Updated: Aug 14, 2018
9 out of 10 people have tried to change their eating habits in the past (that tenth guy has too, he's just unwilling to admit it). Whether for weight loss or the desire to feel better, food is on the minds of most people all the time (myself included!). With so many theories and options out there, how do you know if your current plan is working for you?
If you're stuck in a rut, either not losing weight, not feeling your best, or are otherwise extremely bored with the foods you are eating, it's time to reassess your plan. Here are some things to consider:
1. Have you defined your long term goal? It is foolish to get started on a goal you don't have named. To define is to do more than say "I want to lose weight". Be more specific: "I want to lose 25 pounds so I can be within a normal weight range for my body type". Goals are best made with an emotional connection behind them: "I want to lose weight so I have enough energy to chase my kids around."
2. Do you have a tangible plan? Is it written anywhere that you will do XY and Z to reach your goal? If not, start here. You cannot assess a plan if you are flying by the seat of your pants. This doesn't need to be major, but it does need to be specific and short-term. List things like getting out for a walk three times per week, getting a high-protein breakfast to start the day, or drinking 64 ounces of water daily. Read more small goal examples here.
3. Are you reaching your daily and weekly goals? Are you getting those walks in a few times a week? For this step, don't analyze too much or feel guilty, simply assess whether or not it is happening. If you are reaching the majority of your goals, that's great! If you are comfortable, add something new to this list. If things aren't working, go to step 4 and assess the 'why?'
4. Find the 'why?' If you have not been able to reach your daily and weekly goals consistently, why not? First, assess whether or not these goals are small enough and specific enough to be done. If your goal is to run 5 miles every day, this may be too big of a time-constraint to add in. Back off and start smaller, and consider how adding things will fit reasonably into your daily routine.
Reaching these small goals may also be a matter of resourcefulness. Do you have the tools and skills handy to plan healthy meals? Is the food on hand, or should meal planning and grocery shopping be added to your to-do list? Do you need help from family or friends? From a professional?
5. Don't be afraid to change the plan. Long-term success often comes to those who can roll with the punches. They recognize that techniques which worked in the past may not work through different stages of life. Perhaps cutting out soda was enough to lose 20 pounds when you were 19. Find what works NOW, and reassess often.
6. Know when to call in a professional. It's human nature to try and do things on our own. We would rather try and fail multiple times before asking for help. Go ahead and do that, but if you have spent a lot of time spinning your wheels and getting frustrated, call in the big guns. A dietitian or therapist is a great resource for helping you set goals.
A dietitian specifically can help you create a meal plan that provides the nutrients you need and takes into consideration your unique routine and habits. With regular visits, you can adjust your plan to fit changing needs and tastes. Find someone that you are comfortable talking with and who listens to your successes and challenges. Work together to find reasonable solutions to your barriers to success.