By Katrice L. Mines, Editor
How much time do you dedicate daily to your wellness? Do you have designated time set aside for exercise? If not, why? How balanced is your diet? Are you mindful of your servings of fruits and vegetables each day? How many hours of restful sleep do you get each night?
This was a self-survey I took in January, a sort of moment of reckoning. My family was preparing to begin a wellness challenge, orchestrated by my cousin who is a nurse, to assist us at 1) shedding some unwanted pounds, and 2) making an effort to be healthier overall. There were some standout habits that I knew could be a distraction for me as soon as talk of the challenge started to spread. I’d have to steer clear of fast food and cut back on ice cream. I thought those two things were my only real hang-ups. I eat plenty of vegetables and love fruit, though I could certainly increase my daily servings. Never mind that before the challenge, I wasn’t working out consistently. Sometimes in the midst of hype, things like jumpstarting an exercise regimen seem as if they’ll be easy.
January 6th was the first day of the challenge which would run until the second week of May. We were to cut out red meat, carbonated beverages, sweets, fried foods, and fast food, and commit to working out for 30 minutes three days a week, at minimum. Day One, I realized all of my food hang-ups. If you ever want to identify the shortcomings in your diet, start eliminating everything you’d consider less than healthy and see how you react. I don’t eat cake, cookies or pie so I thought sweets would be no problem; Not being able to go to the freezer a few times a week for ice cream was a problem. I signed up for a gym membership and started working out with my mother. I was so out of shape that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed myself breathing heavy while walking up the hill from my church parking lot to the building or up the stairs at my house. The first 60 days were our detox period; after a month my attitude about the program improved. It helped that I was sleeping better and feeling stronger overall. And I had begun to notice a change in the way my clothes were fitting. Results motivate.
Every week during the challenge, we reported in — how many minutes we’d worked out that week, and how many inches/pounds we had lost. We also shared meal ideas, recipes and healthy snacks on the family Facebook page to encourage everyone to stay involved.
In the end, many of us lost weight and were inspired on the whole by what we saw of each other when we gathered for our annual Family Reunion over Memorial Day weekend. No, not everyone made it through to the end, and some had down moments. But, it helped that there was a constant push by the collective to start again and keep trying.
I’ve attempted personal wellness pursuits before — joining various gyms and following regimented eating programs, and I’ve even noticed results in those earlier endeavors. This time, however, was different. Not only did I get fit, I changed my mindset about pursuing healthy. I used to think of my family’s medical history and be hopeful about what my outcomes would be as I got older. I even compared my body’s shape to my mom’s and patterned my philosophies on eating after hers to some degree as a tactic. But, that wasn’t enough. My family’s wellness challenge helped me to understand that being proactive about my health was the best way. AT