Meal planning is probably one of the most mundane activities that life has to offer. We all make decisions about what we will eat every day and hardly think anything of it. Yet meal planning, when done with intention, can be incredibly powerful.
At Plan to Eat we often receive notes from customers that tell us how meal planning has allowed their household to save money or eat together more consistently. The story below came to us from a Plan to Eat customer named Keith. It is an exceptional story and we wanted to share it with you.
If you are frustrated with your health, if you are struggling with your weight, or if you are simply questioning whether food matters in your life, this story is for you.
On January 1st 2015 you weighed 310 pounds. What was life like for you? How did you decide what to eat?
Life before January 1st 2015 was relatively normal. I (and my family) were like 90% of the developed world: we ate whatever we wanted, we ate spontaneously, eating out at least twice a week, never concerned about where, what, or when. It was all about ease of access, speed of preparation, and taste.
I did make an effort to eat dinner around the table as a family. I had grown up with family dinners, and tried to continue the tradition with my own. It was a good time to bond, converse, and spend a few moments finding out what had transpired in everyone’s day. Dinners usually didn’t last more than half an hour, everyone “scarfed” down their food and quickly left to pursue other interests.
A little background about myself and my family: I am 46 years old and have ALWAYS been overweight. I am 5′ 9″ and weighed well over 200 lbs when I was 16, and continued to gain weight all throughout my life. 310 lbs on January 1st 2015 probably wasn’t even my heaviest, although it certainly was close. I had never dieted and never concerned myself with my weight, thinking it was just something I would have to live with. So I continued loving food, eating when and whatever I wished.
Deciding what to eat on a daily basis was ALWAYS tough. My family is extremely active with outside activities, so planning and preparing is difficult to say the least. In most cases the dreaded cell phone call “Heah what is for dinner”, from my wife would spur me into motion to run out to the grocery store and quickly assemble the needed ingredients for a hastily thrown together dinner.
What happened in your life that made you realize that it was time to make a change?
A lot of things had been building for a number of years.
Being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and being forced to take numerous medications to properly handle it, was a tough moment. One that I didn’t take seriously until 2015. The doctor was concerned. Up until 2015 I wasn’t. I continued to eat, and eat, and eat.
Eventually I noticed that I was losing feeling in my fingers and toes. Diabetic neuropathy, or at least that is what I “self” diagnosed it as, began to rear its ugly head. With each day that passed I could feel the tingling in my extremities begin to grow. Every so often I would see someone wheel down the road in a scooter, or missing a limb from diabetes, and my wife and I would pass a furtive glance at each other.
Buying pants that where a size 52 from thrift shops because no one else carried sizes that large in regular stores hurt. It was embarrassing. It was painful to walk up stairs without running out of breath or holding the railing. I was large, unfit, and slowly sliding downhill.
It was at this time that my doctor and I decided to try out some new medication that would cause excess sugar in my blood to be passed through urination. This was a couple of months before January 1st 2015, and although this wasn’t the cause of the inevitable decision to make a change, it was a precursor to that decision.
Christmas time 2014 was spent overindulging with family. Jokingly I said to my sister-in-law that in 2016 I wanted to run a marathon, or a triathlon, or something similar. Having done them before, and being in shape, she of course said “Let’s do it, I am in.” It wouldn’t take her long to become road worthy. For me it would be another story altogether, certainly one I am certain she didn’t expect me to keep.
On January 1st 2015 I weighed myself — 310 lbs. Shortly thereafter I weighed myself again and to my surprise I was 10 lbs lighter. If I could lose 10 lbs, then perhaps I could lose even more.
It was time to try and make a change, time to see if it was possible. Of course I didn’t mention this decision to anyone because I would be far too embarrassed if I failed.
After you decided to make that change, what steps did you take to make it happen?
After the decision to make a life change was made, at least internally, I began thinking of all the necessary steps to make it permanent. My first idea was that there must be a proven formula. There had to be a structured method to eat and live properly that was relatively simple and easy. Of course, like most things of this nature, there are tons of examples, websites, and information on the internet. And like most things on the internet, you need a road map and lots of time to untangle the myths, misinformation, and garbage that exists.
Knowing that I had to eat properly to sustain weight loss and healthy living led me to search for methods of planning meals on a weekly and daily basis. Books were the first avenue, many of which gave me 365 days of recipes to try. This worked for awhile, but it wasn’t easy and it didn’t offer the flexibility that I required to sustain an ongoing effort. Of course being a “computer-nerd”, a book just wouldn’t cut it in the long run anyways.
I tried them all; every website, subscription service, application, and available blog there was. I read each and every review, analyzed all of the pros and cons. Each one had different recommendations and different paths to the end result. Each one was also flawed in some manner. You couldn’t simply rely on them to do it all. It was then that I stumbled on a number of solutions, that when linked and working together in unison fit perfectly into my methodology. At the HEART of it was Plan to Eat.
On November 6th, 2015 you weighed in at 165 pounds, which is a loss of 145 pounds in under 11 months! What did those 11 months look like?
Those eleven months are perhaps the weirdest journey thus far in my entire life. I couldn’t spend 10 minutes on our elliptical trainer walking in the beginning. I couldn’t ride a bike, or take a walk without a loss of breath. BUT, as the weight began to come off, and as I stuck to the meal planning my fitness levels began to increase. I began to take short bike rides of 1 km a day. That was all in the beginning. Then 5 km a day.
Then my wife saw what was transpiring and decided to join me. She was about 250 lbs, and although she really had no intention of becoming fit, she enjoyed the bike riding together along the trails in our neighborhood.
Eventually, 20 km per day was my minimum bike ride, sometimes extending it to 50 km a day. It was hard work, but the results were simply amazing. I promised myself that once I hit 200 lbs I would give up smoking. Truth be told, giving up smoking is a lot easier than giving up two to three sandwiches a day.
The entire time, my meal planning was working out perfectly and my family loved it to boot. They would come home to an authentic different home cooked meal each and every night. Fast food and eating out was a thing of the past. They could see the weekly meal plan in advance, and would become excited by some of the exotic choices in the upcoming weeks. Our family meals became longer as we spent more time around the table enjoying each others company and sharing our daily tales. All in all, it was a lifestyle change that had repercussions which far exceeded simply nutritional health.
My doctor during this time was amazed. Each and every visit he picked his jaw up off the floor and asked me what I had done to make such a drastic turn around. Each and every time, I simply answered with “eat properly.” Most people ask “WHAT DIET”, and each and every time I reply that there is “NO DIET.” Eating properly, and taking the time to eat well is a lifestyle.
My physician teaches at the local university in the family practice department. His amazement had me standing in front of his pupils as he lectured and they asked poignant questions, of which I answered wholeheartedly, knowing that the change is so simple anyone can do it.
Everything revolved around Plan to Eat. It is the hub where everything flows from and to. I use numerous other tools along with Plan to Eat, but the main repository, and the main planning anchor is the amazing services offered by Plan to Eat.
You mentioned that your doctor took you off of numerous medications. What was that like?
I was on a LOT of medication to aid with the Type 2 diabetes. Many are common for diabetics, some are not. Over the course of the eleven months my doctor slowly had me lower my dosages. Then one day he finally said that I should stop taking everything (there wasn’t much left). My blood work showed normal, or even better than normal results. Continued use of the medications would no longer be needed and that, in essence, I was no longer diabetic. Fitness and eating properly had controlled the disease that I was certain would have me blind and in a wheelchair by the time I was fifty.
People continue to tell me that there is no cure for diabetes, and perhaps that is true. However, it can certainly be controlled, and in my opinion, I am cured.
What has this change in your life meant to you and your family? How have they journeyed through this with you?
It is amazing to see how contagious a healthy lifestyle is. My family has supported me through everything. They have picked up the torch and carry it along side me now, knowing that eating healthily and following a lifestyle of this nature makes them feel better themselves.
My wife was 250 lbs when I started and now weighs 180 lbs. She feels wonderful and is proud of her accomplishments. Although both of my children are extremely active and athletic, they themselves realize that making healthy choices is far more sustainable than not.
These changes have opened up avenues that I never thought I would have open. I am able to participate in things that I never thought I could have done in the past. The world is now available — simple things like the ability for me to spend time on roller coasters at the amusement park with my children. Before, I was too large to even entertain such rides. Even sitting in a concert seat used to be a burden. NOW it is a pleasure.
What encouragement and advice can you offer to others who are frustrated with the condition of their health and want to do something about it?
Become educated. There are numerous movies which have been made in the last few years that show some of the “EVILS” of food. Be skeptical, but be open minded. There are some strange things out there that do not help the body out in any manner.
Take the time. Eating properly is easy once you have a plan, are organized, and spend a few moments getting your ducks in a row.
Don’t be frustrated and don’t be hard on yourself. Take it one day at a time. During the last eleven months there have been setbacks. There have been times when I have consumed unhealthily, but that is all part of the process. It is about sustainability, not short term gain (or loss).
It is a lifestyle, not a diet. Once you focus past this misnomer, then you will be well on your way to a healthier YOU.
If you have a story about how meal planning has effected you and think it could be inspiring to others, we would love to hear about it and possibly share it here on the Plan to Eat blog. Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org