Post by Ashley Cully, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
I always say I was meant to be a dietitian because March is not only National Nutrition Month, but my birthday month! This year’s theme, Fuel for the Future, is perfectly fitting for a birthday month, when I tend to really think about how I want my next year to go. Of course I think about big things like plans we might have, but more importantly of the day-to-day things that maybe need some sprucing up. Maybe finding ways to change some habits so I can make sure I feel good at my next birthday.
This is a method I have also been using with clients lately when they are having a hard time staying consistent with their health goals. Let’s say your goal is to work on being more prepared for the week with meals. When you sit down to figure out how to do that, it can be very overwhelming and those negative thoughts can sneak their way into your brains - groceries are expensive, I think my kids are getting sick, I don’t have time to cook, etc.
Take a pause.
What does your future self want? Do you want to be the person who feels organized with their grocery list and meals for the week? Do you want to not have to stress and scramble at dinner time? Yes, of course you do. Take that pause and think of how you want to feel in the throes of the week -calm, organized, satisfied, etc. Oftentimes, that pause and switch to a positive mindset can be the confidence booster you need to get planning and stay consistent with the goal.
Another example - let's say you want to start going for walks before work. Getting up early can be hard, that alarm keeps going off and you keep hitting snooze. But deep down you know you will feel better if you get that walk done before the craziness of the day. So don’t do this for the you that just wants to stay in bed right now, get up for the person you want to be - the one who gets up early, has more energy, and feels happier all day long.
These are just examples, but the method of pausing and thinking of your future self can apply to almost any habit you want to create or change. I often hear that in-the-moment decision making (related to health promoting behaviors) is hard because we are tired, stressed, or not prepared. Thinking of what we want to be, or how we want to feel in the future (tomorrow, next week, next year) can help us with those decisions to make us feel our best.