Research shows 80% of people give up on their resolutions by the 2nd week of February! The reason? What most people call “resolutions” are really just desires or fun things they wish would happen. The majority of people aren't actually resolving anything within themselves. If you want to be a part of the few that do versus the many that talk, you need to be crystal clear— what specific result will you accomplish? What’s your WHY (reasons come first, answers come second)? How will you do it? What tools, strategies, or resources do you need to make it happen?
If your New Year resolution was: “Be Healthier,” you unknowingly set yourself up for failure. The goal is too broad. Swap it out with a goal that’s specific and achievable.
Here are five, very specific, nutrition-related goals you can actually achieve.
Clean Up Your e-Feed
While Instagram can offer inspiration and recipe ideas, scroll too long and you might find yourself weighed down in comparisons and unrealistic expectations, thanks to impossibly perfect meals and the ripped, lean fitness buffs.
A 2016 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found the more time spent on social media, the greater the risk of eating and body-image concerns. When deciding who to follow, consider each health- and fitness-related personality or influencer you follow. If their posts leave you feeling unworthy and sad rather than joyful and motivated, tap “unfollow.”
Be Real About Carbs
Carbohydrates are the go-to fuel source for endurance exercise, like running. But even marathoners don’t need to gorge on giant plates of pasta nightly. “Carb loading” is over-rated. Instead, make sure each meal contains all three macronutrients: protein, carbs and fat. You don’t have to count grams or calories – just use your plate and internal hunger/fullness cues as a guide.
On most days, fill half your plate or bowl with colorful fruits and veggies, and one-quarter each with lean protein (chicken, fish, legumes) and whole grains like brown rice or quinoa. Important…don’t forget the fats! Use avocado, oils, and nuts for flavor, nutrient absorption, and crucial bodily functions.
If you’re trying to lose weight, go a little lighter on grains, especially on days you don’t exercise as hard. When you have a hard workout, long run or race, bump up the carbs to around half your plate.
Do you literally jet out the door in the morning with coffee alone? Rethink that. Overnight, your body depletes the stores of glycogen in your liver, leaving your muscles starving for energy. I always recommend taking one tablespoon of fish oil or cod liver oil (off the spoon) immediately upon waking up. It stops the liver from feeding your blood stream glucose, which can often begin a blood sugar rollercoaster the rest of the day.
Early-morning runners who fuel up first usually feel and perform better. Even something simple, such as banana, yogurt, or half a nutrition bar can make a difference.
Whether you exercise in the morning or not, breakfast must include 20-25 grams of protein. It’s crucial for keeping blood sugar levels steady the remainder of the day, and it will also help minimize any cravings.
If you’ve always skipped breakfast, start small and expect it to feel a little gross at first. Your body has been trained to not produce digestive enzymes early in the morning. After a few weeks, your body will get the hint and ramp up your appetite. It’s a great sign for your metabolism when you begin to wake up hungry.
Nail Long-Run Nutrition
Mastering your energy needs during a run pays dividend long after you’ve kicked off your shoes. Getting fuel the moment you need it gives you a jump-start on the recovery process, warding off the #runger that makes you eat everything in sight and may even lead to weight gain. Even if you’re trying to lose weight, skimping on calories during and immediately following a long workout is a bad idea.
For runs 60 minutes or longer, you want to aim for 30 to 45 grams of carbs per hour of exercise. If you’ve never eaten on your long runs before, start small and see what your stomach can tolerate. Experiment with different chews, gels, bars and yes, real foods like bananas, raisins, and dates. Here's a guide on how to incorporate carbs during exercise.
For those with sensitive stomachs, you’ll achieve the best digestive success if you start fueling earlier and in smaller doses, spreading out a gel or a pack of raisins over three or four miles. Wash it all down with water since food requires a little fluid to help with digestion.
Make Meal Plans
Look at your calendar each week and identify potential challenges to healthy food choices – your kids’ soccer practices, a late-night meeting, or the night before a super-early run. Then find time slots when you have time for meal prep (say, chopping veggies, boiling eggs, or cooking an extra batch of brown rice).
Match them up, and you can avoid disaster, or at least an impulsive trip to the drive-through. This planning takes more upfront time, but later on, when you’re hangry or tired, you’ll be thankful you did it. You will feel so much better!
Cheers to a new you!
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods
Reference: Runner's World