Danielle Panait is pictured with her IBX colleagues at the Blue Cross Broad Street Run, a race she has participated in for the past 10 years.
Fifteen years ago, I began a journey. It was one that, at its outset, was scary. But looking back — and looking at how much further I can go — it’s invigorating.
It all began, as most journeys do, with an epiphany. After the birth of my daughter, I decided I needed to lead a healthier lifestyle. It was not just a decision I made to feel better about myself, but to set an example for the little girl looking up to me as a role model.
Love at First Run
I decided to start with completing a 5K run. This was 15 years ago, remember; there was no Couch to 5K website and no apps to monitor my speed or heart rate. I wrote things down, joined a gym, and hoped for the best. And as I stepped across the finish line on the day of the race, an amazing feeling came over me. Soon after having a baby I had completed a 5K … and I’d enjoyed it. Maybe, I thought, I should try a 10K.
Exercise: From Beginner to Pro
My appetite for fitness snowballed from there. I’ve participated in the Blue Cross Broad Street Run for the last ten years. I’m now a Pilates and Zumba instructor, teaching eight to ten classes a week. I’m lucky enough to be paid to do something I love. Two things, actually. Because through this process, I also discovered the thrill of helping someone find their own motivation. I help people get out their frustrations, tune out the noise of daily life, and focus on bettering themselves.
I’m proud of my journey, and I love watching people start their own. In fact, I have some quick tips to help you get on the path to fitness.
Six simple ways to start your well-being journey
- Find a fitness buddy. Just knowing a friend is waiting for you at the gym early in the morning helps you get out of bed and in shape. Plus everything is better with a partner.
- Find a class or sport that energizes you. Exercise is more than just burning calories — it has mental benefits. I’ve had students tell me that being in my class for an hour was the one time of day they could forget about their troubles. Some even say it’s like a therapy session. Find that for yourself!
- Take advantage of technology. From Apple Watches to FitBits, these tools keep us accountable and help motivate. Walk 25 flights of stairs in a day and you get a “badge.” It may sound silly, but those little things keep us going. IBX members can also use the Achieve Well-being program to set goals and track progress. It integrates with the apps and wearables you already use to give you a great snapshot of your health and progress.
- Accept a challenge. Who can get more steps in a day — you or your spouse? A simple competition can be just the thing to help you squeeze a little more wellness into your day.
- Use your health insurance benefits. As we approach a new year, see what your health plan offers and make sure you use every benefit available. IBX members can get free visits with a nutritionist to reset their eating habits, and reimbursements on weight loss programs, gym memberships, and tobacco cessation.
- Take care of yourself. Exercise is only a small part of really taking care of your body. Drink water. Get your eight hours of sleep. Listen to any aches or pains in your body so you know when you’re pushing too hard.
Well-being is not just a goal, it’s a lifestyle. Begin with small steps and these tips, and see where they lead you. Fifteen years ago I might have laughed if you told me I’d be a fitness role model to many, but that’s where my path led. Go discover where yours goes.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.