Living the Good Life

Living the Good Life can mean lots of things –  eating good food, being physically active, and supporting each other’s efforts to lead a healthy life.  The Heart Healthy Lenoir project team believes that a healthy, full heart is at the center of Living the Good Life.  Now that we’re two years into the Heart Healthy Lenoir project, we’re starting to see some inspiring success stories!
Valencia Gray and Susan Young are participating in the Heart Healthy Lenoir Project, which includes a support program of other people looking to lose weight to improve their heart health.
“I did get a lot of good information, and everyone was really nice and it was nice to have a group to talk to about your experiences,” said Susan Young, who is now participating in the Weight Control group. Young is focusing on healthy eating and being more active, and has lost about five pounds.
Valencia Gray, who also participates in the study, said that the support program of the Lifestyle Study also helps keep her motivated. “This group of women has really bonded, and keeps each other upbeat about what we’re doing,” said Gray.
Gray was inspired by her grandson, who has lost 50 pounds during the past year, to make a lifestyle change to be healthier.
 “I have nine grandchildren and I don’t want to die,” said Gray. “I don’t want my weight or complications from being overweight to be the reason I don’t get to see my grandchildren grow up. I knew if I wanted to lose weight and keep it off, I needed to adopt a new lifestyle,” she said. “I jumped at the chance to join the Heart Healthy Lenoir study when I heard about it.”
The Heart-Healthy Lenoir Project is a community-based research project designed to develop and test better ways to reduce the risk for heart attack and stroke. The goal is to create long-term approaches to help Lenoir County reduce heart disease risk and related health problems.
Both Young and Gray have also relied on community resources to help them reach their weight loss goals.
Gray is now eating smaller portions and has cut out soda completely and is making healthier choices at restaurants now. She is also walking and trying new exercise routines on her Nintendo Wii at home. She has lost about 12 pounds so far.
 “The weight is not coming off fast, but it didn’t go on fast,” she said. She added that increased healthy options at restaurants could her help reach her weight loss goals.
“I would like to see all of the restaurants offer healthy options on their menus. Some do it already, but it would be great if there were smaller portions and more healthy options available everywhere.”
Young has also made changes to the way she eats, cutting back on fast food and focusing on reading labels. She is also incorporating more vegetables into her diet by shopping at the Kinston farmers’ market and stopping at farm stands. “I love our farmers’ market!,” exclaimed Young. “We are well blessed in this part of the state to be able to pick up things that are healthier for us. I like buying stuff that I know where it’s grown. Buying local also keeps our farmers able to have vegetable stands and helps support the farms.”
Small changes can have a big impact.  Even modest weight loss, about 5 to 10 percent of a person’s body weight, can make a big impact on blood pressure, risk for diabetes and other health concerns.  For example in a large study called the Diabetes Prevention Program, losing as little as 5 percent of body weight led to about a 50 reduction of the onset of diabetes. 
Both Gray and Young said that while they continue to pursue their weight loss goals, they are happy that Heart Healthy Lenoir has helped them to feel healthier.
“I feel better, I feel like I’m healthier,” said Young.  “I don’t really worry about the numbers that much, as long as I feel healthy and feel good and can keep getting up and going, I’m happy.”
The Heart Healthy Lenoir team is always looking for good ideas to support the community in living a good, healthy life.  We will be working with the Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce, restaurants, and other businesses to make the case that promoting good health in the community can be good for business too!  Let us know if you want to get on board. Call us toll-free at 1-866-273-1942.