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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Strategies for Sparking Change in Physical Activity

Mississippi River Overlook

Change challenges us and helps us thrive, as individuals and as a community. Pursuing and maintaining a physically active lifestyle will allow us to be healthy, happy and productive people.

It’s easier to progress our personal growth when we have direction. The five Stages for Motivational Readiness for Change, as explained in my earlier post Making Physical Activity a Habit, guide individuals on creating lifelong habit changes in physical activity.

Here are strategies you can implement to move up the stages and spark change in your current levels of physical activity:

How to advance through the Stages of Change

1. Identify which stage you are in (for guidance, click here).

2. Read through and consider the following selection of recommendations from Motivating People to Be Physically Active (Forsyth & Marcus, 2003) on how to advance through the stages. Many of these are cumulative and continue to apply as you move up the stages; some are specific to the stage.

If you are in…

Stage 1 – Inactive and not thinking about becoming more active

  • Write down how your sedentary lifestyle is affecting you and your loved ones
  • Determine benefits of physical activity and how much these matter to you
  • Look back at past attempts at behavior change and identify learned experiences

Stage 2 – Inactive and thinking about becoming more active

  • Expand knowledge on benefits of physical activity
  • Identify excuses and issues that prevent you from engaging in physical activity
  • Create achievable short-term goals

Stage 3 – Doing some physical activity

  • Create a plan to substitute 15 minutes of sedentary time in the week with an simple, enjoyable, active option
  • Decide on a reward for achieving your goals
  • Brainstorm ways to overcome excuses that shy you away from physical activity

Stage 4 – Doing enough physical activity

  • Note how you have benefitted from physical activity
  • Think about future obstacles that may prevent you from engaging in physical activity and develop a plan on how to address them
  • Expand your horizons and try out new physical activities

Stage 5 – Making physical activity a habit (maintaining Stage 4 for at least 6 months)

  • Launch long-term goals and track progress on a log
  • Consider becoming a role model to someone who may need motivation to advance through any of the stages
  • Remind yourself that if for some reason you need to pause physical activity, you will be capable of resuming

Most importantly, always remember to praise yourself for your efforts, diligence and dedication. The only one who ultimately can enable your personal growth is you!

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Making Physical Activity a Habit

Our bodies are meant to move, so it is important we give them opportunities and time to do so. I’ve come across a useful program for guiding individuals through change in physical activity, one that addresses motivation and action.

The program is based on the Stages of Motivational Readiness for Change model. The model derived from the work by Dr. Prochaska and Dr. DiClemente for users who wanted to quit smoking on their own, and was later adapted by Dr. Marcus and Dr. Forsyth (2003) to apply to physical activity.

My aim to share this model is for you to gain an idea of which stage you are in, visualize the next step up and envision your ultimate goal, which I hope is to make physical activity a habit.

The Stages of Motivational Readiness for Change

Individuals will fall into one of the following five stages in the model in any given period of time:

Stage 1 – Inactive and not thinking about becoming more active

Stage 2 – Inactive and thinking about becoming more active

Stage 3 – Doing some physical activity

Stage 4 – Doing enough physical activity

Stage 5 – Making physical activity a habit (maintaining Stage 4 for at least 6 months)

How much physical activity is “enough”?

The American Heart Association and the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (as referenced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommend at least the following amounts of physical activity for adults to stay healthy:

  • 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week (30 minutes, 5 days a week), OR
  • 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity a week (25 minutes, 3 days a week), OR
  • An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity


  • 2 days a week of moderate-intensity muscle strengthening activities

Moderate-intensity aerobic activities include brisk walking, cleaning the house, tai chi and other activities where you are at the point of barely breaking a sweat (at around 65-70 degrees)

Vigorous-intensity aerobic activities include running, jumping rope, shoveling, basketball and other activities where you will definitely be sweating.

Moderate-intensity muscle strengthening activities include yoga, calisthenics (body weight training), lifting weights and using resistance bands.

Set yourself up for success

The stages in this model are cyclical, rather than linear, as there is no endpoint to the process. Individuals gradually build their way up the stages (if they choose to actively pursue them) but may move back to a lower stage in times of struggle. It will likely take a few cycle repetitions for an individual to reach Stage 5.

To decrease your chance of relapse and increase your chance of creating lifelong behavior change, it is highly recommended you go through the stages in order.

Now what?

1. Determine which stage you are in and look ahead to see where to go next (in order!).

2. Start brainstorming specific ideas on how to move up to the next stage.

3. When you’re ready, check out these research-based strategies for improving levels of physical activity.

I always come back to the same questions: What do I want and how do I get there?

Let that be your guide as you begin seeing the possibilities!


American Heart Association. (2014, February 1). American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults. Retrieved April 12, 2015, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/American-Heart-Association-Recommendations-for-Physical-Activity-in-Adults_UCM_307976_Article.jsp

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, March 3). How much physical activity do adults need? Retrieved April 12, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html

Marcus, B., & Forsyth, L. (2003). Motivating people to be physically active. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.