Elaine Doll-Dunn, Psy.D.

There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

I found so many different definitions of “The whole nine yards” I decided to make up my own. So, instead of being a measure of concrete in a truck, or the length of an Indian’s turban to determine his position in the caste system, or the amount of ammunition used by a gunner in WWII, or the distance left to run the football, it now represents going the whole way in any part of your life. Like it or not, that is today’s designation. Google, eat your heart out.

Actually, my mom had an eclectic litany of sayings that worked for every situation or circumstance. Where she got these, I don’t know, her mother was of Scottish decent and died when mom was 16, her father emigrated from France as a boy and learned English on his own…how did she get so wise? Whatever, one of her sage submissions was “the whole nine yards. And to mom that meant giving it all you got; go for broke; spend your last bit of energy and determination at whatever you were about.

Suppose we use this adage, whatever it means, to structure a program for getting started on the fitness trail. After all, a journey of a thousand miles begins with---uh---the first yard? So hypothetically:
Yard 1. Decision: First, you have to make the decision to do something. Be that running, walking, biking…whatever, decide that you really want to, and decide on the specific vehicle to accomplish it.
Yard 2. Purpose: Why? What is your purpose? Define and legitimize your decision, you have a better chance of sticking with it if you internalize your reason and purpose. Like---look better, feel better, set an example, lower insurance premium…you know what you want.
Yard 3. Commitment: Commit to yourself. Be as upfront and diligent with this piece as you would to a good friend or your employer. You are your own best friend, and you are your employer. Don’t let yourself down, don’t get fired.
Yard 4. Goal: Set a specific, tangible, do-able, personal, exciting goal. Write it out in concrete terms and no-nonsense language. No wiggle room.
Yard 5. Plan: More writing. Either write your own, or get a trainer, or get on line and find a program that fits your purpose and goal. That too, needs to be in specific language and mapped out in a daily, weekly, monthly format. You need to see where you’re going, were you’ve been and identify the mileposts to get there.
Yard 6. Follow through: Do it. It’s your life, your goal, your body, and your mind. With a positive, self supporting attitude…just do it.
Yard 7. Maintenance: When the going gets tough…you know the drill. What worthwhile project have you ever accomplished that was easy? Getting fit, staying fit, and thinking fit is hard work. But it’s survivor work and it pays off immediately. The foggy places in your brain clear up, and muscles you didn’t know you had begin to hurt in a good way.
Yard 8. Evaluation: Take a periodic look back and honestly evaluate how far you’ve come. A tangible way to do that is a race. I know, that’s hard, but it is a good way to measure yourself against the world and mostly against yourself. Or, informally, by the scale, a stop watch, a jean size, a mirror check. It can be exciting and energizing or a wake-up call.
Yard 9. Adjustment: Maybe the evaluation yard indicates an adjustment. Need to work a little harder? See where. Not feeling too good? Tired? Injured? Time to back off and restructure. If you don’t have a trainer, people or paper, see one and get some expert advice. Surprising what Paul Young at BHSU can assess and adjust in a matter of minutes.

The Health for Life article in a recent American Profile Magazine suggests just eight ways to enhance your chances of enjoying good health as you age:

1. Don’t smoke.
2. Eat well.
3. Watch your weight.
4. Limit alcohol consumption.
5. Stay fit.
6. Exercise your mind.
7. Get health screenings.
8. Maintain a support network.

Let’s add one more.
9. Go the whole nine yards!
(Fitness is 27 feet or 324 inches away!)

Fitness by the Numbers
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Alphabet of Fitness
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