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Holiday Streakin’ Fitness Challenge participants Ted Lowry, left, and Randy Bolong, right, with organizer Mai Hoang.

When I first moved to Yakima a decade ago, I was often asked why I decided to live here. Back then, the answer was easy — because I got a job at the Yakima Herald-Republic.

At the time, the newspaper was a big part of my life. My purpose as a Yakima resident at the time was to report and write about the local business community.

Being a business reporter, of course, is still an important part of my life. But if someone would ask me now why I live here, my answer also would include the fact that I’ve come to value this community and have been an active participant in it. My husband grew up here. My daughter was born here.

That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to coordinate the Holiday Streakin’ Fitness Challenge. At first, my plan was to simply write about how to stay active during the holidays. But Herald-Republic Managing Editor Alison Bath encouraged me to take it a step further by running this challenge.

Needless to say, running a holiday challenge — along with my other duties as a business reporter — proved challenging, especially during a busy month. However, it’s been extremely rewarding to see how the challenge has helped members of this community get active.

Over and over again, I heard from participants about how this challenge help them conquer fears, anxieties and other issues that held them back.

For example, Kim Blanchard said she’s no longer afraid of running in the snow and cold after doing so several times during the challenge — she even gave me a tip of where to get spikes that attach to running shoes for a good price.

Katrina Magyar said how she struggled to complete 10 to 20 minutes at first, but as the month went on she was able to increase her time. By the end of the month she could easily complete an hour or more of exercise.

And the challenge was motivating for me, too. Being accountable to more than 100 members of the Yakima Valley community made it significantly harder to skip my workouts and runs. I was able, like the other Holiday Streakin’ Fitness Challenge participants, to complete 31 days of activity. I also reached an important goal — a full calendar year running streak. And every mile added up — after my final run on Dec. 31, I had logged in 740 miles for 2016.

There also were participants who took the challenge but weren’t able to complete it for a variety of reasons, whether it was sickness, a death in the family or simply because the holiday season proved too overwhelming. It’s a good reminder that sometimes — and this applies to me, too — we fall short of the challenges and expectations we set for ourselves. To those participants, please do not be discouraged. I hope you will keep the desire to get active and build from what you were able to do during this challenge.

While this challenge is over, the work of developing and keeping good, healthful habits is not.

That’s why I’m not saying goodbye to the community that we’ve been able to build through this challenge. Instead, I am committing the following to the Holiday Streakin’ Fitness Challenge community and others in the Yakima Valley looking to achieve fitness and healthful goals in 2017:

• I will continue to run the Holiday Streakin’ Fitness Challenge Facebook Group, but under a new name: “Yakima Herald Republic’s Keeping the Streak in 2017.” Come and let me know about your goals and what you’re doing to reach them. I’ll let you know about the goals I’m working on, too. I’ll also be posting updates on health and fitness efforts planned by me and my colleagues at the Herald-Republic. Even if you weren’t a part of the challenge, you are welcome to join us.

• For those on social media, I’m going to check in on how you are all doing with your goals and aspirations. To check in, just tag your posts with the hashtag #yhrfit. I’ll be doing the same.

• To provide fitness content and activities from the Yakima Herald-Republic throughout the year. I’m hoping to try some things out in the coming year, so stay tuned for updates and new stories at www.yakimaherald.com/fitness.

• If you have ideas on how I and my Herald-Republic colleagues can help you reach your goals in 2017, let me know by emailing me or giving me a call. I’m open to hearing your feedback.

Finally, a big “thank you” to my supervisors at the Yakima Herald-Republic who gave me the time and resources to run this challenge, and to our sponsors who stepped in to partner with us during the first run of this challenge: Bearded Monkey, Liberty Bottleworks, North Town Coffeehouse, Virginia Mason Memorial hospital, Yakima Parks and Recreation and the Yoga Collective of Yakima.

Keep the streak going in 2017!

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