A New Year, A New Writer for 2012! January 5, 2012
Topics: Fitness

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Heather McKissick, President and CEO for Leadership Austin, has embarked on a fitness journey and she's willing to take us with her. She started with fitness guru Paul Carrozza and is on her way to learn more how to become more fit in the mind, as well as body.

For years now I've had a practice of making resolutions on my birthday instead of at New Years, because it really is a new year of life starting today. My 45th year. It's an opportunity as always to sit back and take inventory of where I am, have been and want to go.

I'm not really sure why 45 is a significant birthday. Except the fact that it has a five on the end. Zeros and fives seem to be the big ones, or at least the ones that we put the most emphasis on. Have I officially reached "middle-age"? I guess that depends on how optimistic I'm feeling about what "final age" will be! With my dear grandmother celebrating her 101st birthday next month, I'm highly optimistic that middle-age is still at least a half-decade away. At least that's what I'm telling myself today.


Without waxing too poetic, when I look at the first 45 I feel pretty damn grateful. My family of origin loved and supported me and still does to this day. My mother and father have always been there unconditionally for me, and it means so much to still have an active loving relationship with my brother, my sister, and their wonderful families. I've been blessed with opportunities at every turn in my life. From exceptional education opportunities to deep lasting candid friendships, to truly supportive professional mentors, colleagues and environments that have allowed me to grow and expand my career and expertise in exactly the direction I have wanted to take them. And of course there's my wonderful family - without whom all of this means nothing - my darling husband and our two sweet beautiful stubborn precocious children. They are the three people that motivate me more than anyone or anything else to be vital, successful, happy and yes healthy for the next 45.

I started this blog because I have had so many fits and starts related to my own personal health and well-being. From chronic allergies and sinus problems to multiple knee surgeries to good old-fashioned diet and exercise challenges, I have made multiple attempts at being the healthiest person I can be and very few of them have truly lasted over the long-term. But if there are any themes across these many attempts, they're the basic principles of health and well-being I've heard over and over again: Balance, Flexibility, Strength, and Endurance. So for this year of focusing on fitness and resilience - for the sake of all those I care about - I'm making my birthday resolutions along these lines.

I believe that a Balanced life is a process not an event. I know that balance is an impossible state to be achieved and maintained. For me, it's a constantly fluctuating situation - one day is crazy, the next not so bad. For every 14-hour day I work in a given week there is a different day that rejuvenates and recharges my sense of purpose and mission in all things. When I boil it down very simply to elements of personal balance, for me it looks like exercising in the mornings and being home for the school bus in the afternoons. I resolve to do those two things as much as I possibly can even when it might feel inconvenient or uncomfortable, knowing that the result will be worth whatever minor discomfort I may feel in the moment.

This kind of balance certainly requires Flexibility. My body needs to be more flexible. I feel like I could constantly stretch all day every day and my muscles would still not be satisfied. In addition to a daily practice of stretching my body, I resolve to stretch my mind and my sense of what is possible ... and what should not be. I will be flexible with myself when it comes to my own rigorous expectations. I will remind myself that everyone deserves a break from time to time, including my children - within reason of course - who are still learning what it means to focus, finish homework, and get the "big rocks" done first. I will extend this flexibility when making major, as well as minor decisions ... knowing that excessive rigidity never solved anything and erring on the side of inclusion creates a better solution in most every case.

People describe me as Strong probably because I'm headstrong. I don't mind telling people what I think most of the time. This past year both at home and at work demonstrated to me a fortitude I didn't know I had - I can stand up in the face of adversity, stay creative and nimble when things become difficult and continue to charge ahead to make things happen in a positive way even under difficult circumstances. That's a trait I would like to continue to have and build upon in the coming year. But I recognize now more than ever that true strength is not built alone. A loving spouse and family, a rock solid team at work and friends who extend to me infinite flexibility help me stay strong. And of course my physical body must be stronger for all the reasons that are too many to name here. I resolve to work out with weights twice a week, specifically to focus on my core and upper body being stronger. And I know that with physical strength comes confidence, resilience, and longevity.

And last but not least year 45 seems an excellent time to focus on Endurance. I run a lot of metaphorical sprints in the course of my work and managing a family in this age requires equally quick action. But it is becoming increasingly clear to me that this working-parent-community- leader life is by far an endurance sport. The changes that I want to make personally, physically, within my family, my organization and my community are not short-term changes. It will require a much longer longitudinal view. Patience. Motivation. Celebration along the way. And yes, once again: Resilience. The ability to bounce back and keep going. Training for the Capital 10K this coming March will be the manefestation of my focus on endurance, with so much support from my family, from the Leadership Austin Class of 2012, and all our "Healthy Living for Leaders" friends at H-E-B, CorpFit, RunTex and beyond.

So there you have it - my 45th birthday resolutions: Balance. Flexibility. Strength. Endurance. No small order, but ain't no thang either. Not with the kind of caring support I feel all around me every day. For that I am truly grateful, and I'm ready to make 45 the best it can be!

About Heather McKissick

Heather McKissick is a self-proclaimed fitness wannabe and a true novice at being "intentional" about her health and well being. She is particularly interested in the idea of resilience … how to bounce back from difficult circumstances or just plain keep going during her busy working life. She is 45, a non-profit CEO, a community leader, happily married for 15 years, and mother to two small and very energetic children, ages 5 and 10. "I just want to be the best I can be in all areas of my life," said McKissick. "The older I get, the more I realize that energy is everything, and I want more!"

Heather can be reached via Leadership Austin at www.leadershipaustin.org.

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