When I first entered the practical field of nutrition I was a book of knowledge. I wanted to share all the new information I learned with everyone. I can still remember reciting the process of Maillard browning to my family at the dinner table. My top priority at that time was to provide as much nutrition information I could to clients, family, and friends.
As I mature as a dietitian I continue to explore the field. I have begun to realize that knowledge isn’t EVERYTHING. Don’t get me wrong, nutrition knowledge is important and provides a foundation for developing healthy lifestyle habits, but I have come to learn that clients need more than a foundation of knowledge. I have met several clients who have a wealth of nutrition knowledge, however, their biggest struggle is putting it into action!!
Today, one of my top priorities with clients is teaching systems that make healthy eating easier and provide ways to stay accountable. Most people know fruits and vegetables are good for us and ice cream, chips and pops are not. However, many people struggle at implementing change and maintaining it over time. Accountability is difficult and developing new habits is not easy.
FOUR STEPS TO STAYING ACCOUNTABLE:
1. Set Small Attainable Goals – When setting goals for yourself it is important to start with goals that do not promote drastic changes immediately. Although this change may be your end goal, it is often difficult to sustain changes that promote extreme results right at the start. You should begin with setting small goals that you can continue to build upon. It is also important to put a time limit on these goals to add some pressure so that you stay on track. This is to keep you focused and accountable. You also want your goals to outline exactly what actions you need to take to achieve them which helps to provide clarity.
Example: This week I will eat 1 cup of vegetables at lunch daily.
2. Create a Tracking System – With advancements in technology, there are countless apps available to track food intake, activity level, and overall health. These apps can be useful for short-term use to increase accountability (i.e. what you eat, how much time you spend sitting, etc.). Sometimes seeing this information in front of you helps to put things into perspective and facilitates behaviour change. Using these apps long-term, however, is not sustainable and is very time-consuming. Another way to remain accountable is to make a list of your goals to either put on your fridge or desk and once they are accomplished reward yourself with a check mark or a sticker… because the feeling of getting a gold star never gets old even though we might.
3. Determine Your Top Values – In order to remain motivated to achieve your goals you should start by taking some time to think about what is really important to you. Make a list of what you value and then number them in order of importance to you. Now you can base your goals on what you are most passionate about which is guaranteed to increase your chances at being accountable and successful!
4. Keep Accountable to Someone or Something – Another tip to help you stay accountable for your action is to make plans to complete an activity with another person or to an organization. For example, if you tell yourself you’re going to wake up and go to the gym in the morning, it will be harder for you to back out of it if you have planned to do it with another person. Also, by signing up for races or events, you are more likely to follow through with your commitment, keeping you more accountable for your actions.
If you found the above tips helpful and want to learn more about accountability and putting your nutrition knowledge into action set up an appointment at Fuel Up Nutrition. We would love to join you on your journey to a healthier and happier YOU! We will be there to coach you along the way and provide you with the necessary support.
Written By: Karly Meincke, Registered Dietitian & Sports Nutritionist, and Cassandra Tessaro, Dietetic Intern & Fuel Up Nutrition Volunteer