Most of the time we know WHAT we should do to improve our health. It may be to drink less wine, take a walk regularly after dinner or eat more fruit- the point is, we don’t need to be told/reminded/finger-pointed at by doctors or dietitians. What most people need is a plan to help them move from thinking about the change, to actually carrying out the change- an action plan! I have spoken about goal setting in the past, but it is so important (and often overlooked) that it warrants another blog.
Most people are familiar with SMART goals. Goals that are specific (eat healthier = eat fruit everyday), measurable (eat 2 fruit per day), attainable (there is a fruit shop just around the corner that I pass on my way home from work), realistic (I said 2 not 4) and timely (for the next 2 weeks, I will eat 2 fruit per day).
This helps people move towards their med-long term goals with a sense of direction. However, there is more to it than SMART goals. The new emerging trend in nutrition counseling is “Implementation Plans”. Plans that not only include the goals you want to undertake but the actions you will carry out to “get ‘er done”.
Implementation plans ask where, when and how you will, for example, eat 2 fruit per day. As the name suggests, answering these 3 questions will help implement the goal or plan. So, where will I eat my two fruit? at work, at my desk. When will I eat them? One at breakfast and one as a snack at 3pm. And how? I will bring 2 fruit in my lunch to work.
What happens if something gets in my way? Planning for barriers can help you over come the problems before they start. For example, if I do not have any fruit in the house to bring in my lunch, I will go to the store at the corner (during lunch) and buy some fruit.
If I don’t have time to eat my 3pm snack, I will eat a fruit as dessert after supper.
Making changes to our habits take some effort. Taking a few minutes to plan out the changes we want to make over the next few weeks will increase your chance of actually changing (not just thinking about it!)