Three Healthy U participants offer their take at the half-way point

July 27, 2013

By Sarah Nail

This month marks the halfway point for the Healthy U Class of 2013, but itís just the beginning of a healthier life for all. In January, a dozen Healthy U students were selected to participate in the year-long program that provides each student with a fitness and nutrition coach. The student with the highest percentage of weight loss at the end of year will receive a prize package.

As a group, the students have lost more than 385 pounds and nearly 250 inches in the first six months of the program. All saw increases in their physical strength and abilities. Here are accounts from three of the Healthy U Class of 2013:

†By Ariel Soderberg

When I applied for Healthy U I hoped to be successful but was terrified of failing. I wanted to be a better mother for my kids and a better wife to my husband. I wanted to be happy with myself. For the first time in my life I jumped out of my comfort zone.†

When chosen for this journey, I told everyone how much I weighed before it was published in the newspaper.I wanted to do it on my terms, own up to what I had done to myself and stop letting the number on the scale define me. My weight then, 333 pounds, was no small number, but itís also just a number.

I got over the number on the scale (even though that number had dropped by 49.2 pounds) and started trying new things. I†wore a swimsuit in public for the first time in years during the Sedalia Middle School open swim in the winter and spring. My family and I took a weekend trip to a water park and I wore a swimsuit for†two days. We had so much fun and made so many great memories that I would have missed otherwise.

I've been running. When I started running, I could barely run for a minute, now I can run for an hour. Iíve ran three 5K races. Recently, I ran the Firecracker Mile in 11 minutes and was first in my age group. Yes, it all depends on who shows up to compete, but guess what? I showed up. †

My relationship with my husband and kids has improved tenfold. I never realized just how great life could be if I was happy being me. And Iím happier with myself because I feel so much better being healthier.

I am 100 percent dedicated to this program. Yes, I have my off days where I skip a workout or eat things I shouldn't, but life happens. You get over it and do better next time. This is a lifestyle change not a year-long diet. And I am in this for life.

By Justin Furnell

The biggest challenge for my Healthy U experience so far has been trying to find a balance in the foods I eat. †

Fast foods, buttery popcorn and sugary fatty foods are the things my body craved at the beginning of the year when I started on this journey of Healthy U. Donít get me wrong, I still ate fruits and vegetables, but they seemed to be tasteless and unsatisfactory. †

As the time passed I began to stop craving these calorie-packed foods and began to crave the apple that is in my lunchbox.† I enjoy the taste of the fresh vegetables and other foods that my wife, Mitzi prepares for me. I have also learned that when you cook healthy it does not have to take a long time. We make meals that are healthy, fast and delicious. Whenever there is a desire to change and grow, there is a way to achieve the goals that we set for ourselves. †

I have been big my whole life and I want to be an example to people like myself who think that weight loss is, or was, a hopeless cause. I have worked hard this year to change the pace of my life to fit the new lifestyle. I want people to know you could be given a trainer and a nutritionist, but ultimately the change has to come from within and be the desire of your heart, mind and soul. †

We are all given instances in our life for personal growth and development, but it is our job to take the opportunity and grow with it and not expect the changes to be instant. Life is a marathon not a sprint; take every turn with an upbeat attitude. Change is inevitable, but it can be a great thing.

By Leslee Howard

Weíre six months into Healthy U and Iíve gained. Weíll go ahead and get that out of the way first. Iíve gained three pounds.

Youíve got to be thinking, ďWow. This girl has a wonderful opportunity with all the resources available to lose weight and sheís gained. She must not be trying very hard.Ē So letís talk about all that Iíve gained, shall we?

Iíve gained strength and cardio, including the ability to do the stairs at Elite Fitness Training with Faron Miller.† If youíve ever worked out with Faron, you know what I mean. If you havenít, you should give him a call and just ask for the stair treatment. The first day I went there I thought I was going to die and Iím pretty sure if you counted how many steps we did I climbed the St. Louis Arch forward and backwards (literally, we do stairs backwards too). Now donít get me wrong, Iím still not a fan of the stairs, but I can do them without looking for a hidden oxygen tank. Hopefully my trainer isnít reading this and thinking of it as a challenge.

Iím also on the wall at Elite Fitness for two different things. You get your name on the wall for accomplishing certain challenges. Theyíre not easy and there are not a lot of names on the wall. Iím really proud to tell everyone that I am the first woman to have ever completed one of the challenges.

Iíve gained my kidsí attention to health and wellness. My daughter has her own pedometer and my son can tell you how many calories are in certain foods. Weíve tried so many new foods and have worked them into our normal mealtimes. I didnít think my kids would ever eat Brussels sprouts, sugar snap peas or quinoa, but they do and love them.

Iím not a quitter. Thatís never been an option to me. The scale may not show a loss, but Iím extremely proud of my gains.