2020 Nutrition W1: Choose Your Own Adventure

“If you don’t know where you are going, how can you expect to get there?” – Basil S. Walsh 

Calling All Boot Campers! Let’s take a closer look at what you hope to accomplish during the five-week challenge. You will have the opportunity and support to improve your fitness and nutrition (two key components of health!). Set goals to “know where you are going”. 

Setting and achieving goals can be a satisfying experience. It can be frustrating too, if it doesn’t go well. How do we avoid pitfalls? The Journal of Clinical Psychology lists the main reasons why people fail: 

  1. Goals are too big, such as “I want to eat healthy or lose 50 pounds”. 
  2. Skills are not developed to maintain goals, such as someone who has meals delivered for a month but does not learn how to shop for and prepare meals. 
  3. Lack of Support to reach goals. Progress is more fun with family and friends, right?! Engage your team for accountability and support to keep yourself on track. 

Let’s start with goal setting. Goals provide focus and allow you to measure progress. Create “bite sized” goals to set yourself up for success. SMART Goals are Small, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Instead of a broad goal, such as “eat healthy”, let’s break it down into specific, manageable actions:  

  • Eat 1 cup of vegetables at dinner 5 nights this week, 
  • Eat a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts as an afternoon snack each day this week, or 
  • Upgrade morning toast 5 days this week with these high protein breakfast toast ideas

Do This:  use a free food/nutrition accountability app such as myfitnesspal, Cronometer or Fat Secret to determine your calorie and macronutrient needs. Some people do well recording what they eat daily with these apps. “Write it as you bite it” when keeping a food diary to improve accuracy. The apps use a bar code scanner to help you record packaged food items and have data from major restaurants. 

Others are more likely to succeed by focusing on food quality and portion sizes. Use these helpful infographics from the myfitnesspal blog to see how your recommended calorie level translates to food. 

The Harvard School of Public Health emphasizes food quality over calorie counting when aiming to achieve or maintain a healthy body weight. Foods shown to be associated with weight loss were vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and yogurt. In addition, when cutting back on calories, increasing protein can help protect muscle mass, which is more metabolically active (aka burns more calories). 

Eat Better Recommendations:  focus on high quality foods; use Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate as a guide. 

  • Boost fiber and other nutrients by trading white breads, pastas and rice for whole grain varieties. 
  • Eat more vegetables and fruit; make half your plate produce at most meals and snacks. 
  • Include protein at each meal and snack; emphasize fish, poultry, beans and nuts. 
  • Drink unsweetened water, coffee and tea. Avoid sugar sweetened beverages. 

Do This:  Write your SMART goal NOW ..........