With all the joy and cheer that comes with the holiday season, it also presents its own unique challenges — especially when it comes to maintaining health habits. And while it may not be the time for drastic lifestyle shifts, grounding yourself in a few solid behaviors can help you feel more of that joy and cheer, and be better prepared to take on new endeavors in the New Year.
Having a realistic and intentional strategy is key to success — especially this time of year — so we sought the advice of Lindsay Ogden, CPT, nutrition coach and digital manager for content and coaching at Life Time, to learn how to approach this in a tangible way.
Ogden suggests following this four-step IPTR method, which she uses herself and with clients. The steps are outlined here. (To hear Ogden walk through each step in more detail and offer examples of ways to put it into practice, listen to “Habit Hacking for Health: A 4-Step Plan.”)
1. Take INVENTORY. Become aware of your starting point by writing down everything you currently do in a day.
2. Create a PLAN. Pick the one to three goals you’ll focus on. For each, choose actions you want to start, stop, or continue. For actions to start, what can you do to lessen friction to make them easier? For actions to stop, how can you add friction to make them harder?
For example, let’s say this season you have a goal to include protein at every meal to help increase feelings of satiety so you’re less likely to overconsume sweets. It may look like this:
- What do I want to start? Setting aside time to plan my meals for the week before I go grocery shopping to ensure each one includes a high-quality source of protein.
- What do I want to stop? Centering meals around other macronutrients, such as carbohydrates.
- Add friction: Do not buy those items at the grocery store and instead stick to the list.
- What do I want to continue? Having a high-quality protein powder on hand at home or with me in a shaker bottle for times when I’m on the go, in a hurry, or my plan falls through.
3. TRACK your results. Use a calendar or some other method to mark down every day you accomplish your goals. (Print Ogden’s habit tracker to use yourself.)
4. REVIEW for next steps. Look at what’s working and what’s not so you can adjust your plan and continue to progress.
Here’s to navigating this holiday season with the confidence that you can stick with your habits and still enjoy the traditions and celebrations that mean the most to you. Cheers!