While personal fitness has a great impact on health, well-being and school performance alike, many students choose to neglect a daily or weekly routine implementation. Going to the gym might be costly, and the lack of time can also create difficulties for implementation. Therefore, in the detailed personal total fitness plan I have selected methods that do not require equipment, can be practiced at home and still can generate results.
My fitness plan goals would be to:
a, create awareness of myself, my family’s needs and the environment
b, examine and reflect on my own attitudes and beliefs
c, stress management skill building
d, decision-making skill focus
e, improving social and family engagement
In order to achieve all the above total fitness goals, I have made some significant lifestyle changes in the past few weeks. Focusing on Chairman’s “total force fitness framework”¹:physical, environmental, medical, nutritional and spiritual fitness alongside with behavioral, psychological and social issues is the approach I am trying to implement in the plan.
Detailed Total Fitness Plan
While in the past weeks I have tried different methods to achieve total force fitness, some of them have proved themselves more productive and suitable for my circumstances than others. I have tried the ATC model (activating events, thoughts and consequences), however, it has not been successful. I found the system a little too tiring on the mind and have moved towards yoga and meditation. The main difference between the two psychological fitness5 approaches is that while one engages the brain in analyzing processes, the other one empties it allowing new thoughts and connections to form in the future. I find that “letting go” is a better approach for me than “keeping hold of” problems. Therefore, I have taken on Yoga classes on a weekly basis and will continue to implement this element alongside with morning and evening meditation in my total fitness routine. It has had a positive impact on my emotional and spiritual fitness, as well as my physical well-being.
Regarding nutritional fitness, I am looking to pay more attention to the ingredients of the food I consume. Being a young parent and a full time student, I need to ensure that not only me but my whole family get the most nutritional benefits. Unfortunately, with my workload and the amount of chores at home, it is hard to eat and prepare fresh, nutritious food. Still, I have made some changes to our family diet and started cooking healthy food on Saturdays and Sundays I spend entirely with my four-year-old daughter.
Cognitive fitness³ is essential in my life in order to prevent information overload, while mental management skills can be learned through meditation. I believe that yoga can provide me with the tools to cope with stress and information overload better, as well as improve my cognitive fitness. Using the new paradigm set up by Walter my aim is to incorporate the body and mind-related aspects of fitness. Understanding the paradigm stating that there is a connection between spiritual, psychological, social, behavioral and body-aspect fitness is confirmed by my experiences with yoga.
Social fitness is also served by my weekly yoga classes, where I can meet and engage with like-minded people. Many of the students have similar lifestyles to mine, and they can relate to the fitness issues I currently have.
Family fitness will be implemented spending more time with my relatives and creating programs all of us enjoy.
On the top of the total fitness routine I would like to develop, I would also like to implement individual factors to promote resilience. While the program guidelines and frameworks have been taken from a military publication, I can certainly relate to the need of resilience in my life. Promoting resilience on my personal level would mean adapting positive coping mechanisms using meditation and the ACR Approach in order to improve my overall quality of life, improve my problem solving skills, engage in positive thinking and exercise behavioral control.
Concerns and Constraints
There are some boundaries to implementing the plan that need to be considered before creating the detailed process of change in my life. The fact that I am a young parent, attending full time higher education with constant work and study requirements, as well as the limited funding available would create some constraints. While it is not easy to plan weekends around a four-year-old, it is not impossible either. While I have previously had some problems coping with stress, changes and lack of time, after taking on yoga, my attitude towards problems and limitations have changed a lot. I believe that by creating a plan that does not involve a lot of input but has maximum benefits on my physical and mental well-being would be a beneficial long-term solution.
I would like to create a long term plan to improve my spiritual, physical and mental well-being. As I am currently under stress, due to the combination of tasks related to high requirements of my Masters’ course and family commitment, I have realized that there is a need for focusing on a complex approach. That is why yoga is my first choice alongside with meditation.
Spiritual source of strength
Yoga and meditation are among my effective coping mechanisms to increase my energy-level, become mentally, physically and spiritually stronger. I am currently attending a class in the weekends, and I would like to continue the classes until I graduate. I have experienced that I feel more relaxed, sleep better at nights and think better when studying. I recently realized that I sometimes have a constant train of thoughts running through my mind, and this does not allow me to fully relax while taking part in recreation activities or sleeping. That is why I have implemented yoga on a weekly basis and meditation every morning and evening.
Stress makes people focus on the negative things that happen to them every day, and this means that they waste their energy on something they cannot change. My coping and problem solving skills have been improved thanks to practicing gratitude on a daily basis. I make a list of every night of events or people I am grateful for. This helps me re-focus and promotes positive thinking.
Meditation has helped me see loads of things clearer, re-focus on my goals, family life, plans and relieve stress. Living a busy lifestyle, traveling between locations and sitting down a lot focusing on my studies, I have found that meditation helps me re-connect to my core and increase my productivity. I practice this every morning in order to gain strength and focus for the day and every night to release frustration and stress.
ATC Model Implementation
While I have tried to implement the ATC model and it was a great educational experience. I have found out a lot about how my mind works and generates connections, thoughts and ideas. Still, I decided not to implement this method in my future plan, as I prefer clearing my mind to focusing on the process of thinking.
I am just familiarizing myself with the aspects of Active Constructive Responding, and will try to implement the knowledge in my personal total fitness plan in the future. After examining my coping strategies and responses, using the ACR method, I have found that many times I do indeed have active and destructive responses to events.⁴
I understand that belonging and being a part of a loving family is something I can build strength from. Providing a safe and supportive environment at home, taking into consideration everyone’s preference and emotional, psychological and physical fitness needs can be challenging, as I have a four year old daughter. However, I am sure that I can create programs that the whole family can benefit from. I will also benefit from the closeness of my loved ones and time spent together will help me achieve emotional fitness.
Taking on yoga has changed my attitude towards food. I have increased my metabolic rate and do not have to worry about dieting as much as before. However, I have realized that in order to maintain my psychological and emotional fitness, I need to ensure that I act like a role model for my daughter regarding eating and nutrition. If I manage to achieve that she grows up knowing what is needed for her physical and nutritional fitness, I will also have personal confirmation and can be proud of myself, promoting positive thinking and emotional fitness in my life.
I believe that implementing the above plan will not only help me become healthier and physically stronger, but can change my attitudes, beliefs and coping mechanisms. I developed the yoga and meditation based approach to increase the multi-level benefits of the total fitness plan.
- Chairman’s Total Force Fitness Framework,” Human Performance Resource Center, Defense Department. Published Sept. 1, 2011.
- Walter, Joan. Defining Total Force Fitness for the 21st Century. Samueli Institute. [Web]
- Meredith et al. 2011 Promoting Psychological Resilience in the U.S. Military,” [Web] RAND Corporation. Published September 2011.
- Dr. Mark Bates et al. “Psychological Fitness,” Military Medicine, Volume 175. Published August 2010.
“Chairman’s Total Force Fitness Framework” [Web] Human Performance Resource Center, Defense Department. Published Sept. 1, 2011.
Laraway, Lori. “Total Force Fitness: Enhancing psychological fitness” Defense Department. Published July 8, 2011.
Meredith, Lisa, Sherbourne, Cathy, Gaillot, Sarah, Hansell, Lydia, Parker, Andrew and Wrenn, Glenda. “Promoting psychological resilience in the U.S. Military” [Web] RAND Corporation. Published September 2011.
Bender, James. “Medical Monday: Coping with deployments” DoD Live, Department of Defense. Published May 31, 2010.
Bates, Mark J.; Bowles, Stephen; Hammermeister, Jon; Stokes, Charlene; Pinder, Evette; Moore, Monique; Fritts, Matthew; Vythilingam, Meena; Yosick, Todd; Rhodes, Jeffrey; Myatt, Craig; Westphal, Richard; Fautua, David; Hammer, Paul; Burbelo, Greg. “Psychological Fitness” Military Medicine, Volume 175. Published August 2010.
Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman. “Character strengths and virtues:
Handbook and classification” Oxford. Oxford University Press, 2004
Dalai Lama. “The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality” NookBook-ebook, 2006
Walter, Joan. “Defining Total Force Fitness for the 21st Century” Samueli Institute. [Web]