Marcia Olson and Tina Nummi took the lessons they learned from the Go Red for Women challenge to heart. More than a month after the challenge ended, they’ve stuck to the heart healthy path. It’s become, for them, a lifestyle change.
“There are so many proud moments — every pound lost, every mile on the tread mill, every work out machine that I can master and every additional step out in public with my head held high knowing that I am improving my health on a daily basis,” said Olson, 60, of South Range.
She works out four to five days a week at the Superior-Douglas County YMCA and keeps active on other days by walking, shopping or doing housework. Olson lost 15 pounds during the eight-week challenge, and another 10 since it ended. Taking the challenge, she said, was “the best thing I have done for myself in years.”
Nummi, 43, lost 36 pounds during the challenge and another six since.
“It’s just amazing how much more energy I have,” said the Superior woman. “I don’t need as much sleep. I’m a happier person.”
But her family won’t go to the grocery store with her. There, she scrutinizes each purchase, looking at how much sodium each item has.
“It takes forever to read the labels,” Nummi said, but sticking to a low-sodium diet has reaped health benefits. Along with the weight loss, her cholesterol dropped from 338, which the American Heart Association considers significantly high, to a desirable 167. Part of that can be attributed to a low dose of cholesterol medication, the rest from diet and exercise. Nummi’s switched from crock pot meals to fish and lean meats. In place of a sodium-heavy V-8, breakfast is a fruit smoothie. Her family’s helping, too.
“My kids would read every single label and tell me what I could and could not eat,” Nummi said. But they don’t follow the same low-sodium diet. Currently, she makes two suppers each day — her heart healthy one and another for her husband and children, ages 11 and 13. She hopes to make small changes to their diets as time progresses.
Olson was looking to the future when she joined the challenge.
“I signed up to get help in a healthy lifestyle so that my husband and myself can get healthier so we can enjoy retirement without a lot of medical problems,” she said. “I feel like I have more energy, more stamina for doing the things that I love to do like golfing and keeping up with my granddaughters.”
For 13 years, Nummi’s family has come first.
“My kids have been my world,” she said. Being chosen for the Go Red challenge was a chance to for the self-professed “couch potato” to take action.
“It’s time to take care of myself,” Nummi said.
Both women are eager to share the lessons they’ve learned.
“My family, friends and co-workers are so supportive that I feel if I don’t use what I have learned that I will let them down as well as myself,” Olson said.
Nummi brings recipes to work to share and has started working out with a couple of her friends. She encouraged other women to apply for next year’s challenge. The support is wonderful, she said, and participants are really held accountable.
For those who don’t want to wait a year to get on the heart healthy path, Olson and Nummi had suggestions.
“Just be aware of what you’re eating, how it is cooked and the food value,” Olson said. “For training, just keep pushing yourself a little harder all the time and always be aware of your personal limitations.”
Nummi suggested starting with a visit to a dietician. Many health insurance plans pay for such visits, she said, and dieticians offer nutrition plans that stress moderation.
“They want it to work, they’re on your side,” Nummi said. “They’re not going to be unrealistic and say ‘You have to eat salad every day.’”
Working out is also a key component for both women. Nummi said she signed up for an 18-month plan through Northstar Fitness. By prepaying, the cost was only $20 per month.
“My health insurance reimburses me, so it’s free,” the Superior woman said. She works out at the fitness center four or five times a week.
Twenty-eight women have completed the Go Red for Women Challenge over the past three years. According to Jen Riemenschneider, regional vice president of communications with the American Heart Association, there are no statistics on how many participants continue their heart-healthy lifestyles.
“But several have stayed on as volunteers and one gal from the first year told me last fall that she had lost of total of 100 pounds since starting the challenge,” Riemenschneider said.
For more information on Go Red for Women, go to www.goredforwomen.org.Talk about it