Samara Donald is: The Gym Coach

Make the most of your workout!

The Meal Plan Plan

Even when not training for a race or competition, I have always found weekly meal planning the key to ensuring myself and my family eat healthy. Without a plan, it’s too easy to go off track or be tempted by doughnuts at work, and happy hours with friends. When not training, my weekly plans usually start with a healthy family dinner, with leftover lunches and breakfast and snack fillers in between. Knowing what the week will look like ahead of time ensures I can cross utilize ingredients and save time by prepping what I can on the weekends.

In my last competition, one of the big mistakes I made was not committing to my meal plan fully. It was not that I didn’t trust my coach, I just trusted myself more – too much. It wasn’t until about 2-3 weeks before the competition where I followed the plan 100%, which is also where I made the biggest gains. This time around, I was determined to follow my meal plans 100% from day 1.

saladIf you’re not familiar with Competition meal plans, this "following the plan 100%" may not mean much, or seem that difficult. Let me fill you in on the madness. Traditional comp plans have you eating the same daily "menu" of 6-7 meals per day, for 3-4 weeks (21-28 days), at which time you change up and start a new menu for the next 3-4 weeks and so on (except the week of the competition which has its own specific steps). Yes, read that again. This means, you eat the SAME THING for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all meals in between (usually you are eating 6-7 meals a day).

There is a method to this madness, which I won’t go into fully from a physiological stand point. More important, to me anyway, is what this method does for your mindset . Because you are eating the same 6-7 meals 7 days a week, you can cook, chop, and prepare all your meals in advance on one day (generally the weekend). Placing all meals in their own little containers and labeling with the time of day or meal # (e.g. "Meal 2: 10am: Tuna with green pepper). Three really important things happen with this approach:

  • Stress Less: You don’t have to think about constructing every meal for the right nutrient balance, are you getting enough protein, when should you be eating carbs, etc… Because your meal plan is already balanced, you don’t even have to log your calories anymore! What a relief that is.
  • Avoid Temptations: Choices a piece of cake (except there is no cake on the diet :)) – for example if you typically go to the corporate café at lunchtime, you are not tempted by the smell of pizza as you walk by – you don’t even have to go near it. Especially if you’re like me and don’t like to waste food – you know you’ve already got a meal ready to go.
  • Save Time: The 2-3 hours it takes to prep everything on one day is hands down faster than the 30-60 min each day you normally spend cooking or preparing meals. And again since you’re not logging calories, lots of time saved there.

At week 2, my current meal plan is going great. I have a lot of energy, I am never hungry (honestly), I’m not too bored with the menu (at this stage I’m allowing for 2 cheat meals each week which helps), and the mental relief I have from the one day a week prep is well worth it.

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One comment on “The Meal Plan Plan

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    September 27, 2013

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This entry was posted on May 13, 2013 by in fitness.
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