Wouldn’t it be nice if when we woke up in the morning and said, “I’m going to eat healthy today!” that it just happened?
I don’t even know if there’s a number big enough to quantify the number of times I have sworn this time to be THE TIME where change sticks. Nearly every time, the pattern plays out similarly and goes something like this:
“This is it! I’m going to eat healthy and finally lose that extra weight. Yes, this is IT! I’m giving up all sweets, pizza, and pastas until the weight is gone. I’ve got this.”
4 Days Later:
“I have done SO WELL! Let’s practice rewarding ourselves. One little bowl of ice cream. That won’t kill you. Self-control.”
4 Big Bowls of Ice Cream Later:
“Start tomorrow. Tomorrow WILL be the day!”
It’s a cycle. On the wagon, off the wagon, and back on again only to tumble off again later.
Sure, that method may give you some results when you’re on the wagon, but this cycle can really lead to some major issues with your metabolic rate, hormones, digestion, and not to mention, mental health.
I so badly wish someone would have showed me early on that the ‘All or Nothing’ practice is not the only way. That I could start with small, simple steps and build up to the big things.
My goal as a coach is to help YOU see this sooner than I did and to guide you from the small strategies up to the big leagues. Through my experiences as the client and as the coach, I have put together 6 simple strategies to serve as the foundation for eating right, as well as the next step for when you’re ready for more of a challenge.
Grocery Shop With a List
- The grocery store can be a scary place when you’re looking to improve some nutrition strategies. There is A LOT of stuff there, and without any direction, you’re likely to be sucked back in by the cereal and sweets aisle.
- Take 10 to 15 minutes to write a list of things you need to buy. Then, once you go to the store, you’ll be looking for specific items instead of searching for anything that sounds good. You may still end up with some items in your cart that aren’t exactly the most nutritious, but it’s a lot harder to get distracted by those treats when you’re focused and searching for specific foods.
- Next Step: Keep your path to the perimeter of the store. Grocery stores LOVE to pack those naughty treats in the center, so you have to look at them as you pass for healthier options.
Wash and Cut Your Fruit and Veggies Right Away
- We’ve all done it – buy veggies, leave them in the bag, pack them in the fridge, and find them a week or two later uncertain as to what that started as. Typically, when we’re hungry, we’re hungry NOW, and not looking to wash and cut up some carrots and celery.
- Once you get home from the store, put them right into the sink. Put the other food away, and then start rinsing and chopping your fruits and veggies. That way, come snack time, your food is already cut and the only waiting you have to do is to pull it out of the container.
- Also, who really wants to do that work and let it go to waste at the end of the week???
- Next Step: Divide and pack in small containers for easy grab-n-go snacks! The more convenient healthy snacks are, the easier it is to adhere to a plan!
Schedule Your Meals the Night Before and Set Reminders
- The feeling of being “hungrier than a rabid dog,” is the exact reason, you should be planning when to eat ahead of time. You have been there, just like I have, and you could eat ANYTHING (including a horse), and when the moment comes, you do.
- Often times, we let ourselves go too long before meals, which limits our ability to think rationally about what should be put in our bodies.
- Limit the irrational thought process, and plan out when you’re going to eat the following day. Schedule around meetings, projects, and phone calls in windows you know you can commit to.
- Now what you MUST do with this is set reminders to go off, so you actually stop to eat because too often you get wrapped in a task that the time rolls right by!
- Next Step: Pack or plan out the food you will eat! Eliminate the decision making process, and potential to make poor choices in the moment.
Protein at Every Meal
- Our body needs protein, it is the most important macronutrient, but what most of us are short on.
- Build your meal based off your source of protein. Add it to salads. Include it on wraps and sandwiches. Regardless, do not go a meal without it!
- If you wanted to plan your protein when you plan when you’re going to eat, the process becomes even simpler, but that can tip the scale on complexity if you’re looking for simple.
- Next Step: Keep to lean sources of protein at every meal. We want to fill our bodies with the right proteins to be easily broken into and used as amino acids, and lean proteins are the best source for that.
Drink 1 Glass of Water with Every Meal
- Almost everyone looking to eat better could benefit from more water intake because too many of us are dehydrated!
- Asking someone who struggles to drink water to start off with a gallon is unrealistic. It can be a challenge when you are on the go all the time to remember to drink water, and if you try, it gets even harder when you have to go to the bathroom all the time. A glass of water is much easier to take in with a meal because it is a time to sit down and take a break from the day (or at least it should be).
- Next Step: Aim for a 4 bottles of water a day. Whether you refill one every time or have 4 separate ones, make it a goal to finish. Set alarms in your phone as reminders of when to have a bottle finished to keep you on track!
Go to Bed 15 Minutes Earlier Every Night
- How does sleep factor into nutrition? Just like waiting too long to eat, our body does not rationally think about what to eat when we’re tired.
- Sure, we would all love to jump up to 8 hours of sleep a night; however, that’s unlikely. Get into bed 15 minutes earlier every night, and gradually work up to 8 hours of sleep.
- Your body will adjust to more sleep without waking up feeling sluggish the next morning because you got “too much” sleep.
- Next Step: No phone 30 minutes before your new bedtime. Teach your body to start winding down by eliminating the light it’s taking in and truly relax before bedtime.
The great part about these 6 strategies is that you can add difficulty as you continue to get comfortable and find more time to dedicate toward eating well. Even better, if your schedule picks up or you’re struggling in a particular area, you can always scale back to one of these 6 until you are ready to incorporate more.
Our world would look very different if every time we said we wanted to eat healthy, workout more, or lose some weight that it just happened.
These 6 strategies are not meant to just make things happen instantly, they’re starting points. These are strategies that clients and myself have used to simplify the first step and get us pointed in the direction of success. Most who have started with theses strategies now build their day around protein intake, consistently consume fruits and veggies, and consume water throughout the day. Yes, they have lost a ton of weight and perform better in their training sessions, but they’ve built lifelong habits, which is more important in living a healthful life.