For many of us, the coming of September brings the winds of change. Weather it’s the kids going back to school, the leaves starting to change color or the serious internal talk we have with ourselves that goes something like, “Ok, summer was fun, but I seriously have to get back on track with my exercise and meal planning.”
September is a great time to set new goals and focus on a new habit which will carry you through to the end of the year and put you in a position to be ahead of the game when January rolls around.
One of the things that makes the biggest difference in my week is meal planning and setting aside a bit of time on the weekend to prep meals and snacks for the week ahead. This often falls to way-side during the summer months as impromptu BBQs with friends come up, travelling, visitors and those hot evenings where I’m more likely to just throw together a salad and eat some cold watermelon than put together a more complicated meal.
One thing that gets me back on track is reminding myself of how much time I save and how much more simple my week becomes if I spend a bit of time meal planning.
Whenever you are starting a new habit or continuing to work on a habit, it’s important to ask yourself why you are doing it. If you have a strong answer to the question, you are more likely to commit to the habit and it will seem less like a chore and more like a step forward. When it comes to meal planning, the answer to my “why” question is meal planning = less stress and more free time.
Some of my clients find it useful to use a balance sheet. They write a habit that they want to focus on at the top and draw two columns. One for pros and one for cons. I get them to list all the pros and cons for that new habit. It’s a great way of actually seeing where the balance lies. It helps to see the cons, so that a plan can be made to overcome them, or at least reduce their negative effect.
For me, one of the cons of meal planning is having to spend 2 hours in the kitchen on a Sunday with kids wanting my full attention or at least slowing everything down. So a 10-minute job now takes 30 minutes (I love my kids, but man they can make things a lot slower). I find myself getting frustrated and I’ll be honest, somewhat cranky! However, if I organize for my kids to be out of the house, this is a whole different story. I now have 2 hours where I can listen to my favorite podcast or e-book and actually have some time for myself. Yes, I’m still doing the meal prep, but now it is waaaay more enjoyable and I actually look forward to catching up on the latest episode of Freakanomics or the latest TED talk.
When you are starting new habits, it’s a good idea to just begin with one and work on that for a few weeks until you get all the wrinkles ironed out and it just becomes part of your day and not a chore. Then add in another and another and another. If you follow this strategy, one day, in a year from now, you will all of a sudden realize that all those little steps have created big changes in your daily life.
If you think meal planning is something that might make your life a little easier, make sure you are signed up for my newsletter, as next week I’ll be sharing a great meal planning tip that I promise will save you time, money and make life a little more simple.