Embrace Forward Motion

Wellness, fitness & personal growth


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Before Rushing Into New Year’s Resolutions…

It’s time for an End-of-Year Review!

End-of-Year Reviews give insight into the past year. New Year’s resolutions are more meaningful (and hopefully longer lasting) if we take time to evaluate our previous year.

Reflection is part of growth and self-improvement, so why would we want to miss out on that?

An End-of-Year Review allows you to:

  • See how you started, how you’re doing and where you’re headed
  • Record progress and personal growth
  • Compare numbers (speed/distance/time) or how you felt throughout the year
  • Notice patterns
  • Identify successes and challenges
  • Brainstorm New Year’s resolutions

Ways to get started on your review:

  • Think chronologically. Take it one month at a time. How did the year go? Which patterns, successes and challenges come to light?
  • Reflect back on last year’s resolutions. How did those turn out?
  • Identify new activities or interests you picked up. Note ones you just tried out and others you continue to do. The new keeps it fun.
  • Time to brainstorm! What would you like to accomplish in the upcoming year?

Ongoing reflection throughout the year keeps you successful. Check out how to Track Your Progress and Start a Fitness Log.

If you’re eager to get started on your resolutions, learn how to Make Physical Activity a Habit.

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Our Bodies Talk, Let’s Listen

“Our bodies are speaking to us all the time. Often, we don’t listen to them until they are screaming at us in pain.” – Jacki, yoga instructor

Our bodies are wonderful, biological machines: they know when we are cold or hot, hungry or full, thirsty, sore and hurt. In theory, we should be able to give our bodies everything they need and know when they are satisfied.

The problem? Our thoughts and emotions get in the way.

The solution: check in with the body periodically and identify cause and effect as to why we are feeling a certain way. Checking in is not about developing guilt, but rather self-control and personal growth.

Food

Food is a prime example. We may eat because we are…

  • hungry
  • bored
  • upset
  • feeling social pressure
  • indulging on food that looks or tastes great

Biologically speaking, we need to eat because we are hungry and need nutrients to nourish our bodies. Sometimes certain foods bring back treasured memories, making us happier and whole. It’s alright to indulge on occasion, both physically and emotionally, but during the majority of meals we can check in with our bodies to see if our stomachs are satisfied. Think: Why am I eating? Am I hungry? 

Physical Discomfort

Let’s define here “discomfort” as a antecedent to pain or soreness. Viruses and bacteria aside, we often experience physical discomfort due to our environment or the way we are treating our bodies. This may occur during physical activity, meals, or other daily routine or activities.

Checking in with the body in times of discomfort may alleviate situations. If we are experiencing…

  • A headache after a long work day: reduce stress by relaxing, become surrounded by dimmer lighting and quieter environment.
  • Discomfort in shoulder from helping a friend move: take a rest day or focus on lower body exercise
  • Shin splints while running: adjust running form to diminish or eliminate heel-striking

At times, recognizing and removing a harmful trigger of discomfort, or finding an alternative, will prevent the discomfort from turning into pain or soreness. We will be less likely to use pain killers and instead teach our bodies to avoid future discomfort. Think: How is my setting or what I am doing enabling physical discomfort? How do I prevent it from becoming physical pain?

Checking in with the body develops body awareness and personal growth. It gives us a chance to pause. Our bodies are talking to us; we just have to listen and they will lead us on the right path.


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National Running Day: Why Do We Run?

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Every first Wednesday in June is National Running Day. This year, it’s today–June 3rd.

This day showcases the love runners have for running and expands national awareness of the running community.

The theme this year, as organized by National Running Day with their logo (above), is to have runners complete the sentence “I run…” and post it on social media with the hashtag #NationalRunningDay. This can take the approach of “I run because…, in order to…, so I…”, among others.

Whether you are just starting a wellness routine (not even necessarily running) or have been maintaining one for a while, I encourage you to think about why you do it. Get specific about why you favor certain activities over others, and decide what effect those reasons have on you on your personal growth–in mind, body and/or spirit. For example:

  • If you bike every day to lose weight, why do you want to lose weight? Which feelings are you trying to attain?
  • If you like outdoor runs better than running on a treadmill, what is it about the freedom of the outdoors that sparks your enjoyment?

Identifying and evaluating the basics can allow us to refocus and reassess that which fuels our motivation. Ultimately, recognizing why we do what we do can give us a renewed drive to pursue growth and keep us moving forward.


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Track Your Progress: Start a Fitness Log

The best way to assess progress is to track it. Logging fitness will benefit you in various ways:

  • See how you started, how you’re doing and where you’re headed
  • Have a visual of your progress
  • Compare numbers (speed/distance) or how you feel throughout the month
  • Notice patterns
  • Identify successes and challenges
  • Record your personal growth

Here I offer four ways to keep fitness/wellness logs: using a calendar, planner, journal and websites/apps. Feel free to choose the one(s) that best fit your lifestyle.

Using a calendar

As simple as it gets: focus on numbers, not words, as you fill in the boxes.

Ex: Mon, Feb. 1st – Run 2 mi, Tues, Feb. 2nd – Rest, Wed, Feb. 3rd – Bike 20 min.

Using a planner

A planner with daily and weekly entries allows you to record what you physically did and what you are mentally thinking about as you work toward your goals. Some days it can be just factual or include explanation:

Ex. Ran 2 mi on trail, lifted weights ~20 min

Ex: Ran 2 mi on Cedar Lake Trail. Beautiful day, ~70F. Felt good and energetic the entire time. Lifted weights in gym ~20 min after run, focused on upper body.

Suggestions for Daily Entries:

  • What did you do that day? Include work out AND rest days.
  • How did you feel? Did you perform how you expected?
  • What was the weather like?
  • Did you have an insight? Found something that motivated you?
  • Was there a particularly good or bad experience?
  • Recovering from injury or soreness from the previous day? What are your steps for treating it?
  • Is there something new you wish to explore?

Suggestions for Weekly Entries:

  • How did the week go overall?
  • Did you complete a weekly goal, if you have one?
  • What challenges did you perceive or overcome?
  • What do you want to focus on next week?

Using a paper or digital journal

Journals allow for a more expanded version than the Daily Planner Entries, as these tend to be filled in paragraphs of text, rather than short sentences. Ideas flow more freely and may be more expressive.

Ex: Today I biked 3 miles on Cedar Lake Trail. The weather was a perfectly sunny, but a hot 85 degrees, with no wind. The route struck me as boring, and there was a lack of shade. I’ll have to look into other routes in the area that may provide a change in scenery, and hopefully more shade.

Using websites or apps

The best websites and apps I use and recommend for recording fitness are MapMyRun, Endomondo and S Health. For more information on the websites and apps, check out the Resources tab.