I often find myself in weird places at weird times. Being an incredibly observant person, I also happen to overhear interesting conversations pretty consistently. Let me just tell you now, people are entertaining…and sometimes a little bit scary.
The inspiration for today’s post however, is just a funny conversation I overheard between a young boy, elementary school aged, and his mother while I was walking into a building on campus. It went something like this:
Little Boy: “Mom, is this where they teach kids?”
Mother: “No, this is where they teach grown-ups.”
Little Boy: “Ohhhh, they teach grown-ups?” *pauses and then continues with a rather distraught look on his face* “Mom, does school never end!?”
You see even as an adult, I still feel like the little boy did in that moment, and not always just about school either. There are many things in life that feel like they are never going to end, and then on the other side of things there are a lot of things I wish would never end.
As I have gotten started with this whole idea of making lifestyle changes, something I came across was this idea of meal planning. Between work and school and some semblance of a social life (mostly drinking wine with my cats), I really don’t have a lot of time to think about the things that I am eating. I think this is one of my biggest struggles, and one of the main reasons that I gained the weight back the way I did.
As I’m sure many of you can relate, when you’re consistently running around like a chicken with your head cut off, you’re more often than not going to pick whatever the easiest thing is to scarf down.
That’s when you find yourself buried in mountains of fast food, take out, and delivery pizza, and of course you’re going to gain weight or at the very least you’re not going to lose any of it. Besides how unhealthy it is, when you look at how much money you’re spending on all this crap, you’re not doing yourself any favors either. At that point you might as well just eat the money, just eat it, it’s probably healthier for you anyway.
No seriously, the next time I have a craving for that shit I’m just going to make myself a little dollar salad with some coin croutons and hopefully that will motivate me enough to eat the real food I have in my fridge. I have not had any fast food, take out, or delivery pizza in well over a month. I’m pretty proud of myself for that. Well… with the exception of Panera a couple times… ok ok more than a couple times.
Y’all I promise someday I will go to Panera Rehab and get my addiction under control. But baby steps, remember? You can’t take all a girl’s vices at once.
Anyway back to meal planning/prepping, and I’m about to get really real with y’all right now. When I first had this (pinterest inspired) epiphany, I was ecstatic. Seriously who wouldn’t be ecstatic about having everything you put in your mouth for the week planned out for you and not having to make decisions? And they make it sound so great and easy. It’s like the first time you go to IKEA, like the first time you stumble into this magical place full of magic and wonder and they have meatballs. MEATBALLS. It’s like the wonderland of home decor in there, and you leave feeling like you’ve just experienced something groundbreaking.
But then you get home with your box that contains a build it yourself bookshelf that has a name you can’t even pronounce because it has more consonants than vowels, and you start to read the instructions. Oh no wait, I’m sorry. IKEA instructions don’t have words, they’re just pictures. How “Simplistic”, which if you think about it could be split into two words Simply Sadistic. Pretty soon you have a bookshelf that resembles the lopsided art project you made for your mom for mother’s day in the 2nd grade. You could have made a better bookshelf with the $15 value box of beer it took you to finish building the damn thing.
That is exactly what meal planning is like.
Week One: Primary ingredients include chicken and broccoli, these things are new to you so it’s like the magical wonderland of real food. It’s like being Alice, but instead of those weird candy things it’s chicken and broccoli and water that are labeled “Eat Me” and “Drink Me.” And much to your pleasant surprise, at your weekly weigh in (clearly why the rabbit was late to the mad hatter’s tea party), it even shrinks you. Who wouldn’t be excited about that?*
*Disclaimer: If the caterpillars are smoking and the flowers are talking to you, you might want to make sure that chicken you’re buying is also drug free along with the giant list of other things you’re supposed to watch for.
Week Two: Continue to eat an inhumane amount of chicken and broccoli until you’re more inclined to live off air, and actually while you’re at it grow gills so you can just inhale the water, drinking is so inefficient these days. But you know when the scale is going down, it’s hard to argue with results. So you decide to give it another shot, just one more week. Surely, SURELY there will be something else on the menu, besides…
Week Three: Chicken and Broccoli. Chicken and Broccoli, FOR DAYS. It never ends. At this point you don’t even have to bother with seasoning any of it. Your tears are seasoning enough. How anyone can be expected to live off chicken and broccoli for the rest of their lives is beyond me. You know there are some theories out there that say we all evolved from some kind of aquatic dinosaur.
I will be damned if my prehistoric ancestors crawled out of their watery hell so I could eat chicken and broccoli for the rest of my life.
For those of you who believe in the more biblical story of our creation, spoiler alert, Jesus did not take the fish and loaves and wine and turn it into chicken and broccoli and protein shakes either. At least not in any of the translations I’ve come across, though I haven’t personally read the Bro Jesus version of the bible. I have however run into his disciples at the gym a few times, they may want to check the bro commandments again, pretty sure one of them is thou shalt not skip leg day.
See the thing that blows my mind about these people that write these “beginner’s guides” to meal planning, is that I’m sure that’s not the only thing they live off in their daily lives. And yet for some reason, this seems to be the main staple in all these month to several month long meal plans. I’m going to hit back on something I said in my first post, this is not sustainable for any normal human being. Don’t get me wrong chicken and broccoli is great, I was ecstatic to learn that vegetables won’t kill me and don’t taste like dirt. But there has to be a level of variety.
Now that doesn’t mean we can live off a different flavor carton of ice cream and a gallon of chocolate milk for every meal. (Trust me, I’m truly as devastated as you are). But I have found that I can find the recipes and meals that I enjoy and find ways to make them healthier and portion them out into more reasonable sizes. And I encourage anyone that’s trying to start meal planning to break away from the mold, and do the same. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good sources of meal prep recipes out there, but you really have to dig for them. Why not make it easier on ourselves and actually start with the things we know we will enjoy.
With all that said, I think meal prep is an absolutely wonderful idea. I think it seriously helps me to be accountable to myself and keeps me from diverting off the path that I want to stick to. But sometimes I feel like you have to find ways to incorporate these lifestyle changes so they fit into your life, and not the other way around. Lifestyle changes are not a one size fits all, and they’re not a cookie cutter formula. And I think often times we get lost in that.
I’m sorry I can’t fix your IKEA experience though. Once you lose your IKEA virginity, it’s gone forever. For those of you who haven’t experienced it yet, use it wisely and cherish it. I’m sorry I can’t fix your svcktwvyvck bookshelf either, maybe you can give it to your mom for mother’s day this year.