Among a few other things, I am a self-proclaimed foodie. I love absolutely everything there is to do with food. I didn’t realize how much of a foodie I was until I did the #100happydays challenge. If you haven’t heard of this, you take a photo of one thing every day that makes you happy and you post it to social media with the hashtag #100happydays.
Well… it is very clear that food makes me happy. My #100happydays included 95% food pictures… and the remainder were basically beer and coffee pictures.
Now, I have a dedicated Instagram account (@mealplanaddict) to post all of my food pictures and can hash tag to my heart’s desire with other foodies and meal prep addicts!
Food has always been a bit of an obsession for me. While food is now a huge part of the happy in my life… it certainly hasn’t always been that way.
Sadly, my love of food is what led me to be very unhappy for as long as I can remember.
My rock bottom…
In 2012, following the birth of my daughter, I had gotten to a place where I was becoming unrecognizable to myself. A year after the birth of my daughter I had somehow managed to weigh more than the day I gave birth.
I had used being pregnant and becoming a new mom as an excuse to become a person I didn’t want to be. My outgoing personality and optimistic lens on life was fading. I was miserable, sad, tired, not confident… and the most overweight I had ever been.
I let this go on for TWO YEARS! Having a toddler was an excuse, working a very very busy full time job was an excuse, not believing I could ever do it was an excuse. If there was an excuse, for two years, I used it.
I needed to make a change. Enter… Simply for Life .
I am typically not into “programs”. They always seemed too overwhelming, and only a temporary fix – how would I maintain after a program? I didn’t trust “programs”.
But, I trusted my (also a foodie) friend who suggested SFL, and gave it a go for 6 months.
Simply for life is working one on one with a dietician who builds customized meal plans, weekly motivation, and most importantly – provides food education. Bonus as it is a registered dietician and thus many health benefit packages cover it (in Canada).
Each week I would get my new meal plan and start by googling the food names I had never heard of or cooked with.
Yeah…. I googled quinoa and “what are lentils and how do I cook them?”
Each Sunday I would prep all of the food on my meal plan for that week. This is where a meal plan addict was born. Even my dietician was impressed!
There are a million articles on the internet on how to lose weight. Most of them are about some sort of voodoo magic pill, cutting out something completely from your diet, or drinking nothing but smoothies for the rest of your life. I am sure all of these methods have worked for someone out there – but they are not for me.
The key for anyone trying to lose weight is to find what interests you. Find what will keep you motivated. Whatever it is, it is not going to be easy, but you have to find something you are interested in.
There are many people who are completely overwhelmed and exhausted by the thought of meal planning and prepping a week of meals at once, or think it is just too hard – that’s fine, meal planning and prep might not be the path you want to go down.
But, as someone much wiser than me said “Being fat is hard | Losing weight is hard |Pick your hard” and I agree.
For me – this is what worked. I was able to channel my food obsession in a whole new light. You don’t even want to know how much time I spend on food blogs looking for new recipes to try!
I am often asked how does becoming a meal plan addict help someone lose weight?
So, here are the three ways that becoming a meal plan addict helped me drop the weight… but more importantly… create my own happiness.
To my disappointment, even if you eat a ton of “healthy foods”, you still gain weight. Say what?!
I had failed at weight loss so many times before because although I was eating what is considered “healthy food”, I was consistently eating too much of it all. I started tracking what (and how much) I was eating to try and understand why I was so unsuccessful when I was eating whole grains, salads, soups, smoothies, fruits and veggies.
Well, whole grains are good for you – but not when you are eating a plate of whole wheat spaghetti the size of your face.
Those smoothies I was having for breakfast at the smoothie chains with all of those beautiful fruits, yea… those are a liter of sugar. I still drink these from time to time, but they are usually green and made with coconut water and not juice… and only a small size.
Those salads I was ordering when eating out. Yeah, those are often well over 1,000 calories, portioned for an entire family, and had too many calorie rich toppings with gallon of high fat salad dressing. Damn you croutons that were equivalent to eating half a loaf of bread!
I desperately needed to learn portion control. This is still the factor I struggle with the most to this day. This is where Simply for Life helped me. Did you know a serving of meat should be the size of a deck of cards, and that a potato shouldn’t be the size of your head?!?
I don’t know on what planet this is an appropriate serving size…. OK, maybe in Texas it is.
I was scared of portioning my food in fear I would be starving all of the time. It took my brain and body a while to learn these new portion sizes. I learned to use vegetables to fill a void. My pasta plate is now half zucchini noodles, half regular noodles.
I don’t count calories ever … and I eat whatever I want. I live by Giada De Laurentiis’ quote : I eat a little bit of everything and not a lot of anything. Everything in moderation.” Except spiralized vegetables. I have a strange addiction to those.
My next issue was that I would skip meals because they were not readily accessible, and then I would be so hungry I would grab what was closest, easiest, and already made for me.
I had to create a new definition of fast food.
A new definition of fast food
I need snacks…. and I need them right now! … Oh, and they need to be portioned out or I will eat the whole bowl/bag/container.
Meal planning and prepping has helped me create my own fast food where I needed it the most – Snacks and Dinner.
For snacks, I now know they need to be as high protein as I can get them. They also shouldn’t be much more than 100 calories. They are a snack and not a meal. Unless I know I am going to spin. Then I eat a bigger snack – because spin CRUSHES calories.
My fridge and freezer ALWAYS have ready to go snack options. Some snacks, I make in the masses and freeze.
And some, I make on Sunday just for that week.
My go to snacks can be found here.
Dinners also need to be on the table fast.
Both my husband and I work out of the home and both get home around 5pm. The small human is usually in hangry mode, and I am usually not far behind. Dinner needs to be on the table in the next 20 minutes, or there are usually casualties of some sort.
There is no time to spend the next hour playing the really fun game of “what do you want for dinner?”, and then staring longingly into the fridge.
I tackle this a few ways:
- Fill the freezer with ready to go meals: When I am feeling really motivated, I do a big freezer cook day and fill the freezer with ready to go meals. I used once a month meals and cooked a month worth of meals in a day. #expert level. I think I am still recovering from that one.
- Every recipe I make, I modify for prep ahead. Even if it means just chopping all of the ingredients and making the sauce on Sunday, the actual cook part during the week is quite easy now. It is rare to need more than 20 minutes from the time I walk in the door, to the time dinner in on the table and I am taking a photo of it! My prep ahead dinner ideas are here.
- On Sunday, I make a big batch of quinoa or rice for the week. You can add endless things to these 2 things and have a different dinner side each night. I also spiralize or chop all of my vegetables so they are ready to assemble a quick salad.
Variety: Make Meals Less Boring
When you sit down to meal plan for the week, it is interesting that one wouldn’t do this:
Monday: Drive through burgers and fries
Wednesday: Kraft Dinner Mac and Cheese
Thursday: Something from a box in the freezer
Friday: Chinese take out.
When you deliberately plan what you will eat in the week, you will make better decisions. Trust me. You will use your brain, and not your stomach to make food choices.
Or, if you are like me, your eyes will make the decisions based off of Pinterest pictures! In fact, my issue is that I can’t pick what to make in a given week because I have too many options. #foodieproblems.
I have an easy system for picking what will go on my meal plan in a week. I talk about that in my post 4 simple ways to start meal planning.
When I started to plan out my week of meals, I found I had become more adventurous. Like …. WAY more adventurous.
When I look at the week, I can deliberately plan a balanced menu and not just the same perogies, spaghetti, taco kit, and Mac and Cheese that was in regular rotation before.
The whole family wins with this. My small human is exposed to so many types of foods and my hope is one day she won’t be the picky eater she is today. My husband – who admits to just be along for the ride here – is eating foods he never thought he would try. He also “accidently” lost a few pounds just by eating what was put in front of him. And me, I get to fuel my foodie passion trying new foods, and new recipes.
It is pretty obvious that meal prepping and planning has changed my life for the better. It actually created a cascade of happy in my life. Once I started to lose weight, I had the confidence and ENERGY… oh so much energy, to try new things that overweight me NEVER would have done.
Like…. the one day, about a year ago when I put on runners and decided I would be one of those runner people. Overweight me hurt to run. Everything jiggled and it sucked. Happy me, put on those shoes on day 1 ran 7km (bad Steph, don’t do this).
A few months later, happy me did my first race with my best friend. Something I am sure she never thought I would ever do with her! Half marathon and obstacle races are next.
I also had the confidence to try spinning at a local boutique spin studio– Push Cycling Studio in Airdrie, Alberta. Overweight me was too insecure to go to any sort of group fitness setting. Happy me was still terrified of spin but I went to my first class killing it in my new lululemon capris, nonetheless.
Nearly a year later, I have met some amazing, motivating, inspiring friends. I have learned Pilates ( Thanks Janine and Jacqui!), and refined the idea of balancing a healthy life with a happy life. Yes, doing spin and then tasting wine is a real thing at Push Cycling Studio. Ride then wine. Not the other way around.
Becoming a meal plan addict led to weight loss, which led to energy, which led to happy, which led to confidence, which lead to trying new things, which led to running, which led to spin, which led to Pilates, which led to the beginning of awesome leg muscles and oh so many endorphins. I think you get it. Oh, it also led to this blog – another happy place for me.
It was the first domino in a cascade of things that allowed me to create a skinny happy me.
So, there you have it, the answer to how meal planning and prepping can help with weightloss goals, and how I created my happy.