After spending nine months in the most physiologically loving, friendly environment – your mother’s womb – most of us are born healthy, happy and fit. However, the cumulative effects of unhealthy behaviors, bad eating habits, lack of physical exercise, and daily life stressors in our childhood and as adults renders us inactive, lazy, and unfit and therefore disabled by choice.

Starting a new year provides an opportunity for every one of us; male and female, healthy and sick, young and old, enabled or disabled to to get fit again by making an honest commitment to our bodies. Let’s choose this New Year to be the first year of our healthy lifestyle and a year of healing, restoration and hope. If I can do it as a mom, wife, nurse and martial arts instructor, I bet you can do it too. Don’t make excuses because you think you are sick, poor, lonely, broken hearted, old, or disabled. I am not asking you to become a body builder. I am assuring you that you can work with the body you have and you can become more fit and able to accomplish what you want when you want.

An active lifestyle is a way of life, a discipline that consumes our every living moment. Fitness, however, is just a healthy lifestyle associated with meaningful physical exercise. Fitness doesn’t always equal huge muscles or becoming a compulsive athlete or a world champion. It is the ability to work out your muscles and to stretch your body so you become more flexible, stronger and healthier which will affect your actions and your thoughts.

Martial arts is not just kicking and punching or defending against an imaginable enemy. It is the art of healing and restoring. It is the art that will, no doubt, empower you to restore, coordinate and heal your body and soul, and increase your ability to accomplish your goals in life. It is not about becoming the grand champion of the world, but about becoming the master of your own body and mind and you can do just that. Don’t waste time. Start now to maximize your coordination and optimize your endurance and stamina, both internally and externally. Several studies have shown that the regular practice of martial arts increases life-expectancy and reduces suffering from prevalent physical and psychological diseases such as rheumatism and depression.

A simple daily routine of yoga and just a few minutes a day of jogging, running or rope jumping will pay you back a hundred fold. Your new lifestyle will help you look better and elevate your feelings about yourself and life in general.

Make the change to a healthier and happier lifestyle. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones. Become an example for your family and community. Join with me and live a longer, healthier life. Become the newest member of fit martial artists who read “To Your Health” and respond. It won’t cost you a penny, but it will make you happier, healthier, better to yourself and to others.

Sensei Marta Azzam