Do you struggle to maintain a fitness routine or consistently eat a healthy diet? I do. Or at least I did. The winter months always seem to be a struggle for me when it comes to maintaining a workout schedule. Once the temperature drops and daylight lasts only a short few hours, my willpower to get moving becomes non-existent. This winter was no different until I decided to figure out what was blocking my motivation.
Road Block #1: Cold and Dark = No working out outside / Solution #1: Set up a home gym
Luckily, I already had a treadmill that was set up in the spare bedroom. I bought some additional exercise equipment: free weights, an exercise ball and a fan. And installed mirrored closet doors. Quick fix yes but having a place to work out did not equal actually working out.
Road Block #2: Scheduling Time to Workout / Solution #2: Identify which days to work out
I pulled out my planner one night and wrote everything out: days I work later, nights I complete certain chores, time I spend with loved ones, nights I prefer to veg out on the couch watching my favorite TV shows. After mapping it all out on a calendar I could see which days were better than others to schedule my workouts. Great! Now I would stick to my workout schedule and get back in shape in time for bathing suit season! LOL. Yeah right! Let’s be real.
Road Block #3: Watching TV Over Running / Solution #3: Get my fitness on while watching TV
I hate to admit it, but I am a TV junkie. There are so many great TV shows on in the winter and I can’t help myself. There was a TV installed in the spare bedroom already but I didn’t want to pay for ANOTHER cable box. Having four cable boxes in a house with only two people seemed excessive. In the end I decided it would be worth the extra few bucks if this would help me stick to a fitness routine in the colder months. And it did! However, for extra motivation, I record three of my favorite TV shows and will not let myself watch them unless I am on the treadmill. Also, I work out as soon as I get home from work. It is now part of my normal routine on the days I work out. No thinking = no excuses to not work out.
Meal Planning = Time Saver
As for my eating habits, I found that having a plan made it easier to eat more healthy food. Just like with exercising, no thinking = no excuses to not eat healthier. I take an hour every other Wednesday to plan my meals for the next two weeks. Why Wednesday? That day just works best for my schedule. It is the Wednesday before I do my bi-weekly grocery shopping, which also coincides with my bi-weekly pay-day.
I have 30 recipes on rotation so far. I try to make my way through all the recipes before cooking something twice. Every month I like to try out a new recipe. If my boyfriend and I like the new recipe, we add it to the list. When I’m planning out the menu, I take in to consideration our schedules for that week. Will we both be home for dinner? Do we have any other events or dinner plans? Do we have any house projects happening to complete that night? By adding any of those events to the meal planner I can see which days I might want to do a crock pot meal or leftovers. I also like to leave at least 1 day every two weeks to either go to a restaurant or order take out.
Once I have two weeks’ worth of meals, I write down the ingredients for every recipe. This is the start to my grocery list for that week. After I have every ingredient written down, I go to the kitchen and start crossing off items I already have. I also add other food or household items I may need. When the list is complete, it goes in my planner until grocery shopping day. As for the meal plan itself, I keep a laminated copy of a two-week calendar on the refrigerator. I laminated and put velcro backing on each recipe as well. Once the meal plan is finalized I stick the recipes on the calendar. If plans change, I can easily switch around the meals without having to cross out, erase or write a new meal plan.
For me, the best part about meal planning is not having to think about what I am going to make for dinner. Especially now that I cook for two people instead of just myself. I know what’s for dinner every night and I already have all the ingredients available. As an added bonus, I make enough of each recipe to have dinner and lunch the next day. To make it even better, when I pack up the leftovers for lunch I check the meal plan and take out any frozen meat or seafood I will need for the next day’s dinner. Meal planning has made me more efficient at home and has given me back precious hours to my life. I bow to the meal plan gods!
If you don’t already meal plan you should definitely try it out! In fact, put a meal plan together with my Top 10 Clean-ish Recipes that are linked below. I say “clean-ish” because while the recipes aren’t full of processed ingredients they may not be 100% clean. I want to keep it real and not mislead anyone.