The 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge just passed the 4600 member mark. Thanks to all who see the value in this project and have registered and recruited others to join. I have launched the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge website at www.50-k.net. Our mission is:

“The 50-K Active Challenge community inspires, supports, and rewards people who have an activity that they love.”

If you want to improve your health and the health of others, as well as raise awareness of the importance of physical activity in Healthy Reform (as opposed to Health Care Reform), register at www.50-k.net. Together we will change thousands of peoples lives!

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Genesis of the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge

Beyond the Dream It, Live It, Love It theme I discovered in research for my book, a second major theme emerged after I had done about twenty interviews, and came about due to a confluence of things that hit me at the same time. One morning, I had been watching the news on television, and the main topic in the national news was health care reform. At the same time, my wife Sylvia was doing some volunteer work in support of Barak Obama’s call to perform volunteer work in support of causes close to us. Sylvia was involved in a food drive, and her restaurant was a food drop off point. That morning, I went out for a run, and as usual, my mind drifted onto various topics, including how one of the oldest athletes I interviewed, made the comment that he is not on a single prescription drug. That thought lingered a bit, leading to other thoughts about how all the people I had interviewed, seemed in extraordinarily good health. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to find this out, given the results of the studies I had read about. Then the big idea hit me. Suppose I could combine the volunteerism I’d like to do, with this project? I’ve never been a guy who volunteers for food drives, blood drives, or other community programs. Maybe this is a way that I can give back, in a way that is in line with my passion. That day, the concept began swirling and brewing in my head.

Just the other day I was interviewing Carol Jean Vosburgh, who is a 63 year old multisport athlete from Florida, and she was telling me that one of her priorities is giving back through volunteer work, as well as by inspiring others to lead a healthy lifestyle. She lit the spark in me to take some action and get something going.

I am launching the 50,000 Active/Athlete Challenge. The goal of the challenge is to recruit 50,000 people to adopt some of the healthy habits I’ve seen in the athletes I’ve been interviewing. This is not limited to any age group, and I hope to include the very young to the very old. These habits are:

– discover an activity they enjoy

– have a written goal in that activity

– have a written plan to reach the goal

– have a means of holding themselves accountable to their plan

– get out there, follow your plan, be accountable, and have fun

It is my belief that if someone commits themselves to doing these things for three months, their lives will be changed in a major way. From these simple habits, come regular exercise, association with people who share a common passion, awareness of the importance of good diet, and awareness of the importance of good physical health. This can be life altering.

Below is the recipe for enrolling in the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge

1) get registered and be counted by either joining the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge at www.50-k.net. It’s free and easy.

2) If you haven’t been doing regular exercise for a while, check with your physician before starting any new physical activity that is difficult for you

3) Find an activity you enjoy. If you have a sport you love already, then great. If you don’t, then take one month and look for something. Talk to you friends about what they do. Go to cycling or running shops, and find out about what is going on in your area in terms of clubs, and events. Go watch some events. Surf the internet. Read the newspaper community events and sports sections. If you are new to an activity, seek out someone who can show you the ropes. Clubs and shops are great places to get this kind of help. Get out there and do it.

4) Decide on a goal, and write it down. Dream It! The goal doesn’t need to be something as ambitious as running the Boston marathon, and should be appropriate for what you think is possible, yet will stretch you. Maybe you want to do the Walk For Life this year, or be able to run a mile without stopping, or play 18 holes of golf, or ride your bike to work a certain number of days. The important thing is to pick a goal that you are excited about, write it down, and share it with others.

5) Define interim goals that lead up to thebig goal. If your goal is to be able to run a mile without stopping, an interim goal might be to do a quarter mile, then a half mile, and so on. Write these interim goals down.

6) Define how you will prepare yourself to reach the interim goals. Maybe you’ll work out at the gym three days a week, write it down. Maybe you’ll run before work three days a week. Write it down. Whatever it is that you want to, and feel you can commit to, write it down.

7) Define a way to hold yourself accountable. There are a few very good ways to do this. Start a written daily or weekly training log, where you write what you did and how you felt. Another way is to join a club or group, that meets regularly to workout together. Another great way to hold yourslf accountable is to find a workout buddy, who you workout with regularly. If you can afford it, you could hire a trainer or coach.

8.) Execute your plan, be accountable, have fun, and watch this process transform your life!

If you are already an athlete, and want to help reach the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge, you can help by helping people carry out the steps outlined above, and by being a mentor to them. If you want to be a part of this, then join the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge at www.50-k.net.

I am very excited about this program, and see it as a great opportunity for those of us who have benefited immensely from the healthy habits of an athlete, to give back in a way that is in line with our passion.