As the holidays, often full of indulgences, wrap up and you start the New Year with a new set of resolutions or goals, motivation runs high and many Canadians start off the New Year with a health kick. However, some of us struggle to incorporate these new goals into our daily activities and either fail to reach our goals or stick to our resolutions. Here are some helpful tips, food ideas and recipes to help you to reach your healthy nutrition goals and stick to your New Year’s resolutions.
1. Set SMART Goals
- Specific: For example, instead of making your goal ‘to eat better’, pick something specific like making your lunch every day instead of grabbing fast food, or eating two servings of leafy green vegetables every day.
- Measurable: Setting a goal without measuring is like playing a hockey game to win, but never tracking points. Pointless! Examples include eating fish three times per week, tracking your nutrition every weekday for six months, or losing five pounds.
- Attainable: While winning the Stanley cup before the age of 15 years sounds like a pretty cool goal, it likely isn’t attainable for most people. If you know that there is no way that you can achieve something, it likely isn’t’ the best goal for you. Set goals that are within reach.
- Reward based: We perform better when we know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Small rewards throughout our journey, as well as a reward for reaching our overall goal, can help in achieving our goals. Examples include allowing yourself to watch your favourite show every time you make it to the gym or buying a new pair of jeans when you’ve gone down a size.
- Timely: Goals must have a time frame. Be realistic. If you want to lose 20 pounds, pick a safe weight lose goal of one to two pounds per week and give yourself the time frame of three months to achieve your goal. Along with this, make sure you keep a schedule and keep yourself on track. For example, if you want to get 20 or more points in a season and you play 40 games in a season, you need to get a point at least every other game.
How exactly will you achieve this goal? Look at your schedule weekly and plan little base hits that will make achieving your goal easier. For example, if you want to pack your lunch every day during the week, plan what you would like to eat each day, make a grocery list, shop and do some food prep like pre-cooking some chicken on the weekends.
3. Enlist a Partner
Having a partner in crime will provide the social support to keep you on track. Plan to meet your partner at the gym before work, or split on taking your children to the 6am hockey practices so that the other partner can go to the gym, or share in making healthy recipes together or having a weekly soup swap (one partner makes the soup every other week). While having the same goal as your partner may be beneficial, it isn’t necessary. You can still keep each other on track and motivated.
4. Track your Nutrition
Both research and personal experience with hundreds of clients have proven the benefits of tracking your nutrition. The act of tracking makes us more aware of what we are putting in our mouths and therefore makes us more inclined to follow our plans. Whether you use a notebook, email it daily to your dietician, or use an online tracking system (try My Fitness Pal, it’s free), write down everything that goes into your mouth.
5. Try New Foods
Keep your interest and motivation running high by trying some new foods. You never know what you may discover. Here are a few ideas:
- Fruit: add pomegranate seeds to salads for a sweet crunch.
- Vegetables: Celeriac is a root vegetable that is a tasty alternative to mashed potatoes.
- Meat and alternatives: Stir-fried tempeh (fermented tofu) adds a depth of flavour and meaty texture to dishes. Baramundi fish is mild and sweet and stands up well to almost any cooking technique.
- Milk and alternatives: Macedonian feta is creamy and salty and naturally lower in fat than other cheeses. If you haven’t added kefir, a fermented dairy beverage, to your diet yet, try adding ½ cup to your shakes or drizzling it on sliced fruit for dessert.
- Grains: Kamut is a versatile whole grain that has a wonderful chewy texture and cooks faster than rice. Use it anywhere you’d usually use rice or cook it with milk and cinnamon for a hearty breakfast cereal.
6. Try new Recipes and Flavours.
Adding new flavours and spices to your regular dishes to keeps things interesting. Here is a list of some new flavour ideas. See the examples below for more ideas.
- Indian spices: Turmeric, found in curry spices, is a potent antioxidant and adds flavour to any dish. Try it sprinkled into soups and stew or to top a baked sweet potato.
- Moroccan meats. Tired of plain chicken? Try a Moroccan spin by adding dried fruit, lemon and a Moroccan spice mix (cardamom, nutmeg, anise, mace, cinnamon, ginger, various peppers, and turmeric) to your next chicken dish, or go all-out and cook it in a tagine.
- Take it up a notch. Cayenne pepper can take any food, from eggs to hot chocolate from ho-hum to wowza. You’ll also be getting a hit of anti-inflammatory anti-oxidants with the heat.
Here is a great way to spice up otherwise mundane chicken breaks.