Listen to this podcast episode to learn the third step to losing weight. This is probably the episode you've been waiting for because we talk about how to create AND follow your food plan. In this episode, I share with you one very effective way you can get yourself to actually want to follow your plan (without using willpower). Don't miss this one!
As mentioned in the podcast, download your copy of my Food Plan Worksheets by clicking here.
If you want to take this work deeper so you can lose weight and move on with your life, click here to join The 6 Stages Weight Loss Program.
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Read the full episode transcript below:
Welcome to the Weight Loss Before and After Pregnancy Podcast. The place you’ll get simple strategies you can apply to your life today to start losing weight. Strategies that’ll help you reach your goal, move on with your life, and focus on the things that matter most to you. I’m your host, Certified Life and Weight Coach, Andrea Scalici. Let’s get started.
Hey everybody. Welcome to episode number 4.
I’m very excited about our episode today and I think it’s probably the one you’ve been waiting for. We’re gonna talk about your food plan today.
But before we do, let’s quickly go over what you’ve learned so far in this podcast because everything you’ve learned so far is meant to go together.
So, in episode number one, I introduced you to The 5 Simple Steps To Losing Weight. And every episode since, we’ve been covering each of The 5 Steps in detail. Again, The 5 Simple Steps are all meant to be things you do at the same time which make up your weight loss plan and your new lifestyle. It’s all simple, foundational stuff for you to get going before you move forward with really losing weight.
So, you learned what the 5 steps were in episode number one.
Then, in episode number two, we talked about step one. Which is following a sleep routine.
In episode number three, we talked about step two, drinking enough water everyday.
In this episode, episode number four, we’ll talk about step three, creating and following a food plan.
And then we’ll cover step four, which is tracking everything, and step five, which is self-coaching, in the next two episodes.
If you haven’t listened to the previous three episodes, I definitely want to encourage you to go back and listen to them now. Listen to them in order and come back to this episode later. It’ll be here waiting for you.
But if you have listened to the previous three episodes, let’s move forward now and get started with our discussion about your food plan.
I wanna start by talking about the way many people approach weight loss. If you want to lose weight, there’s tons of different ways you can lose your weight. Different meal plan options, different diets, different programs, just an overwhelming number of options. But whatever you decide to do, it’s pretty likely that your main focus will be on a food plan.
You’ll probably be focusing on what foods you think you should eat and what foods you think you shouldn’t eat. You’ll probably try to create or find the perfect meal plan.
When I was trying to lose my own weight, back before I found life coaching, I did this too. I had a weight loss goal and I thought the way I’d reach it was by eating perfectly. I didn’t really know what eating perfectly meant or what that would look like but this was my goal. I focused all of my time and attention on creating the perfect meal plan. And just when I thought I’d found the perfect one, which happened many times, I couldn’t get myself to follow it for more than a few days. I just didn’t want to eat the foods on my plan.
Can you relate to this? I see this time and time again. And I lived it myself years ago. It’s like, at some point you’ll think you’ve got it, the perfect meal plan. The plan that will for sure get you to your weight goal. You’re so motivated, excited, and energized about your plan. You start to follow it and just a few days later you’re having trouble following it.
Things are starting to feel hard. But you still try to push through and follow your plan. You try to use willpower to force yourself to eat the food on your plan. You force yourself to eat salads, or drink your lunches, or eat half of the portion you used to eat.
The plan today calls for a salad at lunch and you just don’t want a salad for lunch. So, your brain starts negotiating with you. It starts telling you it’s ok to eat off plan because you just don’t want a salad today. It starts telling you to just eat what you want to eat because it won’t matter anyways. It won’t make a difference. It’s just one meal. No big deal.
And you might listen to this conversation in your mind and end up agreeing with it. Which may lead to you eating off of the plan you created. The plan you thought was perfect and would get you to your goal.
If you do choose to eat off plan, you feel regret, defeat, and maybe even a little sorry for yourself. You think you’ll never figure this weight loss thing out. So, you completely give up on your entire plan and you give up on your weight loss goals.
Now, if this is something you can relate to, I want you to know it’s ok. You’ve been doing the best you can with the information you have. A lot of the information out there has you focusing on your food plan. But now you’ve found this podcast, you’ve found me, and I’m going to help you get out of this cycle.
In order to do that, you’ve got to know that the food plan you follow is important, yes. The food you put into your body is important but it’s not everything. In the beginning and throughout your goal, but especially in the beginning, the most important thing you can focus on to lose weight is your own mind. Because your mind is exactly what’s causing you to give up on your plan or not. Your mind is the main thing that drives your behavior. Both the behaviors you like and the ones you don’t.
And like I said before, it’s all ok. Don’t beat yourself up about this if you’re in this cycle. Don’t judge or shame yourself. Don’t think there’s something wrong with you or your mind. We all have terrible thoughts sometimes and we all have awesome thoughts other times. It’s all completely normal and ok.
But now that you know this, that your mind is what drives your behavior, it’s time to shift your focus and include some work on becoming more aware of what’s happening inside your mind. And by doing this, you can eventually get yourself to actually want to follow your plan in the long run. Not forcing it by using willpower, not faking it by pretending, but genuinely wanting to follow it.
With that said, in my program, The 6 Stages Weight Loss Program, I do guide my clients through the process of creating a food plan. But it’s just a tiny piece of the puzzle. It’s just a tiny piece of what we focus on together. So, in this episode today, I’ll teach you what I do with my clients to help them create a food plan. And then we’ll talk about one very effective way you can get yourself to actually want to follow your plan.
Ok. Your food plan. What I teach my clients is to create their own food plan which consists of a food list and a meal plan. That’s it. Just two things. And I’m gonna teach you how to create both right now.
Let’s start with creating a food list.
A food list is simply a list of foods you’ll allow yourself to eat. And the reason I recommend you create this list is to create a little boundary for yourself around food. I’m not talking about a physical boundary where you try to stay away from the foods not on your list. No. It’s a mental boundary of getting you to draw a line in the sand, inside your mind, around certain foods you choose for yourself.
This boundary is meant to create more space in your mind to think about other things besides food and weight loss. It’s meant to empower you. It’s not meant for deprivation or anything like that. Because that wouldn’t be useful here. You create your own food list and you’re the one who adjusts it whenever you want to as well. So, deprivation isn’t a thing here because you’re the one deciding what goes on your food list and what doesn’t. And you’re the one adjusting it.
The food list has categories like vegetables, fruits, protein and dairy, and whole grains. There’s a section called other for any other foods you want to eat. And there’s a section called exception for any foods you want to allow yourself to eat once a week only.
It’s important for you to create your own plan because only you know what foods feel the best inside of your body.
Take me for example, I’m lactose intolerant, so I don’t eat dairy very often. I also have some issues with gluten. I don’t like eating a lot of meat because of how it makes me feel physically. When I eat simple, basic meals, using foods mostly grown in nature, I feel my best. But that’s just me. Not everyone feels the same way or has the same situation.
What foods feel best inside your body? Only you can answer that. Those are the foods you should include on your food list for sure. And in the beginning, when you’re creating your first draft, I would encourage you to include other foods on your list that you eat now. Maybe they aren’t the healthiest of foods, and maybe they don’t make you feel great physically, but they’re foods you eat now. You can decide to keep them on your list to start and you can always adjust the list later. This will help you actually want to follow your plan in the beginning. And it’ll give you some momentum early on.
Once you have a food list, then create a meal plan using the food list as a guide. All you have to do to create your own meal plan is look at the foods on your food list and build meals from it.
You can create a daily meal plan or a weekly one. Doesn’t matter, as long as you plan your meals 24 hours in advance and you don’t overeat them. You can include one exception meal a week, which is whatever you want it to be. Pizza, pasta, whatever you decide to only eat once a week, as long as it’s planned 24 hours in advance and you don’t overeat it.
I personally like creating weekly meal plans, instead of daily ones, because of how I schedule my week. So, this is what I like to do. I plan all my meals for the upcoming week on Saturday. My husband or I grocery shop on Sunday and we prepare the food for the week, when it makes sense, on Sunday too. That way each meal that I eat during the week doesn’t take me a lot of time to prepare in the moment. Lunches usually take me 5 minutes during the week to make. And dinners usually take 15 to 30 minutes depending on what they are.
You’ll usually find me or my husband at the grocery store again on Thursday if we need some more fresh vegetables or fresh fish for the rest of the week or the upcoming weekend. But those meals were still planned on the previous Saturday.
It’s just how I like to do things and it works for me. You test what will work for you and do that.
Now, in the beginning, the most important part of your food plan isn’t the exact foods on it. The most important part is that you plan your meals 24 hours in advance and you eat what’s on your plan.
Now, you might be thinking, “What’s the deal with the 24 hour in advance thing? Why do I need to plan at least 24 hours in advance?”
And the quick answer to that is because when you plan in advance you’re using the part of your brain that has your long term interests in mind. This is called your prefrontal cortex. It’s the executive part of your brain that makes decisions which usually align with your long term goals. In this case, your weight loss goals.
When you don’t plan in advance, you’re risking making decisions in the moment that are influenced by another part of your brain. And that other part of your brain likes to negotiate with your prefrontal cortex. You probably know what I mean by this. The part of your brain that likes to negotiate with your prefrontal cortex that may start to tell you it’s ok to eat off plan because you just don’t want a salad today. It’s the part that starts telling you to just eat what you want to eat because it won’t matter anyways. It’s the part that tells you it won’t make a difference. It’s just one meal. No big deal.
This little negotiator is cute and fun to have around sometimes but it’s not who you want to be in charge of your food choices. You want your prefrontal cortex in charge of that, your executive brain. So, create your meal plan at least 24 hours in advance using the executive part of your brain. And then in the moment you’re scheduled to eat a salad or whatever’s on your plan, the negotiation will start, and you’ll have one leg up on it. Because you’ll already know what your plan is and what you’d like yourself to eat that day.
Now, this is important so really hear me on this. I alluded to this earlier but let me say it more clearly. When you’re creating your first food plan, I want you to start where you are. This might mean including some of the foods you eat now. This might mean eating ice cream everyday. This might mean driving through the drive thru everyday. Whatever you’re doing now, I want you to start where you are.
You can decide to keep those foods on your food list and your meal plan in the beginning, and then adjust them later on as you get better and better at following your plan. In the beginning, learning to follow your plan is most important.
I know this is a lot of information to take in. And I know a lot of people don’t like planning, or they think they don’t. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of this, I get it.
Inside my program, The 6 Stages Weight Loss Program, I’ve got workshop videos that’ll help you create your food list and your meal plan. These workshop videos walk you through the process step-by-step.
I’ve also got worksheets for you inside the program that’ll help you create your plan. We go over all of this in detail inside my program. If you’re interested, you can learn more or join at mcccoaching.com/join.
But if you’re not ready to join yet, I’ll give you my worksheets right now so you can get your food plan created. If you want to download the worksheets, go to mcccoaching.com/foodplan to get them. No spaces or dashes between food plan. Just mcccoaching.com/foodplan, all one word.
Ok. Once you have your food plan, ask yourself this. “On a scale of 1-10, how likely am I to follow this plan?” If it’s an 8 or better, move forward with the plan. But if it’s under an 8, definitely go back and adjust some things. You don’t want to set yourself up to fail right from the start. Again, that’s why I want you to start where you are now.
If your plan looks good, and you think you’ll easily be able to follow it, I recommend you follow your first food plan for two weeks without making any changes to it. Get really good at following it. Then, make adjustments as needed after those two weeks. And after those two weeks, start small with your adjustments. Just one or two small changes each week.
And in the far future, maybe weeks or months from now, after you’ve created a few meal plans that really work for you, meaning you’re losing weight and you feel physically good, then you can think about creating rotating meal plans.
Have you ever seen rotating meal plans inside your child’s school? If you have children in school, you probably have. They sometimes have four meal plans that they rotate week after week.
You can eventually create those for yourself too so you never have to create a new meal plan again. This is far in the future after you’ve created a few you like and are working for you and you feel ready for that. But just something to think about and work towards.
Ok. We covered a lot in this episode already. And nothing here is rocket science. Nothing is probably new or much different than the information you can get out there in the world. This is why I say the plan itself is important but it’s not the main thing to focus on. If it were, you could just pick any plan out there and lose your weight. But that isn’t so easy to do.
The main thing to focus on isn’t your plan and it isn’t your behavior. The main thing to focus on is the actual thing that drives your behavior. Because focusing on that will make weight loss so much easier and more fun. As promised, we’ll talk about one very effective way you can get yourself to actually want to follow your plan. And how you do that is by focusing on the thing that drives your behavior, your mind.
Think about the moment you get an urge to eat something. Let’s call it a cookie. You get a strong urge to go into the kitchen and eat a cookie.
Have you ever thought about where that urge comes from?
This urge doesn't just come out of nowhere. It’s not some mysterious thing that you can’t seem to figure out. No. An urge is just a feeling inside your body. That’s it. And that feeling comes from a thought inside your mind.
You might be thinking something simple like, “I want to eat a cookie.” And that thought causes you to feel an urge to eat a cookie. The urge will drive your actions, and drive you into the kitchen, if you don’t become aware of what’s happening in that moment before you eat the cookie.
Sometimes it happens so fast we don’t even realize it. It’s like we go unconscious, and then we look down, see crumbs, and realize what we just did. Maybe we ate an entire box of cookies. And if this is happening for you, going unconscious just means that this is a habit for you. You’ve thought the same thought, you’ve felt the same urge, and you’ve eaten the cookies many times. Doing this over and over creates a habit and causes you to go unconscious in a moment like this.
But you can get out of this. And the first step is to start to become aware of what’s happening in the moment before you eat the cookie.
So, in this example, you unconsciously think, “I want to eat a cookie.” You feel an urge. And maybe you take action on this by walking into your kitchen, opening the pantry door, and taking out the box of cookies.
If you practice becoming aware of yourself, in this situation, just before you start to eat the cookie, you can start to gain consciousness and realize what’s happening.
When you realize what’s happening before you’ve taken action, you can change your action in the moment.
You can ask yourself, “Why do I want to eat this cookie when it’s not on my plan? What motivated me to do this?”
Your answer to this question may be because of how you felt before you got the urge to eat the cookie.
Maybe you felt sad, bored, overwhelmed, anxious, or something else. And maybe those emotions triggered you to want the cookie so you can numb those emotions.
If this is happening, I want to point out two things.
One. Nothing has gone wrong here. All that’s happening is your current habit has you eating a cookie to numb emotions instead of feeling them.
Two. Your current habit has you wanting a cookie so you can get a hit of dopamine, the pleasure chemical in the brain, when you’re feeling sad, bored, overwhelmed, anxious, or something else.
That’s it. That’s all that’s happening here. Nothing has gone wrong.
But if you want to get out of this cycle so you can lose weight, you’ve got become more aware of what’s happening in your mind and with your feelings.
One of the reasons I love working with women before and after pregnancy is because of the circumstances and situations they’re dealing with. There’s definitely some situations that are unique to women during this transition in their lives.
If you haven’t had kids yet and you’re thinking about getting pregnant, but you want to lose some weight first, you might be eating to avoid anticipation or the unknown of your future. You know, “Will I be able to get pregnant? Will I have a healthy pregnancy? Will my baby be healthy? Will I be a good Mother? What if I don’t know what to do in certain situations?” You’re thinking all of these things which are causing a great deal of anticipation or stress about the unknown of your future. And it’s all ok. But if you want to follow your food plan and lose weight, it’s time to take an honest look at those thoughts and what feelings they’re producing for you.
If you have had your kids and you want to lose your weight, you might be eating to avoid overwhelm or anxiety or maybe even a little bit of loss or grief for the life you had before you had kids. You might be thinking, “This is too much. I can’t handle this. I never get any time for myself. I don’t know if I can do this anymore. I feel ashamed of myself for even thinking these things. I should be able to do better. What’s wrong with me?” Thoughts like these really do produce all of the overwhelm, anxiety, shame, guilt, just everything you might be feeling. And it’s all ok for you too. But if you want to follow your food plan and lose weight, it’s time to look at these thoughts for what they are. Don’t hide from them any longer.
If you can realize all of these conversations are happening inside your mind and causing you to feel whatever you’re feeling. If you can realize this before you take action to eat the cookie that's not on your plan, you can start to change your actions and your habits.
Now, you might not like this, and you may prefer to eat the cookie and keep avoiding your emotions, it’s up to you, but the alternative to eating the cookie and eating your emotions is to just allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling.
Sad, bored, overwhelmed, anxious, whatever you’re feeling in this moment is ok. It’s just a feeling caused by a thought. Figure out what you’re feeling. Then, figure out what thought is causing the feeling.
Don’t try to change anything. Just sit with the emotion until you process it naturally all the way through. Then, be proud of yourself for sticking to your plan. Even though it was hard, even though it was uncomfortable, and even though it probably felt terrible in the moment.
This might be the first time you’ve ever heard something like this because we’re not really taught this stuff as kids. But learning to process your emotion, instead of eating it, is the key to following your plan and reaching your weight loss goals.
You can do this. You can feel uncomfortable on purpose. You can stick to your plan. And when you do, you’ll start to see progress towards your goal.
Now, as we wrap up this episode, I want to leave you with this. There is no such thing as the perfect plan. There is no such thing as a perfect person who has a perfect mind, who thinks perfect thoughts all the time. We all think terrible thoughts sometimes. And we all think awesome thoughts other times too. And it’s all ok. It’s part of being human.
So, as you start to become more and more aware of your thoughts and feelings, really avoid making yourself feel bad about them. Because making yourself feel bad about them isn’t useful to you and will actually have the opposite effect with your weight loss goals. Making yourself feel bad about your thoughts and feelings will likely cause you to get more urges for food. It’ll likely cause you to be in more situations where you’ll want to avoid or run from your feelings. And that’s just not useful. So give yourself the space you need to practice this.
You will make mistakes. It's ok. Make a mistake, learn from it by figuring out what thought and feeling caused you to do it, then move on right there in the moment. Don’t wait until Monday to move on. Move on right there in the moment. You’ll still make mistakes in the future, nothing is perfect, but you’ll take everything you learn with you each time to become better and better.
Alright. That’s it for now. If you want the food plan worksheets I mentioned earlier, you can download them right now by going to mcccoaching.com/foodplan. If you plan to create your food list and your weekly meal plan, these worksheets will definitely make it easier. So, download them now at mcccoaching.com/foodplan.
On next week’s episode, we’ll continue with The 5 Simple Steps To Losing Weight by talking about step number four, tracking everything. I know lots of people have resistance to doing this because they think it’ll take up too much time. But I promise you it doesn’t. It takes me just a few minutes each day to do this. And I’ve trained myself not to make the data mean anything about me personally. I can’t wait to share with you what I’ve learned about tracking because I’ve really grown to love it. And I think you will too.
Thanks for listening today. I hope you enjoyed this podcast. And if you did, subscribe now so you can get episodes automatically downloaded to your favorite podcast app. And if you’ve got an extra minute or two, please leave a review in Apple Podcasts. A 5-star review if you felt this show connected with you. Leaving a review is a great way for more women to find this podcast and get the help they need. So, I appreciate you taking the time to do that. Have an awesome week and I’ll talk to you in the next episode.
If you loved this podcast, I want to invite you to check out The 6 Stages Weight Loss Program. It’s my signature program that’ll teach you everything you need to know from start to finish to lose weight, reach your goal, and maintain it once you’re there. You’ll also learn how to have your own back through the process. Join me over at mcccoaching.com/join. I’ll see you there.
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