Plan Ahead to Stay on Track with Weight Loss

Q: I didn’t do well with my weight loss over the summer — my schedule was so hectic. What can I do now that my kids are back in school?

Fall is here and the weather is beginning to cool. The days offer a little less sunshine and a bit more fresh air. In some ways, staying on your weight loss journey may be easier because many people have more of a structured routine with school in session and church and community activities in full gear. When your schedule is more predictable, you can plan on times when you will exercise and what foods you will eat and when.

Having said that, life can become more hectic and chaotic, given all of the things to do and there can be a tendency to slip back into old habits. One of the best ways to avoid that, however, is by planning ahead.

Planning meals
Take 15 to 30 minutes on the weekend and look at the schedule for the next week — what is going on and who is going where. Plan three daily meals, then go to the grocery store and purchase the needed ingredients. Remember, meals can be simple and easy to prepare and still be nutritious and conducive to weight loss.

It can be helpful to prep and portion ingredients ahead of time, like cutting up vegetables or dividing up packages of chicken or other lean proteins. Some of my patients will even cook three to four meals on the weekend and then freeze them. During the week, they pull a meal out of the freezer and it's there come dinner time.

Planning exercise
Likewise, look at the schedule and determine when and how you will exercise during the week. For example, if you have to take your daughter to gymnastics, can you go to the gym and work out for 45 minutes after dropping her off? Or if your son has football practice, can you walk around the field for about 20 minutes and get in another 2,000 to 3,000 steps?

Plan to act
There will always be things to do and places to go and one can come up with many excuses as to why it is too difficult to exercise or eat right. There can always be a reason for not starting or not staying on our weight loss journey. By planning ahead, you won’t be caught off guard and end up heading to a drive through or realizing at bedtime that you weren’t able to get in any exercise that day. Your weight loss will continue and you will be right back on track.

Kathleen Baskett, MD is the Medical Director of Weight Management at St. Vincent Healthcare. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and the author of “Moving Forward: The Weigh to a Healthier Weight”.