East Texans inspire with health, fitness stories
Fitness was booming in East Texas throughout 2012. In these pages each Sunday, local health and fitness enthusiasts, as well as residents who are figuring it out as they go, have inspired readers to create new lifestyle habits and taught them that it's never too late to make a change.
These are the top 10.
1. Bob Moore:
At 80 years old, Bob Moore doesn't miss a day of walking and has inspired Canton city officials to create healthy living initiatives. Moore also led the effort to draw up a resolution to have the Texas Legislature recognize the small city as the "walking capital of Texas."
2. Vanessa Pearson:
In one year, the Tyler Morning Telegraph copy editor dropped 100 pounds after participating in the company's wellness challenges. Not only did she adopt healthy eating habits and commit to regular exercise, but she also inspired co-workers by sharing her journey and providing encouragement.
3. Abbie Halberstadt:
A fitness instructor, Mrs. Halberstadt led a Body Pump class until around her 37th week of pregnancy -- with twins. Within weeks of giving birth, she was back at the gym, with the healthy babies in tow.
4. Harold Wilson:
For the past 26 years, 79-year-old Wilson enjoyed running marathons and has set his sights on the 2013 Boston Marathon. He started running after his doctor advised him to lose weight and to lower his cholesterol level.
5. Sandra Baker:
In July, the 49-year-old mother of two competed in a bodybuilding contest for the first time. To prepare, Mrs. Baker worked out four days a week for up to 90 minutes, usually in the mornings. Although a crowd favorite, she didn't place in the show, but her confidence was boosted and she pledged to continue competing in body building contests.
6. Fire Station No. 9:
A group of firefighters were motivated to make a change following potential health crises and after watching p opular documentaries on the state of America's health, including "Forks Over Knives." Wes Malcolm, 34, started eating better quality foods and reduced his meat intake while Bob Moon, 48, became a vegan. Zach Houston, 34, and Matthew Houk, 46, also have been dedicated to eating clean and making better lifestyle choices.
7. Tyler Senior Center's dancers:
People at the center participate in Texercise, a statewide exercise program developed for older adults, and line dancing. Most are regular participants whose love of dance -- and life -- inspire others to get up and move while having fun.
8. Candace Harmon and Jerry Fincher:
A chance meeting in 2008 led to a partnership between the pair, who both enter bodybuilding competitions. Mrs. Harmon, 38, and Fincher, 67, have both been successful and rely on each other for accountability.
9. Lindsay Gray:
The fitness instructor and Whitehouse resident's life changed after suffering traumatic injuries to her brain and face. She was in the hospital for 20 days -- 16 of which she was in a medically induced coma. Her face was crushed and she underwent two facial reconstructive surgeries. Seventy-five percent of her face is covered in titanium plates today. She feels blessed to have recovered with hardly any visible signs of the crash and has since committed to a life of health and fitness.
10. Heather Garland:
Ms. Garland avoids excuses and has become an avid exerciser. She's a single mom and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a teenager. She's lost about 50 pounds over the years after adopting a healthier lifestyle, which includes fresh fruits, vegetables and lots of exercise.