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New Year. New Approach.
Ditch the “resolution.” Give your lifestyle a “360 review.”
Sure, use the new year as health inspiration – any opportunity to set a goal and invest in your health is an opportunity worth taking – but don’t simply repeat the classic pattern of setting unrealistic goals, being momentarily diligent, feeling overwhelmed only to fall off (disheartened) of the health wagon.
To paraphrase an old adage, “To elicit different results you need to think and act differently.”
If every year you decide to work on your health yet never reach your goals, it might be time for a new approach. Come at the problem with fresh eyes!
“Steal” from the business world — give your lifestyle a “360 review.”
A 360 review is a well-rounded, multi-layered, collaborative assessment where peers, employers, employees, etc. collaborate with the person being reviewed in assessing performance.
Some iteration of a 3D, systems-based analysis is critical — although typically missing — when adopting a healthier lifestyle.
Why? No one intervention (diet, workout program, miracle product, etc.) can be the health panacea; key variables like sleep quality and quantity, types of workouts, recovery, and nutrition interact as within an ecosystem or chemistry experiment. You can’t exercise daily while treating your body like a garbage can and never sleeping. Piecemeal solutions don’t work long-term.
Too many of us overestimate our healthy choices and attitudes and underestimate our unhealthy ones. Having friends and family weigh in (pun slightly intended) can highlight blind spots.
A well-rounded 360 analysis allows you to build a well-rounded plan for long-term ACTION!
Step 1. Complete an analysis
Awareness brings choice. You can’t change a habit you are not aware of!
Include personal, peer, and family reflections.
Keep a journal. Record data on the linchpin health habits below. Pinpoint your biggest blind spots. Prioritize improving those. For example, if you’re fairly active but have terrible nutrition, prioritize food prep.
Ask family, colleagues, and peers to identify strengths and areas for improvement. You might think you only occasionally grab nuts at work; your colleague might know you grab handfuls multiple times daily. Handfuls add up. Note all feedback. If you hear something more than once, or something resonates with you, make that your priority.
Step 2. Work on blind spots
Your body and brain recover and your hormones are rebalanced as you sleep. For example, a lack of sleep increases ghrelin (which makes you hungry) and adequate sleep encourages production of leptin (which makes you feel full); it is nearly impossible to say “no” to sugar if you are chronically tired.
Consider establishing a cut-off time for caffeine and setting a “start sleep routine” alarm. Then turn of screens, stretch, meditate, take a hot bath, etc.
Strength training fuels every health and fitness goal, from fat loss to decreased injury to improved mental health. Consider working with a trainer to learn proper form and getting a fitness buddy to increase motivation.
Recovery includes activities that bring you into your parasympathetic nervous system, such as stretching, foam rolling, meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and massage. When you don’t have a chunk of time, pepper a few seconds of deep breathing and stretches throughout the day.
Interval training requires alternating between high- and low-intensity bouts of activity. This places a high metabolic demand on the body, burns lots of calories in a short time, produces a high EPOC (post-workout calorie burn), increases mitochondrial growth (mitochondria help burn fat), and improves fitness. Try Tabatas, AMRAPS, Minutes, or intervals on any cardio machine.
Consistency is key. Consistency requires preparation. Consider syphoning off time weekly to prep easy-to-assemble healthy meals; make healthy choices as convenient as unhealthy ones.
What counts is the sum total of your lifestyle choices — weekly, monthly, yearly trends. Become aware of variables you have under control (so you can reproduce) and areas needing improvement. We all have limited time, resources, and energy. Invest energy where it will serve you.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s natural. But don’t get mired in the muck. Don’t change everything at once. Start. Tweak as you go. Aim to trend positive.
When you fall of your health horse, course correct as quickly as possible and learn from the experience!