You Want Me To What Now? Seriously?!

Really?! You Want Me To Cut Up All These Menus AND Make This Frame?! Why Didn’t You Call This Work-Your-Fingers-To-The-Bone Lifestyle??

I know, I know. It seems like a bunch of work. And maybe it is. But it’s worth it. You can do it in front of the TV if you like. I won’t tattle on you.

Let’s talk about the specifics of the plan. You’ve probably already downloaded the key to your weight loss. (Hint. It’s the menus.)

It’s quite overwhelming to see all the little menu squares in a pile in front of you. (Another hint. Try not to sneeze.) But the key to success in any endeavor is Organization. Lucky for you that’s my middle name. I know, weird, huh? My parents were freaks. My brother’s middle name is Reliable. My sister’s, for some strange reason, is Practice The Piano.

Anyway, this is what I suggest.

After you’ve cut out all the menu squares, separate any that don’t appeal to you. Like if you don’t eat eggs, for example, or you’re allergic to nuts. You can either throw them out, or you can save them and use the Alphabetical List Of Foods And Their Calories to substitute the items you don’t like. The menu items in ‘Small Caps’ have corresponding recipes in the Lazy Low Cal Lifestyle Cookbook.

Organize the remaining menus into similar piles — all sandwiches together, all smoothies together, etc.

Decide when your meals will be. Think about your schedule for the week. Brown bag to work? Eat at home? Lots of appointments? Leisurely meals? They don’t have to be Breakfast-Lunch-Snack-Dinner. They can be Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner-Dessert. Or Breakfast-Lunch-Alcohol-Dinner, my personal favorite. And they don’t have to be at proscribed times, although most experts agree you shouldn’t go more than four hours without eating something. And by now everyone knows that successful dieters eat breakfast. Logically, you can’t eat at noon and then come home from work and start making dinner at 6:30 either. It’s a recipe (no pun intended) for disaster. So carefully consider your schedule when making your meal plans.

You could eat at 6am-10am-2pm-6pm. Or 8am-11am-4pm-7pm. Or 8am-noon-3pm-5pm. Or you could eat half your first meal (200 calories) before you work out and the other 200 calories afterward. Or 200 calories every two-and-a-half hours. You get the idea. Whatever works for your schedule. If every day is different that’s perfectly fine … or if you do exactly the same thing at exactly the same time every day, that’s fine too.

Now, using what you know about your schedule this week, slip menus in the Meal One pockets of the frame. If you’re a creature of habit — like me — it could be the same every day. If you like variety it could be different every day. Or somewhere in between. If you want the same menu more than once, you could download the page however many times, or use the blank menus to handwrite your own, or slip the menu out of one pocket and into another when that meal is finished. Or simply remember that you eat the same thing for breakfast every day.

Do the same for the rest of the Meals on the frame. Think extra hard about whatever meal is “lunch.” Will you be brown bagging to work? Are you a morning person? Will you assemble it the night before? Will you be at home for this meal? Will there be a potluck in the office this week? An executive lunch at a fancy restaurant? If I know I’m eating a sandwich for lunch, then I won’t have bread for dinner. If I know I’m going out for lunch (and likely to eat more than 400 calories), I’ll have ultra-low calorie — but filling — homemade vegetable soup for dinner to counter-balance.

Think about “dinner.”  Are you preparing food for anyone other than yourself? When will they be home? Do any of you have meetings or other appointments that night? Does the food need to be on the table in a hurry? Who will help you cook?

If you’ve planned to make a recipe that will give you leftovers, use one of the “Leftover” menus to save the place in whatever pocket makes sense. If I have several containers of leftovers in the fridge at the same time, I’ll write the name of the meal on the Leftover menu so I know which one to use. Seriously. Any time I don’t have to think is time and effort well spent. I also label the container of leftovers with the number of calories inside too. I know you’re rolling your eyes at me right now — perhaps even scoffing — but to you I say, “Pfftt.” I am what I am.

A note about fast food here. You’d be a zillion times healthier if you never ate fast food, but we live in the real world here. So just be careful. I suggest printing the Fast Food menu page twice … one to cut out, and one to keep intact and in your purse, backpack, briefcase or glove compartment so it’s always handy to refer to even — or maybe especially — when you don’t plan to eat fast food.

Now that you have all four meals for all seven days accounted for, you get to make your shopping list. Buy everything you need for these meals at one time. (The items you have left over at the end of the week will probably dictate the menus you choose next week.) Chop all veggies. Measure out “to go” portions as necessary based on your activity level and how easy you want to make it grab-and-go. Organize your food life once for the entire week so you don’t have to think about it again — just gather up what’s on your menus and eat! Couldn’t be any easier. Shopping once a week will probably save you money if you’re used to going more often. It will definitely save you time and energy.

Each time you sit down to fill in your frame it will be easier. You’ll be more familiar with the menu items. You’ll know your likes/dislikes better. You’ll think ahead about your schedule. You’ll know that even though you love the smoothies, they don’t work at the office so they must go on the weekends or for breakfast.

I know it seems like a lot of work to cull through all the menu items and choose 21 or 28 meals every week. Realistically, after awhile you’ll find you’re in a comfy little rut. You have some breakfast and lunch items you tend to eat most of the time and a stable of rotating dinner menus that make you and your family happy. Just like you do now. And when you want to change it up, you’ll have a bunch of options to choose from. I don’t want you to become overwhelmed by all your 400-calorie choices. Take it slow and know that you can’t really do too much to screw up your success in LazyLand.

But guess what? If something happens — party food gone awry … Thanksgiving at Grandma’s … bad break-up required serious comforting from both Ben and Jerry — it’s not the end of the world. Just wake up tomorrow and start eating your 400 calories again.

But if it happens too much, then you need to have a heart-to-heart with yourself about using food for comfort. That’s not what it’s for. Food is to nourish your body so it can perform at its optimum level. Quilts, teddy bears and kittens are for comfort. Make sure you understand the difference.