I feel like my life is one big resolution so I don’t stress over making New Year’s resolutions anymore. I’m a work in progress and constantly looking for ways to improve my health and my family’s lifestyle. However, it is easier to tighten up some of my systems and focus more on my goals, especially the healthy ones, when the WHOLE WORLD is doing the same thing at the start of a new year.
The Whole30 program
This is the third January that my husband and I have done the Whole30 program. I’ve noticed it’s a program that many more are talking and posting about this year. I love that because that means we are getting more healthy ideas and we have more accountability. Variety is the spice of life so searching for a #whole30 hashtag to get ideas for snacks and meals makes shopping easier. I’m not going to outline all the guidelines of Whole30 in this post. But in essence it’s a reset of your body’s metabolism. Like you are an infant again and your parent has to introduce one new food group at a time. You concentrate your eating on the caveman basics over 30 days. These consist of meat, fish, eggs, veggies (including green beans and peas), fruits, and nuts. You avoid the foods that may cause food addictions, allergies or just ones that aren’t great for your gut and brain health. These include: diary, soy/tofu, legumes, grains, alcohol, sugar, and anything that is processed. It’s tough but it’s doable. It’s only 30 days and the payoff is amazing. I feel so much better, I get a jump start back on my normal healthy lifestyle, my skin clears up, and I have so much more energy.
Preparation is key
The biggest key in optimizing your healthy lifestyle is preparation. You have to have healthy stuff to eat at all times or you’ll be faced with temptation and put yourself at risk for making unhealthy food choices.
Meal planning, prepping meals ahead of time, and optimizing your environments will help set and keep you on a path to success.
We flew home from our Philadelphia trip the Sunday after New Year’s and headed right into the workweek. But, while I was still at my sister’s that Sunday morning, we planned our weekly menu and shared meal ideas over coffee (and bagels!). When I’m planning the week, I follow this process
1. Grab a piece of paper and write down the upcoming 7 days (e.g. Monday, Tuesday, etc.) and leave a few lines in between each day. This menu will be used to create the grocery list and will be posted for my family to see on our refrigerator.
2. Open the family google calendar and see what is going on for these 7 nights. Note anything on the menu margins like ‘kids on their own’ or ‘grab and go’ or ‘Jason traveling’.
3. If you are home, make a quick inventory in your fridge and freezer of any protein and vegetables that need to be consumed. Find these a spot on your weekly meal plan.
4. Start filling in the days with dinner ideas. Mine is usually pretty basic like ‘crockpot chicken, mushrooms, and salad’ or ‘salmon, baked/sweet potato, spinach’. I usually try to front load the seafood recipes in the week since seafood needs to be cooked soon after purchase.
5. Feeling creative and see a day where you have more time to cook? Google a recipe or look at your Pinterest board where you save off things you want to try.
6. Flip the paper over and write down a couple breakfast and lunch options you plan to eat this week. For example breakfast may be some of the extra sweet potatoes with paleo sausage or may make a batch of hard boiled eggs and pre-cook some sugar, nitrate free bacon. Lunch is most likely a mason jar salad, with homemade oil & vinegar and some leftover protein or a ¼ of a store-bought rotisserie chicken.
Once you have the meal plan, you are ready to make your weekly grocery list.
Before going home after our New Year’s break, my sister and I made our grocery lists together. I wish my two sisters lived right around the corner so we could do this everyday stuff together all the time. When we arrived home that night, Jason and I took the divide and conquer approach. I literally jumped right in the car and went to the grocery store. Jason started the unpacking, the laundry, and ordered pizza (one last unhealthy choice…doesn’t everyone do this?!).
As soon as I arrived home, we quickly prepared our breakfasts and lunches for the week. The pizza had arrived and we were hungry and smelling it which motivated us to get it done fast! Meal prep for the week may consist of juicing vegetables for morning cleanse, hard-boiling eggs, chopping and assembling mason jar salads, making homemade salad dressing, pre-cooking bacon, cutting up sausage for breakfast, making grab-n-go trail mix, or washing and cutting up fruit. I don’t always have help for my weekly meal prep but I’ll gladly accept it. It took us less than 30 minutes to get everything ready. Sometimes my kids will help divide a huge bag of carrots or bunch of grapes into sandwich baggies.
Optimizing your environment
There was no time to do this before kicking off our workweek and resuming our healthy eating program but I knew as soon as the next weekend hit I was on it. Every so often my kitchen needs a serious purge. This could be before or after a major holiday or just when it’s difficult to determine even what I have because things are in such disarray. I love to purge and organize and once I get started it’s hard to stop me. I started with the pantry, then the spice cabinet and finally the refrigerator/freezer. I like to put the healthy choices at eye level in the pantry and fridge and I assign a pantry shelf for the kids’ snacks.
Enjoy this video of my first pantry purge this year.
- Download my Kitchen Purge Checklist to get you started on taking back your environment. I’d love to see your before and after pictures if you are willing to share. Just tag me on social media.
- Scribble down your meal plan for the upcoming week using the steps above. Hang it on the fridge. Whoever gets home first starts dinner is usually the rule in our house.
- Grocery shop on a full stomach and stick to your list.
- Prepare your grab-n-go breakfast and lunch options for the week.