In June, I joined “The President’s Challenge” with some of my co-workers, in an effort to keep myself active. The President’s Challenge is a program through the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition that encourages all Americans to make being active part of their everyday lives.
I work out every day, so why not keep track? I started inputting my workouts – you select what you’ve done each day from a list of “approved” activities, input the length of time you did it and the level (ie light, moderate, vigorous) and you get awarded a number of points based on that. As my numbers went up and I saw the number value associated with different workouts, I started trying to increase my daily points. I started wearing a pedometer and keeping track of the amount of activities I did that I normally wouldn’t consider “working out” but are President’s Challenge Activities, like household chores, gardening and playing with my two-year-old – which falls under “children’s games.” As begun adding in those activities, my daily points skyrocketed and on July, I got my first Presidential Champion Award – the “Active Lifestyle Award” for being active at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week for six straight weeks.
After that, I changed my goal to “Presidential Champions,” which is aimed at adults or kids who are already physically active and is all about pushing yourself to be even more active. It’s a great program for those who already exercise regularly or as a next step for beginners who complete the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award challenge. You points carry over from PALA and on Aug. 8, I received the “Bronze Award” for accumulating 40,000 points, and on Oct. 24, I earned my Silver Award for 90,000 points. I am now 58.1 percent of the way to a Gold Award, which I will receive if and when I accumulate 160,000 points.
Now, I know it might seem a little silly to some that I hung these awards in my office – the actual bronze and silver medals, a la the Olympics. But you know what? I’m proud of myself – I really do work out at least five days a week, mostly at the gym here at Hunter, and I don’t make excuses for not going to the gym. In this past year, I’ve made working out a priority in my life and I feel great about that. I’ve lost 15-20 pounds, I’ve put on muscle and in general, I just feel a lot better about myself. I used to work out every day, but once I got married and had a child, working out just seemed to fall by the wayside. After I put on a lot of weight when I was pregnant and didn’t lose much right after, I had a really tough time looking in the mirror and feeling good about myself. I became insecure, which is something I’d always prided myself on not being. I had an infant, worked a lot, had a 2 hour round-trip commute to work … and I used those as excuses for not going to the gym. Was I busy? Absolutely; but I also wasn’t taking the time to work on me and I was using every excuse I had to not workout. I truly believe in the power of working out and, in retrospect, I think that not working out made me somewhat depressed (due to lack of those amazing endorphins), which made me not want to work out … and it became a vicious cycle.
Once I started working at Hunter last Thanksgiving, which is less than 10 miles from my house, I took the opportunity to get back to the active lifestyle I’d had in my “previous life.” The President’s Challenge is a great way for me – and everyone – to continue to be active, and gives me a goal to strive for. Many people, myself included, need motivation on those days where we just don’t feel like working out – we are tired, or it’s raining or our back hurts. For me, the President’s Challenge gives me some motivation – I know which activities give me the most points, and I try to get as many point in my allotted “workout time” as I can. I input my points each day, and I hate having days where I don’t have exercise to record. Basically, the President’s Challenge is the accountability I need.
No matter what your activity and fitness level, the President's Challenge can help motivate you to improve. Start earning Presidential awards for your daily physical activity and fitness efforts, go to www.presidentschallenge.org.