Healthy Progress

Reprinted with permission from Experience Life Magazine.

Before you set healthy goals for 2012, stop and appreciate what you’ve already accomplished. A quick look back may be the best tool for evaluating what comes next.

By Experience Life Staff

Like it or not, another 12 months have zoomed by. If you haven’t checked off every last thing on your resolutions list, don’t fret. Chances are you still accomplished a great deal, probably more than you’re giving yourself credit for. Really. We’re not just being nice.

Perhaps you’ve started eating a little healthier, and you’re feeling more energetic as a result. Maybe you’ve managed to put a few miles on the bike you bought three years ago. This is the stuff you need to acknowledge as forward progress, not as evidence of a larger job as yet undone.

Viewing this year’s successes in sharper relief can help prime you for even more success in 2012 — because it helps you see that you are, in fact, making health and fitness a priority in your life. Recognizing even a little forward progress lets you upgrade your pursuits from the dreaded “should” or “have to” status (or worse, “total failure” status) and helps you build positive momentum.

“Taking stock this way helps you clearly communicate to yourself that being active and living a healthy lifestyle are truly important to you,” says Jennifer Davis, MS, a health psychology counselor for the Duke Center for Living in Durham, N.C.

To help you get a better sense of what you’ve accomplished in 2011, we’ve compiled three checklists — for fitness, nutrition and quality of life. You can use them to take a quick inventory of your own healthy progress. (See Web Extra! for additional resources.)

Even if you check only a box or two, we hope that assessing your accomplishments over the past year will help you recognize and appreciate that incremental progress is real progress.  Here’s to celebrating it all, and to planning an even more successful 2012!

For insights on the progressive stages of change, read “The Stages of Change.”

Fitness

Planning and Contemplation
During the past year, did you . . .
• Recognize the need for more activity in your life? Take stock of your current fitness status?

• Get a health assessment or seek advice about an appropriate fitness program?

• Set any fitness goals? Take even a few baby steps toward them?

• Schedule (write in your calendar) specific times to work out or be active? Show up for planned workouts, even some of the time? Even once?

Education and Support
During the past year, did you . . .
• Share your goals or intentions with other people? Ask for their support, or ask them to help hold you accountable?

• Seek out any information, guidance or support related to getting in shape or taking your fitness program to a new level (from books, magazines, Web sites, mobile apps, coaches or trainers)?

• Experiment with different kinds of fitness routines or activities? Find that you liked some things better than others?

Execution and Momentum
During the past year, did you . . .
• Direct some of your daily choices and actions toward achieving better fitness? (For example, did you start taking the stairs, walking after dinner, watching less TV, making it to the gym more often?)

• Participate in any athletic events or competitions? Work out in a class or with a group? Use activity as a way to de-stress, relax or wind down?

• Do anything you might not have thought possible before?

Nutrition

Planning and Contemplation
During the past year, did you . . .
• Realize that your body needs and deserves better nutrition than you’ve been giving it?

• Inquire with your health professional, nutritional specialist or trainer about what type of eating plan or dietary changes would be advisable for you?

• Set any healthy-eating goals? Document any of them? Create a plan toward achieving them?

• Remove any unhealthy items from your home? Quit buying (or cut back on buying) any unhealthy, overprocessed or “problem” foods?

Education and Support
During the past year, did you . . .
• Seek out any guidance related to expanding your conscious awareness, moving beyond old limitations or living a more satisfying life (from books, magazines, classes, retreats, Web sites,
conversations)?

• Share your insights and intentions with other people, especially intimate friends or your partner? Ask for their support and input?

• End the year knowing more about your values and priorities, and where your current life stands in relationship to them, than you did at the year’s outset?

Execution and Momentum
During the past year, did you . . .
• Follow through with even part of your resolution plans? Recognize when you were wandering off course or forgetting about them? Make any course corrections or adjustments to your plan?

• Carve out a little more time for play, spiritual exploration, rest, meditation and other “nonproductive” tasks? Create time and space to become a better steward of your physical health?

• Overcome any fears, or do something that demanded bravery at the time? Resist the temptation to beat yourself up for not succeeding at something?

Quality of Life

Planning and Contemplation
During the past year, did you . . .
•  Become aware that you’d like to feel more connected to a sense of higher purpose and meaning? Identify some ways that stress, fear or anger might be detracting from your health, mood or the quality of your relationships?

•  Inquire with your health professional, coach or wise friend about some changes, explorations or personal-development tools that might be useful for you?

•  Set any personal development or life-balance goals? Rearrange any priorities? Create a plan toward achieving them?

Education and Priorities
During the past year, did you . . .
• Seek out any guidance related to expanding your conscious awareness, moving beyond old limitations or living a more satisfying life (from books, magazines, classes, retreats, Web sites,
conversations)?

• Share your insights and intentions with other people, especially intimate friends or your partner? Ask for their support and input?

• End the year knowing more about your values and priorities, and where your current life stands in relationship to them, than you did at the year’s outset?

Execution and Momentum
During the past year, did you . . .
• Follow through with even part of your resolution plans? Recognize when you were wandering off course or forgetting about them? Make any course corrections or adjustments to your plan?

• Carve out a little more time for play, spiritual exploration, rest, meditation and other “nonproductive” tasks? Create time and space to become a better steward of your physical health?

• Overcome any fears, or do something that demanded bravery at the time? Resist the temptation to beat yourself up for not succeeding at something?

Take Stock, Take Credit

If you’ve been able to say yes to any of these things, congratulations. And if reading through these examples has shaken loose any insights about other areas of progress, give yourself some more gold stars! You’ve made headway, and with luck, you’ve also made some sense of what it takes for you to make positive change in any area of your life. Take pride in the fact that this year, your good intentions took you somewhere you wanted to go — in the direction of your hopes, your values and your most promising future.

Reprinted with permission from Experience Life Magazine.

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit www.experiencelife.com to learn more, to sign up for Experience Life newsletters, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

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