30 Nov 7 P’s
By Will Kuenzel
Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. This was basically beat into us in college. It applies to so many different aspects of life but one of the biggest is nutrition. The Seven Ps sums it up nicely. Without prior proper planning, so many other aspects are doomed to fail. There’s that other quote as well: “Fail to plan and plan to fail.” Planning takes effort, but the pay off is huge.
In our house, my wife and I plan out the meals for the week. Or rather I should say, my wife primarily plans them out and I give some input from time to time. She’s the driving force behind it. She starts by planning out the meals we’ll have and then she plans out the grocery list accordingly. Most weeks we don’t eat out, or if we do it’s only one meal out of the week. With a full house, time isn’t always a luxury, so it’s only one grocery store trip a week. Our meals are planned around the time it takes to cook them, events that are planned for the week, and daily schedules which may mean we toss something in the crock pot. Knowing these things, I plan out the rest of my week accordingly.
I try to allow more carbs on training days. Non-training days get a bit more limited carb intake. I’ve been doing it long enough that I don’t track real hard, especially if I’m not worried about weight for a competition. This gives me a little leniency, but I still try not to overdo it. I’ve got two kids, lead by example, right? For example, one-night last week we had grilled chicken and a vegetable rice medley for dinner. I doubled up the chicken and cut back on rice a bit. I also went lower carb throughout the day knowing what we were having for dinner would be my carb allotment for the day. Prior proper planning.
Even if you don’t do it for a full week, planning 2-3 days ahead of time is a good start. Think about how it correlates with your training days and if you need extra protein sources or extra carb sources. Without getting too detailed, pick food sources that will best fit your nutritional needs and ability to heat/store/eat for your particular training day. Planning meals isn’t just having meals ready, but also the ability to eat them. Don’t plan to have a meal that requires a microwave if you’re on the road.
Even when we’re on our game and have it all planned out, we all know that things don’t always go according to plan. There are those days that’ll throw a monkey wrench in the works and clog things up. These are also scenarios we need to be prepared for. How? Have a backup plan(s). I picked this up from a military buddy. I don’t know if only military use it, but I love the acronym. PACE: Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency.
My primary plan is to have the meals I have pre-made and packed. I’m at the gym almost all day, with a few breaks here and there spread out over the day. These gives me the opportunity to eat often. I might not be able to have large meals, but I can eat frequently. I will typically have most of my meals prepared and packed the previous night. As I’m making breakfast for my family and myself, I’ll gather it all up and toss in it a cooler. These meals are my primary plan.
As an alternate, in the case I run out of time or for some reason need to leave the gym, I always have one to two protein shakes packed. I firmly believe in whole food first, being the quality food that I have prepared myself. I’m also realistic in that there’s going to be times when that’s not just not an option. Having a protein shake packed away in the car or in your gym bag is viable option. It’s quick and convenient.
I’ve had those days or weeks were nothing seems to be going my way. No matter what I do, I can’t get it together. I’ve left the house without my cooler, have I’ve already used up my protein shakes, and I’m straight out of options. Or so it seems. There’s always another option, the contingency plan, and it is not going to fast food. Grocery stores are always nearby. Swing in and grab a couple quick protein snacks. Beef jerky, a can of almonds, or anything would be better than settling for something out of a drive-thru. Even most gas stations have an assortment of beef jerky or other suitable substitutes.
In dire cases, your last-ditch option is to not to do anything at all. While I don’t recommend it being high on the list of options, hence my emergency protocol is to just skip that current meal. It’s last in my options for a reason but it is always an option. If I’m looking to drop weight, a caloric deficit is made a little easier by dropping that meal. You can certainly spread out the calories over the next couple meals to make up for it. Don’t feel like missing one is horrible. Missing more than one, sure, but it’s not something I’m going to make a habit.
It’s not easy to have it all together, but with a little bit of prior planning, it certainly becomes much easier to be better prepared. Spend a bit more time at the start of the week getting the things together. Look over your schedule. Figure out what days allow for flexible healthy meal options. Take advantage of those days to have prepared meals. Recognize that certain days will require the use of supplements and pack those protein shake accordingly. Use all the tools to your advantage as well as a good plan to help implement those tools. Consistency takes practice and persistence.