Go Red for Women

Profile: Bonnie Robert Will

[Editor’s Note: This is the second monthly installment in The Independent Weekly’s annual support for the AHA’s Go Red for Women initiative and Personally Fit Challenge. The series of stories concludes May 18.]

20110302-health-0103Go Red for Women participant Bonnie Robert Will embodies the spirit of the American Heart Association’s movement to make women aware of their risk for heart disease. As general sales manager at KATC TV-3 and former recipient of the Women Who Mean Business Award, Will is a strong, independent woman who never thought that cardiac problems would be an issue for her. Then, one day, she got a wake-up call.

Her mother, a 69-year-old who was taking medications for high blood pressure and cholesterol, went to bed one night and never woke up. She died of heart failure.

At that time, Will was 45 years old. “I didn’t take it personally,” she says. “But, as I got older, I looked at how I was gaining weight, and it wasn’t helping my cholesterol. I vowed that I wasn’t going to gain the weight that would hurt my health.” While making sales calls one day, she met with Dawn Foreman, owner of Personally Fit, a women’s-only health club. It was the day before testing for the Go Red Personally Fit Challenge, a 12-week program combining fitness, nutrition and spirituality sponsored by Personally Fit and the local chapter of the American Heart Association. Foreman encouraged her to apply, and out of 40 applicants, Will was one of the 10 women selected. 

The program consists of a free membership to Personally Fit, personal and group training sessions and FUEL (Food Used as Energy for Life — Personally Fit’s group weight loss program). “The group that I’m with is a group of great ladies. Dawn is amazing in her knowledge and her attitude about how she goes about motivating, and leaves it up to you, basically. I feel really good about all of the things that I’ve done ,” Will says. “I’ve gone to my first Zumba class and I’ve gone to my first Pilates class.”

During the first part of the challenge, Will suffered a personal setback when her father, who lives in Texas, took a turn for the worse in the final stages of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. At press time, she was at his bedside.

But Will remains committed to the challenge. When meetings and social invitations cropped up, she turned them down to attend exercise or FUEL classes. “I see that not only am I getting healthier by what I eat and my exercise, but I’m also gaining lifelong friends that are trying to do the same things,” she says. “It’s one of the best things that’s happened to me at this time when I’ve been gaining weight and my metabolism doesn’t work as well. I just want to get out of that rut of eating and not consistently exercising, and making sure that I’m fueling my body the right way for good health.”

Will’s attitude and goals are inspiring her fellow Go Red winners. “I hope to lose 15 to 20 pounds and lower my cholesterol, and I hope to go about living the rest of my life by maintaining my weight and being healthier,” she says.

The Go Red for Women Luncheon is slated for May 18 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hilton Lafayette, 1521 W. Pinhook Road. For more information, contact Abigail Lacy at (870) 213-5194. The American Heart Association is a non-profit organization supported by donations. To make a contribution or to get more information about Go Red for Women, log on to www.heart.org/lafayettegored.

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