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Two very special days are coming up for me in the next few weeks. I’m looking forward to attending high school graduations for two of my grandsons and spending the day honoring their achievements. Besides the pride and excitement of these special family days, I am always impressed with the graduation speeches of hope and optimism.

Commencement speakers are often selected for their wisdom and the perspective on life they have gained through their experiences. This is an honor that comes to a successful life and to someone who has the ability to inspire others to achieve something meaningful in the world. Their message is not just to motivate the graduates on this special day. It’s intended to resonate years later and have an enduring presence and profound impact on the audience. I experienced that kind of captivation at a graduation ceremony over 25 years ago and you’ll be surprised to learn how it played into my creation of SIT AND BE FIT.

My younger daughter graduated from Whitworth College in 1987, the same year I produced the very first SIT AND BE FIT television series. I recall the graduation speaker concluded his speech with the words “reach out for a better day”. This phrase had such a dramatic effect on me, it became the closing motivational comment I make at the end of each SIT AND BE FIT program!!

So there you have it! I have been asked many times how that phrase come to be and now you are the first to know!

As I thought about “Keep Reaching Out For a Better Day” as a trademark motto for SIT AND BE FIT, I found the choice of words revealing. Whatever frailties you may be experiencing, it is vital that you envision a better day just ahead and know that you have to “reach” for it, work for it, to make it a better day. It can’t happen without your intention and good effort.

My responsibility is to motivate you to make your body function best it can and to avoid the physical discomforts that come with a deconditioned, aging body. Your job is to make a commitment to be my exercise partner and to show up to work out with me every chance you get.

Speaking of reaching out, below are two great exercises that involve reaching.

Reach Exercise #1

This is an exercise that will test your balance and show you how far you can reach to retrieve an object (i.e. pencil) while standing using proper body mechanics. You’ll need a partner, 12 inch ruler and a pencil. Stand with feet hip width apart and in good alignment facing your partner. Lift your arm forward to shoulder level. Your partner measures 12 inches away from the tip of your fingers and then holds the pencil at that distance.

Lean forward to take the pencil from your partner and return to the starting position without moving your feet. It’s important to keep your knees soft. Bend forward from the hip joint keeping the back straight. Feel the weight shift toward the ball of the big toe as the toes grip the floor.

Your goal is to reach the pencil safely and independently without moving the feet. If you need to take one or two steps to reach the pencil, keep practicing with supervision.

Reach Exercise #2

Another reaching exercise to release the tension in your shoulders and decompress the spine is done facing a wall. Stand comfortably close to the wall and place the fingers and palms of your hands on the wall, about shoulder distance apart at shoulder height. Begin to walk you fingers up the wall as you move closer to the wall (without squishing your nose). Reach and stretch up the wall as far as you are comfortable, feeling the wall make contact with your fingers, palms and forearms. When you are comfortably close to the wall, lower ribs and forehead touching and resting against it, take a few slow, deep rib cage breaths while you relax in this stretched, cat-like position. Gradually release your arms from the wall and step back to notice how the shoulders have been freed up.

Add both of these “reaching” exercises to your repertoire and remember to, “Keep Reaching Out For A Better Day!”

Wishing you the best always,

Mary Ann Wilson


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