I hate to cook.
I said this recently in front of a friend who knows me well and her response was “You do?!?! I thought you loved to cook?? Because you’re always cooking something…!?”
To be fair, it’s not that I hate to cook, it’s that I hate to spend more than 20-30 minutes in the kitchen because there are so many other things I’d rather be doing with my time.
But I cook because I really like to eat home-cooked meals.
When I cook for myself I know exactly what to prepare to feel my best.
I know the foods that fuel my exquisitely manufactured machine (body) best so I cook those things in healthy ways and feel great after eating.
I wasn’t always this way.
I used to almost never cook.
I ate mostly in restaurants or cooked big pots of pasta that I’d eat throughout the week.
I’d eat mac n’ cheese with hot dogs, pizza, and quesadillas because my family likes those things.
They were easy to make or cheap to pick up so they were go-to options for working parents, normalized by our quick-n-easy culture.
These habits made me feel terrible-- both physically and emotionally-- and fueled my weight gain like gas on a fire.
I didn’t want to eat that way, but I told myself things like…
These four statements were all lies that I was feeding myself-- and what I was feeding myself was keeping me fat.
Here’s what I discovered when I decided to change the way I was eating and lose weight permanently.
I don’t know what to cook. ---> I know exactly what to cook.
Protein and veggies. Simple.
I choose a protein and a veggie and I roast both in the oven.
Cookie-sheet dinners are the easiest things ever.
No recipes, no hassle.
Open a bag of lettuces, add a few of your favorite veggies and a sprinkle of cheese-- dinner is done in less than 15 minutes of prep time.
I also learned how to use an InstantPot-- yet another game changer.
Lunches are pre-prepared salads or a salad-bar-in-your-fridge (stay tuned for an upcoming post on how to do this).
If I can’t roast it, saute it, steam it, or eat it raw-- I’m not cooking it.
I don’t know how to cook the foods I like. ---> I only cook the foods I like.
This was a lie I was telling myself because I did know how to cook many meals that I liked, and for those that I didn’t, I learned.
I chose about 10 meals that were super simple to make that I liked to eat and I now rotate through those regularly.
Most families rotate through the same 10-15 meals every couple of weeks without even realizing it, so I sat down and made a list of my family favorites and use those to plan our weekly meal plans.
I definitely don’t have time to cook. ---> I am only willing to spend 20-30 minutes in the kitchen.
This was a game changer for me.
I have become very selective about what I am willing to cook and the first criterion is that it is simple (5 ingredients or less) and quick.
Toss veggies with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, throw them on parchment-lined pan and in the oven at 400 for 15-20 minutes-- voila!
Dinner is served!
With chicken leftover from last night, of course.
Leftovers are huge.
I always cook enough for multiple meals to reduce the time I spend cooking.
I don’t have time to shop. → I don’t have to shop.
I started using a CSA and grocery delivery services to all but eliminate trips to the grocery store and that solved that.
But then I realized that I actually like going to the grocery store so I decided to make time for it and am happy with that decision.
I like picking my own veggies and talking with the butcher about the cuts I’m buying.
What are the reasons you are feeding yourself for not losing excess weight?
Jim Rohn famously said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
I’d heard this before, but it hit me like a ton of bricks last year while reading The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy (highly recommend it, btw).
It made me think… who are the five people I spend the most time with?
And do I want to be the average of them?
Now don’t get me wrong-- I love the people closest to me.
But they weren’t necessarily doing what I wanted to be doing.
Why does that matter?
It matters because how we spend our time drives our results.
If I want to improve my marriage, it make sense to spend my precious time with people who are already in thriving marriages? Or people who are working on that same goal as well, so we can share and support each other along the way?
Or if I want to make more money or grow my business, wouldn’t it serve me well to connect with people who already make the money I want to make or have thriving businesses that I can learn from?
Of course it goes without saying that the relationship need be reciprocal.
I'm not advocating for a one way benefit.
I am advocating for finding a running partner on your way to meeting your goals-- or finding a whole community, for that matter, with whom you can lock arms and scale that goal mountain together.
For example, when I had my epiphany that I wanted to intentionally connect with people who were doing what I wanted to be doing, I immediately thought of Jessica Miller, a bonafide badass whom I’d met in life coach training a few years ago.
She is a go getter who had the cojones I didn't yet: she'd quit her job as a pharmacist the year previous to build her coaching and skin care businesses and was kicking ass.
I sent her a message telling her explicitly about my epiphany and asked if we could connect.
Luckily for me she was excited to lock arms and we've been soul sisters ever since.
Our alliance has moved my coaching practice forward in leagues and in ways I never would have imagined. And reciprocally she has achieved her goal weight due the value I offer the relationship.
Now it’s your turn to take the pulse on your relationships.
Think about the five people you spend your time with.
Are they doing what you want to be doing with their lives?
Do they inspire you to take action in your own life to be a better human?
If not, you may need to rethink how you are spending your time.
When we spend time with someone who is positive, energetic, inspired, calm, focused, fun, funny, we leave the interaction feeling the same way.
On the flip side, when we spend time with someone who is negative, lethargic, unmotivated, frazzled, lost, boring, or bored we leave that interaction the same way.
You don’t have to dump your friends if you genuinely love them, but you may want to ask yourself if there are other people who can help you get to where you are going and intentionally seek out those relationships.
How to pick your friends wisely
For example, I want to feel inspired and energetic after spending any time with friends.
That might sound like a high bar-- because it is.
I have a high bar for my friends.
And I should.
Because I have mighty goals for myself and my own life.
And the people I surround myself with tell me everything about who I am and where I’m going.
I choose friends who are doing what I want to be doing, or are well on their way to meeting their own goals and they inspire me in the process.
They make me a better human.
They lift me up, fix my crown.
And I aspire to do the same, and more, for them.
Last week we talked all about “busy” and how to eliminate that whole concept from your vocabulary and instead live intentionally to meet your goals.
This post is going to dive directly into the "story" we tell ourselves about being too busy to lose weight.
When women say this to me they are often really saying:
The questions I ask back are...
why do you want to lose weight in the first place?
Why do you want to stop overeating to begin with?
How high of a priority is it for you?
If weight loss and making peace with food is one of your top five priorities, why aren’t you taking action on it?
Why aren’t you putting it on your calendar the way you do all of your other priorities like caring for your kids or getting that report in to your boss on time?
For most of us, ending the compulsion to overeat and lose excess weight is a top priority and we spend a monumental part of our day thinking (and worrying) about it with the end result being either no weight loss, or even weight gain.
If you tallied up all of the minutes you spend thinking about food, what you will eat, what you ate, worrying about food and eating, worried about your weight and body, you’d probably find you are spending at least one hour, if not far more, on this topic each day already.
Why not swap that time to learn something new, implement it, and permanently lose weight?
The time would be the same, the result would be totally different.
And maybe you decide that you do want to invest in yourself in this way, so you make this a top priority, putting time on your calendar to learn, implement, and transform yourself-- what might happen to all of your other priorities like your family and career?
I promise you they will only get better because of your time investment in yourself.
You will have more mental, physical, and emotional energy for the areas of your life that really matter because you will have freed up SO much headspace by ending your obsessive thinking about food and weight.
And you will find that you had the time all along, you were just spending it on the dieting hamster wheel.
You will be more present with your partner, your kids, your work.
You will feel comfortable in your own skin, maybe for the first time.
I used to be “busy” all the time.
As a more-than-full time working professional, entrepreneur, and mom I get up at 4:30 am everyday and Hustle with a capital H..
I’m busy, busy, busy.
People would ask me how I was doing and I’d say “Busy!”
Weekends are booked months in advance so friends often preface invitations with “I know your busy…”
But the truth is I’m not busy.
I’ve just made plans for my time already.
And there’s a difference.
According to Merriam-Webster busy means you “have a great deal to do” or “keep occupied”.
But I don’t have a great deal to do, and I’m definitely not “keeping occupied”.
I plan my time according to what I want to be doing, rooted in my values and what matters most, and that includes my personal and family time.
That’s not busy, that’s living intentionally.
Living intentionally means creating a live you love, on purpose.
Telling yourself you’re busy versus living intentionally has a direct impact on your psyche.
Busy fosters overwhelm and tedium.
Living intentionally fosters thoughtfulness and satisfaction.
I can hear some of you protesting already.
“Are you kidding?!?! Have you seen my life? Career, kids, dentist appointments, soccer practice, cooking, clearning, board meetings, bill paying, family visiting, arguing with my spouse-- I’m not choosing this-- I’m f*#$ing BUSY!!”
I get it.
But when we accept that we are choosing each activity we become empowered to un-choose it.
For example, I choose to eat at home almost every weeknight.
Choosing to eat at home brings with it other tasks like set up and clean up.
This could make my evenings “busy” but really they are just planned out already.
Because I choose to cook at home for my family it means we are not playing games, working on the computer, or watching movies on weeknights-- instead we are cooking together.
Of course, if I wanted to play games or work on my computer I could choose to not cook and instead eat take out or fast food.
But that choice would result in spending more money than I’m willing or eating foods that don’t fuel me well-- neither of which I value.
Either way, it’s a choice.
And I get to make that choice.
I have the power to make all of my choices, according to my values.
That is a perk of being a grown-up. ;)
So instead of saying your busy, how about saying that you’ve made plans?
Because you have.
How to stop being busy to create a life you love
You will be amazed not how much time this can free up, but also how much this simple analysis and alignment activity can elevate the quality of your life.
Imagine what your days will look like when every choice you make is aligned with your top five priorities!
So the next time you find yourself talking about how busy you are, switch it up and talk instead about the plans you’ve made for your one, precious life.
Stay tuned for part two next week: Too Busy to Lose Weight!
Lia Pinelli is a weight loss coach and educator who helps women put an end to emotional overeating and lose weight, permanently.