Let me know if this sounds familiar: “I’m sick of feeling this way. My energy is low and I’m not confident in my own skin. I need to change. Starting tomorrow, I’m not putting one unhealthy thing in my mouth and I’m going to exercise every day this week.” It’s what we say when we’re fed up with ourselves. We want to go zero to one hundred because we want results now. We may be really good for a few days or weeks, but what happens after that? We usually fall off the wagon because our action plan was not sustainable. Believe me, I love when people are eager to change, but there needs to be more focus on making small sustainable changes and trusting the process. If your diet right now is filled with fast food and you are largely sedentary during the day, how in the world can you expect yourself to switch to a super clean diet and exercise every day? The question here isn’t “how fast can I lose this weight?” it’s “how can I create a sustainable action plan that will truly help me become a healthier me?”
I’ll tell a quick story about this. I was helping my mom and dad with their nutrition and exercise over winter break. They were eager to lose some weight they put on over the quarantine. They were shocked when I said, “This week I want you to focus on drinking ___ ounces of water. I don’t want you to focus on anything else, just drinking enough water.” They were both like, “c’mon I can take on more than that!” They wanted a bigger challenge. But I told them to trust the process. Why did I start with such a minor goal like that? Because if I instead asked them to drink enough water, eat 6 servings of fruits and vegetables, 4 servings of lean protein, and also eat slowly and mindfully, how long do you think they would be able to sustain that? That is SO overwhelming! And that’s what I don’t like about most nutrition plans. Because there’s no ‘phasing in’ period. You’re expected to go zero to one hundred in a day, and that’s quite honestly impossible to maintain. Instead, I like to start small. I told my parents to just trust me and only focus on water intake for one week. I recommended this because I knew it was something they could both accomplish consistently without being too overwhelmed. They ended up hitting their water intake every day and they were ready for another challenge the next week. The following week I had them continue their water intake, but I had my dad add at least one fruit or vegetable per day and my mom add 20 minutes of exercise twice a week. Prior to this, my dad rarely ate fruits or vegetables, and my mom was not prioritizing her exercise. So, I gave them both another manageable goal that they felt they could do consistently.
This what I do with all of my nutrition clients. I have had a lot of people reach out to me and ask me to write them a diet plan. I kindly say I’m sorry, that’s not my style as a nutrition coach. I recognize that each of my clients is their own unique person. The same nutrition protocol doesn’t work for everyone because we all have different preferences, lifestyles, and goals. I have found that the best way to help my clients is through collaboration and baby steps. I work with them to create an action plan that is best suited for them given where they are at currently. We work together to create an action plan for each week. For each action plan I ask them on a scale of 1-10 how confident they are that they can consistently achieve the daily goals we set. If they don't say a 9 or a 10, we adjust the action plan to make it more manageable. My reasoning for this is simple: when you slowly add changes week by week, in a few months you will look back and be amazed at how far you have come. You didn’t get there by going on some crazy restriction diet, instead you consistently made changes over time and now it’s habit. Habit = sustainability.
This is something I think everyone could use more of, whether I’m your nutrition coach or not. We could all do better with focusing on small daily tasks. Ask yourself, “How can I become just a little bit better today? What small action can I take every day this week that will be manageable but will contribute to making me a healthier person?” It could be as simple as making sure you eat a fruit or vegetable with every meal. It could be drinking a large glass of water before every meal. It could be to eat one meal per day slowly and mindfully. Make your daily action plan as manageable as possible, then build upon it. Making small changes and becoming a little better each day is the key to sustainability. Doing these small actions consistently is the secret to results. You WILL see results if you commit to consistency, I promise you that.
Until next time,
Just a Sprinkle of Jordan :)