Self-Assessment to Begin the Total Body Diet

By Victoria Shanta Retelny, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

Change is the only constant in life, so why do most find it so difficult to make lifestyle changes? Maybe because people are creatures of habit. If you surrender to the fact that change is a fluid, dynamic force in your life, change will come more easily and be more rewarding.

Here are five key ways to embrace the challenge of change every day:

  • Bite off small pieces. When you’ve identified an area that you want to change, take small steps to address it every day. Slowly but surely you’ll see big results unfold in your life.

  • View change in a new way. Instead of viewing change as challenging, view it as an opportunity to learn and grow. You’ll be more apt to move forward if you see this as a journey filled with learning.

  • Foster a sense of gratitude for the change. Instead of denying that you need to change a behavior or area of your life, be grateful for this call to action ahead. It’s an opportunity for self-improvement.

  • Help others make changes. When you’ve identified and made small changes in your life, helping others in your community to make changes is a great way to cement changes in your own life.

  • Practice, practice, practice. Focus less on perfection and more on progress. Even if you falter, the act of practicing will allow you to get back on track right away.

The assessment in this table identifies areas where change is needed the most. Using a scale of 1 to 10 (where 1 is rarely and 10 is always), rate your effort.

Total Body Assessment
Behavior Rating Nourishment
You make food choices based on the quality of the food
available.
You use portion control with your meals and snacks.
You get at least 2-1/2 cups of vegetables per day.
You get at least 2 cups of fruits per day.
You eat at least half of your grains from whole-grain
sources.
You choose lean protein sources (such as skinless poultry,
seafood, loin cuts of beef or pork, and tofu).
You eat legumes weekly.
You drink at least 1 cup per day of lowfat or fat-free milk or
calcium-fortified soymilk.
You eat at least 1 cup of lowfat or fat-free yogurt daily.
You eat no more than 1-1/2 ounces of lowfat or reduced-fat
cheese daily.
You plan your grocery visits with a list.
You try not to skip meals.
You bring lunch and snacks with you.
You drink water throughout the day.
You limit alcoholic beverages (no more than one drink per day
for women and two drinks per day for men).
You feel good and have a sense of gratitude for your food and
choices.
Subtotal
Movement
You are physically active most days of every week.
You do aerobic activity (such as spinning, running, speed
walking, or swimming).
You do muscle-strengthening activities (such as free weights,
weight machines, yoga, or Pilates).
You enjoy the physical activities you do.
You have realistic, achievable goals.
You have an exercise buddy.
You are mindful of moving during the day (for example, standing
at work, walking to or from work or school, and parking farther
away).
You exercise your mind by reading and doing crossword puzzles
or games (such as Sudoku).
Subtotal
Social Engagement
You go out with your spouse or partner on a regular basis.
You make plans with friend(s) at least once a week.
You engage in other social group activities at least twice a
month.
You foster new relationships or friendships.
You connect with friends on a regular basis.
You go on at least one vacation per year.
Subtotal
Total

Now tally up your score for each section, and your total. The higher the total score (the maximum you can score is 300), the more attuned you are to your physical and mental needs. To find areas for focus, circle the questions that had a lower score. These are the ones that need more attention. You can also look at the subtotals for each of the three sections — maybe you scored high on social engagement, but you’re falling short on movement and nourishment. If so, keep up the great work socially, but focus your efforts on what you eat and how much you move.

Now that you know where you need to make changes, sit with your assessment for a few minutes. Take a few deep breaths. Think about which areas you want to tackle first. When you have a couple of ideas that resonate with you, begin embarking on your change adventure!