Nutrition and ‘eating healthy’ can be a HUGE roadblock for a lot of people and is one of those things that people always talk about but never start. Part of the reason is people don’t know where to begin, so they don’t.
Up to this point, we’ve talked about Step 1: eat three meals per day and Step 2: tracking your food. If you haven’t completed these steps yet, go back and read the previous posts and get to work! If you’re ready for Step 3 of where to start with healthy eating, this week’s post has ya covered. In this post, we’ll be taking a look at your goals and assessing where and how to go about making changes.
ASSESSING YOUR LOG
Once you've spent (ideally) 7 days tracking your food (3 days should be the minimum!), it's time to take a look at what you've been consuming. Remember - the goal of tracking your food is to bring awareness. It’s not meant to be shameful or make you feel guilty about what you’ve been doing! Tracking is what gives you true data to work from.
Things to look for and make notes on:
- Are you consistent with eating (at least) three meals per day?
- Are you consuming more than 20% of your daily intake in beverages, not including water? (Ex: sports drinks, soda, meal-replacement shakes, juices, etc.)
- How many meals per day and per week are you typically eating out?
- What ratio of processed food vs. whole food are you consuming?
Now that you’ve spent some time looking over your log, you know what you’re actually eating and how often. You have a starting point and hopefully you can see areas for making changes.
SET A GOAL
Now we get to the fun part! If you’re reading this series of posts, then you are most likely looking to make some changes. Having a goal in mind that you're working towards will help you in many ways. It will create a filter for helping you decide what to eat, it will keep you motivated, and it will also hold you accountable.
In thinking about your goal, make sure that it’s personal to YOU and it’s really something you want to accomplish, not what you think you should be working towards. If it’s not something that gets you excited, your motivation to stick to it won’t last very long.
Some goal ideas may include:
- Weight loss or a change in body composition
- Increased performance or energy throughout your day or during workouts
- Tackling food allergies or feeling better
- Improving health to play with your children or grandchildren
- Longevity for a long, healthy life
Once you’ve decided your goal, write it down. If you are a very black and white person and don’t do well in the gray area, then I suggest writing your goal using the ‘S.M.A.R.T.’ acronym. You’ve probably heard of this acronym in regards to goal-setting; it’s a way of writing your goals so they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. (you can read more about it here). I think this a great way to structure your goals because it leaves no room for excuses. However, your goals are your goals, so you can decide what they look like!
Now that you have a goal in mind, it's time to take action. There are endless ways to approach personal nutrition and I know it's not what you want to hear, but there's no right or wrong way. Because everyone is different - body types, goals, lifestyle, etc. - this is a situation where what works best for you is in play.
1 | WRITE IT DOWN
Write your goal down and put it somewhere you can see it - this will keep it front of mind and help you stay focused on the gold. Writing it down will also make it more than just an idea in your mind - it’s for real now!
2 | TELL A FRIEND
Your goal itself will help keep you accountable, however, having a friend, a significant other or even a coach who is in on your goal will cover all your bases. Partnering up with a friend to complete a challenge or start working towards your goals together is a great way to get going and keep going.
- OR -
HIRE A COACH
If you are the type of person that needs a little more encouragement or a little more direction, talk to an expert. Someone who can field your questions, check in on you and tell you what to do can be the trick to getting you and keeping you on the right path.
3 | MAKE A PLAN
Creating a plan will break your goal down into baby steps so it doesn’t seem so daunting. For example, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds, give yourself an end-date to work backwards from. Breakdown how many pounds is realistic for you to lose per week and decide on 2-3 habits you’re going to change or actions that you’re going to take each day or each week to make it happen. There are lots of resources out there for goal-setting and goal-planning if you need some help breaking it down. (The Cultivate Shop by Lara Casey has some of my favorite resources for goal setting)
So, let’s recap. If you’re looking to get started on the path to healthier eating:
Establish consistency by eating three meals a day.
Create awareness by tracking your intake.
Set a goal and create a plan to take action.
Where are you at on your path of healthy eating? What are some of your goals this year? Share with me in the comments below!