What do your health victories and setbacks have in common? You!

You may be in a place where that’s a pretty hard punch to the gut, but let me tell you why it’s important to look backward and inward for solutions, rather than forward to the next fitness fad band aid to temporarily cover up the issues. Your past choices and the results tell you what truly went wrong. You’re the only common thread between all the things you’ve tried. However, you might be pleased to recall some things you did that were really effective. Let’s maximize those things TODAY!

As a matter of fact, you need to maximize the right things every day, because long-term health is a daily commitment. Here’s a helpful tool… See how you fair as you go down my daily checklist:

  • I slept 8-hours last night
  • I ate breakfast this morning
  • I took a break from work to eat lunch today
  • I did not overeat at dinner
  • I ate whole food snacks in between my meals
  • I planned ahead and made the best possible choices at each meal
  • I did not sit more than 4-hours total
  • I did not sit for more than 1-hour at a time without getting up for a short movement break
  • I set apart 60-minutes to exercise
  • I exercised at an intensity that caused me to breathe hard enough that I could not comfortably speak to someone next to me
  • I exercised at an intensity that made my muscles burn and even feel inflated
  • I kept my heart rate in my exercise target range throughout physical activity
  • I did not exercise in such a way that put me at risk for injury
  • I took time to enjoy the people I love most
  • I made an excuse for one or more things on this list that I did not follow

Check all the boxes on the list consistently, except the last one, and you’ll be hard pressed not to find success. If you check the last box frequently, there’s something you need to confront and fix QUICKLY. In fairness to yourself, allow for some time to fully adjust to your list on a daily basis. Aim to increase your check marks as you go until each item is accounted for regularly. Start with the most important first. Lists like this one can be a great tell for what you’re doing wrong and what you’re doing right. You’ll be surprised how checking the boxes daily can lead to greater consistency and elimination of your bad habits and excuses.

Your list may look a little different than mine depending on the measures you must take to succeed. That’s where you need to be honest with yourself. I recommend creating your list with someone who knows you well and doesn’t mind giving you hard truth, so you can’t make any excuses.

By now, you have already determined you cannot check all the boxes for one reason or another. There’s that common denominator again. Each box of uncertainty is a barrier that’s standing in your way. You aren’t going anywhere unless you find a solution NOW. Often, this means reprioritizing your life. I hear you that kids, jobs, ambitions, and tailgating make it “impossible” to reach your goals, but how will you support those things when your health declines?

Second thoughts out the door! You need to do whatever it takes. Take some time to think about, “Why?” Move beyond how you want to look. Start thinking along the lines of disease and injury resistance. Imagine tackling the physical demands of life with strength and vigor, rather than pain, fatigue, and limitation. Keep the people from the second-to-last checkbox in mind. Oh, and if money gets your wheels turning, don’t forget that poor health habits now will backload your life with healthcare costs.

So, make your list TODAY! Use it to figure out where you went wrong last time and what you need to correct RIGHT NOW. Make the changes no matter what you have to sacrifice. Remember, health is much more than aesthetics. Healthy is achieved by a maximum quality of life, so consider all elements, including body composition, movement, strength, and cardiovascular fitness. Make truth the only tough pill you ever have to swallow to be healthy. Make some honest self-assessments and maximize your efforts TODAY!

By: Fred Munzenmaier, SPARC Director