Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Importance of Planning Meals in Advance

I can't stress enough the importance (for me) of planning out my daily menus.
I keep them on a spreadsheet in Google Docs.  I plan out a week in advance every bite of food I'll be eating for all meals and snacks.  I look at that menu very often, numerous times per day, as a guide to what I get next... and try my best to follow it.  I do make occasional last minute changes, but keeping a plan, an account of my calories and what I'm eating, helps me out tremendously.

I also track my weight every day and notate my morning weight along w/my menu for that day.  I know some sources say to not weigh every day, but that works best for me and is another motivator to keep me on my healthier lifestyle journey

Below is a look at 3 days of what I've eaten recently.  Keep in mind that my lifestyle is not very "active" therefore my body does not need a high amount of calories.  At this time, I like to keep my calories between 1050 and 1200.  Sometimes the calories exceed that. So it is usually a bit varied...some days lower, some days mid range, some higher.  To be honest, at this stage, I would like to more consistently stay in the 1050-1100 range, but I don't always manage that and I'm okay with fluctuating a little.  (The column on the right is calories.  The number to the right of the date is my weight for that morning.)

The menu below is one of my "I went overboard" calorie days. ha
THURS April 28 129.8
1/2 s oatmeal w/equal, walnuts, 1/4 apple/peaches/cinn/alm milk, sugar free syrup,saus,v8 330
1 tortilla, 2 T pb, honey275
mozz ch stick50
1 TJ black bean burger w/ 1/4 guac/honey, 1/2 yam w/ 1/2 T ghee 375
1/2 sl cheesecake550
 *The cheesecake (above) was in celebration of John's b-day and from Cheesecake Factory where their cheesecakes are very decadent.  We allow occasional splurges.  We have done a lot of birthday celebrations in the month of April and my weight loss has stalled because of itI want to try to do better in May and June, eating healthier and watching my calories more consistently, because we have a California coastal trip planned for our anniversary in July and I know we'll have some splurges then. :)

The menu below was a "normal" calorie day.
FRI April 29 130.2
1/2 egg, 3 T liquid eggs,spray oil, saus v8, tort, 1/8 avoc, spin (john orange)290
TJ (soy) pizza burger w/ mozz, sauce, GUAC/yog230
1/2 lg ck breast, 1 oz angel hair pasta, broc, 1 T marg400
I do a lot of self abbreviations which I did not change for the blog (I just copied/pasted from my spreadsheet).  Example:  bb=blueberries, ch ch=cheddar cheese, tort=tortilla, saus=soy breakfast patty, s=serving.

Many of the products used are lower in calorie, carbs, fat.  Many are Trader Joe (TJ) products.  I'll show some more of our favorites in later posts.

The menu below was a "low end" calorie day. 
SAT April 30   128.8
1/2 s oatmeal w/ equal, 1/4 banana/bb, milk syrup, saus, v8290
TJ black bean enchilada, 2 T ch ch, ff s cream225
m ch st50
leftover ck, 1/2 c caul rice, broc, onion, mush, stir fry sauce300

This is exactly what my layout looks like each day in Google Docs spreadsheets, except they're laid out 2 days side by side in 2 columns (reading left to right) rather than a single column as shown above.  I have a template that I use each month.  I have folders for each month and year.  So it is very easy for me to go back and see what I ate in the past for any particular time period.  I can also look at blog photos from the past (checking the created date on the photo) and then go to that day in my spreadsheets and see what I weighed on that particular date...and what I was eating at that time.  I can see days past where my weight loss was good and what I was eating at that time and try to duplicate those menus if that's my current goal. 
Looking at past meals also helps create my current weekly menus.  I can pull things I know we enjoyed in the past and copy/paste to current menus.
I also title my menus by month/yr and at the end of the month I'll add my lowest weight and average weight to that title so that I can see at a glance of my folders what weight range I was in any particular month and can go back to a month I did well to copy and incorporate some of the meals from that month into the current meal plan.

The menus also show me where I messed up...what days I didn't do so well.  If I see a pattern, certain foods or combinations of foods that didn't work so well for me, or that seem to be a trigger for me...foods that I have difficulty using portion control with...then I can see I need to work on that area.

Anyway...this whole system works for me and I've been doing it for a few years now.  I like to be able to see a whole month at a time on one page of all my meals, calories, and weight.

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