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Good Shepherd Inspire Awards honor lighter, leaner lifestyles

By Angela Ward award@news-journal.com
March 16, 2013 at 11 p.m.


Nine months ago, Christopher Stout weighed 300 pounds and was so heavy that he had a hard time getting off his couch.

"The eye-opener for me came when I literally couldn't get off the couch one day," Stout said. "It took me both hands and about 10 minutes of effort to finally get to my feet. I felt like a beached whale and realized then that this was no way to live."

Stout began working out on a regular basis, as well as eating healthier. Today, he's down to 205 pounds, and on Friday he was honored as the grand prize winner at the Inspire Awards at the Good Shepherd Institute for Healthy Living. Stout was among four people honored who made a commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Others honored were Becky Richards and sisters Michelle Stone and Iva Holyfield.

Ray Delk, system vice president of ancillary serves for Good Shepherd, said the awards are important because they help others to set and achieve goals.

"We all need inspiration, we all need success stories," Delk said. "People need to know that there are others, right here in this community, who have turned their lives around and become healthier."

Stout said his weight loss isn't the result of surgery or pills - just regular exercise and wiser eating.

"When I was first coming up here, I'd exercise for 15 minutes and then tell myself I'd done enough, I could go home," he said. "However, the employees were very encouraging, and I realized that it was important for me to do a full workout. At first I was a bit embarrassed by my weight, but I never felt judged, not by the staff members and not by the other people working out."

When he was at his peak weight, Stout said his back and legs hurt. While exercise has been a prime factor, so was the decision to throw out the junk food that filled his cabinets and refrigerator.

"Healthy food costs a little bit more, but it's worth it," he said. "My motivations to stay healthy are my beautiful wife and newborn son."

<strong>Becky Richards</strong>

Richards, 39, weighed 205 pounds at her peak. She's now at 119 pounds and recently competed in swimming events at the Special Olympics.

"My grandmother was dying, and I didn't want to have the health problems she did," Richards said. "I like to work out, especially in the pool."

Working out and achieving a healthy weight has helped Richards become more self-confident, said Cathy DePorter, Richards' training partner. Richards now engages other members of the institute in conversation regularly, something she rarely did when the two women first met.

"She's really been an inspiration to me," DePorter said. "She asked me to help her get faster and stronger and, through working with her, I got healthier myself."

<strong>Iva Holyfield and Michelle Stone</strong>

Holyfield, 69, and Stone, 51, made a mutual decision to get fit together. Part of their inspiration was a sister who died at 57.

"I hit 50 and knew I didn't want to end my life in this decade," Stone said. "I want to be here for a long time - for my husband, kids and grandchildren."

Stone has lost more than 100 pounds in the past 18 months. She said another motivation was her faith.

"If I truly believe my body is a temple of God, as I do, then I have an obligation to keep that temple in good repair," she said.

Stone said she used the acronym CHANGES to help her remember what she was focusing on: commitment, health, attitude, next step, goals, excellence and spiritual.

"I'd gained a lot of weight in a relatively short period of time because my kids had moved out and gone off to college," Stone said. "I dealt with the empty nest syndrome by continuing to cook the same amounts of food and eating my portions as well as their portions."

Holyfield said her younger sister had encouraged and inspired her to get fit. She now refers to herself as a "Zumba addict" because that's her favorite form of exercise.

"I'm diabetic, so I need to do everything I can to stay health," Holyfield said. "I've dropped three sizes since I began doing Zumba."

Holyfield said she started with aquatic Zumba classes, then moved on to the land-based version. She's usually at the institute six days a week.

"There's no magic formula," Holyfield said. "It's all about eating right and exercising. We don't take special supplements or anything like that."

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