Healthy U’s motto is “Learn. Change. Inspire.” I have learned that making positive changes isn’t a short-term way to address your health, and I have been inspired anew by members of the 2013 and 2014 Healthy U classes.
I knew when I was selected for the inaugural class in 2012 that from that point forward my weight would be a big part of what defines me in our community. In fact, the “public eye” element was the key conversation point I had with my family as I decided to submit my application in the fall of 2011.
Sure, we discussed the health benefits and the need for my entire family to go on the journey if I was going to be successful, but the “microscope” factor was the biggest part of our dialogue. It also is what will help me regain my healthy mindset.
In the wake of losing nearly 33 percent of my body weight in the course of a year, I decided to allow myself a few more calories and cut back on gym time. “Just taking a little break,” I told myself, with feet propped up on the coffee table and a slab of pizza in my hand.
That “little break” consumed an entire year and added 25 pounds of boomerang weight around my midsection.
Now, I have a handy excuse lined up to somewhat defend what my college fraternity buddies would have called “the expansion of the Budweiser wing.” My teaching duties in my new job required plenty of lesson preparation; the hours spent at the gym soon became my planning periods, and that theory about things at rest tending to remain at rest was proven true yet again.
I also got lazy about my food choices. I slacked back to convenience eating, grabbing whatever was inexpensive and readily available instead of packing a healthy lunch or, at the very least, staying away from the stuffed-with-cheese or wrapped-in-cookie-dough kinds of stuff.
One of the favorite phrases of Stephanie Fraley, community outreach coordinator at Bothwell Regional Health Center and my nutrition coach during my Healthy U effort, is, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.” And as usual, Steph is right.
As the pounds started multiplying, I became self-conscious and embarrassed by my appearance — even as people in the community praised me for “doing a good job keeping that weight off.” Truth be told, I felt like a charlatan.
But beyond the shame, what has me returning to the healthier, happier path is motivation from Jamie Groshart, who won the 2013 Healthy U competition, and her classmate Chad Weis, who has lost an astonishing 144 pounds over the past 18 months. I hadn’t seen either of them for a couple of months, but Jan. 9 at the “Night of Inspiration” event — the Healthy U “graduation” for the outgoing class and kickoff for the new class — I was blown away by how fantastic they both looked and the dedication and determination it took for them to get there. And it transported me back to the same night a year earlier when I weighed in.
When the Class of 2014 was announced, I was happy to see a couple of familiar faces, Kelly Polley and Carolyn Hatting, selected for this life-changing experience. Their progress this year will keep my motivation engine running.
So the takeaway from this is that Healthy U continues to be a source of inspiration for those in our community who want to make a change for the better. There is no magic pill or herb or program that will make unwanted pounds disappear. Only a true and lasting lifestyle change — eat better and move more — and consistent dedication to that change will make that happen.
Sometimes, even the teacher needs to relearn the lesson.