veggiesYou’ve told yourself time and time again that you need to start taking better care of yourself.

But life just catches up to you. And so you tell yourself, “I’ll begin next week.” But as many of us know, the cycle tends to repeat itself.

So how do we break our habits and finally instill a change? And not an “exercise more and go on a diet” mentality, but an actual lifestyle change?

It all comes down to planning. If you really are committed to making a change in your life (and one that actually sticks), planning is key. It may seem as if you don’t have time to plan because life is so chaotic. But I promise that your exercise and food choices will be so much easier to follow through with if you take the time to plan them out.

Where to Begin?

Getting started is the hardest part. But my best advice is to sit down on a Sunday and look at your schedule for the week. What do you have going on? Lunch dates, doctor appointments? And what are your family members’ obligations for the week? Does your significant other have a business dinner? Do the kids have soccer practice?

Next, get out your planner or phone and write it all down.

Menu Planning

Now that you know where everyone has to be during the week, plan a menu around that. Here are a few tips:

  1. Use Pinterest. I love using Pinterest as a source for finding healthy recipes. I even have my boards broken up into Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, etc. Whenever you’re bored or have a little free time, hop onto Pinterest for a few minutes and pin any recipes that sound good. In no time, you’ll have an arsenal of recipes to choose from.
  2. Think Clean, Green and Lean. There are many ways to get technical about nutrition, but think “clean, green and lean.” Clean eating is all about staying away from overly processed foods. Choose items that are closest to their natural state, such as fruits and vegetables. Also, eat as many green foods as you want! Green veggies contain essential vitamins and minerals, which you can never have too much of. Finally, choose lean meats such as chicken and turkey instead of more fatty meats like beef.
  3. Look for ways to maximize your time. If you know the kids have soccer practice on Wednesday, make a casserole on Tuesday night and have leftovers on Wednesday. This will save time and help you avoid hitting the drive-through on the way home from practice.
  4. Look for ways to stretch your dollar. Want to try a new recipe that calls for only half an avocado? Plan a lunch for the next day that also calls for an avocado. Another tip: eat in season. Choosing produce that is in season will cut back on your grocery bill. We’re all looking for ways to save money and a bit of extra thought while planning your menu can help.
  5. Write a grocery list as you go along. As you find recipes for week, note the ingredients. Before you hit the store, take a quick look around the kitchen to see if you have any of those ingredients already.
  6. Keep the menu plan on the refrigerator. Keep the menu posted for everyone in the family to see. This will help you know if you need to prep your lunch the night before or if you need to put a dinner in the crockpot that morning.

Although planning does take time and thought, I promise the effort is well worth it! And if you continue to be dedicated to planning out your week, the process will stick. It takes 30 days to form a habit, so don’t give up at first. Keep telling yourself the effort will be worth it when you know that you and your family are eating well.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series where we’ll provide some tips to make exercise a part of your daily life.

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