From Healthy Harford:
Chronic disease, including conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is the leading cause of death, disability and health care costs in Harford County. While genetics, age, and gender play a part, 80% of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, and 40% of some cancers, are preventable through proper nutrition, daily physical activity, and stopping/not smoking. Yet here in Harford County, 60% of the adults are overweight or obese, only 37% exercise at least 30 minutes 5 days a week, and only a sobering 25% eat the daily recommended number of fruits and vegetables.
To help reverse this trend, Healthy Harford, the Harford County healthy people initiative, has partnered with the Arena Club to present Family Fit 4 Life. Seeing the need for increased education and motivation for families interested in making the transition to a healthier lifestyle, Family Fit 4 Life was the brainchild of Arena Club trainer Kathy Wise. Based loosely on the popular TV show Biggest Loser, Family Fit 4 Life is an FREE intense 12 week boot camp style program where 8 Harford County families receive 2 days of personal group training and 1 day of nutrition education a week, as well as unlimited access to the Arena Club facilities. The program expenses are supported through donations from local businesses and in-kind support from the Arena Club. The fact that it is free was a large factor in the design, so that finances were not a barrier to participation. The goal of the program is for families to make enduring change in the way they live and improve their nutrition and increase their physical activity. “This isn’t a weight loss program”, says Bari Klein, Health Promotion Specialist for Healthy Harford, “but rather a way to demonstrate the positive effects of a healthier lifestyle.” And the effects are apparent, as last year’s Family Fit 4 Life winners, Charles and Alicia Holthaus of Bel Air will attest. During the 12 week program, Alicia lost 25 pounds and 26 inches, lowered her cholesterol by 10 points, and was able to cut her heart medication in half. Charlie lost 31 pounds and 24 inches, lowered his cholesterol by 33 points, and went off his blood pressure and cholesterol medication. Coming from a farming background where calorie dense foods were part of the norm, making the transition wasn’t without its bumps. “If we were going to make this work”, Alicia blogged, “at some point we just had to make the decision to make exercise and eating right a priority”. Being out of shape and overweight didn’t make things easy, but they found that as they made positive changes and started to feel better and more energetic, it became easier to get motivated.
Family Fit 4 Life is designed so that the entire family is involved so that positive lifestyle changes are adopted by everyone at the same time. For the family to succeed, it’s important that everyone is on board. Younger children exercise through play and active movement, while the adults participate in a more serious workout regimen in the gym, using machines, free weights, exercise balls and bands, large tractor tires, ropes, and their own body weight. The adult program is far more structured, but this year, children as young as 11 were able to choose to exercise with the adults, although they were not scored on their biometric improvement (blood pressure, body fat, weight, measurements) and did not compete in the 4 team challenges such as running a 5K. This year 7 families completed the Family Fit 4 Life program and the results were amazing. At the 6 week half way mark, the families lost a combined 211.7 lbs. and 170.9 inches, medications were reduced, energy increased, and strength and flexibility improved. We can’t wait to see how they did by week 12!
This Saturday, December 17, the Arena Club will host the big reveal where results from the challenge will be announced and one family will be awarded a free one year membership to the Arena Club and a piece of gym quality exercise equipment. A free Zumba class will set the mood at 8:00 am followed by the reveal announcement at 8:45. Please come out and support these families and the amazing road they have traveled.
For more information: www.healthyharford.org
FamilyFit4Life is in keeping with Healthy Harford’s vision to make Harford County the healthiest community in Maryland by helping people lead more active lifestyles and improve their daily diet.
Healthy Harford, the Healthy Communities Initiative of Harford County, is a non profit 501c3, comprised of a coalition of Harford County government agencies, business and non profits dedicated to improving the health of Harford County residents. Founded in 1993 by community leaders its sole vision is to make Harford County the healthiest community in Maryland.