Working backwards to move forwards with our health

Posted on: January 12, 2018

Dr. Robert Rodine

Head-shot of Dr. Robert RodineOn Jan. 1 every year, gym memberships rise and sales at the health food store increase as people embark on a ‘new year-new you’ adventure. But not all resolutions are the syndicated weight loss or smoking cessation target. Sometimes, a resolution can be an experience rather than a destination.

While some people will set a three-month target bench press weight, or eight-week weight loss goal, others are simply starting at a different physical baseline. For this cohort, their goals surround being able to walk the beach or dance on their Caribbean vacation in March, or cycle from vineyard to vineyard in July, keep up with their grandchildren at the family picnic or walk the Camino de Santiago. While these goals are about experiences and memories, they come with physical challenges for some.

One of the best methods of achieving any goal, is to apply the principles of reverse engineering; meaning to break the end goal down into its basic components and then see how to put it all back together. Simply picture any child that was curious as to how a toy worked and decided to take it apart to find out how.

For those with experiential goals, start by evaluating the goal you want to achieve and where you currently are. If your goal is to walk five kilometers in three months and are currently overweight and inactive due to arthritis, your goal is challenging but attainable. Like the child taking apart a toy, you need to see your target and work backwards. What do you need to accomplish on a weekly basis to achieve your goal?

If your goal is to cycle, lets get you on a stationary bike. If your goal is hiking, lets get you on a treadmill and working on your balance. If your goal is to waltz at your daughter’s wedding, let’s get you to a dance class!

To keep you motivated, be sure to put pictures and symbols that reflect your goal everywhere you can. Running shoes near the door and a packed suitcase out in the open to see each day. Beach photos on your phone, or posters of wine country at your treadmill. Anything you can find to help remind you of why you’re putting in the hard work each day.

Tracking your progress in small increments will also keep you motivated. No one goes from the couch to five kilometers right away. Start by measuring telephone poles, or mailboxes to track your walking distance and celebrate the small victories.

Routine physical activity, with a progressive strategy supporting it is one thing, but you will also need to consider rest, recovery time and nutrition to help support you in your goal. After all, you are only the sum of all your parts.

For many in this group however, there may be physical and mobility limitations that are most concerning. This means joint pain, poor flexibility, balance and strength. This is where you need a care team to assess your limitations, review your goals, and help you bridge the gap in between. Chiropractors, physical therapists, personal trainers and massage therapists can all play major roles in helping you achieve your goals timely, and safely. So, do some local research and expand your care team to take advantage of this direction.

As an example, if walking to the grocery store without the support of a cart is difficult, walking five kilometers is going to be a challenge. Do you have limitations to your hip and knee mobility that can be improved upon? Do you have tight muscles from years of sitting at a desk, driving your delivery route or repetitive manufacturing jobs that need to be addressed? Do you have reminders of a tight back every time you get out of a chair? These are all things that will prevent you from being the optimal version of yourself and getting the most out of your evenings, weekends and summer vacations. In the end, these limitations can rob you of opportunities and memories. This is where working with your care team before you start can help you avoid sabotaging your target goal.

So, once you have established your goal, work backwards to determine what you need to do in order to achieve that goal and then establish all the things standing in your way. The sooner you reduce your barriers to increased activity, the closer you are to dancing on the beach.

Dr. Robert Rodine is a chiropractor, practicing at Restorative Health in Smiths Falls.

This article was first published in the January 2018 issue of Hometown News. For more articles from our January 2018 issue, pick up a print copy at a local retailer (find a list of locations here) or read our digital version.