I recently did a Q&A on my Instagram stories, and I got a ton of great questions. Most of which were pretty loaded questions.
Several of you asked how I stay motivated to exercise and make healthy eating choices all/most of the time, and I thought that topic warranted a full blog post response, rather than a single screenshot or two in my IG story.
There is so much that goes into living a healthy lifestyle and making healthy choices consistently, so I wanted to share what I usually do with you. I tried to refrain from writing an entire novel, but I apologize if it’s a little lengthy. Like I said, it’s not a simple, one-paragraph answer, and it can look totally different for everyone.
What really made me think to write this post is the fact that today is Sunday. Specifically Sunday after a long, holiday weekend. I know that the “Sunday Scaries” are a very real thing, and that a lot of you are probably having them right about now. I used to get them really bad. Like I would lay in bed with so much anxiety that I felt like I wanted to cry, and couldn’t possibly face the week ahead.
Definition of Sunday scaries, in my personal opinion:
That feeling you have after a really great weekend with friends and family, and then Sunday hits and you’re absolutely dreading Monday and the whole week ahead, and totally stressing about all of the responsibilities you have in the days to come. Anxiety level: 10/10 — almost unbearable.
My definition is a little different from the version found on Urban Dictionary; some of you may or may not prefer their version. ; )
Thankfully, ever since Ethan and I got married, Sundays don’t seem so scary anymore. Throwing someone else into the mix has given me more responsibility in this department; however, it has somehow made it a little bit easier and more motivating for me. Sundays have become a day where I really take the time to make a game plan for the week to ensure that we both eat well and get our workouts in, which makes me feel so much more prepared for the days ahead, and way less stressed throughout the work week. Today I’m going to focus on the meal plan piece, and save the exercise piece for another day.
I have to mention that Ethan helps me so much with this process. Not only does he give me input when picking out meals we might like to have for dinner that week, but he physically goes to the grocery store with me and helps me cook almost every night.
I’ll give you a rough idea of what my Sunday “game planning” looks like.
First, I figure out what our schedules look like for the week, which helps me plan meals accordingly. Questions to consider: Which nights will be both be home? Which nights do we have something going on and only one of us needs to be fed? Which days will I be working from home where I could throw in a crockpot meal? You get the idea.
Based on all of that information, I make a meal plan. Like I mentioned, I usually consult Ethan on this, and he will provide any input he has, but he usually just agrees with whatever I choose. 😉 I will at least choose dinners to make each night, and from that, I create my grocery list.
When creating my grocery lists, I obviously get items that I will need to prepare our dinners that we have chosen, but I also include things that will be nice to have for breakfasts, snacks and healthy lunches to get us through the week. Such as: bananas, string cheese, kefir, carrots and hummus, spring mix, salad toppings, etc.
Next, we go to the store to get all the ingredients we’ll need, and then I do any prep that I possibly can do ahead of time.
I have never been the “10 Tupperware containers full of grilled chicken, steamed broccoli, and brown rice to eat for every meal all week long” kind of meal prepper. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but I know for a fact that Ethan and I would both get bored really quickly. And food really doesn’t taste fresh or yummy after four or five days. More than anything, I try to prepare elements of meals that will help cooking throughout the week go a lot faster. For example, if we are having veggie flatbreads on Monday and roasted veggies as a side for Tuesday and Wednesday dinners, I will use time on Sunday to chop up peppers & onions for flatbreads, and chop broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts so they are ready to be seasoned and quickly tossed into the oven on the night that I need them.
Then I will typically try to do more prep mid-week for lunches and dinners the next few days. That way your food is a lot fresher, and you have some new stuff to work with.
How do I choose which meals we will have each week?
It varies! Some weeks we just want to save money, so we will try to create meals based on things we already have in the pantry or freezer. Already have a veggie stir-fry medley and shrimp in the freezer? Great, that covers Tuesday night. Quinoa in the pantry, and frozen salmon? Perfect! We’ll just get some veggies to roast alongside it for Wednesday night. It can be that simple. We have also been saving a ton of money lately by doing most of our grocery shopping at Aldi. I highly recommend checking it out if you have one near you. They have some amazing produce and lots of other healthy items in their stores, and you can’t beat their prices.
Ethan and I have Meatless Monday flatbreads every single week, and neither of us ever gets tired of them. So we always have at least one meal figured out for the week, which helps! If you haven’t already made one of my flatbreads, head here for the recipe, and then tag me in your creations! These flatbreads are super versatile, and SO freaking good. You won’t be disappointed. It’s also the easiest and most delicious weeknight dinner option that your whole family will love.
Other than the flatbreads, we do try to switch it up a bit every week, but it can be helpful to have some “go-to” recipes saved somewhere if you’re ever at a loss for what to make. Themed nights can take out some of the guesswork, too. Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Breakfast for Dinner Wednesday — whatever floats your boat. You can stick with the theme but just choose different recipes each time. For instance, there are millions of taco recipes out there — don’t be afraid to try something new!
As a food blogger myself, I love to look at other food blogs / foodie Instagram accounts for recipe inspiration! There are so many great bloggers with amazing recipes out there, so I definitely take advantage of them. This is often how I come up with some of my recipes as well; I find recipes I like and adapt them as needed to turn them into something I really love and believe my followers would love.
Some of my favorite blogs/IG’s to look at for recipe inspiration:
- Hummusapien — Alexis is also an RD and has a ton of great plant-based recipes! (Instagram: @hummusapien)
- SkinnyTaste — I’m constantly making her recipes, and she is the number one place I look for ideas. She has millions of recipes and I’ve never had a bad one! (Instagram: @skinnytaste)
- Iowa Girl Eats — She has a ton of delicious and healthy recipes, most of which are gluten-free if that is something you need to watch in your diet. (Instagram: @iowagirleats)
- Instagram: @spinmeaneatclean — Michelle is another fellow RD and I love everything she posts! She is a busy working mom, so all of her meals are realistic for people who are busy but still want to eat well.
- Street Smart RD — Cara is actually a friend of mine, another dietitian, and her food photography skills are amazing. She makes everything look SO delicious, and she has some amazing recipes too! (Instagram: @streetsmart.rd)
Finally, here is our meal plan for this week:
- Turkey burgers on 100% whole wheat Sandwich Thins with greens, red onions, and my 3-ingredient sweet potato fries
- Meatless Monday flatbreads with Morning Star Grillers Crumbles
- Greek Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner from our SkinnyTaste “Fast and Slow” Cookbook
- Sweet Chili Salmon and Quinoa Broccoli Bowl
- I found this recipe on Sweet Peas & Saffron a long time ago, and have been meaning to share it forever, because it has become one of my favorites. It’s very easy to make, and it is really delicious. I’ve also made it with shrimp and tilapia, and it was amazing each time, so you can switch it up if you don’t like salmon.
- Aldi Fusia Teriyaki Stir-Fry with frozen shrimp
- I don’t have a picture of what that looks like, but another great option would be my Cauliflower Fried Rice with Shrimp! Pictured below.
- On Fridays, we typically go out to eat, but if not, we will cook something at home
- An easy and yummy Friday night meal we love: Baked Chicken Parmesan with whole wheat pasta and veggies, also from Skinny Taste
My To-Do List For a Great Sunday:
- Make a game plan for the week, grocery shop, and prep as much food as possible (as previously mentioned) 🙂
- Look ahead at your schedule so you know what to expect. It can be easy to forget about things that are outside of your “normal” routine, such as appointments, meetings, etc., so if you take some time on Sunday to look at your calendar, you will feel way more prepared for the days to come.
- In addition, I make sure I’m signed up for the whole week of workouts on my Health House app ahead of time. This helps hold me accountable and gets me there every morning (as well as the fact that Ethan wakes up with me at 5 am every day). If you go to a gym and struggle to get yourself there alone, find a workout buddy to help keep you motivated, or write “gym” down on your schedule each day like an appointment so you’re more likely to make it happen.
- Rest — Ethan and I usually take the weekends off, but this weekend we worked out on Saturday, too. Sunday always has been and always will be our day off. It truly is good to give your muscles a day to rest every once in awhile, and I believe it helps me have an even better workout on Monday since I’m fresh and well-rested.
- Go to church — I don’t bring faith into my blog much, but this is really something I want to incorporate into my Sundays in the new year. We’ve had a crazy year of weddings, including our own, which I know is a total excuse, but I’d really like to get back in the routine of going to church on Sundays. It always helps me start the week with a clearer mind and a positive attitude.
- Don’t just take the day off from the gym, but actually relax! Watch some Netflix. Enjoy sitting on the couch for a bit. Surf through Pinterest. Most of us are super busy during the week and don’t have a lot of time to just “chill”, so if you have the opportunity to hang out for a bit, allow yourself to do so. Remember: despite what today’s society may say, it is OKAY not to be busy and stressed out 24/7.
Like I mentioned, living a healthy lifestyle means a lot of different things, and it looks different from person to person. Some of the things I said in this post may not necessarily be realistic for you based on your own needs, so try to adjust as needed! Almost all of us have things we could do to improve our health; try to identify at least one thing that you’re doing now that you could work on to take better care of yourself. Remember: health is about so much more than what you eat & how often you workout. Take your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health into account as well.
Again, I’m not perfect, and just because I make a “meal plan” every week, doesn’t mean we always stick to it 100%. Birthday dinners come up, things get in the way, we might even change our minds about a meal we chose, etc; however, simply having a plan in place each week can be so incredibly helpful and help you resist temptation to go out to eat again when you know you’ve already purchased everything you need, and even did some of the prep work. Teamwork is key; bringing your partner along to help with the process is huge! But more on that topic later. ; )
I hope this was helpful — please let me know if you have any thoughts or questions, and thank you so much to all who participated in my Q&A! I loved hearing from all of you. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!