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by Jennifer Parks

January 1, 2004

Paint a picture of your fitness

Do the details of what we do for fitness add to the big picture of our health? Is the time we spend on it and what we do to accomplish our goals congruent with the rest of our health and wellness life choices? Do we rush like mad to get to our workouts, act cranky with our lane mates and coaches because of our desire to get in the "right" amount of yardage? Maybe rushing less, changing our attitude to a calmer one, could enhance our physical workout, and a little less yardage won't matter.

Swimmers, triathletes, and other exercisers/athletes have often extolled the value of this great physical activity to help with our mental/emotional/spiritual health. Perhaps, though, we need to look at the details of our mental/emotional/spiritual health to see whether they enhance our physical fitness and health. Maybe lifting weights at home while talking to your significant other would help the relationship instead of always going to the gym to "lift"?

Do you ever go the pool and play with your friends and/or family? Do you ever swim in a place where you can see trees and light, or at a time when you can? Think about your fitness in a healthy, holistic way. Go to a meet not only to improve your times, but make a point of visiting with your friends on other teams; make the meet or the practice a social event, too, shoring up your spirit with your connections with other people.

Set your fitness goals for the New Year, plan the details of your training, but only after you look at the big picture of your life. Have a wonderful and glorious year, "painting" a great yearlong watercolor, including all the details of health, fitness and wellness.

Jennifer Parks is a member of the USMS Fitness Committee. Parks teaches health, wellness, fitness, aquatics, and stress management courses at Ferris State University in Michigan. She was the swim coach at Michigan State in the 70s and 80s, and has been swimming Masters for almost 30 years.