Well, I have really enjoyed my "blogging break" - but now it's time to get back to business. With the new year I have noticed some new pounds that I swear weren't there just a few weeks ago. Boo! It's time to get serious with my lunch packing - I have decided my new focus will be Bento for Weight Loss : )
Okay, I'm going to be very honest with you guys. I have been struggling with my weight since last spring, when I was diagnosed with hypo-thyroidism. In my sidebar where I describe myself, I mention that I have lost 20 lbs. through clean eating - well, now I have gained all those pounds right back- yikes! I was considering changing my "About Me" statement so I don't sound like a hypocrite, but then again, I don't want to ever be okay with this weight gain. I want it GONE for GOOD!
I've decided that for the time being, I'm going to do the thing that I always said I would not need to do - count calories. Well, it'll be more like a plan to stay within a certain calorie range. I have come up with what I consider to be a pretty good game plan. I have chosen a daily calorie range based on my height, current weight, and the amount of weight I want to lose. Here's a great site where you can calculate that info: recipe for fitness
Next, I planned out a few weeks of menus that fit within my calorie range. I must admit, the thought of doing this seemed really daunting at first. The thought of all the time it would take to write that up and add up all the calorie contents of ALL the food I'd be eating in a week... well, who has the time for that? Not me!
Here's what I'm doing to make that part of my plan go smoothly. I took some ready-made meal plans from a couple of different sources - the above-mentioned Recipe For Fitness ( they have some great meal plans that I like), and one of my favorite books The Eat-Clean Diet Stripped: Peel Off Those Last 10 Pounds!, and Clean Eating magazine's Meal Plans Made Easy ( which is currently for sale in stores - I got mine at WalMart)
I really like the Eat Clean Diet, so I knew that using their ready made meal plans would be the easiest for me (You can read a description of what Clean Eating is on my sidebar). As I looked through their meal plans, I knew I'd have to change some things to fit what I like to eat, what I had on hand, and what would suit my food allergies. But I'm using these as guidelines, so at least I won't have to create my meal plans entirely from scratch.
The Meal Plans Made Easy magazine is really easy to alter - its pages are pencil-friendly, (not glossy magazine pages) so I've been writing my personal preferences right in the magazine.
Once I have my menu the way I like, I go to FitDay where I can look up the calorie content of foods in the plan where I've made changes.
Now this isn't something that I plan to do all at once. That would drive me nuts! This is a project that I like to take my time with, and work on a little here and a little there - when I'm waiting in the car, the dentist office, or while watching T.V. When a good idea for a meal hits me, then I go get my meal planning notebook and jot it down ( " ooh - I think I'll write that down for dinner on Week 5!" ) But once it's done, I'll have menu plans that I can save and use again and again. I don't mind putting some time into planning something like this because the planning is done once, but the menus can be used again and again.
I have been planning a week's meals at a time for a couple of years now ( see my Weekly Food Prep page) but I've never put this much effort into keeping track of the calories before. So we'll see how it goes :)
Now that I've planned a few weeks, I've started using my plans. When I pack bentos for the day, I look at my meal plan sheet and think of ways to make it look more fun. Here's a snack that's under 200 calories that's from my meal plan - 2 tablespoons of hummus and raw veggies. Now I could just pack it up and be done with it, and it would look like this:
Kind of blah. Which would you rather eat when you get hungry - the snack above, or some cookies? Yeah, I know! I would look at it and need to tell myself, "remember, you're on a diet, so you need to eat this", etc. But look what happens to this same food when it's packed in a cute bento box:
For lunch my meal plan said "grilled chicken salad with kidney beans, one ounce cheese, and low fat dressing" so I made it look awesome ( see the photo at the intro of this post). I promise it tasted better, too! And here's what I packed for my husband - he got the same thing, but he got a dragon on his salad:
* Added to What I Ate Wednesday and What's for Lunch Wednesday - go check out their links to see some more great food ideas!