So, kids returning to school is imminent. While we’re clinging to the last days of summer as best we can, another angst looms… the school lunchbox.Continue reading
As a skill meal planning may not be regarded as sexy. But it has incredible qualities that shine through and make it very desirable. What other activity can offer a combination of improving your time management, reducing stress, improving nutritional intake, cost effectiveness and is sustainable too? I mean come on, surely we should all give it a try.
The problem so many people have is that they are short on time in the first place. When it comes to meal planning people sometimes think they want to be handed a finished meal plan and that’s the extent of it. For guaranteed success, however, the reality is different. There is a bit of work involved up front but the pay-off, already outlined, is well worth it.
It really is the starting point of taking control of your health, your way, entirely on your terms. It has the best chance of succeeding this way. If it doesn’t work for you straight away, you’ve invested in it personally so you know how to go about tweaking it so that you can revise it to work for you.
The three things you need to approach meal planning for success are:
Set the right goals so that you stay motivated and on-track. Being clear of your objective in terms of meal planning is the recipe to success. Is there an underlying reason you want to get meal planning from a nutrition perspective? Maybe you want to eat more healthily, become more sustainable by incorporating in-season ingredients into your daily meals or you might simply want to improve the habits of your family. It could be that you want to manage your weight better, increase your energy or reduce your household costs. Knowing your why is critical to your success. It’s important to spend a bit of time asking yourself ‘why meal planning?’ because it’s when things start to falter you can remind yourself of this and get motivated to stick with it.
Once you understand the outcome you want to achieve then you can have this as a focus when you are choosing your meals. Get informed as much as you can in terms of nutritional needs for your circumstances. Learning more about reading food labels may be something to consider. There will undoubtedly be taste considerations that need to be addressed also. Decide how you want to address these. You may want to push the introduction of a wider variety of vegetables into your weekly diet, or your children’s diet. This can be incorporated into your plan. You are in control.
Having the most appropriate tools for you is key. An approach or template or format that you can relate to and can make work for you is the first step. Then you need to make the plan work for your schedule and circumstances. Knowing the limitations and boundaries to your schedule and the people who will be impacted by your meal plan will allow you to tailor and tweak the plan to optimize success. Don’t plan to overhaul your entire diet in one go. Take on small changes and allow yourself time to bed them down and succeed at them before moving on to the next. Start with X number of dinners a week, or choose which meal to address so that it suits your needs right now. Your shopping then can become streamlined to avoid waste and maximize nutrition, maybe even taking into account what’s in season.
SOLUTION FOR YOU
To really get you in gear and help you bed down meal planning into your weekly routine then this online programme is for you. ‘3-Steps to Meal Planning for Health’ is The WellNow Co.’s video led online programme full of tools and information to get you meal planning like a pro. Check it out now, you won’t regret it.
By Suzanne Leyden
Planning doesn’t necessarily conjure up motivational whoops of joy, but it is a key component to success. If improving your health and wellbeing is something you are looking to succeed in then read on.
These 3 simple ways to positively impact your health are achievable and accessible for everyone through planning. A simple notebook as a journal can do the trick. You don’t need online tools, or spreadsheets, although some people find them useful and can act as an added motivator. These 3 simple points are practical and can really help set you up to succeed.
- Write It Down
Did you know that you are 42% more likely to succeed at something if you write it down? According to a goal-setting study led by Dr. Gail Matthews, Psychology Professor this was the result. Writing down goals helps you get clarity on what you want to achieve. It also allows you to explore ideas and themes that come to you, that might be a passing thought if you didn’t write it down. It is a really simple and effective tool for self-exploration.
Some people address their written goals twice a day, some monthly and others annually. Whatever your approach, the goals can start broad but they should be broken down into realistic and achievable steps on the path you carve out for your success. Applying S.M.A.R.T. criteria to you goals will get you setting the bullseye goals for you to succeed with. That is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time bound.
For instance, Mary wants to get fit. She sets this as her goal. But how is she planning to do this? She’ll run. Ok. When? 3 times a week. Which days? And what times? Monday lunchtime is good, because she works from home that day and can shower after. Wednesday evening suits because her husband can put the kids to bed that night. And Saturday morning before breakfast works well because the kids sleep a little late. This now feels like a tangible and realistic plan.
- Create Clear Structure
So, now you have the main idea of what it is you want to achieve. The next thing you need is to figure out how you’re going to get from where you are now to where you want to be. For this, you need to apply a clear structure. Look at what essential steps need to be achieved in order to get you to where you want to be. Create a timeline for achieving these smaller steps. Some of the milestones may be done at the same time, whereas some may have to be done sequentially. Once you establish this clear structure it will act as a motivational tool in itself. You will see that it is achievable, how long it can take and now you just need to follow the steps to get there to stay on track.
Let’s go back to Mary and see how we can apply this. She has now been really clear about when she will go for her run. But what about a bigger picture. What’s the aim of her goal? She says she wants more energy. She also wants to feel stronger. This is great. So initially she will run short distances. She has decided that she will run for 30 minutes each time, regardless of distance. She knows this is realistic, and that she ultimately wants to comfortably run 5km in 30 minutes.
- Make It Measurable
By creating this clear structure you have made your path to success measurable. As you succeed with the small steps you can tick them off as you go. This is a great way to stay motivated, particularly if you are managing big changes or long periods of time. You can decide to celebrate at certain milestones, or when you reach your endpoint. You are in the driving seat and make the choices to stay on the path to your success. By making it measurable you can track your progress and stay motivated until the end.
Again, hi Mary! It might take Mary 10 weeks to run 5km in 30 minutes. So what are the milestones she can reach in the meantime to keep her motivated for all that time? One could be a distance she would like to cover by the end of each week. 2km the first week and so on. As she is starting out she may not be able to run continuously for 30 minutes. It will be a combination of walking and running or jogging. Another milestone could be to be able to jog continuously for 30 minutes without walking. This should overlap one of the weeks with her distance milestone. Then she just needs to focus on her distance as the measurable piece.
So Mary reaches her goal of getting fit by running 5km in 30 minutes. Depending on how well Mary gets on with her plan, she may decide she is happy that she’s achieved her goal and this becomes her routine for years. Equally, she might decide that she would like to set herself some more goals. She wants to enter 5km races in her area to keep her motivated. She may also want to start extending the distance to 10km and increase the time she runs for.
At the outset of Mary’s planning she could not have foreseen how she might do with achieving her fitness goal. It’s important to remember that there are so many moving elements to all goals we set, that we need to allow ourselves the flexibility to adapt and change to suit our current set of circumstances.
A really important aspect of setting goals and knowing we’ve achieved them is that ability to stop doing them for a period of time – say a holiday – but have the confidence we can return to doing them with ease after the break from them.
Create Your Own Plan
You can create your own plan as you can see from above. Remember to celebrate your wins. Decide what you will do to mark it when you’re at the planning stage so you have another motivator to get you across the line. It could be a spa pamper, or a meal with friends or something specifically related to what you are doing – Mary might choose some fancy new running shorts!
Taking the time to do all this planning properly from the outset is key to having the best results. So, don’t rush this. Do take advantage of your enthusiasm, but stay realistic. You could also choose to have a friend as your ‘accountability buddy’ which helps particularly well in the early days of forming new behaviour patterns. Or you might choose to work with a health coach to really get you to where you want to be. I’d love to hear what your goals are and how you plan to achieve them. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know.
By Suzanne Leyden, Nutrition, Health and Wellness Coach and owner of The WellNow Co.
Establishing your goals is key to success, but how do we stay motivated and succeed to achieve these goals? This is such a common pain area for people trying to make changes in their life, regardless of the area they are working on – health, nutrition, lifestyle, career, fitness. Any gym can attest to that with the sign-up levels in January being through the roof, and by June the attendance rates dropping out. So, assuming the goals are set, let’s explore motivation in a little more detail. These 5 ways to stay motivated and succeed with your goals will help you to stay on track and achieve whatever you want to.
1. Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Motivation
There are two key types of motivation, extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic is the external factors that feed into motivation – for instance, pay for your job, a promotion, the gold medal at the end of the race, the meal at the end of cooking…. you get the idea! These are all good for motivation and really help with achieving goals, but can often fall short of setting you up for 100% success. Intrinsic motivation on the other hand are all the internal factors that motivate us. We need to look inward to establish what these are. You must really love and get joy from your job to be successful at carrying it out, you must want to run to get up at 6am and hit the road – new trainers and a 10k run in three weeks may not be enough. And what happens after the 10k run, do you need to find another race? Are you enjoying running? Why are you running? Is it for long term health benefits? Is it for increased energy? Is it for the aesthetic benefits it brings? Is it a combination of all of these? Is it a part of a bigger picture? Only you can answer these questions and everyone will answer them differently.
2. Establishing what works for you
What we are attempting to do is set our goals and stick to them. To begin with we can examine a few elements, which you may already know the answer to. What motivates you now? Is there something that you previously thought was a difficult thing to achieve but you now do it without thinking and with success? What has worked for you in the past? Have you achieved something that you had to commit to for a long period of time? What common elements are there with these things? What are your strengths that stand out when it comes to completing difficult challenges? Look at your positive attributes that you can use to achieve things and recognise them, and congratulate yourself on them.
3. Your Vision
Setting a vision is a really effective tool for motivation and goal setting. This can be part of your self-exploration at the goal setting stage and is such a powerful tool when looking to stay motivated. We want to know what we are working towards, so spending time outdoors with your friends and family might be a vision you come up with for yourself. When you are struggling to peel yourself off the couch to go for a walk or run you can use this vision to help motivate you to that vision of living your best life.
4. Your Goals
Your goals in themselves will act as motivators. And if set out correctly and broken down into SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound) action steps will help you stay motivated. Using your vision and other coaching tools can help you to establish what these goals might be. For instance, a lot of people feel they want to lose weight. This very often is not their actual goal when they do some self-exploration. They may find that they need more balance in their life, they need more fun and leisure and connection. So, by arranging active, fun things to do with friends may make them happier in themselves and take the focus off weight being an issue. They may inadvertently get in better shape by setting these positive goals for themselves too.
5. Support & Accountability
We are all ultimately the only person that we are accountable to. However, introducing change in our lives can be challenging when we are already busy working and living. This is when getting the support of those people close to us can really make the difference – partner, family, friends or colleagues are ideal candidates. You can share elements or all of what you are setting out to achieve and explain how they can help you, “if I say I’m going for a run every Tuesday and Thursday evening, don’t let me sit watching TV eating biscuits, encourage me to go out if I’m struggling”. Once they have an idea of how they can be useful and why, they will generally really buy into your plan and help and encourage you to succeed and stay on track.
Success breeds success
Once you start succeeding in the smaller goals then this will motivate you in itself. So, go for the low hanging fruit in terms of what you can achieve. This is all about feeling positive and staying positive. Keep the goals realistic and watch yourself flourish.
As health coaches, these are things we work on with individuals and groups to really help them succeed with the goals that they want to achieve for themselves. There are many tools and techniques that work well to pull this together for the individual to live their best life.
By Suzanne Leyden, Nutrition Health & Wellness Coach and Owner of The WellNow Co
New Year’s resolutions – you either love them or hate them. Either way, 80% of of people fail to stick with their planned changes. But it doesn’t have to be the case if you approach the changes you want to make in a smart way. With these 7-steps to success, goal setting can really help to set you up for creating the change you want and experiencing the wellness transformation you are looking for. In fact it’s a perfect example of proper self-care.
Self-exploration is fundamental to setting goals and achieving a successful outcome. Consider every aspect of your life from health, career, finances, relationships and social or fun time! Is there an area that stands out to you as needing some attention? If so, then this is where your focus should be initially.
It’s also important to be true to yourself when setting goals and make sure that whatever you are setting out to do is personal to you and is in line with your values. Figuring out your ‘Why?’ will help you with always working with your purpose and core values at the heart of it.
Warning: Don’t look to social media and set goals you think you should be doing, do what you want to be doing for you.
How would you like to be living so that you are really thriving in all aspects of your life, rather than just surviving? Take time to really think about this and etch that vision into your mind. Now look at what your life is currently like today compared to the vision you have just set. Look at where you want to get to and what you might need to change in order to get there.
Once you’ve identified the areas to focus on, you can start setting small, achievable goals that are going to help move you from where you are today to where you want to be. It’s a case of taking brand areas of focus and chunking them down to attainable changes.
5. READINESS FOR CHANGE
Observing your readiness for change in any of the focus areas, and also the smaller, more specific changes, is key to success. Take the low hanging fruit, the easy wins. This will set you up for success. And we know success breeds success. There’s no point in starting with the most challenging change. Once you have a few wins under your belt, your confidence will be up and you will find more change possible.
How many people decide on January 1st that they are ‘going to get fit this year!’? This is a well-intended goal for many people but it’s too broad and without structure, making it easy to fob off or push out to ‘next week’. So if we took the goal of ‘getting fit this year’ and put it through the S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Bound) test it might change to something like ‘I’m going to run 5km every Monday and Thursday evening and sign up to a 10km race in June this year.’
7. SUPPORT & ACCOUNTABILITY
Making any change is hard, even if you know it’s leading to a positive outcome. Going for a run every Monday and Thursday evening can be very difficult in the winter months, after a long day at work, refereeing kids at bath time and Netflix calling, but if you have a friend to run with or a partner encouraging you to go, you’re much more likely to succeed. It might be that you find an accountability buddy, or group, it may depend on what the task at hand is. But we know for sure, that together is better.
Everyone’s individuality should be catered for. Making changes right now may not be right for you. Although, one small change now that brings you closer to your overall goal is a great start. Just remember that one step at a time is all you need.