fitness · planning

White board menus for workout and eating plans

To-do lists don’t really work for me. First, I put way too many items on them, so they end up seem more accusatory than helpful. Second, I write them on a scrap piece of paper (often the back of an used business envelope– hey, it’s environmentally friendly!) and then can’t find it after an hour or so. Yes, I’ve tried phone apps, too. But I much prefer (or at least think I prefer) something physical, something I can see easily.

There’s also a third, tougher problem: the hefty to-do list provokes fear and defiance, sending me running away from it in the direction of fun, relaxation, or anything that isn’t on the list. That is seriously unfortunate. I mean, a gal’s gotta do laundry, go to the library, buy groceries, etc. Keeping track of tasks big and small, work and home, physical and mental, does require (for me) a bit of documentation.

Enter the white board.

A white board– this one is also magnetic. Cool.

But, you might ask, isn’t this just another medium for the to-do list, which you’ve already gone on record saying you hate?

Why yes, that’s true. In the course of some recent coaching sessions with my friend Lisa, we also came up with an alternative to the to-do list: the menu!

I love menus. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy opening up that brightly patterned card stock, handed to you by waitstaff (remember waitstaff?), perusing the contents, and finding exactly what you didn’t know you wanted?

A menu from Life Alive, a restaurant I love; this page is teas and juices and lattes and smoothies. Mmmm…

My current plan for organizing my eating and activity is white-board menu based. Here’s my eating one for this week:

A white board on my fridge, with a literal meals menu based on what's inside.
A white board on my fridge, with a literal meals menu based on what’s inside.

It’s got literal menu items for me to cook, along with other info. I’m trying this out for the first time, so will report back on how it goes.

I’ve also made a white board menu for physical activity.

My workout menu whiteboard, which usually lives in my bedroom, propped up on my chest of drawers.
My workout menu whiteboard, which usually lives in my bedroom, propped up on my chest of drawers.

This whiteboard menu divides up workouts into cardio, strength and mindfulness. Under each heading are some common workout options for me. Each day I look at this and figure out what I want to do and/or have time to do. So far I’ve only done a few of these, but I love having the variety right there in front of me. I just realized I need to add “walking/hiking outing with friends”, as I’m doing one of those this afternoon.

What I love about the menu format is that I get to choose from options, which are laid out for me. I can see how I’m feeling, and pick from a lot of options. And all of these I can afford– they aren’t workouts I can’t do or find too much for me right now. Yay me! Yay Lisa (for coaching and helping me see this)! Yay white board!

I just bought another, bigger white board for work organization. I didn’t have one at home, and figure that this will be very nice to have (in addition to my other online work organizational tools.

My new 2 x 3 white board, fresh out of the box.

For me, arranging to-do items as menu options on a dry-erase white board is helping me approach eating and activity with more agency, without feeling the tyranny of the to-do list. YMMV.

Readers, what tools do you use for organizing weekly workouts? Meal planning? I’d love to hear what works for you.

3 thoughts on “White board menus for workout and eating plans

  1. My Beloved and I plan our dinners each week before going shopping, usually selecting something we’ve never prepared before from one of our many cookbooks (or the NYT cooking page). We write the menu down on one of the plethora of CARS celebration notepads we have! No need to write down workouts. Mine is always the same-walk the dog.

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  2. You’re organized.

    I just make sure to put healthy whole food in fridge. And along the way, make up the dishes…often usually decide in the morning what to have for supper based on fridge and cupboard contents.

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  3. Love the workout menu idea and will give it a try this week. I painted a chalkboard wall in our kitchen and it has been an excellent place for our weekly meal planning and grocery list. It also broke the kiddo of her habit of asking me what was for dinner.

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