Macon Magazine

August/September 2021

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A re you someone who has been contemplating making significant lifestyle changes to improve your fitness? Do you have ideas about the steps that you need to take, but you continually find yourself nervous about taking those next steps? Do you find yourself needing more motivation, even while feeling that having better personal health should be enough motivation in itself ? If that's you, I would like to encourage you by considering this: By taking those next simple steps to improve your personal fitness, not only would your health improve, but you would very likely be the catalyst for many others in your community to improve their personal fitness as well. In this annual leadership issue of Macon Magazine, it seems fitting to discuss how we all have an opportunity to demonstrate leadership in fitness. This is incredibly important in the United States, where 6 in 10 adults suffers from at least one chronic, lifestyle-caused disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The statistics are even worse in Southern cities like ours. I have said this for a long time: There are very few things more powerful than one's personal story. When we hear stories of "regular" people who have overcome incredible odds to achieve success in some area of life, those stories inspire us in a special way because they make us feel like we can identify with that person. Usually, this feeling of affinity leaves us with even more hope that we too can achieve success in the same area. This is very much the case in the realm of health and fitness, where one's story of successful health transformation is often the catalyst for many others making healthy lifestyle changes. When I was producing my "Your Health at the Crossroads" podcast, I had the privilege to interview several local individuals who significantly transformed their physical health through the adoption of healthy habits. Some lost significant amounts of weight. Some began lifting weights or started running 5ks. Some were able to reduce or even eliminate hypertension medication. The especially cool thing is that all of these individuals inspired others to adopt healthy lifestyle changes. Some of them began receiving so many fitness- related questions from others that they began their own careers in the health and fitness industry. One lady I interviewed, named Dee, was motivated to get in shape after seeing a picture of herself. Being unsatisfied with what she saw, she began walking regularly and making dietary changes. She eventually started aerobics classes while experiencing consistent improvements in her weight and her fitness. Eventually, her skill and consistency caught the eye of her aerobics trainer, who coaxed her into becoming a fitness trainer herself. Since then, Dee has become a fitness entrepreneur, opened her own fitness studio and has regularly appeared on 13 WMAZ's "Amped Up" fitness segment. Talk about inspiration! My point in all this? Skipping the cookies for carrots and trading the couch for cardio is great for your body, but it's potentially much bigger than that. You could help inspire fitness in the lives of many people in the process, regardless of whether you are a fitness professional or an ordinary citizen. CONSIDER THE POSSIBILITIES • Purging your home of salty, sugary junk food and soft drinks could help you cut several pounds of unnecessary fat, and it could also help your child avoid the increasingly high incidences of childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes. • Walking one hour a day, at least five days a week, can help you lose an extra two pounds per month and get your daily Vitamin D quota from the sun. It can also inspire your neighbors to start doing the same. • Losing visceral body fat (the fat that stores around your abdominal organs) drastically reduces the risk of several diseases including heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer's. Doing so also potentially enables you to live a longer, higher quality life, and can inspire other older adults to believe that graceful aging is indeed possible. • Perhaps you're someone who has known for some time that you need to take steps to improve your fitness level, but the pandemic, fear or other circumstances have consistently kept you from taking those steps. Don't be scared. You owe it to yourself to prioritize your health and you owe it to your community to inspire others to do the same. Shawn McClendon is an ACE-certified personal trainer and owner of Back to Basics Health and Wholeness LLC, an organization dedicated to empowering people to take control of their health and avoid lifestyle disease. He hosts the health and wellness blog and has authored several health/fitness books. FITNESS CORNER INSPIRING A CULTURE OF FITNESS BY SHAWN MCCLENDON 28 | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2021

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