part one of this blog series I would like to share five tips that I find helpful for staying on track with your weight loss goals while living a busy life.
- HAVE A BACKUP PLAN: I am by no means perfect, I am a tired and hormonal pregnant woman! Sometimes I will drop the ball and my kids will get mac and cheese for dinner, or pizza (gasp!) For the most part my plan for everyone’s meals works out well. Sometimes changes in our schedule can happen, or pregnancy brain kicks in and I forget to thaw the meat for dinner, etc. For these scenarios I will have a plan B, and a plan C for backup. What types of things should you have for back up? I have back up meals at home in the freezer. The healthy kind, with grilled chicken and veggies in a bag that you throw into the skillet. I look at the package and make sure the protein, carbs, and fats are within my ranges before I purchase it. I will keep a few of these in the back of the freezer at all times “just in case.” I also keep a few protein bars (I like the Builder’s chocolate mint bars) in my purse, car, work bag, etc. for times when I am running around town and need a quick and easy meal. These do contain a lot of carbs and fats, but they work for a meal replacement for me. I do not eat them all the time, but I will choose this over fast food, or over skipping a meal and coming home and binging later. Those habits can be toxic to progress! I also keep a small container or shaker bottle with one scoop of chocolate protein powder in my purse and car. The protein powder tastes great mixed with just water, and it keeps me full for a long time. I run through the drive through or gas station and get a bottle or cup of water, and mix it up for a quick and easy snack that will fit into my macros. Taking these little steps will avoid the excuses that we are tempted to make for running through fast food or skipping a meal and coming home to eat a pint of ice cream.
- STOCK UP AND STORE: If you are shopping and see a food that is healthy, (it fits into your macros) and it’s on sale, stock up! If you have this food highly available to your at home, or at work, you are more likely to eat it, over eating from the vending machine or cafeteria. Think about it, you come home hungry after a long day at work and you look in your pantry and see a lot of chips, candy, cookies and packaged processed foods. You are likely to grab for one of these things. If you come home hungry to a fridge stocked with cooked chicken breasts, cut up veggies, cooked and measured containers of rice, fruit, and turkey, are you likely to throw a quick meal/salad together with these items? If it will ruin your progress, do not buy it. I know it’s a little weird, but I have healthy snacks stored in my car. I am always in my car, and I get hungry. I have jerky, protein bars, dried fruit, protein powder, and my sigg bottle always full of water. Store some of these healthy options in your desk at work if you have to. The key is having them individually packaged or pre-measured into snack baggies. That way you are not just mindlessly snacking from a bottomless bag (even if it is a healthy food, this can stop progress).
- HAVE LIST HEALTHY FAST FOOD OPTIONS: I personally am not a fan of fast food, but sometimes we have no other option. When you live a busy life, or are traveling a lot in your car, you tend to eat out a lot. One thing I will do is provide my clients with a list of “healthy” fast food choices that fit their macro ranges. That way, they can keep it in their car, or purse and have it with them all the time. This way there is no excuses. If you have to go through fast food, that’s fine on occasion, just choose one of the options on the list and you will not lose any of your progress.
- THE CROCKPOT IS A LIFESAVER: I honestly don’t know what I would do without my crockpots. I use my crock pots about 5 times a week on average. I get home around 6pm each day (that’s when I don’t have meetings with clients, or activities with the kids). As soon as I walk in I have three hungry kids that want their dinner right away. They are not patient when they are hungry, and they usually go to bed around 7ish on weeknights. I need to have dinner ready fast. The crock pot has helped me with that. I use it for roasts, soups, chili, stew, etc. I put a whole chicken (or some chicken breasts) in there on top of some red potatoes with some garlic salt or other seasoning, and put it on low when I leave at 7am. When I get home I have dinner ready! I usually have one going with meat, and the other with veggies. I put green beans and ham in it, or collard greens and a ham hock, or even sweet potatoes. If you poke the sweet potatoes (or regular potatoes) with a fork and wrap them in foil and put on low in the crock pot, you will have baked potatoes ready when you get home! I put in chicken breasts and a can of salsa, then you can shred the chicken and serve in tortillas, over rice, or over pasta. I have even done ground beef and sloppy joe sauce in there. The possibilities are endless and it doesn’t take a ton of planning. Also, if you know that there is food ready for you when you get home, you are a lot less likely to stop and pick up food on your way. This saves money, and added calories! A win-win!
- ONE RELAXED MEAL A WEEK: I encourage my clients to have one “relaxed meal” each week. This is not a “cheat day” but a planned part of your life. It helps to push back metabolic suppression that can occur during the week, and it keeps you mentally sane and gives you something to look forward to. This is just one meal that you get to enjoy and not have to keep track of. If you stray off course and go overboard at a work dinner, or networking cocktail hour, or kids birthday party, just make that your relaxed meal. That way there is not guilt and your are able to jump back onto the bandwagon the next day and not miss a beat.
I hope that some of you can relate to these circumstances and can use some of these tips to help you reach your goals. I would like your input on other tips that you may use to stay on track while on the go.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, or would like to get started on your weight loss journey. I would love to be your partner on your way to reach your goals!
Sarah Williams MS, ATC, SFN