If you’ve ever hit a wall or just feel like you’re at a dead end in your health and wellness goals, an occasional assessment of your lifestyle may help. A health and nutritional analysis is a great tool to help understand your habits and what steps you need to take to be healthier—it’s not as simple as taking a pill or using more supplements but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated, either.
Here’s a quick sample of five things (and questions) to consider:
Exercise Program: What are the elements of your workout and weekly program? How many days are dedicated to aerobic and strength conditioning? Consider flexibility training, how long you stretch, average time of daily workouts, and how often to change routines.
Body, Diet, Environment: Review medical history, diet, and life stressors. What is your body type and trouble spots? Do you smoke and/or drink? What motivates you or prevents you from exercising? Consider your metabolic rate; what types of food do you regularly consume; what’s your fat and sodium content; and which supplements and vitamin do you take. How do you handle life’s stressors?
Comforts and the Why: What are your comfort foods? What do you eat during stressful periods? Do you eat when you’re bored, lonely, depressed? How well do you manage conflict? What are your coping mechanisms and do you need to adjust them?
Go Deeper: Here’s what I wrote during my college freshman year class on health assessments: “I first started eating gummy bears during a math class. Once day I had a major breakthrough with a math problem. I think the link with candy was psychological after that. I’ve always been afraid that I was stupid and couldn’t learn …” Candy soon became an aid that promoted "successful" study habits. It led to more sweets and sugar. It took years for me to break that habit but I had to find the source and triggers in my life and confront them before I could move forward.
Make it Achievable: Behavior modification helps change learned (bad) habits. Developing realistic long and short-term goals also help. I decided to practice relaxation techniques before studying to relieve anxiety. Later, I began exploring hobbies and activities that helped relieve school stress. These were easier to implement because it wasn’t complicated or required excess steps to incorporate into my busy school life.
Have you ever done a health assessment before? How did it work out for you? Do you return to it periodically?