How to Make Your Nutrition Goals Stick

By Brooke Schohl | Jan. 23, 2018, 11:46 a.m. (ET)

homemade granola

2018 is here, people! January is an awesome time to set new goals, especially nutrition-related ones. It’s time to throw out any frustrations from last year and start fresh.

First and foremost, determine what your fueling-related goals are and get them down on paper. Maybe you want to reduce sugar intake or eat more omega-3 fats or fuel to lose weight or boost performance. No matter the goals you set, make sure they meet the following criteria for increased success:

Attainable

Realistic. Feasible. Reachable. Sustainable. Your goals should be all of the above. If you set out to “eat no sugar” in 2018, I’m sorry but you will fail. And a failed goal early in the year does nothing for the ego. Try rephrasing by saying you will “limit daily sugar grams to 50 or less.” Bam! This is a realistic goal and will build confidence when it is accomplished. 

Bite-sized

Triathletes are notorious for taking on huge challenges, which I admire. But your fueling-related objectives shouldn’t fall into this category. If you are truly going to succeed, these nutrition goals again need to be manageable and not totally overwhelming. Example: “I will eat 6 vegetable servings per day” versus “I will eat 2 veggies per day.” Once you’ve mastered the mini goal, you can always increase it incrementally. But starting too big and failing is discouraging and will cause setbacks in the confidence department. Another example here would be with body composition. “I will drop 25 pounds” versus “I will shed 5 pounds.” Start small and grow from there.

Rewarding

If there’s no reward in the goal, what’s the point? Your goals have to be something that excite you — either the process, the end result or both. If your nutrition-related goal is to fuel in a way that earns you a podium finish or a PR, developing this goal and checking it off will be rewarding. It’ll also require patience as this goal demands hard work and doesn’t happen over night. But if the end result is rewarding, you will keep your eyes on the prize!

Longevity

I hate diets (aka the quick fix). My goal with every client is to develop a fuel plan that is sustainable for the long term. Yes, a lifestyle change. Once old (bad) habits are squashed and replaced with new (healthier) habits, you will adapt to those changes and begin to crave the new foods. Many of my clients who have kicked a nasty sugar habit are not able to even tolerate their old food choices; their taste buds change. But you have to want it. Eating well takes work: preparation and dedication to the task. But it is well worth the effort. After all, there is nothing more important than your health.

Goals are essential to life, whether it be work, personal, family, training, financial or nutrition/health. Make this year your year to implement and accomplish your nutrition goals! 

If you need some help developing or implementing your nutrition goals, you can reach Brooke Schohl at brooke@fueltothefinish.com.

Brooke Schohl, MS, RD, CSSD, METS Level II is a registered sports dietitian and the owner of Fuel to the Finish Endurance Nutrition Coaching in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is an avid triathlete, having completed many triathlons of all distances, including three IRONMAN races. She integrates that personal experience and knowledge into developing customized, sport-specific fueling plans for her clients. For more information on services and offerings, visit her website at fueltothefinish.com

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.