Taking One Step Closer to Your Goals

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Successfully achieving weight loss goals usually requires reaching many smaller goals along the way. Whether you are trying to lose 15 or 150 pounds, experiencing peaks and valleys throughout the journey is common.

I previously worked as a Clinical Dietitian in a large teaching hospital. Part of my work included nutrition education for patients (and the family members that cared for them) with various medical conditions. This nutrition education was a mix of healthy eating guidelines and necessary nutrient modification information. For those that were dealing with poor kidney function, low potassium and low protein nutrient modification were typical. Those with heart or liver dysfunction needed information for a sodium restriction. I learned many valuable lessons over the years sitting in hospital rooms and outpatient clinic offices. People wanted to do the right thing but saw the mountain of the prescribed eating plan too high and the valley they were currently in too low for success to ever be possible. Many times my number one goal was to help both the patient and their family understand that success could be achieved taking one step at a time.

Trying to tell a person everything they need to know about healthy eating with Type 2 diabetes in thirty minutes before discharge from the hospital is next to impossible. The best approach was to find out where they were starting and tailoring the education session around the information they needed to take the next step forward. Referrals for ongoing nutrition education after the patient went home were common. Far too many times for a variety of reasons, families ended up on their own to figure things out. Play the scenario out a little further and you find that the mountain seemed taller, the valley seemed lower, and small changes stopped happening. Soon the patient returned to the hospital with a complication, and I or another RD had the opportunity to take the nutrition education another step further.

Many people have long-range health goals but little idea of how to achieve them. Sometimes they are also dealing with other medical issues. Many more people get started in their journey toward reaching their goals but find discouragement at setbacks. This discouragement can quickly cause them to abandon their goals in favor of the old habits that are easier and most familiar. Even with great programs to help them set goals, resources to learn healthier options and people to provide encouragement, the mountain can still seem too big and the summit unattainable.

We are starting a new series with the goal of helping you take small steps up the mountain. I will focus on various aspects of healthy eating. I will try to provide some ideas I have seen help people move forward. To those that are closer to the top of the mountain and feeling the thrill of victory, the ideas I discuss or the suggestions I make may seem too basic or not healthy enough. This series may not be for you. For those people that feel they try but fail or can't seem to make healthy eating fit into their busy and hectic lifestyle, this series is for you. For those that are trying to manage medical conditions while also reaching weight loss and improved health goals, this series could also be for you.

See, after leaving the hospital and becoming a wonderful stay-at-home mother (at least I tried to be), I developed thyroid disease. I learned very quickly that knowing what to do and doing it, doesn't always work the same in a altered medical state the way it does when medical conditions aren't involved. I developed such a better understanding of the battles my patients had been facing once I was facing them myself. I found increased frustration when I would not get the same results for more effort. Problem solving to move the scale took on a completely new dimension. Views on healthy eating changed to cope with the other medical aspects I now had to consider. Several years later, I went back to work full time, my husband went through graduate school and changed jobs and my children entered their active junior high and high school years. I soon found healthy eating to become a challenge in the midst of our hectic schedule. Suddenly the things I never would have suggested to my patients before (because they were not the healthiest options) became the "better" choice compared to the alternatives.

In this series, healthy eating guidelines will serve as the foundational target. However, ideas for small steps to get there will be our series focus. I can't provide you with specific medical advice, a prescribed diet plan or detailed health related information. I can help you look at the barriers you are experiencing in a different way whether related to a busy schedule or medical issues out of your control. I can also say that I understand the frustration you feel. My hope is that you will stay committed to taking another step forward toward your health goals instead of giving up.

As we get started, use the blog comments to let me know what pitfalls you are experiencing. Together, we can take the small steps necessary toward the top of the mountain in the hopes that the thrill of victory is not far away.

What healthy eating hurdles do you find in your journey? Tell me what specific issues you would be most interested in learning alternative tips to overcome.