“Fail to plan, plan to fail.”
We’ve all heard this quote. It’s a big one in the fitness world, and I’ve used it myself plenty of times. Because for the most part, it’s true. When it comes to training and especially nutrition, having a plan is crucial. I mean, all the fitness “pros” out there plan out their meals and prep their food ahead of time, and then portion it all out into individual tupperware containers, so that must be the only way to succeed, right?
Well, not necessarily.
I am a huge fan of planning. Planning out workouts, planning out meals, and prepping food for the week ahead are all great habits to develop. I do it myself, and it helps me tremendously.
But what about if you DON’T have a plan? What happens when you don’t have all your meals pre-cooked and portioned out? I was just thinking the other day about how the average person getting started with eating healthier may view “food prep”. To them, it may be overwhelming. They may think it means eating the same boring meals day in and day out. I think it could possibly deter some people from trying to start eating better if that’s what they think is necessary for reaching their goals.
Another downside to feeling that you HAVE to have a plan is that it could be easy for some people to fall into the mindset that if they can’t plan out and pre-cook ALL of their meals ahead of time, then they can’t eat healthy at all. It goes back to the old “all or nothing” mentality. If following the “perfect” plan and having every meal and snack portioned out is the only way to succeed in their fat loss efforts, then when that doesn’t happen and they can’t eat “perfect”, they just throw in the towel.
Let’s face it. Sometimes life is hectic. There are some weeks where you just can’t plan and cook all your meals ahead of time…and guess what? That’s okay. You can still do the best you can with what you have. You don’t have to eat out of tupperware containers for every meal. You don’t have to plan out complicated gourmet dinners every single night. You don’t HAVE to eat perfect all the time. You don’t HAVE to always have a plan. But you DO have to make the best choices you can moment by moment.
Not having everything planned out isn’t an excuse to eat like crap. It also doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight or maintain your physique. There are still plenty of healthy options you can choose from for meals and snacks even when you don’t have foods pre-cooked or when you’re crazy busy and short on time.
There are lots of things you could throw together to make a super easy, quick, and healthy meal or snack in just a matter of minutes. For example:
-Eggs. It only takes a few minutes to scramble or fry them up for a meal with some Ezekiel toast on the side.
-Canned chicken mixed in with some microwave brown rice and salsa with a bagged salad on the side
-Protein shake with a rice cake and peanut butter on the side or a fruit smoothie made with frozen fruit
-A can of tuna with a little low fat mayo and an apple and some nuts
-Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with some baby carrots or cherry tomatoes on the side
You could make sure to have things like fruit, string cheese, Kind bars, Mission1 or Quest bars, baby carrots, and tuna pouches on hand to grab when you need a quick snack. When it comes to putting together meals and snacks, just think lean protein source, carb, veggies, and a little fat. Easy peasy.
What about when you’re out and about? Well, how about stopping at the grocery store for a rotisserie chicken instead of grabbing a pizza on the way home? You can order a grilled chicken salad or wrap with fruit on the side instead of burger and fries at a fast food restaurant. You could keep your car/purse stocked with things like jerky, nuts, apples, and protein bars, so you’ll have something to grab when you’re on the go. How about packing a lunch for work instead of getting takeout? Not only will you save money, but you’ll save a ton of calories, too. Something like turkey deli meat on whole wheat bread with some fruit and a side salad will take less than 5 minutes to prepare the night before.
So there you have it. Even when you don’t have a plan, you can still choose to do the best you can. Every time you eat something, it’s your choice as to whether it’s going to be junk or something relatively healthy. Are all of those things I mentioned “perfect”? No. Would you want to eat like this ALL the time? Probably not. But they are “good enough” choices, and sometimes good enough is better than nothing. As long as you’re doing the best you can, not having a “perfect” plan or every single meal portioned out ahead of time is NOT a make or break thing. It’s not an excuse to make bad choices.