In general, I’m not a fan of meal plans.
Like, I’m just going to come out and say this – Whole30 is absolute bullshit and it is getting V out of hand. Do people even know why they’re doing that shit? Eliminating entire groups of food is just like…why? Honestly tho- why? In moderation, FOODS ARE NOT BAD! I mean chemicals and shit are, but you know what I’m saying? I did Whole30 once and was pretty much like…this is stupid. IT’S JUST HOW I FEEL, OKEY.
OMG, rant over. Sorry.
IMO, MOST meal plans typically do more harm than good by setting overly restrictive guidelines, contribute to complexes or dysmorphias, and encourage toxic behaviors. On the other extreme, I also think they create a false sense of security. While you’re “on” the plan, life is good. Rules are rules, right? You abide by them and success seems imminent. But what happens when REAL LIFE steps in and you have to go off script?! Most people freak the fuck out (either by binging, or becoming obsessive) and that’s not healthy either.
I changed my tune after participating in Nancy Anderson’s 30-Day Slim Down, a plan I executed when I was 4-weeks postpartum. Not only is it approachable, satiating, satisfying, and REALISTIC, but it is SMART. Her upfront (lengthy, and GOOD) is like going to school. At one point my jaw was on the floor realizing the information she was delivering was available for only $60. Actually, $50 if you use my code (KateLemere10) through September 1st.*
I was ELATED when Nancy asked if I wanted to partner with her for the August Slim Down installment and thought a post on how to best set yourself up for success would be helpful to those considering participating, or for the gen pop who are considering meal plans period.
After clearing my DM’s of 100’s of questions, it hit me.
An Aha! Moment
Moderation is hard. Extremes are easy.
It’s hard to have one glass of wine, or one cookie and leave it at that. It’s hard to have one cheat meal without it derailing an entire day. A state of deprivation is more comfortable in the sense that you’re not playing with fire, and mostly avoiding all temptation. The problem with that is it isn’t sustainable.
Strict behavior is somehow okay. Maximizing quality of life and minimizing feelings of restriction and deprivation somehow became terrible.
Whut? That’s fucked up.
Our society (I blame marketing and social media) has skewed our reality, and I think we all need to check ourselves. Myself included! Trust me; I am no martyr.
- Foods labeled as “good” or “bad” leading to feelings of guilt, remorse, or even worse feeling like a failure if you go off plan.
- Plans give enough information to be dangerous, without full education. When the program is over clients, don’t know WHY they did what they did, and therefore any habits they created (for better or worse) die when the timeframe is over. What’s that phrase about teaching a man to fish? IDK, but it’s like a famous quote.
- Many meal plans encourage an unhealthy thought process. The stricter you are with your eating, the better off you’ll be. Right? Wrong. The more deprived you feel, the less likely your adherence will be, ESPECIALLY when you look at the long term. Sure it may appear like your plan is working for a week or two, but if your adherence is low in the long run, you run the risk of entering a dangerous cycle of yo-yo’ing.
- A lot of plans are being sold by Instagram “influencers” who have ZERO qualification for advising clients they don’t know on how to behave. Their MO is “try harder” when troubleshooting arises, and their entire basis for their methodology (I use that term loosely) is something that worked for THEM.
- The fitness industry has somehow spiraled into a “grind” that rewards impossible behavior.
Okay, so we’ve identified the problem(s) with handling meal plans, so how do you combat it?
Tips for Success
- CLEARLY outline YOUR goals for the duration of the plan. What do YOU want to get out of it? What does success look like for you? Define it, stick with it, and celebrate your wins as you finish it.
- Plan your meals. Preparation is the main component for success and adherence. Eating healthy isn’t just about what you’re consuming. It’s about shopping, prepping, packing, and cooking. So schedule yourself accordingly.
- Embrace strategic modifications.
- ANTICIPATE and ACCEPT that your real life will happen while you’re participating.
I’d like to further expand on those last two points.
Embrace Strategic Modifications
During my tenure on Nancy’s 30-Day Slim Down, I was 2-3 months postpartum. I was still establishing my milk supply, and while I was ready to prioritize my nutrition, wasn’t prepared to “diet” in a traditional sense.
Nancy’s plan reverse carb cycles**, which I typically practice. However, while prioritizing my supply, I felt like I needed to incorporate oats in the morning. I was also CRAVING them. A 1/2 cup of oats (dry) is incredibly satisfying. Mix with a dash of cinnamon, and I’m in heaven. THAT’S 150 CALORIES. That’s it. I added my oats to Nancy’s breakfast a day or two out of the week and still was able to achieve my definition of success. On the days I felt like I wanted oats, I sacrificed a complex carb later in the day. Nancy’s plan CLEARLY outlines modifications for women who are breastfeeding, allergies, food preferences and sensitivities, and hunger. You literally cannot go wrong.
When I would go out to a restaurant I’d order off the menu: A piece of grilled chicken breast with steamed veggies, or a salad with fibrous veggies and protein ONLY. Sure, not every ingredient was in my control, but it was CLOSE, and that’s better than going completely nuts.
Anticipate and Accept Real Life will Interfer
I hate to tell you this; the world will continue to turn while you’re on a meal plan. And your friends, co-workers, boss, and family most likely don’t give a shit you’re on a diet. I tell my Barry’s classes EVERY DAY to “anticipate what’s ahead not for the sake of intimidation, but with preparation.” When you know what’s coming down the pipe, you can prepare how to handle the situation.
Going on a work trip? Do your research to find a Whole Foods you can Instacart snacks.
Call your hotel ahead of time and request a mini fridge, or have the fridge emptied if there’s a minibar that’s fully stocked.
Talk to the staff at the restaurant you’re taking your clients to for dinner to understand their policy on substitutions.
Today, you have every resource at your fingertips to succeed…unless you are LOOKING for a way out. Anticipate what’s going to happen, then don’t freak out. PREPARE.
If you’re having trouble deciding if NOW is the right time to start a new routine, read this point, I think it’ll help your decision-making process.
The best part about Nancy’s plan and the problem with so many others is that they don’t HELP you succeed in life when you’re not “on.” Nancy outlines the method behind her madness (genius!) so if you’re going to a restaurant, party, bar, or other social activity with food and beverage you can make an educated choice for YOURSELF that YOU feel good about.
My Path Forward
The Slim Down is 30-days. That’s 150 meals, and virtually 150 opportunities to nail the plan. Is a 100% success rate realistic? For you? Maybe!! You’ll never know unless you try.
For me, no.
I work full time, my three year wedding anniversary falls smack dab in the middle of the 30-days, I’m expecting my sister and her husband 3-days after the plan starts, and I’m traveling for a REALLY fun project during the final week.
I know myself, and I KNOW that I’ll go off the rails, a time or two. Honestly, I’m okay with it! The alternative is missing out on the full experience of the events above, and that’s not something I’m willing to do.
So, what IS realistic? A 92% success rate = 138 meals. That leaves 12 opportunities to indulge (moderately) and still feel like a winner. I mean think about college. When you got a 92% on a final, you were like, “FAHK YAH. I AM THE FUTURE. WEAR SUNSCREEN, BITCHES.”
By setting this goal I acknowledge I am NOT maximizing the plan to its full potential, but I’m giving myself BOUNDARIES and PERMISSION to take reality as it comes. When I say 12 opportunities I am NOT referring to 12 days, I’m referring to 12 meals across the entire 30-days. Does that include getting blackout drunk? NO!!! Does that include a full day of doing whatever I want? HELL NO!!!
That includes a drink or two, or dessert, or a steak dinner at Prime and Provisions (omg, the Lemere fav).
I will LITERALLY take a calendar and circle the days I plan to “cheat” (I hate that word, PS) so that it’s already accounted for and I can anticipate without anxiety.
I’ll enjoy those indulges FULLY. And then I’ll move on. The true sin is binging without enjoyment. If you’re going to do, it better be fucking good. Savor it. If you don’t, you’ve got some evaluating to do.
Remember, you can start something WHENEVER you want. If you get off track, YOU have the power to get back on. While a plan like the Slim Down starts monthly, you can start whenever you want. And when you do remember the following:
- Changing your body does NOT include suffering
- Adherence is important but does not define your self-worth
- Failure is relative
- What you put in is what you’ll get out
Ultimately, you get what you give. Like anything else in life.
Can you have wine? You can! Can you have dessert? YOU CAN! You can do anything you fucking want, and your results will reflect those choices. A PDF has no hold over you. It’s not going to smack you over the head when you’re elbow deep in a box of donuts. It’s not going to justify or validate any choice you make. And it’s not going to pat you on the back when you finish with full adherence.
That’s on YOU.
The best part about a system that’s only a month long is that it is TEMPORARY. You will eat dessert again. Drink wine again. Oreder fries again. Just not today.
The question is, WHAT DO YOU WANT? Truthfully, our needs and wants are so very different, but our society is rooted in instant gratification, so the lines are very blurred. You may WANT an indulgent meal. But you NEED to feel successful, fulfilled, and accomplished. Determine what that means for you and confidently move forward.
*Let it be known I have NEVER done an offer code or giveaway of any sorts. I think it’s kind of suspect when influencers are like, “OMG! Use my code for this shampoo.” Like, what? Who cares!! It’s saturated and watered down and doesn’t lend credibility to anything or anyone. I am SUPER cognizant of the content I produce, the products I endorse, and the shit I talk about. if it doesn’t add value or increase the quality of life, I’m not interested. Plain and simple.
**Reverse carb cycling is a method of eating where carbs are not consumed until the afternoon to keep your insulin from spiking. Per Nancy, “This helps with hunger, hormones, energy, brain fog, fat loss, adrenal function and much more.” Carbs (including fruit and starchy veggies) are consumed later in the day but NEVER at breakfast. It’s an integral part of the plan, so if you’re going to make concessions let this one NOT be it.