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Three Steps to Active Success

Like all members of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, I care a lot about my health. I do my best to eat right and continually set goals for myself. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a walk after dinner. Other times, it’s climbing a mountain, like my journey this summer to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. I spent seven days walking up the mountain in Tanzania – all at a steep grade while carrying a backpack. It was the most physically challenging thing I have ever done...and I loved it.

I am not a superwoman, but I have a three-point plan that helps me stay active and meet fitness goals.

First, get motivated. We all like to do things that are fun, that inspire us. Physical activity can do that. Watch the leaves change color while walking a trail at a park near you. Check out a swim club in your community. Look around for a good dance class. The options are unlimited. When you find a physical activity that’s fun to do – something that makes you feel good – it keeps you coming back.

Second, bring a friend. When it comes to fitness, you never have to go it alone. I climbed Kilimanjaro with my daughter. I exercise in the mornings with colleagues from work, and I often walk in the evening with my husband. By sharing time spent being active, we receive much-needed support that helps us reach our goals. Dozens of people helped get me up that mountain this summer – and most were far from Tanzania.

Third, celebrate success. I’ve found that having a clear goal helps me get and stay fit. But it’s just as important to celebrate when I reach a milestone. It makes and keeps it fun and reminds me to take a moment to relax, be proud of myself and enjoy the achievement. I then try to pass the joy I feel along to someone else, to help them on their journey toward a fit life.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, Council member and President/CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation climbs Mount Kilimanjaro.

You don’t need to climb a mountain to get started. First Lady Michelle Obama and the President’s Council have challenged all of us to make a commitment to get moving and eat better. To earn presidential recognition, all you have to do is go online and sign up for PALA+, the new phase of the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) which includes activity AND nutrition. It’s easy to do! Thirty minutes a day at least five days a week, for six out of eight weeks for adults and 60 minutes a day for youth, plus a nutritional goal each week. You can count me in, and I’ll do my best to recruit others. Maybe next year we’ll all meet on a mountaintop. Sign up today at