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Today’s society is so fast paced, decisions and plans are often made and changed in the spur of the moment. Prior commitments are often rescheduled if planned to far ahead because something always comes up. You can leave your home in the morning with no plans for that evening and within a few hours your friends will be texting you with questions like can you come to trivia tonight? Want to grab drinks after work? Can you help me with …? You get the point.
Unfortunately, the first commitments that end up changing are the commitments to yourself. You’ll always find a reason to cheat yourself. Trust me, I know I used to be the king of this! Oh I’ll just get something healthy where we get drinks. But guess what –that dressing on the salad you ordered has 15 grams of fat. But maybe you got the dressing on the right and only used a little. Well, the actual ingredients of the salad may not be what they seem. You have no idea how long that lettuce has been sitting out –maybe it expired yesterday. But since it didn’t smell, they washed it and chopped it right up. They may not have even washed it. Where did they even get the lettuce from?
Another classic is kidding myself into “just eating before”. That way I won’t be hungry and order food, right? But good luck skipping the chips and salsa. Trust me I’ve been there and made an excuse every time, always cheating myself. By the way –those sugary cocktails you’re catching up over are terrible for you…and beer is not a good substitute.
If you do have the self-control to go out with friends and only drink water, not cheat on your diet and yourself, then all the power to you. I admire your resiliency. But if you’re not one of those people, you have the power to turn the cards in your favor. You can prevent yourself from cheating on your health goals.
Here’s the trick: don’t put yourself in situations to fail. Put yourself in situations to succeed. When you set a health goal, it is usually centered around a diet and/or fitness plan. The best way to prevent you from cheating on your diet is through meal prep.
Every Sunday afternoon I meal prep for the week. And that’s what I always recommend for everyone. If you’re too busy Sunday, do it Monday after work. I’ll make chicken, steak, meatballs –anything that’ll take up too much time preparing and cooking during the week. I’ll also make a salad that will last me at least two nights, and sauté or roast any vegetable sides. I put everything in the refrigerator in oven safe glass containers so that when I get home all I have to do is throw it in the oven.
While I meal prep I’ll put something good on TV, listen to music or a podcast, maybe even have a glass of wine. I’ve found it to become very enjoyable and relaxing. And it gets my mind right to start the week off right. Some foods you don’t need to prepare ahead of time because they can cook quickly while your food is heating in the oven. Things like steamed vegetables or quinoa are quick with minimal mess to clean afterwards.
Another benefit to cooking at home is that you are preparing your food–not a stranger in the back kitchen of a restaurant. Preparing food correctly is just as important as eating healthy. If your food isn’t prepared correctly it can drastically affect the nutritional content, and even make it unhealthy to eat.
That way when someone asks me to meet them out later, I can do so without cheating myself. I just quickly go home first for dinner and then head out to meet them after. I promise you there won’t be any significant consequences from missing a round of trivia.
Not cheating on your fitness plan can be a little more difficult. The easiest way to make sure you get your workouts in is waking up early and getting it done first thing. If you’re a morning person, problem solved. But if you are someone like me that has trouble getting up early, especially in the winter, then you run into a similar problem as you did before meal prep.
To avoid missing workouts, structure your workout schedule realistically. I plan to workout a minimum of 4 days a week, ideally 5, with a break every two days. That allows me the flexibility to commit to other plans on some nights, like a weekly volleyball league or a random happy hour.
I say ideally 5 because I want to be in the gym consistently every 2 days with a 1 day break. But I don’t beat myself up for occasionally missing that 1 day. And when things come up on the nights you plan on working out, it doesn’t have to ruin your routine.
With your meal prepared you’re already saving time, and you can usually intensify and shorten your workout for the same effect. By intensify, I mean having shorter rest periods in between sets as you’re lifting. Or if you’re running, you run a shorter distance at a faster pace.
It takes discipline to say no to your friends and stick to your workouts, trust me I know. But if you’re serious about your goals, the sacrifices are worth what you give up.
Most importantly, don’t lie to yourself. Don’t say you’ll workout after you meet with your friends if you know that won’t happen –the first step is admitting it. You know your strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else, but so many people hide their own weaknesses from themselves trying to be someone they’re not.