100 Day Challenge: Health and Wellness

New Year's fitness resolutions are so common they are cliché. Go to any big box store in the first weeks of January and you'll be inundated with:

  • Fitness equipment
  • Diet pills, potions, and plans
  • Vitamins

About the only other kinds of products prominently displayed are those to help you get organized.

It seems most of us dream — whether we act on it or not — of having a fit body. But outside of vanity, is this really a worthy goal? Certainly being healthy and fit will make you look better, but are there other practical benefits?

This morning as Belinda and I did a 10-minute workout (our shorter workout for Tuesdays and Thursdays), I was reminded of a time when I was extremely out of shape.

Samson Delivery DayIn the spring of 2000, my entire family — minus me, at 7 months pregnant, and Monica who wasn't quite three — began taking kenpo karate lessons at Boca's Best Karate Studio. Sam, Jessica, Belinda, and Alana were all thrilled — minus Jessica who went under duress and with the promise that she could quit after earning a yellow belt (which she did).

This was my fifth baby and tenth pregnancy (I've told my miscarriage story elsewhere). Since Belinda was born (baby number two, pregnancy number four) my pregnancies had been considered high risk, so I was put on severe physical restrictions. Exercise during pregnancy was out, but I had wanted for years to study a martial art. I couldn't wait until after I had the baby and could join the clan.

When Samson was six weeks old, I giddily went to my very first karate class, a night class with a mix of teens and adults — mostly male. I still had plenty of the post-pregnancy pudge, but was raring to work it off Chuck Norris style. Until, that is, we got to our first warmup.

Down on the mat, ready to do crunches, I found myself — for the first time in my life — doing sit-ups with my face. My head was off the ground, my cheeks puffed out, my face beet red, with absolutely nothing going on below my neck. It was as if my entire body was paralyzed, without a single working abdominal muscle.

I was not only dumbfounded, I was embarrassed. No matter how I tried, I could lift my shoulders even an inch off the matt.

Alison Karate Blue BeltI have struggled with losing weight after pregnancy since I began to have children. Suffice it to say, things got better. Eventually. By the time we moved in September of 2011, I had slimmed down, toned up, and earned my blue belt. And I could do a whole mess of crunches without any problem at all.

But outside of bragging rights and scaring other people with my self-defense prowess, what were the benefits of being healthy? Here are just a few:

  1. Increased stamina
  2. Higher strength
  3. More energy, less fatigue
  4. Sounder sleep
  5. Greater confidence
  6. More positive mood
  7. Improved skin and hair
  8. All around  improvement in self-discipline

The “side benefits” to fitness are innumerable. What Gary Ryan Blair said in today's 100 Day Challenge lesson is spot on:

Success is not for the weak of body or the weak of mind, as everything that enters the body and mind produces a positive or negative result.

When Jessica was born, we were told babies must sleep on their tummies to be safe. Over the course of the 16 years from when she was born in 1987 to when Caleb, our last, was born in 2003, it changed from tummy to back and later to side.

In spite of following the current sleeping position advice, we must have done it wrong with at least one of our children!

Similarly all the fitness hype out there, it's difficult challenging impossible to know what the “right” things are. Just google aerobics and you'll find study after study showing that aerobics are essential, aerobics are better than weight training, aerobics are inferior to weight training, and that aerobics aren't necessary. Do the same for carbohydrates and protein.

Fitness “common sense” changes literally every year. It's infuriating.

In spite of all the nonsense, there seem to be some basics that will help just about everyone. This  year, I'm trying to focus on mastering those before I worry about the next big thing to take me to the Ms. Olympia competition.

Common Sense Fitness Basics

  • Sleep: 7–8 hours per night
  • Drink: 2–3 liters of water per day
  • Healthy diet: vegetables, fruits, lean proteins
  • Supplements: as needed
  • Exercise: weight training 3 times per week, aerobic workout 3 times per week

Whatever we can do to increase our health and wellness, will contribute positively to every part of our lives. Set some goals to move you forward to a healthier future.

Join me in the 100 Day Challenge!