Goals vs Desired Outcomes

I wanted to take this blog post this week and talk about something important. It’s how to change your mindset of goals. I had talked about it in a previous Instagram post a few weeks back, but decided it was something to write about here on the blog. First let’s talk a little about the difference between goals and desired outcomes and then we’ll look at an example.

Goals vs Desired Outcomes

  • A goal is something to achieve. Whether it’s a goal for a day, week, month or years, it’s something you can control and can accomplish.
  • A desired outcome is the result of those goals that you are trying to achieve. Sometimes you can achieve them, other times you might have to change your desired outcome to be more realistic.
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Goals

Let’s use the example of weight loss. To achieve weight loss there are many goals that have to be made for it to happen.

  • Changing the way you eat
  • Changing how much you eat
  • Changing the places you go to eat
  • Changing your grocery list
  • Changing what you snack on
  • Changing how you view food
  • Changing your routine and having more time to exercise
  • Changing your routine to have time to prepare healthy food
  • Changing the foods you’d normally order
  • Changing how many vegetables you eat per day
  • Choosing different foods you might have been scared to try
  • The list goes on…

Those are all goals you have control over and can conquer one by one and accomplish. These are the parts to focus on and rejoice when they are met! Changing your lifestyle, your choices, your routine, your habits – it is no small thing. So noticing that just because weight loss might be your desired outcome, it doesn’t mean that on the way there you are not reaching goals and accomplishing something. You are overcoming huge obstacles physically and mentally. That’s something to be proud of!

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Minor Desired Outcomes or Small Victories

The other thing to remember, is that you might have an overall desired outcome to lose, let’s say 50 pounds. There are minor desired outcomes or small victories that are showing you that you are reaching your overall desired outcome.

  • Your clothes fit different
  • You have more energy throughout the day
  • You’re sleeping better
  • Your skin and hair look healthier
  • You’re able to see your knuckles and wrists a little more
  • Your knees are starting to look like knees again
  • Your ankles don’t bloat as much
  • You’re able to go down a notch in your belt loop
  • You’re able to walk a little further
  • You’re able to run a little faster
  • And the list goes on…

Although it might take you longer to reach your overall desired outcome, never pass up the small victories you are reaching to get there. Those are huge steps and something that should be noticed! Give yourself credit and work with your body. Notice that it’s changing because of the original goals you had control over and your body is responding to it. Those small things to notice are huge!

Weight Loss Note

Your body loses weight starting from your extremities (feet and hands) to your middle (men – stomach, women – hips/thighs) and then starts all over again at the feet and hands. When you start losing weight if you are staring to see your feet and hands a little more, or your elbows and knees become more pronounced, or your face is a little thinner, it’s working. You might not see it in your desired places like your belly or hips, but it’s on it’s way there. Your body is doing its thing.

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Be Balanced

We live in a world that is fast and goal oriented. You want to get something done, you do it and it’s accomplished. You want to know the answer to something, you look it up and within seconds have the answer with a video to go with it. With nutrition and especially with weight loss we think we can do the same. “I want to lose 10 lbs this week, I’ll do whatever I have to do to get there!” Our mindset and the will to accomplish our goals isn’t the only thing that will get it done. Working hard and having a strong will is important, but our body has it’s pace and is working as hard as it can. Just because you don’t see things right away, doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Although you didn’t reach your desired outcome in the time frame you wanted it to happen, doesn’t mean it won’t happen or that you failed in some way.

You have to be balanced in knowing what you can do, what you have control over and let your body do the rest. When you feel discouraged remember the goals you’ve already achieved and the small victories you might already be seeing. Just because you don’t reach your desired outcome in your desired time, doesn’t mean you’ll never get there or that you’ve failed. Just because you might have been trying to reach a desired outcome and are exhausted trying to get there, you might need to ask yourself if it’s realistic. If the desired outcome is a source of stress or irritation for you – change it.

Bottom Line

Don’t forget, the things to focus on are the goals – what you can control. Then giving attention and acknowledging the small victories that come with it that you notice as a result. Give credit to yourself for the things you personally accomplish. And keep things realistic. If you don’t meet a specific time and date, it doesn’t mean you didn’t accomplish anything. Instead of having a date in mind to reach a specific desired outcome, how about have that as a “check in” with yourself to see where you are and to remember where you were before. Either way – whatever goal you have, don’t give up!

 

 

There’s More To Calories Than A Number

If you are counting calories it’s more than likely that you are eating less calories than what your body needs throughout the day so that it starts burning off your excess unwanted fat. Which means, it’s lighter foods and less food than what your stomach and body are use to. The first week or two might be a little uncomfortable and feel like you are hungry all the time if you are not eating nutrient dense foods. And you might be thinking you can still eat whatever you want, just as long as you don’t go over your calories. Calories then just become a number. But, there are some factors to consider.

  • What keeps you fuller longer?
  • What are healthy fats? Do you need to eat them if you’re trying to loose fat?
  • Are Calories Equal?
  • What else does your body use for energy when eating a caloric deficit diet?

 

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Fiber Keeps You Feeling Full

Nutrient dense foods are usually high in fiber which is digested slowly and aids in loosing weight.

Nutrient Dense Foods with Fiber

  • Nourishes your body
  • Helps it to process the stored fat
  • Makes sure you are not starving right after eating

Because they are high in nutrients, your body will not be lacking. It might take a week or so for your body to adjust since these are usually lighter foods, but if your body is able to get a balanced diet it will be able to process better, which will help you not be so “hangry”.

 

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You Need Healthy Fats

Fats are calorie dense and are something to watch when you are trying to loose weight. Your body needs to burn off the stored fat, so not taking in a lot of fats, and more fiber rich foods like vegetables is the way to go.

However, your body needs healthy fats. Those fats are the unsaturated fats. Think nuts, avocados, salmon, olive oil, etc. I usually try to get my fats from the actual source and not add it by having oil so it’s digested with the fiber, vitamins, and minerals it was produced with naturally. So I’ll have almonds as a snack, or have a few slices of avocado on my salad. Fats are digested slower and can help keep you fuller longer. So having a small handful of almonds in between a meal if you are starting to get “famished” can do a lot of good.

Still watching the amount to not go overboard and to keep your caloric intake low, still add them into your diet. They do a number of good things, like aiding in joint health, rebuilding of cells, healthy brain function and keeping healthy nerves. But too much of a good thing can be bad and throw off your goals. Keep it in check. Try to only have 1-2 servings of fat rich foods in your diet a day if you are trying to loose weight by counting calories.

 

Calories Are Not Equal

Although nutrient dense foods can be low in calories, you get so much more with it. So to eat enough calories a day with nutrient dense foods goes a long way. Let me illustrate by using a 500 calorie breakfast.

  • Plain Bagel with 6 tbsp Cream Cheese = 500 calories
  • 2 Scrambled eggs, whole wheat toast w/butter, and 1 cup sauteed veggies = 500 calories
Photo by Larissa DeCorves.

OR

Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash
Bagel & Cream Cheese Nutritional Information:

511 calories | 27 g total fat | 2 g polyunsaturated fat | 8 g monounsaturated fat | 16 g saturated fat | 0 g trans fats | 81 mg cholesterol | 823 mg sodium | 51 g carbohydrates | 4 g fiber | 9 g sugar | 16 g protein | 40% Vitamin A | 15% vitamin B12 | 0% vitamin C | 4% vitamin K | 21% iron

Eggs, Wheat Toast w/Butter & 1 cup Sauteed Veggies Nutritional Information:

523 calories | 25 g total fat | 2 g polyunsaturated fat | 11 g mono unsaturated fat | 8 g saturated fat | 0 g trans fats | 1245 mg cholesterol | 487 mg sodium | 36 g carbohydrates | 8 g fiber | 8 g sugar | 29 g protein | 261% vitamin A | 315% vitamin B12 | 81% vitamin C | 72% vitamin K | 44% iron

Although they are about the same in calories and about the same amount of calories from fat, the fat with breakfast #2 is the healthy fats (unsaturated) that are used more easily in the body. Then looking at the vitamin percentages with the sauteed veggies will definitely give you a vitamin and mineral boost. For the calories, breakfast #2 would give your body more of what it needs and what it can use and not store right away like with breakfast #1. If you are feeding your body the things it can readily absorb and use right away it won’t be stored as easily and you’ll be able to loose weight quicker without it being unhealthy or without your caloric intake going too low.

 

Caloric Deficit Takes Away More Than Fat

When you are eating a caloric deficit for your body, your body will take away things that are stored to use for energy since you are eating less calories (energy) than what it needs throughout the day. So ideally it will only be burning off the stored fat, but that’s not the case. Your body will also be taking away healthy things that have been stored. Think muscle mass and bone density. With keeping in mind that not all calories are the same, it’s important to make sure the few calories that you are having are rich in vitamins, minerals, and healthy protein so that you are fueling your body with things you want it to keep, and not fueling it with fats that you want it to burn off. So although you “can” have that double bacon cheese burger and it’s the same amount of calories as a turkey sandwich with a salad, stay mindful of what you are feeding your body, not just the calories you’re putting into it.

 

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Bottom Line
  1. Calories are a number and a guide, but is not everything. If you are trying to loose weight by a caloric deficit, keep in mind where your calories are coming from.
  2. Fiber will keep you fuller longer, so stock up on your vegetables.
  3. Fats, although calorie dense, are important in your diet and are needed.
    • Make sure you are eating the healthy unsaturated fats that your body can use right away – nuts, seeds, avocados, salmon, etc.
  4. Calories are not equal. Whatever you are fueling your body with, make sure that it’s vitamin and mineral rich. By eating nutrient dense foods you keep the good parts and loose the bad.

 

Can Comfort Foods Be Beneficial?

We all know we have our favorites. Mom’s creamy Tuna Casserole. Grandma’s Cheese Sauce. Mashed Potatoes with Cream Gravy. Cookies. Ranch.On.Everything. Pie. Any Fried Foods. Donuts. Chocolate. PIZZA. CHEESECAKE. Anything rich and delicious. They have been viewed as something unhealthy, and from a nutrition standpoint, that is still true for most average comfort foods.

I know when I’m sick, if I haven’t completely lost my appetite, I just want mashed potatoes or something sweet. Or when I’ve had a really stressful week, I’ll go to our favorite pizza place (an hour a way) and eat a veggie pizza – yes with cheese – and I don’t even feel bad afterward. Just because we crave something, doesn’t mean our bodies “need” something from it. There is nothing on that a huge plate of cheese fries that my body “needs”. Or does it?

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“Benefits” Of Comfort Foods and Why We Crave Them

First is the obvious, it makes us feel good. Foods high in fat, sugar, and salt activates the brain’s reward system which increases pleasant feelings and can reduce the tension our stressful lives bring on.

Food association is a thing. We associate certain foods with memories, people, family and so on. We might need comfort and security if we are feeling lonely or isolated. For example, if you move away from home that is far enough away that you can’t see your family on a regular basis, you might start craving family foods or cultural foods that are hard to find so you have a sense of comfort.

Aside from making us feel good with our reward system and help with feeling less lonely, comfort food can increase the levels of good-feeling hormones in the brain like dopamine, endorphins, etc. They can make us have a more positive state of mind, increase our motivation, reduce stress and anxiety, and makes us have a sense of euphoria. These foods our brain knows will help it produce what we need to balance out somethings in our life. And there is always a need for that.

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I’ll use myself as an example. If I don’t have some sort of comfort food periodically, I won’t stay on my healthy routine. I save those foods for when I do feel like I need a “reward” after a long and busy stressful week – out of the ordinary. Or I save it for girls night, or vacation. If I completely voided myself of those foods like mashed potatoes, I could last a good few months, but then I’d break and there I’d be eating comfort foods all the time. Your brain can’t be all work and no play. Comfort foods are it’s vacation foods.

Keep in mind you still need to be in control and keep your balance.

 

Balance

Food addiction is something to realize and admit. You still need to keep your habits in check. For me every few weeks, going to get some pizza isn’t going to throw me off. Others might be different. Like with my husband James. He’s always had sodas in his diet. Processed sugar was an addiction for him. Getting off of it took weeks and months. Trial and error. But once he did get away from it, he knows he can’t go back to it. If he had a coke, he’d have 4 glasses without blinking an eye, but an small piece of homemade chocolate cake wouldn’t turn him to the other side and he would be able to get back to his routine. Everyone is different with what they can handle. Some foods for some people they just can’t go back to.

If you are an emotional eater/stress eater, realize where it’s coming from. Yes after a hard day you might be wanting a huge slice of cheesecake (oh man!) but know where and why you are eating those things and realize that although it might bring you momentary relief, it’s not going to solve anything. Keep your balance. Know that although you might be having this food right now, it doesn’t mean it’s okay to have it everyday.

Allow yourself a break. Like I said before, your brain can’t constantly be in work mode all the time. “Vacation” foods, as I like to call them, are a good break and rest here and there throughout your life. Just stay mindful and know when and how much of a “vacation” you actually need.

 

Healthier Alternatives

With that being said, I usually try to have healthier alternatives before going straight for rich and sugary foods. But sometimes that still just doesn’t cut it. A lot of times it does. Find a healthier recipe to what you are craving and your brain won’t let you forget so that your reward system will be triggered, but not in excess or in an overdose. Here’s some ideas.

  • French Fries
    • Baked Potato and still have a small amount of butter, chives, even a small amount of cheese
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Chocolate Cake
    •  Few squares of Dark Chocolate
  • Ranch On Everything You’re Eating
    • Make a Low Fat Yogurt Ranch

 

Bottom Line
  • We use comfort foods for comfort. There are times for that.
  • We use them to feel closer to ones that we love and comfort foods can help us to feel less lonely.
  • Comfort Foods trigger our reward system which can help in stressful situations.
  • Be mindful of food addictions and what you can handle yourself. Some foods you might not be able to go back to.
  • Be mindful of emotional and stress eating and when it’s happening.
  • Try having healthier alternatives before diving into the unhealthy.
  • Your brain needs a “vacation” sometimes too. But same with vacation, it only happens sparingly.

Mistake #3: Categorizing Foods as “Good” and “Bad”

“I can’t have that! That’s bad for me.” We’ve all done it. Classifying foods as good and bad can start turning your thinking more negative than it has to be. True – to meet your personal goals you might need to avoid or limit certain foods like salty potato chips and ice cream. But there is a balance.

Healthy Foods

These are foods that are nutrient dense. Your whole vegetables and fruit, whole grains, lean meats, beans, nuts and seeds. But, there is even a balance with healthy foods. To make sure you are getting enough nutrition throughout your day/week you need a variety of foods from all the different categories. Just because something might be “good” for you, doesn’t mean it’s good for you in mass quantities. Take for example almonds.

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Almonds are a Good Source of:

  • Plant Based Protein
  • Fiber
  • Calcium
  • Iron

Almonds are nutrient dense and healthy for you to have. However, just 1/4 cup of almonds gives you a total of 18 grams of fat. Yes, they are “good” fats. For an average 2,000 calorie a day diet the recommended intake of fat (“good” or “bad” fats) is between 20-35% of your calories. Which equals 44-78 grams of total fat. 1/4 cup almonds would give you 23-41% of your total intake of fat for the day.

Too much of a good thing can be “bad”.

Balance is needed. Yes almonds are good for you. Yes almonds are healthy. Yes almonds are nutrient dense – including healthy “good” unsaturated fats that your body needs and uses other than storing. But that doesn’t mean you can eat them freely because they are “good” for you.

Depending on your goals, always make sure to get a wide variety of healthy foods throughout your day and be aware that just because it might be healthy, doesn’t mean you can indulge in them.

“Some of the Time” Foods
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Some of the time foods are your processed foods and added fat and sugars. Like your potato chips and ice cream I spoke of earlier. The reason why you can look at these as “some of the time” and not “avoid at all cost”, is the thinking behind it. Processed foods, added fats (especially unsaturated or hydrogenated fats), and added sugars are not something you want to eat on a regular basis for the fact that they are more calorie dense than they are nutrient dense.

However, when you think of those foods, say your favorite cookie, as “some of the time” instead of “bad”, then when you do have your rich and fattening chocolate chip cookie that you just had to have that has no nutritional value other than feeding your wants, it’s a treat and not some imaginary betrayal of yourself or your body.

Thinking negatively can lead to feelings of useless guilt and worthlessness that no one needs.

It makes people think they’ve lost, or they’ve given up on themselves or their goals, and it’s not that at all. You had your treat, it was delicious, you feel balanced, and now can get back to your normal pattern of healthy eating. No imaginary harm, betrayal, and definitely no reason to have feelings of guilt.

In actuality, if you do watch what you eat, you could have all your nutritional needs met and have a few hundred calories to spare. You could have an “end of the day” treat, like a few squares of chocolate, on the regular. It just depends on your goals and needs.

Balance

When you have a balance perspective of food you’re not restricted. You know if you regularly keep with a healthy routine, you’ll have your “some of the time” foods when you really want it. The trick is to know when and how much. When you can manage having a treat every once and a while, you won’t feel the need to binge and not have control.

People with a balanced way of eating and perspective of foods also have a more balanced and healthy perspective of themselves. The better view of yourself, the more you will stick to healthier habits because you are doing it for none other than yourself.

Keep food in it’s place, even the healthy foods, and never neglect yourself a treat every once in a while. Have a proper perspective of your eating habits and yourself.

 

In a few weeks I’ll be posting about, “Can Comfort Foods Be Beneficial?” Stay tuned!