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.
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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!!
Catherine Tenenholtz (Bella28) from Harwood Heights, Illinois, took second place in last year’s Challenge. Nine months later, Cathy enthusiastically shares the ways in which shrinking her body expanded her life. She writes:
I have been extremely busy in the last two months because I'm out doing things I want to do and can now do: taking computer and photography classes, spending time at the gym, meeting new people and socializing. I’m doing things I had not been able to do for a long time because of my limitations.
Losing 62 pounds and getting a new hip has opened up a whole new life for me, and I'm very happy about that. I have not gained any weight; however, I have not lost any more weight either. I still keep to my eating plan and recently started exercising again. (I had to wait for approval from my physical therapist.) My goal is to lose about 30 pounds by the end of this year.
People ask me all the time how I lost the weight, but when I tell them what I did and am doing, the response is usually, "I could never do that."
The best fitness tips I can give to others:
- Do not eat any refined carbohydrates. They are empty calories that add pounds and drain energy.
- Get moving. You must move because movement or exercise is essential to living and burns calories.
- Track what you eat by keeping a food journal. (Most of us eat a lot more than we think we are eating.)
- If you are depressed, get the appropriate help for the depression. (The answer is not in the refrigerator.)
Finally, each of us must get proactive in our life process NOW. A magical solution is probably not going to happen. You are in charge. Do what has to be done for you.