One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

ASK RONI Q&A

Ask Roni: Planning vs. Flexibility

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You may have noticed Ask Roni podcasts have been few and far between. I just can’t seem to carve out an hour to record and edit. My plan is to ease back into them. I fear making any promises at this time, having a 6 month old at home is just too much of a variable!

That being said, I will answer at least one question a week until I get my video groove back. This weeks question is from Jane...

Hi Roni~ I am a long-time lurker on your blog :-). I am a 40 year old working mom of 3 (so very busy) and I am trying HARD to establish the habit of planning meals (all of mine and those of the family) so I can follow through with eating less on a regular basis. I do plan ahead with the best of intentions, but I get too hungry if I don’t bring enough food to work and then my best intentions go out the window. Also, when the family goes out to eat, I have a hard time sticking to my plan. I am only 5 foot 3 so I do not get to eat that much. :-( I have had food issues since I have been an adult and I think about it all the time (I hate that!). I even go so far in my own mind as to repeat a mantra to myself that my self worth is not based on my body fat percentage. I would love to get to the place where I can "equalize" and just plan and go with it and not feel like a failure. As I have followed you through the years, it seems as if you have the planning down. Is this because you only plan what you like to eat? Or because you know your plan will change and you build in flexibility? Any thoughts you have are appreciated~

Best Regards,

Jane

Hi Jane!

I totally understand where you are coming from. The concept of "equalizing" or what I call "finding my balance" has always been my goal. You asked if it’s planning or flexibility that help me, well, it’s a little bit of both.

When I first started I planned each day in the morning, pulling out what I was going to cook for dinner, making my lunch for work, and then eating breakfast. At that time it’s what worked for me. As the times changed, I had to change. Now I plan the family’s meals on Sunday which helps me shop and ward off The Husband’s requests to eat out (which seem to be daily!)

Regardless how I do it, you must find a way that works for you and your family. Trying to force something normally backfires. Ask yourself questions like… When do you shop for the week? What kind of meals does your family like? What will be the fastest to pull together after a busy day at work? What can you keep in stock that will help you when plans fall through?

Because they will, fall through that is, and that’s where being flexible comes in.

In addition to planning, I have a set of "rules" that allow me to be successful when things don’t go exactly the way I wanted them to. For example, I have go-to menu items at every. single. fast food place. I also have a family rule that only ONE of us can get fries which we all split. If we go out to a "sit down restaurant," I stick to grilled dishes, skip the carb and ask for extra veggies. These aren’t set in stone rules, just techniques I use allowing me to be flexible without feeling like I have to go "off plan." (side note: click here for my eating out strategies)

This probably isn’t what you want to hear, but you have to figure out what’s going to work for you. I don’t have the magic answer or the perfect solution. I’m constantly figuring things out as I go because things are always changing, especially when you have kids.

There is one thing you said in your email that I’m curious about. When you mentioned planning meals you said, "all of mine and those of the family" It sounds like you are planning separate meals for them and you. I hope that’s not true. I think it’s important to strike a balance between you and your family’s needs. I know it’s hard. BELIEVE ME I married a man who has no interested in a healthy diet WHATSOEVER! ugh.

Anyway, I wish I had a more specific answer for you. I’m hoping others will chime in and offer their advice in the comments.



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Discussion

There are 9 comments so far.

    lajames101

    September 9, 2011

    I live with my boyfriend and sister. We are all students at University, and we all get paid fortnightly, and it isn’t a whole lot. To combat excessive spending and poor food choices (just to name a few reasons), we sit down when we get paid and work out our meals for the week or fortnight. We all get to choose a couple of recipes we like, and it’s written down so we can pick and choose what we want to cook that night rather than being extremely restrictive. By choosing meals from recipe books, I can also write a shopping list at the same time (one person checks the fridge/pantry for ingredients that we already have in stock) so we avoid doubling up or buying too much. In Australia we have several cheaper stores, so our first stop is Aldi, where we can buy all our meat, beans, rice, some fruit and veg at a lower price. It’s all on one list but if we can get it at Aldi then we will! We then drive to BiLo, where we get the rest of the items on the shopping list. It may only save us $20, but that’s $20 we can save for a holiday or something we want to do. I don’t have any kids, but when I was growing up we always ate the same thing as my parents. If we didn’t like it then we generally went without. Mum made the effort to cook a beautiful meal after working all day, and we showed our respect by eating it. By having each of us select a few meals that we want, it helps us come to a nicer arrangement than arguing over what one person has chosen.

    As for breakfast and lunch, I have a few staples (home made fructose free cereal) or I cook up an egg on rye if I have time. Lunch today was a wrap with hummus, avocado and deli sliced roast beef and a whooooollee bunch of veg.

    Losing weight shouldn’t be a battle with your family. You deserve all the help you can get. I always thought eating healthy would take a massive effort on my part, but by getting my partner and sister involved it’s actually worked out better for all of us.

    Good Luck!

    RoniNoone

    September 9, 2011

    @lajames101 You are so right lajames! Getting everyone involved is a huge help and I think it happens differently for different people. I love the way you guys do this but it wouldn’t never work with my husband. He just doesn’t care! (it sucks!) Instead, I take charge, run my the menu with him so there are no surprises and he eats what I make or he doesn’t. Im lucky as my kids are young enough not to complain too much.. YET. ;) But I love what you said….

    “when I was growing up we always ate the same thing as my parents. If we didn’t like it then we generally went without. Mum made the effort to cook a beautiful meal after working all day, and we showed our respect by eating it. ”

    Same way in my family and I reinforce this with my kids now.

    k.ann.olson

    September 9, 2011

    I started WW in 2009 and lost about 90 pounds. The main reason I feel like I was successful was the fact that I gradually changed what the whole family ate. My husband started counting his calories soon after I started WW and he lost about 120 pounds. We have been able to maintain due to deciding early on that we were “changing our eating habits forever” and not on a “diet”. This made a huge difference in my mind set. For me eating is VERY important. I really think I’m a food addict. I pretty much think about it ALL of the time ;) For that reason it was important that I take the foods we loved and tried to make them healthier. I was not going to be someone who would be successful munching on carrot sticks and eating a chicken breast and veggies for dinner. It just wasn’t going to happen. I could have done it short term, but I needed a “forever” plan. We eat hamburgers (using lean meat and adding different spices for flavor), we eat tacos (using lean meat and lots of veggies), we eat spaghetti (using lean meat and whole wheat pasta), we eat chicken strips (dipped in egg whites and coated with crushed Special K cereal)…the kids balked on a few things at first (like macaroni and cheese only on special occasions), but for the most part they love the food we eat now. I have a 13 year old and 6 year old daughter and they eat salads with their meals and clean their plates. The key is PLANNING. It really is. We rarely eat out because it is like taking an alcoholic to a bar…..not a good idea ;) I plan my meals on Saturday or Sunday for the whole week. I make sure I have all of the ingredients I need. If I am using meat out of the freezer I will set it down in the fridge. I plan on certain items on certain days, but am flexible if I need to have a quicker meal for any reason. It works well for me. I also always have things on hand to make a quick meal, like tacos, in case something doesn’t go to plan. This helps me avoid the pitfall of just saying “oh let’s just eat out”. It really is about planning ….for me anyway.

    RoniNoone

    September 9, 2011

    @k.ann.olson TOTALLY hear you on the food addict part! I think about it ALL THE TIME!

    Jacqui

    September 9, 2011

    @k.ann.olson I second that, fellow food~addict here. These are very good ideas!

    Tami@Nutmeg Notebook

    September 9, 2011

    Great advice Roni. I don’t cook separate meals nor do I change the way I cook when we entertain. I have found healthier versions of most every type of food my family and friends like to eat. I think that is the real key to being able to stick with your lifestyle choices and to keeping the weight off. For those things that can’t be made healthier -well they are only eaten on special occasions and in limited quantities.

    In the beginning the family might protest so go slow with the changes and do them over time. Since you children are still growing they need more calories so you can go ahead and make a starchy side dish for them but that doesn’t mean that you have to eat it if you need to cut back. Over time their taste buds will change and they will start enjoying the foods you fix more and more. I read one time that we crave the foods we eat and that is so true, be it fruits and veggies or junk food the pleasure centers in the brain ask for more regardless of what it was that gave us pleasure and satisfaction

    I am only 5’4″ and at age 52 I don’t need as many calories and at a lower weight I don’t have much “wiggle” room with my daily food intake so everything I eat has to be great and I won’t waste my points or calories on things I don’t love to eat.

    Once I started to focus on eating healthy as opposed to “dieting” with the focus all about weight loss, it seemed to be so much easier. Dr Oz says to think of what we eat as a prescription for our health and ask ourselves if what we are about to put in our mouths is something our doctor would prescribe for us. That is one powerful tool to help you monitor what you eat..

    RoniNoone

    September 9, 2011

    @Tami@Nutmeg Notebook Love that prescription metaphor!

    bhepp

    September 10, 2011

    I am so with you on all of this! I am working on it all myself, and it is getting easier every week!

    I do not cook separate meals for my family. I have 2 little ones (7 and 4) and they eat what is for dinner. I will make “tweaks” in the meal for them, but whats for dinner is whats for dinner! “I am not a short order cook!” I also, like to plan dinners on Sundays and then shop for those and any little extras we may need and school lunch stuff! If you still get hungry at work you could try keeping some almonds and water on hand, so you have that and you’re not tempted to “wreck your day” in a moment of not feeling completely full. I don’t know what you do, but maybe you could take some fruit too. Some healthy stand-by’s may help out and then you won’t feel guilty. I have had a really hard time with going out to eat too, and I only “get it right” half the time. But when I do, I feel so good about my decisions that it goes pretty well the next few times. When we go out, I get grilled chicken, or fish, and veggies or a salad (with the dressing on the side, and take off the “goodies”) and then I will have one bite of the hubbies burger or whatever he gets and a couple of the kids’ fries and that totally satisfies my cravings. If the restaurant has a website you could go on it and have your meal planned before you get there that way you are not tempted by all the other stuff you would normally pick.

    Jane

    September 12, 2011

    Dear Roni and All,

    Thank you so much for your comments and thinking about my situation. I do make separate meals quite often because I do not eat meat and the rest of the family does. I changed my eating habits after I had my third child so I think I still prepare meat from guilt because I changed and they didn’t (if that makes sense). Also, sometimes I just do not feel like eating “kid” food that the kids like. Sometimes I want a toasted tofu sandwich with tabasco (yummy) and they aren’t quite there. But you have given me a bit to think about. This weekend I planned family-friendly dinners for the week that are quick to prepare (and that I will eat) so I will give that a whirl.

    Thanks much!
    Jane