Today we’re talking about something super important, dinner, and weight loss. I could talk about all meals and weight loss but I find that most women have their biggest obstacles with dinner. I think one of the things going from being at work. Whether you’re physically at work or you work from home, making the transition from being done with work to I have to make dinner. I have to get dinner ready. I have to figure out dinner.
Oftentimes, we’re overly hungry. Maybe we didn’t eat all day. Maybe we had a couple snacks. Maybe we didn’t have a good plan in place. By the time 4, 5, 6, 7 o’clock rolls around, or whatever time you normally eat, we’re already kind of behind the eight ball. We’re kind of hangry, we’re overwhelmed. Here we go again. I don’t know who’s going to be home, I don’t know what I have in the house, I don’t have anything planned. We have to drive to soccer, all of these things.
We’re going to cover it all. My goal is for you to leave today with some actionable items that are going to be helpful. I know we’re not going to change all of our thoughts and all of our beliefs around dinner and what a woman should do with dinner. This is definitely not the smash the patriarchy podcast. But I’m going to try to poke some holes in some of the things in order to help you not to bust your balls so that you feel better when you go to make dinner.
Sometimes we think things will be so much better or so much easier if;
- My kids weren’t at home,
- I was single,
- It wasn’t for my meddling husband,
- It wasn’t for my husband, or my wife, or my spouse, or my this person or that person
- I wasn’t caring for all the things,
It would be easier if I was by myself, and it wouldn’t be.
It’s just not, I don’t care if you live alone. I have plenty of clients who have the same struggles living alone, I have plenty of clients who have many kids at home or a spouse or people traveling, going to sport, it’s all there. Rather than us wishing for a different circumstance and then it would be easier, we actually have to change how we approach the way we think about dinner the way we think about ourselves.
We need to prioritize ourselves.
My goal and wish for you is to start thinking like the big boss and CEO that you are. I know a lot of women that are my clients are in business. They are CEOs, managers, directors, you’re busy all day telling other people what to do, how to do it, when to do it. Yet we become this totally other person when it comes time to figuring out dinner. We’re going to put on our CEO hat and wear it to dinner as well.
Even if you’re not out in the workforce or building your own business, or being an actual CEO, you’re probably the CEO of your house. Stay at home moms are CEOs as well. That does mean sometimes delegating more than just your kids to clean up their toys, but to actually get help.
Thinking like a CEO
I’ve really been thinking a lot about this topic and this idea of making decisions ahead of time. I think a lot of you would already know who Steve Jobs or Simon Cowell or Mark Zuckerberg. Those are the kinds of the examples that come to my mind. You see it with celebrities, you see it with politicians, and you’re like, where’s this even going?
I think about Simon Cowell because I watch America’s Got Talent. He wears the same clothes all the time. He wears either a V neck white t-shirt, which probably could be Fruit of the Loom. Maybe it’s like a $300 version of that. Or he wears a white button down shirt. Literally. I don’t think I’ve seen Simon Cowell in anything else. Steve Job’s wore a black t-shirt and jeans. Even Richard Branson, he just wears a button down shirt and jeans. The same jeans over and over. Zuckerberg a t- shirt, same t-shirt all the time. My point being that CEOs, and people who think like CEOs, want to be efficient and make decisions ahead of time so that they’re not spending any time at all thinking about what to wear today. They wear the same things over and over and over. Rinse and repeat.
I feel like I’ve spent my whole adult life chasing the perfect pair of black joggers. Once I found the ones I loved I started buying multiple pairs so that at any given time, most of the time, that is what I’m wearing. When I’m not wearing black joggers, then I’m wearing jeans. I have my uniform. In fact, I’ve taken that same philosophy as a blueprint and put it on food. This is the idea of creating go to meals the same as a capsule wardrobe where I just have these pieces to work with. It makes your life easier. I know a lot of us have a brain that will offer us that that’s boring, and that is a problem, but we’re going to work through that as well.
Thinking like a CEO simply means that we’re going to make decisions ahead of time. We’re going to commit to finding solutions, including the solution to what is happening with dinner. Many of my clients will tell me, I need recipes, or I need more meal ideas, even though that’s really not the problem. It’s more about how we feel approaching dinner. What is coming up around dinner because I don’t think there’s any shortage of recipes or meal ideas. I’m willing to bet most of you already have a Pinterest board or you bookmarked a million recipes. You could go on Google right now and find 10 recipes in two or three minutes that look like foods that you will like.
What’s for dinner?
What I find interesting about recipes, our hunt for recipes, wanting recipes, needing recipes and this whole idea, it gives us this little shot of dopamine. It’s like online shopping. It’s like I need this other new thing. I need to like not be bored with my food. I need to make it special. I need to have it be new, when in fact, when we really take a look at what most of us eat on a daily basis, we tend to eat just the same things over and over.
My bet is that when you go out to dinner or you go to a certain restaurant, you probably always get the Greek salad with chicken, dressing on the side, always. Or whatever your version of that is. Rarely do you go to that same restaurant and order something different every single time. We like what we like so needing more ideas or needing more recipes is just our brain being our brain and wanting the reward, Wanting that little hit of dopamine and that excitement. Let’s make it new. Let’s make it novel. I have a new recipe. That’s the ticket to make this easier. I’m going to argue that more recipes actually make it harder, more convoluted, and so many more steps.
Now I need to hurry up to get all the ingredients. I need to find the time. No, no, no. Put a stop to that. It’s okay if your brain goes there. There’s nothing wrong with you. I think it’s totally normal. I’ve been fighting this for a long time. I’m not going to win the battle. I’m just going to try to shift your thinking. Instead of recipes, this idea of meal ideas or go to meals.
Other things that I hear from my clients.
- I don’t know what to eat for dinner, breakfast and lunch.
- My husband is picky.
- My kids are picky.
I just want to point out we’re all picky. Picky just means picky. It is just a judgment. It just means they like certain things and they don’t like other things. Maybe they don’t like whatever I served them, or I think whatever I served them won’t be good enough. They won’t want to eat what I want to eat and that’s a problem. I want to offer you that it’s not. I don’t have time to make food. I am not a great cook. I can’t make two or three different meals for everyone. I want to also assure you that you don’t have to be a great cook. You don’t have to like to cook. You don’t have to do any cooking. You really don’t. There are workarounds. And we’ll get to that as well.
Sometimes my husband wants to eat out. It could be your fiance, your girlfriend, your wife, your side piece whatever it is, somebody wants to eat out. That is not a problem. I think that’s an actual solution because you can always get what you want. However, in this scenario, we always think that it’s a problem. I have to eat what he’s eating or as much as he’s eating or if he wants all the sushi then I have to eat it too even though I don’t really want to do that because I want to eat differently to lose weight, or whatever. It’s not really what I had in mind for tonight.
I travel a lot for business and I never know where I’m eating. I need to make food for my family. I should cook for my family, right? My mom has always cooked for my family. I get a lot of that from women. I don’t care how old you are, if you’re 25 or 65, we have this idea. We’ve seen it movies, TV shows, books and whatnot, that the matriarch, grandma, mom, whoever, cooks for her family. That’s what a good woman does. That’s what a wife does. That’s what a female does. I don’t think that’s true. I think men can cook. I think kids at a certain age can learn to cook. I think there’s other options. We don’t have to get locked into this idea of feeling obliged, feeling like I’m not a good mom, I’m not a good woman, I’m not a worthy person. If I’m not doing all the things, cooking for all the people, taking the orders, being like a short order cook. That just feels awful.
I think a lot of what’s happening when we’re so confused about dinner or dinners is a problem. I’m so anxious and overwhelmed. It’s so hard, a lot of the stuff that we’re carrying forward that we might not even be aware of. Until we talk about it. I don’t know what I want. I get so bored eating the same things over and over. I need new ideas.
I’m not for this idea that food is just fuel, you have to suck it up, everything should taste like cardboard and just deal with it. I do think there’s a time and place for eating the foods that you do find enjoyable. A bowl that just brings joy. They are literally what you might call joy eating. We can’t really argue there’s a ton of nutrition that I’m going to get for my chocolate cake. There’s not a lot of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein in my chocolate cake. I could try to make a protein chocolate cake, but who am I kidding?
If I put on my CEO hat, and I’m not telling you to be Mark Zuckerberg. I’m not telling you to be Simon Cowell. Just looking at it through those eyes. This idea of
- How could I simplify?
- How can I make eating easier?
- How can I make this easy?
- How can I make decisions ahead of time?
- Which will bring us to Okay, who can help me?
- What do I want to eat for dinner?
- How do I want to show up around dinner or mealtime?
- Who do I want to be during meals?
You probably want to feel relaxed, at ease, and certain. Having daily or weekly dinner drama is definitely going to get in the way of your weight loss. If you want to Unf*ck Your Weight Loss we need to take an honest look at some of the things that we think or feel around dinner.
I should cook.
A lot of it comes to us feeling bad. Feeling like there’s something wrong with us.
- I have shortcomings.
- I should like to cook.
- I should do all of these things for my family.
- I should be more organized.
- I should have done this before.
- I should be a better cook.
- I should be a better mom.
- I should be a better wife.
- I should be a better person.
And I’m not. I’m just hungry, like everybody else.
I think we have to give ourselves some grace and say it’s okay to figure out what it is that you want to eat. Honestly, it really is. It’s okay that you all sit at the table and eat different things. It is okay if you don’t all sit at the table together sometimes. I think sitting at a table with your family is wonderful. It’s a nice way to connect.
I can connect with my family and I have many times sat at the dinner table and not eaten. My kids asked me to come down and they’re sitting there with my husband. My nanny has put out whatever they’re having. They love things like ramen noodles. They like what they like, and they’re all eating it, but I have a phone call. I have a meeting. I have five minutes. I’m gonna eat my salad later or I’m gonna eat whatever. Sometimes I do eat what they’re eating. A lot of times though, I don’.t I can still sit there and enjoy my family. Honestly, everybody’s fine. My kids don’t cry themselves to sleep because mommy didn’t eat ramen noodles and that there’s something wrong with them or there’s something wrong with me. None of it. I’ve just gone out of my way or not really. Maybe I didn’t go out of my way. I’ve just made it normal. It’s okay.
We can all eat the same thing. We can eat different things.
I have two kids, they’re twins. They have different likes and dislikes. Francis likes very plain things. If she has a sandwich, it literally has turkey and lettuce. That is it. Nothing else. Fiona has a sandwich. She has avocado, and she has tomato, she’s a little bit more exotic. That’s okay. My family is eating dinner, and getting what they want.
It’s not super hard to have make your own sandwich or make your own salad bar . Hey, here’s a bowl of corn. Hey, here’s a salad. Hey, here’s a hamburger. Hey, here’s this. Take what you want without feeling bad about it. I am all about figuring out what it is that I want to eat. Then there are times I do feed my family. I do cook and I do not cook a lot.
I told my family the other day that back when I did cook, especially when I was competing, I was always in a hurry. I was always running late. I was literally cooking food in my broiler, because that’s super fast. I would take those blocks of meat. If you get ground bison or ground beef, you see it all the time and all the grocery stores now, the blocks. I would literally open the block, put it on tinfoil and broil it, just as is. I didn’t even make it into patties or meatballs. I didn’t make it into balls. I literally cut it into four and broiled it, that was it. That was food. That is the extent of my cooking. I’m ambitiously lazy. I don’t have time. I do like to eat. So I figured it out.
I am not against meal prep. I want to talk a little bit about meal prep versus planning. In Self Made, and with my clients, I’m always talking about planning. Plan for the day, just for today because you can wake up and you know. Am I traveling today? Do I have a meeting around dinner? What does my schedule look like? Does one of my kids have soccer? What is going on in my life? Make your plan just for the day.
What that means is that, if you’re unsure about dinner. You’re unsure if you’re going to go to the Wendy’s drive thru or you’re going to be sitting down or you’re going to eat leftovers or whatever. You can decide ahead of time, am I eating protein and vegetables? Am I eating a sandwich? Am I eating soup and a sandwich? Am I getting a hamburger and french fries? Or is it like no, I don’t want to eat that?
It’s just figuring out for today what it is that you want to eat because you can get it. No matter what. If you’re really like, oh but I can’t make two options. I’m going to have this or this. Especially if you are going to have a hamburger and french fries and you tend to overeat fries. Do you need to order a small fries? Do you need to count how many fries you give yourself? You can do that. It is your plan. It is your life.
It is up to you to be able to know what foods you want to put in your plan. What foods do you not want to put in your plan today? Some people never eat fast food. They don’t go to any drive thru. Some people never eat out. Some people never eat leftovers. I want to give solutions for everyone again.
Raising our standard about putting on our CEO hat and making decisions ahead of time doesn’t mean we have to be like oh Wendy’s, you can’t eat there. You can. They have salads at Wendy’s, Panera, Chipotle, Burger King. They have salads everywhere. If that’s what you want. You just decide ahead of time what you’re going to have.
Prepping is about having meals ready to go. That could be meals that you got from a meal service. You actually didn’t prep it, because I get it, when we are trying to be efficient and we’re trying to save time. Prepping Food for several days, we have to drive or walk to the store, load up the cart, drive the cart back out to our car, drive home, unload the groceries, all before we can cook anything. Then we have to wash some vegetables, cook all the food, and portion it out into containers. Then we have to clean up the kitchen. We might have to do that again in a couple days. It’s a lot. I get it. Many of us just don’t have the bandwidth or the desire for it right now. Some of us do have the desire for it.
I want to normalize not wanting to do it. If at the end of the day, we can all agree there is nothing better than opening your refrigerator and having food ready to go, I am 100% a fan of that. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. If you’re cooking dinner tonight, for example, can you cook extra? Can you cook something else while you’re making whatever you’re making? Like if I’m making a sandwich, could I make another sandwich? If I’m cooking chili, could I make extra chili? Could I make sure it’s in the refrigerator for tomorrow? If I’m grilling the chicken breast and the vegetable kabobs and all of that stuff, can I just cook extra? That’s it.
We can demystify this idea of prepping and it has to be perfect and it has to be a big. I have to have 24 beautiful glass containers and it’s all beautiful. I’m this is gonna go on my Pinterest board. Not unless you want it. Most of my clients, we’re busy, we’re running a household, we’re running a business, we have a lot of plates in the air. We still have to eat and we still have to make it easy. So prepping versus planning are two different things.
Planning can be done, even without food prep. It just means you’ll have to be more resourceful. You might have to stop at a restaurant or do your custom order at Chipotle or just be willing to spend 5-10 minutes to plate something. To put together the salad, to put together the sandwich, and to cook the frozen vegetables. It doesn’t have to be hard all the time.
Thinking like a CEO is the meal ideas versus recipes.
When I think about meal ideas. I’m thinking about mixing and matching I’m thinking about go to meals. If I have a bunch of cooked shrimp,chicken breasts, meatballs, hamburger patties, steak tips, tofu, hard boiled eggs or tuna how can I mix and match that to make a meal? Where am I getting my vegetables? Am I adding a potato or sweet potato or rice or bread? Am I having you know a salad? What am I having with it? So that I can literally mix and match. Having go to meals is like having the go to V neck white Simon Cowell style t-shirt. I don’t have to think about what to eat.
I always have these five dinner ideas on speed dial. If I’m in a jam, if I’m tired, if I’m hungry, if I have very little in the house, what is a meal idea? Egg Salad? Hard boiled eggs, some white mayonnaise, some salt. I can put that on bread. I can put that on salad. I can put it in like the lettuce cups. I can just dip crackers into that. I could do celery and carrots with that. What are things that are quick and easy?
One of the things I always really liked to do, zucchini noodles. The zoodles are so easy, especially in summer. But sometimes I’m lazy. I’m ambitiously lazy. I don’t even want to get out those zucchini spiralizer. Guess what. They sell zucchini spirals at the grocery store now or simply take your peeler, your potato peeler, your apple peeler and just peel. Just do ribbons strips of zucchini and boom there you go. You can gently saute or steam the zucchini. You could put warm protein on top of the zucchini and some sauce and some Parmesan cheese and you’re ready to go.
I eat eggs a lot. I mentioned egg salad. I’ll make scrambled eggs. I will do like one egg to a couple different egg whites. I can make an egg sandwich or other go to meals. I love burgers, meatballs, things like that. I just pair them with vegetables. If I don’t have anything already roasted or cooked for vegetables, I will go into my freezer. I always have peas, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, mixed vegetables.I can definitely do that. I just try to do the mix and match.
I create go to meals that I can always replicate over and over and over. Does it help that I have some food already prepped? It’s really hard to open the refrigerator and want to grilled chicken stir fry, grilled chicken and stir fried vegetables, even though the stir fried vegetables might be super easy. Even though I can just throw them in a pan and go. If my chickens raw, I might have to take 10 minutes to cook it.
Even just having go to meals written out is going to be super helpful. Then your brain is always going to feel like Aha, we can make this or we can make this or we can make this. Then maybe your family has go to meals too. Everybody has their own go to meals. Super easy, super simple, do not need a recipe. They’re on your speed dial asking for help.
This is an interesting one. If you are living with other people, having communication or conversation or discussion because you’re the CEO, right? You’re the CEO trying to find a solution to crazy chaotic, dinnertime. Everybody’s hungry. Everybody’s in a rush. People aren’t home, coming home, going to sports, or asking for help. Talking to the people in your house and making a plan ahead of time, a lot of families do this. They’ll plan out what they are having Monday through Friday. Everybody is on board that it’s Taco Tuesday and that we’re all going to do tacos a different way. We could do ground beef and this one wants a taco salad, this one wants a hard taco shell, this one wants a lettuce wrap, whatever is getting your family on board and to participate. That is what the CEO does. You’re still making yourself exactly what you want, but that everybody gets what they want. Everybody’s part of the formula here.
There are a lot of food services where people will actually come into your home and cook you food, then leave you with 15 little mini containers. You can get a lot of different meal services. Some that are frozen, some that are fresh. I know here in Massachusetts, there are a lot that I see all the time. There’s Feast and Feda (?)l, there’s one called Thistle. I try them all. I do them all the time. I try them for my clients. There’s Nutra Meals. I don’t do them for very long. They usually last me for a couple of weeks, then I get back to making my own food.
I’m busy. You’re busy. We’re all busy. We don’t want to spend so much time, not just making the food, but also thinking about the food, feeling overwhelmed, getting anxious and not making decisions that actually move our weight loss forward. We get kind of lost in the sauce, so to speak. If there’s one thing I can tell you is that you’re not alone.
If any of this sounded familiar, or is where you feel stuck. I think it’s very normal, but I want to help you get unstuck. Hence the word getting unstuck and unf*cked here. If we do not solve the dinner dilemma, it is a third at least of our consumption every single day.
What happens sometimes is that we end up putting off dinner or not making the decision about dinner and then we’re snacking. We’re opening the crackers, we’re pouring a glass of wine, we’re eating while we’re trying to make dinner. It was all very stressful. It was not fun. We did not connect at all with our family. We were bitter, tired, aggravated, feeling all the feelings. I’m not very good with feelings, but feeling the feelings, feeling resentful, tired, overwhelmed. Feeling far from getting what you want and getting to your goal. Feeling like you’ll have to start again tomorrow or you should have prepped the food or you should have done it differently or you should have done it better or you should have already figured it out by now. But that’s not true. We’re just thinking about it differently. I think this takes a little time to unwind.
If you find yourself looking for recipes and meal ideas, just remind yourself that it’s okay. How could you make any recipe that you find be simple and easy, if you want to make it part of your go to meals? Absolutely. My five go to meals change all the time, especially seasonally.
What I like to eat in the summer is not the same as what I like to eat in the winter. In the winter we’re eating soup, chili, one pot meals, stew and instapot things. All of those cozy, warm, richer foods. In the summer, sometimes we’re just having a protein shake for dinner. We’re tired. We’re hot. We don’t want to cook. Having something where you can eat it outside, it’s more picnic food. It’s more of a sandwich, it’s something lighter. Things change and that is okay.
You’re not stuck with oh my gosh, these are my go-to meals and now that’s all I can eat. Not at all. We’re going to rotate things in and out. Just be aware your brain is always going to offer you Oh, I’m bored. This isn’t fun. How can we make it more fun without thinking I need to eat chocolate cake for dinner? And there’s nothing wrong with that. But we know that if, every single day, chocolate cake for dinner it is probably going to add up.
ABOUT THE HOST
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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