Lately I have noticed several of my friends on MFP (My Fitness Pal) struggling with making healthy changes or just resenting/ getting tired of the ongoing “struggle to stay healthy.” I know that struggle well! Pretty much every Sunday, I post my “weekly gripe” about prepping for the coming week! (Grrr!! Ruins my Sunday!) I know I’ve complained about it here, but I do it every week and even though I grouse mightily about it, I know it needs to be done. Truth be told, I resent it the way I generally resent Mondays, the way I resent having to get up early every weekday morning, having to put gas in the car every other day, having to do laundry, etc. It’s a “chore” and the lazy wastrel in me loathes doing chores! I actually take my laundry to a drop off service, so my version on “doing laundry” is sorting the clothes, putting them in the laundry bags and dropping them off then picking them up. I don’t actually wash and fold the clothes myself. One of my friends thinks I’m a little extravagant for paying someone else to do this for me, but frankly, it’s one less thing for me to do, I don’t have to cram it into my schedule in the evening/ weekend and I know it gets done right. It’s worth it to me (besides it’s only my work clothes- the other stuff I still have to cram in on the weekends usually every couple weeks or so!)
I grouse, I whine, I do it anyway! So what’s the big deal? The “deal” is that we all pick our own poison: either we choose something we hate to do that needs to be done or we do what we really want to do and the devil take the consequences! It would be really easy for me to shut off the alarm every morning, roll over in bed and say “f*** getting up!” (That’s pretty much what I think when I hear that hated alarm!) I am NOT a morning person. Mornings for me start somewhere in the afternoon! Mornings are when I go to sleep (like 1 or 2 AM!) But I get up anyway and drag my sorry butt down the hall to get ready for work. This is called being responsible and being an adult and being accountable and all that good junk that comes with being a productive human being. At 5:45 a.m., being responsible, accountable and productive totally and completely sucks! I hate it but I do it anyway, because once I’m awake and coherent and sane, I love my job! I love being productive and learning things and helping people out. It’s the process I can’t stand. It’s the “getting there” that gets in the way!
It’s the same thing every Sunday when I wake up and know that it’s “prep day.” (ugly nasty groan here!) I know the day is only mine until about 2:00 p.m. That’s pretty much the latest that I should go to the grocery store and start getting things done for the upcoming week. This is pretty much how the rest of the day goes:
2:00 p.m. Grocery shopping; 3:00-3:30 p.m. Putting groceries away & start making lunch & breakfasts for next week;[ 5:00 p.m. Start Sunday’s dinner; 6:30ish Finish dinner; 7:00 p.m. Shower;] 7:45ish pack gym bag & lay out Monday’s clothes (& clothes for the rest of the week if feeling ambitious). 8:00 p.m. Set up coffee for the next day & pack the lunch bag. The rest of Sunday night is now devoted to me (usually PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery).
That’s pretty much the routine every Sunday afternoon & evening. You wouldn’t think it would take up so much time, but it does. It’s about 4 hours out of my weekend devoted to getting everything set up for the coming week, and this is not counting (obviously!) the housework and yardwork and other stuff that goes along with everyday life. So every Sunday afternoon, I grouse and complain and resent having to do it, but I do it anyway. It’s part of that being “responsible” junk I was discussing earlier: once it’s done, I’m a lot happier. Because once it’s done, I feel accomplished: I got a lot done! Once it’s done, I don’t have to worry about “what am I having for breakfast/ lunch/ dinner tomorrow (or the rest of the week)?” Once it’s done, I don’t have to go to bed thinking “remember to wake up ten minutes earlier because we need to find what I’m wearing/ pack the gym bag/ make the coffee/ get food together to take.” FYI: during the week when I’m making dinner, I set up the coffee and pack my breakfast & lunch for the next day- why not? I’m already in the kitchen!
This has become as much a part of my regular routine as getting up the next day, getting gas in the car, feeding the pets, etc. It’s been fully integrated into my lifestyle by this point and although it is as much fun as cleaning the litter box (now there’s a true to life image!), it’s just as necessary and we all feel a whole lot better when it’s done (including the cats)!
But I can still choose NOT to do it. What happens if I blow off Sunday prep? Let me illustrate that for you:
5:30- 6:15 a.m. Get up and dig through the drawers/ closet for my clothes, socks, etc. Pack gym bag (2 piece suit, towel, gym shoes, shorts, t shirt) 6:15 a.m. drive to fast food place for breakfast 6:30ish a.m. get gas & drive to work. 12:00ish have lunch delivered or drive to get it 3:15-5:30 p.m. drive home & get to gym 6:45 p.m. leave gym (wet from the pool) & go to grocery store 7:30ish get home & make dinner 8:00ish eat dinner. The only real difference there would be if I went to a fast food place instead of the grocery store, which would give me another 45-hour of free time.That schedule above is what I used to do. Just about every day. And I did it for almost 6 years (minus the gym but add another 2-3 hours of job). Because “I didn’t have time” on the weekends to prep for the week ahead. It was a little more expensive than what I do now, cash-wise. It was a LOT more expensive health-wise. What did those extra 4 hours on Sundays gain me: an extra 160 lbs (to date); elevated blood sugar; joint pain; back pain; pain walking & standing; a rotten trip to Disneyland (no walking or standing there!); and clothes that barely fit. Got me a lot, didn’t it? Real fun stuff too!
So every Sunday, I get to pick my poison: I can blow off the 4 hours of prep time and the blasted trip to the grocery store or I can fly by the seat of my pants and do it all as it comes due every single day. I can eat out every day all week and spare myself the cooking & shopping time. I can choose to have more “free time!” OH, HELL NO!! Every Sunday, I get my butt down to the local Safeway and I grumble as I go through my list and I b*tch as I make my lunches and pack my stupid gym bag and everything else on my weekly prep list, because as much as I BMW about it, I know -without a doubt- I would rather do this than go back to doing it the old way. And truly, once it’s all done, I feel a lot better about having done it (and it gives me an extra fifteen minutes of snooze time & play time with the pets in the morning!).
This is the “poison” I pick. We all get to choose our own; for some of my MFP friends, it’s choosing healthy foods over the convenient stuff, or getting the workout done; or maybe it’s meal planning and prep like me. What it is is actually less important that the fact we choose to do it. Yeah, it’s a sacrifice. Yeah, it’s a pain in the butt. Yeah, it’s not always fun. It’s a chore. It’s a hassle. It’s boring and it takes away from the fun stuff we’d much rather be doing (for me pretty much anything involving the pets or On Demand tv)! Many of my MFP friends were asking themselves why they keep doing it when it’s making them unhappy? To start with the only thing really keeping them unhappy about it is their perspective. I’m going to pull a page from Sam Clemens here: if you tell someone they have to whitewash a fence, they’re going to hate it, but if you tell them, they can’t, they will eventually pay you for the privilege of doing it (Tom Sawyer). If you tell yourself over and over again what a pain in the butt it is to log your food every day, then, yes, it will be a pain in the butt. Each time you do it. If you tell yourself this is an opportunity to learn something about yourself or to keep yourself moving towards your goals, then that’s what it becomes! Yes, I grouse and grumble about meal prep, but I feel pretty good when it’s done and I know I can have those extra minutes (an entire hour or more) each weekday with my cockapoo and kitties. Would I rather be scrambling for my clothes and lunch or wrestling with my cat and playing ball with my dog? No brainer! It’s a trade off I am happy to make (and I kinda like grousing about it- gives me something to b*tch about)! So, from my perspective, it’s a necessary chore.
Also, if this necessary chore isn’t working for you, then find one that does! I used to take my laundry on Tuesdays, but I found it was stacking the front part of my week with too much to do, so I moved it to a later day of the week. It still gets done, but now it’s more convenient for me. I tried doing grocery shopping during the week but it was too much of a hassle trying to get it done during the work week when the trade off included getting to bed later. The schedule I have now is the one that works best for me. It took a little fine tuning but so far, it’s working out pretty well. If it weren’t working out, or if it stops working out in the future, I will have to change it. It doesn’t have to be set in stone!
Probably the biggest mistake most people make when they try to make a new habit, healthy or not, is that they try to make ALL the changes at ONCE! This is so not the way to do it! We all do a lot better making one change at a time and once that becomes a new habit, we make another change! We do it slowly and incorporate them into the routine once the “new” habit has become part of the routine. When I started my prepping routine, I started making my lunches as part of last night’s dinners: I’d make more than enough because I used the leftovers for lunch or breakfast. I started making breakfast on the weekends. I started incorporating little habits one at a time and then fine tuning them until I got a routine that works. I may go back to doing leftovers again- who knows? If it works out better, then yeah, I will, but this is part of the process of change. We need to do what works best for us, what we feel good about and we need to keep a positive attitude about it! This is what I mean when I say it’s all up to you! You can make it “the end of the world” and the “most awful experience ever” or you can focus on the benefits you get from it! Each morning when I take ten minutes and wrestle with my pets, that schlepping to the grocery store Sunday afternoon pays off! When I can spend a few extra minutes programming my iPod before I leave for work, it pays off! Knowing I don’t have to make a mad dash soaking wet for the grocery store deli before all the rotisserie chickens are gone on Wednesday after water aerobics, it’s worth it! We pick our poison and just because it may not be the yummiest flavor in the world doesn’t mean it has to taste awful either! We have alternatives; it’s up to us to make the best decision we can. Bottoms up, everyone!