By Lisa Rhea
If variety is the spice of life, then routine is the meat and potatoes.
When it comes to weight loss and maintaining a fit lifestyle, creating a healthy routine can be the key to unlocking lasting results. I am all for flexibility and being able to adapt your eating and fitness around the events in your life, but having a set day-to-day eating and training routine makes weight-loss and maintenance far easier.
We all know what a struggle it can be to get in an exercise routine, but once that routine is established, there’s almost a void or sense of loss when you can’t fit a workout in on a typical training day. When going to the gym or for a run is part of your routine, it is no longer the internal debate “do I workout or not” – it’s just a given.
What many people don’t realize is that the same level of routine and order can make healthy eating much, much easier. When you remove the debate from each meal or snack, you remove the chances of eating something bad. When you have “go-to” meals and snacks, you don’t have to calculate how it will impact your daily calories and your weight loss or maintenance goals.
I’m not saying you have to eat the same thing everyday, but I am saying that eating the same thing for most meals or the same options for most meals will make it easier. For example, when I’m in a typical routine of healthy eating and exercise, I would say 75 percent of my meals are the same day-to-day. Basically, I eat the same things for breakfast, lunch and snacks, then have some variety for dinner. Not only does this make it easy to prep and plan my food out, it makes grocery shopping much easier.
The key is to find meals you like that meet your nutritional needs and fitness goals. Obviously certain foods can get old, and that’s why it’s good to have a few options to rotate through.
Here’s what I would consider a typical day for me:
Breakfast: Oatmeal, berries, egg whites, cheese
Snack 1: Plain, fat-free greek yogurt with an apple sliced up (with stevia and cinnamon)
Lunch: Chicken breast, sweet potatoes, green vegetables, almonds
Snack 2: Low-fat cottage cheese with no-sugar added mandarin oranges
Post-Workout: Protein shake and rice cakes (eaten only if I workout that day)
Dinner: Variable – source of protein, carbs, vegetables and fat
Treat: A set amount of calories allotted for either a sweet treat or wine (I’m a firm believer in keeping things that make you happy in your eating plan!)
Again, the less goal-focused I am, oftentimes the more variety my daily eating has. But when I want to see results, falling into a routine like this just makes it far easier. Overall, yes, my food choices are determined by a set number of calories and macronutrients, but I have a menu that reflects that. When I want variety, I simply recalculate things to incorporate different meals. I’m not limited to this one menu, but rather use it as my template.
Chances are you already have a routine of sorts with your eating, whether you realize it or not. Humans are, by nature, creatures of habit. Just consider changing up some of those go-to meals for healthier options.
Don’t feel limited by food – rather, feel comforted that you no longer have to battle with options and worry about making the right choices.