Leah is a follower of the 21-Day Fix. She works in mental health.
Why Bother To Meal Plan?
I've struggled with my weight for basically my entire life. If I wanted to stop making the same mistakes and having to start over yet again, I had to learn how to do a few things differently. Here was my learning curve:
- Finding a diet that was sustainable. What diet works best? The one you can stick to. 21 Day Fix works really well for me, since it doesn't eliminate any food groups, and allows for a lot of flexibility.
- Structure. Some people are comfortable (and able) to eat intuitively. If I try that, I "intuitively" wind up eating donuts at 9 am followed by everything else in sight. I am one of those people who need structure. If you are like me, structure is one of the many keys to success.
- Physical activity. For me, incorporating some kind of physical activity is essential in losing weight, or maintaining a healthy weight. While I have a physical condition that doesn't allow me to participate in high-impact or super strenuous workouts at the moment, I hope to be able to someday. For the moment, I've committed to completing a Pilates/Yoga combination known as PiYo. It allows me to maintain flexibility while building strength.
- Planning. Ever hear the saying that "failing to plan is planning to fail?" Yeah. That's my personal motto. While I've been doing 21 Day Fix for quite some time, I've noticed that I do much better on the weeks where I stick to my meal plan than on the weeks where I wing it because I didn't have time to plan. Meal planning is an essential activity for me. It feels overwhelming, but I promise that just like anything else worthwhile, it gets easier the longer you do it for.
- In order to be successful, I need to plan. I'm fortunate to have Monday off, so I take a little time each Sunday to write out a meal plan for the upcoming week. This allows me time to get to the supermarket and pick up any ingredients I need for the upcoming week. While I choose to meal plan on Sunday, a different day may work better for you. That's perfectly fine.
- The first thing I do is get my recipe book or any inspiring ideas (which I write down throughout the week). I boot up my computer and pull up a spreadsheet I made. I've included a downloadable copy of it, or you can just make up your own.
- Identify how many portions of each food group you get. I've left a space at the top of the spreadsheet where you can write in how many containers you have for each food group.
Customizable Meal Plan
- 21 Day Fix Meal Plan
This is a link to an editable excel spreadsheet. Feel free to download it to start meal planning the easy way!
How To Meal Plan
The easiest way I've found to meal plan (through years of practice) is as listed below.
- Plan your dinners first. I do this since my dinner is the meal that changes the most throughout my week. This can be done each night, but I prefer to sit down and get the whole week of meal planning out of the way. Once I've decided what I'm doing for dinner each night, I add in the container counts along the bottom of the spreadsheet. This helps me to track which containers (food group portions) I'm using and what I have remaining. I just put the number of containers I've included for each food group, which also highlights how many more I have left to reach my caloric intake for the day.
- Lunches next. This is super easy for me, since I always have leftovers from the night before for lunch. Track those containers along the bottom as well.
- Breakfast comes next. This is another easy one, since I almost always have the same breakfast every day. If you like variety, feel free! Eggs, pancakes, waffles, french toast, oatmeal, or my personal favorite, yogurt with fruit and hemp hearts. Track the containers used along the bottom.
- Fit in snacks. Snacks are where I like to have my variety. Some days I don't eat a lot of carbohydrates at meals, so I'll have carbohydrates as snacks. Other days, I may have a carb heavy meal, or some drinking planned, so I would include more protein or fruit or vegetables as my snacks. I basically just choose whichever containers I'm short on for the day.
Why Do I Need To Eat All The Containers?
21 Day Fix isn't a program of counting calories. It's more of a portion control system that ensures proper nutrition and macronutrients (called macros for short). While there is a calorie range, all of the ratios of carbohydrates, fat, protein, vegetables, and fruit are already determined. While some days get hectic and I can't always eat everything I planned, I always strive to eat all the containers allotted for each food group. This is because skimping on my portions isn't going to help me be healthy and lose weight, it's going to actually slow my progress. When we don't get enough of the nutrients and calories we need to keep our bodies working, our bodies think "OMG! I'm starving ... better hold onto every calorie we get." So while initially, it seems like a lot of food, think of it as high quality fuel for our bodies. It's worth it.
If you're new to meal planning, it can be confusing and overwhelming. Don't give up. You're worth it, and it's definitely worth your time. Set yourself up for success! And if you have any questions, don't be shy. Reach out! I'm available to help you with any questions you may have. Good luck and happy planning!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
Question: By the looks of the spread sheet, Monday would consist of vegetable right? And Tuesday / fruits all day, is that correct?
Answer: No - the container counts are for each day. Every day should include the correct number of each containers to ensure you’re getting enough calories and nutrients daily.
© 2018 Leah