Making Good Choices: Ten Helpful Tips
Written by Samantha Bielawski, Registered Dietitian
Some weeks it’s easy to get caught up in going to bed late, eating on the run, and rushing to make deadlines that steal our workout time. In response, many of us are quick to simply say, “I’ll begin again on Monday.” New week, fresh start--right? In doing so we put off getting back on the horse, perhaps forgoing days of potentially healthy choices. A new week isn’t going to make the difference when we don’t change something about ourselves. Challenges in our journeys are inevitable. What we can do is set ourselves up for success by making our healthy intentions front and center in our lives. That can mean organizing our schedules around our health priorities whenever possible but also prompting ourselves in creative ways to act on our intentions. Here are ten strategies to prime yourself for healthy choices every day.
Get an activity tracker.
I personally have never owned a single tool that has held me so accountable to daily movement. Although it may seem simplistic, tracking your daily steps is an easy way to keep your health and fitness at the forefront of your mind. You’ll also want to beat yourself at the mind game of “step” milestones. Are you really going to go to bed having taken 9,982 steps that day? No way. Additionally, if you have a tracker such as a Fit Bit that compares your movement to that of your friends and family, you’ll likely find that the healthy competition won’t let you lose focus on your movement.
Revamp your playlist.
Many of us have that one song that gets us fired up, ready to dance, primed to run, or amped to lift. Load up your iPod or MP3 player with tunes that will get you excited to work out. Play a few of them on your drive home from work when you are contemplating skipping your workout. If you are an early bird, why not wake up to the sound of a song that gets you excited to get moving?
Be descriptive in your meal planning.
Kudos to those of you who are planning your family’s meals ahead of time! However, things don’t always go as planned when you head home for the day and pizza sounds like a solid Plan B. Time to take it to the next level and increase the likelihood that you'll actually look forward to Plan A. Instead of jotting down “taco salad, chicken with broccoli, salmon and mixed veggies” in your planning, try writing out a delicious menu of “seasoned ground beef with mixed greens, pico de gallo, green pepper strips, bacon and sliced avocado, mesquite-grilled chicken with oven roasted Parmesan broccoli, and pan-fried sesame salmon with stir-fried Asian vegetables.” Sounds harder to pass up!
Pack or lay out your workout clothes in the evening.
If you have your bag ready to go as you walk out the door, you’ve mentally committed to staying consistent with your evening workout routine. For those who work out early, waking up to your clothes laid out and ready makes the workout harder to skip. Some of my clients who work out first thing in the morning even sleep in their workout clothes! Why not?
Have a backup exercise bag in your trunk.
Having your workout outfit, tennis shoes, socks, deodorant and hair ties (if you need them) will prevent you from getting caught in a moment of perfect fitness opportunity without the tools needed to execute it!
Use a paper calendar for behavior goals.
In our modern day world of smart phones, tablets, and digital calendars, having an old-fashioned blank calendar for tracking your activity, meals, or exercise can do wonders for maintaining consistency. Put it on your refrigerator and give yourself a gold star sticker for every day of the month you meet a given goal, whether it's walking 10,000 steps, drinking at least eight glasses of water, or doing your cardio. It may be tapping into our elementary-school roots, but a calendar full of consistency can be internally rewarding for an adult as well. Bonus: pencil in non-food related rewards for your success, such as a massage, facial or new outfit.
Change your home screen.
I have read articles reporting that we check our phones up to 150 times per day! That's a lot of opportunity to send yourself a healthy and positive reminder about your goals. Try changing your phone and computer screen to an inspirational quote, message, or photo. If you're hyper-connected, use it to your health and fitness advantage.
Keep your profile picture active!
If you have a picture of yourself on a ski trip, at the end of a 5K finish line, or outside at a park, put your healthy way of life out there to the world as a part of who you are. You don’t need to be an all-star athlete or a seeded marathon runner to be proud of living the part. Identify yourself as an active and athletic person, and you'll be more likely to live out the intentions that go with it!
Invest in useful kitchen tools and gadgets.
While I’m not convinced a banana slicer is necessary, having a few handy items can make a huge difference in preparing healthy meals. One important staple for convenience is a quality set of glass food containers that are freezer, oven, and microwave safe. Batch cooking now can save loads of time if you freeze individual portions for use when you’re in a pinch.
Surround yourself with health and fitness information.
Keep healthy magazines and books on your coffee table. Why not draw inspiration for meals with relevantcookbooks? Follow health blogs and Facebook pages of health and fitness professionals. Knowledge is one of the most important primers for healthy choices! You'll collect workout ideas, new recipes and lifestyle tips that can help you take your health to the next level.