It’s easy to find meal plans online – “diets” for weight loss, “cleanse” programs, and even the daily food journals of elite fitness models. But this is different. Why? In addition to sharing a meal plan that you can customize – whether your goal is weight loss, to feel reenergized and refreshed, or just to create some mental clarity – I can hopefully share a little perspective on all of those diets and meal plans you find out there, and how to make the information work for you.
So let’s start with the positive. There are endless “diet” plans out there. Just put a few keywords into your search engine, and thousands of them will pop up. Some are a little intense and claim miracles, others have been put together carefully by healthcare and nutrition professionals, and you will find many that are actually food journals of real people – both fit and unfit. This is great news for us.
It is essential that we examine the successful strategies of others, learn from the professionals, and even let ourselves become inspired by some of the more extreme approaches. But we need to be careful not to just dive head-first into someone else’s plan. And here are a few reasons why:
- Your goals may differ. If you are trying to lose a significant amount of weight, and the meal plan was designed for an athlete who is already fit and maintaining 7% body fat, then chances are that her diet won’t work for you.
- Your personal tastes may differ. You may not enjoy the prescribed meals, and there are so many healthy foods out there. Why settle for something you have to choke down?
- Your lifestyle may not be supportive of what the plan involves. I’ll use this to cover everything – from your current fitness level and knowledge, to how much time you have to prepare meals and the tools available to you in which to prepare them, and even the level of support to which you have access.
But if we examine those challenges, then we have everything we need to create successful strategies for ourselves. Be aware of your goals, what you like and don’t like, and the challenges and opportunities presented by your lifestyle. If you are aware of what you want and the tools you have to get it, then you can start mapping a route.
The plan I’ve outlined below is a great start. I put it together for a friend of mine who was looking to feel healthier, lose a little winter weight, and adopt healthier habits that would get her on the path to a healthier lifestyle. With the previous months filled with a busy work schedule, lots of takeout, and weekends with family that revolve around delicious homemade food and wine, she felt a bit weighed down, and needed a refresh.
I suggested she try it for a week or so, and to work with me to make adjustments as needed. Then we would talk bout how to transition into long-term, healthy eating habits, that would incorporate things like eating out, and eating Sunday Dinner with her family.