A Dietitian’s Key Steps to Achieve your Health Goals

Hiking New Year's blog

Time for a Change - How to Make it Happen

Happy New Years, everyone! I hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday season. Many of you may now be thinking, “Okay, it’s the New Year and I am ready to commit to some changes”. Or maybe you are thinking of a change but not quite ready to get started. Changing a habit should happen when you feel the most ready, no matter the time of the year. If now is that time for you time, I wish you the best on your journey.
 

Behavior change takes time, acknowledgement of the need to change, effort, and a plan. (I want to give a shout out to all of my clients this year who stayed committed to their goals and made the desired changes.) Here are my top tips seen all around the board when people were successful. 
 

  1. PATIENCE. If you don’t think you can be patient with yourself, then this may not be the time to make a change. Behavior change is a process, and often, takes trial and error as most changes are not a one-size-fits-all. Be open to trying new methods to accomplish your goals. The addition of a workout regimen, running before work, getting up earlier to eat breakfast, finding a way to add veggies to lunch, the list goes on. Good things take time, be patient. And be kind to yourself.
     
  2. TIME. To reach the big picture goal, small steps must be taken with success over time. I was a collegiate tennis player and coach for years, and my favorite example of small-step success was teaching kids the fundamentals of tennis. Without this, how could I expect them to “master” the game and play at a high level? Celebrate the small wins and each successful step to reach the overall goal. Zero to sixty or all-or-none mindsets often result in starting back at square one and a sense of failure.
     
  3. SMALL. With that being said, having a general plan of action of the small steps you will take to reach this goal can be helpful. A good example is knowing ten go-to recipes to make after work when you do not want to think about it. A new recipe often takes time to learn and explore, uses new ingredients, and takes longer to shop for as these ingredients may not be part of your regular shopping trip. So how can we take little steps to make this goal realistic and achievable?
     
  4. FOCUS. One possible method is to choose a recipe to be the “focus” for one, maybe even two months. Pick an optimal night in the week when you have the time and are excited to try something new. Once you have made the recipe one time - meaning planned, shopped, cooked, cleaned up, and write adjustments for the next go-around if needed, you will likely be more efficient the next time you make this recipe. After many more repetitions, you will have this recipe “mastered” and you will be able to replicate it with less mental effort. Practice makes perfect.
     
  5. MOTIVATION. You must be highly motivated to make the above example come to life. As mentioned, a big motive to have go-to recipes is to take the burden and stress off of making meals. The process may take 2-3 hours start to finish the first time, but it will take much less time once mastered.
     
  6. NO JUDGEMENT. Next, non judgemental, positive accountability. Humans often do best with positive reinforcement from people they trust and/or love. This could be from a significant other, mother, brother, best friend, teacher, personal trainer, dietitian, etc. The key to this accountability is communication. Let the person know what you need from them, and maybe what you do not need from them. A partner at home may make unsolicited food comments about what you eat or how often you eat. You likely don’t need this, and they need to know. Let them know how they can support you and celebrate the small wins together. Sometimes a simple conversation to be on the same page with the steps you are taking is enough.


I want to leave one final and key thought with you. I find people are most successful when they have a true, PERSONAL motive that lights them up. Examples include playing with your grandchildren, setting a good example for your kids, running a 5k with your family, climbing Mt. Rainer, the list goes on. Whatever your motive, know that motive well, and let it be yours. Cheers to you this year - enjoy the journey!

Laura Johnson RDN, CD, SensiblySprouted

 

Category: General Wellness