Achieving any goal is about fighting the war between instant gratification and long term satisfaction. Instant gratification may be sacrificing a workout to watch TV or opting for a high-calorie takeaway in the name of convenience instead of cooking a meal at home.
That's the norm. Everyone, no matter their goal, is fighting this type of battle at some point.
The key step, especially early on in your health and fitness goal, is to find ways of maintaining the convenience aspect without going against your goals.
And one of those conveniences is ready meals. I believe that when used properly, ready meals can be a useful tool to help you reach your goal. Ready meals are generally healthier than takeaways (you can see the calorie and macro content) and only need a few presses on the microwave to be ready on your plate.
There are, of course, downsides. The salt content can be high. There can be additives. They work out more expensive than home cooking. That's part of the convenience battle.
So, if you are like most people, the question becomes; "how can I make ready meals a part of my plan without sacrificing my long term results?".
It's all down to the "1% better mindset" that I often write about. How can you improve your current situation by just a little bit?
Next time you buy a ready meal, try following these steps:
Step 1: Choose the best ready meal option you can
Trying to live a healthier lifestyle is a common thing these days. There's no better time to be alive when it comes to finding convenient meals that are healthy. Marks & Spencers offer plenty of tasty and pretty healthy meals in their "Balanced" range.
Grabbing a balanced meal (protein, fats, carbs and veggies) is going to better than grabbing a Pizza Express small pizza, which in turn will be better than grabbing a large stuffed crust pizza or calorie-laden curry.
Scan the shelves and look for the best option you can in terms of how much you enjoy the taste and how balanced the meal is.
Step 2: Take a look at the nutrition information
Take a quick look at the back of the pack; what is the calorie, protein, carb and fat levels for the meal you have chosen?
Is there anything that the meal is lacking in? Is it too low carb? Is it lacking in protein? Is there no fat at all in the meal?
Or, on the flip side, is there anything the meal is too high in?
Try to find a meal that roughly meets your needs (your goal, your activity levels, your overall preference etc.)
Step 3: Bulk it up/make it healthier
Based on your goals, you can then think of ways of making that meal better for you.
If your goal is weight loss, for which managing hunger is a key skill, then you may decide to throw in some more diced vegetables and other pre-cooked protein. This will help keep you feeling fuller for longer.
If your goal is weight gain, and the meal is lacking in calories, you may decide to throw in some extra fats or carbohydrates. These will give you the energy you need.
Next time you are in the ready meal aisle of the supermarket, try to slow down and look at a few options (this is normally better if you are not Starvin' Marvin).