The Routine

I lose weight when I’m in The Routine. I’m in control and I feel good. As soon I deviate from The Routine things tend to go pear-shaped. They say you’re supposed to have variety in your weight-loss regime, and while I mess about with the ingredients, there’s an overall formula that is absolutely essential for me if I want to have any sort of success.

The Routine is a joint effort between my sister and I. For those not in the know, we’re living in the UK on backpacker budgets, working two jobs (6 or 7 days a week) in order to finance our upcoming travels. So we’ve got very limited free time and funds. We’ve found The Routine maximises our spare time and helps us to stay healthy and sane.

1. The Shopping
Everything hinges on the weekly shopping trip. We recently switched to Tuesday evenings – less crowded, more frequent buses, doesn’t waste our weekend. My sister and I catch a bus straight from our respective workplaces and meet up at the supermarket to save more time. She usually gets there first so she starts without me, which I like because I don’t end up putting chocolate bars into the trolley. We plan in advance what meals we’ll eat for the week and just whizz around the aisles collecting only what we need. All this means we’re all done and back home by about 6.30pm.

2.  The Salads
Every weekday we take a honkin’ huge salad to work. It saves buying lunch and guarantees at least one healthy meal per day! We make them the night before and it’s a bustling production line. All the ingredients are in the one spot in the fridge so we just grab everything and get to work. We dump a handful of mixed salad greens into two lunch boxes, add chopped up peppers, cucumbers, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes. That’s pretty much the base of it, we just vary the extras each week – anything from a boiled egg to ham, chicken, avocado, homemade felafels, chickpeas, cold roasted vegies, sunflower seeds or lentils. My sister cleans up while I make us each some dressing – usually olive oil and vinegar, or oil/seeded mustard/ lemon juice and a tiny drop of honey – in two tiny screw-top jars so there’s no spillage and we just shake and pour at work.

Sometimes we make a little couscous salad for the side – just throw some wholemeal couscous in a bowl with a sprinkle of vege stock power, cover with boiling water. Leave for ten minutes or so, fluff up with a fork, let cool then chuck in some sundried tomatoes, fresh chives and a handful of chickpeas. Mmm.

All in all, it only takes about 15 minutes of effort each night. No matter what ends up in the box,  there’s something fresh and delicious to look forward to at lunch. Countless times we’ve had colleagues eyeing off our lunch as they devour a tuna mayo roll and say "Wow, what’s that?". "It’s a SALAD." "Wow, did you make that?"

3. The Dinners
When you are time and budget pressed it’s easy to end up eating crap for dinner. And the last thing you want to do when tired and/or cranky is spend heaps of time in a kitchen when you have 5 other flatmates to contend with. We manage to get away with cooking twice a week. We cook on Tuesday nights after the shopping and make enough to do another two meals. Last night it was chili con carne – as soon as it was ready we dished it out into two plates then into four containers. So that’s us sorted til Friday night. Then we’ll do the same Cook and Divide thing.

My sister and I are inherently lazy and have no problems eating the same meal three nights in a row. It also makes the most economic sense to cook in that way since it’s just the two of us.

4. The Snacks
I take a yogurt to work each day, as well as an apple or two, and/or sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. I gather up the little snack pile the night before so it’s ready to go. This is another essential part of the plan so I don’t go wandering off to the vending machine for chocolate.

5. The Gym
We are vigilant about phoning the gym to book our classes each week so we can’t use "the class was full" as an excuse. My sister has email reminders set up at her work then she’ll email me, "Have you booked us in yet?" and I will say "Whoops" and furiously dial. If the first four parts of The Routine are in place it is sooo much easier to get to the gym. If our dinner is already cooked for Mondays and Wednesdays, it doesn’t seem like so much of an ordeal to take time out for the gym.

Now before anyone emails me to say my routine is too routine and no wonder I’ve lost hardly any weight lately, blah blah blah, remember this is what works for my life. Without this kind of planning I wind up out of control and in another depressed episode – anyone who’s been reading for awhile will know my pattern.

And of course life gets in the way of The Routine sometimes. There’ll be some social event on a Gym Day or we get home late and don’t make The Salads – and it throws everything out of whack. The Routine often falls victim to fatigue (usually after we’ve done one of our 7 day working weeks), flu and PMS tantrums. I get cranky when the routine is disrupted. My mum arrives next week for a 10 day visit, and I must admit I am already looking ahead to when she leaves so we can get back on track.

Am I sad or what?

12 thoughts on “The Routine

  1. Where do I sign up to become part of The Routine??? I’ll do all of the washing up, I’ll even pay for all of the ingredients, I just need the extra hands to get all of the prep work done.

  2. I have my own version of The Routine that works for me also (when I can stick to it). I think that this is the way the weight will come off and although there are hiccups if we all stick to our versions of The Routine, the kilos and pounds WILL come off.

  3. I don’t think you’re sad at all! The Routine sounds a lot like mine. Only instead of The Salads I do The Sandwiches, heh. And OK I don’t make dinner in advance, but I DO plan it in advance before I do The Shopping, so I always know exactly what I’m cooking/ eating every day of the week. As for The Snacks – I do this too, and also take The Breakfasts to work every day. I even keep a stash of healthy Breakfast stuff/ Snacks stockpiled on my desk (which looks a little bit too much like a pantry these days).

  4. Ah the Holy Routine!It’s what keeps my journey succesful too. Its also the thing put in danger in the weekends, when I’m doing other things than the weekdays. Routine is the med for me too. And it’s only logical you know. It takes a new kind of routine to substitute for the other…the old one… the kind of routine that made me wake up in the morning with the thought of chocolate croissants and double cream cappuccino, that made my first hours at work pass with the thought of what to order for lunch, and the rest of the day with the thought of the next extravvaganza I’d cook for dinner. This routine is a lot better than the daily phonecall to my husband about what dessert he’d bring on his way home. It takes one thing to substitute another and untill then, it takes planning and sticking to it…till it becomes a second nature and forms itself to a habbit. Then it isnt a routine anymore. It is a way of life. It becomes more natural. It becomes us. I bow to all the routines meant to fullfil dreams and form big changes. Yours, trully :o)

  5. Wow! That is so coooool. I can’t imagine anyone giving you trouble over your routine… there are so many healthy habits built into it!

    I’ve heard the variety thing, too, but I think that mostly applies to the things you eat. Don’t eat pork rinds every day, or eggs every morning for breakfast, for instance. But a big salad is always a bit different.

    I can’t believe you eat so little, though! A salad would never satisfy me at lunch. I usually eat a big lunch and a smaller dinner, though.

    I say: rock on. Thanks for sharing the info – very illuminating!

  6. Sandra! The Salad is actually freaking huge. Once I emptied the container onto a plate in the staff canteen and it was a couple of inches high. Hehe. we have heaps of salad vegies but there’s always some sort of protein (the egg and/or ham or whatever) and usually some couscous for some carbs… so it’s really a huge and very filling meal… takes a good 20 minutes to eat.

  7. as for extra hands, i know i’m lucky to have my sister working with me, but if you’re on your own it won’t take much longer… it’s not that much work. the key is to just buy all the ingredients at the start of the week so everything’s ready to go.

    then just think of little ways to make it quicker – like cherry tomatoes don’t need chopping. And we buy mixed salad leaves so there’s no chopping needed there. Just throw it in. Buy some sliced ham. And if you’re really pressed for time, do what i do when my sister ain’t looking – i just rip the mushrooms apart, tear the peppers in my hands – yes i am freakin’ lazy but it saves time and it looks ‘rustic’… hehe.

  8. Argyro – yes! that comment sums it all up really… just substituting the old fatty routine for a new one… great stuff 🙂

  9. What do you do when “The Routine” feels more like “The Prison Sentence”? This is my biggest problem. I love the weight loss of the routines, but the drudgery and tediousness seems to wear me down after awhile. And then, as soon as I switch things up, I find myself not losing as well.

    (this is all past experience, as right now I’m simply maintaining my 40 pound gain!!aarrg)
    But see, this is what I’m trying to figure out. How do you keep the routine feeling fresh?

  10. The Routine sounds very familiar. I have my own and it works wonders, unfortunately my brain decides to make changes and then it all goes to hell. Oh well, I wish I could just switch my brain off sometimes and go on automatic pilot.

  11. I think The Routine sounds great! My problem is, I’m not in charge of The Shopping, so it’s hard to make The Salads, when all you have is a little droopy lettuce and some tomatoes!

    Try adding low fat fetta to The Salads as well for another variation.

  12. Oh I love and I need my routines ! They keep me safe and in control, and yes, I’m a control freak. Plus they’re great to turn to whenever you’ve been naughty and indulging (which never happens, mkay ?) and you want to get back to your diet pronto.

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