We checked in with winners of last year’s Fat to Fit Challenge to see how they’ve fared since the contest ended. Were they able to stick to a healthy eating and fitness program? Did the lessons learned in the program stand up over time? Two of the winners tell their stories and share tips and advice.
Sign up for AARP's Health Newsletter.
Julia Cheatham-Kimbel (Juliack) from Indianapolis, Indiana, took first place in the 2010 challenge, and, nine months later, she’s still very much committed to a healthier lifestyle:
I’m good! I continue to attend my weekly workout sessions at the gym faithfully, and I exercise at home on non-gym days.
On the eating front, I still follow South Beach eating principles and guidelines while limiting my daily sodium to 1,500 milligrams, based on the recommendation of the American Heart Association for African Americans 50 years and older with hypertension. This plan works for me!
I have been losing an average of a pound a month over this nine-month period (9.5 pounds). Today I weigh 211.5 pounds, and I have lost a total of 59.5 pounds. When I started with Fat to Fit, I weighed 271 pounds.
Since February, I have lost another 12 inches from various parts of my body. My newer clothes are very loose; it’s almost time to go shopping again.
Following my fitness plan has both inspired and enabled me to volunteer in a summer program for elementary school students this year. The goal of the program is to introduce the children to healthy eating and physical activity.
No way would I be able to lead our two 30-minute physical activities for the students once a week had I not taken my goal of fitness seriously. I really enjoy being able to influence these children to seek fitness, and of course, helping them keeps me fit!
My advice for staying on track to achieve and maintain fitness is:
- Build on your inner strength. Before all else you must want to be healthy and motivate yourself. I pray for strength daily to continue on my fitness path.
- Draw support from an "inner circle." Call on a spouse, friends or family for help. My husband and I are still doing this as a team. He is so proud that he has lost weight too, thus making his diabetes management extremely positive now. His insulin dosage has been reduced by 75 percent since starting Fat to Fit.
- Embrace your goal for fitness as your new lifestyle. Adopt healthy habits by continuing on, even when you slip up. It is easier for me to stay on track now than when I started because I know that getting fit comes with a price. I have to work at it every day, and I choose to enjoy it at least 95 percent of the time.
- Stick with the Fat to Fit online program. It works!!