The Sum of Your Lifestyle Choices

  • Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • The Sum of Your Lifestyle Choices

Last updated on December 23, 2023

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.

"We have 'belief perseverance', the tendency not to reverse opinions we already hold. We treat these opinions like possessions that we struggle to part with." -Author Nassim Taleb 

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.

Reach out to us:

A former Registered Nurse turned Personal Trainer, Sheila has dedicated herself to the ongoing learning of being a fitness professional. Making fitness a lifestyle and supporting her clients through the changes needed to reach their goals is her purpose and passion. Certified with many organizations Sheila has a special interest in the practice of kettlebell training.

  • You are always giving us reasons to stretch our goals, not just our muscles, Sheila! Inspiring ideas in here for continual self-reflection. The mention of the “marginal decade” should be a bit of a jolt for everyone!

  • Thank you Shelia: It’s truly helpful to read a piece that acknowledges the importance of “belief management” and points out that beliefs are not concrete “possesions.”
    Loved your quotes. To add my favourite from Buddah, “With each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”
    Cheers, Katy

  • You know how you can hear something and dismiss it because it isn’t aligning with your life and therefore you don’t really want to hear it? And then time goes by and you hear it again and again and again and you start to wonder, “hmm, maybe there is some truth to this!”. It’s good to hear these words again, Sheila, and from a trusted source such as yourself. Thanks for reminding us again of the things we need to know if we want to feel as good in 20 years as we feel right now (or perhaps even better!).

    • Thank you Louise – I’m laughing because it’s the human condition to shut out things we don’t want to hear isn’t it? I like the way you summed it up. In 20 years we will be enjoying even more of the benefits of our commitment to wellness now. Stronger together…Happy Strong Year! Here’s to 20 + more!

  • Thank you for these important motivating comments and questions Sheila! I need to keep hearing them. I appreciate your comment: “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.” As you keep planting these health and longevity seeds, more and more are sprouting for me. They may take some time, but they are there, ready to emerge as new healthy habits, when I’m ready.

    • Thank you for your reply Colleen. You are a great role model for health – and always committed to learning.
      I appreciate your input very much. Also, thank-you for sharing relevant podcasts with me!

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    Let's chat and connect

     on what you need!

    What needs to be broken down for break through changes in your life?