Setting goals is essential if you’re thinking about progressing, so why not apply some to your overall health and well-being?
Whether you’re focusing on your weight, your size or your shape, setting goals will help you attain positive results and progress further than you thought you ever could!
Health and nutrition will be at the top of many people’s New Year resolutions but not everyone will find it easy accomplishing these.
Fortunately, we’ve put together a little guide on goal setting, how to inspire yourself and how to rethink your nutrition goals.
The starting point of any goal is recognising your current position.
So think about yourself for a moment – what issues are affecting your life and what areas do you want to improve on?
From a nutrition perspective, if you’re malnourished, overweight, underweight or have a specific target (e.g. you want to compete in body building or a sport), identifying your needs, wants and problem areas will help you define your goals precisely.
Set Small Goals And Small Steps
The bigger your health goal, the harder and more frustrating it is to achieve.
You need to break your overall goals into smaller, more achievable targets that will put you on the path to success.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – Lao Tzu
If your overall goal is to lose 12 pounds by the summer, break it down into goals that are achievable now; for example, lose 2 pounds by the end of the month.
You can control what you are doing right now, not what you will do in six months.
Smaller, shorter-term goals are much more motivating but they still need to be Specific, Measurable Achievable, Relevant and Timely…
Be More Specific
We provide a template for “SMART” goals in our article Spend The Festive Season Reflecting And Preparing Your Mind For The Year Ahead as well as offering some great insights into mindset, forming habits, visualisation and taking action.
To increase the chances of achieving your set New Year goals, define your motive and narrow your focus to aspects that will help you prosper.
Deciding that you need to eat a healthier diet to lose weight is great; however, you need to be specific with goals that will complement that idea.
If your New Year resolution becomes unreachable, accept it and reconsider a more realistic, attainable goal.
This is known as “going back to the drawing board.”
Create Motivation From Within
Sometimes we become so obsessed with where we WANT to go, we forget where we ARE.
We forget to enjoy the present moment – our health, our strength, the way we are feeling and the skills we are developing.
Improving one’s health and well-being is a noble destination but it’s also good to enjoy the ride.
So the next time you’re in the kitchen preparing one of our healthy meals, be proud of what you’re doing and enjoy it as much as possible.
“Living in the now” will not only help you to achieve your New Year nutrition goals, it will help you enjoy the challenge too!
Maintain A Balanced Diet
Without going into the science of nutrition, which we will include in future articles, it’s important that you understand the following key points…
- Your body consumes energy every day for your bodily needs… exercise, breathing, heart function, brain function, etc.
- Calories are simply a measure of energy.
- The average woman needs to eat about 2,000 calories per day to maintain her size and weight.
- The average man needs 2,500 calories per day to maintain his size and weight.
- You are not always average! – Find out how many calories you can consume to maintain a healthy weight.
- Proteins (more precisely Amino Acids, which make up proteins) are the building blocks of muscle.
- Carbohydrates are generally an easily accessible source of energy (stored as blood sugar and muscle glycogen) – you use this source of energy first.
- Fats are generally a long-term source of energy – it takes longer to break down and utilise as energy.
- Carbohydrates consumed in excess (above what is needed in our blood, muscle, liver, etc.) is stored as fat.
- There are 4 calories in 1 gram of protein.
- There are also 4 calories 1 gram of carbohydrate.
- There are 9 calories in 1 gram of fat.
- Your still need to consume vital vitamins and minerals to look after other areas of your body (skin, eyes, brain, bones, teeth, etc.).
So how can these facts help you with your nutrition goals? Well… It depends on your goals…
- Use average calorie figures as a benchmark to start with (unless you know how many calories your body needs to maintain weight and size).
- In order to gain weight, you need to intake more calories than your body consumes in energy.
- In order to lose weight, you need to intake fewer calories than your body consumes in energy.
- You still need to consume proteins, carbohydrates and fats to maintain muscle and fuel your body.
- You need to consume a variety of foods to ensure you are obtaining your daily recommended amount of vital vitamins and minerals.
The key message is this…
Eat Quality Foods
The quality of your fats, proteins and carbohydrates are important to ensure that you are obtaining vital vitamins as well as your macro-nutrients
For example, many fruits contain sugar and fibre as a good source of carbohydrate as well as many vitamins; whereas, a can of cola contains artificial sugars and hardly any fibre.
Most processed foods contain sugars that have been heavily processed and levels are so concentrated that we consume way more than we would in any natural meal.
Natural, organic foods are best because that is what our bodies have adapted to consume. Plus, they are packed with macro-nutrients, vitamins and minerals, providing more nutrition for your money!
If you need to add a little bit of extra flavour to your meals, whilst enriching your vitamin and mineral intake, supplement them with herbs or spices.
You can get some really tasty herbs and spices that not only add to the nutritional value of a dish but actually transform it.
Turmeric, black pepper, coriander, chives, ginger, mint, parsley and cinnamon are just a few to add to your list – many of them have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties which help in preventing chronic diseases.
Avoid Processed Foods
Not only should you be eating quality ingredients, you should also limit, and eventually completely eliminate, processed foods from your diet.
Excess sugar, salt, preservatives and fats included within processed foods can be harmful to your health and are often the cause of many chronic diseases.
Processed foods are not what you want to be putting into your body.
Unfortunately, processed or ultra-processed foods flourish on our high streets and in supermarkets because they sell!
The main reason they sell is because they are apparently more convenient and more affordable.
Hopefully, we have demystified these myths with our articles:
Initially, it may seem hard to eliminate processed foods from your diet but use the method explained above where you set lots of small targets in order to achieve bigger goals.
The goal of eliminating processed foods may even save your life!
Drink Lots Of Water
Around 60% of your body is made up of water so it is important that you keep hydrated by drinking water regularly in small quantities.
We have provided several articles to help you understand hydration and water intake. The best one for you to start with is our popular article – Avoid Dehydration!
Eat Slowly, Eat Less
Your body takes time to inform you that it has consumed enough food.
By eating at a small pace, you will have little desire to overeat and you can improve your mindfulness practices – giving more attention to what you are eating, where it has come from, how it tastes, feels, smells, etc.
You can also use this as an opportunity to build your relationships and socialise with those close to you.
Take a look at our Friends and Family Feast Challenge if socialising whilst eating appeals to you.
Structuring Your Meals
Take into account your overall calorie and macro-nutrient ratios when you put together a plate of food.
The overall calorie content of your meal will be based on your goals (as explained above).
Again, your macro-nutrient ratios will be dependent on your goals but it’s important to note the facts above and apply them to each of your meals…
Fats have more calorie per gram so should be the smaller portion of the plate.
Protein and carbs have the same amount of calories per gram but its likely that the protein source on your plate weighs significantly more than the carbohydrate source, so you will have more carbohydrates on your plate than protein (in volume, not weight)..
For example, a chicken breast is going to weigh a lot more than a plate full of vegetables so you will have more vegetable on your plate than chicken (in volume, not necessarily weight).
Start with simple meals which have all the nutritional values you require.
Try to plan and prepare your meals at the beginning of each week so that you have specific meals for each day.
This will save you time on preparation and also reserve your energy because you wont have to worry about what to eat for tea!
Visualise Your New Body
Make your goals more realistic by bringing them to life… Draw them, speak them and visualise them and they will soon be yours!
- How does your new body feel?
- How do you look?
- What can you do?
- What clothes do you wear?
Imagine your future self as a result of eating healthy.
There are plenty more tips on visualisation in our article Spend The Festive Season Reflecting And Preparing Your Mind For The Year Ahead.
I dreamt this so much, so clearly, so precisely and so frequently that it has manifested itself into reality – Conor McGregor
Keep A Food Journal Instead Of Counting Calories
Maintaining a food diary is less restrictive and allows you to determine how varied your diet actually is.
Record your eating habits for a few weeks, then compare your progress with your goals to understand if anything needs to change.
This is a good method if you don’t want to be too regimented with your diet.
Dr Andy Galpin uses a perfect analogy for three types of people who take their diet seriously:
- The Baker – Everything has to be planned, weighed and produced to perfection. It’s a science!
- The Cook – Understands the general rules of nutrition and pieces together meals in a rough fashion to get the intended result. Cooking isn’t as exact as baking.
- The Chef – Combines both the exactness of baking with the imagination of cooking.
It takes a while to become a chef but once you do you, it’s a skill that’s useful forever!
Do Not Go Shopping When You’re Hungry
When you are hungry, your brain urges you to purchase more food (and not always good food), so it is important that you avoid shopping whilst hungry!
Take a snack before you go shopping and use the hacks provided in How To Shop Wisely To Get The Nutrition You Need and you will be on to a winner!
Do Not Be Too Hard On Yourself
We all have bad days, but what’s important is you have enough character to admit you slipped-up and keep pushing forwards!
Stay positive, praise yourself for all the other good days you’ve had, take a little time to think of where you are with your goals and, if necessary, readjust or re-visualise them.
Never Give Up!
Following our simple guide, setting your New Year nutrition goals should be easy.
In a year, you will look back with great pride and take note of your accomplishments.
Once you have achieved your goals DO NOT stop there.
You will have shown that you are more than capable of setting and reaching goals – your future is now in the palm of your hands!
Stay disciplined, stay focused and never give up!
Discipline Equals Freedom – Jocko Willink