As a Registered Dietitian, I have worked with thousands of individuals to help them achieve their nutrition goals.
The number one reason why I see variability in people's success always comes back to their intention, commitment, and purpose. To many, staying committed means following their plan to a T; it is commonly associated with eating healthier, less, and likely even working to lose weight. These exact reasons are why we fail with our nutrition goals. All goals must not be constant. They must change to remain intentional, engaging, and worth chasing.
Here are 6 ways that I stay committed to my nutrition goals. (And trust me, I am by no means perfect.)
1. I set intentions
Intentionality is without a doubt, my favorite way to describe successful nutrition goals. Intentionality is knowing the purpose behind why you do what you do. Not just eating healthier or less, but eating for a reason every single time you eat. Every few months based on my training, I set intentions with my nutrition. Generally speaking it's never to eat healthier, because for me that is how I am wired after studying nutrition for many years. I break my intentions into small goals, very small goals. For example, I will aim to only eat one protein bar per day, I will strive to only drink two coffees per day, I will choose whole foods 99% of the time.
2. My rules are flexible
These rules I set have large boundaries. I take time each month to sit down and map out a general outline of my nutrition for the next 3-4 weeks. Although I map out 7 days, I only follow 6 to the T. The other day I stay within my regular meal times, food sources, and amounts, however I am much more flexible on where this food comes from. If I go out to eat, I keep it similar to the meal I would at home, but I never restrict myself. Typically I drink alcohol, I may have some dessert...it's okay! I adjust my day accordingly prior to these moments. I never restrict or exercise as punishment when these days happen. Because of these 6 committed days, I always feel like I have succeeded at the end of the week and having one day that I am more flexible feels like a treat, not a time to micro-manage and then punish myself.
3. I train and fuel like an athlete
This for me is the game changer. When my training isn't intentional, neither is my nutrition. If I set training goals and have a program that I believe in and am following religiously, I inadvertently stick to my nutrition. Why? Because I know intentional nutrition improves recovery and will enhance my performance results. If I am going to put in the work in training, I want to get the absolute most out of it that I can. This even applies to my "low intensity" days and rest days. Each of them are intentionally programmed for a reason. Attack them with 100% grit.
4. MY GOALS ARE NOT BODY COMPOSITION DRIVEN
You read that right, not driven by body composition. But for so many years they were. The problem with this is that nutrition is only one variable. If you put all the pressure on your diet to fix that trouble area or get you to look like your friend who looks a certain way from what they do, you will never achieve what you set out for. Nutrition can do two active things in terms of "improving" body composition, help you gain muscle and help you lose fat. Where you gain this muscle and where you lose this fat, no perfect amount of quinoa or beef will be able to dictate. If you want to have body composition goals, that is fine, that is normal in our society. However, put those goals on your training. Even though you can't spot target specific areas of your body through training, you can dictate what in large part happens to your body composition. Want to lean your legs out, probably run more. Want bigger arms, probably implement more hypertrophy work. You get the gist, stop putting so much pressure on your diet to make miracles happen. Eat the "right way" because you are confident that being consistent in all aspects of your life will one day get you closer to those dreams that you have. And if it doesn't, I don't know about you but I would rather be known as the hardest worker in the room than the person who didn't believe in themselves enough and gave up when the story was still unfolding.
5. I invest time and resources
For you, nutrition is likely not your passion and thus you may not feel it in your heart to invest as much time and resources as I do. That is okay and you don't have to! What I mean by investing your time and resources goes back to this idea of being intentional. If you take the time to grocery shop, meal prep, work out, box up your meals for the day etc, give it your 100% effort. Don't just go to the grocery store, show up with a list of exactly what you need to succeed those next few days. Carve out a set time in your week to meal prep, don't put it off to the next day. If you need help with cooking or planning out your meals, seek professional help. Invest that extra $100/month instead of buying drinks at the bar or coffee out so that you can rest assured that you will succeed no matter what life throws at you.
5. I take no shortcuts
I'm sure you've heard this one before. By shortcuts I am not referring to just fad diets and the "quick fix." I mean doing the grunt work, yourself. Staying up 30 more minutes to get the food prepped that you need, going to the grocery store even though you would rather take a nap, choosing the earlier flight home from your trip so that you can still have time to meal prep. When you put in the grunt work, you are more invested in the process and committed to the results. Time is the most valuable asset we have. If you take the time to make the habits that will make your nutrition successful, I promise you will commit to the process that much more.
How do you stay committed to your nutrition?
Wherever you are on your health journey, I would love to hear what you have learned, as so many of us can learn from one another.
In Nutrition Commitment,