As we start thinking about the year ahead, it’s common to want to make changes. Maybe you want to lean down or improve your health and energy. Maybe you know it’s simply time to get it together.
Whatever your change, it can be daunting to get started.
I like to think about starting a change process from the perspective of being in the driver's seat. There will be some things I need to hit the brakes on and some things I need to accelerate.
So, to get you moving in the right direction, if you are considering making changes to your nutrition, here are five things to hit the brakes on and five things to accelerate.
1. BRAKE the sole focus on goals - ACCELERATE building systems that support your goals
A goal simply establishes a direction and an end-point. But having a goal doesn’t create change. Building systems that consistently move you in the direction of that goal – that’s where the magic lies and that’s where it’s most effective to focus.
If your goal is to lose 5lbs of body fat or feel more energetic, what are the systems you need to put in place to consistently move in the direction of your goal?
Think really small – like a note to prompt you to take your gym kit to work or an alarm to remind you to have your mid-morning protein shake.
I recently bought a new watch to track my performance metrics when I run but I consistently run out the door without it on my wrist...D'oh! So I leave a note in my running shoes to remind me to put it on.
Putting small systems in place will soon lead to a whole ecosystem that supports your progress.
2. BRAKE big change mentality - ACCELERATE small improvement mentality
If you improve 1% every day or week in a chosen area of your life, you’ll be astounded how far you can travel in a year’s time. Small consistent actions accumulate, in fact big goals can rarely be achieved without stringing humble 1% improvements together. And 1% sounds pretty achievable, doesn’t it?
There are so many ways to create it. Things like:
- Switching from full fat to 2% or 1% milk
- Switching from a high sugar cereal to a low sugar alternative
- Walking for 20 minutes after a meal (which can positively impact your blood sugar curve)
- Diluting your morning fruit juice by 40%
I bet we can come up with 5 simple improvements in an hour without changing the flow of your day.
3. BRAKE the focus on stopping a bad habit - ACCELERATE building supportive habits
Habits are repetitive actions that your brain wires together until they become automatic. Your brain is smart so the more it automates, the more it can deal with.
If you’re wanting to make a nutrition change amidst a busy life, you need to find simple actions that are easy to automate. They’re much more likely to stand the test of time, and you need time to get results.
It’s been said that breaking a longstanding habit is like uprooting a tree, whereas starting a new habit is like planting a seed.
When you accelerate the process of building new habits, you don’t have to waste energy trying to break old ones. They slowly fade away.
It might feel challenging at first. The trick? Accept the temporary awkwardness of new actions, these new actions will soon be automated into habits.
4. BRAKE the focus on volume - ACCELERATE the focus on effectiveness
If you have a performance or body fat goal, you’re better off applying effort strategically than just applying effort.
Effort is fatiguing and change doesn’t have to be ‘all or nothing’. You don’t have to start running, going to the gym, and changing your nutrition habits all at the same time.
We live in a culture of more, higher, longer, harder. So ask yourself if you’re improving or simply becoming more exhausted.
We all know what happens when effort becomes the problem. We stop applying effort.
The quantity of effort doesn’t make up for a lack of quality.
5. BRAKE rewarding only big successes - ACCELERATE celebrating small wins Celebrate your daily wins or your 1% improvements. Every time you celebrate them, you put a ‘note’ in your folder of self-esteem. And soon that folder will be bursting at the seams.
It’s easier for all of us to identify the things we didn’t do – the biscuits we ate, the missed gym session or the extra glass of wine.
Be ruthless in focusing on the things you did do well.
Nothing scuppers progress more than a mind that continually says, ‘see I told you so...you can’t’ or ‘you screwed up…again’. I bet there are numerous small things you can celebrate.
As a nutrition coach I work with different people who want to align their eating habits with their goal – whether that be a performance, a health, or a body fat goal.
Having a nutrition coach is so much more than following a prescribed diet. Of course I’ll deliver a personalised nutrition plan (along with a fuelling and recovery plan if you’re an athlete), but I’ll also help you identify systems and actions that support your ongoing progress.
Change is hard, but it doesn’t have to be lonely.
If you've got nutrition goals in 2024 and would like some added support. Email me at email@example.com to arrange a 20-min complimentary chat.