Happy New Year! Cheers to new beginnings, a fresh start, and renewed motivation. People are often surprised to find out I used to be a middle school PE teacher in Cobb County a few years ago, because well, I am not athletic, I am not competitive, and I am quite clumsy. But my passion is, and always had been, helping people realize that being healthy does not have to be horrible.

I have shared before that there are 5 main areas of health: Physical, Nutritional, Mental/ Emotional, Social, and Spiritual. Last year I just focused on the physical area. Taking care of physical health can benefit all the other areas as well. I decided to take my own advice for “just keep moving” in the January 2019 article and I tried to do a 5K a month in 2019. I will say there are months I did not get to a 5K. I missed signing up for an official one in June, so I ran my own at home. In July I made it a goal to walk everywhere I could when we stayed in a small town for a week.  In September, I got injured because I am clumsy, as noted above, so I helped with a fun run instead. In October, my husband ran the 5K for me that I had previously signed up for. On Thanksgiving Day, I walked the Gobble Jog with my 81-year-old dad. He has taught me by example to just to keep moving! It was good to have fun, frequent, motivation for consistent exercise in between the races. It was also fun finding races that supported causes I wanted to donate money towards. And it was even actually fun showing up and running/walking the 5Ks…even when I ran in a cow costume in August at a Chick-fil-A 5K.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, here is a website that lists some races that are upcoming in Cobb county: runningintheusa.com/race/list/cobb-county-ga/upcoming or you can go to the main menu of this website and find races all over the country if you want to make a travel adventure out of it as well.

Maybe you don’t want competition or crowds or to have to spend money. You could go hiking or explore some of our many parks in East Cobb. Check out this website for some ideas near you: www.eastcobb.com/attractions/parks.

If running/walking is not your “thing”, no problem! The definition of exercise is- “bodily or mental exertion, especially for the sake of training or improvement of health.” Get your body moving, it can be simple, and it does not have to be horrible! Of course, the more effort you give, the greater the results can be, but something is better than nothing. Make movement a priority for your day, at least 5 out of 7 days a week. Make/schedule beforehand when you will get in exercise; there is rarely time leftover to “squeeze it in.” It helps to find something you like to do! You are more likely to stick with something that you actually enjoy doing. Make the goal “improvement of health”, not just lose pounds before vacation. Invest in yourself, your health, long term!

Speaking of pounds, may I suggest throwing away your scale? I did when we moved 2.5 years ago. It was dusty and unused anyways and I have learned, through education and experience, that it’s not the best indicator of health. Visits to your doctor can tell you more accurately how your physical health is going. Don’t stress out by the pounds on the scale. Rather focus on things like, how do your favorite pair of pants fit? Are you sleeping well? Do you have energy? These can be some non-scale indicators of health.

Cheers to your health this year—to taking care of yourself, and also being more able to take care of others. Maybe you are not competitive or athletic either, but thankfully neither of those things is required to be healthy. Whether you’re a parent or not, you have an impact on the next generation. Lead by example. Let’s show them that taking care of yourself and your health can not only be personally beneficial but can benefit your community as well.

GET YOUR MOVE ON THIS NEW YEAR 1Ashley is also the Health & Wellness Co-Chair for the Rocky Mount Elementary PTA. She and her husband, Les, reside in Lassiter district along with their three kids who are at Rocky Mount Elementary School. She taught PE at Palmer Middle and Dickerson Middle Schools before she became a stay-at-home mom that never stays at home.

This article originally appeared in our January issue of EAST COBBER, on page 8. Click here to view the digital edition.