Thinking differently about your diet, nutrition and lifestyle goals will help you be more successful

Basic self-care strategies to help you get through the Covid-holiday season + contest
November 27, 2020

After the year we all had in 2020, many of us have turned out attention to thinking about our future and how we want 2021 to be different. I’d like to help you be successful with your goals for this new year. In this post, I want to explain how you can be successful with diet, nutrition and lifestyle goals, starting today!

 

The Power of Yet

Have you watched this TED talk on the Power of “Yet”? If you haven’t seen it, have a watch here:

 

In this talk, growth mindset researcher Carol Dweck outlines research in children where their learning was assessed based on effort, strategies and the process of learning. Carol talks about “process praise” where the focus is on noticing the day-to-day inputs that contributed to learning – effort, persistence and more. This is in comparison to outcome praise, where the focus is on the outcome of learning.

Her research found that when kids were assessed based on the power of “yet” (versus an absolute yes/no achievement), the kids had more persistence and more confidence in their learning. They actually had better learning outcomes.

 

Behavioural vs outcome goals for diet, nutrition and lifestyle 

 

Imagine what would happen if we as adults focused on the power of our “yet” as it relates to our diet, nutrition and lifestyle goals?

 

For example, we may want to work on bringing down our blood pressure. We could focus on our blood pressure reading (the outcome). Or we can focus on adding in potassium-rich foods to our meals, on adding in a whole grain to our breakfast, to packing our lunch so that we eat in (and not out), on adding in a 10 minute walk after work to help reduce work-day stress. Do you see how you can be successful today? And if you continued to focus on and persist on these behavioural goals, we would be building healthful habits and setting up the conditions for your blood pressure to reduce overtime.

 

Instead of getting lost in the outcomes of our efforts (weight loss, fat loss, cholesterol levels, blood pressure) which we don’t always have control over, we would focus on strategies and building habits that we actually have influence over.

Here are some examples diet, nutrition and lifestyle behavioural goals that we actually have some influence over (vs the outcomes of these efforts, which we don’t know what, if anything, will change):

  • I cooked a new recipe for my family
  • I packed lunch with me to work
  • I added a vegetable in my lunch.
  • I included fish in my meal plan this week.
  • I planned 3 supper meals this week.
  • We ate in six our of seven days this week.
  • I added in a mid-afternoon snack that included some protein and fiber.
  • I practiced satisfying my mouth hunger in fewer bites.
  • I enjoyed a glass of wine on the weekend.
  • I added 5 pounds to the weights I lift
  • I put my phone away 1 hour before bed as part of my sleep hygiene routine.
  • I bundled up and went for a brisk walk after dinner.
  • I sought connection with a friend to sooth my loneliness

Anti-inflammatory, berries, diet

The above behavioural goals included in your life more consistently over time, may create the conditions where our body may respond the way we desire.

 

If I cannot “make” my body change, what is the point?

Sometimes people focus their energies on outcome goals, rather than consistently focusing on evidence-based, behavioural habits that may get them there. What if you continue to work on “all the right habits” and still don’t see your outcome goal? What is the point of continuing with these habits?

 

To that, I would ask you “what IS the point?”. What are the intrinsic benefits you gain from the habits you are including? If you aren’t experiencing any benefits from these habits, then they are less likely to be sustainable for you, resulting in on-again, off-again approaches to your diet, nutrition and lifestyle.

 

What are the other benefits of your habits to notice? You may have better sleep, better concentration, better mobility, more positive food, less crankiness, feel less bloated, and have more energy (and more!).

Just because you cannot see progress on your chosen goal outcome, doesn’t mean that nothing is happening.

 

Let me explain this with an analogy. During winter, our trees are bare, without any leaves. During early spring, our trees remain bare, without any leaves. Then suddenly, one day in May, we notice that there are green buds on our tree. Soon after that, we notice leaves on our trees starting to grow. And soon after that, our trees are rich in leaves.

 

Trying to change your body is like being in a new season. Try not to be fooled by the feeling that nothing is changing, and nothing is happening, just because you cannot see the leaves yet.

 

Focusing on behavioural goals allows you to align the habit with your life, which invites sustainability and fuels continued motivation.

 

What would change in our conversations if we focused on our behavioural goals versus outcome goals? Maybe we would all be a little bit kinder to ourselves.

 

Want extra help? Download my latest e-book: Your Midlife Kitchen: How to Stock your Fridge, Freezer and Pantry to Energize YOUR Nutrition for actionable strategies to help you energize your nutrition!

 

Related posts:

Non-Scale Ways to Measure Progress: Setting health goals beyond weight – Read Part 1 and Part 2

Kristyn Hall
Kristyn Hall
Kristyn Hall MSc, RD Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian Calgary, AB.

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