By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
Joyce Moore lost her dad to heart disease and vowed to spare her daughters from the pain she experienced. But it wasn’t until she decided to get healthy for herself, rather than others, that she was able to make significant change.
Moore, who lives in Jessup, Georgia, motivates herself and inspires others with regular posts through Go Red Get Fit, a Facebook group-based, social media campaign by the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women, designed to help women from diverse communities make health changes that become lifelong habits.
The yearlong campaign, nationally sponsored by Macy’s, launched in March, challenging women to log at least 10,000 steps a day and limit added sugar to 24 grams a day. Each quarter, new challenges were added, including adding 30 minutes of cardio at least five days a week; choosing water over sugary drinks; and limiting sodium to no more than 1,500 milligrams a day.
Beginning in December, participants are challenged to “Follow the Lead to Flawless,” committing to physical activity and limiting saturated fat consumption to 13 grams a day.
Moore was 21-years-old when she lost her mom to complications of Type 2 diabetes. Her mom was just 42 at the time and the memory of her in the hospital still brings Moore pain.
“I never wanted my children to see me like that,” she said.
At the time, Moore was an active member of the military and kept herself in good shape, even if she still enjoyed the rich foods she grew up with in New Orleans. After her dad died from a massive heart attack in 2004, she pledged to cut back on the rich, fatty foods she had always loved.
But in 2009, a painful divorce sent Moore to food for comfort.
“I wasn’t exercising at all,” she said. “My health fell off the map and I went from a size 10 or 12 to a 16 or 18.”
One of Moore’s daughters learned about the role family history can play in health during an epidemiology class in college and urged her mother to take action.
“I didn’t pay that much attention, but she was really serious and then she and her sister got me a Wii Fit that Christmas,” Moore said. “She said, ‘You’re a great mom and I want you to be around to see your grandkids.’”
To placate her daughters, Moore began exercising, but without any regularity.
In March 2014, a disparaging comment by a stranger about her weight, along with the realization that one of her daughters was beginning to struggle with her own weight, spurred Moore to get serious. Then 49, she partnered with her daughter so they could keep each other accountable. The pair enjoyed early success with exercise videos at home, until her daughter went away to college.
“I had to decide to do it for me,” she said. “I wanted to leave my kids a legacy and show them that no matter how old you are, it’s never too late to live a healthy lifestyle.”
Prioritizing physical activity is crucial, especially when schedules get busy, said Lita Lewis, a celebrity trainer who has created specialized exercise challenges for Go Red Get Fit.
“Get up a few minutes earlier or make sure it’s on your schedule,” she said. “Find a way to make time for activity, even if its just 30 minutes.”
Lewis suggests finding ways to stay active with family and friends, creating playful competitions that get your heart rate up. That’s possible even during winter weather.
“Move all the furniture out of the way and hold a wheelbarrow race across a living room, or have contests to see who can hold a plank position the longest,” Lewis said. “Make it fun.”
Moore, now 51, began walking with friends and became active in a local CrossFit gym. Eventually she met with her doctor to revamp her diet, increasing fruit and vegetables and swapping white rice or flour for whole-grain options.
Her efforts paid off; she’s dropped several dress sizes and feels better than ever.
Moore said Go Red Get Fit offers her support and accountability to keep her inspired. She posts videos chronicling her efforts, including healthy meals she’s made.
“I love to see other participant’s personal testimony,” she said, adding that she’s trying to work herself up to 20,000-steps each day, a goal instigated by another Go Red Get Fit participant. “I liked all the challenges. They got me to do things I never thought I could do.”