Are you still procrastinating on your health goals?

The simple act of procrastination can make your situation worse by increasing your stress level. As stress builds from carrying the burden of unfinished business, you may feel more fatigued, resulting in less motivation to take the necessary steps.

Over time, stress can suppress your immune system and lead to increased stomach and digestive issues. Consider the following tips to stop dragging your feet towards better health.

First, pick one small change. The pressure to overhaul our eating habits to be healthier is immense, but in reality, you can achieve great success by making one small change every three to four weeks.

For example, if you eat a 240-calorie candy bar every afternoon, replacing that with a 60-calorie apple instead would save you 180 calories per day resulting in weight loss of 18.8 pounds over a full year. Making one small change like that every three weeks would result in 17 changes to your diet over the course of a year, which would make a significant impact on your health without much, if any, added stress.

Second, prioritize. Time is valuable, and it takes intention and practice to make sure we use our time wisely. Urgent tasks or tasks that seem endless, like cleaning dishes in the sink or mowing the yard, often get in the way of completing the tasks on our to-do list that benefit us long-term. If meal planning is something you feel would be beneficial to achieve your health goal, are you making that the first thing you do as you head into the weekend? Failing to get this done right away makes finding the time to shop harder on the weekends, and it may cut into meal prep time as well. Prioritizing is an important habit to form if you want to be successful at improving your diet and overall health.

Third, plan your time. If you do not wake up with a game plan for the day, you are already wasting your time and potentially increasing your stress level as the day unfolds. With a good calendar and a couple of minutes of planning before bedtime each night, you can maximize your efficiency as you rise and shine for the next day. Look at each day and what it will take to reach your health goals. Perhaps you need to put a meal in the crockpot before you leave for work? Do you need to shift your workout from after work to your lunch hour ?

Fourth, prepare in advance. The average person is faced with more than 200 food choices a day, which can get exhausting and drain your will to make healthy choices. Packing meals and snacks builds in natural control of your food choices and reduces the number of decisions you have to make, which is an effective energy-saving strategy. By preparing and packing food in advance, you can use your time more wisely, and save some brain drain so you can invest that energy into something else on your to-do list.

Fifth, practice makes perfect. If you are in the habit of saying, “I will start tomorrow,” it will take both intention and a new routine to break the old habit. If you find yourself falling back into your old ways, give yourself grace and redirect your actions. With practice, you will break the old habit and that new habit will feel like second nature in no time.

Niki Kubiak is a sports-certified registered dietitian, competitive runner and owner of Niki Kubiak Sports Nutrition and Weight Loss.

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