March is here! How are you doing with your health and wellness goals? Have you been allocating time to reach these goals? Do you make commitments, but “more important” things pop up that get in the way? You may say, “I’m going to the gym this week” or “I will bring a healthy lunch to work every day,” but it’s already Thursday and you haven’t managed to complete either. It’s wonderful that you have the desire to lead a healthier lifestyle! Learn to plan ahead for a more successful tomorrow! Create concrete action steps and develop the necessary tools to help reach your goals.
Choose a day on the weekend to create 2-3 realistic short-term goals. Specify how and when you plan to accomplish them. With a set plan of action, you can track your progress and are more likely to stay on course. In addition, it is crucial that you are prepped with the necessary tools to reach your goals. For example, in order to pack a healthy lunch, first make sure your refrigerator and pantry are stocked properly. Once you set your weekly goals, it is very helpful to let your significant other, relative, close friend, or coach know your plan of action, so you have accountability.
Below is a list of action steps and associated tools to successfully plan ahead to achieve short-term goals towards a happier, healthier life!
- Use your calendar –Make your calendar your best friend! Schedule appointments with yourself. Use the calendar for daily reminders and accountability. Include tasks such as: your weekly grocery store trip, cooking, daily workouts, meditation sessions or journaling, self-care practices, and that one thing you will do for fun and fulfillment each day! Schedule time for you!
- Purchase storage containers – Stock up on a variety of large glass containers to store your weekly chopped produce, prepped meals, and leftovers.
- Keep a well-stocked pantry of healthy cooking essentials – Make sure your pantry is always filled with key ingredients such as a variety of seasonings, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, healthy oils, (olive, avocado, and coconut) vinegars, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (soy sauce alternative), mustards, and tahini.
- Create a Shopping list and plan weekly recipes– Choose a few recipes to make in the upcoming week and find recipes that contain overlapping ingredients. Always include extra greens, veggies, and fruits to add to any meal or snack.
- Go grocery shopping on the weekend – Take your list of ingredients to the store (and don’t go when you are hungry J), so you know exactly what to buy and are less likely to spend money on impulse purchases and unhealthy temptations.
- Pre-chop vegetables and prep the base of your meals – I don’t believe in making all of your meals for the week on Sunday because honestly who wants to spend an entire day in the kitchen??? Rather than cooking everything on Sunday, use this day to cook a couple of meals, prep grains and legumes, and chop vegetables to store for later in the week. You will be able to do other things on the weekend and will save time when cooking on a weeknight.
- Cook in bulk –Cook in large quantities, so you can mix and match foods later in the week to add more variety and use leftovers. Also, you can freeze mostly anything to enjoy in the future.
- Make lunch and prep snacks while cooking dinner – Your morning is precious and time management is key. Rather than throw something random in a lunch bag, or even worse not take anything at all, make lunch the night prior. Now I know what you’re thinking, “I have no desire to return to the kitchen after cooking a whole meal and washing dishes.” And I totally agree! A great solution is to prep your lunch WHILE you cook your dinner, so you reduce the clean-up and are out of the kitchen earlier.
- Purchase proper exercise clothing and gear – Buy something new and fun! Make sure you have appropriate exercise clothing and gear such as: a quality pair of sneakers, gym bag, yoga mat (if doing Yoga, Pilates, or stretches), and a large water bottle.
- Set a specific plan of action for your workouts - Rather than just say you will work out 3 days next week, write down the specific days and times you will exercise, where you will do the exercise, and what workouts you will complete. Choose which friend will join you!
- Prep your gym clothes the night prior and pack a bag – If you plan to go to the gym in the morning, lay out your exercise clothes the night before so you don’t even have to think twice about what to wear. If you need to take it one step further and sleep in your gym clothes, then do it - whatever will work for you! Make sure your water bottle is filled and the gym bag is packed. If you plan to go to the gym towards the end of the day, keep the gym bag with your clothes in the car so you don’t have to go home first and be tempted to sit on your couch.
- Set Alarms and Reminders – Use alarms for anything that will help you. Set reminders to drink water, take breaks to breathe, and get up to move throughout the day. It is very easy to lose track of time, so an alarm will help you stay focused on your intended action steps. Don’t think about hitting the snooze button!
Now that you have tools to create a plan of action for meeting your goals, it's also important to remember that things don't always go 100% according to plan. Be kind to yourself and leave room for some flexibility. If you initially intended to go to a 6pm yoga class and your best friend decided to plan a last minute birthday celebration, don't get discouraged and neglect exercise all together that day. Take a breath and think of a Plan B. Is there another class you can go to that will fit into your schedule? Can you do an alternative physical activity? Even if you can no longer do an hour workout, how about a 30-minute workout? Can you do a video at home? The important thing is that you are still doing something!
Take action! Plan today to excel tomorrow! Create a concrete list of small, realistic steps you will take each week to gradually work towards your health and wellness transformation.