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Happy New Year! Hope your 2017 is off to a wonderful start!

If you’re anything like me, you are being inundated this time of year with emails, news stories, billboards, commercials, and social media posts about fitness. To be more specific, I am being inundated with messages about how to lose weight, blast away my love handles, expose my six-pack abs in six weeks, get rid of back fat and fit into those size whatever jeans again. I’m probably missing some here, but you get the point.

Listen, I love exercise and talking about all things health-related. But here’s the thing: all of this messaging is overwhelming. And if it’s overwhelming to someone who makes her living thinking about, talking about and teaching other people about fitness, I can only imagine what it’s like trying to wade through it all when it isn’t your full-time job.

So let’s dial back the pressure a bit, shall we?

One of the things I appreciate about our studio is that we approach fitness in a different way. We don’t weigh or measure clients. We focus on improving quality of life through exercise and other healthy behaviors. We talk about weight loss as a possible side effect of healthy choices rather than as a goal in and of itself.

And it’s wonderful to be able to do that with the clients we train every day. But there are a lot of people who will never come and train with us.

One of the goals of this blog is to bring some of the information we share with our clients to everyone who reads this little corner of the internet.

Nikki, has a million fantastic ideas running around her brain at any given moment. I’m going to share one of them with you today and invite you to join us as we approach health in the new year in a slightly different way.

Healthy Activity Points Journal. What if you stopped thinking about health as a series of things you love that you must give up, or as a series of things you hate that you need to do more of?

What if instead, it became about self-care? What if it became about doing things that make you feel happier, calmer, more rested and more connected to yourself and the people you care most about?

What if it was about bringing in the good? What if it was about figuring out what your body, mind and spirit truly need, regardless of what works for others?

Well it can be. That’s the point of this journal project. I want you to figure out what good health means to you, and to give yourself permission to do the things that support you in that effort.

So, here’s what I want you to do.

Start by making a list of everything you can think of that makes you feel happy, healthy, relaxed, engaged and joyful. Everyone’s lists will be slightly different, but mine are listed below if you need some ideas.

I want you to notice a couple of things. First, the things I’ve bolded (sleep, exercise, stretching and water) are the four things I’d like you to make sure to include on your list. The rest can be whatever you want.

Also notice that only a few of them are exercise or food-related. Both of those things are important, but there are lots of other components to a healthy, happy life.

Then I want you to rank each activity in order of how difficult it is for you to find the time, energy or permission to complete it. Maybe the hardest thing for you to do is to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, but it’s easy for you to get exercise in each day. In that case, sleep would be ranked #1. Make sense?

Once you have a list with at least 10-15 things on it (can be more if you want!). I want you to assign points to each activity, giving a ten-point value to the two or three activities that you ranked as the most challenging. Assign a one point value to the two or three that you think will be easiest for you or that you are already doing regularly. Here’s my list:

Meditating (10 points)

Sleeping 8 hours (10 points)

Saying “no” to something I really don’t want to do (10 points)

Reading (5 points)

Journaling (5 points)

Coffee date with my best friend (5 points)

Listening to music (5 points)

Spending at least 15 minutes outside (5 points)

Watching something that makes me laugh (5 points)

Buying flowers for myself (5 points)

Drinking 8 glasses of water (5 points)

Eating whole foods (1 point)

Exercising (1 point)

Stretching (1 point)

Each week we will set a daily points goal. For the first week, let’s set the goal at 20 points each day. Feel free to do more if you wish, but it’s also perfectly fine to gradually work your way up to higher point goals over the course of a few weeks.

If I complete two of my top three toughest activities—boom, I’m at 20 points for the day already. But I can do any combination of activities that gets me to my goal. If I can’t fit in a workout for some reason, I just find another healthy activity to do instead.

I am really excited about this project and I hope you are too! I’ll check in with you next Monday with a new points goal. Monday posts this month will be focusing on some of the four activities we asked you to include in your list. I’ll share some strategies for incorporating them into your daily life more easily as well as the reasons why they are each so important.

In the meantime, take some time to slow down and be kind to yourself.