This is the third and final part of the Seven Questions series designed to help you chart a course to your own path to sustainable fitness. There’s 10,000 ways to lose weight and get fit, but only one matters: the one that works for you.
In Part 1, you determined why you want to improve your health or fitness.
In Part 2, you determined which habit(s) to change as a step in the right direction. You’ve even detailed the steps needed to take action on changing your habit.
The only thing left to do is…take action! As you get started, though, it’s important to know whether your good intentions are translating into actual results – increased movement or healthier eating. And that’s the purpose of these final two questions.
Question #6: How will you track that you’re sticking with it?
World-renowned business and finance theorist Peter Drucker once said, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” So to make your plan measurable and see if it’s working, you need a baseline (what you’re currently doing) and a way to consistently determine whether your efforts are bearing fruit (hahaha, fruit…dietitian humor).
If you have a consistent habit now, then you already know your baseline. For example, you may already know you work out or go running about twice per week. For other habits, you may know you need to improve, but you don’t really know where you’re starting. That’s where a brief assessment period can be useful. Track the habit you intend to change at least three days (include at least one weekend day) – ideally seven days. Write down, either on paper or on your phone or computer, how often you perform your target habit each day. Include as much detail as possible. Death of the Diet has assessment templates for the eight most common healthy habit changes, including:
For water intake: Where did you drink it? When did you drink it? Was it prepared with anything, like ice or lemon? How much did you have – how big was the glass, or if the bottle has a label, how many ounces? Btw, “one more glass per day” usually means 8 more ounces of water.
For vegetable intake: What meal? What veggie? How much did you have? Were there any toppings or dressings on it? Where did you have it? Did you like it?
For daily step count: Use a pedometer, unless you really like counting.
Total up your times performing the action, then divide that by the number of days you tracked – that is, take an average. That’s your baseline. For water, a rule of thumb is to aim for half your body weight in ounces of fluid every day – so if you’re 200 pounds, go for 100 ounces of fluid. For steps, 10,000 per day, or 5 miles, is the recommended total. But remember, no need to get there overnight – try increasing by one glass of water or 1,000 steps at a time.
Now that you know where you’re starting, you can determine where you’re going with your intended habit change. Just like with your baseline assessment, start tracking your progress on taking action. You can create a checklist for going to the gym or having servings of veggies. Or you can keep a running tally of your water intake or daily step count. The best tracking method is whichever one you can keep doing consistently. Death of the Diet walks you through crafting your own daily evaluation template, which you can fill out within a couple minutes each day. Regular evaluations like this provide valuable insight into what aspects of your habit changes are working, and where you may be able to improve.
Question #7: Who can you go to for support if you have challenges?
You’ve made it, woo hoo! With a plan in place and a way to track progress, there’s one more important piece of the puzzle to make taking action and getting results as easy and successful as possible. Time to get a little help from your friends:
Who can you vent to if you’ve had a long day, ask to be a workout buddy or talk to for helpful feedback about your health and fitness goals? Not only is social support one of the most useful ways to make sure you stick to your new healthy habits, being surrounded by caring friends and family can even help you live longer, according to happiness researchers (yes, people who research happiness).
You don’t have to limit this list to just one person. Write down all the people who can help you, how they can help and how you can reach them. A huge chunk of a chapter is devoted to this subject in Death of the Diet, not only describing how you can work with others for support, but also how you can develop your own “inner coach” to guide you along the way.
Wrapping It Up: Moving Forward After the Seven Questions
This may be the end of the Seven Questions series, but this is only the beginning for you. Now you need to take action every day, until those new actions become habits. And from habits come results. While you certainly don’t need the book to succeed, Death of the Diet can be a useful resource for delving deeper into answering these seven questions. That’s because these questions are central to how and why the book was created. And of course, there are lots of extra tips, insights and templates to make the process as simple and manageable as possible.
If you want to delve into these questions further and create a personalized action plan, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to determine if nutrition or fitness coaching is right for you.