Reflection to Action
In my last article for Suffer Better, I started a conversation about blood biomarker monitoring. Because we are nearing the end of the year (!!), I want to pause from the blood biomarker dialog and plant some ideas for wrapping up this year and moving into the next. Get your RARA going…
The last couple months of each year seem to be especially busy times. Perhaps not so much from an exercise or training standpoint, as most athletes take this time of the year for off-season and to enjoy a more relaxed training schedule. Instead, the weeks are filled with holiday parties, end of year work deadlines, holiday shopping, and family gatherings. For those wondering how to manage their food intake during this hectic time, you can find plenty of advice in popular media right now. Advice such as “don’t starve yourself before the party”, “hydrate well”, “get in regular exercise”, “snack smart”, and “eat slowly and mindfully”. This is all great advice to get through the remaining weeks of 2017, yet I would also like to propose a few other ‘exercises’ for this month that will help prepare you for a successful year ahead. The exercises are: Reflect, Assess, Resolve, and Act. Here is more detail on each:
Reflect: Ponder this year in the context of health and your physical fitness (or athletic progress if you are an athlete). What has gotten better or worse? Have you had testing specific to your needs to really know your health status? Are you gaining unwanted weight, injured frequently, seeing a loss of strength or speed, or struggling to maintain energy in your daily living and during training? Take the time to think about the successes and defeats without judgement. There are few of us who will find that everything is perfect with no room to improve on some level.
Assess: With what you have noted from this year, now take some time to piece it apart. This may require another set of eyes from a health practitioner or coach, but one of the goals includes determining the influences or contributors to success or failure. Did you let nutrition fall by the wayside? Did you overwork yourself? What about sleep and stress management? This can be a difficult task, but one that is necessary in order to get a better grasp of things in your life that need to change. I would also add here to include an assessment of behaviors you are willing to modify towards positive outcomes in your life. It’s all well and good to know what you are supposed to do, but entirely irrelevant if you do not understand the reasons or you are not motivated to act.
Resolve: Many people tend to skip the aforementioned two steps and jump to the New Years Resolutions. Unfortunately, the success rate for these individuals is very low. It makes sense why - you can’t just say you want to do amazing things without taking the time to understand how you got to where you are now. So, be sure you’ve done adequate self-reflection and self-assessment before starting your resolution list. What are the things you need to do to begin tackling the areas of needed improvement? And most importantly, what are you really ready to do NOW? Make a list of the process goals that will support your overall outcome goal(s). For example, if you know you tend to eat poorly when you have busy work weeks, a process goal is to spend two hours on the weekend to prepare some meals for the week ahead.
Act: The rewarding part is now to take steps forward. The world is your oyster, so to speak. You’ve done your homework on Project You so now give the plan your best effort, one step and one day at a time. You will have bumps in the road and occasional setbacks. So long as you have the courage and patience to get back on the horse (and learn from those setbacks), you will keep going forward towards the successes you desire!
I hope you will make some time to do these exercises this month. Oh, and don’t forget that a Registered Dietitian or Sports Dietitian (RD or CSSD) can be a part of your support team to propel you forward!
Dina Griffin, MS, RDN, CSSD, CISSN, METS II
Board Certified Sport Dietitian