As readers know, I have been on this lifestyle journey for nearly two years. While my life has improved immensely, there is work to be done. After a recent trip to the UK, my weight had crept up a bit. Time to back things up again. So, I resolved to lose the weight gained on the trip plus a few more pounds. I announced it here. I created a plan and implemented it. Here is the latest progress report.

Things are going okay but not as well as I hoped. When I started in November 2020, I had a strong why and a good plan. I and amazing early and consistent success. I had nearly total control of my schedule and meal planning. I also had a major event in the beginning which provided more motivation.

This time it is different. With a new job, I have less control over my schedule and meal planning. While I have a good plan, I have been inconsistent in execution. My successes have been followed by setbacks.

While I have a good why, it isn’t a great “why.” My weight loss goals feel more like a should than a must. It’s frustrating because last time, it seemed so easy. I should be more than halfway to my goal but I am not.

This week, I got frustrated which was good. Frustration can lead to failure of you let it. I chose to let the frustration provide motivation resolve. I recalibrated my plan. I recalibrated my why. I committed to excellent execution. The result is significant momentum towards my goal.

So here is the report, since my trip, my weight is down 7 pounds. While I still have several pounds to go, I achieved nearly 30% of my goal. Even if I only added 1% each day, I would reach my goal by Christmas. So this is good news which MUST be celebrated.

But I have to be honest, it is exhausting. Staying focused on this all day along with everything else is often overwhelming. I start running out of gas about 2:00 pm each day. By the time I get home after 5, there is little left to “fight the battle.” My will power is shot. My motivation is shot. I just want to sit, read, pet the dog, and/or watch mindless television.

Because I know the flesh is weak, I make sure there are NO unhealthy options available in my house. Every dinner is planned before the day begins. When I get home, I know what is for dinner and I make it (if it isn’t already made). For snacks, I have simplified it. I have at least one fruit and one vegetable available. My go to vegetable is carrots. For fruits it is either banana or grapes. I eat only this (and limit fruit and binge if needed on vegetable. There are no other snacks available. No chips. No ice cream. No crackers. This makes a huge difference.

So long story short, plan…plan…plan…plan and stick to the plan. Your plan must include options for disruptions. Also, don’t go for perfection but do go for excellence. Execute the plan as best you can.

Day 22 of the Gratitude Challenge

Everything is better after the Minnesota Vikings defeat the Green Packers. Also, it is Thanksgiving week. For many in the US, this means at least one day off from work, spending time with family and friends, shopping, and overeating. It also means that one can begin to listen to Christmas tunes.

My Thanksgivings as an adult are not the same as those of my youth. Growing up, our family celebrated Thanksgiving with another family (in later years, we added another family). We rotated which family hosted the meal. After the meal, the kids would play games while the adults debated and solved the problems of the world. I really miss those Thanksgivings. I am so grateful for those Thanksgivings.

In recent years, my family and parents in-law have gathered for a Thanksgiving meal often while watching the Detroit Lions play. We will do the same this year. In addition, my wife’s extended family gets together on the Saturday after Thanksgiving for what is known as The Gathering. The Gathering usually consists of three generations brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins. Usually there are about 25-30 people in one place telling stories, eating, and laughing. Though it has been a part of my life for over 20 years, it still feels like a new tradition to me.

This year, we are hosting The Gathering. It is a lot of work to prepare for the event. My wife does an amazing job of coordinating all the details. And so our week will be spent preparing and gathering with family.

This year, I am looking forward to this week. Our youngest child be home for a few days. We will get at least two fantastic meals. We will spend time with family and friends. So today, I am grateful for the week to come. I am also grateful that Vikings defeated the Packers What’s something you look forward to in the future?

Food Planning – Mrs. Harris viewpoint

I am extremely lucky to have an amazing and supportive spouse. There are so many reasons I love her. She occasionally reads this blog. She read the most recent post about meal planning and shopping. After reading it she expressed a few thoughts. I thought I would share those along with a recent Wall Street Journal article about making things from scratch.

She correctly pointed out that my method is not perfect. She identified several deficiencies involving the supply of bananas, paper towels and toilet paper in our household. I reminded her that the later two were not part of meal planning. There was more discussion about a desire for me to visit the store more often followed by constructive criticism about the lack of food on the weekends. Her statements are mostly correct and I do often make a quick trip or two each week. These quick trips only take couple of minutes and are usually integrated on the way home from work.

Yet, a major point is that the planning of each meal throughout the week reduces stress. It has resulted in less inappropriate binge eating. Additionally, I spend less time in the store because I know what is needed. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go to the store and buy some extra bananas.

NOTE: Several have asked about whether I use online grocery shopping. I do not use online grocery shopping because most of the food that I purchase is fresh produce. I am very particular about my produce.

Planning to Pivot

Through this journey and the pandemic, I have learned the importance of planning and pivoting.

For the last 10 months or so, I have used a portion of my Sunday to plan for the week ahead. A properly planned week reduces unnecessary stress by providing certainly along with opportunity to tackle the surprises that life gives us.

I would love to report this was an easy and seamless transition. However, that would be untruthful. I spent most of my life moving from crisis to crisis responding and reacting to things. The result is often higher stress, less satisfaction, and poor choices.  You get to the end of a long day with no food in the refrigerator and no energy to cook.  Hello fast food!   

The truth is planning for the week is hard to start.  You must consider all that is on your calendar and what might be.  What events must you attend? What tasks must get done?  What do you want to do? It is a lot to track.  It is worth it. Trust me.  It just is.  Start the habit today and your life will be immeasurably better.

Start small.  I began by planning dinner for 2-3 days.  To be honest, it started by accident.  I started making a vat of chili on Sunday.  The chili would serve as dinner on Sunday and lunch and/or dinner on Monday.  I would go to the store and get the ingredients for the chili on Sunday and anything else on the family grocery list.  I would also pick up the ingredients for a couple of nice simple healthy salads for dinner on Monday and Tuesday night.   Finally, I would pick up some canned soup and healthy breakfast items.  The result was almost instant.  I got into a routine.  It was one less thing to think or worry about.  Further, it helped my cravings.  An additional benefit was I went to the grocery store fewer times. 

This strategy served me well until Wednesday rolled around and we were out of food.  I had to plan and go to the store again.  Because it was winter and cold, I found some easy soup recipes.  I found them by typing “healthy easy soup recipes” into google. Prior to Fall 2020, I don’t recall making soup.   Now it is my go-to meal.  I love making soup.  It is easy, filling, and healthy.  Make a big pot of soup and you are good for a couple of days.  In our house, weekend meals are not my responsibility, so I didn’t plan a meal for Friday or Saturday. 

Ultimately, I would challenge myself to pick up all items for the next week in one stop on Sunday.  I was able to do this writing down my shopping list.  In my head, I would think about items that could be used in multiple recipes, items that were healthy, and items that could keep for a week. 

Creating the list had at least three substantial benefits.  First, it allowed me to avoid most impulse buys in the grocery store.  Second, it allowed me to get out of the store faster.  Third, it cut down on grocery spending as there was less wasted food.  An additional benefit was fewer trips to the store. 

After a few times of creating the list, I began to expand my recipe list.  I found I enjoyed trying to create different soups and salads.  I would add different soup or salad every week.  Expanding my repertoire also kept me from getting bored with same meals.  I learned how long the soup or salad lasted (i.e., were there leftovers for lunch the next day).  See above for how I found new recipes. 

I would eventually add written weekly life planning and weekly written meal planning.  Generally, it takes me about 10-15 minutes to plan meals for a week.  It takes about 30-60 minutes to plan for the week.  I no longer need a “list” at the store because I know what ingredients I need.  (In a later post, I will share a sample weekly schedule, shopping list, and plan).   For now, understand that a little bit of planning went a long way to provide certain and stability to an otherwise chaotic life.  Further, my wife appreciated not having to worry about meals.  With less stress, I ate better.  Just did.  Because I didn’t purchase things not on this, I only had healthy options in the house. 

What I didn’t expect from all this planning was the ease in which I could pivot and adapt as life got in the way.  There was often something from the night before if we were extremely strapped for time and sapped of energy.  Don’t want to make soup?  Throw a basic salad together quickly.  Don’t have time to cut up the vegetables for the soup?  No problem.  Already bought the vegetables precut (a little more expensive but worth it if you are strapped for time). Yet, most of the meals take less than 15 minutes to prepare (sometimes longer to cook but you can rest while that is happening).  I established the mindset that I always have 15 minutes to make a quick meal for us.  Since we had the ingredients and the recipes were healthy, I didn’t have to worry about deviating too much from my plan.

Today was beautiful fall day where I live. It was unseasonably warm (71 degrees).  I had planned to eat lunch midafternoon and take care of other work after.  Then I looked at the weather forecast.  It said it will be much cooler and rainy tomorrow. Because I had a plan in place, I was able to shift my calendar.  I didn’t have any more scheduled meetings. Instead of a midafternoon lunch, I took an hour-long nature walk.  I had canned soup instead of making a salad.  I did some work from home this evening.  It was major pivot from plan.  The picture in this post is from my walk today.  But because I have a plan, I know I got everything I need to get done today.   Planning allows you to pivot when needed without the stress. 

%d bloggers like this: