I’m an evangelist for exercise, and I practice what I preach.
I’ve been a convert ever since I read the book “Aerobics” by Dr. Kenneth Cooper decades ago. I began exercising for life—walking or running along the Charles River in Boston, Lake Washington in Seattle, and Chesapeake Bay in southern Maryland.
I walked or ran in good weather or bad, with a partner or alone, early in the morning or after dark, and while pregnant and after childbirth (although not immediately).
I exercised outdoors or indoors, running on a treadmill and working with weights at the on-site fitness center at my last job. It was efficient, convenient and free. It was also Beyond Boring, and—when I retired from that job—I swore I’d never run on a treadmill again.
Taking on a challenge
Then I stumbled upon the President’s Challenge fitness program at http://presidentschallenge.org . It has a long list of physical activities and gives points for each day’s activities, based on the time and intensity. Earn enough points and you qualify for medals—a Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Just like in the Olympics!
I don’t know about you. Maybe all you need to stay motivated is to make a commitment to yourself and stick to it. Or maybe you need a program, so you can track your progress, rack up points, and go for medals.
I’m in that second group—a real glory-hound, a sucker for awards and medals—and after discovering the President’s Challenge I went right to work earning points:
*** 20,000 for a Bronze medal,
*** 45,000 (including the 20,000) for a Silver medal, and
*** 80,000 (including the 45,000) for a Gold medal.
One challenge after another
When I earned the Gold medal, I was elated. But only for a little while because I soon learned that the awards didn’t stop there. After the Gold medal came the Platinum medal, and to get one of those I needed a whopping 420,000 more points.
I decided to go for it, but things went very slowly due in part to our moving 3,000 miles across the U.S. in the dead of winter. When we got settled in though, I got with the program again. I was building up momentum, when the President’s Challenge unexpectedly moved the goal posts again.
Now each of the medals—Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum—required twice as many points as it had before.
I felt as if my hard-earned Gold medal had been snatched away, and I’d have to earn it all over again. But I figured they don’t call it a challenge for nothing, so I stuck with the program. For a while.
Taking a time-out
Then for some reason, I lost motivation. I didn’t stop exercising or tracking the data with my pedometer, but I stopped entering it. Many days I told myself that I really should enter my data, but I couldn’t seem to make myself do it. Until a few weeks ago.
At this point I’ve earned 135,000-plus points, enough for a new Silver Medal. I need 27,000-plus more points to go Gold again, and after that another 840,000 points for a Platinum Medal.
So now here’s my plan
*** Stick with the President’s Challenge and earn a new Gold Medal
*** Join a nearby fitness center
*** Resume working with weights to stave off osteoporosis
*** Resume using a treadmill at least in bad weather—which will be every day for the next 4 months
*** Review my progress in 3 or 4 months
What about you? Are you exercising for life? Do you have a plan? Do you exercise regularly? If so, what keeps you motivated month after month, year after year? Do you follow a particular program? Or is your Number One New Year’s resolution to start exercising regularly? Either way, I’d love to hear from you.
photo by h-k-d