This episode follows on from our previous podcast, Episode 6: Reflecting and setting your next year up for success. In the previous podcast, we worked through a reflection exercise for the year, and used this to inform our motivational goals for 2021. If you haven’t already, head back and have a listen to that podcast again, and work through the steps in there. In this episode, we take the next step and actually organise ourselves to work towards those goals.
Welcome to 2021 everyone! What a year we had last year, and I sincerely hope this year is MUCH better and smooth sailing!
Now for this podcast, we’re following on from our previous podcast, Episode 6: Reflecting and setting your next year up for success. In the previous podcast, we worked through a reflection exercise for the year, and used this to inform our motivational goals for 2021. If you haven’t already, head back and have a listen to that podcast again, and work through the steps in there. It’s one of the best ways to set you up for success in 2021. We then did some planning, including some calendarizing. Just to recap, we took some time to plan, looking at our big dreams and opportunities, our non-negotiables, our ‘stop doings’ (the things you don’t want to carry forward into 2021), and diarised this out.
In this episode, let’s take the next step and actually organise ourselves to work towards those goals.
Now, because it’s the start of the year and we’re a fitness business, we’re going to focus more specifically on your physical health (your food, and movement), as well as a little into our mindfulness practices. Now I’m sure there’s plenty of other goals you have that aren’t focused on these areas, but usually these are some of our bigger focus points (particularly after Christmas and New Year).
So, let’s kick off with food, and find simple prep to make life easier and healthier.
Now I’ll use my focus for you as an example, and it’s to clean up my diet. I love food – it’s one of the pleasures in life, but I’m quite good at over eating and over indulging – and over the Christmas and New Year period, I often do that a little too much. I’d also like to drop around 2-3% body fat before my birthday in end March, so I know that I really do need to support my movement with a clean and healthy food intake.
Now, we know that many of you listening have families, and the idea of boiled chicken and broccoli in a tupperware container is worse than cardboard (plus the kids would probably never forgive you), so we’ve got together some simple family friendly tips and tricks to help with the prep and organisation.
Start with a list of what you need.
So many times I’ve gone grocery shopping, only to stand in the isles and wonder what on earth I’m going to cook. And then I end up purchasing random stuff and I’m back in the store within 2 days.
Now, you’re probably wondering how you go about this. This is how I plan it out.
I sit down on the couch with a cuppa and my diary, and I map out the week with everything in it – events, late nights working, etc. With kids and a family, this is going to be particularly important. Sit down and map out your family’s week or fortnight. Where are the kids, your partner, and you going to be. What nights are looking like they’re going to be hectic and you’ll need something already prepped, or something you can throw together easily. What days at work are going to be nuts so you need a quick lunch sorted, or you know you’re going to be too busy and need to get a takeaway option for lunch.
Once you’ve sorted out these things, it makes planning what you’re going to cook and eat much easier. For example, if you know that Wed is going to be absolutely hectic at work and you’ll only have time to grab take away, knowing this in advance and having a second to work out what you’ll purchase means you’ll likely end up with a much healthier take-away option than you would have if you were caught out.
Build around your protein
I always build my evening meals around a protein. As many of you are aware from your sessions with us and the challenge, as women we are notoriously bad at getting enough protein into our bodies, which is particularly important as we increase our exercise. That’s why I like to think about protein in the evenings, and build around that. For example, I might have chicken Monday, Pork tuesday, Tofu wednesday, beans thursday, steak friday (sat out for dinner) and fish on sunday. It’s then just a matter or deciding what to do with those proteins (i.e. bowls, or wraps, or salad etc).
Prepping meals in advance doesn’t have to be boring, and you don’t need to be a chef. You just need to set aside a couple of hours to focus on it, and then you’re done! I always feel like it makes my week go so much smoother when I know that the snacks are ready to grab, and meals are planned and prepared. This is usually a couple of hours on Sunday.
And prepping meals isn’t necessarily cooking either, It’s just having things organised in your fridge and a plan in place so you know what you’re doing.
Be smart about your prepping and planning
I know when I look at a meal plan, I like to have variety. And so when I go to organise my own plan, I also like to have variety. But this doesn’t mean you need to have a different meal every breakfast, lunch and dinner for a whole month. Have a quick think about what you prefer. Do you mind having the same thing for lunch 2 or 3 or even 5 days in a row? If not, then it makes things easier. Me, for example, I don’t like to have the same dinner twice in a row, but I’m ok with leftovers for lunch. So my planning is usually just the dinner component, with leftovers or ways to ‘refresh’ what I had the night before into something different. Some great examples of this are:
- Pulled meats: Oh this is my fave Sunday prep as it’s the simplest. I grab a meat and chuck it in the slow cooker with some herbs and spices, and leave it on for 6-8 hours. I can then eat it for dinner that evening as a burrito bowl, wrap or salad, but I then have this as my lunch protein for the next 2-3 days (usually in a form of burrito or poke bowl – throw some salad at it, a carb like rice or sweet potato, and a good fat like avocado). I repurpose this into a veg and protein lentil pasta for the following night or a big couscous salad. Bam. I’ve just sorted myself and my partner out for at least 2 dinners and 2 lunches, and it literally took me 10 minutes to put together on Sunday morning.
- Roasting: giving your oven a run on a sunday is an awesome way to set yourself up. Think sunday roast, but with extras. If you’re already cooking something up, why not chop up a heap more sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, zucchini, eggplant and anything else you like to roast. You can then mix this up into a salad such as a quinoa salad, and serve with some fish on Monday evening, you can mash into fritters with a poached egg on tuesday, and then have this for leftovers for your lunches on tues and wednesday. You could even just cut up your veggies and store in tupperware, ready for cooking on, say, wednesday evening.
- No harm in cooking grains up. There’s nothing wrong with cooking up your rice, quinoa, couscous or lentils etc on a sunday and storing for 3-4 days. One breakfast I actually quite enjoy is a quinoa porridge – cook up quinoa with your choice of milk, a dash of maple syrup and your choice of dried fruit. YOu can then keep it in an airtight container in the fridge at work, and then you can just grab a bit out, microwave and splash on some milk, and you’ll have a warm, protein rich brekky sorted all week. Cooking up your quinoa or rice means come Thursday, it’s simply a matter of throwing it in your pan with some veggies, tofu or meat, soy sauce and a scrambled egg for fried rice.
- One pot wonders are your friend later in the week. Usually we have a little more in us earlier in the week, or we’re a bit more prepared. But come thursday and friday, things seem to go out the window, so having a few great one pot meals up your sleeve can save you a world of time and frustration. Here’s a couple of great ideas:
- Baked Harrisa veggies and eggs – oh this can use those veggies you’ve already chopped up on sunday! Just shake up with some oil, garlic and harissa middle eastern spice blend (or any spice blend you like), chuck it in a pan and bake on 220 until starting to char. Chuck over a tin of black eye peas and crack a bunch of eggs over the top. Cook until egg whites are done.
- Salmon lemon bake. This is a fantastically delicious dinner. Chop up potato and sweet potato slices and place in a baking tray with oil, lemon juice, capers, thyme and preserved lemon slices. Bake for 15 minutes and then pop the salmon fillets on top, cover with foil and bake until just cooked through. Serve with some greens if you want.
And the big one – have snacks organised. This doesn’t mean you need to bake and create all your snacks, but have your options available to you. Find a good hummus or dip you like. Have chopped veggies. Maybe have some mini veggie muffins or a protein ball, or just a whole bunch of fruit available to you. If anything brings us down, it’s usually those mindless snacks we consume because we have nothing easy and within reach.
Let’s go back to our previous conversation about not needing something new each and every week. As mentioned, we don’t need to have something different every breakfast, lunch and dinner. I like to always have about 4-5 key meals I rotate through that are simple and healthy to cook up. When you have the time, try out some fresh meals, but usually aim for meals that you can introduce into your normal repertoire. Mine are:
- Breakfast: poached or soft boiled egg on toast with half and avocado, a smoothie, quinoa porridge or some fruit, yoghurt and granola
- Lunch: smoothie, rice, veg and tuna or leftovers from the evening before
- Pulled meat bowls, baked veg, salad and meat, mexican anything, ramen or a stirfry
And I’ll cycle through those most weeks, occasionally throwing in something new, getting on that train for a bit and then coming back around to some of my older meals.
Now let’s look at fitness or movement
What firstly is your physically fitness goal? Does this have realistic and attainable timeframes on it? If so, we now need to fit it into our lifestyle. I’m going to use my focus as an example for you, which is to get a fitness routine in place that doesn’t feel like a chore.
I always get ahead of myself with goals around my fitness and like to put all these insane expectations, such as going from not much exercise to HAVING to exercise 5-6 times a week. And often (as I’m sure you’ve found too), that’s not realistic, so as soon as you miss one session, you feel like you’ve failed and usually give up.
Instead, I’m focusing on what I like to call the ‘bare minimum’. What is the minimum output/sessions/classes/minutes etc I want to or need to complete each week that moves me towards this larger goal? You’ll then take the pressure off yourself for those busy weeks.
So, for me, its usually 3 sessions a week is my minimum. Now this doesn’t need to be specifically classes (if I’m having one of those nuts weeks), but doing a workout 3 times a week (such as a run, or a HIIT session from home). As long as I complete that, it’s still moving me towards my larger goal. Ideally, I’m wanting to move my body 4-5 times a week, but if that doesn’t happen, I know that at least I’m still moving forward with 3 sessions. Remember, you didn’t get out of shape overnight, and you’re not going to instantly transform your body either. Expecting too much, too soon only leads to frustration. Try not to be discouraged by what you can’t accomplish or how far you have to go to reach your fitness goals. Instead of obsessing over results, focus on consistency. While the improvements in mood and energy levels may happen quickly, the physical payoff will come in time. That’s why I like to have the bare minimum. It means I can feel accomplished each and every week as I’m being consistent with my movement. Anything over 3 sessions is then just a bonus.
Weekly planning and back-ups
It’s always good to have a routine and a regular workout program, but sometimes this isn’t manageable. That’s why I like to do some serious weekly planning at the start of each week. By that stage, I’m usually on top of what’s coming up that week and I can then build in my workout sessions around those other commitments. I also ensure I have back ups too, so if I have scheduled in a morning session but wake up and feel stuffed, then I build in an alternative workout session either later that afternoon, or on an alternative day, as long as I’m meeting my minimum (but aiming for the 4-5 sessions). It’s just like your food and healthy eating. If you don’t take some time to organise and schedule this in, it’s likely not going to happen.
Remove the word ‘bad’ when it comes to your exercise
Just because you’ve spent Christmas and New Years doing more couch sleeping than moving, or just because you ate leftover pavlova most days, it doesn’t mean you’re bad. We all struggle to find time for fitness with busy work schedules, and we do fall out of motivation or ‘love’ with exercise as well. That’s ok. You’re human. What’s not ok is that stern talking you have with yourself, telling yourself that you’re bad for doing what you did. All that does is support any subconscious beliefs that you aren’t good enough to exercise regularly. You definitely are, no matter what you’ve had going on in your past.
And quite often this little voice shames or guilts us into paralysis or procrastination and then our present selves don’t get the healthy does of love it deserves. Instead, view it as an opportunity to spice things up. Get excited about it. It’s new, it’s exciting, and focus entirely on how you’re going to feel at the end of those workouts, or how your confidence will grow as you become fitter and stronger. Research shows that self-compassion increases the likelihood that you’ll succeed in any given endeavor. So it’s important that you don’t beat yourself up about your body, your current fitness level, or your supposed lack of willpower. All that will do is demotivate you. Instead, look at your past mistakes and unhealthy choices as opportunities to learn and grow.
Go for a walk
Lastly, remember if it’s been a while between exercise sessions, start small. Getting back into it depends not just on your previous fitness, but also on your current motivation and situation. Just start with a walk. That small step doesn’t seem like it’s going to do much, and truthfully it doesn’t physically do much. But what its doing mentally is getting you moving. It’s getting you off that couch and out of your own way. Starting small will get those endorphins kicking and have you wanting to exercise more and more. Remember, you don’t have to spend hours in a gym or force yourself into monotonous or painful activities you hate to experience the physical and emotional benefits of exercise. A little exercise is better than nothing. In fact, adding just modest amounts of physical activity to your weekly routine can have a profound effect on your mental and emotional health.
So, I hope this has firstly motivated you to take the next step and actually organise your schedules to work towards those goals you’ve set, and secondly, provided tips and tricks to plan and get it done.
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