Exercising for life: what’s your plan

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—running or walking 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

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Cornel Manu 01/09/2017, 5:30 am

    Wow, that’s a very interesting website. I might join as well.
    And regarding your question, my plan for keeping my workouts for life is to make them simple. I actually made my own workout routine that I can practice 5 days a week without needing too much.

    Thank you for this great article
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    • Madeleine Kolb 01/10/2017, 1:01 pm

      Thank you, Cornel! I’m fortunate to live very near a scenic trail where can walk I can walk for miles every day unless the weather is terrible. (Snow was predicted today, but as I look out the window it’s clear and sunny.)

  • Richard 03/10/2012, 10:56 pm

    Don’t give up! Since 2003 I’ve been working on this too and am almost 91% of the way to platinum…and I’m 61. It can be done with regular, steady exercise. What inspired me to really put aside at least half an hour a day to exercise, and change my diet and sleep habits, was my wife. In 2005 she was at 356 pounds, now she’s 190 (I went from almost 240 to 190 too). Steady, slow changes, consistency, not expecting miracle weight losses and just being organized can work wonders. We both feel much better and went from near-sedentary to triathlons.. Just keep moving forward to the goal.

    • Madeleine Kolb 03/11/2012, 12:05 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement, Richard. Actually, I have several months to go to earn (or re-earn) a Gold medal in the President’s Challenge. Then I’ll be going for the Platinum for the rest of my life.

      I’m impressed that you and your wife have achieved such terrific results. As you say, it is a matter of being committed, steady, and organized. And I really like to rack up those points, getting closer and closer to another medal.

  • Catwoman 01/24/2012, 9:44 am

    Very inspiring text, actually my resolution for the new year was to get in shape and live healthier. I’m going to download the app mentioned above, maybe it will make my trainings easier and more controlled.
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    • Madeleine Kolb 01/25/2012, 1:47 pm

      Welcome, Catwoman, and thanks for your comment. The President’s Challenge website is up again and you can log in and start racking up some points right away. It was down for a time until yesterday because someone hacked into it. I just wrote down my own daily activities and times until the site was back up.

      It’s a super program.

  • Anna 01/07/2012, 7:15 am

    Taking care for our body is not only good for our health, but also for our self-confidence. I think people who are satisfied with how they looks, work better and are more successful both in life sphere and at work.
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    • Madeleine Kolb 01/07/2012, 10:47 am

      Absolutely, Anna. The benefits of taking care of your health at any age are huge.

  • Cindy 01/02/2012, 5:05 pm

    Wow that sound really great! Maybe I should install the app you mentioned to get motivated. I usually do sports outdoor, some running and tennis. But – unfortunately – not everyday. I want to, but I don’t have enough time. Maybe in 2012:)
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    • Madeleine Kolb 01/02/2012, 5:21 pm

      Cindy, The President’s Challenge is very flexible. You can do more than one activity in a day and earn points for each. I walk or run indoors or out as often as I can, and I also wear a pedometer to track my just-walking-around steps in the house or the supermarket. The Challenge calls that activity “Pedometer” and gives points, based on the number of steps. It’s not a lot, but it all adds up.

  • Bill Swan 12/19/2011, 12:41 pm

    This is one of the best things to do when life has you under stress. People tend to forget about their health and how mental health relates to the physical body.
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    • Madeleine Kolb 12/19/2011, 9:05 pm

      Being physically active has so many benefits, including reducing stress and keeping the body and the brain in top working order.Sometimes it’s a challenge to make time for physical activity when we can slide through the day with so little of it. For me, doing the President’s Challenge is a great way to stay motivated.