3 Easy Steps to Meal Planning

The WellNow Co Meal Planning

By Suzanne Leyden

As a skill meal planning may not be regarded as sexy. But it has incredible qualities that shine through and make it very desirable. What other activity can offer a combination of improving your time management, reducing stress, improving nutritional intake, cost effectiveness and is sustainable too? I mean come on, surely we should all give it a try.

The problem so many people have is that they are short on time in the first place. When it comes to meal planning people sometimes think they want to be handed a finished meal plan and that’s the extent of it. For guaranteed success, however, the reality is different. There is a bit of work involved up front but the pay-off, already outlined, is well worth it.

It really is the starting point of taking control of your health, your way, entirely on your terms. It has the best chance of succeeding this way. If it doesn’t work for you straight away, you’ve invested in it personally so you know how to go about tweaking it so that you can revise it to work for you.

The three things you need to approach meal planning for success are:

The WellNow Co Meal Planning
Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash

THE WHY

Set the right goals so that you stay motivated and on-track. Being clear of your objective in terms of meal planning is the recipe to success. Is there an underlying reason you want to get meal planning from a nutrition perspective? Maybe you want to eat more healthily, become more sustainable by incorporating in-season ingredients into your daily meals or you might simply want to improve the habits of your family. It could be that you want to manage your weight better, increase your energy or reduce your household costs. Knowing your why is critical to your success. It’s important to spend a bit of time asking yourself ‘why meal planning?’ because it’s when things start to falter you can remind yourself of this and get motivated to stick with it.

The WellNow Co Meal Planning
Photo by S’well on Unsplash

THE WHAT

Once you understand the outcome you want to achieve then you can have this as a focus when you are choosing your meals. Get informed as much as you can in terms of nutritional needs for your circumstances. Learning more about reading food labels may be something to consider. There will undoubtedly be taste considerations that need to be addressed also. Decide how you want to address these. You may want to push the introduction of a wider variety of vegetables into your weekly diet, or your children’s diet. This can be incorporated into your plan. You are in control.

THE HOW

Having the most appropriate tools for you is key. An approach or template or format that you can relate to and can make work for you is the first step. Then you need to make the plan work for your schedule and circumstances. Knowing the limitations and boundaries to your schedule and the people who will be impacted by your meal plan will allow you to tailor and tweak the plan to optimize success. Don’t plan to overhaul your entire diet in one go. Take on small changes and allow yourself time to bed them down and succeed at them before moving on to the next. Start with X number of dinners a week, or choose which meal to address so that it suits your needs right now. Your shopping then can become streamlined to avoid waste and maximize nutrition, maybe even taking into account what’s in season.

SOLUTION FOR YOU

To really get you in gear and help you bed down meal planning into your weekly routine then this online programme is for you. ‘3-Steps to Meal Planning for Health’ is The WellNow Co.’s video led online programme full of tools and information to get you meal planning like a pro. Check it out now, you won’t regret it.

THE WELLNOW CO 3 STEPS TO MEAL PLANNING FOR HEALTH
The WellNow Co’s ‘3-Steps to Meal Planning for Health

Featured Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash

Planning: 3 Simple Ways to Positively Impact Your Health

3 Simple Ways to Positively Impact Your Health

By Suzanne Leyden

Planning doesn’t necessarily conjure up motivational whoops of joy, but it is a key component to success. If improving your health and wellbeing is something you are looking to succeed in then read on.

These 3 simple ways to positively impact your health are achievable and accessible for everyone through planning. A simple notebook as a journal can do the trick. You don’t need online tools, or spreadsheets, although some people find them useful and can act as an added motivator. These 3 simple points are practical and can really help set you up to succeed.

  1. Write It Down

Did you know that you are 42% more likely to succeed at something if you write it down? According to a goal-setting study led by Dr. Gail Matthews, Psychology Professor this was the result. Writing down goals helps you get clarity on what you want to achieve. It also allows you to explore ideas and themes that come to you, that might be a passing thought if you didn’t write it down. It is a really simple and effective tool for self-exploration.

Some people address their written goals twice a day, some monthly and others annually. Whatever your approach, the goals can start broad but they should be broken down into realistic and achievable steps on the path you carve out for your success. Applying S.M.A.R.T. criteria to you goals will get you setting the bullseye goals for you to succeed with. That is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time bound.

For instance, Mary wants to get fit. She sets this as her goal. But how is she planning to do this? She’ll run. Ok. When? 3 times a week. Which days? And what times? Monday lunchtime is good, because she works from home that day and can shower after. Wednesday evening suits because her husband can put the kids to bed that night. And Saturday morning before breakfast works well because the kids sleep a little late. This now feels like a tangible and realistic plan.

  1. Create Clear Structure

So, now you have the main idea of what it is you want to achieve. The next thing you need is to figure out how you’re going to get from where you are now to where you want to be. For this, you need to apply a clear structure. Look at what essential steps need to be achieved in order to get you to where you want to be. Create a timeline for achieving these smaller steps. Some of the milestones may be done at the same time, whereas some may have to be done sequentially. Once you establish this clear structure it will act as a motivational tool in itself. You will see that it is achievable, how long it can take and now you just need to follow the steps to get there to stay on track.

Let’s go back to Mary and see how we can apply this. She has now been really clear about when she will go for her run. But what about a bigger picture. What’s the aim of her goal? She says she wants more energy. She also wants to feel stronger. This is great. So initially she will run short distances. She has decided that she will run for 30 minutes each time, regardless of distance. She knows this is realistic, and that she ultimately wants to comfortably run 5km in 30 minutes.

  1. Make It Measurable

By creating this clear structure you have made your path to success measurable. As you succeed with the small steps you can tick them off as you go. This is a great way to stay motivated, particularly if you are managing big changes or long periods of time. You can decide to celebrate at certain milestones, or when you reach your endpoint. You are in the driving seat and make the choices to stay on the path to your success. By making it measurable you can track your progress and stay motivated until the end.

Again, hi Mary! It might take Mary 10 weeks to run 5km in 30 minutes. So what are the milestones she can reach in the meantime to keep her motivated for all that time? One could be a distance she would like to cover by the end of each week. 2km the first week and so on. As she is starting out she may not be able to run continuously for 30 minutes. It will be a combination of walking and running or jogging. Another milestone could be to be able to jog continuously for 30 minutes without walking. This should overlap one of the weeks with her distance milestone. Then she just needs to focus on her distance as the measurable piece.

So Mary reaches her goal of getting fit by running 5km in 30 minutes. Depending on how well Mary gets on with her plan, she may decide she is happy that she’s achieved her goal and this becomes her routine for years. Equally, she might decide that she would like to set herself some more goals. She wants to enter 5km races in her area to keep her motivated. She may also want to start extending the distance to 10km and increase the time she runs for.

At the outset of Mary’s planning she could not have foreseen how she might do with achieving her fitness goal. It’s important to remember that there are so many moving elements to all goals we set, that we need to allow ourselves the flexibility to adapt and change to suit our current set of circumstances.

A really important aspect of setting goals and knowing we’ve achieved them is that ability to stop doing them for a period of time – say a holiday – but have the confidence we can return to doing them with ease after the break from them.

Create Your Own Plan

You can create your own plan as you can see from above. Remember to celebrate your wins. Decide what you will do to mark it when you’re at the planning stage so you have another motivator to get you across the line. It could be a spa pamper, or a meal with friends or something specifically related to what you are doing – Mary might choose some fancy new running shorts!

Taking the time to do all this planning properly from the outset is key to having the best results. So, don’t rush this. Do take advantage of your enthusiasm, but stay realistic. You could also choose to have a friend as your ‘accountability buddy’ which helps particularly well in the early days of forming new behaviour patterns. Or you might choose to work with a health coach to really get you to where you want to be. I’d love to hear what your goals are and how you plan to achieve them. Drop me a line at suzanne@thewellnowco.com and let me know.

Feature Photo by S Migaj on Unsplash

Suzanne Leyden Health Coach Contact