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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Friends find balance in FITNESS, FOOD AND FUN

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Kristi Hoger (left) and Cheryl Parks show off their Zumba moves outside of their workplace Friday afternoon. The two women started dieting and exercising in February of 2011, have lost a combined 110 pounds and have inspired coworker Rich Prentice to lose 27 pounds and counting. They believe Spencer's push to be a Blue Zones Community will encourage others to join them.
(Photo by Gabe Licht)
Kristi Hoger and Cheryl Parks went "blue" long before Spencer's bid to become a Blue Zones Community.

During "rita night" in February of 2011, the friends and coworkers at H&N Chevrolet Buick first started talking about losing weight through the Lighten up America program.

"But it was too late to get into that, so we decided we would just do it on our own," Parks said.

Since then, Hoger has lost 70 pounds, Parks has lost 40 and the two have inspired coworker Rich Prentice to join them, which has led to a drop of 27 pounds since December.

Hoger and Parks started with a simple plan: At least 30 minutes of exercise four or more days per week and smaller food portion sizes.

"We set a goal for the month and weighed in on Fridays," Hoger said. "We said how much we lost or gained and paid a dollar if we gained."

Those who did not reach the exercise limit also had to pay a dollar.

This system went on for 12 weeks and the two ladies decided together that they would stick with it and hold each other accountable.

"We had each other to slap hands if we tried to eat something we shouldn't," Hoger said. "We bounced ideas off of each other as far as, 'I didn't lose weight this week; what did I do wrong?' and also food ideas."

They remind each other of the plan when they want to cheat on their diet and also motivate each other to exercise when they should.

Just because they're watching what they eat doesn't mean they don't allow themselves some guilty pleasures from time to time.

"I have chocolate every day," Parks said.

Hoger describes herself as a Ben and Jerry's ice cream addict.

"I have have it, I get up the next day and am on the recumbent bike for at least a half hour," she said.

Controlling portion sizes is so important that both Hoger and Parks order a "doggy bag" along with their food at restaurants and divide their food right away, so they don't eat everything in one sitting.

In May, they started using free online Livestrong tools to aid their efforts.

"It told us how many calories to eat and how many calories, grams of fat, protein, etc. was in the foods we were eating," Parks said.

To this day, they track their intake and exercise every day, though Hoger said she is at a stage where she does not keep track on weekends.

Zumba dance lessons have also become a part of their lives three times a week, including two toning sessions using weights.

"I hate exercising. I think it's boring, but this is different," Hoger said. "The instructor pushes us really hard."

Hoger describes Zumba as an hour of continual movement set to music.

"When we started the class, I didn't feel I had rhythm at all," Hoger said.

"I don't think that's changed a lot," Parks added, laughing.

Both women encourage people of all ages to try Zumba as part of their fitness regimen.

They haven't been able to convince Prentice to join them, but he does walk about three miles every day, monitors what he eats and has cut out almost all pop and coffee from his diet.

He said he got serious about losing weight and living healthier after voting for Spencer to become a Blue Zones Community.

"He's doing such a good job," Parks said.

"We're so proud of him," Hoger added.

They're also proud of themselves.

"You just have to learn to like yourself and want to be healthy," Hoger said. "All this weight later, I feel better."

When Parks announced she weighed less than she did before she got married, Hoger joked, "That's just wrong."

It's clear that the two ladies try to keep things light in everything they do, and they hope others join them, whether or not Spencer becomes a Blue Zones Community.

"This is not a diet; it's a change of lifestyle," Hoger said. "I don't want to gain that weight back."

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