When your progress wavers, pay attention. What causes setbacks with your food or fitness? Is it when you get too busy? Is it when you don’t get enough sleep? Notice patterns, cycles, and reactions—not to make yourself feel guilty, but so you have valuable information from which to make healthier decisions in the future.

We all make mistakes. When we track our victories as well as setbacks, we see that God’s grace is sufficient, and his love is bigger than any of our weaknesses. If you have a bad day with any of the Essentials, don’t be upset; instead, view that as a great opportunity to learn to use as insight for tomorrow.

One of the best ways to make steady progress is to track your progress. (For ideas, go to page 176 in The Daniel Plan book.) To help you make consistent daily, weekly, and monthly progress, monitoring and/or tracking your efforts is important. In fact, in multiple studies, individuals who monitored their exercise habits significantly improved their behavior and likelihood of accomplishing their goals.

When it comes to food, a choice as simple as smart snacking can show you how daily progress builds momentum and leads to long-term success. Smart snacking means choosing something with protein and avoiding sugar. Here are some great grab-and-go ideas:

  • Stock your fridge with healthy dips (hummus, guacamole), low-sugar fruits, Greek yogurt, and hard-boiled eggs.
  • Carry a small cooler and ice packs in your car for food items that need to stay cold.
  • Toss together a bean salad with olive oil, herbs, salt, pepper, and spices such as cumin, onion, or shallot.
  • Stock mini-packets of nut butters.
  • Stock healthy jerky (salmon, turkey, grass-fed beef, bison, organic, without added nitrates or MSG).
  • Make organic air-popped popcorn.
  • Drink plenty of water. Sometimes you are dehydrated, not hungry.

As you focus on progress, not perfection, you will be equipped to run the race God has set for you. Trust him, and trust the friends who are with you on this journey. Be brave enough to be authentic—to reveal your issues and graciously accept the weaknesses of others. Foster a community where every friend is not afraid to ask for help—starting with yourself.

Prayer: Lord, Will you remind me that perfection is never the goal but a heart toward you and your ways? Help me to feel secure, knowing that getting healthy is a matter of making progress, one healthy choice at a time. I trust that your strength will give me confident hope, patience in hard times, and the faithfulness to keep praying. (Romans 12:12)

Check out The Daniel Plan Jumpstart Guide – Daily Steps to a Healthier Life to begin the journey to better health with the five key Essentials:  Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus, and Friends.  The Daniel Plan Jumpstart Guide offers day-by-day steps to create a healthy lifestyle.