How to Meet Your New Year's Nutrition Resolutions
By Courtney Rayppy, RD, LDN
We’ve all said this before; “This year, it’ll be different. This is the year I will finally become the person I want to be. I won’t fail this time, this year, everything will be different.” And yet….it stays exactly the same, or in some cases, you realize you’ve stumbled backwards and are even farther away from the goal you set in the first place. Usually, most New Year’s Resolutions consist of fitness or eating habit related goals that are often never achieved. That being said, I’m about to give you some personal insight as to how to actually accomplish some of the goals you keep setting up for yourself but can never seem to really grasp.
For example, one of my goals in college was to stay super organized and on top of my school work. I remember purchasing a large notebook-sized planner with designated sections to write notes and motivational quotes with my colorful assortment of sparkly gel pens (Seriously? Man, college was a great time.) While this all seemed very promising, I’ll admit, I was not anywhere near perfect at writing down my to-do list every day and sticking to my pre-planned schedule because I was focusing on other goals like practicing my music for band class, trying new workout classes at my gym and making time to spend quality time with family and friends. I soon realized that the more goals I had, the harder it was for me to be successful at achieving them all. Unfortunately, there’s no “quick fix” when it comes to achieving your goals and staying motivated. There is, however, a few simple tips and tricks I have for you to help you set yourself up success this year.
Have SMART Goals
Personally, I tend to expect way too much from myself far too often and the best way to overcome that problem, put simply, is to just stop doing it. Here’s what I mean: Let’s say that you want to get into exercising what have no idea where to start so you just decide that “exercise more” as a resolution will do just fine. Well, how well did that actually work for you? Researchers have actually found that if people make goals more specific and attainable, they have more success actually achieving them! These are referred to as SMART goals (short for, Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely). Let’s use the fitness example again but instead of saying you will “exercise more,” make the goal more realistic and specific. For example, instead you would make your goal, “I want to get 30 minutes of cardio in two to three times per week.” By stating your resolution in this format, the goal is measurable and more do-able.
When in Doubt, Write it Out
I personally am a list maker. I love lists – love them – maybe a little too much. But as far as goal setting goes, writing them down somewhere where you frequently look is a great way to remind yourself that, hey, you have goals and you are going get them goshdarnit! If simple lists aren’t your thing, try vision boards! Vision boards can be a fantastic and creative way to visually represent your goals and aspirations without making it seem like boring “things you have to do.” Sometimes, journaling can be a great way to keep track of your goals even when you have hard days. Write about it – why was it hard? How did you feel? How do you wish you could’ve changed something you did? What can you do next time to make things better?
Set a Schedule, Not a “Deadline”
Ah yes, the dreaded deadline. This perhaps can be the biggest mistake when goal-setting because as soon as people don’t meet that “set date” or time, they automatically feel like a failure. But, understand that you are NOT a failure. Rather than making your goal have a super specific deadline, make a schedule or routine instead. An example of this would be jot down ways you can implement your goal into your usual routine. Instead of focusing on trying to lose X amount of weight by January 30th, focus on sticking to small goals that will contribute to gradual weight loss like adding in more exercise, eating more vegetables and eating out less. Each day that you make progress, you are moving that much closer to achieving your goal. Remember that you will have slip-ups, you will have days where you back-pedal a little bit and that’s OKAY. Understand that you are a human being and that you will make mistakes.
Practice Makes Perfect
Let’s say you want to do 100 pushups. Let’s say you only manage to get 98 of those pushups done and you can’t do another one because if you do your arms might spontaneously snap off your body. Do you call yourself a quitter and a failure because you couldn’t get those last two pushups? Heck no! You document those 98 pushups and smile because you were close to your goal and made progress. In my eyes, it’s not always about whether or not you actually get to the finish line, but the fact that you entered the race. You need to be proud of how far you come because you are aspiring to make a dream a reality, which is an amazing drive to have.
Find the Good in Everything
Even if something doesn’t exactly go your way, you can always learn something from it. Self-reflection is key to goal-setting because it allows you to ask yourself questions about why something did or didn’t work. Maybe you are trying to eat healthier and you discover a new vegetable that you really enjoy. Or maybe you find some new recipes on Pinterest that fit in with your goal to eat better. Goal setting allows you to try new things that you never thought you would have liked. Perhaps you join a gym to shed a few pounds but end up falling in love with the new Crossfit class you tried on a whim and end up feeling healthier and more energized as a result of the new class. Okay, so maybe you didn’t achieve the exact goal that you had originally planned, but in the end, you were able to discover something new that also had a positive outcome.
Feeling Overwhelmed? We Got You
You are never, ever alone. Sometimes, we don’t always want to reach out to others because, ”We Got Dis.” But you know what? Sometimes it’s okay to not got it. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family to help you achieve your goals. Sometimes they can be a great way to keep yourself accountable on your goals or better yet, even work on achieving a similar goal along your side. Nutrition goals are usually one of the most common New Year resolutions and unfortunately, many of the people who set these goals to diet and lose weight end up gaining the weight back, and in some cases, gain even more! It is estimated that American’s spend over $60 billion dollars a year on weight loss products alone. Because many diet and nutrition programs are set up for failure, a whopping 90-95 percent of people who lose weight on a diet, gain all of it back! Nutrition is complicated, confusing and seems like it is always changing and when it comes down to taking charge of your health. Don’t be afraid to consult an EXPERT! I cannot stress this enough, if you are struggling with your weight or eating habits, setting up a consultation with a dietitian is a great start. Roundabout Meal Prep offers a FREE nutrition consultation with Program Director, Shanti Wolfe who is a personal trainer, registered dietitian and holistic lifestyle coach. Feeling overwhelmed? Contact us to schedule an appointment so that we can help support YOU this year by offering professional nutrition coaching and meal prep services.
Artificial Goal Setting is a No-No
What exactly do I mean by “artificial goal setting?” Artificial goals are goals that you want to achieve because you want to please other people. Usually these goals are related to money, power or physical appearance. Make sure that your goals are driven by your desires for things like good health, happiness, spirituality or knowledge. When you make goals based on “material goods” or other people’s perception of you, it diminishes the purpose to goal setting which is one’s ability to feel “accomplished and happy.” Almost everything we do as a person is either to improve our happiness or the happiness of someone we care about. You’ve heard it before that money doesn’t buy happiness. Similarly, being a certain size or weight will not automatically make your problems go away. If you are trying to lose weight, I suggest that you look into practicing daily habits of “body positivity” and choose to eat well and exercise because you know that the health benefits are incredibly beneficial to your overall health.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Seriously. Stop that. You are you and you have your own goals as well as your own needs. Every step you make towards your goal is progress which should be celebrated. Sometimes I often reference an analogy of wearing “blinders” over my eyes when I am working out at the gym, or eating out a restaurant and feel judged for ordering the supreme pizza over the kale salad that the women next to me ordered. While it’s not easy to compare yourself to people around you, simple things you can do is try to focus on the “big picture.” If your goal is to eat healthier, focus on what you are in control of by shopping first in the produce aisle to encourage yourself to buy more vegetables, look up recipes online on your down time to make with a friend or family member or plan ahead by meal prepping one healthy meal a day. Remember that people will reach goals at different speeds and that you don’t know where someone is on their journey or how many times they may have failed to get there. All you can do is encourage and support other people who are also trying to work on themselves while keeping your “blinders” on yourself. At the end of the day, your only real competition is yourself.
It’s amazing what you can do once you really put your heart and soul into something and give it your all. Whenever you start feeling down on yourself, or feel like putting your goals on “hold” because you are tired or not feeling in the mood, stop and ask yourself WHY you want to achieve those goals in the first place. The “road trip to success” won’t always be an easy drive, but if I end up making it to the destination in one piece, then I feel like every road block, flat tire or snow storm was all worth it in the end.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year filled with opportunity!
Courtney Rayppy is a Registered Dietitian in beautiful Reno, Nev. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics and completed her dietetic internship at the University of Nevada, Reno. Courtney currently works at Roundabout Meal Prep as the Assistant Program Director and is working towards becoming a Certified Diabetes Educator to work with the Nevada Diabetes Association. Courtney’s runs Fit&Fabulous Nutrition on Facebook where she shares workout tips, recipes and hot nutrition related topics. Courtney’s approach to nutrition is one that focuses on achieving realistic, attainable goals through evidenced-based recommendations, shifting away from “fad diets” and “quick fix” approaches. In her free time, Courtney competes as a nationally qualified bikini competitor, loves cooking and hiking with her dog Dexter.