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National Nutrition Month® 2020 — Eat Right, Bite by Bite

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We have now passed New Year’s Day and the making of “the new healthy me” resolutions. However, it is now March. How are the resolutions going? Are you sticking to them? Have you reached any of your health goals yet? Have you just completely given up? You are not alone, if so!

Goal setting is a tricky business. Many of us want that quick fix to perfection. Nevertheless, we often do not get there, and certainly not in the time frame we are looking for. This year’s National Nutrition Month® 2020 theme, Eat Right, Bite by Bite, hits this particular issue’s nail right on the head. The theme’s rhyme-and-reason “bite by bite” supports the idea that every little bit (or bite!) of nutrition is a step on the right track. Small goals and changes can have a major healthful effect. Nutrition does not have to be overwhelming. It can be as simple as one change at a time. Diets do not work, but gradual behavioral changes do. 

The Art of Goal Setting
They should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound.

Set specific yet attainable goals. Your goal must be clear and well defined. Vague or generalized goals are counterproductive because they do not provide adequate direction. Make it as easy as you can to get where you want to go by defining precisely where you want to end up. However, resist the urge to set goals that are too easy to complete. Set realistic, yet challenging goals and you will hit the balance you need. These goals will require you to “raise the bar” and fight through those obstacles. This will bring the greatest personal satisfaction, not to mention steps closer to your ultimate goal.

Include precise data such as dates and amounts when setting your goals so you can measure your degree of success. Without a way to measure your success, you miss out on the festivity following your achievement. 

Goals should also be relevant to the direction you are looking to achieve. By keeping goals aligned with this, you will develop the focus you need to get ahead and do what you want. By setting widely scattered and inconsistent goals, chances are you lose your way.

Your goals must be time bound; they must have a deadline. Again, this means that you know when you can celebrate success or learn from your mistakes. When you are working on a time limit, your sense of urgency increases and achievement will come that much quicker.

Remember, goal setting is an ongoing activity, not just a means to an end. Build in reminders to keep yourself on track, and make regular time slots available to review your goals. Don’t forget to consider your obstacles. We all have them. Clearly define yours and create a plan for how you will overcome those challenges.

Falling Off the Wagon
This will happen. Those who don’t experience it are the exception, not the rule. We are human and life offers many wonderful temptations. Nevertheless, it is okay. I promise. Therefore, you fell off that wagon. How do you get back on? How can you avoid falling again? 

One thing you can try in your efforts in hopping back on the wagon is to create an action plan. You set a goal that you want to work on during the next week or two. You will include at least four aspects. Where will you do it? When will you do it? How long will you do it for? What challenges will you face and what strategies will you have to cope with these challenges.

For example, the goal is to increase exercise. I will increase my walking. I will go Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I will walk for 30 minutes. I might have the challenge of not enough time to make it; therefore, I will cope with my limited time challenge by finding a gym near work and will get extra steps in during my lunch break. 

Continue to modify or add to your action plan each week. This will help give you focus and get you back on track to your goals. Use the action plans to focus on the behaviors inhibiting you from reaching your goals. However, remember to make these goals SMART.

Support systems are also very important during this time. Find that person or group that will give you time and motivation to continue and break through that brick wall. This person could be a significant other, a parent, a child, a friend, a doctor or a support group. You can also find a local registered dietitian in your area for further assistance in reaching your goals. Remember, you are never alone. Go get that support!