Making the commitment and taking the steps to become your healthiest version of you is a lifelong journey. It's a journey that looks different for everyone, with the experiences and challenges all being unique. Achieving your best requires consistent dedication and being mindful of the choices you make every day that impact the outcome.
Twenty-two-year-old Zach Baker shares, "I started exercising at the age of 16. I began it mostly as a way to build my self-esteem and to help deal with stress. I have suffered with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder since I was 8. By the time I was in college, I was in the best shape of my life. But it wasn't just about being in shape, it was something that gave me an outlet for my stress and depression. However, when I was 20, I woke up and found myself 90 pounds heavier. Realizing that I had adopted unhealthy college life habits and less-than-ideal ways to handle stress and a failed relationship, I knew I had to change. What had once been almost automatic, routine, I had to retrain myself to make healthier choices and not give in to things that didn't support my goals. It took me 11 months to lose it all, but I have learned that I just need to stay focused and let go of the things that no longer feed my life and soul."
For Judy Jenkins, her journey didn't begin until she was at the age of 70. Already having numerous health issues, including cancer, she suffered numerous injuries and underwent multiple surgeries following a boating accident. Upon completion of her physical therapy, Judy followed her doctor's orders and joined a gym to help build muscle and stamina. She says, "Walking short distances was difficult for me, but I kept at it. I had never really exercised before physical therapy, so it was a challenge, but seeing the improvements in my body and the way I felt gave me the motivation to continue. In two years, I have lost 40 pounds, gained 13 pounds of muscle, improved my posture and gait. I am much more confident in myself now than I ever was when I was younger, and I am even wearing high heels for the first time in my life! That may not sound like much, but my balance has been off for the last 20 years, and this is how I choose to celebrate it. My only regret is not experiencing the benefits of exercise at a younger age, but I am thankful that I have gained such strength and zest for life at this age. It is never too late to be your best you!"
Age is just a number. Better health and fitness can happen no matter where you are in life. When you make the decision to try, fitness experts recommend that you find a support system in like-minded individuals who have similar goals. Having a supportive network can make the journey more enjoyable and increase your chances of success.
Missy Corrigan is executive of community health for Sumter Family YMCA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (803) 773-1404.
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