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Challenge Yourself to a Healthier You

Alexandra Williams, MA

Summer is officially over, the new quarter has started where I teach at the University of California, and the lovely outdoor weather of Fall has begun. A perfect time to set yourself up for a fitness challenge.

Training to walk a half-marathon

If you read my recent post about taking on new challenges and aging forward, not downward, then you know that I believe chronological age is a lesser factor in achieving your goals than attitude.

UCSB Students: You are young in body, yet with budget cuts having decimated P.E. throughout your entire school career so far, you might not be surprised to discover that your parents are probably more fit than you. Why? They (and I) had P.E. every single day when we were kids, so we have a history and muscle memory of movement.

My cohorts (Those of us in our 40s and 50s): We know the meaning of the word stamina! We know that we want the second half to be enjoyable and full of possibilities. We don’t want to be limited by health issues or injuries. We get the importance of taking on challenges (notice I did NOT say “dares”).

As the Fall season and quarter kick off (that’s as close to football as I’ll ever care to be), I want to challenge you to create a fitness goal. Something difficult, yet achievable. If you’re one of my 19-year-old students, that might be making it all the way through the quarter to the Tabata class, which WILL make you, er, uncomfortable, want to urp, exhausted, proud when it’s over. For my 80-year-old students, it might just be time to pick up those 7 pound weights instead of those 5s you’ve been hugging for years (yup, that means you).

As to me, everyone who knows me, and I mean everyone, knows I hate running unless there’s a soccer ball involved. But I found out that I am allowed to walk in a half-marathon coming up in two weeks. I just have to finish in a certain time. That’s it. My challenge is to fully kick kiss my foot surgery recovery good-bye and walk 13.1 miles in less than 4 hours. They give 6.5 hours, but I’m aiming for four. And I will do it! I know this because I already decided about a month ago. Now it’s just a matter of plugging in the training. My mind leads and my body follows.

I’m not special (yes, I am). Do you recall English teacher David McCullough, Jr.’s commencement speech in which he told the graduates, “You are not special. You are not exceptional. Because everyone is.” We are all unspecial because we all want to age with all our faculties and abilities intact, with good looks and great legs; with friends and family to encourage and support us; with the ability to walk and talk and do things we enjoy. We are all special because we get to choose for ourselves the means and methods to get there. Maybe I should use the word “path,” because a fit lifestyle is a journey, not an endpoint.

And ladies (sorry, guys, next time), I heard of a great campaign that can help you on the journey. And yeah, there are prizes. Under Armour has begun their “What’s Beautiful” campaign. I define “beautiful” as comfortable and healthy in your body. Strong is Sexy and that’s all there is to it. Under Armour’s campaign is to encourage women to get on a fitness journey, share it, get motivated, and get support (and free swag) from them. Heck, ten women will get flown to Florida to train with elite trainers, work out, get nutrition advice and SPA TREATMENTS. I am not entering the campaign because I want to give you all a chance I’ll be out of town in early January, but you should! Just click on the What’s Beautiful or Under Armour link. It’s free. There’s no catch. Except your breath. You can catch that!

What have you got to lose by challenging yourself, except maybe some weight or bad habits? More to the point, what have you got to win?

This is what I'll probably look like after doing 13.1 miles

This is how I think I'll look after 13.1 miles!

As far as I’m concerned, my knee surgery (from soccer) and foot surgery (also from soccer) were necessary to help me reach my goals, not keep me from them. Here’s to you. And here’s to me. I will be at my most beautiful at the end of the half-marathon because I’ll have a big smile on my face.

What fitness challenge will bring a smile to your face?

Want something to do that’s so easy it’s not even a challenge? Clickity clack on our links and subscribe to our YouTube channel and our blog. Follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click on the icons in the right sidebar ——–>


FitFluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign. All opinions are my own.

About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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32 Responses to Challenge Yourself to a Healthier You

  1. Tamara October 1, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    You will rock the walk!
    I have recently started running. Not Running, just running. Once a week, 30 minutes or so. It always brings a smile to my face and a peaceful feeling to my heart!
    Tamara recently posted..Cooking with quinoa flakes: morning ‘oats’ and cranberry cookiesMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit October 1, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

      I have tried a bit of running on the treadmill at 5.5 and 6. I do not enjoy it, but can go for about 2 minutes before I think, “This is lame. I hate running. I have nothing to prove to myself.” Thirty minutes is a LOT.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Challenge Yourself to a Healthier YouMy Profile

      • Amy October 2, 2012 at 9:19 am #

        Well of course running on a treadmill is lame. You need to go outside! That’s where you do most of your walking, right? Running is not a required exercise, but for simplicity in getting super duper cardio, it can’t be beat! Just do a minute or two, walk for a while, repeat. And suddenly you are doing intervals!

        • AlexandraFunFit October 3, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

          hahah, Amy, I do believe you’re right. It was too hot to go outside here for a while, but I did 6 miles the other day outside, and loved the views. Hated the black flies. And it was uphill the whole time – in both directions!!! Actually, the first 3 miles were uphill. I didn’t enjoy those.
          AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Tips to Look Super Cool and Totally Hot on CameraMy Profile

  2. Bob Borson October 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    I have no doubt that you will achieve this particular goal, I think I need to take on a goal similar to this (I sit too much writing, drafting, etc.)

    • AlexandraFunFit October 1, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

      Thank you Bob. I did 6 miles yesterday and my knee definitely ached by the end. But I am going to give it my best shot. At the worst, I’ll have done a LOT of walking. And yes, if you’re sitting a lot, you need to move more. You want to be cracking jokes for another 60 years.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..How Do Your Personality, Luck, and Gender Affect Your Health?My Profile

  3. Kerri O October 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    What’s Beautiful? You’re beautiful (both of you). Mwah!
    Kerri O recently posted..Paleo Pumpkin Bread RecipeMy Profile

  4. Jody - Fit at 54 October 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    You can! :-) I al already on my challenge journey to lift heavier & I am! :-)

    Great post & I did not know you teached at the college I graduated from way back when!!!!
    Jody – Fit at 54 recently posted..Gratitude Monday & Air Conditioning; RememberingMy Profile

  5. Miz October 2, 2012 at 3:23 am #

    I need to challenge myself. Ive been too ok for too too long just being the fitness status quo
    Miz recently posted..Kickball: MizFit style.My Profile

  6. Yum Yucky October 2, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    I’ll be 39 in 5 months. Not quite 40. Please count me in as your cohort anyways?

    I was shocked when I learned that my high school kid doesn’t have gym everyday. That’s appalling. And as a senior next year, he’ll have the option of opting out of gym altogether. When I was a senior, I had 1st period gym every dang day. 1st period!! Do you know what it’s like to come to school looking all cute, and then have to change clothes and run outside on the track 30 minutes in humid weather? It sucked, but still glad I had gym everyday.
    Yum Yucky recently posted..(Video) Nature’s Path Pumpkin Raisin Crunch CerealMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit October 2, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

      by popular, anonymous vote, you have just been voted as our Chief Cohort Consort. Please come over right away so we can help you blow out all those candles. You are a youngster, but your PE sounds like ours. And your son’s sounds like what our kids get here too. It’s appalling, especially when all the research shows gains in test scores when kids MOVE. P.S. I somehow think you were totally cute the whole day.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Stumbling Blocks are not Walls: Setting New Fitness Challenges After SurgeryMy Profile

  7. Jennifer (Savor) October 2, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    You kiss, I mean kick that 13.1 miles (heck, take the .1 off) in the butt….you can do it!!!

  8. Mariella Lombardi October 3, 2012 at 1:59 am #

    That’s a great challenge, and it sounds like a lot of fun too:) I do think that this summer I was pretty lazy, so I have to start looking for ways to get myself going again.
    Mariella Lombardi recently posted..Work Your Chest and Tone Your Triceps, Abs and Shoulders For FREE!My Profile

  9. Heather @ Better With Veggies October 3, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    I love your focus on finding a challenge for where you are and being comfortable with that! My recent challenge is readjusting to running now that I’m at altitude, something that is taking me much longer than I expected. But if it was easy, everyone would do it, and it’s something I know I can conquer! :)
    Heather @ Better With Veggies recently posted..Fall Pairing Dinner – Maple Infused Seaweed Salad {Recipe}My Profile

  10. Laura @ Mommy Run Fast October 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    That’s awesome that you can walk the half! I love the UA challenge, it’s so inspiring to see women pushing beyond what they thought were their limits.
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Appetite for Life Cookbook GiveawayMy Profile

  11. Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb October 3, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

    Can I just say that I can always count on your vids and posts for a good laugh. Love the old photo. =) In all seriousness, I love your goal and have no doubt you’ll get it. I still see running as a challenge (yes, even 5 yrs after starting) so every day I get to smile a bit for meeting and exceeding my challenge on my daily runs.
    Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb recently posted..Girls Night Out At Road Runner SportsMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit October 3, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

      Thank you Heidi. You may say it, sure! Wait, you don’t think that’s a recent photo? But I swear – it’s from a day or so ago (in the 80s). I’m surprised you find running a challenge because you always seem so enthusiastic and happy about it. So interesting to discover that you overcome a challenge on a repeated basis. Kudos to you.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Spark Your Brain with ExerciseMy Profile

  12. Miz October 4, 2012 at 2:14 am #


    look at that :)
    Miz recently posted..THE MIZFIT WORKOUT SKIRTS ARE HERE!!My Profile

  13. Kierston October 4, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    I can’t wait for my fitness competition coming up in two weeks! Yahoo!

    Enjoy your half!!! :)
    Kierston recently posted..Under Armour: What’s Beautiful ~ Redefining The Female Athlete!My Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit October 4, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

      Thank you Kierston. And we know that you will crush the competition, no matter how the judging is, because you have such an enthusiastic view on life.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Cardio is Dead; Long Live CardioMy Profile

  14. Kareen October 4, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

    That’s a great challenge. You will do great on the walk and I’m so happy to see that you’re back on your feet. And yes, you are special AND thanks for giving us all a chance to win :)
    Kareen recently posted..The Eating Social DietMy Profile

  15. Mike October 5, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

    To get the perfect shape, everybody knows that he or she must keep the exercise program for the long haul—and that’s no easy feat. Best of luck to you!
    Mike recently posted..Tips To Get Your Perfect ShapeMy Profile

  16. Elle October 9, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    I think you are ultimately most beautiful with a big smile on your face… will look forward to reading about your half marathon! Way to go!
    Elle recently posted..Saturday StuffMy Profile


  1. What's Beautiful? Health at Any Age | Fun and Fit: with Fitness Pros & Identical Twins, Alexandra and Kymberly - May 9, 2013

    […] I did a different What’s Beautiful challenge (unofficially; I didn’t compete) entitled Challenge Yourself to a Healthier You, and I hope you read it. I won’t tell you what challenge I picked for myself, but I will say […]

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