Use their stories and motivational tips to kickstart your own success story.
Her wakeup call: Amber's health jolt came in the form of a type 2 diabetes test, yet this one was a false alarm that forced her to reconsider her habits. "Over President's Day weekend, I was tested for diabetes and it came back positive," says Amber. "Further testing deemed this to actually be inaccurate, but I spent the long weekend spent feeling guilty for not taking care of myself and not heeding the warning of my family history." She realized that she could make the changes now by choice as her A1C levels were still elevated, or be forced to make the changes later after acquiring diabetes (and potentially damaging her body at that point).
Healthy ah-ha moment: "I'm amazed at how much of a difference drinking 2 glasses of water before lunch and dinner makes in my hunger feelings," says Amber. "The water helps fill me up, and more than once, I've made healthier changes to my meal when I take the time to pause and think about it while sipping water." The Joy-approved strategy works: Amber is down 25 pounds.
Her wakeup call: At her last doctor's appointment in December 2015, Jackie went over her family history (which includes high blood pressure and diabetes) with her physician. "My weight has always been an issue and I knew that eventually, it would cause problems if I didn't make some changes," she says. "I lost both of my parents due to health complications stemming from high blood pressure, so now I want to do all I can to live a longer and healthier life."
Healthy ah-ha moment: "In the past three months, I've learned that small changes really do bring about big results," says Jacqueline. Her huge changes? Losing 35 pounds and hitting an average of 20,000 steps per day.
Her wakeup call: Maryellen is a survivor, plain and simple, and her healthy realization was a gradual process. After open-heart valve surgery in 2004 for an abnormality she was born with, Maryellen developed an arrhythmia and low blood pressure. "The issues and the anxiety they provoked made it difficult for me to work out and over the course of the following 8 years, I gained nearly 50 pounds," says Maryellen. She hated the way she looked and more than anything, hated the way she felt, living in constant fear. Eventually, she fought back and began exercising and lost 18 pounds. But then she had a heart attack caused by spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) in 2013. Two years later, and still feeling like she hadn't yet taken control of her health because she was living in fear, she read the February 2016 issue of Landcruisers, which featured the stories of last year's Live Longer and Stronger Challenge participants. "I decided that if they could be successful, so could I," says Maryellen.
Healthy ah-ha moment: Maryellen realized that flexibility in what she can eat, a key component of the Live Longer & Stronger plan, has allowed her to be successful this time around. "Over the years I've tried so many diets," she says. "Often, I felt deprived the whole time so they didn't work."
Her wakeup call: Earlier this year, Melanie attended a motivational conference. "This was my fifth time going to the conference and goal-setting is part of it," she says. "I wrote down the same goal again: lose weight. I had made progress on all of my other goals, but not my own health," says Melanie who struggles with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. "I realized at that point that if my health suffered, nothing else would matter. I knew that I couldn't go back to the conference again without reaching my goal."
Healthy ah-ha moment: Melanie is much more selective about her daily plans now since she knows that she needs to spend time on her wellness. "Getting in 10,000 steps each day [one of the do's of the program] takes time so if someone wants to get together, I suggest that they meet me for a walk, rather than meeting for lunch," she says. "Or, instead of driving to run errands, I try and walk to get them done." Refocusing on herself is paying off: Melanie is down almost 22 pounds and has already cut her blood pressure medication dosage in half.
Her wakeup call: Vanitta knew it was time to make a change after she received the results of a free health screening at her job. The verdict? Prediabetes, which is a concern because she has a family history of diabetes (a heart risk factor) and heart disease. "I was initially alarmed about the results," says Vanitta. "Yet at the same time, I felt a sense of gratitude for finding this out now."
Healthy ah-ha moment: "I've discovered that I can eat more yet weigh less," says Vanitta, who's shed 34 pounds so far and has learned to frontload the veggies and fill up on other nutrient-dense foods to stay full. "It's all about moderation!"