As the 12 members of the Healthy U Class of 2015 approach the end of their yearlong journey, it’s already time to begin selecting the Class of 2016.
Healthy U is now accepting applications for the 12 spots in next year’s program. With only two requirements — participants must live in Pettis County and be 21 or older — Healthy Action Living Group Co-chair Megan Webb said she encourages anyone willing to be dedicated to apply.
“They do need to be serious about lifestyle changes. It’s a yearlong program, quite the commitment,” Webb said. “They need to be ready to make that true lifestyle change. Other than that, anyone interested in Healthy U, interested in helping make a difference in their community, living a healthy lifestyle including losing weight, good nutrition and exercise is encouraged to apply.”
HLAG will interview 25 candidates after applications are turned in next month to determine the 12 participants in the Class of 2016. Webb said they remove all identifying information from the applications, so applicants should provide as much information as possible. From there, the applicants won’t know who was selected until the Healthy U Night of Inspiration in January.
Webb said all 12 Class of 2015 students are still involved in the program and are “doing fantastic.” A few 2015 students and one 2014 student even completed their first half marathon in September.
“They’ve all lost weight and are seeing changes in their lives at this point,” she said. “They’ve bonded as a group, learned lots about health, about nutrition, about exercise.”
For student Kevin Holbert, the program has created many positive changes in his life. Holbert originally applied to be in the Class of 2014, but found out he had congestive heart failure two days before the announcement. With encouragement from his family, he decided to give it another shot.
“It has been an adventure to say the least,” Holbert said with a laugh. “My program is so much different than most of the folks in the program because I’ve had total knee replacement and the congestive heart failure. … But my trainer has been perfect for me. My activity consists of resistance bands that I do sitting in my chair at home and walking, I walk a lot. I do some sit-ups and body stretches, trying to keep limber. And I still do cardiac rehab three times a week.
“A lot of the other Healthy U students do activities in the gym I knew I was not able to physically do, so the program has been tailored perfectly for someone my age, I’m 62. I’m walking now three to five miles a day and I walk every day. Where before when I was having trouble I couldn’t get 100 feet. It’s been quite a change.”
Holbert has encountered some challenges along the way, such as undergoing shoulder and wrist surgery this year, as well as being struck by a vehicle while on one of his daily walks.
Holbert said he didn’t have a specific weight goal when starting in January, but wanted to weigh less than 200 pounds. That meant he needed to lose 70 pounds, and as of Thursday afternoon he was only two pounds away. While he’s been losing weight, he’s been gaining energy.
“The energy level I have, there’s no comparison. I’ve got all kinds of energy I didn’t have before,” he said. “I enjoy the feeling I get when I’m out walking. It’s hard to explain but it’s just a joy I have. I enjoy seeing people out on walking trails, talking with them. It’s helped bring me out a little bit more.”
Holbert said after his experience, he would “highly” recommend anyone interested to apply for 2016.
“I would recommend anyone apply for the program that is aware they need to make changes for a healthier lifestyle,” Holbert said. “For me it was easy, I had two grandkids born just before I applied and I wanted to be around for those grandkids. It’s a choice each individual makes. … I highly encourage anyone that has thought they want to look at a healthier lifestyle to take an application.”
Healthy U 2016 applications can be found at the Bothwell Education Building, Pettis County MU Extension Office and Pettis County Health Center or online at Facebook.com/HUPettisCounty and on the Bothwell Regional Health Center and Extension Office websites. Applications must be turned in by 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5 at the Bothwell Education Building or emailed to [email protected]
For more information about Healthy U, email [email protected] or call Webb at 660-827-0591.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.