Real People. Real Change. Lifestyle Change Award
The Real People. Real Change. Lifestyle Change Awards, presented by UnitedHealthcare, recognize those that have made positive changes to improve their quality of life and health by focusing on one or more of Life’s Simple 7. You have from March 15 through June 30, 2020 to apply.
Nominations for Real People. Real Change. can be submitted by friends, co-workers or relatives, and individuals can nominate themselves. Four winners will be chosen by a committee of past winners based on healthy changes in one or more of the Life’s Simple 7 categories that help indicate ideal cardiovascular health:
- Quit Smoking
- Regained control of your blood pressure
- Made changes to achieve a healthier cholesterol level
- Manage Blood Glucose/Diabetes
- Lost weight/ Healthy BMI
- Increased physical activity
- Made daily changes to achieve a healthy diet
Submit a nomination by June 30, 2020 to be considered for the Real People. Real Change. campaign! A grand prize winner of a PELOTON Bike* will be selected from the four winners through a popular vote on social media. The remaining winners will receive $500. All winners will be recognized and prizes presented at the 2020 Indianapolis Heart Walk in September.
*Monthly Peloton Membership Not Included. Review official contest rules by clicking here.
Allyson Morrison is living proof that starting with small lifestyle changes can lead to big results.
In 2017, Allyson realized she needed help. She had reached her heaviest weight, had elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, was at risk for developing diabetes, and had doctors suggesting a knee replacement.
Allyson reached out to a wellness coach at her job and began to take back her life one step at a time.
She started riding a stationary bike 5 minutes per day, slowly increasing the time. When she found she didn’t like biking she switched to monitoring her daily steps, starting with a goal of 3,000 per day. She’s continued to increase her activity, regularly walking 8,000 or more steps per day. Allyson’s co-workers, inspired by her faithful dedication to being active, often join her for walking breaks.
She also took control of her diet. She cut out stops at fast food restaurants and stopped drinking 60 oz. of soda per day. Allyson began carefully planning each meal, cooking and preparing meals on Sunday that would last for the entire week.
By July 2018, Allyson had lost more than 30 lbs., and doctors said she no longer needed knee replacement surgery. By June 2019, Allyson had lost more than 85 lbs., brought her blood pressure and cholesterol into the normal range and reduced her risk of diabetes.
Jeff Owens has dedicated his life to helping others, so it’s not surprising he’s willing to be part of the American Heart Association’s “Real People. Real Change.” program in an effort to inspire others to live healthier lives.
Jeff was a firefighter/paramedic for 30 years and created a program 25 years ago to use dogs to teach fire safety to children. When he retired from the fire department a couple of years ago, Jeff knew he needed to get in better shape in order to continue teaching kids. He had gained weight, needed medication for high blood pressure and a CPAP machine when he slept.
Jeff made changes to his diet and exercise habits, focusing on portion control and regular brisk walking. Over the last 18 months, Jeff has lost 90 lbs., no longer has high blood pressure and does not need the CPAP machine.
Those results, along with his motivation to continue teaching fire safety, are encouraging to continue living his healthy lifestyle.
Brian Staup has always seen his weight fluctuate, but in 2018 he realized that he had fallen into a rut - leading a sedentary lifestyle and not eating healthy. When his doctor told him that his blood pressure was dangerously high and that he was in danger of having a stroke, Brian knew it was time to make some changes.
Knowing his son was getting married in June 2019 gave him extra motivation.
Brian got active. While he started going to the gym several times a week, Brian says that it’s important to move every day. He made an effort to climb the 10 flights of stairs in his office building several times a day.
At the same time, Brian made changes to his diet. He focused on decreasing the amount of sugar, carbohydrates and fried foods that he ate, and increased the number of fruits, vegetables and high-fiber snacks that he ate. He also began drinking more water – around one gallon per day.
Over the course of a year, Brian lost 60 lbs., got off of blood pressure medication, and fit into a brand new suit for his son’s wedding.
When Jim Weigle weighed 275 lbs., he would have never guessed that a few years later he would be competing in Ultra Marathons.
Jim’s journey began with a trip to the YMCA where he was starting to walk on the treadmill in an effort to get in better shape. When Jim saw a sign for a 5K run that would help send a child to camp, he remembered that someone had once paid his way to camp, so he signed up and began to train.
Running in that initial 5K led to a mini-marathon and then to an indoor triathalon. Since then, he’s completed two half Ironmans (1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles of biking, 13.2 miles of running) and he’s run in three Ultra Marathon events (40 miles, 50 miles, 100 kilometers).
“I never thought of myself as an athlete,” Jim says. “Once I started training I fixated on ‘what can I do,’ ‘what am I capable of.”
Jim has found that he is capable of a lot, and he loves to share his passion for running with others. In 2017, he became an inaugural member of the Fishers Running Club, a group with more than 100 members that gathers to run on most Saturdays.
“I’m happy to be as healthy as I am, and am always thinking ‘what does it take to get other people that way, too.’”