Healthy meal planning: what I’ve learnt one month in

Well, today marks a month since I started my wee project. So, what have I learnt from a month of trying to eat healthily to a timetable?

I'm all ears.
I’m all ears.

1. It helps to plan in advance how you’re going to get your healthy meals. There were two times when I totally missed my target because I hadn’t actually bought in stuff to make healthy meals or devised a plan for where else I would get them. Yes, planning is nerdy, but if you don’t do it you’re relying on luck to see you through, which is never the bestest idea. So I haven’t got time to make a healthy lunch from scratch in the morning? That’s ok, I can take in a couple of slices of bread to toast and a mini tin of baked beans, or buy a healthy ready meal on the way in to work.

2. I am rubbish at eating healthy meals when I’m hungover.

koala no way

Shut up, sarky koala! I’m actually getting way better at it than I was when the month began, but I have to keep ready-made healthy meals in for the morning (as well as Nurofen Express).

3. I will absolutely use the softly-softly approach to justify having a whole chocolate cake as a snack. Not really in the spirit of the thing! For the last week I’ve been cracking down on myself a bit, making sure I’m doing my best to eat healthy as much as I can but only counting it as a failure if I don’t hit my minimum target for the day. But trying not to eat all the cake as well.

Slowly-slowly-catchy-healthy…

Why I love failing

Ok, if I were to give you a simple choice between succeeding at your goals or failing, right now, which would you pick? Go on, it’s a simple choice. Winning or losing? Go.

Aw. This meme is so dead now it's almost making me nostalgic.
Aw. This meme is so dead now it’s almost making me nostalgic.

Well sure, winning seems like the obvious choice but right now I’m going to (completely expectedly, given the title of this post) go with the losers. Why? Because failing is way, way more important than succeeding in the long run.

Just take a quick look at my slow change timetable:

Such. A. Nerd.
Such. A. Nerd.

The first thing that meets your eye here is the lovely long series of ‘Target met’ notes. Hooray! The system is working. Except… Hang on, what about those two days where my targets weren’t met? Oh well, those are anomalies. They mean nothing, right? Everyone slips up. And in general I’m doing really well!

Yes and no. Yes, I am doing really well and yes, those days are anomalies. But anomalies can tell us a great deal about what may or may not be working in a system.

As you can see, the two days when I didn’t meet my target were Saturdays (uh oh) and involved being hungover and hanging out with my friends. Now, these days were failures because I didn’t do what I set out, but already they are very interesting failures because they have things in common. They have gone from being anomalies, to data that I can use. So, what do I do about them? Here are a few options:

a. Stop drinking.

b. Stop hanging out with my friends.

c. Descend into a pit of self-hatred and tell myself I’ll never meet my goals.

nope dog

OR I could just be a bit more realistic, see that I’m very likely to get pissed on Fridays and be hungover on Saturday mornings, and build my healthy eating targets around this as this is showing itself to be my weak spot. In practice, what does this mean? Just a very slight shifting of tactics. What I’ve decided to do is:

  1. Not rely on myself to be healthy on Saturday mornings. At all. Maybe this will change at some point, but in reality it’s unlikely because I like going to the pub and drinking pints on Friday evenings with my mates.
  2. Have a plan on Friday for precisely how I will be healthy for lunch or dinner on Saturday. My plan worked this weekend. I went out and got hammered on Friday as usual, and had a plan to get a healthy ready meal from Marks and Sparks on Saturday afternoon when I was out, and have that for lunch. And I did. The even-more-sensible thing to do would be to have a ready meal in the fridge waiting for me on Saturday, but because I went straight from work to the pub this didn’t happen.

And that’s it. These very small adjustments to my expectations meant that this week I met all my targets. I’m feeling pretty good about that.

And I’m absolutely indebted to my failures, because they taught me how not to fail again.

And I still get to have pints!
And I still get to have pints!