The Power of Advanced Planning
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
One thing I've always learned from being on several diets is the need to plan and measure. I've heard it several times, and although I've ingested the words and thought about them, somehow I never translated those words into real action until now. I used to convince myself that I had a good enough idea of what a calorie looked like, so even when I read the nutrition facts, I never measured nor tracked my food. I was confident that I could eyeball a meal and estimate whether it was within my calorie range. After all, if a large apple is only 125 calories, then maybe a half cup of almonds might be about the same, and even if it were a little more, and high in fat, it was good for me, so where is the harm? Well, the harm is that a half cup of almonds has 410.4 calories and 36 grams of fat, and if I am honest with myself, very rarely did I stop at a half cup as I mindlessly popped them into my mouth while sitting in front of the television, hugging the big bag I purchased from Costco. Even "healthy" foods should have boundaries and as I became more informed I learned to set them. Setting those boundaries become easier with advanced planning. The term advanced is important, at least to me. I took my first step in the right direction with tracking my meals. However, I tracked in retrospect, after I had eaten; and at times when I recognized how much I had eaten, I would be appalled. There were also times when it would be late in the day and I had not eaten most of my required portions because I had too light a breakfast and/or lunch. Then I would be tasked with consuming the necessary nutrients without burdening myself with too much food in one sitting. I have realized, as I'm sure many are already doing, that my best strategy is to plan in advance. Spark can do it for me, but I prefer to make my own choices. Planning can be time consuming, but it's worth it, and the more I do it, the easier it becomes. I plan all meals the night before and enter them in the tracker. Then I toggle and fine-tune my portions and foods until I have the right combination in the correct amounts spread over all meals. I also pay attention to the sodium and potassium and other nutrients to be sure that I am meeting and not surpassing my goals. If I know that I'll be eating out during the day, then I rework my plan to leave adequate amounts for the event. I could always add to it later if the food served was not enough, but it would be impossible to subtract from what is already eaten. Once I keep to a plan, then I'm fine. I have learned that there is power in advanced planning. When I plan in advance I have the right combination of foods, and I am able to stay on track with my daily goals.