Case Study #1: Jane Doe
Average Hours spent at Work: 12hours, 6 days a week
Average meal: On the go; rarely homemade; quick and convenient; poor quality
Average time spent working out: 0
Spare time spent: sleeping, hanging out with child and husband
Jane has come to me for help because she desires to get fit and healthy but literally has no idea how to make it work into her schedule.
It’s important to mention that SHE seeks the help and not the other way around. Why? Because whenever getting healthy is forced upon someone, either by a family member or their doctor, I find it rarely works. You need to find your “want to.” Let’s assume Jane has found her “want to” and see how I would go about helping her.
Jane has 1 day out of the week that she is off work. She has literally 2 hours free that day to make time for just herself.
We all know that baby steps are the way to go with any goal. We start super small with Jane.
Suggestions – In order of Priority:
Take the 2 hours to prepare meals for the week. Why? Because, technically, you don’t need exercise to be healthy. Nutrition is probably 80% of any physique goal (I’m guessing based on my own experience and my clients and discussions with RD’s and Nutritionists). So that makes DIET or as I like to call it MEAL PLANNING Jane’s top priority. The meals will be as natural and whole as could be. This means limited processed foods like no Hamburger Helper, no Mac and Cheese, no Granola bars thrown into a brown bag and calling it lunch. Nope. This won’t be anything fancy, but they will not be sugar, fat loaded meals either. High in protein, a vegetable with each meal, and good carbs.
- What kinds of carbs will Jane have?
Rice (could be instant), oats (could be old fashioned heated up in the microwave) and sweet potatoes (they make those microwaveable too, no excuses!). What about breads and pastas? Well, bread alone has like 20 ingredients. And it’s just bread! How about filling up on better foods instead of boring old bread? And if Jane was a sandwich lover, she could look for Ezekial Bread or Wraps to cut back on the carbs. What about bagels? I can’t remember the last time I had a bagel. All I know is when I would eat them (at my office job, of course) I felt like I was biting into a loaf of bread and I immediately felt like I should go run a marathon to burn it off. Gross. Sorry bagel lovers but these things are almost as bad as donuts. It’s just too much volume and not enough nutrients! Pasta is fine but can you measure out half a cup cooked? Because that’s the portion you can have. And she will be TRYING to measure out her portions. Small changes go a long way when you’re just starting out like Jane.
- What about protein?
The proteins have to be foods she will actually eat. Let’s assume Jane isn’t too picky. The crock pot will be her new best friend. Put a bunch of stuff in a pot, set it, and leave it. That’s easy. Take some chicken breasts, put a little marinade on them, broil them in bulk. That takes 20 minutes. How about ground turkey? Brown it in a skillet, add some spices, done in about 15 minutes. Beef isn’t bad for us so stop spreading that rumor. Eggs are good for us too. Paranoid? Get some egg whites. Jane isn’t vegan but she can mix it up by having protein shakes for a snack or beans in place of an animal once in a while.
- How about veggies?
Steam them. Takes about 15 minutes. Don’t have a steamer? Put them in the microwave with a little bit of water. Takes…ummm 10 minutes? I don’t know, I have a steamer. Invest in a steamer Jane! And they make frozen veggies steam-able in the microwave nowadays. How about raw veggies? Eat them. Get some dip. Don’t worry about the calories in the dip. Just eat them. Got a blender? Blend them. Put some protein powder in there, voila! Instant breakfast in about 60 seconds.
- Don’t forget the fats!
Jane is going to prepare snacks for herself so she avoids the vending machine or gets tempted to go out to lunch with her co-workers where they like to have liquid lunches and cheesecake for dessert. She’ll pack up trail mixes herself with items like almonds, cashews, raisins, sunflower seeds, dried fruit. She’ll cook her veggies with coconut oil or olive oil. But she won’t freak out if all she has access to is PAM cooking spray. Again, small changes.
Once she has established a routine where she takes those 2 hours on her one day off to prep her meals and make that her priority for at least a month (yes, a month if not longer), then I would suggest to Jane to start working out. Maybe not with me since she doesn’t seem to have the time to travel to the studio and back home/work. She would have to find ways to increase her activity on her own or with her son.
Is her son watching TV? Great. Pop in a workout DVD and make him do it too (he’s 8 years old so he’s mobile). But let’s say he’s way younger and just runs around the house like I hear 2 and 3 year-olds do all the time. Let’s say she has more than one child! What then? If they’re in diapers that means they take naps. If they take naps that means Jane can do something for 10 minutes, even if it’s just walking up and down the stairs until they wake up screaming (I hear this is what little kids do). If they are terrors, well…Jane calls a babysitter so she can get something done. Prioritize. This is important to Jane so she’s going to do whatever she can to keep going.
No workout DVD nearby? Jane makes up her own workout with her kid: She has a push up contest with him. She teaches him how to squat (he’ll probably be able to get lower than her because kids have super human flexibility), jumping jacks, dance around the room. She asks him to show her what he did in gym class. She plays tag with him for 5 minutes. It really doesn’t matter. Jane is on her feet and that’s better than sitting at a desk like she just did for 12 hours.
After Jane has increased her activity level, she is noticing a decrease in her stress level. She’s sleeping a little bit better, and she has more energy because she’s eating good food that’s helping her burn more fat. She’s lost a few pounds but nothing drastic. She wants to kick it up a notch. She still doesn’t have more time, still just 2 hours. But she has made small changes. She tries to get up 20 minutes earlier than normal to make herself a good breakfast. (This took her a long time to make a habit.)
She also spends this time alone before the kid gets up so she can focus. She has written down her goals and reads them in the morning, making a plan for how she’s going to accomplish them. It’s one thing to think them, it’s another thing to write them down and implement the changes. She writes down 3 things she wants to accomplish that day, none of which have anything to do with her job. Some days the list looks like this:
1. Drink 8 glasses of water
2. Walk 5,000 steps today
3. Make grocery list
Other days it looks like this:
Go for a walk during lunch break Take a lunch break!!!
2. Skip Starbucks today; it’s not worth it!
3. Get in 20 walking lunges around the house while dinner is cooking
And some days it looks like this:
1. Throw out rotting lettuce in fridge!
2. Go to bed by 10pm tonight
3. Post fitness and health goals on Facebook today so I’ll be held accountable
When Jane is ready, maybe she comes to me one day a week for an hour to learn how to lift some weights. Or maybe I recommend some online training for her since time is limited for her. Or maybe she gets some free weights for her birthday from her family or trains for a 5K by running around her block when she is able.
She’ll do well. It might take longer than someone else. Maybe she’s only prepping her meals when she can but she tries. Maybe she goes through the drive-thru once a week but she’s making an effort. Maybe she ordered pizza for her and her family last night but her lunch is already packed up for the rest of the week.
She’ll get there.
There’s hope for Jane.