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Day 8: Prioritising your physical health

"Healthy isn't a goal, it is a way of living" Unknown

I'm one of those people who have been physically active since I was a child. I started playing netball in Grade 5 and played for the Free State in primary, high school and even in University. I hung my netball boots after playing for the u/21 Free State team in the provincial championships. Even as a netball player, I realise that I didn't really take fitness seriously until I started running. I think because netball was a team sport, and we had scheduled practises and fixed competition times, I took it for granted that someone else (our various coaches), was in charge of our fitness regime and I really didn't do much in my own time to train or improve my skill.

A few years later, I started running and learned what it really means to take charge of one's own fitness goals. Before I started running, I hated it. I found it boring. I didn't understand the point of running - what are we running away from? But when I started working, I needed to do something that I could manage flexibly (a solo sport), something I could do even when traveling out of town, because of the nature of my work, and something that didn't require a complicated gear or a big monetary investment (I was a trainee accountant and couldn't afford an expensive hobby).

Which brings me to the first lesson for today: Your physical goals are personal goals and therefore, they should align with your personal circumstances and should serve the season of your life that you are in. It is not about doing the latest in-thing, or joining the most fashionable fitness class but really about understanding what you want to achieve with your goals and designing your fitness plan in such a way that it suits the rest of your life.

My running journey started with me running a 2km run and then advancing to 5kms, and eventually running my first marathon when I turned 30 years-old. This was a journey of about 8 years in it I learned so much valuable lessons about fitness, overcoming limits and the power of consistency. One of the things that struck me as a runner was that in a race, a consistent walker was going to finish the race faster than an inconsistent runner. This means it is more sustainable to hit smaller fitness goals consistently than to hit bigger goals every once in a while.

The two other ways that running helped me save my life were as follows:

  • Committing to a daily/regular fitness schedule helped me maintain structure and balance in my life. According to a lack of routine and structure can " cause increased stress and anxiety, as well as overwhelming feelings, lack of concentration, and focus". Going to the gym daily or going for a run (when I was on away audits) during articles, kept me sane!

  • Challenging my physical limits helped me overcome the mental limits that I had subconsciously placed on myself. I still remember how hard it was as a runner to go from running a 5km to a 10km run and then to go from 10km to 21km. Now that I have even run a marathon, I know that I can run any distance if I commit to doing the work. But when you have never exceed a certain limit at all, it can feel difficult. Once you do something you never thought you would do, you realise that you could exceed limits even in other areas of our lives.

Lastly, what I learned in my fitness journey is that one's physical health journey is a long-term project. It's must doable to say "I want to run my first marathon in 5 years' time" and then to break it down into smaller goals, than to say "I want to have a summer body by December". Making a more long-term goal allows you to deal gracefully with the interruptions of life that are bound to come and help you develop a more sustainable approach to fitness.

The journey to sustainable physical health is a marathon and not a sprint.

This week I have also enlisted the help of Mpho Phakoana , a fitness coach, serial entrepreneur and founder of Cycle House Studios to share her fitness journey with us and to provide tips on how to set sustainable fitness goals. I hope her journey inspires you to take ownership of your health and to make physical health a part of your overall personal goals this year.

In addition to the tips shared in this video, I'd like to share following:

  • Alignment with your overall goals: ensure that your fitness goals align and support your personal goals, to set yourself up for success.

  • Find a tribe: While fitness is a personal journey, it is more sustainable when you walk the journey with others. While it may not be practical to train daily with a group of people, it may motivate you to set a work out date, or a running date once a week.

  • Challenge yourself: In fitness, your life will be transformed outside of your comfort zone. Make it part of your fitness journey to challenge any assumptions you have made about yourself or about fitness as a whole.

Journal Reflections:

  1. Reflect on your physical health and your own fitness journey.

  2. Identify what you have done really well and how it has benefited your overall well-being.

  3. Identify areas in your physical health that require improvement and on how you can improve

  4. Set a few fitness goals (short-term, medium-term and long-term goals).

Tools and resources:



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I am a passionate leader, accomplished professional and a mentor. I believe that nation-building depends on how well we build people. Therefore, my mission is to contribute to the personal, professional and leadership development of people to empower them to reach their highest potential.

I do this through a mentorship program that I founded and through this blog where I share principles I've applied and insights I've gained in the past twelve years of my career and leadership journey.

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