It’s time to define your “why” and map out making goals a reality.
Do you feel stuck in a nutrition rut? Days spent wandering from one snack to the next and grazing mindlessly rather than purposefully? It’s time to rise above your typical way of eating. When you start a fitness challenge, you’ve got a clear vision of what success looks like. It’s time to take the same lens and focus on your diet, implementing nutrition best practices to move you toward better.
Start With Your “Why”
Ambiguous and unachievable goals are confusing and frustrating. Define exactly what you want to achieve via better nutrition, and then explore what will be needed to get there. For example, maybe you want to get svelte but you hate being hungry and you always cave to sugar cravings. Enter the overhaul known as keto. If this tool is right for you, map out your daily intake of macronutrients and then identify foods that fit. Keto is the perfect example of needing to thoughtfully plan in order to achieve ketosis through a high-fat, moderate-protein, extremely low-carb intake.
Or maybe your “why” involves building lean muscle mass while cutting fat. Could macro counting and a 40/30/30 nutritional plan get you there? Probably. Let’s start identifying how you’ll eat throughout the day to make steady energy happen.
Get in Touch With Your Cues
Mindless and emotional eating can derail your day, your diet and your goals. It’s time to get back to recognizing true hunger cues. Throughout this challenge, work on asking yourself, “Am I truly hungry” or is there a chance that the urge to eat is driven by something else? Pause and consider your grumbling stomach, your energy level, your “hangry” and compare it to your stressors, your emotions. Keep note of hunger versus the emotional urge to eat; you may discover a pattern driving your choices. For example, a journal may illustrate that a hectic evening combined with no plan for dinner equaled drive-thru fare. The next time around, you can develop an indelible and healthy plan for evenings when everything hits the fan.
We are built to favor routine and the path of least resistance. As such, a healthy routine must be second nature and require limited decision-making. Curate healthy habits, setting up your day so healthy choices are on autopilot. I’m a big fan of keeping track of food intake and habits to work on (one of the reasons I wrote Sweat. Eat. Repeat.), and instead of viewing journaling like a chore or confession, why not use it as a planning tool? Write down what you’ll eat before you eat it. Take the time to outline meals and snacks, taking nutritional needs into account. Just like you’d prep your meals to save time and thwart cravings, prep your meal plan to thwart craving and decision-making fatigue. For best results, write out this meal plan when you are in a postworkout, non-hungry state. You’ll have a clear head, feel motivated and have health goals on your horizon.
Take Baby Steps
A little goes a long way when it comes to making a permanent change. Improved health via weight loss and regular exercise can result from making a few purposeful changes and sticking with them for the long term. Overhauling everything all at once can lead to feeling overwhelmed and giving up altogether. Instead, at the beginning of each week, pick one or two small changes you can make and consistently practice each every day. What will you change? Maybe swap out that high-sugar breakfast for a high-quality shake? Maybe less lunch takeout and more meal-prepped 40/30/30 balanced blends? Let these changes build over time. You are made for better, and better happens one step at a time.
Reinforce your will-power
Studies show that people with sleep deprivation are more susceptible to making poor nutritional choices, consuming higher calories and eating for reasons other than hunger. As you commit to setting healthier nutritional goals, you can stack the deck in your favor by making sleep a priority.
Written by Pamela Nisevich Bede for Oxygen Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.