Automating Your Meals For Long Term Weight Loss

by | Oct 18, 2023

You might want to think about automating your meals if you want to lose weight and keep it off forever.

Here’s what diets have going for them. Especially diets that involve any kind of pre-made food. Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, SlimFast, Optivia, any kind of weight loss drinks, bars, the meal is already done for you. The decision is made ahead of time. In many ways, other kinds of diets like keto or paleo or low carb also fall into this category because they have very specific rules of eat this but don’t eat that. That’s all good and fine while you’re doing the diet, the plan, the program, getting the meals, all of that. 

Often when we find ourselves having regained weight, we look backwards. We look at our past, what used to work, why it worked, sometimes it is obvious that these plans worked because a lot of decision making was taken off the table. It’s a perfect storm. If you think about it, all of these kinds of diets, have a few things going for them. One, aside from the decision making, its all reduced and lowered calories. So that’s the magic. 

That’s why all diets work. We’re talking about a reduction of calories, and in many cases, very low calories. Whole days of meals at 800, 1000, 1200 calories. Very rarely is somebody going to get a pre-made meal plan, snacks, bars, mix-ins, all of these things that are going to add up to 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 2000 plus calories. Which is actually what a lot of women need in order to function. 

This is why we can lose weight. We made a decision to follow a plan or the program. Many times we will go six weeks, three months, six months and will power our way through it. Then, when it ends, we try to go back to “real life” and introduce real food and real social settings and real scenarios and things slide quickly. That might feel familiar to you. 

This is really all about how to get some of the magic, some of the things that have worked, to work for you right now. It does not require these sorts of soy protein meals or weird snack bars or wafers or anything that you wouldn’t normally eat. 

Automating your meals is going to be a lifesaver. 

The automation part of our primitive brain is strong. We have to train our brain because the automation part is strong, to be lazy and shortcut a lot of things. We can practice and train our brain to follow a certain structure. Just like you can;

  • Create a morning routine,
  • Learn to tie your shoe, 
  • Learn how to walk or run 
  • Learn how to knit a sweater or ride a bike,

All of that stuff. I truly believe this is the missing link for long term weight loss. 

I’m going to tell you what automating looks like. It involves creating a protocol. I’m going to go over what I mean by that. It also involves go to meals. Meals you make that you don’t have to think about. When you don’t have to scratch your head or go to a Pinterest board or Google recipes or scan Facebook groups or open the refrigerator. What are things that don’t really require a ton of prep? They’re easy to make. They’re like the standbys.  

When we have this array of go to meals, then decision making is already done. I don’t mean 100 meals. Three breakfasts, three lunches, three dinners, maybe two or three different kinds of snacks if you’re a snack person. And those are in your regular rotation. 

In fact, if you prep something, let’s say you made grilled chicken and vegetables, let’s say you made something really basic like that. It is your favorite seasoning on the chicken and your favorite vegetables. You could drive that meal, probably for two or three days at a time. Lunch and dinner, maybe even breakfast. I mean, you can have chicken and vegetables for breakfast. And if you’re like, No, I can’t, that is okay. You can create your own meal selection. 

The goal for weight loss and long term weight loss is to make it;

  • Easy, 
  • Seamless,
  • Less thinking, 
  • Less overthinking,
  • Less wandering, 
  • Less questions.

It’s just I know what to eat, I know how to eat. And this is how I do it right now.

It doesn’t mean that in the future, you couldn’t change, add in different meals or level up your experience. I have plenty of clients who want to add in more vegetables or somebody wants to try a more plant based program or somebody wants to up their protein. Somebody is now in training for a bodybuilding show or someone is in training for a marathon or somebody got injured or somebody is sick. There’s many reasons that we would rotate out these go to meals. 

I love the idea of having go to meals that are my weekday meals, meals that are my weekend meals, meals that would be business travel meals, meals that I would have when I’m sick. It’s literally I know what to do, no matter what. Whether I have a sick kid at home, and I have very little groceries, or I am myself sick or I am on vacation. I basically know what I’m going to eat most of the time. 

There might be a part of you that thinks that sounds boring. I need variety. I’m a foodie. That would be great, except my spouse does all the cooking or my kids are picky eaters, or I have a lot of work travel or I never know my schedule. All of those things. I get it, your brain is going to resist this idea of having a few meals that we just rotate through. It’s totally normal.

You know what’s not boring? Losing body fat, keeping muscle, spending no time making decisions about what to eat and how many macros or calories or what have you. Already knowing about the meal and that it works towards your own goals. 

What is a protocol? 

It might seem boring, but is it really boring? Do I need my food to offer me variety? Is it okay if sometimes meals are boring? I am always going to argue for yes. It is amazing to have meals that are kind of boring, because then I’m less likely to overeat. 

I just need the;

  • Nutrition.  
  • Fuel. 
  • Protein.
  • Carbs.
  • Fats.

Whatever’s in that meal. 

That is actually what I need. And that is what you need. And it is okay to have all those different kinds of thoughts. 

I also want to say, if your spouse is cooking, what keeps you from communicating the kinds of things that you’re looking to eat? How could you work together? Whether it’s your husband, your wife, whoever is cooking.

What about kids being picky? How is that a problem? I have kids. And of course, they’re picking. They’re kids. Do you think that kids sit down and have an exotic menu in mind? I don’t know a lot of kids who are like, I’m gonna have the turkey burger and zucchini. Not that many. But you never know once you start eating it. I mean, I know my kids will always pick off my plate. They don’t ask for salad. But when I have any on my plate, they’re always picking at it. 

It is also about managing your mind. When you find resistance to this idea that I would automate my meals. Now for a lot of people, they will automate breakfast and lunch easily. Sometimes even to the effect of under-eating. We’re so busy. I’m on the go. I’m running out the door. I have to go to work. That’s also something to think about.

If we can automate meals that are a little bit bigger. That has more substance, more calories, more protein, more fiber. That is more than having yogurt and a cheese stick. Because that’s how a five year old would eat. Then I won’t be so drastically hungry. 

Then when I get home is when the shitshow starts. I’m going to offer this idea of automating some of your evening meals. That means we then can start to plan for dinners out or your favorite foods, indulgences, foods you enjoy, and plan them ahead of time. And that we don’t keep repeating the cycle. I barely eat. I eat like a dieter. I eat 300 calories for the whole day and a big iced coffee. Then I come home and I eat the world. Or all week long I barely eat, then on the weekends I overeat. We don’t want to do that. We want to have the majority of our meals sort of automated. 

We know;

  • how we like to eat, 
  • how we eat for our best results, 
  • how we eat to make us feel good and vibrant, 
  • not feeling overfull, 
  • not feeling constipated, gassy, 

all of these things. We start to learn what foods actually work for us. 

My go to meals don’t have to be your go to meals. 

Otherwise, that starts to sound like a diet. That’s why when people tried to do things like really low carb or keto or follow some plan. If you’re following a plan that’s not your own, you’re always going to be trying to do it. You’re always going to be trying to fit that square peg in a round hole. You’re going to be pushing, muscling, will powering your way through a plan that you did not build. 

I get it because we do think someone else would know better. That Weight Watchers person would know better or that coach knows better or this Paleo book knows better or this expert, that Guru, this macro tracker, everybody else knows better about what I should eat. Except you’re the one who owns the body. You’re the one who’s going to have to do this long term. Anything that you do right now to lose weight, you’re going to do most of the same stuff moving forward. We’re not going to go on some radical drastic diet and then never care what we eat again. 

There are seasons of weight loss. Most of my clients don’t spend all year long in a deficit. They just don’t and I don’t think it’s healthy for anyone. I’m not suggesting that the protocol you build for your current;

  • Situation, 
  • Weight, 
  • Weight loss goals, 
  • Environment, 
  • Job. 

Everything is for right now. 

Then you drive that until a change needs to be made. Till you assess. 

  • Is this still working for me? 
  • What is working? 
  • What is not working? 
  • What do I need to change? 
  • Where have I let down my guard? 
  • What am I allowing in? 
  • Where can I level this up? 

A protocol is essentially your rules. It’s your framework. It’s your game plan. It’s your blueprint. It’s your roadmap. It’s basically getting to know, 

  • What foods do you eat?
  • What foods do you not eat? 
  • What times of day do you eat?
  • Is there a particular eating window? 
  • Do you eat between 7am and 7pm? 
  • Are you looking to do something that is more aggressive?
  • Have a fast? 

PS, for most women over 40. Especially if you are struggling with perimenopause or menopause, or you are just struggling in general with a lot of stress, you don’t sleep well. I just don’t think having really long fasts help you. But eating in a 12 hour window makes a lot of sense. If you wake up and you start eating at 7am, and then you end by 7pm. It’s a twelve hour eating window and a twelve hour fasting window. That could be very beneficial for you to start digesting dinner two, three hours before you get into bed. I would drive that, if you’re curious about a fasting window. Probably the smallest window I go to is a 10 hour window for me and my clients who want to lose body fat and want to preserve muscle. That is what I would do, but you get to decide. 

It’s your protocol.

That’s the beautiful thing. What kinds of foods would you pick? Are you somebody who eats fast food or doesn’t eat fast food? Eats organic, doesn’t eat organic? Eats paleo, low carb, high carb, vegan plant based? Like what are things that you do not eat? Are you trying to be dairy free? Are you trying to be gluten free?

I have a lot of clients who eventually figure out that there are certain foods that;

  • Do not agree with them. 
  • Cause them gastric disturbance. 
  • Make them feel ill. 
  • Give them skin breakouts
  • Just do not sit well with them.

And we want to respect that. 

If you’re making a protocol and you put together something that is for your own health, your own weight loss, then do that. Drive it. See how it works for you. Document it. How often are you going to eat? Are you somebody who is a three meal a day, four meal a day person? Are you three meals and one snack? When is that snack? Be very clear. That’s part of writing down a protocol. And I did say write it down several  times because I’ve been on a million diets. I’ve done this a million times, I know what to do. I’m going to write it down and I’m going to urge you to write it down. 

At the top of the page could be my protocol or my plan or the plan for the next 30 days or 60 days or 90 days. And I’m going to assess as I go. I would caution you not to make it super crazy. Super restrictive. That’s where we fall into this sort of diet mentality, but we are trying to make a lot of decisions ahead of time. 

A protocol helps me know if my kids want Wendy’s, which they don’t get very often, is my protocol that I eat fast food or I don’t? I’ve probably eaten fast food three times in the last five years. It’s infrequent. Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures, but if I have another option I will take it. I have to drive them through the Wendy’s drive thru and then I’m gonna go get something from Panera or Chipotle because I need something fast, I will do that. But I’m not you and you’re not me. 

I’m not trying to tell you what is right or wrong. But I will tell you 100% that when you get really clear with a protocol, you put it in writing, and then start to automate meals,your life is going to get easier, better, less stress. It really will. 

You might not have answers to all of this yet, but I would put it on your protocol page. Even just ask yourself the question, 

  • What kind of foods do I eat? 
  • What kind of foods don’t I eat? 
  • What times of day do I eat? 
  • Do I have an eating window? 
  • What types of foods do I eat or not?
  • Is it certain food groups?
  • Is it about Ultra processed foods? 
  • Processed foods? 

I know a lot of times, women will be like, I’m not going to eat any sugar. I’m not going to eat any flour. That’s okay. That is totally a choice. I cannot sit here and argue that anybody is going to be super healthy by eating a ton of sugar. Dentists across the world will also argue that you should eat less sugar. But ultimately, sugar is not the culprit of being overweight. Sugar can be part of those over processed foods that are very easy to over consume. 

When you have your protocol, put it in writing. You can even add other things. You could add what time you wake up, what time you go to bed, how you exercise, how much water. Build your protocol, as you go. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be yours. 

Go to meals.

Here’s what happens, the next part of this is the idea of go to meals. Once you have a protocol, then we can kind of say, okay, based on how I want to eat or how I like to eat or how I know how to eat, I’m going to come up with some very easy meals that I’m going to take in and out of circulation. For me I’m a really basic eater. It’s why a lot of those online meal programs and plans like getting meals delivered to my house, I usually only last a week or two with them. I always find it’s too garlicky or too many seasonings are too rich or it’s just too much.I’m a pretty basic eater. You might not be or you might become somebody who is more basic over time.

You want to create, go to meals. If that’s confusing, think about getting away from recipes or sort of dumbing the recipe down. Think about more mix and match. If I had x amount of proteins. Pick proteins that you like, if you like shrimp or you like chicken or you like steak or you like burgers. Think about the kinds of proteins that you like. Think about the vegetables. Think about the complex carbs. That could be potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice or even pasta. It could be carbs that aren’t a vegetable. 

Think about some of the healthy fats that you like. Are you going to be using butter? Are you going to be using oil? Are you going to be using nut butters? What healthy fats are you going to be using? 

For me personally, in my protocol, I know if I eat a lot of animal protein then I’m probably getting a lot of fat already. I love red meat. I love a lot of bison and grass fed ground beef. When I eat out I’ll get salmon. That obviously has some healthy fats there. You get to decide though.

Many people start to realize they feel better when they have more fat and less carbs. Some people feel better with more carbs and less fat. I typically look at carbs and fats almost like a seesaw. When my fat content is a little bit higher. I feel like I don’t need a lot of carbohydrates and vice versa. If you think about it, fats do have more calories. 

When I’m also looking at ways to reduce overall calories, especially when I go and eat out, I’m always going to be dressing on the side. Probably going to not have cheese or croutons on my salad. I’m going to just ask for it on the side. Put it all on the side and then I can have more control over how much I’m putting into my food. When you go to a restaurant, a lot of those proteins, they’re already marinated and cooked in oils or butters. That’s why you go out to dinner and that salad is a 1300 calorie salad. There are ways for you to figure out go to meals, even go to meals that you always get at your favorite restaurants. 

Barring business travel or vacations most of us eat at a handful of the same places all the time. Even developing your order for that pizza place, that family restaurant, that fine dining restaurant. Know what you’re going to have ahead of time or different variations of it. 

When I eat at home, I have go to meals. I eat a lot of eggs. I could probably eat eggs three times a day. I could have scrambled eggs. I could have over easy. I could have hard boiled. Some of my other go to things. I don’t eat a ton of canned tuna just because I don’t think tuna is the best kind of fish. I just don’t like it in the can, how it’s caught and all of that stuff. Occasionally a nice can of tuna works really well. A super easy thing I keep in my house is low fat cottage cheese. I really don’t eat a lot of nuts anymore because they’re very easy to overeat but when I do I portion those out. 

I really start to mix and match foods. If I’m going to have cottage cheese that is going to have obviously protein and some carbs, very little fat. 

  • Do I want that by itself? 
  • Do I want that with cut up vegetables? 
  • Do I want that with fruit? 
  • Do I want to put it in a protein shake? 

I can do a lot of different things, but I’m always working off of a handful of meals. 

Otherwise, I spend a lot of time thinking about what to eat. 

  • Where am I going to get it? 
  • Do I have a recipe? 
  • Do I have enough ingredients?

Then you can keep your meals so simple for the majority of time.

I’m not telling you that you can’t have pizza or nachos or tacos. That is about how I plug and play and flexible eating. The foods that are not the majority of my life. The majority of time I’m working, I’m doing things with my kids, I’m just living life. Groundhog Day, get up, do the things and then go to bed. I’m not going out with friends. I’m not on vacation. I’m going through regular life. I’m pretty sure that’s most of us the majority of our time. 

We would save so much time, aggravation, calories, and emotion when we can just make meals easy. If you don’t prep anything or your meal prep is not pretty. It is just about mixing and matching plating your food. Having you know, if you’re gonna cook chicken, you’re gonna make turkey burgers, you’re gonna make meatballs you’re gonna make whatever. Make enough to have another meal. I like a lot of one pot meals. I make chili. I love stir fries. I love buying the big bags of pre cut and washed vegetables that pairs really well with any protein. I love anything that’s in bowls, burgers, meatloaves, anything I can put on top of a big plate of vegetables. I love pre-cooking a bunch of potatoes and sweet potatoes. Having those ready to go. I have a lot of things in my freezer, frozen vegetables, frozen rice, all of that stuff. 

Become a meal assembler. We’re not looking for fancy recipes. We’re really thinking about how can I eat for my goals long term without spending a lot of time making decisions? It’s a work in progress. Can I say that I’ve mastered it? Not necessarily. I think it just just depends on the day. I know what works. For Weight Loss, I need protein and vegetables, everything else is an extra. I rotate out a lot. Or I get into some situations where I end up doing a lot of takeout salads. I get tired, I get lazy, I get busy, that’s normal, but they all fall within my protocol. 

My protocol is who I am. As an eater, that’s really what it is. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have pizza or I don’t have ice cream or I don’t have cake. I just don’t have that whenever I want. Because I see it or somebody else offered it to me or they had it at the office or the break room or I saw it at the grocery store. I stick to my protocol, not because I love rules, but my brain does. My brain loves rules. Just like a five year old, I stick to my protocol because it makes my life easy. I don’t need to spend any more time out of the day thinking about food, thinking about calories, thinking about macros. Thinking if I’m over my number, or under my number. If I’m doing a good job, or if I did a bad job. 

Then when you keep a food journal, you can start matching. Does what I’m doing actually match my protocol? The next step after that is to start plugging in the foods ahead of time, so that you’ve actually committed to what you’re doing on a daily basis. Now, if you’re still like, I don’t know, this idea of automation seems complicated. It’s really just like how most of us wear the same kinds of clothes. Or if you’ve ever found a pair of sneakers that you love. Then you’re like, Wow, I love these sneakers. They feel so good. I’m gonna go and buy another pair or the same exact pair or a different color or I want to make sure I get them before the brand changes. 

We buy the same skincare, the same kind of makeup, the same color eyeliner, we do a lot of the same things just over and over and over. Occasionally try something new because our brain will offer us well, this is boring, I need to spice it up. But I keep coming back to my all black wardrobe. I have bought some things that have color but on the day to day when I walk into my closet and I have to get dressed, it’s super easy for me to get dressed. 

Real Weight Loss Challenge

Alright, I think I’ve sold you on automation if I have not sold you on it. I want to tell you one way I can help you right away with this idea of what do I eat? How much do I eat? How do I know what’s going to help me reach my goals? Is the upcoming Real Weight Loss Challenge we have going on. It’s called the Real Weight Loss Challenge because it’s not about eating as little as you can or eating these magic bars or doing anything crazy. 

I’m going to teach you how to do something just like this, how to automate your eating. How to make breakfast, lunch, dinner and any snacks that you want. Just super simple and easy so that you don’t have to be looking for the next diet, looking to take out all your favorite foods, looking to starve yourself to death. Hoping, wishing, praying for weight loss. Wishing and praying that whatever diet you’re on eventually ends so that you could get back to eating all the things. 

We’re just we’re just going to make it real. That’s why it’s called the Real Weight Loss Challenge. I promise you that you’re going to be thrilled with it. It’s all new information. We’ve redone our complete packet. We have a bunch of guest speakers coming to coach you inside a private Facebook group. I hope you’ll join me.


Bonnie Lefrak is a Life & Body Transformation Expert and Founder of Self Made, a program designed to help you tackle the physical aspects of health and weight loss as well as the beliefs and thoughts that drive our habits and behaviors. It is her goal to help women create certainty in their own lives, their own results, and their own abilities.

Weight loss is not about the one “right” diet – it is about MUCH more than that. Weight loss is not about the one “right” workout. Weight loss is not about being positive and putting a big smile on.

Weight loss is about FEELINGS. All of them. Not trying to bury them or hide from them but knowing and allowing the full human experience. Weight loss is not about grinding hustling and will powering your way to some end line. Transformation (when done well) is done from the inside out.

By addressing both the physical and mental aspects of dieting and weight loss, she has coached thousands of women ages 30-55+ from all over and helped them ditch the mindsets that are holding them back, achieve permanent weight loss, and get the bangin’ body of their dreams.

Bonnie is an expert at Demystifying weight loss. She helps you u****k your diet brain. She is on a mission to help women love themselves, to find PEACE in the process of losing weight, taking care of themselves, and leveraging the power they do have to become who and want they want right now.

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