I created this motivation series to spark motivation in all of us. Often times we want so many things for ourselves, but we lose sight of our goals very quickly. It isn’t because we aren’t strong or capable (we are capable of anything we put our minds too, I am a firm believer in that), but it is because we don’t put a reason/”why” behind our goals. This motivation series is to help you discover your “why” behind your goals so you can obtain what you want.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a RD. I am currently studying at a nutrition school to become a health and nutrition coach. If you are needing medical advice or are thinking about changing anything in your diet, please consult a doctor first.
First and foremost, I believe in having a well rounded and nutritious lifestyle. I believe that eating shouldn’t be a “diet” or fad, but it should be a lifestyle. In order to maintain a healthy body inside and out, it is necessary to eat nutrient dense and whole foods (think fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish in their purest form, unprocessed).
Whether or not you’ve paid attention to nutrition before, it has been playing a role in your life since you were born. Everything you put into your body has an effect on your body (good and bad, depending on what you eat!). There are so many resources for learning about nutrition which I will link below! But this post is all about finding the motivation to make healthier choices in the kitchen and the motivation to cook healthier!
I became a vegetarian on my 13th birthday. My family ate meat and I was surrounded by friends who ate meat. It was hard. I had to learn early on how to make my own meals. At the age of 13, my parents still did the cooking. I knew basics and I knew how to prepare my own sandwiches and pasta. Cooking vegetarian was not something my parents were accustomed to. It was also something completely brand new to me. I wasn’t old enough to drive myself to the grocery store and I didn’t have my own money, so I went with my parents to find “vegetarian friendly” foods. It was difficult at first. I had no clue what I was doing and there wasn’t many vegetarian friendly options (most of them were highly processed). I was 13, it was 2005, I just got my first cellphone (that was a flip phone with no internet access). I also did not have a laptop. My only source of internet was I think “dial up” and I had to use it on a large desktop that I shared with a household of 6 people. So “looking things up” or “googling” things was not something I could do. I basically just ate anything without meat, healthy or unhealthy. When I was 16, I had my license, and now I could drive myself to the grocery store. I still had no clue how to eat healthy. I was just eating “vegetarian”. (A lot of people assumed vegetarian meant super healthy, and I think a lot of people still think that way, but it doesn’t necessarily mean healthy by any means.) I remember going to the gym after school and then coming home for dinner. My parents would make a meat/fish based meal and that meant I had to come up with something to eat on my own. Here is what I ate: Cereal (Special K or Life cereal) with milk, and a salad with Newman’s Own dressing. Talk about a very confused way of eating. I also remember for lunch having a Fiber One bar and a yogurt. I really didn’t know what I was doing. I was really young so I didn’t feel the effects of what I was eating. Smart phones still weren’t a thing at this time so I couldn’t just look things up easily. Flash forward a few years to when I decided to take the leap and go to Cosmetology school, I started learning about the correlation between food and the body. Yes, I finally had a smartphone at this time! There was a lot of information online BUT it was very confused. Most of everything I saw contradicted something else I had read and vice versa (i.e one site would say eat a fat free diet, while others said fats are healthy). I did a lot of my research at the book store, browsing the health and wellness sections. I started to see the effects of food on my body. My clothes just didn’t fit well anymore. I think I had believed people before when they said being a vegetarian was so healthy. I think I had thought just getting rid of meat was going to make me healthier, but it didn’t. I started researching everything I put in my body. I looked up the benefits to every food I ate. I am pretty sure I “googled” “How to lose weight” and I probably saw many things food related and so began my journey of discovering the correlation between food and the body.
Learning about all of the benefits of foods and how they affect and nourish our body and minds, really got me inspired to get in the kitchen. It gave me a reason to eat healthy. My motivation to cook healthier really was that I wanted to feel and look good. I wasn’t seeing wild results from working out, I needed to eat healthy too.
The foods we eat directly effect our skin, our hair, our muscle mass, fat levels, our nails, our bones, our brains, etc. What we put in our bodies we will see the affects in our skin and our energy levels and so much more. I love to cook at home because I get to control what is going in the food that I am putting in my body. But just like everything we “do” in life, we need something to motivate us to see long term results. There is a “why” behind you wanting to give up dairy, or give up grains. There is a specific “why” behind wanting to incorporate more fish and more veggies. I have read SO many wonderful books on all different topics (some recommended below). I would read about grain free diets and I would think to myself “should I try grain free”. The problem is that I had no reason to cut out grains. I once stopped eating dairy for no reason other than I wanted to see how much animal products I could release from my diet. The problem with having no “why” to our healthier actions is that it won’t get us to long term results. Yes of course I cut out grains for 6 months for no reason. Did it change my body? No. Did I notice a difference? No. I wasn’t sure what result I would have been looking for. Reading about grains in a book isn’t what will get you to your long term goals.
Forget about “dieting” forever
“Diets” , way back in the day, were all you ever heard about. They were usually a fad and very unhealthy. When we don’t have a “why”, we are just on a “diet”. “Diets” are not going to get you to long term goals. A “diet” will give you short term success, and then once we are done with our diet we go right back to where we were a few months ago. We want our goals to lead to long term success. The problem with a “diet” is that once you see the results you sought out, you stop. Once you stop and you don’t continue, you lose all that you’ve worked for. Eating healthy is a lifestyle. If you are just looking to lose 5 pounds for your beach vacation, that isn’t going to get you long term success. Your goal should be something you plan on maintaining long term. Find your “why” behind your goals and that will help keep you continuing long term.
We need to find our goals first.
You can read about plant based diets or read about gluten free diets all you want (it is all very valuable information) BUT you need a goal and reason to start putting what you are reading into action.
When I am eating healthier, usually I am trying to improve something. I don’t like calling them issues because I believe if we negatively refer to our body, it makes it VERY difficult to improve it. For me, eating and cooking healthy is all about how I feel and my energy levels. I don’t eat processed sugars or dairy because I want to improve my energy during the day. I also don’t like to feel bloated and tired. My goal is to feel better in my body and feel energized.
Maybe you have acne that you want to clear up, maybe it is weight loss, maybe heart disease runs in your family and you want to lessen your chances. Whatever your goal, most likely it is something that can be helped by changing how you eat.
What is your “why”?
Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want clearer skin? Why do you want to prevent yourself from a gene related disease? Find your motivation. Find your “why”. For me, feeling energized is my main goal. My “why” is because I want to be able to get as much done as I can every day without feeling depleted. I know if I have less energy, I won’t wake up early to get in my “me time”, I won’t workout the best to my ability, and my work ethic just won’t be as high.
My favorite activity to finding your “why” is to draw 2 lines vertical on a piece of paper (creating 3 columns). In the first column write down how you feel and look all over your body right now. (i.e. tired, drained, uncomfortable, acne, thinning nails and hair, etc.). In the second column, write down how you want to feel. That will be your goal. In the third column, write down how the middle column will make you feel if you felt/looked that way. That is your “why”. That is what is going to push you to see long term results.
i.e column 1: I feel bloated all the time
Column 2: I want to feel less bloated and I want to feel leaner
Column 3: I would feel more comfortable in my body, and I would feel lighter and more confident.
Ive got my “why”, now what?
If you’ve figured out your main goal, and you found your “why” to motivate you to long term success, you are ready to get going! Now it is time to gather your materials. Before you get too excited and run out to the grocery store and raid the produce aisle, lets get a game plan going.
Start by doing your research
Using reliable resources is the best way to figure out what you need to do to get to where you want to be. Below I have listed many useful resources for you to check out. Trying to improve your skin conditions, and trying to improve your digestive system are very different goals. Yes, eating whole foods and a variety of fruits and vegetables will help improve any conditions but sometimes you may need to focus on getting certain vitamins and minerals to obtain your goals. You may need to add more foods with vitamin c or more fibrous foods. Sometimes we need supplements that we might not be able to get from food. If your goal is to lead with a happier lifestyle you may need to supplement with vitamin d or you may need to add ginseng. You may also need to add herbal teas. If you are trying to heal your digestive system, you may need things like flaxseeds and digestive enzymes. There are many different tools you need for your specific needs. There are so many tools needed for our specific goals and our own bodies. Also, often we can be deficient in some vitamins and nutrients, so we need to make sure we are getting those in!
I first recommend going to see your doctor/ holistic doctor. Share you goals and concerns and they can lead you in the right direction for supplementation and what foods you should eat and stay away from. If you have any questions during your process do not be afraid to ask your doctor, it is what they are there for.
I then recommend heading to your local book store or library. Check out the wellness category. You can find some amazing cookbooks there. There are so many cookbooks that are geared towards specific needs too. There are also hundreds of different wellness books. There are some for healing your hormones, skin, digestion, anything! You can find some incredible and valuable information in literature.
Side note: There are also some amazing at home tests you can do to see if you have any vitamin deficiencies or any food intolerances.
Make sure your resources are credible. Research where you are getting your information. I love getting research from science backed information. I love wellness blogs, registered dietician blogs and well known wellness websites. I love getting my information from people who have lived through it and they have done their research. How will you know if a wellness blogger (who is not a doctor or registered dietician) is credible? Most likely they will list on the page where they got their info from. A lot of information is online now. If something you read sounds too good to be true, trust your gut!! If you see something crazy and you want to try it, ASK YOUR DOCTOR FIRST.
Now that you have done your research and figured out what you need, what is next?
Create a meal plan. Now writing out a meal plan is so simple and easy BUT unless everything in your life synchs perfectly, it won’t work. I have written out meal plans before, not taking into account my time. I would create a meal plan with these elaborate ideas for dinner, but I had no time for that. At one point I was working till 8 oclock at night and when I got home, I didn’t want to cook anything. I wanted something quick and easy but still healthy. I needed to plan meals that were doable with the time that I had to work with. The same goes for breakfast. If you are a get up and workout-shower-dry shampoo-makeup in 5- breakfast to go kind of girl, having a veggie omelet with a homemade green juice on the side is probably not doable.
What happens when we don’t stick to our meal plan, is that we end up slacking. When we fall off track it can be very hard to get back on. This doesn’t mean that you can’t treat yourself. Treating yourself and completely disposing of your meal plan are two different things. Most likely when we make a meal plan after the first meal we can’t seem to make happen, we usually end up throwing the rest away because we realize how it is not doable. That is where we start going backwards in our goals. I love to create a meal plan and then journal my meals as I eat them (not in an obsessive way, just to hold myself accountable, and making it easier to stay on the meal plan for the next meal).
A key component to making sure we reach our goals is that we align our life, our time, our job, and even our family with our meal plan. Things to ask yourself when you are putting your meal plan in place:
Do I have time to meal prep?
How long do I have to meal prep?
Are these meals something my whole family will enjoy?
How many servings should I prepare each meal?
Will I need to shop at multiple stores to get the items for my meals?
Do I need to-go meals on hand?
Do I have any GNO, date nights or brunches planned? Do I have any events? If so schedule them in the meal plan.
How much time do I have throughout the day to cook/eat?
How long do the meals take to cook or prep?
Do I need back up meals in my meal plan in case anything comes up?
Do I have the kitchen utensils needed to make these meals?
Another key component is making sure what we need for our meal plan matches our budget. I love looking up all of these supplements and expensive healthy snacks. BUT honestly they can be expensive. When we have families to take care of and other bills to pay it is understandable that there may not be room in the budget for that $60 supplement. I always say when making purchases, health comes first and everything else is second. When I food shop I try not to be too hard on myself about how much I spend. But I don’t need everything I see. I try to stock up on all the necessary fruits and vegetables first and then I begin buying everything else based on the importance of the item. If I am on a budget and I want to buy maca powder, acai powder and chia seeds I will most likely buy one and then invest in another the next month or week. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments to your shopping list and meal plan based on your budget. It is also important to take into account that you may need to add kitchen utensils to your budget as well. If you weren’t spending a lot of time in the kitchen before, chances are you may need a few accessories. You should also take into account your activities, like brunches, dinners with friends and loved ones, as these play a key role in your budget.
Now that you’ve created your meal plan, you’ve set your budget, you’ve managed your time to meal prep, you are finally ready to get your groceries and get to work!
Remember that progress takes time. You may not see results for days or even weeks! After about 3-4 weeks you should start seeing results. If you aren’t seeing results then you may need to go back to your meal plan and see what went wrong (this is why I love journaling my meals, in an honest way, so I can see how I have been doing). You may need to consult your doctor as well (there can always be underlying issues that need to be addressed). It is also important to note any stress in your life. Even if you are eating clean, if you have high cortisol levels then you may not see any results in weight loss or healthier skin. If everything checks out okay, it might be time to do an honest and deep look at your meals. Go through your meal plan and meal journal and find what went wrong. Was your meal plan doable? Maybe you need to go back to the questions above and create a new action plan. Take a look at your meal journal. If you have been trying to heal your acne, and planned to cut out dairy and drink lemon water daily BUT you ate pizza 2 times a week and had ice cream 2 nights a week the past month and you only drank lemon water on day one, it is no wonder you weren’t seeing results! Consistency is KEY!
Here is my tip! Meal prep everything! That includes everything for that meal plan to help heal your skin. Meal prep everything including your lemon water. Pre cut your lemons into slices and store in tupperware. The night before, put a lemon in your reusable water bottle and store in the fridge till the morning. For your pizza and ice cream habits… meal prep healthier versions! I love baking healthy sweet treats to have on hand so I don’t over indulge during the week. I meal prep foods that I love, but I make healthier versions of them to match my goals! There are so many ways to make your usual eating habits match the needs for your goals.
Another tip of mine is to put your snacks and desserts into your meal plan. I love having my snack cabinet stocked with healthy snacks. There have been so many times when i have bought 5 bags of snacks and they were gone on day three! Yes, there will be hiccups, you will unexpectedly open up a bag of your favorite snack. But if you schedule your snack in every day you will be less likely to over indulge. Also when you plan your snacks, try and figure out the time in the day where you are more likely to snack. I am a huge evening snacker, so I need to plan out my after dinner snacks and treats beforehand otherwise I mindlessly eat myself into a snack coma.
I know it is impossible to prep and cook every single meal and snack 7 days a week 365 days a year. If you only have time on some days to pick something up at the corner store for lunch during work thats OKAY! I created a healthy guide to dining out to help you make healthier choices when you get take out or dine out. The idea is to start creating healthy habits and that starts in the kitchen.
It is important so never beat yourself up if you’re journey is slow. The point is finding the motivation to make healthier choices in the kitchen. Find what is going to motivate you to cook healthier. Find what will motivate you to long term success. Don’t ever feel discouraged if your progress is slow. Remember that your journey is personal to you. We are all on some kind of journey, so it is OK if it takes time and effort.
It is okay start slowly to create better habits. Start incorporating healthier foods into your diet and you will be well on your way in no time. I promise that after finding your “why” to a healthier lifestyle, you will see long term success!
A few powerful resources for more information. These are a few of my GO TO’s for all my information:
livewelleatwellbykimmy.com (recipes and health and wellness)
mind body green (all things health and wellness plus supplements)
Well and Good (all things health and wellness plus some healthy recipes)
Tone It Up (health and wellness plus healthy recipes)
Kimberly Snyder (books and supplements as well as all things health and wellness)
Dr Axe (all things health and wellness)
Danielle Walker (recipe author for all things grain free)
Diane Sanfilippo (author and paleo/keto recipes)
The Clean Plate by Gwyneth Paltrow
Sakara Life Cookbook
The Beauty Chef Cookbook
Clean Skin From Within
Jolene Harts Beauty is Wellness Blog
Netflix Documentaries: Pete Evans The Paleo Way, Game Changers, Goop Lab