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If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em.



Two words I certainly love to hear after a morning of hard work at IDEAS xLab. On the menu was Jimmy John’s. Thinking about their sandwiches and how quickly they deliver, my mouth already begin to water. The uniformed driver came in swiftly and I was ready to dine. I was handed my sandwich and unwrapped it slowly. I was met with lettuce, ham, cheese, hot peppers.  There was something missing. I unwrapped the paper a bit more thinking, surely there must have been some mix-up. Where was the 12-inch, white, toasty bread that was supposed to be encasing my sandwich? There must be something wrong. But as I looked at Josh, a partner at IDEAS xLab, he was standing at his desk simply enjoying his sandwich or as I learned, his “unwich”- a sandwich made with all the trappings minus the bread. “Well,” I thought. “If you can’t beat em, join em!”

From that point on I made a habit to watch Josh. Every hour or so he was refilling his 24-ounce cup of water when I had barely managed to get down one cup. He packed his lunch most days and he periodically ate throughout the day, huge salads and spaghetti made with spaghetti squash. Outside of his meals, I watched him stand at his desk the entire time he worked. Surely he must be tired. So I asked him. Without a second thought he said, “Oh no I have been doing this for so long I’m just used to it.” I wondered why I had never thought just to stand up at my desk? Quite frankly, observing Josh made me think about so many things regarding my fitness and sadly where I was lacking.

It was not like I had not worked out before. I knew what to do as most people do. I knew what to eat and not to eat. Although I am not a nutritionist, most people know an apple has more health befits than eating a chocolate chip cookie.  I exercised faithfully and then life happened or better yet, excuses happened. One day out of the gym turned to one week, to one month to rolling into a new year. I was tired of that routine. Starting and stopping only to start again.  Watching Josh, I saw a daily example of how health was made easy along with six great reminders to get my fitness back on track.

1.     Be responsible.  Fitness is your responsibility. Pack your lunch daily (or as often as you can) making sure to include healthy selections ensuring that grabbing unhealthy fast food is not the easiest choice. That means you will have to be responsible for prepping your food. That may mean making a huge pot of soup, baked chicken and vegetables, etc. Carry a refillable cup for your water. It is good for your health and it is good for the environment. If you know you won’t go to the gym or workout after work if you need to go home and change first, pack your clothes in the car that morning. Look for any barriers that are keeping you from making yourself responsible and make a decision to be responsible for yourself.

2.   Find a partner or group for encouragement and accountability. Last weekend, during Smoketown Strength, IDEAS xLab Smoketown Running Group, I was so discouraged because not only was it cold, but I was also the only walker/jogger. By the time I even got into a good stride, I knew more than likely they would already be back at the YMCA waiting for me. A member of the group, Mitzi, who teaches Zumba for Twice Da Hype, quickly spoke up and said, “I am walking and jogging with you.” My heart smiled. I know her level of fitness because I took her Zumba class, that she did not need to walk or jog. She could have run the 5k easily. Instead she made a choice to walk with me. During our walk, she would say, “Hannah, let’s run to the mailbox, the fire hydrant, the white car.” She continued to name landmarks and I would run to them. When I needed to stop and walk, she supported me but when she knew I could do more she pushed me.

3.     Still have fun. A glass of wine or a cookie is fine. So is a hamburger and fries. However, eat these items in moderation or learn how to cook them differently.  I discovered that I did not have to stop eating all the things I enjoyed. I simply had to find a way to make them differently or eat them on occasion. I come from a family that loves greens—collard, turnip, mustard. Traditionally these were made cooked down in water swimming in the fat and juices from ham hocks. And I loved it! A little dash of Franks RedHot Sauce and I was in business! But I learned that I can have those same things just made differently. I still enjoy my collard greens only now when I cook them I add smoked turkey to them instead of ham hocks. If I want a cookie, I have a cookie. Not the entire roll of thin mints that have been chilling in the freezer. J

4.     Do something where you stand. Meaning do something where you can. Perhaps you can stand at your desk for ten minutes, walk in place for 15 minutes, do 10 squats while you are on a long conference call, etc. Wherever you are, find a way to get in some form of exercise. Every little bit helps!  

5.     Take the time. Do not make the time to exercise, take the time to exercise. Take ownership of your time. If you know you need 30 minutes in the morning to work out, take that time. That means you must be confident in owning your time and owning your fitness and health. It means establishing personal boundaries. It means learning to say no when something impedes on the time that you have chosen to take to improve your health.

6.     No excuses. We can think of any excuse not to exercise. It is just a very easy thing to do. Stubbed your toe, can’t find matching socks and the ever famous, ‘I’m going to start tomorrow’. That dear place tomorrow where every great and wonderful thing we ever wanted to do with our lives resides.  In joining Smoketown Strength, I was determined not to offer any excuses when it came to our workouts. Then last Saturday came. The forecast for the weather was about twenty degrees.  There was just no way! None! I couldn’t imagine walking to the mailbox in twenty-degree weather let alone doing a 5k. And then Josh said a sentence I will never forget, “Put socks on your hands if you don’t have gloves.” Socks? At that moment I knew no excuse would do. We are a team and as team members not only would they hold me accountable, I did not want to let the team down. More importantly, I didn’t want to let myself down. I went that day and finished the 5k. And I was proud.

Although this list of fitness reminders are not all inclusive for ways to get in shape, by doing these six steps I can already see an improvement in my health. I am looking forward to the next three months and what will happen in all the lives of the ten people in the group. If you would like to come out and join Smoketown Fitness, we welcome you! We meet each Saturday at 8:30 a.m. Please send me an email at so that you can find out our location. This Saturday, February 20, 2016 we will meet at the corner of Brook and Market in preparation for the first leg of the Triple Crown which will be held, Saturday, February 27, 2016. We have all levels of fitness in the group from running to walking. Our goal is one thing, to simply finish the course! Remember, if you can’t beat us, join us! We are waiting for you! 


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