From Flab to Fit: The Great Fitness Challenge

Mary Jaksch (photo: elspeth collier)

By Mary Jaksch

Do you want to go from flab to fit?

Do you want to lose weight, increase strength, and become more flexible? Do you want to improve your health?

If so, here’s your chance. This post is the start of the Great Fitness Challenge 2011.

I’ve found that what really helps on the journey of fitness is to join a group of supportive people who hold the same aspiration.

Three months ago I called for readers to join me in an 8-Week Fitness Challenge. Over 120 readers joined the Challenge. One of most active participants, Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, suggested creating a forum.

The forum has turned out to be a wonderful place where we all encourage each other. And where we can share what exercise we do.

We’ve all had a fun time during the eight-week Challenge. We’ve increased our fitness, and made new friends. When I asked participants what they wanted me to do with the forum after the eight weeks, everyone was keen to continue for a whole year. So we’re now going to launch the Great Fitness Challenge 2011. More about joining at the end of this post.

Since February 2010, I’ve conducted a self-experiment. As some of you know, I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis. During the last 8 months I stopped all medication. You can check out more about this in my article How to Fight Your Way Back From a Bad Diagnosis. The central question of the experiment was:

Can exercise help heal the body?

I kept weekly records and tracked the intensity of exercise and the joint-pain and swelling that I experience from RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis). The results are mind-bending! When I saw at the final stats, I had to sit down. Seeing the stats changed everything.

Watch my video to check out the amazing outcome of my fitness experiment. If you’re reading this in an email, click here to watch the video.

Here’s how to join the Great Fitness Challenge in 2 simple steps (it’s free).

Step 1: Leave a comment below and let us know why you want to join the Challenge.

Step 2: Register for the Forum. The daily exercise thread is a great place to introduce yourself.

It doesn’t matter at all where your fitness is at right now. Maybe you are severely overweight and can hardly walk. Or you haven’t exercised for years and want to start now. Or maybe you are already exercising and want to increase your fitness  – everyone is welcome to join the Great Fitness Challenge 2011!

I’ll write one post on fitness each month, and plan to put together an eBook on Fitness in the course of this year.

The focus this January is on creating a regular exercise routine. Start with a routine that seems too easy.

Here are some tips that will make creating an exercise routine easier:

  1. Choose a form of exercise that you enjoy. If exercise isn’t pleasurable, it turns into a grind. If you enjoy dancing, try something like Zumba classes. If you enjoy a challenge, try martial arts. Or try tennis, rowing, hiking, or the many other forms of physical exercise.
  2. Exercise with othersIt’s much more fun, and much easier to sustain a regular practice, if you exercise with others. Join classes, or club together with neighbors or friends.
  3. Build up your fitness step by stepIt’s a mistake to rush into heavy exercise. Your fitness practice needs to be sustainable – after all, you are building a new habit.

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  2. mathilde says:

    I participated into the 8-week fitness challenge with the goal of of starting exercise again, to get fitter and lose some weight. First I just decided to walk 30 minutes twice a week and run once a week. The first week I didn’t achieve my goals. But then my motivation grew by reading messages on the forum and sharing my experience with others. I was surprised by the deep joy I felt thru sharing this fitness trip with others from far away, and the intense energy the feeling of being part of a group gave me. Now I’ve been running 3 or 4 times a week for more than 8 weeks. I run up to 45 minutes in one go. I also do abs exercises, push ups, and sun salutations every morning: new exercises that I took from other people’s experience. I feel proud every time I write a message about my training, and I love reading messages from others. The effect the forum had on me was very powerful, for I know I would never have gone that far without it. I don’t think I would stop training if the forum had to end, but I surely would feel sad and less motivated. There’s a real human link between the participants, although we’ve never met for real. It was a great experience, very surprising to me for I had never written on any forum.
    I thank Mary very much for starting this, and I thank all my fitness friends for sharing this with me. I’m so happy it goes on in 2011.

  3. Pat says:

    Hi,

    I want to join the challenge because I want to turn my life around. Over the last few years, imperceptibly it seemed, my weight has crept up and up to where it now is. At 21 stone I am aware that a whole raft of health issues are starting to develop that are almost entirely weight related. I feel unfit, don’t like my body, hate never being able to buy nice clothes and am ashamed that for years I have just allowed things to escalate. I decided this Christmas that now is the time to change. So this opportunity to join in with this is very timely. I have a brand new grandson and I want to be able to run and play with him! I am also in Christian ministry and know that I cannot give of my best in that unless I significantly improve my health – NOW – before it’s too late.

    I look forward to joining in this challenge. Thanks for inspiring me, Mary.

  4. Diana says:

    Exercise has been so easy to put away for so many years, it’s not even funny. I have several physical issues myself, with Fibromyalgia, Sjogrens, Raynaud’s and asthma, I am no short of excuses for not starting to get fit. But this forum came in a good moment. I need to start a physical routine. The message you conveyed about how exercise impacted the pain level you had to manage really made me think about making the leap and taking care of myself.
    I’m welcoming the challenge, and thanks for creating this inspiring meeting point.

  5. Jen says:

    Hi there! 😀

    I want to join the challenge to improve my health. I was very sick a few months ago & since I have been much more health conscious, but it’s been too cold to go out much lately (I’m in China & it’s been averaging at -30°C) so I haven’t really been doing much. I want to be healthy, have more energy & be a part of a group that can encourage me & hold me accountable. As well as improving my health & energy levels, I’m getting married this year & want to feel the most beautiful & comfortable in my own skin than ever before.

    Thanks! 🙂
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..Hey- reverb10! You rock! Last one – =-.

  6. Marla says:

    Yay! Another challenge! I want to join to continue the momentum gained from the 8 week challenge. I finished the Bikram 60 day yoga challenge and feel greater than I have in years! The most challenging part was doing this through the holidays. I learned that I can finish what I start. 2011 is going to be a great year!

    Thanks for continuing the challenge Mary!

    Marla

  7. The 8 week challenge came at a great time for me. I’d been exercising for a couple of months but I didn’t feel I was making headway.

    The thing I love best about the forum is that it is a non-judgmental place to be. We all had the goal of doing something active every day, but it didn’t matter what. That idea is empowering.

    During the 8 week challenge I was encouraged enough to get my life partner exercising too. He is now working out hard and seeing gains in strength and flexibility. I’m hoping we will have more time together now that we are getting fitter, but even if we don’t we both feel better for it. Quality is just as important as quantity; maybe more so.

    If you decide to join the challenge I know you will be encouraged and supported. Even though Leo and Mary do killer workouts I’d not even attempt they make me feel good about my own fitness choices and gains.

    Thanks Mary for extending the challenge. I’m happy to be part of this.
    .-= Alison Kerr´s last blog ..Boxing Day Bird Walk =-.

  8. I’m in. Recently started new treatment after oodles of tests and MRIs. Now have a better idea of what is going on and what I can do about it, so it is mentally easier to commit to this kind of project.
    .-= Meg – Minimalist Woman´s last blog ..Meditation on a Christmas Tree Star =-.

  9. atishaya says:

    Count me in! My intention for 2011 is to become super fit. Exercise not only makes me feel physically stronger, but also gives me mental clarity and focus; and s sense of grounding and balance. I love the idea of having a community to share the journey with me!

  10. JSN says:

    I will turn 60 this month. Over the last two years, I have tackled several health issues with vigor (back pain, asthma, and sleep apnea) and started to meditate on a regular basis. I want to exercise consistently and place good consistent nutrition on the top of my list for self-care. To have an accompanying community on the journey seems like a very good thing to me. I look forward to increasing my discipline in these areas with the support of the forum. Thank you for providing this opportunity to us all.

  11. Vyvyan says:

    I would like to join the challenge because, although I am at my correct weight, I have let the physical fitness side of things slip. I tend to be an all or nothing kind of person when it comes to fitness. Several years ago I was spending 2 hours a day, 4 days a week at the gym and doing yoga. I am a lifelong (pesco)vegetarian and eat lots of fruits, veggies, nuts, whole grains, etc. I feel very healthy and look good for my age (55) but I know that I don’t have the strength that I did a few years ago. I would like to get back into decent shape by spring but I need some accountablilty.

  12. Uzma says:

    Hi.
    What a great idea! Would love to join the challenge. My weakness is that I start and then stop too quickly. Like you so rightly say, having a support group does make a difference. Will join in the forum. Thank you for a great initiative. Here’s to a very fit 2011.

  13. sharpshin says:

    I am intrigued and would like to join the challenge. I hope that being part of a community with a common goal will encourage me to maintain exercise and weight loss as high priorities despite the competing demands on my time and energy. I was a serious athlete into my early 40’s, but gradually let that side of my life slip away with children, increasing work pressures, etc. Now I can hardly recognize myself! At 58, I’m 30-35 lbs above my desired weight and have lost much of the strength I always took for granted. I’ve exercised enough and was graced with good enough genes that I do not yet suffer from the obvious consequences of being overweight and minimally active–blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol are all terrific. But I know I am pushing my luck and it is time to change course if I want to be healthy at 70, 80, and 90 like my parents and grandparents. Besides weight loss and improved strength/conditioning, I know that exercise will decrease my stress levels which were at an all-time high this past year. So–on with the challenge!

  14. russian_princess says:

    I wanna join 2011 challenge because I’m fed up of giving up my promises to myself and I’m desperate to get ultra fit!!! I dont fit into my clothes and need to slim down otherwise I’ll have to buy the whole new wardrobe!!!

    • Buy a whole new wardrobe? Oh, no!

      Whatever helps your motivation is fine. The good thing about clothes is that they give us instant feedback about how our weight is doing…
      Welcome to the Challenge!

  15. Kareen says:

    First of all … HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you!

    I want to join the challenge mainly to have a bit support and advice from other people that are walking the same path. I beg your pardon for my awful english it’s not my native language.

    In the past i’ ve tried more than once dropping some pounds. It had been a yo-yo cycle. My last attempt was about two years ago. I started dieting and exercising in a sensible way. In one year and a half i lost about 66 pounds. I dropped the pounds very slowly. I didn’t do it alone, i went to an specialized obesity center. I did it with the help of a multidisciplinary group: a doctor, a nutricionist and a psychologist. No pills just plain dieting and exercising in a regular schedule. I can share some of the tips i’ve learned there which are very useful and also i expect from this group learning some new ones 😉

    I’m afraid i’m going to gain it all back, i have already gained 50%.Perhaps this was in part due that a year ago i moved to another place and felt a bit stressed and compensated with overeating. i’m a bit afraid i’ll gain it all back. I have read more than once that nearly 100% of heavy people gain back all lost pounds in less than 5 years. What a depressing statistic! I’ ve also read that everybody has a set weight…..whatever you do you get back there……..

    I still do as much exercise as i did when i was dropping pounds but i’m not eating properly the way i did when i was dropping pounds. What i expect is not a great goal…..just start to do the same routine i did last time that i think it was succesful approach with the support of other people

    • Hi Kareen, it looks like you have a lot of knowledge to share. Even if ramp up your exercise, your weight will start to drop again. It’s all about reversing a trend. I’m excited about your journey. We’ll all be cheering for you 🙂
      Welcome to the Challenge
      – Mary
      P.S. By the way, Yashu -who has also joined the challenge (you can read her comment below) – is a medical doctor and NLP practitioner whose special field of expertise is weight-loss.

  16. Thanks for taking time to do the exercise, preparing a graph and demonstrating the results. Normally I see that the benefits of exercising is explained, but rarely people maintain the readings and explain with a graph. Thanks for explaining and urging us to exercise in 2011. The best part is you have demonstrated Rheumatoid arthritis s can be addressed by simple consistent exercising.
    .-= Lalitha Brahma´s last blog ..These numbers will shock you =-.

  17. Health-related posts, videos, websites have been popping up all over the place for both my husband and I in recent weeks, including this one. It seems as if the Universe is tapping me on the shoulder to get going. I am diabetic, and at a point where I’m ready to improve energy levels, reduce blood sugar levels, lose weight and tone up. I’d like to shed or at least reduce the medication. Having experienced Virtual Zen Retreats with Mary, I am comfortable taking a challenge like this in a non-judgmental atmosphere. I will take this week to set up, as Mary suggests, a “too-easy” routine and go from there. I usually set unrealistic fitness goals; so this should help. As I already track my blood sugar, that will provide me good stats for that. Thank you, Mary, for yet again providing even far-away followers to participate in life-enhancing activities!

  18. Adrianne says:

    I want to join because I lost 30 pounds before I got pregnant, gained 30lbs while I was pregnant, lost almost immediately after baby was born and then put it right back on because of combination stress in getting breastmilk to come in, work and a new baby. I still have that 30lbs that I had once lost and could lose even more than that. Having an accountability group would help. I’ve tried getting my husband to be my accountability partner (we both put on weight during my pregnancy lol) but he doesnt like to exercise. Maybe seeing me getting real results will help him get motivated as well.
    .-= Adrianne´s last blog ..Goodbye 2010- Hello 2011 =-.

    • Ah, yes – it’s so easy to put weight on during pregnancy. And darn hard to take the pounds off again afterward. If you think about weightloss, it’s about reversal. The first step is to get your weight stable (i.e. no weight gain). Then the next step is to slowly tip that balance so that there is an incremental, but steady weight loss. Slow is good!
      You can do it, Adrienne.
      Welcome to the Challenge!

  19. Kareen says:

    Hi Mary! I want to join the Great Fitness Challenge 2011 but i can’t. When i try to register in the forum (clicked on Forum link in Step 2) i get a 404 error. What can i do?

  20. Tina says:

    I want to join for ME, MYSELF, and I. I used to be a very active person and over the years Ive lost my zip for exercise! NOW Im ready! Thanks for the push!!

  21. Netwriter says:

    Dear Mary,

    Exercise is good for almost everyone and I’m pleased your RA is giving you less trouble, but please warn people not to stop their meds without serious consideration and/or consulting a doctor. I’m on prednisolone (cortisone) and stopping this cold can cause severe withdrawal symptoms.

    Otherwise, keep up the good work!

    • Ah, yes, Netwriter – Prednisone can’t be stopped without severe consequences. As I explained in my article How to Fight Back After a Bad Diagnosis, the treatment I’ve receives is Antibiotic Protocol (longterm, lowdose Mynocycline). It’s enable me to get close to remission so that I was able to stop medication.

      It’s important to consult your physician if you want to change your medication drastically. Thanks for reminding everyone, Netwriter.

  22. Bryony says:

    Hi I would like to take up this challenge this year, the ‘baby’ weight is still there and the baby was 7 last month! so it’s time for action!

  23. Tom says:

    I have to own up to being lazy and that is why I am overweight and out of condition and need this challenge to give me kick start back to health. I hope joining the forum will help prevent me from finding excuses for not exercising.

  24. Isobel says:

    Anything called a “Challenge” gets my attention 🙂 I’m extremely healthy but not really “fit” and I have some weight to lose. I’m aware as I’ve got older that I’ve lost muscle tone and I definitely want to get that back. I’m 2 weeks short of 58 and live in a beach resort where it gets very VERY hot in the summer. My goals are to increase cardiovascular fitness, lose 1 – 2 dress sizes, build some muscle and gain flexibility.

  25. mayg_ says:

    I would like to join the Great Fitness Challenge 2011. Last year was a great year for me in terms of fitness and I would like to keep the momentum going. I have a number of fitness goals for 2011 and, although I am very self-motivated, I hope that being part of a community will be helpful.

    In 2010 I learned how to swim and how to surf so in 2011 one of my fitness goals is to complete a triathlon. I’d also like to improve my 2010 half-marathon time by at least 9 minutes. Improving my flexibility through yoga is another goal for 2011 – specifically, to try Bikram yoga and stick with it for at least 3 months.

    Looking forward to interacting with everyone!

  26. Elle B says:

    Not sure I want to go from fab to fit, since I’d love to be fab and fit at the same! But I definitely have some extra flab that could go by the wayside.

    I too suffer from a chronic pain syndrome (pelvic pain, even after an hysterectomy, which I’ve since found has definite environmental/immune system correlates). I’ve finally recovered from the surgery and am considering going back to the martial art (jeet kune do) that gave me my highest level of fitness. I found your video so completely inspiring because of these commonalities and definitely want to sign join in!

    P.S. You have a really lovely speaking voice!
    .-= Elle ´s last blog ..Sharon Penman Takes On William Shakespeare =-.

    • Yes, having a typo in the headline isn’t ideal 🙁 But I don’t get wound up by that any more. Great to see another martial artist in the Challenge. I agree – karate gives me the highest level of overall fitness. I LOVE it 😀

  27. I’m in, Mary! In 2009 and 2010 I learned a tremendous amount about reducing the chronic inflammation in my body, and about staying fit. I practiced really well for a while. I’ve much to work on … physical, emotional, spiritual, and I know that exercise is awesome for getting them all in top shape again!! I’m excited just writing this!!

    See you in the forum!
    Jane
    .-= Jane Rochelle´s last blog ..The One Thing That&8217s Constant &8230 Change =-.

  28. Mary, I was so impressed with your video and with the pioneering work you are doing in this area. I definitely would like to be part of the challenge but I’d like to have a little caveat in there too becoz I don’t know how my life can get much fuller than it is right now and I don’t want to make a commitment I can’t keep.

    Most of all I want to say a huge thankyou for your emphasis on the power of exercise to heal and express my agreement with you on this. I have a blood glucose level just a little above normal, in the low prediabetic range, and I am quite sure it is being faithful about doing half-hour walk a day plus regular resistance training at the gym that thus far (touch wood as they say) has kept my HgAIC at only slightly above normal.

    Obviously if I can keep diabetes at bay (my Mom died of it) and/or get my number really down further I will be very pleased. You’re a gem Mary. Or have I already told you that?
    .-= Christopher Foster´s last blog ..100 steps to grace for 2011 =-.

    • Ah, Chris – you have really turned into a companion. So great to see you join the Challenge. I’m finding that I can do little pockets of exercise during the day. Doing stretches while watching the TV news, doing incline pushups while waiting for the dinner to cook and so on.

      I was talking about you today, saying that you find that you are getting stronger (at 78) through your weight training.

      You’re an inspiration, Chris! Or have I already told you that?

  29. Doug Armey says:

    Mary:

    Great video. The body and mind connection is so amazing. So much we don’t understand. Yet, you have shown you don’t need more prescriptions but to just let the body function as it is meant to naturally. Glad it all worked out well for you.
    .-= Doug Armey´s last blog ..How to Recover from a Medical Disaster =-.

  30. Sandra Lee says:

    Mary,
    This is remarkable! You’ve really sold me. I’m inspired by your own determination. I appreciate your dedication to sharing your success with others so they can benefit too.
    .-= Sandra Lee´s last blog ..Is a Lack of Forgiveness Holding You Back =-.

  31. Leigh says:

    I’m going to join everyone in this big quest. My aim is to walk for 30 or 40 minutes five times each week, along with other physical activities that is needed on my property that is subject to summer bushfires. Living in the hills around my city there is a variety of hilly walking tracks where, surprisingly, we meet other regular walkers even before dawn when the days are short. To date, however, I haven’t been able to keep up the physical activity to get to a place of feeling healthy and energetic. Leo Babuta has always spoken of being accountable to a network as extra motivation, so I trust you’ll all be my network and help me in sticking to this goal. Thanks Mary for the challenge.

  32. Yashu says:

    Hi there Mary…. I was fascinated by your graph & your observations of rheumatoid arthritis & exercise….In Ayurvedic medicine I’m told that they treat rheumatoid arthritis in a totally different way to Western medicine ( no surprises there )…& that’s by getting the patients to move their joints & to assist in the process of healing I understand that they massage the joints also with certain herbs & oils…. so exercising certainly makes sense…. I will have to think more on the biochemistry of what is actually happening with your exercising….Another reason why I got so excited by your graph was about bringing awareness & monitoring our bodies physical responses…….I have always been aware that when I was working full time my brain would work at its best when I had an hour of exercise daily………your graph has given me inspiration how to take this to another level….. much love Yashu

    • Hey Yashu, nice to think that you wrote that comment while sitting at our dinner table 🙂
      (I was forcing you to do it – ha, ha).

      Yashu, you forgot to mention that you are a medical doctor.

  33. SHELAGH says:

    i want this to be the I finally DO IT instead of thinking about it.
    I have had RA for many years, it would be great to get some movement back

  34. tashenka says:

    hello, everyone… happy New Year!

    I want to build on my already existing exercise routine, add some new habits. Specifically the ones I want to do at home (now that I work from home), such as morning yoga and some resistance training.
    I’ve been following Goodlife Zen for a long time and this seems like a great place for joining in on a challenge like this 🙂

    Tash

  35. Mary,
    After signing up for the last challenge I became injured and did nothing but walk. Which of course isn’t good enough for a runner! LOL

    Yesterday I ran again for the first time in several months and nothing hurt! I want to train for a 1/2 marathon. I also have failed to do strength training. I want that to become a twice weekely thing for me. So that’s my plan!
    .-= Tess The Bold Life´s last blog ..110 Tips to Create an Amazing New Year =-.

  36. Hey Mary … it might be fun if someone could design a button to go on our sidebar (Something like I’m participating in the Goodlife Zen Fitness Challenge) … so that people who visit our blogs could click through to your post and join us if they want to. Just a thought.
    🙂
    .-= Jane Rochelle´s last blog ..The One Thing That&8217s Constant &8230 Change =-.

  37. […] been thinking about posting my experiences with exercise for some time. This recent post by Mary Jaksch on Good Life Zen so parallels my experiences that I thought it would be a good time to do it and to recommend her […]

  38. Sergio says:

    I want to join because I need to lose about thirty pounds. I started exercising yesterday, but this sounds like something that will help me actually keep up with it. Thanks for this great challenge and support space.

  39. Exercising is great. It makes one feel great and shed those pessimistic thoughts and premeditated anti- optimistic responses in a moments notice.Great post. Love the pic.

  40. Faridah says:

    I’m definitely in! The most important reason why I’m joining is because I wanna get healthier and more fit. Let’s do this 🙂

  41. Dana says:

    I’m turning 40 in March and don’t want to be fat for it!

  42. Nina says:

    I gained 50 pounds during my pregnancy. My daughter is 9 months old and I have 35 extra pounds on my body. She’ll be crawling, then walking and running soon. I want to be able to keep up with her and enjoy being active with her, set a good example, and feel healthy. I’m an older mom, 45 years old, and I know exercise will help keep me healthy in mind and body as I age.

    • Hi Nina. Congratulations on being a mature mum. You’ll have a lot to give your daughter.
      Now’s the time to start getting the weight roll off – slowly, 10 grams at a time.
      Welcome to the Challenge

  43. Rose says:

    I want to be more flexible, in better health [i get a lot of colds etc] and generally just eat healthier. However, I don’t want to lose weight. A few years ago I got ill, ended up in hospital with dangerously low weight.. and I’ve been able to get it up by eating a lot of stodgy, processed and junk foods. I want to slowly get into better shape. Thus, I’m aiming for the yoga/free weights options that increase my muscle weight and correct my posture without burning off too much fat.
    .-= Rose´s last blog ..January =-.

  44. Susan says:

    Hi Mary,

    Thank you for your post. Your graph really helped convince me to get moving, plus middle-aged spread spreading and a father with diabetes. I am aiming to go to a yoga class once a week and do at least one half hour walk once a week (hopefully more).

  45. No10w says:

    Hi. I’ve resolved to get fitter and healthier this year, after a year of very mediocre health in 2010. I always feel much better when I do regular chi gung and tai chi, so that’s top of my list, along with regaining some flexibility. Then I love dancing so I think that will be a good way to get some cardio-vascular fitness-and some FUN! I turned 60 last year but don’t want to FEEL 60! I think the group is a great idea.

  46. Chutters says:

    I currently weigh 186 lbs (or 13st 4lb as we like to say in the uk) so am only just overweight – according to the bmi measure (male, 6ft, 47yo). I’ve aspired to drop to 12st (168lbs) for a few years but haven’t achieved it; this is the push I need.

    I’m also running a half marathon on March 6th, I’d like to do a 1:45 (my previous times are 2:23, 2:10 & 1:55), so a couple of months of focus would be good – although I can’t concentrate on this event and weight loss so the bulk of the weight loss will have to come after the run – I’d also like to continue working on eating cleaner.

    I like to run alone, but attend group spinning classes twice a week at the local gym which is subsidised by my employer.

    Just came across this from Leo’s tweet.

    Chutters.

    • Hey Chutters – it’s great to see your plans for a Half Marathon! There are some serious runner in the forum (including Leo Babauta) – so you’ll get lots of support.

  47. Deb G says:

    Count me in! I was a “gym junkie” up until about 9 months ago. Due to a separation, move, increased work schedule, I let my fitness and health slip by the wayside. I purchased the Zumba dvds as an early birthday present to my self last week and am ready to get back into working out on a regular basis. Thanks for the Challenge Mary 🙂

  48. Thanks, Mary, this looks good – I’m about to finish the 100 Pushups fitness challenge and start my own Fighting Fit challenge, which is based on the standard fitness tests for various branches of the US military. I’ll give the forum a look.
    .-= Mike Reeves-McMillan´s last blog ..How to Choose the Right Challenge for 2011 =-.

  49. LB Eric says:

    I am interested in the challenge. Being a ZenHabits reader and Twitter follower, I was directed here and desperately (might be an exagerration) need to get back into shape. I am about to turn 34, 5’7″, and weigh about 180 lbs right now and am getting married in June. My “ideal” weight on some websites is 150, but that won’t work for me. I would like to get to around 165-170 and I will be satisified.

    Thanks!

  50. Shyla M says:

    I want to join the challenge for many reasons. I am an avid reader of zenhabits and was directed here by Leo Babauta’s twitter page. I suffer from psoriasis and read an article on the National Psoriasis Foundation website today the really struck a nerve. The article stated that people with psoriasis, especially women, are at risk for metabolic syndrome, which includes obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.

    I’m currently 29 years old and I’ve lived with psoriasis for the last 10 years of my life. I’m out of shape and overweight. I’m on a fast track to diabetes, high blood pressure, and as uncomfortable as it is to say, obesity. With a strong family history of heart problems I need to change my evil ways and change them now!

    Minutes after reading the article, I clicked on the link to the Great Fitness Challenge 2011, it was an “aha moment”. It was a moment of clarity. I’ve spent many of days plotting a course of action to get in shape and become healthier yet I’ve spent zero time accomplishing these goals. Today is the today that changes.

    Thank you Mary! Thank you Leo! I’m excited to start this journey!

    • Leigh says:

      Shyla, it’s great that you’ve joined this group. I hope to hear of your successes and learn of your increasing health. When the target is too big, simply take an imperfect step to begin something even if it’s a walk to the gate or the shop. Don’t put off the first step.
      I’m excited to hear of your ‘Ah-ha’ moment.

    • Hi Shyla, I’m delighted that you’ve come to join the Challenge. Exercise is super important in order to stop the slide towards diabetes. We’ll be cheering you on 🙂

  51. silvatica says:

    I am fairly healthy, but I tend to exercise sporadically. I would like to join the forum to learn new ideas and exercise tips. My goal is to keep exercise as part of my daily routine.

  52. BubbeShell says:

    I am so glad I found you! I’m 58 years old, my numbers are creeping up (blood pressure, sugar, cholestral), and am about 50 lbs overweight. My lifestyle had become so unhealthy that if I didn’t turn it around I’d be headed for irreversible health problems. So I’ve been making lots of positive changes but need to build up my activity level. Being part of a community with like-minded persons would be an incredibly wonderful support for me.. thanks!

  53. […] never been much for joining challenges, but decided to join Mary Jaksch’s fitness challenge. I think I’m going to love it! It’s a kind-of come-as-you-are challenge.  Mary is […]

  54. Emily says:

    I’ve decided to join the challenge. I’m coming into my 30th birthday this April and I’m probably at least 20 lbs over weight. I want to go into spring with less weight on me and more happiness. Even though I’d like to say I can do it alone, I definitely need some support.

  55. Karen says:

    I’d like to join the challenge. I’m about 100 pounds overweight and struggling to find an exercise that I enjoy.

    • Hi Karen, one of the things I learned during last year’s Fitness Challenge is that it’s much easier to exercise with others. Think about a class that you could join. Dancing? Zumba? Waterobics? Swimming? You’ll enjoy the Challenge – it will help to keep you on track.

  56. Loi Laing says:

    Mary! Oh my goodness! I signed up for the challenge back in October…and completed it! I’ve been running consistently; something I’ve NEVER done in my life. In my heart I believe that setting an intention after signing up for the challenge worked 🙂 Thank you!

  57. Loi Laing says:

    Oh crickey, just saw the questions:
    What was your greatest challenge? Telling myself that I could actually maintain a regimen, after failing SO many times previously.

    What did you learn? That I could get through it, a little at a time. The hardest thing was getting out the door, but once I got started, that was it!

    What was the best thing about the Fitness Challenge? Setting an intention.

    I’m officially in for the Great Fitness Challenge 2011! 🙂

  58. Amy says:

    I’m on board for the 2011 fitness challenge. I’ve exercised more in the last 2 years than I probably have my entire life, but I feel like it’s time to kick it up a notch and really see some results. I am a pretty stubborn person and usually think I can do everything on my own. Joining this online community is a huge step for me and I’m really excited! My sister’s wedding is in September and I would really like to feel good about myself when I’m standing next to her as MOH.

    Bring it on! WOOHOO!!

  59. SKHY says:

    I want to join The Great Fitness Challenge 2011 to become more healthy, active, and, even though this is vain of me- I want to look in the mirror and like what I see. A few years ago I lost a bunch of weight very quickly, but I did it the wrong way and ended up doing more harm than good. So this time around I want to do this the right way and make sure to keep off the weight as well by making this a lifestyle change and not just some diet. Joining a forum where I have to be accountable will definitely help me to succeed!
    .-= SKHY´s last blog ..How Being Dumped For The First Time At 20! Made My Day! =-.

  60. vietphi says:

    i want to join, i’m a Vietnamese, i’m twenty-one year old.
    Want to exercise and have a motivation with all of you. I’ll share my experience and process.

    Sorry, my bad in english.

    • Your English is fine. Not matter what part of the world you come from, no matter what age or gender, no matter how fit or unfit – everyone is welcome to join.

      I look forward to tracking your progress, Vietphi

  61. coenox says:

    Count me in. I was rather active untill a year ago. And then: no energy, to busy, problems to deal with. I am 46 and a bit overweight. Yesterday my wife and I went back into the gym and started excercising again. Out two daughters (12 and 15) joined us. I can already feel the energy flowing after this joyful family activity/

  62. Angela says:

    I’d love to join – hope to both build better fitness habits and workout smarter. Last fall I participated in an on-line wellness program that focused on better eating and now I need to improve my fitness level. Have fallen in love with yoga over the past year but haven’t been in month. Need to be consistent and find ways to keep it a priority – and to add more cardio / strength training to routine. I feel so much better (and am nicer to be around) when I’m taking care of myself. Thanks for doing this!

  63. deftfox says:

    G’day All,

    I was very active but recently had brain surgery and had a long 3 month recovery, I am hoping to get back into exercise. I gained 6 kgs during recovery and want to lose 21 all up. With some luck and once my medication levels are stable I hope to achieve this by the end of year. Let’s just see how well I stick to my plan.

    TTFN,

    Deftfox

    • Hi, you’ll find that exercise will help you to get back to strength more quickly after your operation.

      The key to sticking with it, is to forgive yourself easily when you lapse – and smoothly come back into exercise.

  64. Last year I embarked upon a diet/fitness plan for the usual- going on holiday- reasons and through a great deal of determination and willpower (something i didnt think I actually had) I managed to lose 3 stones in weight and go from walking briskly for 10 minutes on the treadmill to running 5 KM every morning. If you could see me you would see that Im not exactly a fitness looking person so to be able to get up to that level of energy astounded me. So you really CAN do it – everythinbg else is just excuses. Its not easy, for sure but its the dedication and willpower thing – once you prove to yourself that you can do it, you can really amaze yourself.

  65. JHKW says:

    Had been steadily gaining weight for the past few years. Need to really get it under control

  66. John C. says:

    I’m usually pretty good at staying with my exercise program. For the last two months the weather here has been much colder and wetter than usual. I haven’t been inspired to get on my bike and I’ve been negligent about doing my inclement weather activity – yoga. Some networking and accountability would be a good thing. I’m in.

  67. Tina B. says:

    I just turned 40, need to lose about 65 pounds, am prediabetes and have other health problems associated with being overweight. My dad is currently dying of Colon Cancer and my mother is struggling with diabetes related problems. I really want to be strong, both mentally and physically. I have been reading your site to gain wisdom on the mental side of things and am happy to join this challenge. Thank You.

  68. Aulea78 says:

    Reasons are many and all involve health and happiness as a goal for me (out of shape) and my husband (high cholesterol) and 18 yo daughter (not in good shape aerobically). We all just moved here to freezing temps – not perfect for outdoor water activities- after 3 years in Guam- perfect for fun outdoor water activities). Daughter and I both without friend networks, yet need to exercise for ADHD symptom reduction as well as fitness.

    Is this just for an “introduction to fellow fitness travelers” kind of thing, or an audition?

  69. Michael Antis says:

    I believe that building a strong foundation in and around health and fitness is the building block to an enjoyable life, able to wake up and fall asleep, happily and mindfully.

  70. Mitesh katira says:

    Exercise routine is what I am trying to get on since long….but not able to start. Do not have a flab but there is scope to be flat in my case.

    Dream to take up swimming and yoga as my routine exercise…..

    May be the company and forum could inspire me to build this zen habit.

    Will keep updating…..

  71. Nick says:

    I want to join the cause because, at 16, even I’m not what you’d call fat, or unhealthy, I just know that I could definitely take better care of myself, and one of the promises I’ve never kept with myself is to get into a routine of exercising. I hope this can help me fix that, and improve my athletic abilities for the things I truly love to do, like tennis.

  72. Beverley says:

    I would like to join everyone. I need to make exercise a habit in my life and I think this will help. Thanks for issuing this challenge. I love your blog.

  73. Susanne says:

    I’d love to join. I’m not usually good at keeping up with things, or joining anything, but my resolution this year has been to exercise (i.e. walk) much more and I do need accountability and motivation to keep that up. Have been walking to work three days this week, and now I’m at work and regretting that I walked because it’s raining… 😉
    .-= Susanne´s last blog ..Whats closest to me =-.

  74. Camila says:

    Hi!
    I want to join the 2011 Fitness Challenge. I’ve been fighting my weight for about 20 years, going up and down the scale. I’ve always been active, but in the last 2 or 3 years I’ve stopped exercising and feel horribly unfit! I did miss a flight connection one day because I couldn’t go fast enough from one terminal to the other to get the flight… and after losing the flight, I was actually panting my heart out of my mouth! I want to get into fitness for my health, both physical and mental. The only problem is I have a bad knee, so I usually use that as an excuse not to exercise, but I’ve been forced into walking every morning since I got my dog, a month ago. She does her business outside only, so everymorning I take her for a nice long walk in the park (which is much more than I was used to) and it’s been ongoing for a whole month now (much longer than I usually do – I usually give up after a week or two). But with her, I just can’t give up or I’ll have some nasty smelly poo in the middle of the living room to wake up to hahaha.
    I’m terrible at keeping up with things I set myself to, so perhaps with the motivation and energy of this group, I’ll be able to increase my fitness. I need to lose 2st and feel healthier. I hope I can manage with the help from everyone here.
    Thanks!
    Caimla.

    • Hi Camila – it’s great to see you join the Challenge! I think the most important thing is to realize that each one of us is going to slip back during the year. We all have difficulties keeping up with what we’ve set ourselves to do. That’s being human 🙂

      What we need to do at such a time is to come back to exercise without a backward glance. Without self-blame, without a sense of shame, without making a big thing of falling by the wayside. We just need to get up and get going again.

      Welcome to the Challenge!

  75. Anita says:

    I’d like to participate because I am tired of being tired all the time. I want to be able to move around pain-free again. I’ve had no diagnosis, but I have suffered from muscle and joint pain for years. Getting in shape and losing weight will help, I’m sure!
    .-= Anita´s last blog ..Wishcasting Wednesday- What do you wish to say yes to =-.

  76. Ross says:

    I want to join the fitness challenge for the community support and accountability. I am currently “training” for the Paris marathon(April 10, 2011( and I am really struggling with my motivation and achieving consistency in my training.

    • Hi Anita – ah, yes – feeling tired is a trap. So often we avoid exercise because we feel ‘too tired’. When exercise will actually make us feel more alive and awake.
      Welcome to the Challenge!

    • Oh great! It’s wonderful that you’re training for the Marathon. My experience is that there are always dips in motivation when we’re training up for something. it may be wise to establish a running routine that’s ‘too easy’ – at least for a while.

      Talk about your training in the forum. There are some good runners there.

  77. Amy says:

    Ok, I’ll do it. Yikes.

    • Ha, ha! ‘Yikes’ made me laugh. It can be a shock when we sign up for something. It’s scary, and it’s exciting. Start the Challenge slow, easy, and steady 🙂

  78. Anita says:

    Here’s to a happy, healthy New Year! I’d love to join the challenge. I’m 58, have diabetes and 50 pounds to lose. I’m so ready to get healthy in 2011. Giving and receiving the support of others is just what I need. I like yoga and dancing and will begin by walking three days a week

  79. Lip says:

    Count me in 🙂
    My current training regime is working towards an amateur kickboxing fight in February so I’m not completely unfit, but perhaps prone to overtraining and breaking myself. I do need to get off my backside and do more cardio. I also need to eat less junk food :(.

    • Kickboxing? That’s great. Good to see another martial artist here. You’ll need top cardio fitness for the kickboxing. I wish you all the best for the Challenge. Let us know in the forum how your training routine is shaping up.

  80. Jenny says:

    I’d like to be in – due to some family events late last year I didn’t complete the 8 week challenge and lost the fitness level I was at, so I’d like to get it back.

  81. aishah says:

    Count me in 🙂 I’ve read the blog for awhile but didn’t participate in the 8 week fitness challenge. I’ve been getting back into exercising regularly the last month or two and would definitely benefit from the community support. I have a lot of chronic health issues and I notice that I always feel better when I exercise…plus, now that I’m not stressed from school, I have been able to drop weight much more easily! I’m looking forward to participating 🙂
    .-= aishah´s last blog ..love =-.

  82. Joanne says:

    I’d like to join because somehow, somewhere, my motivation has fallen to the wayside. Like others, I’m hoping the support and accountability will help me get from inertia to action!! I don’t want to go through the rest of my life feeling like I do now. I’m ready for a change and I’m hoping this is it!!

    • Don’t just hope, Joanne. Make a decision. It’s completely in your hands whether you use this opportunity. Just make sure that your exercise routine is simple and too easy.

  83. Pippylongstocking says:

    I would like to join as I am just not doing enough exercise. Ten years ago I was a very fit and slim yoga teache but now I am 10kg overweight. I love swimming but this is really the only exercise that I enjoy at present. I end up spending a fair bit of time driving in the car and then feel tired when I get home. But if I can introduce exercise and eating vege-based meals I know I will feel so much better, and that feeling affects everything.
    I went to a meditation retreat last week where the food was the yummiest vegetarian food I have ever tasted so I am keen to start finding simple, delicious vegetarian meals to prepare ( and freeze). Definately only simple recipes! Good luck to us all!

    • Hey Pippylongstocking – what makes creating an exercise habit easier is if your body has a memory of fitness. You already know what it feels like to be fit and trim. Now is the time to get that trim, supple body back again!

  84. […] exercise.  Mary stopped her medication and began a gradual program of exercise.   In this amazing 6-minute video, Mary explains her approach and charts her progress from a pain level of 6 out of 9 to zero over an […]

  85. Lucia says:

    Hi,

    I want to join the challenge because I have like 6 years trying to lose weight and every January its the same, full of energy, working out three times a week but after a few weeks I just lose all motivation.

    Last year I was able to participate in a thriatlon, swimming for 45 mins straight. I was very proud of myself and i was losing weight, but after the thriatlon i just stopped.

    I want to lose around 15lbs to get to my ideal weight, feel healthier, and be happier.

    • Hi Lucia, imagine that you want to run a marathon. Would you start out at full speed? I don’t think so. Because such a long event needs stamina. It’s the same when you build an exercise habit. Start slowly with a very easy routine. As I say, it needs to be ‘too easy’. That will make you hungry for more. But don’t give in to the desire to go all out. Go steady and easy.

  86. Dee says:

    I’m in. I’m in horrible shape – I have actually gotten winded walking around my office! I’m in pain often and have used that as an excuse. But I know the pain won’t stop until I get moving again. I’m going to a counselor to help with my food issues but I think a group like this may be the best thing to keep me accountable. This makes me hopeful: “Start with a routine that seems too easy.” OK. I can do that.

    • Hi Dee – great to see you motivated to change your fitness status. What I suggest is choosing an exercise that doesn’t put strain on your body. Maybe swimming or doing short walks.

      You can reverse your condition, little by little. Go steady and slow – with a deep commitment to yourself.

  87. narelle says:

    Hi Mary like everyone start off with good intentions to lose weight and get into regular exercise routine but somewhere along the way lose motivation. I have read one of the best ways to keep motivated is to be accountable to and inspired by others.

    • Narelle, motivation never goes in a straight line. The best thing is to accept that, right from the start. Be determined to continue, no matter whether you feel motivated or not.

  88. rosey says:

    I would like to join the forum please.

    I have severe major depression and find no matter what, even with various medication and therapy i am always exhausted, so for me to exercise it is a real push. I am finding as the years pass i am becoming more unfit and i need to find a way to stop this.

    Even to walk for 5 minutes straight, i feel like i am going to fall down. I think that is now a combo of the depression and muscle wasting. I love walking, well i used too, and i would love to be able to get back into it.

    They also say walking/exercise is very helpful for depression, but they dont say how to help yourself when you cant keep awake.

    So i would like to join to walk when i can, and hopefully find that the more i walk, the more i heal.

    thank you

    • Jane says:

      Hi Rosey,

      I have had really bad depression (and anxiety) as well, and have experienced the exhaustion you speak of. I hope that this challenge will help my depression too. I look forward to reading about how you get on in the forum 🙂

      • rosey says:

        Hi Jane,
        Sorry you have experienced the same thing, everyday is a battle and when your mind isnt working it is very hard.
        But I wont give in.
        So I too look forward to see how the exercise helps you also.
        I wish you well.
        rosey

    • Rosey, I’m sorry to hear about your plight. I hope you start to walk regularly. It might be best to choose a simple goal, like putting on your walking shoes. Once you are wearing your shoes, you’ll be more likely to start walking.

      Remember, your future is in your hands. Be resolved to change your life around by walking, one minute at a time.

  89. Ann says:

    I really want to make this my year to simplify and change my life. I have made a goal already to follow through with things this year and would love the accountability this group would provide.

    • Hi Rosey, this is your chance to change things. Yes, the first two weeks you may feel ready to fall down after 5 minutes of walking. But after that it will get easier.

  90. pleblanc1162 says:

    I stumbled upon this site while surfing for info on blogging – I’m hoping that it is what I’m looking for to get motivated to exercise again. Ever since childhood I had been someone who loved staying fit. However, a little over two years ago I extracted myself from an abusive relationship, and am aware that it has truly taken its toll on me. I work full-time, am a single parent, and am going back to school to begin a new career. I used to get up very early (4:30am) and tried to establish an exercise routine, but it didn’t work…..now I find myself so exhausted that some mornings I sleep through my alarm and wake up with just enough time to eat breakfast and get ready for work. Without a fitness routine, I feel like there is something missing in my life. My goal is to get back into yoga. I truly loved it, and at one time was studying to become a teacher. The mind/body connection was so wonderful. My plan is to make a plan and to actually follow through with it. I’m hoping that 2011 will be the year that I can get ‘unstuck’ !!

    • Hi pleblanc1162, I’m impressed by what you are doing. You are a single mother, are working, and are going back to school to begin a new career.

      It’s great that you want to get your fitness back up. Maybe you could do that very carefully – without asking too much of yourself. A very simple way to get back into fitness is to run up every staircase you can find. And you could do some yoga stretches in the evening.

  91. Thx Mary-just what I have being looking for-an online support group – I teach yoga/meditation, yet my own personal practice is erratic- I really miss my own yoga space and long to get back into running -used to rn-sprints-before having children (eldest is 19) so its a long time overdue. Am 50 next year and want to boost energy and tone up. Plus, going thru divorce my eating habits have slipped-accountability and growing sense of self-love will help me re-align and get back on track. Have a happy day. Hugs and om

    • Hey Ntathu – I can feel your energy jump out from the page. You have a body- memory of being fit. That’s great! I’ve become a runner during the last two months and it’s an awesome way to become and stay fit. I run uphill only – which gives me aerobic fitness with low joint impact.
      All the best for your Challenge.

  92. Sharn says:

    I am SO in for this challenge. Unhealthy, unfit, slightly overweight, diagnosed with chronic lung problem, psoriatic arthritis – all in all not in the best of shape. Negative comments and very depressing future diagnosis by my Dr prior to Christmas initially really depressed me for a few hours – however, I decided it is up to me to turn my life around and show that GPs only ‘practice’ medicine. I am determined to overcome the diagnosis. Stage one, I have stopped smoking (wasn’t heavy but had smoked for a long time) stage two is fitness, so here I am ready for the challenge!!! 🙂

    • Hi Sharn, at some point forward, we need to take responsibility for our health. When I first went to a rheumatologist, he told me I had Lupus and should prepare myself for slow organ failure 8-( It was totally wrong…

      I wish you a great Challenge.

  93. Ingrid says:

    I’m in. Everyone is happier when I exercise, beginning with me! It’s the ripple effect. I’d like to do another half marathon in June 2011. My first and only was in June 2006. I can’t ride on the residual fitness any longer . . . . . but more than anything, I just want to be more consistent. Looking forward .. …..

  94. vc says:

    Dear Mary,
    I’m in too. i suffer from hypothyroidism, for which i refuse to take allopathic medication, so its homeopathic.
    i am overweight and have been reluctant to exercise all my life,46 years.
    lets see what happens. i shall start walking daily.
    vc

    • Hi VC – if you haven’t done much exercise before, take it slowly. Walk as often as possible, but don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. Easy is good. Steady is good.

  95. Bernadette Macmillan says:

    OK, I’ve been fiddling with this for days now as getting in shape is part of my new year’s resolution. I’ve put on 10 kilos in 2 years and though it is contributed to by stress, Swiss chocolate, and sitting on my bum; I also tested and found my thyroid count was out which often happens with menopausal women. So Mary you are on. I’ll up my yoga class to 2x a week (everything starts next week as many are still on vacation here in Switzerland) and then add 2x walking. I’m going to fix up my old bicycle and try and add one more day – that’s a goal for next month!

    So here we go….lots of love….B (Bernadette)

    • Hey Bernadette.
      Ah- Swiss chocolate … luckily I live in New Zealand where I can’t get my chompers around Swiss chocolate.

      I look forward to a tracking your progress.

  96. Nike Dad says:

    Carrying an extra 35 LBS is a burden on both the mind and body. I need to push away from the table and TV. As a divorcing single parent I need to provide a better example to my very fit teen who lives with me. Better meals and less fast food. I think I have a plan, now I have to execute it. Like the Nike ad claims”just do it”. I know that the motivation has to come from within, but I may need a helping hand or a soft 2″ x 4″ from the forum.
    I’m in.
    ND

  97. mar g says:

    last year at the age of 58 i decided to start running, for the first time in my life. by the end of the year i had done one half-marathon and four 5K.

    but since my last 5k in november i have become a slug. please help me get back on track so i can do a 5k in feb.

    • Hi Mar g – wow, that’s amazing. You obviously have a lot of get-up-and-go. Now it’s time to leave behind slug-life and return to being the athletic person you are.

  98. EbbFlowe says:

    Hey, my name is David.

    I’m only 21 years old, but I’ve been struggling with lack of motivation and mild obesity for the last 10 or 11 years. I’m not at all looking forward to working out, but I believe that getting physical and fit will not only make my body feel better, but motivate me to do the others things I want to do in life with more zest. So I’m hoping to get on the right track! I hope that I won’t be a huge drag on those that support me, as I tend to be in other things – but with that said, I hope to inspire and be inspired!

    • Hey David – I’m delighted that you’ve joined. Don’t worry for a moment about being a drag on others. We can all support each other. Everyone has the capacity to inspire – and I look forward to being inspired by you, David.

  99. Without a fit body, everything else is difficult or impossible. It’s got to be the priority to all growth and change and action.

  100. Hi Veronica, thanks for reminding us that a fit body is a great foundation for growth. Welcome to the Challenge!

  101. Chris says:

    I am turning fourty next month and currently I am so dissatisfied with my health and my weight. I nearly have exercised at all during the last year due to a shoulder injury and this resulted in weight increase and also my migrain worsened. Now, one month after a shoulder surgery it’s time for me to start exercising again. I’d love to start running again and also to practise Yoga gain after some years of break. The difficulty is that my job will keep me very busy during the next three months and I am afraid to lose my momentum due to the workload and the few time available. I hope that this forum will keep me motivated to keep exercising during the months to come.

    • Hi Chris, welcome to the Challenge. I’m glad your shoulder is now better and you can restart your exercise program. My suggestion is not to rely on motivation. Because motivation tends to wax and wane. Use resolve instead. Be resolved to get fit again.

      If you are going to be very busy in the next weeks, use odd moments to exercise. Go for 5mins runs, walk up stairs instead of taking an elevator, do pushups and squats when watching TV. Do 20 incline pushups at the washbasin after each time you wash your hands, see how long your can keep your feet off the ground when using your laptop.

  102. Lisa H. says:

    Hi Mary,
    I missed the fitness challenge the first time around and am happy to see that it is back. Although I am a competitive long distance runner, working out between 1 and 3 hours a day, I have additional exercises that have been added to my routine that I could use some motivation for. There are primarily exercises that focus on core strength, stability and injury rehabilitation and prevention. I think that joining this group will be just what I need to stay focused on these smaller but critical exercises.
    .-= Lisa H.´s last blog ..Was 2010 Your Best Year Yet =-.

    • Hey Lisa, welcome!
      It’s great that you are already an athlete with a regular exercise habit. Yes, it’s important to add whatever we need as a ‘secondary’ exercise. I look forward to tracking your progress.

  103. Oksana says:

    Always having trouble with continuing fitness for long enough period. Hopefully this will help! I am in 🙂

    • Great to see you in the challenge, Oksana!

      i’ve been thinking a lot about motivation. So many of Challenge participants are worried that they’ll loose motivation (including you). I think it’s natural to lose motivation at times. The thing that really works is to make a deep commitment to yourself that you will continue, no matter how high or low your level of motivation level is.

  104. Tehi says:

    I want to join the challenge because my life needs some changing. I recently got out of a 17 year marriage which was full of physical, emotional, and mental abuse. During that time, I completely lost sight of who I am. And now that he is out of my life, I find myself floundering with no direction. I keep feeling like taking a step in caring for myself physically will help me with the other areas of my life that I need to face. I am extremely overweight and even though I *know* what to do (eat right and exercise), it all feels kind of overwhelming, and I don’t take action. When I read about this fitness challenge, I thought that this could be a great step for me and spur me on to at least begin making the necessary changes. I am feeling hopeful for the first time in a very long time.

    • Hold on to that hope, Tehi! That you’ve been able to emerge from an abusive relationship shows your inner strength. If you think of ‘starting an exercise habit’ it can feel overwhelming. Start with something easy. Like going for a 5 minute walk each day. Make exercise too easy 🙂
      All the best for your challenge.

  105. Jane says:

    Hi Mary! Big hugs, and a very happy new year to you 🙂

    I am so glad that you are doing another challenge. I have had a love/hate relationship with exercise and fitness, I have gone from being a super-fit gym bunny to doing almost no exercise a few times over the years. I like swimming, walking and doing yoga, but I have to be in the mood to do any kind of exercise, and find it difficult to muster up the motivation to do any of these regularly.

    But this time I have a goal, I am spending a month in the USA and am doing a 2 week tour of California and Nevada. I have got 6 weeks until the tour starts, and I want to improve my cardiovascular fitness as much as I can. The tour itself is not very physically demanding, but I want to be able to do extra activities like hiking in Yosemite and be fit enough to really enjoy it! I am also overweight, so anything I lose will be a bonus, but my main focus is on getting fit. It will also help my depression and anxiety, which will definitely be a bonus.

    I look forward to reading about how everyone is doing!

    • Hi Jane, great to see that you have a goal that will drive your exercise activity. i think waiting ‘to be in the mood’ isn’t a strategy that works for exercise.

      As you know, I do karate. It would be much to strenuous if I had to make a decision each training day whether I want to go to class or not. I find it much easier to have a schedule in place and then get into the car and get myself to the dojo. That’s all I ask myself to do. Because once I’m there and start training, motivation emerges from hiding.
      Lovely to have you with us in the Challenge!

  106. Linda says:

    OK, OK!
    I know I sit on my *** for far too long every day, writing… I need to do something, especially when it’s raining and I can’t go out for a walk.
    I have never really liked exercise beacuase I hate getting too hot but hey! if all the guys here can do it, surely I can! I’m not overweight but would love to lose a few lbs and I don’t think I should puff when I go up stairs…
    So… I’m in!
    .-= Linda´s last blog ..5 Reasons Catching Flu Is Good For You =-.

    • Hi Linda, great to see you join the Challenge. Your point about not liking to get hot was interesting. Maybe swimming is on of the few sports where can stay cold while exercising like mad 🙂

      As to going upstairs – keep doing it. It’s a great little fitness increaser.

  107. Paul says:

    Count me in! I am overweight, unfit, and it’s time to do something about it!
    .-= Paul´s last blog ..Fcuk me- I can’t breathe… =-.

  108. […] week I joined Mary Jaksch’s fitness challenge.  I quickly came to understand that it was going to take a bit of creativity, and a great deal of […]

  109. Margaret says:

    I’d love to get back to a fitness regular routine and so far I’ve been unable to do it on my own.

    • Welcome to the Challenge, Margaret. It’s taken me a long time to keep exercise going on my own. I still love going to classes though because there is a group energy that makes me work hard. And it’s fun. Is there a class that you could join?

  110. Colette says:

    I want to join the challenge because my son is getting married in February and I want to buy a dress, but not the size I am now. But looking at the long term, I need to get back my health and get rid of the weight related aches and pains I’m experiencing now.

  111. Morning all-havent signed i/joined forum yet–on list of things to do this afternoon. Just to say I am real motivated0and inspired reading everyone’s comments and mary’s encouraging words. Its a great day and this challenge is going to be even more greater. So wishing you all a fun, fit nd healthy day. Did hour yoga this morning (happy to share yoga space/buddy up with anyone) and so far had a wholesome brekki and no picking and snacking.. See you on forum. Om

  112. […] resolution to get in shape, and you think some networking and group encouragement would help, go over to Mary’s blog and sign up. Don’t forget to join the […]

  113. Dana says:

    Hello,
    I am on average a 2-3 day/wk exerciser. I want to be a 6 day/wk exerciser with at least 3 yoga classes per day; preferably group classes as opposed to doing them on my own. I am also hoping to run in a 6 K race with my 2 daughters in about 6 weeks. I typically walk 50-60 min when I walk so I have a ways to go. I need to get completely away from all my excuses and instead “suffer not one exception”. I’m not much of a “group” person, but I’m hoping the camaraderie will be a good thing.

  114. Renee McGrath says:

    I have been trying to eat better and exercise more since the beginning of the year with mixed results. Could use any inspiration I can get!

    • HI Renee, ‘mixed’ results means that you had some successes, as well as some failures. Focus on the things that went well and do more of them.
      all the best for the Challenge
      – Mary

  115. […] own ideas. I haven’t ‘copied’  them from anywhere, except for the first one from Mary’s Fitness Site. Perhaps you’d like to take a […]

  116. Carlisle says:

    I want to join the fitness challenge because I want support and encouragement, two things I lack in my life. I believe there is strength in numbers, especially when they are focusing on the same goal.

  117. i want to join in this challenge, because even though I am fairly motivated most days, then there are days like today when I it is almost noon and I have not yet gotten on the treadmill!
    Bernice
    .-= Living the Balanced Life´s last blog ..There is a God and it isn’t me =-.

    • Hi Bernice – welcome to the Challenge. Yes, some days motivation just isn’t around. What I find is that if I can get myself to put on shoes for walking or running, I can get going.
      – Mary

  118. […] Let’s start where life and success begin for me – health. I absolutely love Fitness Challenges. Especially 30-day challenges. I have a feeling a lot of this year’s will come from what I’ve learned from The Four Hour Body (4HB). Also, for some online accountability check out Mary Jaksch’s virtual fitness challenge. […]

  119. Liis says:

    I’m a mother of 3 little boys and my youngest will soon be 1 year old. I always loose a lot of weight while breastfeeding, but most of it comes back when the breastfeeding ends. I really would like to avoid that and that’s one of the reasons I will join the challenge. I used to excercise a lot when I was in high school – so I know how good it feels to be in good shape. We live in a farm so no gym or aerobic classes for me. My goal for January – to take an energetic 30-minutes walk every day (probably with the push-chair:))
    Thank you, Mary, for this initiative!
    Liis from Estonia
    .-= Liis´s last blog ..Hea Villa näitus Harjumaa Muuseumis =-.

    • Hi Liis, it’s great that you used to fit and active at high school. It’s so much easier to become fit when your body knows what it feels like
      all the best for your Challenge
      – mary

  120. Anne says:

    I’d like to join the challenge because exercise is crucial to managing my anxiety. I have a hard time getting into a consistent routine, and last November that resulted in me having an anxiety attack at work. It’s hard to go easy on myself when I’m crying for no reason in a place where I need to be professional! I think this challenge will help me stay consistent in treating myself right.

    • Hi Anne, I’m glad you’re going to participate in the Challenge. Exercise will help you to become more resilient emotionally and physically. Anxiety attacks are horrible and I hope you are able to overcome them in the future. I’m sure that exercise will help.
      All the best
      – Mary

  121. Kaz says:

    I think this a fascinating post especially in regards to the use of exercise in the setting of chronic health conditions and how cool is it that you have had responses from people across the physical fitness spectrum. I would love to be a part of the challenge to encourage both others and myself to be and continue to be physically active as the benefits are many both in terms of physical and emotional wellbeing

    • Hi Kaz, welcome to the Challenge. Yes, I’m delighted that everyone is able to join and that we have a full spectrum in the Challenge, from desperately unfit to ultra-fit.
      It will be good to have you with us and an encourager 🙂
      – Mary

  122. MomWifeLaura says:

    love the idea of the challenge. I’m a SAHM, dealt with post-partum depression for the first three years of my daughters life, during that time I did manage to stay active with Stroller Strides. I ran for a while after that, did the 5K in Boston, the day before my husband ran the marathon, ran my PBT, considering all other 5K’s were with a stroller 🙂 For just over a year my husband has been unemployed, we’re living in a basement apartment of a home that we share with my parents. We’re just in a little bit of a dark place; I began an anti-depressant (has worked wonders & I lost weight with it), then began having to much anxiety/stress and began an anti-anxiety (I don’t like this at all!) Anyway, since we’ve been here, I have not been motivated to work-out; away from friends; the stupid little fear of my child giving me a hard time while I’m on the treadmill (which she used to do when I was running regularly) is what always pops into my mind when I consider getting back into it. I don’t want to allow that to stop me, how silly – it can be done and she and I both can live with it! But joining a challenge would be a great way to be challenged and encouraged – I would very much enjoy it! I’d like to begin doing more yoga (which my daughter likes doing with me 😀 ) and start running again! Thanks for the inspiration and I look forward to adding to the forum!

  123. Shaleen says:

    Hi all!

    Hi all! I actually love to exercise and am a certified personal trainer and weight management consultant! However, today after reading another of Mary’s articles, I found myself signing up for the Fitness Challenge for the simple reason that I thought how great it would be to be involved in a group forum and challenge like this to inspire me to new heights as well as to be a part of something so positive for all of us. I also have a chronic SI joint injury which has been a little more restrictive of late, so I’d like to find new ways to improve upon that too. Here goes :-)…………

  124. Karin says:

    This challenge sounds like a wonderful idea! I’m only a junior in high school, but I love every opportunity to challenge myself physically. Usually I exercise regularly, but lately I’ve been overwhelmed with school work (four AP classes take a toll…), prom prep, student government and volunteer work, along with college prep, I feel like I haven’t made any time for my exercise, and its been showing. I feel like I might be a little late to join the actual challenge, but I’ll do it on my own and keep posting results. I love to do yoga, but lately boxing has been my favorite so maybe i’ll do that more often, and i’ll set aside an hour every day to run. This kind of thing inspires me to do more and be my best.

  125. Tracy says:

    I would like to participate in the fitness challenge. I have allowed myself to become quite the couch potato, rather the Internet potato. After almost 20 years of rigorous athletic achievement (running marathons, triathlons, bicycle racing) several issues put a stop to my activities. Two years later, I find it really difficult to “get back in the saddle”. Perhaps this challenge will shake things up a bit! Tracy

  126. Tamara says:

    I would like to join the in the fitness challenge. I understand how essential exercise is to physical health and even mental functioning ! I really appreciate Mary’s article on the importance of resolve which explains why knowledge and sheer motivation fall short. Studies prove that people are far more likely to develop good exercise habits if they have a support group. Thank you for letting me join this forum.

  127. Hello from Brazil Ms. Jaksch,

    Without knowing the Challenge I’ve started a jorney very similar here on my routine. I ‘m out from exercise since 2008, qhen I’ve leave my Capoeira classes and decides to get back in the end of 2009. I started a morning running on a garden square next my house and started on a great gym next to my job on the last week of 2009. Now I’m getting the benefits from exercise and I’ll shre with you guy on your challenge. I’ve became impressed with your video above. Glad to meet your post.

    Regards,
    .-= Bruno Cobbi´s last blog ..Sobre romances e maratonas =-.

  128. […] successful membership programs, the A-List Blogger Club, with over 800 paying members, and the free Goodlife ZEN Fitness Challenge, with over 350 members. And I’ve helped quite a few bloggers to plan and set up successful […]

  129. […] successful membership programs, the A-List Blogger Club, with over 800 paying members, and the free Goodlife ZEN Fitness Challenge, with over 350 members. And I’ve helped quite a few bloggers to plan and set up successful […]

  130. […] successful membership programs, the A-List Blogger Club, with over 800 paying members, and the free Goodlife ZEN Fitness Challenge, with over 350 members. And I’ve helped quite a few bloggers to plan and set up successful […]

  131. […] successful membership programs, the A-List Blogger Club, with over 800 paying members, and the free Goodlife ZEN Fitness Challenge, with over 350 members. And I’ve helped quite a few bloggers to plan and set up successful […]

  132. […] successful membership programs, the A-List Blogger Club, with over 800 paying members, and the free Goodlife ZEN Fitness Challenge, with over 350 members. And I’ve helped quite a few bloggers to plan and set up successful […]

  133. […] successful membership programs, the A-List Blogger Club, with over 800 paying members, and the free Goodlife ZEN Fitness Challenge, with over 350 members. And I’ve helped quite a few bloggers to plan and set up successful […]

  134. Howard says:

    I think this is a great idea and I want to participate in this challenge. My goal this year is to lose 80lbs. Look foward to walking with all of you as we try to reach our fitness goals.

  135. Thomas Beer says:

    The last 10 years have been a real challenge for me. I have lost my mother to cancer, my brother was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and I was diagnosed with asthma and severe heartburn. A number of weight and diet fixable diseases are common in my family. I am 27 years old and I weight 250 lbs. this is the most I have ever weighed. It makes me sad to think that I have gotten this out of shape. In about 7 – 8 months, my fiance and I will be having our first child. I want to be there for my family.

  136. Allison Lorenz says:

    I have said too many times that I want to lose weight and get healthier. I am currently going through a divorce and the stress and emotions that go along with that have led me to spend alot of time (especially during the winter) isolating myself and hibernating inside. The times that I do get exercise, I notice a bit of a relief so that is why I am joining this challenge. I also have been told by my doctors that I need to exercise more as I have heart and lung issues.

  137. […] can also join the Great Fitness Challenge on Goodlife ZEN (it’s free). We’ve set up a forum for the Challenge and participants can check […]

  138. Shaleen says:

    What a great idea Mary to start with a routine that seems too easy to start with! At this time of the year, so many wonderfully healthy intentions are embarked upon with great enthusiasm and often it’s a case of far too much too soon ( either time-wise or effort- wise) and the resultant overwhelm results in us feeling its all too hard 🙁 This way, we take little, manageable steps to start with and we’re amongst supportive friends with this forum too….so it’s much easier to stick with and for these changes to be sustainable in the long term. Yay!

  139. Tove says:

    I love to join! I used to do some exercise but I started over some weeks ago. I take the stairs each morning when I’m in the office (9 floors) and I started to go swimming with a pal. I hope I can turn that into a habit.
    CU in the forum 🙂
    Tove

  140. Ann says:

    At age 74 I would like to reclaim the joy of being fit.

  141. simon says:

    I am fat and want to be fit. I am going to start walking every day

  142. I’m 6 months pregnant with my 4th child. My 3rd child, a boy, was 10 lbs 10 oz when he was born, and I know part of his big weight was the fact that I gained too much weight during the pregnancy. I don’t want to do that again, and I also want to have a good exercise habit established when my baby is born so I can keep it up and lose any baby weight quickly. I know from experience that it’s really tough to establish a good exercise habit when you already have a newborn; so if I can get myself in the habit now of an hour, daily, of exercise, then it will be easier to keep it up once baby is born and for the months and years after.

  143. MaryJane says:

    Hi Mary,

    I’ve always been fit and exercised, but gained about 30 lbs during my divorce. Thankfully, I lost the extra weight. I’m back on track with my fitness and healthly living routine. This forum this would be a great support group for me.
    Great idea – Looking forward to the challenge!

  144. […] successful membership programs, the A-List Blogger Club, with over 800 paying members, and the free Goodlife ZEN Fitness Challenge, with over 350 members. And I’ve helped quite a few bloggers to plan and set up successful […]

  145. Leigh says:

    I just came across this, and don’t know if it is ongoing, but would like to join if it is.

    I have been diagnosed with CFIDS (chronic fatigue immune-dysfunction syndrome) and fibromyalgia, and am trying to heal without using prescription drugs (which give me other symptoms, causing more stress and pain), and using food and lifestyle approaches.

    I do gentle stretching via meridian stretches, do-in, and/or yoga each day, and also walk a fair amount. I’d like to get back to running, lightly, and to dancing. One of my symptoms is dizziness, so at the moment I’m not ready to run or dance, but I hope to improve to the point where I can do engage in these activities again, as I love them, and they make me feel great….at least they used to!!! Right now, there is too much anxiety about falling to do them safely and with any sense of pleasure, so I’ll need to take baby steps in my healing process to get there.

    When the weather gets warmer, probably in April, I will try to lightly walk/run around the track in my neighborhood. Maybe for the moment I can think about going to a yoga class, just to interact with others. Setting a schedule might be a good idea.

    That’s it for now. Looking for support and encouragement.

  146. […] end of February  marked two months since I joined the 2011 Fitness Challenge over at Good Life Zen. It seemed like a good time to reflect on my progress and a few observations about fitness and […]

  147. Sue says:

    Hello! I would like to join in the challenge and change my sedentary ways. I am a formerly fit person who dreams of re-connecting all the dots leading to a healthy fit life.

  148. Jennifer says:

    I know its probably too late, but I would like to do the challenge because I want to feel better about myself. I need more energy cause I been feeling sluggish and thats not good for the career I’m getting ready to go into.

  149. Amy D says:

    Is it too late to join the fitness challenge? I would love to have a supportive community to help me stay motivated to begin reaching for a healthier lifestyle! Best wishes to all of you!

  150. I was doing very well with exercise in Q1 of this year. Q2 I started slowing down. Q3 I started playing sports but due to pain from sports (arthritis) and some very stressful work situation in Q3 I have been eating poorly and not exercising. I want to bounce back. In last 4 weeks I have lost all I had done firat half of the year.

  151. Shlomi says:

    I want to join because I have tried so many times and allways abandoned the system.

  152. Your post is very awesome especially very inspirational. I used to be in good shape, however I got distracted and neglected my body for the past a couple years. This post sure motivates me to whip myself back in shape. THANK YOU very much for your inspiration!
    Gain Energy´s last blog post ..Top 10 Tips: Gain Energy Through Holiday Stress

  153. lola274 says:

    I’ve tried for years to get fit and even though weight-wise, I’m where I want to be, I still feel weak. I want to build muscle and be healthy!

  154. […] on, I created From Fab to Fit: the Great Fitness Challenge, an event that created a host of new […]

  155. […] on, I created From Fab to Fit: the Great Fitness Challenge, an event that created a host of new […]

  156. […] on, I created From Fab to Fit: the Great Fitness Challenge, an event that created a host of new […]

  157. […] on, I created From Fab to Fit: the Great Fitness Challenge, an event that created a host of new […]

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