Simple Steps to a New You!

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Ahhhhh, a new year is upon us!  The perfect time to reset, refresh, and set goals.  

Many people use the change to a new year to focus their attention on improving life in some way.  Setting resolutions to make changes toward good health or losing weight is one of the most common.  Gym memberships soar, healthy classes are filled to capacity, and grocery carts are filled with fresh produce, yogurt, and more “natural” foods.

Sadly, these resolutions often end quickly.  According to after just one month, many of those resolutions seem to go by the wayside as our busy lifestyles take over and less healthier habits kick back in.

I used to make resolutions every year.  I was determined to get fit, feel better, lose weight, etc.  Once I changed completely to a grain-free, soy-free dietary lifestyle, my health changed so much for the better that I no longer needed those types of resolutions!  What a great feeling of freedom that has been for me.

I still love the refreshing feeling of a new year ahead of me!  It feels like I have clean, blank pages of a new chapter ahead, and that anything is possible!  Over the last few years I have changed from making resolutions (that seem temporary) to setting goals for myself (these are measurable and make an impact on as my daily and weekly direction and priorities).  To do this, I set aside time to review the last year, what progress I experienced toward my goals, and then look at the year ahead and set some new ones.

I’m currently working on my year-end review from a beautiful vacation spot in Anna Maria Island, IMG_4866Florida.  What a gift this has been, since I’ve not taken a vacation for quite some time!  

As I think about my goals going forward, I wanted to share some success tips that have worked well for my clients over the last couple of years who have participated in either personal coaching sessions or in group classes.  These standouts have done one or several of the tips below, and these are the same tips I use to keep myself on target with my own goals and success.  

Whatever your resolutions, goals, or desires are for yourself this year, I hope you’ll also find success in these simple steps and tips.  Cheers to 2016!

  1. Set SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic, Timely)

What are you ultimately trying to accomplish for yourself?  The number one goal for people is often to lose weight.  What I teach my clients is that weight-loss, while being a specific and measurable goal, is actually a by-product of overall health.  Weight may be impacted by so many variables other than just what you put in your mouth.  It can be very frustrating to get on a scale and see no movement each day or week.  While that may feel like motivation to some, ultimately weight is just one of the many ways your body speaks to you.  

Be specific and realistic. When I was struggling so hard to lose weight, I ran a full three miles every morning and had taken myself down to 800 calories, thinking that the equation of calories burned + calories eaten HAD to produce results (isn’t that what we’ve all been taught?)  In reality, I did much more harm to my body through that process, because much of my weight was due to inflammation caused by Hashimoto’s and Celiac Disease (which I couldn’t have known at the time).  All I saw was a scale that didn’t budge.  How discouraging!  My weight loss goals were not realistic.  I couldn’t lose the weight until I got to the root cause of my body’s affliction.  It made me feel like a miserable failure.  

Instead of focusing on weight loss, I suggest choosing another health result or better yet, something specific to lead you to better health (suggestion: “I will be grain and sugar free for an entire 30 day period prior to March of 2016, and I will write down what I eat every day.”)

Stay SMART. Be very SPECIFIC with what you can control, MEASURABLE with things you can track, find someone or something to hold you ACCOUNTABLE to the goal, make sure your goal is achievable and REALISTIC, and that you place a specific TIMING to it (by February I will do x).

2. Write it down!rsz_img_4704

No matter if the goal is food or health related or otherwise, writing out your goal is the best way to keep track of your progress.  I’m astonished each year as I look back to places I wanted to stretch myself, because usually I either fully accomplish something I wasn’t sure that I could or even surpassed my goal. 

If your goals are health, food, or weight-related, I highly recommend keeping a food and lifestyle journal.  Check out my blog post on the Stuffed Pepper site (a great resource for Paleo recipes!) for five reasons to keep a food journal, and note that those who keep a food journal have experienced a 50% higher weight loss than those who do not!

3.  Begin the day with gratitude

I’ve discovered that for me, gratitude is the best way for me to maintain an overall positive outlook.  Being thankful for what I have and for what is available to me keeps my perspective in check when the going gets rough.  I’ve even found that people speak to me differently when I’ve spent time first thing in the morning counting my blessings. 

If you are making food-related changes, one of the primary things I teach is to focus on the things that you CAN have, rather than the things you can’t.  Our Creator has provided a planet full of delicious things, and it’s very surprising when you re-train your palette just how much more flavorful food will taste.  For example, if you’re feeling left out or struggling through social situations that are focused on food, splurge on your favorite organic berries, or something that you might not normally have in your daily diet and take it with you to enjoy.7K0A0947

4.  Find a partner

Most of us have some level of self-motivation to make a change or do something positive for ourselves.  However, add in an accountability partner and the results can be even better than expected!  The partner can be a friend, a family member or spouse, a support group, or you can hire a personal coach or similar to help keep you on track (I meet with my clients in person or over Skype).  Strive for it to be someone who will believe in what you’re doing and encourage you, but also be able to ask you the tough questions if you get off track.

Another option if your goal is food-related is to use an app on your phone (my favorite is My Fitness Pal).  Your level of self-motivation has to be a bit higher to ensure you’re filling it out daily and tracking to your goal(s), or you can add a partner or group through the app to keep you going.

My most successful clients were two friends who decided to try a grain free lifestyle together.  We met as a group for their coaching session, and they learned the why behind making the dietary changes first.  They listened to the information together, took notes, made grocery lists, shopped and worked together weekly to make and prep their meals.  In just a few weeks’ time, they reported very positive results back to me that were better than any I had received from my other clients.  

5.  Plan Ahead & Keep Going

natures bounty 2Finally, planning ahead means success!

 Failure to plan is like planning to fail, every time.  Even I have to continually plan ahead, which is actually pretty difficult for me!  I’m a very spontaneous person who likes to be on the go, but if I find myself in a situation where I’m hungry and didn’t plan for it, the results are never good.  

In my particular case, I tend toward diabetes.  If my blood sugar drops and I don’t have something safe to eat, I can be in real trouble with my health, so I’ve learned to carry self-prepared, clean protein-based snacks in my purse and I plan out meals and snacks for my week according to my activities.  For someone trying to make a change, a vending machine, potluck, or a box of donuts in the break-room can mean giving into temptation and maybe even a significant setback.

Still, life happens.  For me, I cannot give into temptation or I will be very, very ill.  For those that don’t experience those types of symptoms, it’s easy to be tempted into thinking “just a bite won’t hurt.”  The best advice I can offer in that situation is to forgive yourself for that incident and keep going (don’t allow yourself down the path of destruction…”Well, since I ate that I might as well eat what I want for the rest of the day!”)  Remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing and get right back to your plan.  Use that incident to plan better for the rest of the day or week.  Keep going and smile!

What other tips do you have to stick to your goals?  I’d love to hear them!

-Jen of The GGF Gourmet

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