Down on my hands and knees, I'm almost in tears. How did I get to this point? It was January 1, 2017, and 14 months ago I ran a marathon. I ran all 26.2 miles. I didn't walk. I ran. Here I am, on the floor, out of shape with a little jiggle around my midsection. I've eaten way too much food over Thanksgiving, Christmas and the grand finale New Years Eve. This cycle is my life. Over and over I get in shape; accomplish a big goal, like a marathon, and burn out and crash. Feel my pain?

Fast forward to July, and I'm in shape and feeling great.

If you made a New Year's resolution to get in shape, most likely you've already given up. How do I know? I've been there. But for me, this year is different.

What changed? I joined Jesse Itzler's #WeDoHardStuff Facebook group. Now you might be wondering what a workout group has to do with giving.

Hang tight.

If you have followed me, you know I'm an author and avid reader. I also have a love for Navy Seals. Two years ago on my birthday, July 13, 2015, I had the opportunity to meet David Goggins. Using the term bad a$$ to describe him is an understatement. Meeting him led me to pick up and read the book, Living with a Seal by Jesse Itzler (’s on sale on Amazon). I didn't know anything about Jesse, but I was familiar with his wife, Sara Blakely. You know, the founder of Spanx. Come on, I know like me, you've shimmied into a pair of Spanx to fit into a dress that is a little too small. We've all be there.

Anyway, after reading Living with a Seal (the seal being David Goggins), I had 100% respect for Jesse. I followed him on FB as I like to surround myself with people making no excuses, living life and doing good things. I learn so much from people like Jesse, both how I can make improvements in my life both mentally and physically.


At the beginning of 2017, Jesse announced a fitness and philanthropy group= FITLANTRHOPY! What? Two of my favorite things, especially the philanthropy! Each month there is a physical challenge, and Jesse donates money to a charity.

When I asked Jesse why it was important for him to incorporate giving into a fitness challenge he said, "This challenge is marrying two things I have a tremendous passion for, fitness and philanthropy."

Failing, but not quitting.

It's July, and I've competed in all the challenges. It would have been easy to quit after I failed the January challenge.

The challenge? 2017 of each...burpees, sit-ups, push-ups, chair dips and squats.

Remember in the beginning when I mentioned I was on all fours almost in tears? Well, day one of the January challenge caused it. How was I this out of shape? It was mainly the burpees. They got to me. Have you tried a burpee? They are killers. I finished the first day in a pathetic 45 minutes. I was doing 65 of each, which if I did 65 daily over the course of the month, this would equal 2017.

Day in and day out I completed my 65 of each exercise. When I traveled, which is hard to keep up a workout routine, I kept up. I did it. I was excited. Something happened. I was…

  • getting stronger.
  • knocking out the workouts.
  • dropping my time.
  • feeling great.

I joked with my husband, "I think I'm getting muscles!"

He disagreed.

It's was a short time, but I saw a big difference. An added benefit was I was eating healthier because I wasn't going to do all this work to then eat like crap.

As my luck would have it, January 16th I threw my back out. Now if you have followed me, you know back issues have been a struggle for me since high school. I've never been pregnant but have had two epidurals due to two herniated discs. I never let my back issues keep me down. I work hard and bounce back. On the 16th I couldn't walk. I nearly crawled my way into a chiropractor's office. It was not looking good. My back was in multiple spasms. I asked my chiropractor if I could still work out? With a tilt of his head, dip in his eyes, he said, "UM...NO!" Okay, okay... just thought I would ask.

I thought that was the end of #WeDoHardStuff, but I stayed involved in the group. I encouraged people in the challenge. I missed ten days in a

row. Every day I'd try to knock out an exercise, but my back would spasm and lock up.

I know what Goggins might say, "suck it up buttercup!" But sometimes in life, we have bigger goals than the ones we are currently working on. For me, I had an upcoming Jamaican vacation. I know the two worse things for my back are travel and sitting. My husband and I worked hard over the past year. I didn't want to be miserable on the getaway. Sure I could I have endured the pain, continue to pop Ibuprofen, ice, massage, and go to the chiropractor, but I also wanted to enjoy my vacation. Not able to walk, popping pills, and in constant pain is not a way to live. It's not a permanent solution.

I did not complete the January challenge. What did I learn from failing? Or did I fail? I still accomplished a lot in the month of January.

#1 I started eating healthier.

#2 I started exercising and getting in shape.

#3 I met incredible people that are now "internet friends." Sound creepy? Not really, heck I went to Alaska with people I'd never met in person, and we became great friends. I'm all about meeting and connecting to positive, encouraging people, who lift each other up.

#4-I learned that Jesse Itzler wasn't just a guy I'd read about in a book. He has a huge heart. I asked Jesse besides giving money and time, what are your favorite ways to give? As a daily giver, I loved his answer. "I like to give by just doing acts of kindness that are unexpected to friends, family, and strangers."

Hello! Jesse is living my book, The Giving Challenge!


Since the group started, Jesse, his friends and even some in the group have donated tens of thousands of dollars to these organizations:

*Special Operations Warrior Foundation

*Autism Hope Alliance

*Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation

*Special Olympics

*The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research

*Pencils for Promise

Donations in July will go to the Malala Fund. Malala Fund wants to see the world where every girl can complete 12 years of free, safe, quality education. If you haven't read Malala's book, it's an inspiring and an excellent read.

Will you join me in the July Challenge? Click here now to join!!!

I'd never ask you to do something I haven't done. I've committed to the challenges for the first six months of the year, and it has changed my life both physically and mentally. Even though I failed in January, I stuck with it and completed February (see pic above: working out in Jamaica), March, April, May, and June!

If you want to make a change in your life or you want to improve health, now is the time.

No more excuses.

What I love about Jesse Itzler's #WeDoHardStuff is you can do the workouts from anywhere.

  • You don't need a gym or expensive equipment.
  • You have no excuse, not to exercise and take steps to get in shape.
  • An amazing community will encourage you.
  • Heck, you'll even get to interact with Jesse himself. I've been impressed by how active he is in the group.

Remember even if you fail at something. You are not a failure. Look back and evaluate what you can do differently, find the positive in the situation, and keep moving forward.

If you haven't read Living with a Seal, get the book now! Share this post and comment on FB and you'll be entered to win a copy of the book.

I look forward to seeing you in the group!!!




Why the fruit in the blog cover picture? Jesse read Fit for Life back in 1992, and the book recommended an all fruit diet before noon. He saw amazing results, and all these years later he still enjoys a fruit until noon diet. Read more in Chapter 6 of Living with a Seal.

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About the Author:

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is the author of The Giving Challenge-40 Days to a More Generous Life (on sale NOW!), a speaker, life success coach, and a daily giver. She gives a gift every day and challenges others to do the same.

You can contact Stephanie by email at


  1. Barbara Wayman Reply

    Great work Stephanie! Thanks for spreading the word about our awesome community. I hope others are inspired to join us.

  2. I would have run as soon as the word “burpee” showed it’s ugly self! I’m amazed at your dedication. I love the connection of fitness and giving. Thanks for sharing!

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