By Emily Saunders

Happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s talk about love … loving yourself! It’s been one and half months since the new year began and I’m already seeing fewer and fewer health and fitness related ads and commercials. Funny isn’t it? For about two weeks out of the year the whole world is focused on being healthy and learning to love and take care of your body. Then it all stops.

I wonder if fast-food, pizza and ice cream shops notice a decline in January before a big jump in February?

Most people commit to make the new year their healthiest yet. The problem is when we start trying to overhaul everything at once we quickly suffer from burn-out. You see willpower is an exhaustible resource and if we don’t take into account our own individual preferences, schedules, abilities, dislikes, habits etc. then one small life event, even a good thing, can completely throw us off track.

As you focus on improving your nutrition this year I want you to ask yourself these 5 questions.

1. What do I need to do to eat protein at breakfast? I can tell you to cook am omelet every day, but that might not be realistic for you as you wrangle kids to school and daycare while trying to feed a baby and make it to work on time. Instead consider your options. How about a quick and easy protein shake or hardboiling and peeling a dozen eggs on the weekend that are ready to go with you in the car or even a healthy protein bar (check out sugar and ingredients: Dale’s Raw Food are my favorite!). Granola bars and “whole grain” toast is not gonna cut it.

2. How much water am I drinking? Start today and track your ounces. If you are under 80 then start wherever you’re at and add 10 oz per week until you make it to 80 to 100. For example: If you check your daily intake and you’re at 40 oz then aim for 50 oz the next day and throughout the week. The following week you’ll bump it up to 60 oz. We recommend keeping a 24 to 32 oz jug that you love with you at all times. Start your day with a chug of water and end it the same. Some moms even set timers for themselves to pace their consumption throughout the day.

3. What am I eating out of packages?
Is your lunch a Lean Cuisine? Does dinner come from a drive-through? Are you eating “healthy” crackers as your snack? Aim to reduce your packages by ONE per week. That’s all. I’m not telling you to slave away in the kitchen, but just be aware of what’s going into your body. We find time and time again that the fewer the packages the better the results. Why? Even healthy foods are often laden with chemicals, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives and packaged in plastic. Aside from the nutrition quality, these things disrupt our metabolic hormones and can wreck havoc on the body. Protect your waistline and your hormones by limiting packages.

4. Which foods do I tend to over-eat?
  I love peanut butter and my guess is that you do too. But… I don’t eat peanut butter often. Why? Because it’s a trigger food for me. While it’s healthy and includes good fats, I find that I end up over-eating it- especially anything flavored with some sugar in it. Pay attention to your tendencies. If you find that you have trouble sticking to one serving size then maybe it’s something you want to remove from your house for a while. In my case, I do fine snacking on walnuts and I’m getting the same nutrition without over-doing it.

5. How many vegetables and I eating per day?  Most of the clients I sit with think they are eating “plenty” of vegetables every day. Unfortunately the truth is they usually aren’t. While they might eat a few slices of celery and even a small salad at lunch, the greens are REALLY lacking in our SAD (standard American diet- and yes it’s sad). When you go out to a restaurant you’re likely to get a big old slab of meat and a giant baked potato with maybe 1/3 cup of broccoli right? Aim for 6 to 10 SERVINGS of veggies per day. That’s 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw. Yes it’s a lot, but veggies are where we get most of the nutrients our bodies really NEED and they can be absorbed much better than through supplements. Aim to add one serving per day each week by adding frozen spinach to your smoothies, doubling the greens in your salad, cooking extra veggies into soups, and aiming to fill your plate half full with yummy cabbage, asparagus, kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower etc. at dinner.

That’s It! Answer these questions and pick ONE at a time to focus on and watch your nutrition improve dramatically as your cravings subside, you eat more REAL food, prioritize vegetables, stay hydrated, and mind your triggers!

Here’s to your healthiest in 2015! Tell us… What’s your ONE goal for 2015?

Emily Saunders is part of the Momsanity Team, which is a community of Moms striving to achieve balance through physical, emotional and spiritual wellness. You can read more about this amazing program here.