I read a lot of blogs every single day. In fact, I subscribe to over 50 healthy living, fitness or weight loss blogs on my Google Reader. Recently, I started to wonder if I had anything to add to this already substantial community, so I asked my friend Ashley, who is a writer and has her own blog, if she could help me think of a unique idea for my blog.
As usual, the answer was right in front of my face, I just needed a wiser friend to guide me there (luckily, I have no shortage of wise friends).
In 2008, The Centers for Disease and Prevention named the town where I live, Huntington, WV, the fattest and unhealthiest city in America. As you can see from the graphic below, Huntington wasn’t doing so well in 2008:
Even worse, if you read this article, it seemed like we didn’t really care, either.
So, let’s recap: We aren’t even the largest town in one of the least populated states, and we are the fattest and unhealthiest city in the whole country! Well, we were. I’m not sure if this study has been replicated, but I would say that things have changed in the past four years.
Interestingly enough, my personal health overhaul story mimics Huntington’s. I’m not originally from Huntington, or even West Virginia. I grew up just outside of Pittsburgh, and my family still lives there. I came to Huntington to go to school and I stayed here. I was semi-active in High School, but became sedentary afterwards. I slowly gained weight until one day (around 2008), I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize myself. I had allowed my weight to get out of control, and on a Thanksgiving day at my parent’s house in Pennsylvania, I stepped on a scale and realized that I weighed over 200 lbs!
I was devastated, to say the least, but after years of saying, “I’ll get around to losing the weight….someday,” that day I decided it was time to make some serious changes.
When I got back to Huntington, I joined the local Weight Watchers. I couldn’t afford to pay the weekly fee, so I took the materials and followed the program on my own. I did a little exercise, but not much. I ended up losing about 40 pounds.
I was pretty stoked about those 40 lbs!
After I lost those initial 40 pounds, I made the mistake I think a lot of people make when they lose a significant amount of weight — I thought I was done. I knew I couldn’t go back to my bad habits, but I thought I could stop “trying” and just move on. I certainly wasn’t at my “goal” weight — not even close (I’m still not at that long ago decided on “goal weight”) — but I felt better so I just moved on with my life.
When I noticed a few months later that I the weight had started to creep back up, I realized that I needed to get back on track. I got back on the Weight Watchers train, but this time I decided to incorporate more exercise into my routine. I started (and completed) the Insanity program from Beachbody, and then I decided to try “running” (when I first started, I was doing a lot more walking!) The rest, as they say, is history. I found my passion in fitness. I love all kinds of fitness endeavors: Running, group fitness classes, swimming, weight lifting — I’ll try anything! I will admit, eating healthfully is still a struggle. I do the best I can, my asking myself what my best choices are every day, but I still slip up — probably even once a day! But all in all, I’ve maintained a 70 pound weight loss from that Thanksgiving Day in 2007 — plus or minus a few pounds here and there.
But what about Huntington? How is it doing?
Well, the answer is, I don’t really know. Since that study came out in 2008, Jamie Oliver came to Huntington and filmed a show about reforming our school lunch programs (from what I’m told, some of his changes stuck!), several organizations have popped up trying to promote health and fitness around our town, and I personally have noticed a huge trend toward fitness. I think every warm season, I see more and more people walking and jogging around town.
Which brings us to now. I love this town. A lot of people have problems with Huntington, but I’ve found a life here. I’ve made some of the best friends I’ve ever had, and despite it’s problems, Huntington can be beautiful. I want to help my town become the best it can be, while helping me be the best I can be too. So that’s what I’ll focus on here. Maybe I’ll learn about new fitness classes, or visit our local fresh markets. Sometimes I’ll just talk about everything I ate that day or what I did to work out. Maybe sometimes I’ll just talk about life.
But hopefully, you’ll find something of interest here.
Before I go, I’ll share this photo I made of my ‘before and after’. I found the ‘before’ picture on my hard drive, and I couldn’t believe it. I don’t think I’ve seen this picture since I was that large, and looking back at it, I can’t believe I ever was.
Thanks for reading!