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Exercising the Mind and Body by Mark Michniak

Growing-up, I was always involved with some form of physical activity. I played Little League Baseball, Basketball in grammar school, ran Track and Cross Country as well as swam in high school, and in college lifted weights. Once college was over, I did martial arts for ten years and trained and ran a marathon. I was always keeping myself fit doing something and knew that I would be in good shape if I kept-up this routine.

One thing my martial arts instructor was very good at was pushing us. We did not do a short 5-10 minute workout in class. He worked us hard for the first 20-30 minutes of class! When we got through exercising, we were dripping in sweat with our hearts racing. He would always yell at us to push though it and work it during the exercises. It was tough and hard and at times I almost despised him, but him encouraging us to push past our weaknesses and past what we thought were our limits, he helped strengthen in a way I never thought possible.

Then after our youngest daughter was born, things changed in my life and I started making excuses not to workout. I got lazy and lost interest in exercise. My old way of life changed and it all came to halt! I mean nothing. Zero. The only thing closest to exercise I did was walk our dog about 15-20 minutes every day, but that was it. I  even started to put on weight. It was anywhere from 5-20lbs and on my thinner frame, that is a LOT of weight! The weight was put on from both a lack of exercise and from bad eating habits. I had stopped caring about what I ate and no longer took daily inventory of my calorie in-take. I became a shell of what I once was.

In December of 2018, that all changed. I decided I was done being out of shape and as they say, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I looked at myself in the mirror and was both ashamed and embarrassed at what I had let myself become. I put my foot down and said “Enough is enough!” and decided to put a plan together and follow it. I was going to get myself back into shape!

To accomplish this goal, I had to come up with an exercise regime. I knew that I needed to MAKE the time to do this! Instead of sitting and watching tv, which is how I wasted a lot of time, I could use some of that tv time instead to exercise. It could not take-up a lot of my time that I spent with family, but enough time that I got  a good workout in. Since I did not have the money or time to go to a gym, I needed to find something inexpensive and something I could do at home. Lastly, it had to keep my muscles tone without building muscle mass and it had to have some cardio portion to it that got my heart working.

I started looking on-line for exercises that could meet this criteria. I searched both the internet and YouTube, looking to see what was available out there. After some time, I found this fantastic video by Fitness Blender that checked-off everything on my list: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNrqrk2xcAo. It was NOT easy to start this! It took a lot of discipline to start it and then more discipline to do it on a regular basis. I was sore my first couple of weeks and at times I questioned whether I could keep going. I wasn’t sure if I could keep going, but I know I needed this.

Somehow I did stick with it and did start feeling the same feelings I had when I use to exercise! That feeling of accomplishment came back when I was done with a workout. All those endorphins flowing brought about a tremendous, natural feeling of euphoria that all athletes feel after a physical workout. I noticed my lower back, which I have had problems with for years, start to get stronger! I started seeing my stomach flatten and my veins pop-out in places from me losing the fat that were in those areas. I even started to see my leg muscles become more defined.

It has been six months since I began this physical routine and look back on the past 6 months with a lot of pride and sense of accomplishment! I have been able to stick with a 2-3 workout week schedule all 6 months along with taking our dog on longer walks ranging from 20-45 minutes. Yes, there have been days when I have been tired after a long day of work and felt like not working out. However, I have pushed myself during days like that and have worked-out anyway. On those days, I hear my instructor yelling to push past my being tired, to workout even when I felt tired. I never knew how someone pushing me 10 years ago could affect me today, but I am very grateful that he did because he helped install in me the ability to overcome diversity and push myself when no one is around to push me. Even if it is not exercise, like in my Sales career, when I feel like giving-up on a project I am working on, I can hear his voice pushing me to keep going even when I feel like I can’t!

Mark Michniak

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