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On they go: Jennifer and Michelle making strides

By David Freeze

For the Salisbury Post

I expected good efforts from Jennifer Payne and Michelle Patterson when they signed on to improve their overall health during 2016. I have not been disappointed, plus we are having fun while getting the results.

Both ladies have stressful and sometimes overloaded lives, dealing with work and family issues. Often I hear from clients who are in a similar situation where there just is no time for themselves with so many responsibilities otherwise. My response is always, “If you take at least some time for yourself every day, then you will be better for others.” Jennifer and Michelle are making time for themselves by exercising just about every day and adding more things, too.

Highlights for March included lots of running as both ladies love the outdoors and are somewhat competitive. They ran two 5Ks each and have completed a long run of 5 miles together, rather easily in fact. During the recent Mt. Hope Church 5K for Missions, Michelle took second in the 50-59 age group, and Jennifer won the 30-39 age group. An even bigger highlight is that both Jennifer and Michelle are showing dramatic improvement in blood pressure readings. Jennifer is no longer in danger of needing BP medicines, and Michelle hopes to soon leave hers behind.

In some ways, I feel guilty because both Jennifer and Michelle are finding their own motivation from within as we go forward. My job is just too easy and maybe too much fun, although that’s a term that I really don’t think is possible. Our workout days together are usually Mondays and Fridays, and for the 13 weeks so far, it has been very uncommon for either one to miss a session.

Jennifer won the “Bump the Lamp” leadership award, given monthly to a member of Novant Health’s leadership team. Serving as nurse manager for two floors of the hospital, Jennifer has plenty of responsibility and time demands and was especially appreciative to win this award given to one who goes above and beyond. Dari Caldwell, Novant Rowan Medical CEO, recognized Jennifer for agreeing to do this public challenge and for endorsing wellness for the leadership team. The extended Novant leadership team has just entered into its own wellness challenge.

Recapping the month, Jennifer said, “I find myself getting stronger and stronger and doing things that I thought I couldn’t. I actually crave exercise now. My pace for running and other exercises is getting better too. I began doing Zumba Pound last week, and haven’t found an exercise yet that I don’t enjoy.”

Michelle has found an increase in her endurance. She said, “Exercise has become a habit.” While Jennifer attended a stretching and strengthening class with physical therapist Pam Roseman, Michelle missed it when a hair appointment took 2½ hours. I can’t imagine the endurance that it took to sit still for that long.

Others are noticing the improvements. Jennifer said, “Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t notice my weight loss. I think what they are seeing is that I am more toned and losing inches. We have a photo from last year’s Patron’s Ball that really shows the difference.” Jennifer also recounted a conversation with a mother of another child on her son’s little league team. The mother didn’t remember Jennifer and said so, eventually realizing, “Oh, you used to be that big girl!”

Even at the dentist’s office, Michelle has heard some of the same comments. She said, “They told me the other day that my face and neck are thinner. Most of the comments I hear are from people encouraging Jennifer and me and that they have been following us in the paper.”

Weight loss totals for the year are currently at 20 pounds for Jennifer, 9.4 since she joined us in late January, and 11.2 for Michelle. Both have lost inches too, with the Hurley YMCA’s Tammy Swicegood verifying that Michelle is down 2 percent body fat and 9.25 inches. Jennifer has lost 1.25 percent body fat and 6.5 total inches.

Goals for April are as follows: Jennifer wants to keep doing more of the same and lose up to 10 additional pounds. Michelle begins what might be the biggest struggle of her year as she tries to balance exercise and the April/May strawberry season at Patterson Farms. Still, Patterson Farms Director of Fun Michelle wants to lose another four pounds. She is interested in strength conditioning and enjoying her favorite sport of swimming. Michelle said, “I am going to make every effort to eat right, drink plenty of water and get enough sleep. In the past, taking time to exercise during our busy seasons has been more stressful than destressing. My intent is to lower my blood pressure even more.”

April will be key to the success of our program. We are already working around the demands of their schedules. My challenge will be staying available at these different times to motivate and hold them accountable. Jennifer and Michelle both want to run a couple of 5Ks during the month, and we will begin to include some strength training. I want to get them in spin classes, but I’m getting resistance on that. They still don’t like the bike seats.

On we go. Three months complete. Keep encouraging Jennifer and Michelle when you see them. We’ll be back at the end of April!

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