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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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!