By Brooke Schohl, MS, RD, CSSD, METS
Anyone other than me tired of hearing about New Year’s resolutions? Blah, blah, blah.
Maybe you think that attitude is harsh – especially coming from someone like me, a sports dietician. Shouldn’t I care about self-improvement? Better health? Of course I do. In fact, every interaction I have with my clients includes realistic goal setting. Note that one key word here is realistic. The other key word? Goal. Which brings us to the question of the day: What is the difference between a resolution and a goal?
Take a look at these definitions on the right, courtesy of my handy online dictionary.
Now, I’m not claiming to be a language expert, but I get the idea that resolutions tend to be all or nothing. Extreme. Drastic. Difficult to sustain.
I will eliminate all carbs from my diet.
I will cut out wine.
I will lose 30 pounds by March.
I will have 10 servings of veggies per day.
I prefer the term “goal” instead of resolution. Goals can be awesome when executed in the right way. Realistic. Attainable. Sustainable. Established correctly, they set you up for success rather than failure.
I will scale back on grain carbs, focusing more on fruit and vegetable carb sources.
I will limit wine to three glasses per week.
I will decrease body fat by 2% by the end of March.
I will include a vegetable with two of my meals per day.
Once you’ve developed realistic, attainable goals, keep the following four things in mind when it comes to nutrition goal setting.
1) It won’t be easy.
Goals worth meeting won’t be met overnight. You’ve heard this before and it’s 100% true: There is no quick fix when it comes to nutrition. There are 100 bad food choices for every good choice. It demands work, preparation and a shift in mentality leading to a lifestyle change. You can meet your goals, but you must work for it.
2) You must find your own motivators to stay on track over the long haul.
365 days is a long time. It’s easy to be motivated on January 2, but how do you retain that drive all year? Visualize your success. Go ahead and feel the emotions of crossing that finish line feeling amazing. Or fitting into your “skinny” jeans. Or improving your bloodwork parameters to go off that medication. Elation, success, confidence. Summoning these emotions before you actually hit your goal will help you stay on track.
3) You’re going to mess up.
Each day is full of choices. We are human beings and we aren’t perfect. We are going to make progress and then slide back down that hill again. And that’s ok. Each morning is a clean slate. Don’t let a wrong turn derail you, leading to more bad choices.
4) Don’t let the scale run your life.
I’m going to level with you: You probably aren’t ever going to weigh again what you weighed in high school or college. And that’s ok! Your adult body is different from your teenage body. Focus on body composition over the number on the scale. Remember that you are an athlete, which means you have loads of muscle mass, which weighs more than fat. If you feel good about yourself and fit into your clothes, try, try, try to let the number go.
Goals are essential to life, whether it be work, personal, family, training, financial, or nutrition and health. If you need some help developing or implementing your nutrition goals, give me a shout. And to leave you with a last wish for the New Year: Make 2016 an annus mirabilis!
Brooke Schohl, MS, RD, CSSD, METS Level II is a registered sports dietitian and the owner of Fuel to the Finish Endurance Nutrition Coaching in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is an avid triathlete, having completed many triathlons of all distances including three Ironman races. She integrates that personal experience and knowledge into developing customized, sport-specific, metabolically efficient fueling plans for her clients. Brooke and her husband, John, own Destination Kona Triathlon Store in south Scottsdale, Arizona. For more information on services and offerings, visit her website at www.fueltothefinish.com.