Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee Challenges Families to Get Fit

Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee congratulates the Takanishi family, who won Boys & Girls Clubs of America's Triple Play Fit Family Challenge, sponsored by Anthem Blue Cross Foundation and Coca-Cola.
When it comes to health and fitness, Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee is an expert.

I remember watching her on TV in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul and being amazed at her ability to be so athletic—at so many things. Not only did she win gold in the long jump, but also in the heptathlon (7 events!)

She's still inspiring kids and families with her dedication to health. In fact, last Saturday here in L.A. she oversaw the Boys & Girls Club 3rd Annual Fit Family Challenge, which was supported by Coca-Cola and the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation.

The challenge had five families competing to win the Triple Play challenge, which spotlights the mind (healthy choices), body (physical activity) and soul (healthy relationships).

I had the chance to talk to Joyner-Kersee about her inspirations—and which of her Olympic medals is her favorite!

She said the most important message for kids is simple. "(It's) the Boys & Girls Club philosophy of mind, body and soul—the triple play." What that means, she said, is "getting families to be engaged, to make healthy choices and to challenge themselves."

Keep in mind, we're not talking about weight loss, per se, or the The Biggest Loser mentality.

"It's teaching the families that these are tools that we can use for the rest of our lives," she said. "We can encourage others and have activity with every day of life."

As a mom, though, I know how hard it is to schedule time to stay fit and healthy. But Joyner-Kersee says that it's all about prioritizing.

"We can make time for everything else, but we have to make time for family," she said. "Maybe one Sunday after church maybe go to the park. Be inclusive of one another, and make family a priority."

Another priority is sticking to those fitness resolutions even after the motivation of New Year's Day has passed. How does Joyner-Kersee stay motivated, and how can families do the same?

"It goes back to goal-setting," she said. "If I could see myself improve by 1/2 an inch when I was jumping or a few seconds when I was running, I would build on that."

She also added that you have to stick with it "every day and (find) something positive and have that be the building block, something small. Build on small pieces and leave room for growth."

So, you're probably wondering which of Joyner-Kersee's 6 medals is her favorite. (I know I was!)

"It's easy to say the gold medals," she said. "But I'm most proud of the bronze medal from the '96 Olympics because I was injured. When you believe in yourself, you turn a downer into a believer. I was able to turn around because of my mindset. I was still going for the win, and I was able to get the bronze. If I had gone for the bronze, I would have ended up 6th."

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