The Jacksons, Week 15: Frugal Fitness, Wealthy Well-being

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge

Deidra Jackson picture

Organizers were astounded recently by the turnout of some 500 participants at the first meeting of an Oxford, Miss. community health and fitness initiative. Credit: Deidra Jackson

How do I know the holiday "honeymoon" is over? I had to get on the scales again.

Ugh.

It was the first time I had weighed myself since Emmy Parkes, my dietitian, coaxed me onto their nutrition lab's weighing machine at the University of Mississippi. This time it was no big surprise that I had gained back some of that lost weight -- about three pounds.

But I'm focusing on the positives, folks.

I still abstain from drinking tea sweetened with pure cane sugar. I've fully embraced or adapted to lower-calorie versions of many of the foods and drinks I regularly consume (orange juice, yogurt, ground turkey, and cheese, for instance). I aim to eat a healthy salad and/or vegetables daily. And I try to get in some form of exercise several days during the week.

As a food lover and mother of a growing 12-year-old son (who isn't dieting, and is consuming more calories than I), it's been often difficult to stay on point with my Healthy Families Challenge goals. So, with another few days before I'll be reunited with my personal trainer, dietitian and other team members, I've called in some reinforcements.

This is where my community's new free health-and-fitness initiative comes in. I -- and a whopping estimated 500 other participants -- attended the first meeting of the Healthy You, Healthy L.O.U. (Lafayette County-Oxford-University) program in Oxford, Miss., after registering days before at the Baptist Memorial HealthPlex by weighing in, getting a blood pressure check and providing a few other health-related details.

Though it was standing room only, the crowd was a subdued bunch. I think most of us were guarded; we were waiting to see just what would be in store for the next five months, the duration of the program. The first night was a workshop of sorts. One by one, we heard from the program's organizers, who spread messages of motivation, listened to health and fitness experts who discussed grocery shopping and properly reading nutrition labels, and demonstrated ways to exercise at home.

My favorite? When they picked a member of the audience to demonstrate how you don't have to invest in weights, elastic bands or other equipment to get an effective home workout. Frugal fitness. Envision yourself performing bicep curls by raising and lowering a broom handle with half-gallon jugs filled with popcorn or water affixed on each end. It's a bit noisy, but hey, you've kept the extra money you would have spent on a weight bar.

That defective bicycle tire inner tube -- don't throw it away! There's your elastic resistance band for strength training.

"Don't invest a fortune in anything but your walking shoes!" an organizer urged the crowd.

And as you may know, I hold dear that piece of sage advice all too well.

After signing in, we were handed a goody bag of information, a "passport," which we'll get stamped as we attend scheduled events and activities, a food-and-fitness diary, and a pedometer. Sessions on ballroom dancing, cooking and grilling tips, fund-raising walks and marathons, and yoga and pilates are slated for several times each month.

I'm really looking forward to the Feb. 3 event, which features a talk by Brandon, Miss., native Patrick House, who in December won "The Biggest Loser," the NBC reality weight loss competition.

According to news reports, on the final moments of the show, Houses's weigh-in revealed he had lost 181 pounds, a 45.3 percent drop from his original weight of 400.

I can't wait to hear the story he has to tell.

And between the HFC, my New Beginnings mentors and my community's health-and-fitness program, I'm hoping I'll be fully recharged and ready to really kick my own goals into high gear in 2011.

Who's the rest of the competition? Check out all the challengers' latest updates here.



How is the Jackson family doing? Check in on their progress!


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