By Susanne Duato, Boston based nutritionist, integrated nutrition health coach, certified Whole30 coach. 

January is right around the corner and the new year is traditionally a time for cleaning up your diet, beginning your fitness routine, and losing weight.  It is also no surprise that January is one of the most popular months to start on a health journey like this.

If you are pondering a 30-day diet or lifestyle change for the new year and wanting accountability and support to make this year’s resolutions stick, read on.  I’m sharing with you the 5 tips I use to prepare myself and my clients for success!

Tip #1: Clarity Moves You Forward

One of the most important things you can do to prepare for any kind of lifestyle change is to clearly understand what you really want out of it.  Sit down with a pad and paper and discuss your goals and objectives until you are crystal clear about what is expected of you and in what order of priority.  it is amazing how many people spend their low-value tasks because they haven’t really figured out what they want and the steps they need to take to get there.

Some tips for doing this more effectively are to make a list of everything that you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal.  Then organize your list into priorities and sequence.  Will you need to purchase cooking supplies?  Find healthy recipes you will enjoy?  Clean our your pantry of junk food?  Join a gym?  Find an accountability partner?  Read or educate yourself on this new healthy protocol?

#2 Just Start 

Once you have your goals and a list of tasks, take action!  To achieve any kind of success you must execute.  Resolve to do one small thing every day that moves you toward your goal.  Atomic Habits author James Clear wrote that motivation is often the result of an action, not the cause of it.  Getting started, even in very small ways, is a form of active inspiration that naturally produces momentum.  Once a task has been started it is easier to continue moving it forward.

Tip #3: Master the art of preparation

When preparing for your January health goals think beyond grocery trips and new recipes and allow yourself to consider the other essentials that will support your new food habits.  Think through the specifics of what your social life will look like for the next 30 days, anticipate all of your obstacles, and make a plan for what you’ll do when you face them.  Preparing your lunch while you’re cleaning up from dinner is a great way to maximize time and make a plan for the following day.  Taking 20 extra minutes to clean fruits or prep vegetables while you are putting away groceries makes a HUGE difference in making meal prep simple on busy days.

It often only takes a few extra minutes to look at the calendar, plan a meal, prep a few ingredients or come up with a plan for how to face challenges like social events make all the difference.

Tip #4: Focus on Systems that Work! 

Pictured: Lisa Bryan from Downshiftology

I always loved the idea of meal planning and prepping but I never used to be good at it.  Until I learned this one simple trick…

Think about meal prepping ingredients, rather than making individual meals.  

This might seem simple to most of you but this one small tip has been a lifesaver!  In the past, I used to plan out 5 different recipes, buy all the ingredients to make each one, then spend an entire day in the kitchen chopping and preparing the meals to save for later in the week.  To make matters worse our schedule would often change and we woudn’t be home to eat the meals and then I would end up throwing things out.

Instead, think about prepping ingredients ahead of time that you can use for lots of different meals.  For example, slow cook chicken to shred and use in salads, soups, enchiladas.  Boil a dozen eggs to use for snacks and salad toppings.  Chop vegetables and put in a Tupperware to use for easy salad preparation or stirfry.  Roast vegetables, make salad dressings and spiralize vegetables for easy meals all week.  This thinking is so much more flexible and much less time-consuming.

My favorite videos for meal prep ideas like this are from Lisa from Downshiftology.  You can watch her meal prep video here. 

Items that I always have on the shelf because I love them so much:

  • Cooking Fats
  • Collagen Powder and Beef Gelatin (works great as a thickener)
  • Bone Broth (I recommend Kettle & Fire)
  • Ghee, Coconut Oil, Sesame Oil, Coconut Butter, Olive Oil, Avocado Oil
  • Apple Cider Vinegar, Balsamic Vinegar, Coconut Vinegar, Coconut Aminos and Fish Sauce, Sauerkraut
  • Cinnamon, Turmeric, Garlic Powder, Smoked Paprika
  • Arrowroot powder for thickening
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds, Tahini, Sunflower Seed Butter

I tend to work with my weekly groceries and staples to create delicious meals without an official menu, and this works for me since I am in my kitchen much of the time and since I menu-plan for a living, ideas come quickly. However, this is rare and not the case for most, so I realize how essential it is to plan, plan, plan.

If you are more like me, finding it natural to prepare meals as needed, feel free to run your meal planning this way, more free-flowing. If you want to plan a few days in advance or even cook several of your meals in advance, do this, because this will work for you. If you want to plan for the entire week, or even the entire month, definitely do it.

If you want specific meal planning support, check out the Real Plans planner. It plans 30 days of Whole30 meals in five minutes and has so many special features baked right into the program.

I also recommend The Dinner Daily which allows you to pick your meal preferences and favorite grocery store you like to shop in.  Each week The Dinner Daily will send you 5 personalized recipes and shopping list that is matched with your favorite grocery store sale flyer!  Its only $5/month!

Tip #5: Kitchen tools

Healthy eating requires a lot of cooking, so it’s worthwhile to invest in a few high-quality kitchen tools. Here’s what I find incredibly helpful to have in my own kitchen:

  • Instant Pot for slow cooking and pressure cooking.
  • A steamer basket. These are a few dollars at your local market and can make cooking veggies so effortless.
  • A sharp chef’s knife. I get my knife sharpened every few months and it is worth it every single time.
  • Glass storage bowls with lids.
  • A high-speed blender. I use a Vitamix, an investment ‘worth-it’ for me, but any blender is helpful when making sauces, dressings, and purees.
  • A grater box or hand-held spiralizer. Veggies are pleasurable to eat when prepared in different textures, such as shredding, slicing, spiralizing and these handheld tools get the job done.

We’ve covered a lot so far, so take some time to consider how these tips fit into your life.