Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012

Avoiding the Christmas cookies, eggnog and champagne, this year’s Go Red challengers shed the pounds. By Lisa Hanchey

Health2As expected, the holidays have been a real challenge for the participants of this session’s Go Red for Women Personally Fit Challenge, and I am no exception. Being a reporter, I have covered several nighttime events where tempting treats and calorie-laden beverages abounded. Although it’s been tough, I admit, I have tried to skip the chips and dips and load up on meat, veggies and fruits instead. I have also followed Personally Fit owner Dawn Foreman’s advice to eat a little something before going to a party to avoid succumbing to pralines and king cake.

Not surprisingly, I wasn’t the only one who struggled. While the committed Go Red challengers are following to the program, they, too, have battled against the inevitable confrontation with sprinkle-covered Christmas cookies and whip cream-topped eggnog.

However, two of the challengers, Theresa Hurston and Jennifer Verret, have really served as inspirations for the group. Hurston and Verret’s mom, who recently passed away, were friends. Verret met Hurston for the first time at the Go Red challenge, and the two decided to start working out together.

Each weekday at 6 a.m., the ladies meet at Personally Fit to exercise before Hurston goes to work. On Saturdays, they sleep in a little longer, but still don’t miss their routines. They meet with a personal trainer twice a week, and exercise on the treadmill, elliptical trainer or bike on other days. “She just helps me,” Verret says of Hurston, “because if we weren’t working out together, there’s no reason I would be getting up that early.”

                         Photos by Robin May

 Health3  Health4
               Jennifer Verret                 Theresa Hurston

During the holidays, Hurston learned to make better choices and avoid temptation. “I have lost a few pounds, and can tell a difference in the way my clothes fit,” she says. “I have more energy, which feels great.”  

Verret avoided temptation by volunteering to prepare the Christmas meal. She made a stuffed chicken and vegetables for her siblings. Using this healthy mindset, she managed to lose five pounds in the very first week of the challenge.

With Mardi Gras just around the corner, Foreman has some tips for getting the ladies (and Independent readers) through the next whirlwind of parties and balls. 

1. Enjoy the holidays, as they only come around once a year.
2. We are making lifestyle changes. The hardest part of any change is to change the way you think. For some of our ladies, the holidays have typically been centered totally around food. This is the first year where their challenge is to make the holidays about something other than food. The holidays are about spending quality time with friends and family and celebrating togetherness.
3. Always eat before you go to a party.
4. Start every day off with a workout. Even if you can only get in 20-30 minutes of walking, it will help to set your mind right for the day.
5. Don’t rely on willpower. Go into every situation (party, special event) with a plan as to what you will do and what you will have as a treat.
6. The first thing you should get when entering a party is a glass of water or some other non-alcoholic, non-caloric beverage.
7. Have a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage.

Despite the temptations, I am happy to report that the women are seeing results with the Personally Fit Challenge. “All of our ladies have seen progress with their weight loss,” Foreman says. “Even after just three weeks in, they are starting to see noticeable changes in their bodies and the way their clothes fit.”

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