LIGHTEN UP EAST TEXAS VERSION 2018 The annual Lighten Up East Texas regional weight loss challenge encourages people to enter for various reasons. For some, they decide to enter because they want to eat healthier, become more active and live a healthier lifestyle. Others may register so that they can reduce blood pressure, get off medications or to keep up with their kids and their activities. Earlier this year, several participants were asked why they chose to enter Lighten Up East Texas, and to share their success stories for everyone who is planning to enter the 2018 version of this weigh loss challenge. 1. Why did you decide to weigh-in and enter Lighten Up East Texas? Carrie Turner – I have been making life changes over the past 2 months and it all started when I entered this contest in 2015. Wendy Ewing –It was time to lose some pounds for a healthier me. Not knowing my family medical history was a motivating factor for becoming healthy. 2. Please describe the ways that you changed your daily habits? Carrie Turner – I concentrated on portion control and try-ing to add exercise. Chad Miller – I was much more aware of what I put in and started cutting out Dr. Pepper and Doritos. I spend 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours per day in the gym lifting and doing cardio. Many days, that’s tough since I’m a junior high assistant principal, but I decided I just have to make the time. I have so much more energy than I had before. Vanessa Vicente – I completely stop drinking sweet tea and sodas. Instead, I started drinking water all day and with my meals too (8-10 glasses a day). I eat a breakfast bar in the morning and if I have a craving for a snack during the day, then I eat some fruit. For protein, I eat grilled chicken, salmon, or tilapia with steamed vegetables or a salad for lunch. For dinner, I eat a fruit salad or veggie salad. Wendy Ewing – Portion size eating. A much healthier diet including baked fish and chicken. Lots of spinach. Cottage cheese and kiwi fruit. No fast foods anymore! 3. Has your participation influenced any family members or coworkers to change their lifestyle habits and choose to make healthier decisions? 136 DECEMBER 2017 / JANUARY 2018 by Terrence Ates Director of Community Outreach and Public Information Officer North East Texas Public Health District (NET Health) Carrie Turner – Several members of my family are now reducing weight through healthier eating hab-its. My coworkers are also making great strides with healthier lifestyles, because we talk about food prep and ways to curb temptations. Chad Miller – I was able to use our school as a weigh-in location for Lighten Up East Texas, so I put it out for all of our school district teachers and staff to participate. As a district, we lost 336 pounds. That’s amazing! Wendy Ewing – Yes, I’ve been told by family and friends that I’m an inspiration to many. So winning the gift of losing weight has made me healthier and I can share this with my friends and coworkers. 4. If your “current self” could give words of encourage-ment to your “past self” before you entered Lighten Up East Texas, what would you tell your “past self?” Chad Miller – Don’t stress over one bad workout. Just keep motivated and continue to push yourself. Keep away from those sugary soft drinks! You don’t need them. Wendy Ewing – The journey of getting up and work-ing out early mornings, doing Zumba in the evenings, and walking the park has been very rewarding and not tough at all. It’s a great feeling in seeing the results now and I don’t want to stop. 5. What advice would you like to offer to people who will enter the 2018 version of Lighten Up East Texas? Carrie Turner – Don’t try to change your entire world in a day. Start with your worst habit (mine was drink-ing soda)! Stop doing that and replace it with some-thing healthy (water). Give yourself small goals along the way. I started with giving up soda, then giving up added sugar, then pasta and high carb foods. Chad Miller – Just start. Once you do, you will not regret the results. The first week is always the hard-est, but get through that soreness and keep pushing yourself to improve. And EAT RIGHT! Wendy Ewing – Don’t give up on a healthier you! Keep pushing and the reward of a healthier you will defeat any excuse!