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Prior to 2011, I had never really jogged or run before in my life! However, that year, my younger sister decided to take up jogging and I figured if she could do it, then so could I! I still do not consider myself an avid runner but I enjoy jogging. I have done a few 5K fun runs with my sister and most recently, to celebrate my 45th birthday, we ran our very first 10K. Our time of 1h15min is nothing spectacular, nonetheless we are pretty proud of ourselves.

Since that first 5K in November of 2011, I have enjoyed jogging as my primary physical activity. I live right next door to a beautiful park in Georgia, where the weather is quite conducive to jogging most of the year. Therefore, I have absolutely no excuse not to jog regularly.

On one occasion, as I was jogging, the local high school running team was using the same park. They were literally running laps around me. As with most running teams, some of the runners finished faster and then proceeded to station themselves at different sections of the running loop to encourage their teammates. Two of the young ladies were standing right at the final loop and chanting, “last one, fast one.”

As I kept jogging and hearing their chant echo through the park, I began thinking of the importance of having coaches and teammates cheering us on in our health journey. I imagine on that hot summer morning of training, how encouraging it must have been for the other runners to hear their teammates cheering them on. I was not part of their team, but their chant encouraged me as well.

In fact, their chant has stuck with me until this day. So often that last leg of a jog, a race or a marathon can be the hardest. Usually, I am so ready to be done, that I begin slowing down mentally before the final stretch is even over. Ever since that day, when I feel I am slowing down, I begin chanting to myself, “last one, fast one.” As I chant, I set a constant sustainable pace, focus on my breathing, keep my head up and I do my best to finish strong.

Today we find ourselves in the final stretch of 2022! It’s the month of December, the holidays are here, and with them all sorts of parties, gatherings, and celebrations. It’s so easy to lose focus and momentum in our healthy living journey. Nonetheless, just as those two young ladies did in the park, Stephanie and I want to place ourselves at this last bend so you can hear us chanting, “last one, fast one.” Whether you started in January, June, or November, you have come so far already. You are not in the same place you were when you started. Don’t lose momentum now!

Here are three practical tips for keeping momentum in this final month of this year.

Set a constant sustainable pace. Maybe you can’t maintain the intensity of the pace you started out with but keep a steady pace for this season. Continue to do at least a 30-minute workout routine 5 out of 7 days, incorporate veggies into your meals as often as possible and keep up your water intake, at least half your body weight in ounces.

Focus on your breathing. When we focus on our breathing, we are able to listen to the wisdom of our bodies. We will know if we need to cut back on certain foods, step up or slow down our workout routine, rest a little, eat immune-boosting whole foods, or drink more water. Our body tells us exactly what we need, we just need to learn to listen.

Keep your head up. Keep your gaze on what is ahead. Consider where you want to be when you kick off the new year to set fresh new goals. Who wants to start the new year with last year’s goals? There are new and greater things after this final stretch.

Just look at how far you have come already and hold tight to those gains. Yes, the holidays add challenges to this final stretch. However, you, my friend, are strong and you can finish well.

By Rachel Souza, CHC