Friday, May 11, 2012

The Importance of Being Prepared

While working to maintain my weight loss, I have seen how my fluctuations in weight revolve around my level of preparedness. Life continually throws us challenges (long work days, chocolate cravings, happy hours, kids, indulgent vacations, late night munchies) that threaten our ability to meet our weight loss goals.  In order to be successful, we need to realize that although we may not be able to control these challenges, we can control how we respond to them and how we prepare for them.

Over the last six years, I have found that I get myself into the most trouble when I am not prepared.  It is so easy, after a long day,  to order Chinese take-out when I forget to make plans for dinner.  It sounds innocent, but the next thing I know I’ve eaten an entire combination platter, and a side of egg rolls.  

After several (hundred) similar mistakes, I finally developed a few guidelines on meal preparedness.  I always prepare a meal plan for the entire week on the weekend.  Every time I see a healthy recipe that looks good, I save it either on or in a recipe file.  This makes finding healthy recipes easy, and speeds up the meal planning process.  Once my plan is in place, I do all of my grocery shopping in one trip in order to save time later in the week.  When I make a meal, I always double the recipe so that I have leftovers.  I am also a firm believer in keeping the freezer stocked with leftover meals, or pieces of meals that can be used to throw together dinner in a hurry.  I’ve been known to assemble a bunch of black bean burritos on a Sunday evening and then freeze them for a weeks worth of 300 calorie lunches.

If you read this blog regularly, you have probably figured out that I am a snacker.  I know that I am going to start searching the cupboards for snacks at around 9 o’clock every night.  I just can’t help myself, and trust me I’ve tried.  Instead of trying to fight the craving, what I have done is to prepare for these cravings by removing the common unhealthy snacks (chips, candy) from my cupboards.  Instead of grabbing a handful (or five) of chips, I fulfill my snacking needs with a bowl full of air-popped popcorn.  

Late night munchies are one thing, but chocolate cravings, those are a whole different thing altogether.  With limiting my overall sugar intake, I have found that my chocolate cravings are less common than they once were, but that doesn’t mean they are gone. I know they are going to occur, and now I am prepared for them.  First of all, I have learned that there really isn’t a substitute for chocolate.  Trying to fix a chocolate craving with something else just doesn’t work.  My solution has been to keep a bag of dark chocolate chips in the back of my cupboard.  I love the Ghiradelli 60% dark chips.  There are 80 calories in 16 chips, but the flavor is so intense it usually only takes a couple to satisfy a craving.  I like chocolate chips because I never feel at risk of overdoing it.  I’ve never had an urge to eat the entire bag.

One area where I do have a tendency to overdo it is on vacation. If I don’t prepare, I am likely to come back with a five pound souvenir on my thighs.  To avoid this, I try to plan exercise into my trips.  I always pre-book a hotel with a fitness center, and I incorporate activities like rollerblading along the beach, renting bicycles, hiking, walking, skiing and swimming into the itinerary.   I also pre-book a hotel with an in-room refrigerator so that I can store healthy items for breakfast. This way I am not eating every meal at a restaurant.  

These tricks help to keep me prepared, but they might not be the best solutions for everyone.  The key is not to do exactly what I do, but to recognize life’s challenges and find ways that help keep you prepared for battle.  

When life gives you lemons, use them as a zero calorie salad dressing, or as a nice marinade for a chicken breast.


  1. I love this article! Haha, and yes, chocolate cravings are legit! Thanks so much for the tidbits :D

  2. Thanks a lot for these tips. I usually get fat on vacation and I found this very helpful. I may not exercise during my resting time, but I will certainly try to eat healthy food instead of restaurant one.

    I liked this blog very much!

    1. Thank you for the kind words Valeria! I am glad you liked the vacation tips. Did you see my post from March that is all about traveling healthy?

      Thanks again!

  3. It's so true! I find myself in trouble when I'm not prepared. I also have to prepare snacks so I don't have the urge to grab something that will delay my weight loss. Thanks for all of your tips! You look great! :)

    1. Thank you for the complement Megan! It really means a lot :). I'm glad that you are enjoying the tips, and hope that you find the posts useful!