From a young age, I learned that nutrition is much more than knowing WHAT to eat and more about WHY and HOW we eat. Growing up, my dad was always telling me that if I could help him lose 20 pounds, he would pay me $100. As a teenager whose weekly allowance was $20 (including gas money), this was pretty motivating. I would read books about nutrition and fitness and relay this information to my dad. I would tell him exactly what he should and should not be eating just as he requested. However, most of the time, my dad would do the exact opposite of what I said. I can remember a few periods of time when my dad would adhere to the recommendations I proposed; however, these phases were rarely longer than a month or two. He would lose a few pounds here and there, but ultimately gain the weight back (if not more) over time. This story is not unique; I am sure many of you have a similar story or know someone who does. But, it does bring up a good point- achieving nutrition goals over the long term is not simply about what to eat, it’s about addressing our behaviors associated with eating (the WHY we are reaching for that bag of chips and the HOW we are mindlessly eating ice cream out of carton in front of the television).
While in school to become a dietitian, I lost my dad suddenly to a heart attack. I felt guilt for not being able to help my dad make the changes he wanted to improve his health. If I could not help my own dad, then how was I going to be able to help others? That’s when I realized my focus needed to change; while it’s helpful as a dietitian to know what to eat for optimal health- it is far more important for to understand what motivates and drives people to make the decisions they do.
One of my mains goals as a nutrition coach is to help you identify what drives you to achieve optimal health, and what is holding you back from doing so. My job is not to provide you with a detailed meal plan that focuses on strict adherence and perfection. My goal is to guide you on your path as you create consistent eating habits, as you learn to intuitively listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, and as you discover what foods work with your body chemistry. The next time you think about “starting” the next diet, I challenge you to think about what your long term goals are, what is driving you to make these changes, and what behaviors can you begin to change to help you get there.
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” Jim Ryan