Editor's Desk - January 2008
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Up the Mountain, One Step at a Time

round this time last year, like most people, I was thinking about resolutions. And while I can almost always come up with a list of at least 30 mountainous goals to reach at any given time, last year I resolved to make no resolutions. "What's the point?" I asked myself. I always end up feeling guilty in March when I realize I've given up on all those just-out-of-reach goals and settled in at base camp for a nice cup of hot cocoa, thinking, maybe next year I'll get to the top of that mountain.

In the end, by setting myself free from the resolution mindset, I was able to take small steps and reach big goals I've been trying to accomplish for years. And now, as I look back over 2007, I understand why I never kept my resolutions in the past.

By breaking things down into small steps and enjoying the view along the way, I gave myself the chance to relish a sense of accomplishment on an almost-weekly basis. And those small joys led to more small goals, until finally the final steps to the mountaintop became just the next step on a path of little steps.

So here's my challenge to you this year, whether in your personal life or for your recreational, fitness or sports facility: Stop looking at those huge, overwhelming, monster goals, and start thinking in terms of what you can do today. Think about baby steps. What can you do on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis to make a small difference or to take one more step toward the big picture you'd eventually like to paint for your facility?

Don't think about the long term. Don't think about the mountaintop. Think about what you can do next.

Of course, reaching one goal doesn't mean it's time to stop growing. Once you reach the top of one mountain, you might rest for a minute or two, enjoy the view, and then turn your gaze to even greater heights.

Reaching one vista doesn't always mean the climb is over. Sometimes, the climb is just beginning.

For example, the latest information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on obesity rates in American would seem to be—relatively—good news. After a quarter of a century of increases, the prevalence of obesity has finally leveled off. That's great news! As the number of people crossing the line from overweight to obese stops growing, so does the likelihood those same people will suffer from cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. That's one mountain down—slowing the growth rate of people crossing that line. But what's next?

Unfortunately, more than one-third of U.S. adults were still obese in 2005-2006. That means there's still a lot of work to be done to get Americans fit and healthy again, and you're at the forefront of the climb up that big, fat mountain. More than one-third of the United States' adult population defined as obese—that's more than 72 million people. More than 72 million opportunities out there to reach one more person with the message of fun and fitness to be gained from recreational activities.

You can set a goal now to reach more of these people with your organization's or facility's mission. How can you get more kids involved in youth sports? What about the kids who aren't into playing on a team? There are plenty of alternatives out there—fun activities that don't even seem like exercise—such as climbing, skateboarding and more.

You can also try starting an outreach program to market your program options to groups that are underrepresented at your facility. The age group most likely to be considered obese, for example, are adults between the ages of 40 and 59. What can you do to attract this demographic to your facility? If you have a pool, how about targeting these folks with a water aerobics class? What about offering a tai chi or yoga class for women in this age group? What about a recreational soccer league for adults only?

The CDC also found that non-Hispanic black women and Mexican-American women between 40 and 59 were far more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white women of the same age. What are some small steps you can take to get more of these underrepresented ethnic groups out of their doors and into yours? Why not start by reaching out to the local schools? Or the local churches? Pick one new partner to reach out to every month, and make those connections.

By this time next year, maybe you'll be looking even higher to set goals you've never even considered within your reach.

Happy New Year!

Emily Tipping


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