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Planning for Success

January 28, 2009 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Yesterday, a friend of mine commented on how his new diet was derailed by some unexpected circumstances. He went on to describe a number of stressful events that made it difficult for him to acquire healthy food. Well, that’s his story and he’s sticking to it. But if you’re anything like me, you probably aren’t buying the story my friend’s selling. At least not 100% of it. So this would be a good opportunity for me to share some simple tips that have kept me on the right track to good health.

I think that the single most important tool for transforming your lifestyle, besides a firm commitment to the cause, is planning ahead. If you plan ahead, you’re planning for success. Trust me when I tell you that the vast majority of people simply can’t improvise their way to a new, healthier body and mind. You need to prepare yourself for it. You need to train yourself to be that different person you hope to be.

Today I’m going to offer a few suggestions about how to stick to a healthier diet. The tips I’m providing are intended to help you deal with many of the uncertainties of daily life. Some days you’ll have to work late. There may be a power outage and you can’t cook a normal dinner. Or maybe there will be times when you’re stuck in traffic for hours and you’re simply too exhausted to even think about preparing anything healthy. Our lives are filled with such events. But that doesn’t mean that we have use these circumstances as opportunities to go to a fast food drive-thru or otherwise comfort ourselves with junk food. There are other options.

Here are 5 steps that can help you prepare for the twists and turns that life will undoubtedly bring. If you can follow these guidelines, you should be able to avoid the most common traps that snag all too many dieters and anyone seeking to transform their health.

1. Make a list of all the healthy foods you enjoy eating. I’m serious about this. Think about every single healthy food that brings you pleasure. Then add those foods to a master list. Over time, as your palate expands, your list will grow as well. Use this list to help guide you when you go shopping. The more of these foods you buy, the fewer junky foods are likely to make it into your shopping cart.

2. Always keep our home stocked with plenty of healthy foods that are easy to prepare. Some examples include fresh tomatoes, avocados, canned salmon and tuna, raw almonds, naturally cured meats, olives and raw cheeses.

So let’s say that I come home late one night. Maybe my wife is at a business dinner. I’m tired, possibly stressed from the day’s events, and I’m hungry. This is a dangerous spot to be in. But, I have the right foods on hand and I can easily whip up a simple and delicious meal that actually nourishes me, instead of harming myself.

In this instance, I would probably quarter an avocado and wrapped some thin slices of prosciutto around the avocado sections. Then I would slice some cheese and pour myself a glass of organic red wine. In less than five minutes, I’d have had a simple and satisfying meal that’s loaded with good nutrition.

Breakfast is another perilous time for many people. We’re often rushed in the morning. We’re tired. And many times we don’t have the time or energy to prepare a proper breakfast. This happened to me this very morning. But instead of microwaving a breakfast sandwich or grabbing a sugar-packed muffin, I decide to make a healthy low-sugar protein shake. It took me less than 2 minutes to make and clean up was a snap. I used one of those tiny “shaker cups” that you can buy at health food stores. Just add the protein powder, some liquid (water, any type of milk, or cream) and shake, shake, shake!

3. Prepare sample menus. Now that you have your list of healthy foods (and they’re stocked in your home), start making a list of meals that you enjoy eating. Prepare “go to” menus that you can call upon whenever you plan on cooking a meal. Think of this as a specialized mini-cook book.

Herb-roasted chicken and spinachExamples: a) Herb-roasted chicken with creamed spinach b) Grilled Alaskan Salmon and mashed cauliflower c) Bison burgers with organic cheddar, sliced avocado and Roma tomatoes

4. Try to expand your culinary creativity. Watch cooking segments on TV. Search the Internet for menu blogs. Look through cookbooks and magazines to find interesting new flavors and textures that can help make your daily diet more interesting and satisfying to your senses.

Since switching to my current diet/lifestyle, I’ve found that I’m much more interested in spicy foods and exotic foods – such as cheeses that I’d never tried before, a broader array of meats and spices, etc. I think this shift in my taste has allowed me to enjoy my carb-restricted diet much more than I otherwise would. In other words, I appreciate as many foods within my diet as possible. By doing so, I don’t miss the foods that I’m no longer eating – like cookies and fried potatoes, etc.

5. Compile a list of restaurants that have dishes that are well suited to your healthy diet and lifestyle. Make it a point to visit new restaurants and check out online menus too. If you have a broad list of places to go, you’ll feel less restricted and your set of dining-out and ordering-in resources will make life a bit easier. This is very helpful for those times when you plan on going out on a date or entertaining friends.

Bonus Tip: When you prepare your favorite foods, double your recipes. Store the leftovers in the fridge or even in the freezer. Cooking is often labor intensive and time consuming. By making larger amounts and saving the excess for leftovers, you’ll save time and make things easier on yourself later.

I know that much of this may seem obvious or intuitive. But for most people, having this kind of information in our heads isn’t enough. We need to have it at our fingertips. It needs to be in the forefront of our minds. The reason is because we’re consciously trying to change the way we treat ourselves. And that’s a big change. It goes against patterns that we’ve formed over many years. Such a shift can be accomplished, but it requires a conscious and persistent effort. But the good news is that the longer you stick to it, the easier it becomes and soon it will feel like second nature. That adage is absolutely true.

By the way, a personal observation that I’ve made and that I often find in others is this: Those who have the hardest time planning, often benefit the most from it. So if you’re resistant to this idea, but you’re admittedly struggling with sticking to a healthy lifestyle … please consider giving this technique a shot.

Be well!


Posted in Diet and Weight Loss, Mental Health, Recipes

4 Comments & Updates to “Planning for Success”

  1. rife macine Says:

    ‘Make a list of all the healthy foods you enjoy eating’ with this i can tell you that the most healthy foods are vegetables.this can make a perfect health.
    vegetables such as tomatoes,spinach,carrot has major uses.
    Thank you for the information.

  2. Mia B. Says:

    Thank you for your ideas, & for imparting a strong “if I can do it, YOU can do it” spirit… {I will look for some of the food sources you’ve recommended}. My favorite ‘quote’ of the week has been: “If you fail to plan, You plan to fail”. Have a good week’s-end!

  3. JP Says:

    Thanks for your input, Rife!

    Be well,


  4. JP Says:

    Thanks, Mia.

    A fine quote indeed.

    Be well!


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