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Physical Activity

Rachel - TennCare
Rachel opens up about being overweight, bingeing, purging and starving herself. Today, she's stronger than ever!

George - Transportation
After breaking several bones, George ran The Dopey Challenge at Disney World, nearly 50 miles in four days!

Steve - Correction
Steve completed his first Spartan Run at age 63. He has encouragement for others who want to be more active.

Jason - Revenue
Jason recently lost 50 pounds by making small, gradual changes. Do you need motivation? He offers some advice.

Buddy - Finance & Administration
After joining a challenge, the Asst. Commissioner had unexpected results.

Cherrell - Human Services
Cherrell no longer views exercise as a chore. She offers advice to others for a change in mindset.
 

Kristin - Human Services
Kristin describes how she lost 50 pounds and built strength, even after undergoing foot surgery and a 12-week recovery.

Daphne - Human Services
On her 50th birthday, Daphne ran, walked and biked 50 miles! Learn how she went from walking to racing.

Cathy - Labor & Workforce Development
This single mother survived an aneurysm. Her dedication inspired her son to join her in exercise.

Christine and friends after running

Department of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

Turning 50 was going to be a rough one. As it approached, I wanted to accomplish something completely out of my wheelhouse.

Over dinner one night with friends who also had milestone birthdays of 40 and 60 that same year, we concocted an outrageous plan to run a half marathon in September of that next milestone year.

Why not? How bad could it be? All of us had volunteered at the Covenant marathon several times and saw many different people of all ages, shapes and sizes cross that finish line!

The kicker was that none of us were runners…. ever.

We began our training in earnest in January of that year, outfitted with some pretty expensive running shoes and socks and a training guide we looked up on the internet.

I will spare you the boring and monotonous details of all the miles in the freezing cold, oppressive heat and occasional rain. We all put in the miles and vowed that all of us should run our own races and not wait for each other no matter what.

In September, all three of us lined up at 6:30 a.m. to begin the Great Smoky Mountain Half Marathon, 13.1 miles.

A 40-year-old, 50-year-old and a 60-year-old stayed together the entire course and slowly but surely made our way to the finish line.

It was a feeling like no other.

We all felt such joy with this accomplishment.

My takeaways:

You can do anything you set your mind to.

Surround yourself with good people and the rest is magic.

Buy the good shoes.

Try not to be upset when a 70-year-old and a pregnant mom pushing twins in a stroller passes you right before the finish line.

Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

I joined the YMCA in Chattanooga and I absolutely love it. I also take walks with my dog every day. The walks just aren’t enough though. I felt I needed more. I got my vaccines so that I can live again and enjoy life. The “stepper” is my favorite piece of equipment. It makes me really sweat! I am so glad for the YMCA. 

Department of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

Before the pandemic I worked out at a gym on my lunch hour most days of the work week and some days after work. When the gyms closed due to COVID-19, I tried to take walks in my neighborhood when the weather was nice. My family ended up purchasing an elliptical for our home last summer, but once the gyms opened back up, I preferred to go there for workouts again. I started getting up at 4:30 a.m. and taking exercise classes before work instead of after work, which freed up my time in the evening for other things. Also, I have made new friends in these classes, who miss me if I don’t show up! I have shared contact info with several people at my gym over the past few months, and we have been keeping each other more focused.

Department of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

I had to leave my gym during the COVID-19 pandemic. I continued to walk each day in my neighborhood, and I used that time to call my family members from out of town to keep in touch. This way, I was working on my exercise and I was taking care of my social/emotional well-being.

Deborah P. before and after

Department of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

I got up to 195 pounds. Being diabetic, that's not healthy, so I decided to make a change so that I can live a longer life and be around to see my grandchildren. I started walking four to five miles a day. I'm now walking five to six miles and sometimes up to eight miles. I am now down to 149.2 pounds. I have lost 45.8 pounds. My husband is good about helping me meet my goals. He will start dinner so I can complete my steps.

I started slowly, staying under 1500 calories and walking every day. I love participating in all of the Working for a Healthier TN challenges. It is very motivating for me. I like competing and getting others to compete.

I have learned that I am stronger than I thought I was and I can do anything that I set my mind to.

TN Courts

My sister passed away in June 2011 from colon cancer. When that happened, I took a long, hard look at my life and decided a lot of things needed to change. I made a promise to her and to myself that I would run a half marathon in her memory to benefit colon cancer. I joined a gym, got a trainer and started running. Since that time, I have lost 70 pounds and have managed to keep it off.

While I have not done a specific run for colon cancer, I have completed a few half marathons, 15Ks, 10Ks and 5Ks. 

My advice for others is to just set a goal and stick to it. You will love yourself for it! I know I do!

I've learned that I am much stronger than I ever would've imagined - physically, mentally and emotionally. I truly did not think I would make it through my sister's death, but she is the one pushing me every time I get down or tired while I'm out there running.

Corinne running a half marathon

Department of Agriculture

I had three goals and they were simple: finish the race, run the whole way and don’t throw up.

Prior to my first half marathon, I had only ever run two 5Ks that were less about training and more about survival. Confession: I’ve never actually enjoyed running. I’ve been known to pound the pavement from time to time when I need to burn some excess energy. And I keep hearing rumors of that ‘runner’s high.’ As of yet, the only thing I’ve ever felt after a run is a strong desire to sit down.

That all changed in early February when my cousins emailed me with details of a race along the coast of Maine. They were running the full marathon and a quick Google search revealed that I had just enough time to train for a half marathon. Having never been to Maine before, I figured that was a good reason to go.

That Google search also produced the adage, ‘If you can run three miles, you can run 13.1.’ I didn’t really, truly believe that. But I like doing stuff that’s hard. I figured it was worth a shot.

Following a basic 13-week novice training plan that I found online, the distances slowly built up. My speed never actually improved. A 12- to 13-minute mile is pretty typical for me, which is quite slow. Those three simple goals kept me moving despite bad weather, illness and general feelings of I’d-Rather-Be-Doing-Anything-Else.

On May 11, I found myself surrounded by 2,999 people I had never met before, at a starting line in a city I had never been to before, about to do something I had never done before. Just short of three hours later, I crossed the finish line, having run the entire way and without (thank goodness) throwing up.

Still no runner’s high. But the people were so nice, the scenery was gorgeous, and salt and vinegar potato chips taste AMAZING after you’ve spent almost three hours sweating to death. I’ll also never forget the lady who hollered “GET IT GIRL!!!” at the end as I was sprinting toward the finish. I heard that. I needed it.

I’m slow. But I did it.

Next race: Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon, September 7.

Elverna lifting weights

Department of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

I had my annual physical on July 3, 2013 and realized I had gained 36 pounds over a three-year period. My blood pressure was high, and I had not had problems with that before. The doctor said it was probably because of my weight gain. We also realized that, based on my labs, I had gone into early menopause. All these factors had my metabolism in slow motion. I left my doctor’s office and found a personal trainer that day.

My fitness goal when I met with my personal trainer was to lose the weight I had gained. My trainer informed me that I was not eating as often as I should or the combination of fats, protein and carbohydrates that I should to ignite my metabolism. I started to eat every three to four hours per day. I measured/weighed all of my food for the proper portions. I lifted weights four days a week and did cardio five to six days a week. My body started to change. My trainer asked if I was in a hurry to lose the weight. Initially I said yes, but that changed as he explained about losing body fat versus concentrating on the numbers on the scale. He also realized I knew how to lift weights and asked if I had lifted before. I told him I had been lifting since college. He also asked if I had ever thought about entering a fitness competition. I informed him that I was training for a competition in 1991 when my then husband and discovered I was pregnant. After I had the baby, I just lifted weights to look good. I thought I was 45 and too old to think about competing. But I thought about it and discussed it with my young adult sons and they wanted me to go for it. I have competed in four shows placing in every show. I became a certified personal trainer in 2014.

I love the fact that I’m 50 years old and do not take any medications. My blood pressure and lab work have been great. I enjoy meal prepping and getting up at 4:45 a.m. to workout. Also, I enjoy training others to reach their goals. I’ve learned that only I can stop me from obtaining my goal.

My favorite part of Working for a Healthier TN is the accountability that it brings – co-workers holding each other accountable and being a buddy to encourage each other.

Lindsey at Tour de Nash with her bike

Department of Health

On May 4 I participated in my first “long mile” cycling event, Tour de Nash. It was 25 miles in Nashville. I had recently started training to do some bike rides when a former co-worker and friend was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. I knew I wanted to ride for her. She passed away in February, so riding in her memory was something I knew I had to do. I began with riding around my neighborhood beginning with short distances. Once winter months hit, I knew I needed to continue to ride so I invested in an indoor trainer for my bike. Utilizing that, as well as outdoor biking, helped to increase my mileage a little at a time.

Since my first ride for my friend in May, I have taken up another challenge in Cycle4Chiari in honor of another friend. Cycling doesn’t only offer health benefits. It has given me an outlet to help others.

Department of Finance & Administration

My son Evan came to me toward the end of 2018 and challenged me to play tennis with him. He had just learned to play the day before and was looking forward to schooling his old dad. I accepted immediately because I played tennis on my high school team and have always loved the game. Unfortunately for Evan, my serve came back to me fairly quickly and ended in his defeat in our first outing. Since then we have tried to play at least once each weekend continuing to push each other’s skills higher. He gives me a great challenge on the court as he enjoys hitting a variety of drop shots and lobs as he attempts to wear down my 51-year-old body. Despite that strategy, we tend to be fairly evenly matched and typically split sets for a draw.

Besides proving to Evan I am a still force to be reckoned with, I also saw it as an excellent opportunity to spend quality time with my 18-year-old son before he left for Tennessee Tech in August. Driving back and forth to the courts together has opened up many interesting conversations about relationships and growing up that we may never have broached otherwise. We have enjoyed the camaraderie as we pushed our bodies to their limits (and lost some weight along the way) and exercised our minds by trying to outthink each other on the court. We have played long enough with each that we know what we are going to do in most cases so it forces us to think outside the box and take calculated risks to attempt to win critical points. My ultimate goal for this time together has always been to have us move to the same side of the court when we feel our games have reached the right level of consistency. Playing against others as a father-son doubles team would be the ultimate high for this experience together. I am so thankful to have this precious time with my son doing something we both enjoy and keeping our bodies and minds healthier.