I’ve always been a big planner, but I haven’t always been great at actually following my plans. That’s the key right? What’s the point of having a plan if you can’t or won’t stick to it? I recently realized that I needed to stop trying to make the perfect plan and just make a plan I would actually follow.
Planning should be fast, simple, & realistic. Don’t overthink it. What will you eat tomorrow? What are you WILLING to commit to? You can plan to eat the exact same thing you ate today if you want to. Just write down what you will eat, simple as that. My daily plans take 1-2 minutes.
You are not supposed to plan what you think a “diet” should look like. The important thing when you are starting is building the habit of commitment. Commit to a plan and follow through. You need to learn to count on yourself and keep promises you make to yourself…one day at a time!
Reflecting doesn’t have to be negative! It seems like we always want to beat ourselves up before anything else. Putting yourself down is not the purpose of reflecting.
The purpose of reflecting is to look back on your day or week without judgement to see what worked well and what didn’t. Then you know what you should continue doing and what you should consider changing.
If you don’t process your week, you don’t work through your thoughts and feelings that may be holding you back. Make sure to find positive things, no matter how small they seem. Celebrate every tiny victory!
The Core Four Approach
Planning your day and sticking to your plan is the most important part of planning in the beginning. Focus first on doing what you say you will do.
The Core Four approach to planning starts with a Weekly Plan and shopping list. The next step is the Daily Plan and Daily Reflections. The final step is a Weekly Reflection. This approach takes your through your week step by step with opportunity to learn and improve every step of the way.
Remember that you don’t need the perfect planner, notebook, journal, or app before you can start planning. Use a napkin or a post it note if you have to, but just do it. Don’t tell yourself that you can’t do it because you don’t have the right tools. If you have any kind of writing utensil and any kind of object to write on, you have the tools you need.
To make a weekly plan, just record your overall meal ideas for the week. Don’t worry about figuring out what day you will eat what at this point. Just get a general overview of your weekly food. This naturally leads you into preparing your shopping list. Once you know what you intend to eat, you know what you need to buy.
In addition to thinking about your meals, think about other areas of your life that affect your eating.
- Do you plan to have a splurge this week? What will that look like?
- Do you have any social events that will affect your meal plan?
- Will you plan any activity this week? What type of activity?
- Is there anything new you’d like to try this week?
It could be food or movement or even a new route to work.
- What is your goal for this week? Make sure it is realistic. It could be as simple as adding in one more glass of water or going to bed 10 minutes early.
Strive for PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION. Do not compare yourself to anyone else. Be realistic. What small things can you do to improve from last week?
The daily plan is where you get specific. Commit to what you will eat the following day, using ideas from your weekly plan or just by looking in your fridge. The most important thing is to keep it simple and realistic so it is something you can and will follow.
Sticking to a realistic plan builds momentum.
Failing to follow a strict plan leads to disappointment.
As you write your daily plan, make note of any splurges planned for the day. If you intend to drink alcohol, plan how much you will have.
Throughout the day, refer back to your plan and make notes. Did you eat what you planned? Why or why not? Assess your hunger levels before and after each meal. Were you physically hungry or was something else happening that was more emotional? This reflection can really help you Handle Your Hunger!
Also jot down how much sleep you had the night before and keep track as you drink water. Seeing it written down can be motivating and helps us focus on the goal of 8 glasses of water and 7 hours of sleep!
At the end of the day, take just a few minutes to think back on our day. Do not skip this step. Processing your day is important if you want real, lasting behavior change.
Be honest but kind. This should be a judgement free zone, and you should be looking for data, not drama. Answer three quick questions:
- What went well today?
- What could I have done better?
- What will I do differently tomorrow?
Answer ALL the questions. It is important to find at least one positive from your day. Celebrate all of your successes, not matter how small they seem. If you chose water over pop even once during the day, that is a positive!
After you reflect on your day, you can move forward and make your next Daily Plan. Then just repeat the process each day.
At the end of each week, think back on your week as a whole. You might even glance through your daily plans to remind yourself of the high and low points.
As with your daily reflections, be honest but kind. You should dig a little deeper during your weekly reflections. Answer these questions:
- What went well this week? What am I proud of?
- What was hard this week? What made it feel hard?
- Was I able to stick to my plans this week? Why or why not?
What got in the way? Were my plans realistic?
- Am I ready to change anything next week?
- What physical changes did I notice this week?
Record measurements, pants size, scale weight, or energy levels
After you reflect on your week, you can move forward and make your next Weekly Plan. Then just repeat the process each week.
To help make this process easier, I created The Core Four Meal Planner and the Progress Not Perfection Journal. These tools are not required to follow the Core Four method, but they do provide support, organization, and consistency.
The meal planner covers twelve weeks and guides you through the Weekly Plan, Daily Plans, Daily Reflections, and Weekly Reflections. The planner will help you reach your weight loss goals by connecting you to the Core Four method each day.
The journal dives deeper into reflection to help you get to the root of your struggles. It gives you a place to process your thoughts and feelings so you can work on improving them. There are 60 different thought provoking questions provided, or you can create your own topics. The journal includes 100 reflection pages for you to explore the fears and challenges that are holding you back.