Struggling to Follow Through on Your Health or Nutrition Goals? Read this!
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Two basic strategies to aim for better outcomes in the health journey.

Goal development and implementation

Setting up goals can be hard.  

But implementing strategies to stay accountable and motivated is extremely difficult.  

You are not alone if you think the daily grind of habit development seems impossible at times.  

It takes effort.. 

It takes time… 

It takes commitment… 

But mostly, I find, it takes perseverance and simplicity. 

Let me approach this with a little bit of vulnerability. Since being a mom, I have found it VERY hard to stay active. There is just …. NO… time. So over the years I have worked hard to persevere in this goal. I would like to share with you these two strategies that helped me be successful in maintaining a somewhat active lifestyle.  

1. Don’t underestimate the power of struggle.  

Ever set a goal only to find yourself giving up as soon as you find the first obstacle? Human nature likes things to be easy; and yet, we take delight in accomplishing things that take time, effort, patience and commitment. Think of how rewarding it can be to eat lettuce from your garden or set up your baby’s nursery. Finding purpose shapes our life; we are wired to attain meaning through the struggle in acquiring things we find true and beautiful. Health habits are one of those things that we pursue with grit and toil; and also one of those things that we find ourselves wanting to give up altogether.  

But that’s just it. There is true wisdom in struggling. For it is only by trying and failing that we can learn what worked, what did not work and where we are stuck. Struggling means you are giving something a shot. Struggling means you are trying to implement something and are having to put more effort and more thought into it—struggling means showing up, vulnerably. Struggling really means living authentically.  

In a world so deeply entrenched in perfectionism it is so easy to confuse struggling with failing.  But it is most certainly not! The main difference lies in that struggling implies the resilience to BEGIN AGAIN as soon as you have gone off the course, to start anew, to keep trying. At the next meal, in the next opportunity to swap take out for that deliberate homemade meal, in the next impulse to fill your fear, or your worth, your boredom, or your daily stress with emotional eating, or in the next trigger to give in to eating disorder thoughts, just take a deep breath and BEGIN AGAIN. There is deep power in willfully choosing at the very next opportunity to try to implement that goal you have so carefully crafted. It requires the immense courage of letting go of guilt and shame, the humbling capacity to forgive yourself and gently find ways to get back at it again. I often think of my stumbling toddler, with what ease and joy he gets up again, he assures me that falling is just part of the fun.  

On days where I have struggled at every opportunity to get activity in, I have found the best approach is to laugh at myself and resolve to keep trying tomorrow. I stop myself from reciting a mental litany of self-pity, and instead I embrace the wonders of my breath as I sink into my bed. This moment, though silly, is comforting enough to not sabotage my future efforts. Tomorrow is a new day – I think – and recommit concretely to my SMART goal (or revamp it if need be).  

2. Through the hussle; plan, think, evaluate and most importantly, simplify.  

When I realized how hard it was to stay active while raising four little ones, I recognized a big part of the problem was that my goal was too vague and too complex. So I learned to specify it by simplifying or decluttering my environment.   

I simplified the goal.

Setting SMART goals is certainly effective, the more concrete the goal is the more we have specified the what, the how, the why, the where, the when, which then triggers and re-triggers the best possibility of action.  

Starting very small is one great way of simplifying

In my case, saying I would exercise for 30 min everyday was doom for disaster, it was unrealistic; yet saying I would exercise for 30 min 3 days a week also was too complex, because life with kids is full of distractions and unpredictability. Instead, to initiate action I opted for a goal which considered the most basic consistent unit of action. So, I set the goal to be “I would exercise EVERY day for 10 minutes only”. The great thing was that because 10 minutes was mentally manageable, once I got going, generally I would end up exercising 5, 10, 15 even 20 minutes more than intended. 

I simplified the environment.

Organizing your space, while a time-consuming task, can be instrumental in gaining momentum with habit development. In my case, this meant reorganizing the entrance closet so that my shoes, yoga matt, dumbbells and props were very accessible. Since that untimely tantrum or sibling argument could get in the way of meeting those 10 minutes, I knew I had to be prepared whenever the opportunity arose.

I also simplified the steps.

Going upstairs to get changed for exercise was a big obstacle: was it even worth it for 10 minutes? Often, as soon as I was finally dressed I would come down to that bombastic meltdown. A game-changer was investing in clothes that had a beautiful everyday fit but that I could exercise in at any moment (lululemon is a charm that way). This meant one less step in the equation.  

I also simplified my screen time.

Think about it, how easy is it to waste 10 minutes on instagram, facebook, tik tok, you name it! Boom, while intending to set up the timer for my exercise, one notification led to zero time for exercise, and 30 minutes lost in idle phone time. I soon recognized the only way around this was by sticking to a screen time schedule.  I also bought a cheap ironman wrist-watch so that I could look at the time and set the timer without  the distraction of apps, instant messages, chats, etc. 

I hope this reassures you that acquiring new habits or letting go of bad ones is a process not a destination. When I get thrown off balance, I realize that as they say, the struggle for today is the strength for tomorrow.  

Do a little experiment on yourself 

  1. Write a SMART health goal.  
  2. Simplify your (physical, mental, technological, etc.) environment to implement that goal.  
  3. Choose a way to track your progress. An APP or a paper calendar, a visual post-it in your bathroom mirror, whatever works!  
  4. If you don’t meet your goal for a day, smile at yourself, take a deep breath, drink a cup of tea (or whatever gives you peace!) and BEGIN AGAIN at the next opportunity.  
  5. Put a phone reminder 3, 6, 9 and 12 months after you started your goal, and trace the journey of where you have gone. It may help you see how valuable it is to simply struggle. 

Looking for more support with your health goals? We are here to help!

As Registered Dietitians that specialize in meal planning, weight concerns, emotional eating, eating disorders, digestive health, heart health, diabetes, pediatric nutrition and sports nutrition we can help you with YOUR health goals in a way that works for you.

We offer in-person services at our local Calgary office or as an Online Dietitian by phone or video conferencing for virtual nutrition counselling. 

Check out these related blogs on our website:  

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Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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