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Get Moving: The holy grail of longevity

by Maria Holee | May 16, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

The washing machine whirring and the dryer clanging -- we are in the early 1980s. Our Dad was doing a set of bench press in the weight room (also known as the laundry room) while my older brother Jason and I spotted him, pushing the homemade metal rods through the wooden beams to rack the barbell. We had to do it fast because the alternative was not good! I believe my siblings know exactly what I am talking about and might be chuckling.

My other brothers and sisters were feet away in the kitchen, doing homework at the kitchen table or being chased by our mother to get us ready for bed. They sacrifice the world for all 10 of us kids. They live and breathe us to this day.

Fast forward to 2016, Dad had just had open heart surgery. He had been diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve late in life. This came to us as a complete surprise and a pretty big scare. He was born with this heart defect and over the years, his heart had to work extremely hard to pump enough blood through his body. Staying healthy and active truly saved his life.

There is a story about his fifth daughter, Natasha, and him having a pull-up competition three months after his surgery, repping out 23 and 24 pull-ups. When you say he had the heart of a lion, he really did. He recovered from this surgery now at 72 years young. He works at his own lawn cutting business, exercises, lifts weights several days a week and spends his days walking in meditation and prayer to church with our mother. He eats from the garden, finds at home projects to complete and makes all of us belly laugh.

Our father and mother, like most, worry like the best of them. They will be your greatest support and cheerleader at any life event or sport. In the words of my brother in-law, Sherlock, "Gail is every single one of her grandchildren's hype woman."

This story rolls right into the purpose of today's article. The holy grail of longevity and quality life.

How can we find the ultimate achievement of a quality life? Is it just about exercise? Is it just about sleep? Or nutrition? Or meditation and social interaction? No, it's the entire circle. Two phrases that stick out: You can't out-train a bad diet. You also can't exercise or work your way through life without sleep.

A baby is born and sleeps up to 20 hours a day. We encourage this sleep and make sure they eat nutritiously, whether mothers' milk or formula. Then they start eating real food and baby food. We feed them veggies, fruits and proteins, pureed into a digestible form. They take up to two naps a day. Then one nap a day. As teenagers, we start staying up late, increasing our responsibilities in school and at home. Let's talk about adulting. ... Oh, being an adult is hard, right? Now we are not only responsible for ourselves, but we are also responsible for other humans, kids, parents, grandkids, fellow employees and friends. We expect 100 percent output.

We go through life increasing our responsibilities, stress levels and expectations of performance and spend less time concentrating on factors such as mental and physical health.

Who has heard the phrase, "I will sleep when I am dead," "No rest for the weary," "You only live once though, right?" or "YOLO"?

You absolutely only live once! And why wouldn't you put forth your best efforts to live the best quality life with family and friends, all while increasing your service to others, investing in your well-being and increasing endorphins?

Did you know a lack of sleep will not only weaken your immune system and increase your chances of getting sick, but it may also decrease your short-term memory? In the long run, it may even make you more susceptible to dementia or early onset of Alzheimer's.

How about nutrition? Are you fueling your body on cereals, donuts, pizzas, hamburgers, cakes and candy? All of these cause an inflammatory effect on the body, making you more susceptible to chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, mental disorders and even cancer. Are you tracking the days where you get 100 percent of daily vitamins and nutrients through fruit, vegetables and proteins to fuel the body?

Let's include social interaction. Are you surrounding yourself with a positive support group that lifts you up when you accomplish greatness? Or are negative interactions spreading like wildfire into your thoughts and actions? Have you heard the phrase "you are the average of the 5 people you hang out with the most?"

How can we accomplish all of these? The answer: chip away. One day at a time, invest in your health and make your life the best it can be. You don't need to accomplish your goals in one hour or day. We are in this for the long game. Always be a student.

Find time to invest in your physical and mental health by joining a gym that has a support crew of trainers and fellow members all working towards the same goal as you: meeting your best version. I constantly say that Jefferson City CrossFit is a melting pot of people across all walks of life that may never have met before in any other circumstance. Yet, at the end of the day, best friends and companions are found. They are on the same wavelength as you. I quit counting the number of amazing humans I have met at Jefferson City CrossFit and built positive relationships with.

Even better, the gym supports the holy grail by investing in your nutrition and mental stability. It is not just about pushing the exercise and over training without a program. If you are going to exercise, you should truly follow a program. JCCF runs 8-12 week program cycles. The results happen in the four walls of "the box." By following our program, we had five athletes compete in a Mid-Missouri competition two weeks ago from youth to masters and all placed well in their divisions against some tough competitors. The proof is in the program, nutrition guidance, and the listening ear to each other.

We are in this together. And no one is going to get out alive, so you might as well make the days you have the BEST days you have. YOLO.

Maria Holee and her husband, Jake Holee, own Jefferson City CrossFit, established in 2012.

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