8 Tips That Will Help You Stay On Track During A Nutrition Challenge, No Matter How Badly You Want To Quit
Whether it’s your first nutrition challenge, or your tenth, there’s always something new you can learn.
Anyone who’s done a challenge before will tell you that there will be obstacles along the way (it’s called a “challenge” for a reason!).
But we all know the most worthwhile things in life don’t always come easy. To create change, you need to get out of your comfort zone.
We’re here to help you be successful during your challenge from start to finish, and beyond. Here are some of our best tips for staying on track.
Know your “why.”
It can be tempting to sign up for a nutrition challenge at the start of a new year, right before summer, or just because everyone else is, but these reasonings may not truly resonate with you deep down. Without a clearly defined “why” that you feel passionate about, it can be easy to give up when things get tough.
What do you hope to gain from your experience? What’s your main motivation for signing up? Is it to feel confident in a bathing suit at the beach? To have more energy? To kick your sugar cravings? To live a long, healthy life? Your “why” can be anything — it’s unique to you — but whatever it is, define it and get excited about it. Your emotions will keep you on track, especially when you struggle.
Set clear goals and define daily habits.
Once you know your why, use it to create at least one S.M.A.R.T. goal you want to achieve by the end of the challenge. Next, break this long-term goal into smaller, weekly goals that will help you get there step by step. Lastly, define the daily habits that will help you move toward your goal. These can be as small as starting your day with lemon water or swapping your post-dinner dessert for herbal tea, but remember, every positive choice accumulates to long-term change.
Outside of learning your nutrition challenge guidelines (what foods to eat, what to avoid, any point tracking system, etc.), prepare yourself physically, too. Any challenge becomes ten times easier when the food you’ll be eating is readily available — and the food you don’t want to be eating isn’t! Be sure to clean out your fridge and pantry prior to starting.
Meal prep is a crucial habit, not just for challenges, but for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Find compliant recipes, make a grocery shopping list, and get cooking. If you don’t want to spend your life in the kitchen, make use of KBK. Order a few meals each week to take away some responsibility, or sign up for one of our goal-focused meal plans.
Measure your progress, but not just with the scale.
Monitoring your progress during (or even just before and after) is a powerful way to measure change. The scale can be a helpful tool to see overall weight loss or gain, but it has limits. For one, it can’t tell us change in overall body composition (ratios of body fat to lean muscle). Secondly, the number on the scale can fluctuate drastically due to factors like stress, sleep, digestion, and for women, where you are in your cycle. And of course, the scale tells us nothing about other types of progress — things like having more energy, setting a new PR, and eliminating food cravings.
Other ideas include: taking measurements and/or progress pictures, monitoring your weights and/or times in your workouts, and journaling.
Know that other factors beside nutrition matter, too.
Sure, your challenge may be solely (or at least mostly) focused on nutrition, but even eating the most nutrient-dense, unprocessed, balanced diet doesn’t automatically mean perfect health or easily-obtained results. Nutrition is important, but it’s not the only thing that matters. Don’t become so focused on the food part that you ignore other lifestyle factors like sleep, movement, and stress management.
Remember you’re human.
Keep in mind that none of us are perfect. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip from time to time. This isn’t an excuse to indulge, it’s simply an acknowledgement that even when you try your best, life can bring hurdles. Not adhering to the challenge rules 100% of the time doesn’t make you a bad person. If this happens, just pick yourself up, dust off, and move on. Avoid perfectionism by keeping things simple and not overthinking everything. The point of a challenge is not to get yourself stressed out or become obsessive.
Use what you learned during the challenge even after it’s over.
It would be a complete waste to complete a nutrition challenge and then simply return to your pre-challenge habits after it’s over. Every nutrition challenge, regardless of the type, provides a learning experience that can be used to personalize your nutrition moving forward. Identify the habits that have been most helpful and integrate them into your lifestyle. This phase is especially important if you’re cutting out certain food groups during your challenge. You’ll want to reintroduce them systematically in order to pinpoint which ones work for your body and which don’t.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you’re hitting a wall, feeling confused, or just need to vent, find someone you can talk to. Getting another perspective — especially from someone who’s been there before or is qualified to provide nutritional advice — can be a big help.
Reach out to whoever is running your nutrition challenge or another challenge participant. Consulting with a nutrition professional is also a great idea if you need more specific guidance. The KBK nutrition team is always here to answer any questions you have. Email us at email@example.com, and if you’re on a meal plan, be sure to sign up for your complimentary nutrition consultation.
Whether your challenge is 21, 30, 90, or more days — in the grand scheme of things, remember it’s a very short amount of your life, and you have so much to learn and so little to lose. Don’t sink into the victim mentality of “I can’t eat that.” Instead, remember that this is a choice you’re making for yourself, and you can do anything you set your mind to.