The power of small changes is at the core of what I do. Transformation comes from a series of small steps, approached methodically and with focus. Lasting transformation does not come in a pill or shot. It takes work, sweat, a lot of patience, hopefully some laughter and occasionally a few tears.

For the BetterU challengers it was certainly a mixture of all that.

We ended the program last week, honoring their efforts at our local Go Red for Women Luncheon. I watched their 10 beautiful, confident and smiling faces bask in the recognition of their efforts. I felt a bit like a proud momma as they received well-deserved recognition and applause.

As a team we had one goal:

No woman left behind. We start together and we finish together.

This goal we achieved as one. They came together, as women often do, to create an amazing support system. It was apparent, as we parted with hugs and promises to have a reunion soon, that they will never be alone on this journey.

But each participant also had unique coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factors. They entered this program with individual goals. My job was to achieve the team mission, keep everyone swimming together, yet reach each person at their level to achieve their individual mission.

Each participant had 3 or 4 nutritional habits to focus on to go along with our weekly classes. In these classes we had an educational portion (usually nutrition)  and a workout, starting with a foundation of basic exercises. No Insanity. No Bootcamp. Everyone had to learn to squat their own bodyweight and how to properly do a push up before we picked up dumbbells or kettlebells. Each participant had their own workout plan and goals. For 6 weeks, they met for a smaller group workout as well, tailored to their needs. Each had workout homework to match their goals and abilities.

Was it perfect? No, life never is. Sometimes workouts got missed. Vacations happened. (By the way don’t eat shrimp everyday before a cholesterol test. It will mess with you!) We had one participant in a car accident with 3 weeks left to go. Another had to have hernia surgery. But everyone did what they could. If they couldn’t workout they still came for the education portion of the weekly class. They ate better. They did what they needed to heal and get well.

Their results are a true testament of what little changes can do. Let me share some of the results:

  • Weight lost: 76 pounds as a group with an average per person loss of 7.6 pounds. Exercise matters for successful weight loss. Our champion got her results by starting with a goal of doing “something” every day. I said just 5 minutes to start but she challenged herself to do more. In 12 weeks she’s up to swimming 30 laps in a session and will run her first 5K at the end of the month.
  • Blood Pressure lowered: 2 participants who were in the “danger zone” over 120/80 are now safely below. The keys for one participant? Saying no to fast food breakfast burritos and making her own version at home. Add to that more vegetables and fruits and you have success.
  • Triglycerides Dropped: This was a focus for one participant in particular who had numbers over 700. At the end of the program she was under the 150 goal. That’s the power of reducing sugar and overly processed carbs in your diet. Say no to the lattes and soda!
  • Glucose levels Down: Did you know the risk of CHD is higher for women with diabetes than men? One participant dropped her fasting glucose by 50 points. How did she do it? Less sugar and starches and more fruits, vegetables, protein and exercise.

Add to this list knees and backs that no longer hurt and the energy to keep up with kids and grandkids. Toss in a new found love of movement and a healthy level of self-esteem. What do you have? True transformation. 12 weeks goes fast but these results are designed to last a lifetime.

What about you? What small thing changes can you make today? Where do you want to be in 12 weeks?

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