Growth, Health, Mid-Life, Physical Health

April Strong Arm Challenge

New month! New Health Challenge! In 2017 my life focus is Health. This includes financial, emotional, spiritual, and PHYSICAL! This month I am going about things with a plan of action in the area of physical health.

Exercise and I have had a love/hate relationship for most of my life. Over the years I’ve participated in some athletics…gymnastics as a little girl, track for a season in high school, drill team for a year in high school, then the Marines, so of course exercise was part of the package. Since getting out the service though, the motivation to stay fit and exercise has been a challenge. What I’ve come to learn about myself is that having a positive challenge/goal/event ahead of me helps keep motivation high. Now, we all know the benefits of being in shape…energy, fitting in clothes easily, looking good, plain ole’ ability to do life. Perhaps you are like me, thought…life distractions, lack of motivation, and those dang lay’s potato chips get the better of me. What are your struggles to maintain a fitness routine and healthy lifestyle?

In light of this tendency, and watching my amazing cousin, Kate, over the past few months, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to try something different. Adding in a motivation and accountability factor, I’m posting the goal and plan here. Then, will follow up with check-ins on a weekly basis. If you need a little accountability and want some friendly motivation, be sure to comment below and we can keep each other motivated.

Side note: If you haven’t met my cousin, Kate, you need to check out her journey of health on her social media pages. We are the same age (6 months apart), and she is rocking it. She is a teacher, runner, yoga instructer, mom, wife, and more. I am seriously inspired by her on the regular! Check her out, show her a little love! web: IG: OmMamaYoga FB: OmMamaYoga

Changing thoughts and habits about health and exercise

Each month we’ll focus on a different area of fitness and pose a little challenge. For April it will be arms – the Strong Arm Challenge.

As I think about being fit, the reasons have changed over the years. Early on, play was exercise and it’s just what we did as kids. As a teen I tried out different things, like running, and although I wasn’t great (like coming in next to last on the mile run in track!!), it kept me in decent shape. As a Marine, being fit was mandatory and could cost a promotion or service if you allowed yourself to get out of shape. In my 20’s I had my children and the busyness of chasing after littles kept me fit enough.

In my 30’s things started to change. The combination of a desk job, turning to spectator for kids activities and thyroid issues left me dissatisfied with my health and wellbeing. That dang middle started to thicken and arms weakened. I’ve never been overly heavy, but I think the term that could apply is “skinny fat.” Not overweight, but not healthy.

Now that I have turned 40, the motivation for exercise is different. I want to ward off the metabolism change that happens, and be capable of living a full life for as many years as I have left. As my children are older teens, with graduation in sight, the realization that I am still young enough to truly enjoy an adventurous life is ever present. Being healthy will allow me to participate in whatever adventure comes my way. I am changing my thoughts and habits about health and exercise.

Here’s the plan:

Alright, are we ready to get down to business? For April we are going to do a Strong Arms Challenge. I’ve made the calendar, seen below. If you’d like a PDF of the file, comment below or send me an email at The routine feels pretty moderate to me, which I need because of lingering shoulder issues due to an injury 20 years ago that will remain with me the rest of my life. Enough babying that shoulder though, it’s time to get strong and fit.

April 2017 Strong Arms Challenge

April 2017 Strong Arms Challenge

Disclaimer: I am not a fitness expert or medical professional. Please only do the exercises you can, and if you need to see a physician first before starting these exercises, please do so to avoid injury. I don’t want anyone getting hurt. Health is the goal, so take the increase at your own pace. If any day is too much for you to complete, do what you can and be proud of yourself for what you were able to accomplish.

Also, if doing the number of reps on that day’s list is too much at one time, break them up. Do half in the morning, and half in the evening. Or rotate between the days exercises, breaking them into sets. Example, day 12 calls for 20-basic pushups, 20-tricep pushups, and 14-plank shoulder taps. Break that into 3 sets:

Set 1 – 6-basic pushups, 6-tricep dips, 4-plank shoulder taps (rest 30 seconds)
Set 2 – 7-basic pushups, 7-tricep dips, 5-plank shoulder taps (rest 30 seconds)
Set 3 – 7-basic pushups, 7-tricep dips, 5-plank shoulder taps (woo hoo!! You DID it!!)

Strong Arm Challenge Basic Exercise Break Down

(I saw several of these on a Run Like a Girl challenge, and then modified with ones I like to do and aren’t too strenuous for my shoulder):

Basic Push Up: start with your body in a straight plank position. Arms shoulder width apart. Lower yourself (keeping your body straight), as low as you can without touching the ground, then push yourself back up. Modification: Drop your knees to the ground, keeping your back straight.

Tricep Dip: Choose a solid stable surface (heavy chair that won’t move, or coffee table). Face away from the surface, arms behind you to the sides of your hips, feet straight in front of you. Dip your bottom down till your arms are approximately 90 degrees, then push yourself back up.

Trap Pushup: Start with legs behind you, body straight, hands together, creating a triangle with the opening. Lower down as far as you can (goal is 90 degrees at the elbow), push yourself back up. Modification: drop your knees to the ground.

Mountain Climber: Start in basic plank position. Bring your left knee towards your chest. Hop your right knee forward to the same position while simultaneously bringing your left foot back to the plank position. Each time your right foot comes forward, count 1.

Knees to Elbow: Start in the basic plank position. Bring your left knee to the outside of your elbow, then back to plank. Switch sides.

Basic Plank: With back straight, butt down (imagine a board on your back), arms shoulder width apart, toes on the ground, hold yourself in position for desired time.

Plank Shoulder Tap: Begin in basic plank position. Bring arm to opposite shoulder and tap. Alternate sides for count. Modification: Drop knees to the ground.

Side Plank Rotations: Begin in basic plank. Rotate arm and body to one side, extending your arm towards the ceiling, then bring back to plank. Switch sides.

Down-Up Plank: Begin in basic plank. Alternate between dropping to each forearm then back up to straight arm plank.

By the way, did you see those puny arms in the pic above? That was from last summer when I was in Haiti. I can’t wait to see what they look like the end of April.

**I’d love for you to join in on this fun (I use the word loosely) little challenge and see how strong we can make our arms in the next month.**

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