If your health is holding you back from doing the things you love, you’re not alone. Just one year ago, the five women of the 2017 Landcruisers Live Longer and Stronger Challenge knew there had to be a better way to live. They felt stressed, exhausted, and discouraged by health tests. But with guidance from Landcruisers nutrition expert Joy Bauer, R.D.N., and help from experts at Mayo Clinic, they completely changed their habits over an eight-month period. The result? A total of 213 pounds lost and improved blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. Now they can lead the vibrant lives they’ve always wanted.
"I'm actually looking forward to 40!"
Finding my motivation: “My father had his first heart attack when he was only 40 years old—and he’s gone on to have six more since then. So when I realized I was one year away from when he had his first attack, it started weighing on my mind. This could be my destiny too, I thought, if I didn’t make some big changes. I had elevated blood pressure and borderline high cholesterol, and my doctor said that I would need to start taking blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering medication very soon. Before that could happen, I wanted to try to lower my numbers on my own.”
What really worked: “As a hairdresser, I’m on my feet all day, so I assumed I was walking enough. I bought an activity tracker and saw that I was logging just 2,500 steps—not the recommended 10,000. I started adding a thousand or more steps per day—taking laps around my salon between clients if I had to—in order to reach my goal. I also take a lunch break so I can sit and mindfully eat.”
Major victories: “I’m in the normal range for blood pressure and cholesterol, and I’ve lost five inches around my waist. I actually look forward to shopping!”
Joy's tip: Start fresh. When Traci began the program, she rid her kitchen of foods that didn’t support her health goals. Want to give it a try? Toss or donate sugary cereals, flavored oats, high-sodium soups, white rice, white bread, and sweetened drinks.
"Life is more fun with all this extra energy!"
Finding my motivation: “Four years ago, at age 33, I was walking down the hallway at the school where I worked and felt an extremely sharp pain in my head. I was disoriented, and so my father came and drove me to the hospital. I later learned that I’d had a stroke. Going through that experience changed my outlook on life. It made me realize that my husband and I had to alter the way we lived while we still had time. My three girls (now ages 2, 6, and 7) look up to me and follow my every move. I wanted to set a good example.”
What really worked: “My husband is the cook in the family, and he started trying out new, healthy recipes, like butternut squash soup, and they’re delicious. To keep my blood pressure in check, I’ve also decided to completely forgo added salt. My husband—who’s lost 35 pounds—uses other seasonings, and the food tastes just as good. I also started journaling to keep track of my progress and write new goals.”
Major victories: “My blood pressure and cholesterol are normal, and I don’t get frequent migraines anymore. I can also jump and play with my daughters—life is just more fun.”
Joy's tip: Shake up your routine. Are you in a vegetable rut? Before the challenge, Christina relied on a few standard choices: broccoli, green beans, and salad. I challenged the women to expand their horizons, and now she loves spaghetti squash.
"I feel 10 years younger!"
Finding my motivation: “I pride myself on working hard. As the CFO of a large automotive group, I push through stress and anxiety, ignoring the toll it takes on my body. At home, I take care of everyone, including my 21-year-old daughter, whom I raised alone after my husband passed away from a stroke six years ago. I found out after he died that he had sky-high blood pressure, but never told anyone. So when I learned I had high blood pressure, I couldn’t keep silent—that wouldn’t make the numbers go away.”
What really worked: “I used to average three to five hours of sleep a night. I often got home from work late and traveled a lot. I was out of gas, with little left in me for exercise or healthy cooking. Now I log between seven and eight hours a night, and a chime on my phone tells me when it’s time to go to bed. More rest means I have energy to take my dogs for a walk and prep meals.”
Major victories: “I feel younger and stronger in so many ways—I even joined a boot camp class. And just recently I impressed my doctor: I no longer have high blood pressure, and I’m well within the healthy range.”
Joy's tip: Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring! Janet likes to top her morning egg whites with lower-sugar ketchup and Tabasco for a kick. You can also try salsa or guacamole.
"I'm amazed at what my body can accomplish!"
Finding my motivation: “I’ve always been told that I’m built just like my grandmother, which can be hard to hear, because she was obese and had type 2 diabetes, a risk factor for heart disease. In fact, many of my family members have heart disease risk factors, like high blood pressure. So when my doctor told me I was carrying too much weight and that I had low HDL—or “good”— cholesterol, I realized I had to make a shift. I have an 8-year-old son who loves to play outside, and I didn’t want to stand around and watch him. I knew I had to find a way to start exercising and keep the family genes from dictating my life.”
What really worked: “While my son was at football practice, I used to sit by the field and do work on my laptop. I decided to use that time to exercise with my fellow moms. We even created a powder puff football team: I played quarterback and even ran for a touchdown once. It’s amazing what your body can accomplish if you give it a chance!”
Major victories: “My HDL cholesterol is in a good range now, and I cut nearly four minutes off my mile time!”
Joy's tip: Shop smart. Instead of buying in bulk, I encouraged Brittney to buy smaller quantities of groceries more frequently. This way, she eats what she wants each day instead of making a poor decision because she’s sick of what’s in her kitchen.
"My heart attack won't stop me!"
Finding my motivation: “One night in December 2016, I was lying in bed watching TV with my husband and my left arm went numb. I thought I was just resting on it funny, so I went to sleep. I woke up later with crushing chest pain. I asked my husband to drive me to the hospital immediately, and I took an aspirin as we headed out the door. Once there, the nurse called for a helicopter—I live in a remote town, so I had to be airlifted to Boston for an emergency procedure. It turned out I’d had a ‘widowmaker’ heart attack. My daughter, husband, sister, and mother all met me in the hospital, and I remember the look of fear in their eyes. They all thought I was going to die. It was then that I vowed to do everything I could to prevent this from happening again.”
What really worked: “I have type 2 diabetes, and although exercise is good for my condition, I never did much. So my daughter bought me a gym membership and I invested in a trainer. I’m using stability balls and TRX bands, and I enjoy it now.”
Major victories: “My blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides have dropped, and I cut back on my insulin!”
Joy's tip: Don't fear restaurant meals. Tracy never knew what to get at restaurants. My advice: Order fish broiled (or baked, roasted, steamed, or poached) instead of fried, and rather than cheesy appetizers or bread, stick with a side salad.
Ready to change your life? Apply for the 2018 Landcruisers Live Longer and Stronger Challenge, and you may be selected for a complete heart-health makeover.