How can I stay focused on my healthy nutrition goals?

Lyn Turton
Nutrition & Dietetics
Reminding yourself of WHY you wanted to achieve the goal can help maintain motivation. Write down your goal and also why you want to achieve it and keep it somewhere you can read it often.

Make sure your goal is achievable - if it seems too hard & you think you'll give up on it, try and break the process down into smaller steps.

A goal where you are able to measure your progress is much easier to focus on than one which is vague. "I will be eating 5 pieces of fruit a day by the end of the week" is much easier to keep focused on than "I will eat more fruit".
Try to change or substitute one small thing in your daily eating. For example: trade a green tea for that afternoon soda, or trade those chips in for some carrots or a small salad with your wrap or sandwich for lunch. Small changes in your daily habits will add up and make a big difference in your nutrition going forward. The reward will be how you feel when you are making those healthy choices without even thinking about it!
Heather R. Mangieri
Nutrition & Dietetics
The most important step is to make sure that the goals are realistic and manageable in the short term. Basically, that means you are setting small goals that can be accomplished within a week or two. Setting 1 small goal each week and rewarding yourself when you accomplish it sets you up for success rather than failure. For example, if you or the family typically eats in front of the TV, the goal will be that you will all eat at the dinner table (with the TV off) 4 out of 7 days of the week. Once you have that mastered and it is part of the normal routine, increased the goal to 7 days a week. Small changes make a huge difference.
Well I would break it down into 5 fundamentals in proper goal setting
  1. Vision
  2. Strategy
  3. Belief
  4. Persistence
  5. Learning
Vision - Most people want to know what diet to do or how many calories to consume and although that is ok, it usually is done in the wrong order.  If you first start with a diet or calories and it does not match your vision or your vision changes then the strategy is flawed.  Spend ample time being ready and being sure what you want and get a crystal clear picture in your mind where you are going.

Strategy - Now that you know where you are going then it is much easier to for you to develop the appropriate strategy to meet your goals.  It also will decrease frustration and burn-out because you are more confident in the outcome.  Think of it as GPS.  A great GPS system is a wonderful strategy but if you don't knwo where you are going then the best GPS system will not help you.

Belief - Very simply put you have to believe that you can accomplish your vision through your strategy.  You have to remain positive and if that is tough for you then you have to surround yourself with a good coach or positive people.

Persistence - No fitness goal is ever smooth and you will hit bumps in the road.  You have to be willing to pick yourself up, forgive yourself and keep pressing forward.

Learning - You have to record everything you do, log everythign you do because you become more aware of what you are doing.  Awareness leads to wisdom and wisdom and passion is how you maintain your progress long term.  Also learning is about seeking new information so you are better informed.

Try these steps and focus on them.  Goals come down to movitation and the above system in that order helps you to stay focused and motivated.
Doreen Rodo
Nutrition & Dietetics

Your goals should be realistic. If you decide that you are going to lose 10 lbs in a month, then that would not be a realistic goal. It's best to gradually make changes towards a healthy eating pattern that you can use all the time. Remember balance, variety and moderation are important for healthy eating. A good start would be to try to increase your fruits and vegetables, use wheat or oatmeal bread, buy lean meats and limit fried foods and sweets. If you have a bad day and eat too much, make yourself get back on track the next day. Give yourself a reward for doing good all week. It could be a special dessert or meal. Whatever you do, don't give up because eating well is the best way to stay healthy.

There are so many times I hear about individuals who are having challenges staying focused with their nutrition goals. I always respond and ask them "Are you doing anything differently, such as not journaling?" Most of the time the response is either they stopped or they are only doing it part-time. Most of us are visual learners and really need to write down what we ate so we can have an idea of what we are doing right or wrong. Journaling is one the most underrated skills that we do not consistently do when we are trying to stay on track nutritionally. It helps us to be accountable not only to your Health and Fitness professional, but most of all YOURSELF.

Rose Reisman
Nutrition & Dietetics

First, answer the question: Why do you want to change your eating habits? Is it due to obesity; a chronic or life threatening disease; a general feeling of fatigue and low energy or hopefully you want to prevent disease?

  • Get started by keeping track of your eating patterns and exercise for the first few weeks. Often you may think you’re eating controlled but the scale won’t reflect the results. You could be mindlessly eating. Remember, all calories count.
  • Look at your typical shopping habits as well as your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Read the labels and toss out those foods you know have excess fat, sugar and calories. Think of shopping now as if you have lost 20 lbs. and have to buy a new wardrobe! Start shopping differently.
  • Set short term goals. Try losing five pounds initially rather than long term goals of losing 30 lbs. Once you reach the first goal, maintain that for a week or so then set up the next five pounds. Remember that each plateau reached is one you have to maintain for life.
  • Share your goals with others around you. Don’t let peer or family pressure change what you’re doing. When you succeed they will soon be asking you for advice.
  • Don’t deprive yourself, but listen to your body. You should never let yourself get hungry. Eat 3 meals and 2 snacks a day to avoid hunger. Never go longer than 3 hours without fueling yourself. Every day I treat myself to a small 100 calorie treat.
  • Realize that whatever you do to achieve optimum health, is not a temporary thing. Select the method that you can see yourself doing for life. That’s the reason extreme deprivation diets always fail.
  • This process is the “magic bullet” to a healthy body weight and feeling great.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.