Blog on All Things Nutrition
LAST WEEK! Week 15! Even if you haven’t lost weight, measurements are still worth doing! Take a moment and think back on all the healthy choices you've made. Which ones will you continue?
This final week in this weight loss challenge will be about finding your big why. Making sure you have a concrete reason for being healthy will help you continue along your health journey far beyond this 15 week challenge.
Determine Your BIG WHY: Your BIG WHY is the why behind why you are forgoing that second helping of mashed potatoes or skipping dessert. It is the reason behind you going to the gym and being mindful of what you put on your plate. It may be because you want to lose weight, but it may also be much deeper. Getting to that deeper meaning and reason for why you are striving toward your goals will help you stick to them! Envision your goals – what does it sound like, smell like, feel like to have achieved your big why? Where are you and who are you with? What are you thinking at that moment? Maybe the weight loss is really a goal to be healthier by preventing chronic disease. If so what are other measurements of success? Wouldn’t improvements in measurements, blood pressure, blood sugar, or energy all be a sign of success. Or maybe it is to get in shape to go on that backpacking trip with your spouse.
It’s easy to place excessive value on immediate rewards (that molten chocolate cake or pastry in the office) while discounting long-term goals (losing weight). Our busy, stressful lives can make wise decision-making that much more difficult. This type of visualization helps make your goals that much more real and tangible. They also help us set realistic goals for ourselves and measure our successes in different ways. If you connect to your BIG WHY during moments of temptation, you’ll be more likely to stick to your plan.
Here are a few ways to do that:
1. Put your BIG WHY into writing: Put your BIG WHY into a contract with yourself. EX: “I will run a 10K by May of next year” or “I will lower my heart disease risk factors by my next medical appointment.” It is important to be as specific as you can, making sure your action step is achievable. If your action step is too big, try breaking it down into several mini goals. EX: If your goal is to run a marathon, start by having the goal to run a 5k, then a 10k, etc.
2. Create a BIG WHY amulet. Create a visual that will remind you to stay on tract. This is something that you can look on in times of weakness. Some examples would be a bracelet, watch, picture or notecard on your bathroom mirror, or anything that reminds you of your BIG WHY and helps you stick to your goals.
Come up with your IF/THEN plans:
When trying to make positive changes in lifestyle, the things that most often trips people up are the unanticipated stressors or challenges: “I would be doing just fine if X hadn’t happened.” Chances are that you are going to encounter some obstacles if you haven’t already. Planning ahead of time what you will do in these situations can be extremely helpful. They key is to develop an if/then plan for every tricky scenario you expect to encounter, then practice, practice, practice until it becomes second nature. For example, because of my dietary restrictions, I always bring a dish I can eat to a party or gathering so that I know that there will be at least one thing I can eat.
Here is an example for a person who used to eat out most nights, but now would like to cook dinner every night:
1.) Which new habit do you want to establish? I want to cook dinner at least 5 nights per week
2.) When, where, and how will you do it? Monday through Friday, at 6pm. In my Kitchen. By knowing in advance what I’m going to cook.
3.) What could hinder you from doing it (could be a barrier) and how can you overcome it? I might get busy at the end of the day and think “It’s too late to cook,” so I’ll just pick up takeout on the way home. Solution: I can stop at the precut veggies section in the grocery store and get fresh food that will be easier and faster to cook than my planned dinner. If I get delayed from work, then I will stop by the grocery store to pick up precut veggies, so the meal will be easier and faster to prepare. Or I will keep precut veggies in my fridge for quick access anytime I need them.
Make sure your solutions are feasible and practical and most importantly, that you are likely to do them! If not, take some time to figure out a solution that seems as easy as the takeout option, but helps you fulfill your weight loss goals. Once you have a number of if/then plans, you may want to write them out on index cards and carry them with you to review every day. That mental practice will help ensure that when the situation arises, you’ll know exactly what to do.