Red Hot

by Elizabeth Rose

This year's Personally Fit challengers are energized - and it shows. Photo by Robin May

This year's Personally Fit challengers are energized - and it shows.

"It's your moral obligation to take care of your body because it's been given to you to use as a tool to make an impact in this world," says Dawn Foreman, owner of Personally Fit and the Go Red for Women group leader. She is working to empower women with dangerous family histories and give them the tools to make an impact in their lives and in the lives of the women around them.

Photo by Robin May

The Personally Fit challengers will be recognized Thursday, Feb. 7, at the annual Go Red for Women luncheon at the Lafayette Hilton. Keynote speaker is Lucie Arnaz. The program participants are, front row, Jaketha Green and Tracy Harris; back row from left, Katie Waldrop of Personally Fit, Kim Bolden, Michelle Fontenot, Robin Root, Nancy Quebedeaux, Janet Bergeron and Personally Fit's Dawn Foreman (not pictured are participants Melissa Borel, Tina Shelvin and Anne Crownover).

Dozens of women applied, but only 10 were chosen in September for the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women challenge, a free, lifestyle-changing course where women work with Personally Fit to reverse their family history and unhealthy choices. The women were chosen based on their overall risk of heart disease and "readiness to change," says Foreman. "We have those where they're on cholesterol and blood pressure medication in their 40s and they're too young, so they want to get off it. We have some where, most of them, it's their parents or grandparents who have been impacted by heart disease and they want to break that cycle."

So far, most of the women have lost between 15 and 25 pounds and between 12 and 25 inches. Each woman is required to exercise five times a week, along with creating weekly meal plans the Personally Fit trainers approve.

"It's no longer good for us to draw the link between health and possible issues," says Foreman, a registered dietician and licensed nutritionist. "We have to be very frank and up front about how it will affect them. When other people come in, they know that they're overweight, they need to make some changes and they know why, but they tend to forget when a banana split is in front of them. We link those things they already know will happen if they continue on the same path - we link that to their everyday behavior so they're intimately aware each and every day with the ramifications of their actions."

"I want to be 45 and fabulous!" Kim Bolden exclaims, singing the praises of Go Red. "I have more energy - I could go home and cook dinner and that was it. But now I go home, I cook dinner, I go work out. I have more energy so now I have the energy to do things on the weekend. My goals were to be less irritable and be more pleasant, and now that's accomplished, so now the goals are pounds and inches."

"My father passed away at 38 years old of heart disease, and I have a 9-year-old daughter and I don't want to leave her without a mother, so I'm doing everything possible to change that cycle of family history," says Michelle Fontenot, 38. "I recently started running - never ran a day in my life - and I just signed up for a half marathon. I just finished the Cajun Cup and I finished 10 minutes quicker than I expected. Deep down I knew I could do it. There's no stopping now - it's an addiction."

"We share recipes, we share hints, and Dawn's so excited and thrilled when we weigh in," says Janet Bergeron, who was already a member at Personally Fit. "I can move better, everything. We're up and down off the floor - first time they did that, I said, Oh, I'm not so sure about that,' but now I'm down there and I feel much better. I've signed up for another three months for the weight loss solution, because I know most of the ladies are going to stay in because we do have so much fun."

Foreman says the internal transformations, like the energy levels, are sometimes more drastic than the external ones.

"We all have a lot of goals we're trying to accomplish and sometimes feel like we're spinning our wheels," she says. "It only takes you to move forward and accomplish one of those goals to realize everything else starts to fall into place. A lot of women base themselves on their outward appearance and put limitations on themselves. They're not comfortable with the way they feel, so it inhibits them to do things they would normally want to do. Once they start the process and they're able to do 10 push-ups, it's just a total light bulb that goes off when they realize, Wow, if I can do that, I can do anything,' so it makes them unstoppable. They recognize their true potential as a woman and all of those limitations that have been self-imposed disappear."