By Madison Burke
Emily Merritt has never felt better. She recently lost 16 pounds, got her cholesterol in check, and now has more energy to spend time with her mother, husband, and two beautiful daughters. But she says she never would have gotten to this place, without making the decision to get serious about her health a few months ago.
Emily was at her mom’s cardiologist appointment at Missouri Heart Center this spring, when she saw a pamphlet advertising the American Heart Association Go Red For Women’s Go Red Challenge. The challenge is sponsored by Boone Hospital and helps a group of women improve their health through nutrition and fitness education.
“My mom has had two heart attacks, and I recently had found out I had high cholesterol. As a mother of two young girls, I was very concerned. I had been preaching to my mom so long that she should get healthy, I decided I should take my own advice and apply for this program,” says Emily.
Emily applied and was accepted. Right away, Emily developed a deep bond with the other women in the group; “We all were committed to improving our heath and wanted to encourage each other in any way we can. We have a Facebook group where we would help motivate everyone,” she says.
For the Go Red Challenge, the group of women meet through several months with different health experts. They received heath advice from Holly Boyer, MD of Boone Medical Group, exercise support from Boone Hospital WELLAWARE fitness trainers, and nutrition information from WELLAWARE dietitians and nurses.
“By the end of the program, I had lost 16 pounds and my cholesterol was back in the normal range. I had also developed deep friendships with the other members of the challenge. We still talk today,” says Emily.
Emily says she could not have done it without the support of her family. Her husband Miki changed his diet with her and the two now shop for healthy food at the grocery store together and enjoy cooking healthy meals.
Emily’s mom Sarah says she is so proud of her daughter’s accomplishments.
“I loved watching Emily make changes to improve her health. She is such an inspiration,” says Sarah.
Emily says she is proud of her success, but she ultimately did it for her family.
“I decided to do the program to be an example to my mom and daughters. I wanted to show them that it is important to take care of yourself. Now I have more energy to be a better daughter and mother than I did before. I think often women don’t realize that they need to take care of themselves, so that they can take care of others,” says Emily.
The AHA is now accepting applicants for next year’s Go Red Challenge. You can get information about the program and learn how to apply by visiting boone.org/red.
“Emily is a perfect example of how powerful this program can be. The Go Red Challenge provides the tools women need to live longer, healthier lives. They also develop a wonderful support system with the other women involved. We encourage women that are interested in improving their health to apply for an opportunity to partake in this fun and healthy challenge,” says Jeff Zimmermann, WELLAWARE Health Promotions Manager.
CLICK HERE to apply to be in the 2017 Go Red Challenge program!