The “Ps” of Long Term Success, Part 3

The continuing thoughts on how to achieve long term success.
3.  PREPARATION
So far, you have or are developing a PASSION for your goal and you have mapped out a PLAN to achieve the goal. But isn’t planning the same as preparing? They are related but not the same.  From Dictionary.com (highlights are my own):  
Plan: a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc. developed in advance:
Prepare: to put in proper condition or readiness 
To go back to yesterday’s comparison to our trip to the East coast, the plan was the mapped route, and the various stops along the way. The preparation is everything we did to be ready. Some of the basic preparations were making reservations at the bed and breakfasts and hotels in each city as well as the reservations to go fishing and whale watching. We packed our suitcases with clothing and other necessities. We packed food in a cooler, to maximize our driving efficiency and save some cost.
We also made sure that the summer classes we were teaching would be completed by our departure date. We made sure that our eldest son knew all the day to day activities needed to care for Ozzy and the garden.  We took many steps in preparation for a successful execution of our plan. And it was successful!
 What steps are necessary to be prepared for long term success, especially in weight loss? After you have your plan (primary and intermediate goals) and the specific route (calorie counting, Weight Watchers, Slim-Fast, etc), you need to prepare for success.
Do you have cookbooks?  I use many different cookbooks, but the most commonly used are my Cooking Light–Fresh Food Fast and  Cooking Light Comfort Foods. I also have a subscription to the magazines Eating Well and Food Network Magazine. However, you do not need a lot of cookbooks. Many online sources including www.AllRecipes.com and www.epicurious.com (and many, many more) are excellent places to look.
Do you have time to cook and maybe even add exercise? That can be the killer. I have been asked how I am able to work full time (and my wife work full time), blog, walk, lose weight, and still cook five or six nights a week? My answer, not surprisingly is, “Preparation.” My wife and I are busy but we both want to eat healthy and stay at a healthy weight. I cook good meals and we eat them together when our schedule allows. After dinner, one of us will clean up the dishes and the other will assemble the lunches for the next day. And since we both try to be on the road well before 7am, we get our school clothes ready at night.
In fact (and I am incredibly lucky) Sunday afternoon, Tammy will organize an entire week’s dress clothes for class. She wants me to look good and my ability to put colors together is, well, let’s just say “challenged.” So she organizes them for me. Like this:
That week I only had four days of class. Two pairs of pants, each paired with two different shirts. She also gives me options for my ties, usually two or three per shirt. (I can figure out which shoes and socks to wear all by myself!) 
She will do the same for her clothes, too. Working ahead of time saves even more time every morning, and makes for a more efficient day.
We put together our menu at least a week in advance. When we plan our meals, we consider the entire family’s schedule so we know who will be home and eating on any given day. We shop together every Saturday, using a preprinted shopping lists to keep us on track and on budget. Sunday afternoon, while Tammy is organizing our clothes, I am preparing food for the week. I like to cook one or two dishes that are able to keep well in the fridge (soup, stew, pasta dishes.) If I have recipes that call for a lot of prepped foods (especially chopped veggies) I will prep everything, package and label it for the day I make the recipe. Sometimes I will make a meal with extra portions. That will either provide lunches or dinners as leftovers (useful on a day when we are especially busy) or I will pack them tightly, label them and freeze them for future days. Sometimes things come up and we don’t have time to make a whole meal, but when we have our own home-made frozen dinners, we can eat just as fast, and far healthier, and much less expensive, than eating in a restaurant. 
Our preparation has become our routine. We no longer need to really think about these preparations. They are part of our normal daily lives. And that has made our successes more likely. Not any easier, because our journeys are anything but easy, but having a routine that includes preparation allows us to focus on the truly important activities that bring greater success.
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