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What it takes: Dedication, determination and hard work

Last week I wrote about how you are only as old as you feel. This week I like to touch on the work involved to go and get where you want to be.

Unfortunately too many people want but are not willing to put in the effort and hard work it takes to get there. That magical pill for weight loss or the 10 minute workout to rock hard abs……

People, I hate to burst your bubble, but it is hard work to be healthy and stay in shape! If it was easy, everyone would be healthy and in shape!

And when you really look at it, most people know how to be healthy. The question is, are they willing to work hard for it? That’s a question only you can answer.

A healthy lifestyle is not a three- or six-month program where you finish and go back to your old lifestyle. Many people do and find out they will gain all the weight back and/or get back out of shape as soon as they stop what they were doing. Believe it or not, I would get fat and out of shape if I did not work at it….. and I work at it, hard.

Some people think because I am in shape it just happened. Hard work, sweat and dedication, baby!

With my Judo career and many other sports such as gymnastics, downhill skiing, and jumping horses, to name a few, my body has taken a beating.

I remember as it was yesterday when my college doctor in the Netherlands waved his finger in my face (again) and said “you wait until you get older” (of course in Dutch). After he taped me up once more, he said, “you need to let your body heal from your injury(ies)!”

I didn’t pay attention to him then, but now I see his finger swing in front of my face it seems like every day!

But even now when I am faced with another fusion of my cervical (neck area) spine (I am counting down the days until I see Dr. Roy to set up the surgery), I continue to exercise. Nerve pain is horrible, I really feel for everyone who is dealing with pain period, but the key is not to “give in to it.”

Most people know I love to run, but at this time any impact is like someone stabbing a steel pin into a nerve.

As my class participants know, I am still exercising. A lot different from what I want to be doing, but I believe it would be so much worse if I stopped entirely.

Anyone you talk to who exercises and is “in shape” will tell you that it didn’t happen overnight. They will also tell you how exercise has helped them overcome (or deal with) all kinds of different ailments.

One of our dear YMCA members does not like to exercise but is at the Y every day! She said “I don’t like to exercise but I love the way it makes me feel and keeps me in shape”. Determination, dedication and hard work….. it will get you where you want to be or at least very close.

My daughter, Frankie, who is at Basic Combat training at Ft. Sill Oklahoma called me this past Wednesday and said she didn’t pass the running test. I said “what does that mean?” She said that she had a re-take on Friday and if she didn’t pass but was close her graduation would be two weeks later with another chance to pass or…. Go home. Wow, Fitness person, Track coach, former elite athlete with a daughter who might not pass….

In my mind, failure is not an option. But, she is not me. I talked to her and told her that I knew she could do it and to suck it up! I knew she would regret it for the rest of her life if she would not succeed in this. And this was something that was doable; they were not asking her for the unreachable! Well, she did it! With one minute and nine seconds to spare she passed her running test (after passing everything else with flying colors that Wednesday.) So Oklahoma here we come for graduation!!!

Isn’t it amazing what hard work, dedication and determination (and at times “sucking it up”) does for anyone?

I am challenging you to take one challenge at a time, make a plan (example: what days, how long per session for your exercise and another one for food intake etc), take measurements (by this time I want to be at this weight or be able to walk/run this much or want my blood pressure at this level, walk up the stairs etc) and execute. Do it! Even with some set backs, start over!

Whatever age, fitness level or health status you are, with determination, dedication and plain hard work you too can succeed! Congrats to my second soldier in the family, Frankie Belk, who showed what she is made of!

Ester H. Marsh, ACSM Cpt., and proud Army mother of two daughters!

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