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Practical Puzzle Pieces

Last week we talked about Top Tips for Staying on Track.  These were very much about your mindset around your lifestyle changes.  Today we will be talking about some practical ideas to help you implement your positive changes.

Don’t shop or stop hungry:  You have probably all heard the advice about not going to the grocery store hungry.  You will be rushing around, throwing any old thing into your trolley, so that you can get home to eat.  You won’t make good choices and the brain fog will mean you may forget half the things you went in for.

I would take this advice a step further and urge you not to make any stops when you are hungry.  Back when I was working and training in Dublin, I would often be out of the house for more than 12 hours at a time.  Once a week I would need to stop for petrol on the way home.  This was usually at around 8pm, and I would have last eaten at about 3pm, so suffice is to say I would be starving at this point.  I developed this little habit of buying myself a Chomp bar to have in the car on the way home.  Not alone this, I would feel guilty, so I would buy one for my husband too.  But then I would think, “what am I going to do when he is having a nice coffee and his bar?” so, I would buy myself another one!

You might be thinking a couple of Chomp bars are no big deal, and she’s always saying that there needs to be flexibility, and you’d be right.  Except, these indulgences, however small, were not planned and inhaling a couple of hundred calories every time I stopped for petrol was definitely not going to get me to my goal.  Simply making my petrol stops at a different time of day eliminated this temptation.

Build effort barriers:  Getting rid of all the junk food in your house sounds like a great idea, but it might not be practical for everyone.  It can be nice to know if a friend drops in for a coffee, that you at least have a plain biscuit to offer them.  So, how can you prevent these treats from turning into threats?  Simple, put them out of sight.   Don’t have them front and center every time you open the fridge or your cupboards.  Put them as far out of reach as possible.  I would suggest gathering it all up into a biscuit tin and putting it on the highest shelf, or better yet, on top of the cupboards.  So high that you will have to pull a chair over to get them.  This is a hassle and it will give you that few seconds pause to think “do I really want this?” before you eat it.  It will also mean kids won’t see them and pester you for them.

Brown bag it:  I can’t overemphasize the importance of bringing your lunch to work.  I have a canteen at work, and some days the dish of the day will be lovely chicken and veggies, but equally it could be taco fries.  I don’t want to have to rely on what is on offer at work, so I bring my own.  I firmly believe that if you are not preparing your own food, you are giving control of your nutrition to someone else.  And, guess what?  That someone doesn’t care about your goals!  That’s not to say that if your office always go out for lunch on a Friday, that you shouldn’t join them.  But most of the time, aim to bring your own.

Your lunch doesn’t have to be extravagant and making it doesn’t require huge effort.  Just make a bit extra at dinner time and bring the left overs for lunch.  Not only will bringing your lunch mean you are much more in control of what you are eating, it will also help you to control your spending.  I know that lunches can be something people struggle with, so I will be issuing some recipe ideas for lunches over the coming weeks.

Plan ahead:  Believe me, nothing will have to reaching for the Just Eat app quicker than coming home tired and hungry and finding only an egg and an onion in your fridge.  Your nutrition weeks starts with your food shop.  Get this right and your week will be so much easier.  So, before you go, take a little time to plan it.  Give yourself a rough idea of what you want to cook during the week, and build your list around that.  This is actually easier than you might think.  There are seven dinners in each week, I try to build in at least one two day dinner (like chili or spaghetti, or anything that reheats well.)  So, now I am down to six!  I usually go to my butchers first for the protein, and once I have that bought, I build the meals around it.

Lunches, for most but the truly inspired, will be roughly the same every week.  So once you have this dialed in, just put it on repeat.  Make sure you buy plenty of fruit and veg and you’re most of the way there.

Don’t carry cash:  If you  have access to vending machines in work, which unfortunately most of us do, you may find yourself drawn to its siren call when that 3 o’clock slump hits.  What’s the best way to avoid this?  Don’t carry cash.  If you find it difficult to avoid the junk machines, just don’t bring what you need to feed them.  Or at least don’t bring change.  Again, it’s an effort to go find coins or head out to the shop, and you will probably have talked yourself out of it before you get there.

Don’t drink your calories:  There has been a lot of talk in the media over the last while about the amount of sugar to be found in hot drinks from high street chains.  What I found most surprising about this, is that people were surprised.  If a mocha-choca-latte is your poison, that’s fine, but just be aware that they are sugar and calorie laden.  If you are trying to drop weight, or lose body fat, there are probably better ways to be investing your calories.  Like with everything, once in a while is no big deal, but I certainly wouldn’t be recommending you have one every morning.

Making significant and lasting changes to your lifestyle can be a very daunting process.  It can feel like nutrition, hydration, exercise, sleep, stress etc. are all part of a very complicated puzzle.  The pieces can be difficult to grapple with and putting them together can seem an impossible task.  My advice is simple.  Tackle it as you would any puzzle, start with the easy bits!

Why not try taking on just one of the above ideas this week, and see how you get on with it.  If it works, you can tackle another one next week.  I would love to hear how you get on, or any other feedback you might have.  Feel free to contact me on the Face page  www.facebook.com/arwenlouise

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