This week I was talking with a client about meal planning. On Monday, she chooses meals she will make for the week ahead, writes out her grocery list, and goes to the store. By Monday evening her fridge is stocked with everything she will need for the week. She feels prepared.
She feels totally comfortable with the planning stage. It’s routine, it’s habit, she doesn’t worry about whether it will happen or not.
Where it gets hard for her is when Friday rolls around, she’s been at work for 5 days straight, and she comes home in the evening and doesn’t want to cook the meal that she’s planned to make.
Instead, she wants to rest. The last thing she feels like doing is something that feels like more work. Instead, she wants to chill. To have an easy evening that doesn’t require thought or effort. She wants to be taken care of.
This client expressed that she feels a bit of guilt around this. Guilt for being successful in her planning, but by Friday, not wanting to follow through. Guilt for her perceived laziness (as you’ll learn in this post, I affirmed this client that she is not being lazy at all).
What we talked about next would change the way that she does her meal planning, forever.
(If you’re wondering if meal planning and intuitive eating can work together, they can! Read this post.)
I shared with her that I love to cook at home. Like her, I choose meals at the beginning of the week, make a grocery list, and stock my fridge. It feels great to be set up for the week and know you’ve taken care of yourself in this way!
But, the other way I take care of myself is this: I ask myself, without judgement, “What will I actually feel like cooking when the time comes? What will work for me? What will fit with how I feel (my energy) throughout the week? What would feel like self-care?”
For example, typically, on Thursday evenings after I take my last coaching client for the week, I like to go out to eat or make plans with close friends to cook dinner together at one of our houses. Having a plan to see friends and make cooking feel fun and relaxing gives me something to look forward to all day/week.
When Marco and I lived in SLO, every Thursday after I got off work, we’d plan to walk downtown, hang at the farmer’s market, and get dinner at one of our favorite places. Doing this allowed me to honor my natural rhythms and plan to take care of myself instead of forcing myself to cook at home, simply because I thought it was “the healthy choice.”
I shared this with my client to help her feel less alone, and to help set the stage for what I was about to teach her. We then talked about honoring her natural rhythms instead of fighting them. I asked this client which days throughout the week she naturally feels like cooking and which days she naturally does not want to cook. She shared that Monday through Thursday, she felt fine cooking. But Friday through Sunday, she wants something easy.
She still wanted a meal, because she knows that snacks in place of a meal would leave her unsatisfied, but she didn’t want to have to cook it. She doesn’t care if it’s takeout, leftovers, or something she can heat up quickly at home – her priorities are that she wants it to take virtually no effort and she doesn’t want it to feel heavy.
The next thing we talked about was planning for this as a way of self-care. Instead of thinking that self-care would be to plan to cook a full meal for herself at home each night of the week, she could view self-care as cooking at home when she was in the mood, as well as intentionally planning something super easy for the nights where she doesn’t want to cook. Like, microwaveable corn and black bean enchiladas with avocado and sour cream on top, or a salad kit with rotisserie chicken. Easy. Minimal. Still satisfying.
This way, the client is planning for when she knows that she’ll want something super easy and working with her natural rhythms and energy instead of fighting them. This is self-care. Instead of feeling guilty for her perceived laziness she could look at this as an opportunity to take care of herself. And so can you!
Sometimes, in our planning, we get so perfectionistic thinking “If I’m going to plan my meals for this week, I need to plan to cook at home all 7 days.” But why not plan a night out, if you know you like to eat out once a week? Or, plan for some easy-to-heat up dinners?
To find out what your natural rhythms/desires are, observe yourself for the next couple of weeks. Which days do you feel like cooking? When do you usually end up going to the grocery store? When do you most want to get together with friends? Pay attention for a few weeks to your normal patterns without forcing change. Then, use the information that you gather to try and meet yourself in the middle to build a routine that supports you.
Sometimes we do have to work against our natural rhythms (that is just life).
For example, perhaps you don’t feel like getting to work by 8:00 am Monday through Friday, but that’s your schedule. You don’t have a choice there (other than deciding to find work that does have a schedule that fits your personal rhythms and what works well for you).
Even so, there are plenty of areas in our lives where we can control if/when/what we choose.
The other side of this coin is that sometimes you have to go against a natural rhythm to honor another. Like, to write this post, I had to set my alarm for 5:30 am. Did I feel like getting out of bed at 5:30 am today? NO. But, I did so in order to honor another natural rhythm for myself which is: I am best at writing in the morning. When I plan to write in the evenings I feel unmotivated, uninspired, and writing feels like a chore rather than a joyful experience. Plus, I know that after I’m awake with a cup of coffee in my hand, all is good. It’s all about finding a balance that support you best.
We may not be able to plan all of our lives according to our natural rhythms, but we definitely have some room for improvement, don’t we? We can start with meal planning to find what works and sets us up for the most success and also allows us to honor what our energy will be like throughout the week.
In The Growth Vault this week, we’re focusing on how to honor your natural rhythms not just with your schedule, but with your money and eating too.
Come on over and join us – we’re a close knit community that values intimacy, depth and support (you will be known by name!). You can show up for as little or as much support in coaching as you need (as well as have access to self-paced courses/resources in the vault).
In TGV you have the option to join in on group video calls (we call these Coffee Connection), call in to office hours for phone coaching from me, send in questions via “Ask Paige” where I will answer you personally. Join us here and get ready to grow in 2020!
I hope this post is helpful for you. I’d love to hear from you in the comments: Where could you fight yourself less and honor your natural rhythms more?