How Are Your Choices Adding up?
Putting a number on things related to health and fitness seems to be inherent in our nature. I’ve heard “Numbers don’t lie,” but in a funny not so funny way I’m asking “What’s the margin for error?”
How did your year add up? Below I list some things you could put a number to and then reflect on whether you think more or less of these would be a beneficial way to bring in the New Year.
How much time did you work on improving your balance and ankle mobility per day?
How many nights did you get 7-9 hours of sleep and go to bed at the same time of night?
How many bowel movements did you have per day?
How many walks/hikes/runs per week?
How many different fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds do you eat per week?
How many resistance strength training sessions per week?
How much has your weight changed this year?
The answers to these questions may not feel like they make much difference day to day, but I’m sure you noticed my questions start with the per day and end with the per year.
I’ll allow some wiggle room for a few days, a week or two off with travel or vacation, but if the whole year doesn’t add up you may be losing time on becoming your strongest self, and this has long lasting implications that can take more time than you anticipated to reverse.
Overestimate or underestimate?
Have you overestimated or underestimated the sum of your lifestyle choices on the sum of your total health? Here are some more ways to break down the numbers. Some folks will have more data than others with all the tracking devices and technology available today. I’m not a fan of tracking devices for the record, but I’m interested if you share your numbers with me.
How many steps do you take per day?
What is your resting heart rate and blood pressure?
Do you measure your stress levels by everyday measures such as mood, sleep and energy or technology that gives you feedback such as heart rate variability?
How many hours of sitting and or screen time are you getting each day?
How many minutes of moderate exercise per week?
How many calories are you eating per day? (Note: I’m NOT a fan of counting.)
How many alcoholic drinks per day/week? (Note: I AM a fan of counting.)
What are your blood chemistry results? HIgh or low this or that? Total this or that, or has it been awhile since you got these checked?
Journaling is good for stress management. Have you considered trying it?
All the answers can add up to a dose of feeling overwhelmed and thinking that moving closer to your goals may be a little harder than you anticipated.
Then we hear some research or percentages (More numbers!) that may or may not give us the motivation or desire to change. I often find that folks are looking for the minimums or lowest numbers needed to improve their health; especially if those numbers don’t align with their current lifestyle. Maybe we don’t want to hear about the risks of highly processed food (Sugar, fat, salt) , alcohol, meat, or the risks of a sedentary lifestyle on our cardiovascular, metabolic, and mental health. The risks are real. The answers can overwhelm - the decisions you make today are the foundations of your health status decades ahead. Wherever you are starting 2024 give it a healthy dose of the sum of the current research, your experience and be open to changing some of your former beliefs.
“It’s not sufficient to wait until your marginal decade (last decade of your life) to do something about it. You have to start doing things today to make sure you have the life you want tomorrow.” -Dr. Peter Attia: Author Outlive
I’m moving forward with you through the decades of life with the knowledge that I continue to expand and share because we need this. We all need more movement, care, and hope that we can house ourselves in the best physical body possible. Our journeys are unique, but our desire to be healthy, disease and pain free, and be as independent as possible are universal. You are not alone on your journey.
Have you underestimated your risks?
Making better choices for your health is not always easy especially if you have built strong beliefs around your choices. We all have beliefs around our choices - some of them lie close to our emotional selves and are often driven by those emotions. Over-riding the emotional decisions with some slow thought logic is needed to move your choices and lifestyle in the right direction for health improvement.
When was the last time you updated your beliefs on health matters?
As a fitness professional with a strong commitment to continued education even I get overwhelmed because of information that is available to use online. Finding trusted resources to guide our health decisions is important. Giving the informed changes we make time to change us is needed. How can we override emotionally charged decisions and change our beliefs without the gift of time to experience the results? More than ever I'm convinced that each of us are so unique that a change for me might not be the change that works for you. Add yet another layer of complexity to belief management in our decision making process - If we don’t give ourselves time to change and understand the reasons why it’s important then our emotional reactive decisions win the lifestyle choice game once again.
Change can be difficult. I have no words to dispute this fact. I like what I do and what I eat and I don’t want to give that up are words I have heard from many clients. Are there some things in your lifestyle that you are not able to give up? Are there non-negotiables in your change department? Now is the time to consider the cost of these on your long term health.
Hard to part with or change your beliefs?
Author of the book, The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb: “We are explanation seeking animals who tend to think that everything has an identifiable cause and grab the most apparent one as the explanation.” Taleb goes on to say, “We love the tangible, the confirmation, the palpable, the real, the visible, the concrete, the known...” We have as he explains “belief perseverance”, the tendency not to reverse opinions we already hold. We treat these opinions like possessions that we struggle to part with. I see truth and humor in his words. My goodness, human nature prevails.
Experience is a great teacher. We cannot overestimate or underestimate the effect of any one thing on our health. When we hold a strong opinion or belief because we know, (What we eat for example.) or our friends and family know, then I suggest another thought for you to consider from Taleb’s book. “The gap between what you know and what you don’t know is one thing - but it’s another thing to look at the gap between what you know and what you think you know.” Therein lies the opportunity to learn about the changes you need to make to reach your goals. I find this fascinating as it comes up frequently in my work. As a fitness coach how can I influence your change on something you are already very hardwired knowing. What you think you know and do may not be healthy or serving your long term goals.
The longer you wait - the longer it will take to live with the benefits of your decisions. Whether you like the “New Year, New You” resolution idea or not, please question your lifestyle and consider where you could focus some change in your numbers.
Health and fitness has become more than an investment of time or money (Which are very valuable resources.) for me. I consider the greatest value is in the feeling that being healthy and strong brings to me mentally. The feeling I need to live in our modern world and face the adversities that our journey brings. Take hold of those things you can control, keep learning, grow your strength; and know you are worthy of all that you are.
Whether you add one more walk or training session per week, one more hour of sleep per night, or 1 new vegetable per day, your results will speak for themselves as your year adds up.
May 2024 bring all that you wish for to you and yours. Health and strength of course! We look forward to growing your strength, lifting your spirits and cultivating your health at the Movement Garden.
Sheila, Lyndsay, and Louise
Written by: Sheila Hamilton Copyright December 2023 Written without AI tools.
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