Christy, the woman who taught my personal training certification class, said one thing that made a big impression on me, bigger than any of the other information she conveyed about fitness, fitness assessment, nutrition, or training.  She said, “Challenge yourself.”   Two simple words.  Two powerful words.

It’s not like I don’t challenge myself.  I try to improve my running times and distances, and I include weight training, flexibility training  and cross-training in my fitness program.  I have clients of various ages and fitness levels, who all have different fitness goals, and I love the challenges of creating exercise prescriptions that are tailored to their specific needs and goals.  I am constantly reading about and studying cutting edge material in my field so I can help my clients improve their fitness, vary their routines to keep things fresh and interesting, and also meet their specific nutritional needs.

Challenge translates to my personal life as well.  Parenting, working, and taking care of our home and day-to-day lives are all constant my life.  Supporting my husband as he deals with work pressure with fortitude and grace, helping my college-aged teenager navigate sophomore year (only when I’m asked to!),  and guiding  my high school sophomore  to utilize her time and intelligence to maintain her GPA as she thinks about college all take a lot of energy.   When work comes my way I take it— whether it’s teaching, house painting, fitness training, interior design consulting, or consigning my art or handwork— I do whatever it takes to contribute to tuition, groceries, or the infamous Rockport water bill.  It’s not that much in the big scheme of things, but I do the best I can.  And I still cook dinner almost every night.

The biggest challenge for me is finding and then maintaining the balance of this short, precious life.   Some days it’s basic, like scheduling three clients in between school drop-off and pick-up, and stealing an hour in there for a run.  Other days it’s not so basic, like when some boy breaks my daughter’s heart and I have to be the best mom I can possibly be—  when I tell her she’s smart and beautiful and worth more than any boy could ever imagine as she leans her head on my shoulder and sobs— when I hold her and let her grieve.  There are lots of in between times with plenty to do, as each person who squeezes in time to read this knows.

Hearing Christy say to challenge myself really made me stop and think.  It made me think about who I am, what I do, and what I want to do and achieve in life.  It made me realize how hard I can be on myself and the people in my life, and maybe, maybe, the biggest way to challenge myself is to ease up on everyone I love, and to ease up on me, too.   To realize that every aspect of life is a challenge, and to take the lighter road once in a while. Thanks, Christy!

How do you challenge yourself?

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2 Comments on “Challenge”

  1. Davida Says:

    Elizabeth, This is so apropos to the start of my work with you. I hadn’t thought of it as a challenge, but it most certainly is: a challenge to my lifelong couch potato status, a challenge to the little voice in my head that says “Why am I bothering at this late stage in my life (verging on 83” Nothing hurts when I’m lying on my beloved chaise, so why not just stay inactive, and why change my diet, already changed because of diabetes, when I do so love food. The idea of challenge challenges me, as I have met and overcome so many of them in my earlier life. You and especially this column are great incentive. I accept your challenge!

  2. My ACSM teacher emailed this note, and I thought I’d share it with readers:
    Elizabeth, Great to hear from you! I am honored, touched and humbled by your eloquent words. Your blog was amazing! Thank you so much for sharing that with me, I needed a little positive energy sent my way today and you are it! Thank YOU for challenging ME today 🙂 Please keep in touch, have a happy, healthy day! Christy

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