Patricia Slaughter, 70, Clearwater
GOAL: To get healthy.
WHY I DID IT: As I gained weight, I was always afraid that I would end up diabetic or have a stroke or something of the sort. I prayed that God would do something to make me want to lose weight, but with a tongue-in-cheek ending — “but please don’t make it be too awful.”
Soon after, on Easter in 2003, I wasn’t feeling well, so my husband took me to the ER at Morton Plant Hospital. They told me I was having a heart attack and took good care of me. Luckily, it wasn’t too awful, as I asked for in my prayer. I survived the heart attack and decided that was the wake-up call I needed, and that it was time to lose weight and live healthy. I started walking a lot and lost 70 pounds in a six-month period. I have gained a few pounds back since then, but I have maintained most of the weight loss and am living a healthier life today.
HOW I DID IT: I followed my own modified Weight Watchers eating plan and walked my dogs almost every day, following the American Heart Association’s recommendation of walking at least 30 minutes a day. Walking soon became part of my daily routine and I started walking longer, two miles every day. I also started changing my eating habits to include healthier choices.
HURDLES: Luckily, I did not have any hurdles, because with the right mind-set I was determined. Everyone around me was supportive. I walked first thing every morning so my exercise routine would not interfere with the rest of my day. I planned out my exercise and I think that is key to living a healthier life.
GOING THE DISTANCE: I wear a FitBit that monitors how far I walk each day. They say you are supposed to walk 10,000 steps a day, but I often don’t go that far. However, wearing a pedometer reminds me to park at the far end of the parking lot instead of finding a spot close by, to take the stairs instead of the elevator, and to find ways to take more steps throughout the day.
A friend and I started a walking group at our church, too, using a “Moving Meditations” pamphlet published by Forward Day by Day. It is a short “thought for the day” about moving your body. We begin the walk with the reading and walk for an hour every Tuesday morning; and because I am one of the leaders, I have to show up. I also get exercise with a fitness trainer at the BayCare Wellness Center in Clearwater twice a week and play golf once a week.
BEST ADVICE: My mantra is “eat less and walk more.” I also have my own easy rules I follow: No eating between meals. Don’t eat the bread in the basket at a restaurant. No more than one alcoholic beverage a day. Eat fish and chicken. Have only three tablespoons of fat (butter, salad dressing, oil) a day. Eat all of the vegetables you can.
I walk often and encourage others to start walking, too, if they need to start doing some type of physical activity. Walking was the first step for me to start living a healthier life and it’s just easy to do.
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