Lose weight. Exercise. Drink more water. Control your blood sugar. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Decrease your sodium. The list goes on and on.
With all of the nutrition and health recommendations made by the masses, how do you go about implementing them all? Here are the 5 W’s to ask when considering making healthy lifestyle changes.
To help you get started, grab your free nutrition goalsetting worksheet here.
What healthy lifestyle changes would you like to make?
Begin with making a list of all the things you would like to change. These could be anything, from how you eat, your diet, your exercise, or your health in general. Then ask yourself how important is it to you to change these things? Rank them, perhaps from 1 to 10, with 1 being the most important and 10 being the least important.
When something ranks higher in importance, you are more likely to give it attention and follow through. It boosts your motivation. When things are not important to us, then we are less likely to give it attention.
Who are you making the change for?
Are you making these healthy lifestyle changes for yourself or for someone else? Is this change to make you happy or to make someone else happy?
When we do things because we make the decision to instead of someone telling us to, then we are more likely to initiate the change, follow through, and turn it into a healthy habit that is maintained on autopilot.
This also ties into the level of importance this change has to you. You may find that making a change for someone else, “because they said so,” is lower in your level of importance – you may not see how it benefits you (Oh, they’re just trying to improve their numbers – they couldn’t care less about me). It is also possible to make a change for someone else and see how it would benefit you as well (My children want me to be there for them and I want to be able to).
Where do you want to be?
Where do you want to be? Think about the kind of person you want to be when it comes to your health. Perhaps you are eating vegetables every day or running in the New York City Marathon. Also, think about the time frame. Don’t be afraid to think beyond three months. Short-term changes lead to short-term results.
Why do you want to make the change?
Consider your motivation. Is it to fulfill something temporary, like to fit into a dress for a wedding or to go on a trip? Or is it to fulfill something long term, like improve your health or be able to run and play with your kids or grand kids?
Consider what your ultimate goal is when it comes to improving your eating habits. Paint yourself a picture. What does this picture look like to you?
If you’re not sure, then it helps to compare your pros and cons for change and your pros and cons for not changing. Make four boxes and label them, “pros for changing,” “cons for changing,” “pros for not changing,” and, “cons for not changing.” This will help you to determine your reasons and motivation for changing (or not). It is also possible to see more benefit in not changing.
When would you like to begin your healthy lifestyle change?
How soon do you want to make this change? Are you ready to change now? Is it something you are considering for the future?
Think back to how your list of changes ranks in the level of importance. Things of less importance may be on the back burner. You may not want to change these things just yet. It doesn’t mean that you won’t ever want to change them, though.
If you want to change these things now or in the future, then here is a tip: put your changes in the present tense. I am eating at least one fruit per day. I am drinking at least two cups of water per day. That way, it makes the change more real. It puts the change in the present tense.
When you put things or say things in the future tense, then they will forever remain in the future. I will eat at least one fruit per day. I will drink at least two cups of water per day. You will, but when? Why not now?
How are you going to change?
Perhaps you are going to treat the change like you’re ripping off a bandage. Or maybe you want to make a gradual change, like taking the bandage off little by little. Today’s world is all about instant gratification. We are attracted to the products that promise unbelievable results in as little as 10 days! Just keep in mind that most quick fixes are not sustainable. Gradual changes are much more likely to be maintained long-term.
Once you decide on a method, consider how realistic it is for you. For example, you ask for a meal plan to help you lose weight. You receive a meal plan that says to eat a kale salad every day, sometimes twice a day. Is that realistic for you? Do you even like kale? If the answer is no, then you may need to revisit your method.