Gay Hudson | 60
A retired educator of 34 years, Gay Hudson has always enjoyed athletics. Her physical education teacher in Junior High School encouraged all girls to play sports. “She taught us to compete and be proud of our interest in sports. She was very ahead of her time!” This inspired Gay to become a physical education teacher, something she did for 10 years.
Gay continued her participation in sports as an adult, playing softball for 40 years. “I loved it. Participating in group fitness activities is a part of my adult life.” She added, “Working with a trainer has only happened in the last 3 years. I really like the results achieved when getting professional help.”
Having grown up on a farm, Gay has always included fresh produce from her garden in her diet. Gay tries to be vigilant about what she eats so that she doesn’t aggravate her acid reflux. Staying in shape and watching her diet is important in managing her heart arrhythmia.
Living longer used to be her top motivation until God gave her another reason. One of Gay’s granddaughters has a rare type of muscular dystrophy called Nemaline Myopathy, which causes low muscle tone as well as some breathing and digestion issues. “She participates in physical therapy to maintain her current level of mobility,” Gay explained. “Gaining muscle strength will not be a part of her future.” Gay’s current mission is to stay as strong as possible for her granddaughter.
“Staying in shape, at any age, improves your quality of life, your outlook on life and ability to participate in life. If we can’t do these three things, what good are we to our family and others?”
Delores Hall | 49
Dolores works full time for Johnson and Johnson as an Executive cardiovascular pharmaceutical sales representative. When the busy mom of four is not working, staying fit or spending time with her family, Dolores spends time volunteering for God’s Pantry, Catholic Action Center and the American Heart Association. One way Dolores blanaces her many commitments is by working out in the morning while her kids are still asleep.
Dolores has exercised regularly throughout her life, playing all the women’s sports that were available in high school. Fitness has been such a priority for her because she believes in trying to present her best self every day. She said, “When you exercise, you feel better.”
At the age of 28, Dolores was involved in a bad boating accident. With a cut on her anterior tibialis, she thought she might never run again. Fortunately, that has not been the case. Since the accident, Dolores has run a marathon and completed over 60 triathlon and running races, as well as an IRONMAN this past September.
Dolores has found motivation in her running and biking buddies. She loves the company and friendships involved. “When you have people waiting outside your door to run at 5:45 in the morning, it’s hard to let them down. Especially in the cold,” she says. Dolores is also a big fan of group exercise because it holds everyone accountable.
When asked how she encourages others to stay fit, she tells them to do what they love and exercise will not feel boring. “Celebrate every mile, celebrate life, celebrate every milestone!”
Carolyn Pace | 55
A diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis on July 28, 2009 changed Carolyn Pace’s life. “MS has focused on my spinal cord, which affects mobility. My heath had declined rapidly the year leading up to my diagnosis,” she recalled. “Immediately I knew I had to change my diet and step up building my strength.” By working with a personal trainer she slowly built up to being able to run three miles a few times a week.
In 2012, another obstacle appeared. “My doctor and I were completely shocked to find out I had a 95% blockage in the LAD artery, A.K.A. The Widow Maker,” she said. Slowing down was not an option for Carolyn, who is a mother of five children and stepchildren and a grandmother to eight. After getting a stent to open the blockage, she was able to get back to running.
Fighting MS and heart disease, she works hard to make sure she can keep making memories with her family. “My husband is my biggest fan! We have several things on our Bucket List and I am determined to stay healthy to cross those things off our list together!” She added, “My family is such a source of strength for me!”
To keep in shape, Carolyn takes classes at The Barre in Winchester. The variety of exercises keeps her motivated and energetic. For Carolyn, staying well means a multifaceted approach. “I have what I call the Four Fs that I focus on: Faith, Family, Fitness and Fabulous Food!” She said, “These things combined keep me fighting a good fight against disease.”
Dr. Fadi Bacha | 48
Dr. Fadi Bacha, a Board Certified Internist, has been married for 24 years and is the father of two. Growing up, he enjoyed playing soccer, but found that it did not keep him in shape as he got older. With familial hyperlipidemia, Dr. Bacha knew he had to monitor his cholesterol closely. At 41, Dr. Bacha got a reality check when he discovered he had high blood pressure.
“At that point, I started a healthy low carb diet and started exercising. I fell in love with P90X,” he recalled. He was not going to let this genetic condition define him. “Now I am at 12% body fat, my cholesterol and blood pressure are better than my 20s and I am on no cholesterol or blood pressure medicine.”
To stay healthy, Dr. Bacha has continued a low carb and high protein diet for the last 10 years. He does enjoy dark chocolate and nuts as a healthy snack, though is careful to eat those in moderation.
Dr. Bacha keeps a regular workout routine. “I try to do 50 minutes of exercise 6 days a week. Mostly high intensity weights and minimal cardio. I love my rowing machine,” he said. While finding the time may be a challenge for a business owner, Dr. Bacha makes it a priority, because he knows he needs his good health to better serve his clients.
It is important for Dr. Bacha to be a good role model for his patients. “I try to practice what I preach,” he explained. “I encourage all my patients to get on the health wagon and try to address the cause of their problems rather than simply take a pill that hides it.”
Heather Cornett | 42
For Heather, getting fit meant learning how to put herself first. “It is very important as a wife, mother, sister, daughter and friend that you take care of yourself as much as you take care of others,” Heather said. As a Cardiovascular Ultrasound Technologist at Baptist Health Lexington, Heather was seeing the negative effects of an unhealthy lifestyle both in her own life and in the people she encountered at the hospital. “It is hard to work in healthcare and not live the life you want to promote for to your patients.”
Since October of 2016, Heather has lost more than 100 pounds and is continuing to work towards her end goal. She credits her transformative success to her strong support system both in and outside of her home, including husband, Tim and daughter, Ally. She said, “I want to give myself every advantage I can to live a long, healthy life and be able to see my daughter raise her children.” She also received support from her sister and brother-in-law, mom, dad, encouraging coworkers and an online support group called TWIO girls.
For Heather, finding a balance has been key. She said that eating a balanced diet and creating a schedule that allows her to work out while not interfering with family time has been a challenge. She explained, “Happiness is an endless journey that you have to be willing to go out of your comfort zone to find sometimes.”
By pushing those boundaries, Heather now feels “prettier, sexier, and more confident,” and has found a passion for encouraging others who are struggling with an unhealthy lifestyle. “I want to encourage others by leading by example, not just showing that I can lose the weight, but that when I mess up, I dust myself off and never quit. My motto is ‘success is never owned, it is rented, and the rent is due every day’.”
Frank Howatt | 54
Though he does not consider himself to be an athlete, Frank does believe in the importance of fitness. “I was active in high school and spent one enlistment as a Marine Corps Infantryman, where fitness was kind of a big deal,” he said. “When I was younger, my focus was weight lifting but after several pesky shoulder injuries, I found myself drifting towards running.”
To say Frank is an avid runner is an understatement. In the last year alone, he has run over 2,000 miles: six half marathons, four full marathons, four ultra marathons, one 50 mile race and one 62 mile race. To put that into perspective, it’s like running from New York City to Mexico City!
Frank is the director of District-Wide Services for Scott County School District. He met his wife, Deborah in a college biology class and they have been together ever since. He is the proud father of two boys: Ben is 20 and is on active duty in the US Navy and Emerson is 12 and in 7th grade.
Even with all of his running and commitments, Frank still finds time to satisfy his cravings. “I’m a vegetarian and am very grateful that both coffee and beer are meat-free! I love Lexington’s craft beers and ciders,” he joked. “I’m a work in progress: I know my wife would like to see me make better choices.”
When asked about his inspiration, Frank said, “I know lots of runners who seem to me to be superhuman yet approach others with humility and acceptance and respect. Those are the people who inspire me.”
Joyce Roth | 75
Joyce has been an adventurer since she was a child. She and her husband retired to Kentucky in 2005 after teaching English in Japan for 40 years. While abroad, they enjoyed hiking, skiing and other outdoor activities with their two children.
Joyce’s activity decreased when several discs and vertebrae began to deteriorate. In 2011, back surgery became her only option for relief. The surgery meant having rods and pins inserted into her lumbar area and a long road to recovery.
“It was a long time after surgery when my doctor finally agreed to an exercise class at the YMCA. It was difficult. I cried, but that was the beginning of my recovery,” she reflected. “Five years later, I’m not struggling as much and am still passionate about gaining as much fitness as I can. I don’t believe pain defines who I am, but it certainly limits what I can do.”
Joyce continues to challenge herself by participating in water aerobics classes at the YMCA. “Being in the water reminds me of all those years of being in the water as a younger person, racing, synchronized swimming, springboard diving, scuba diving. It’s invigorating physically, mentally, and emotionally,” she said. “A renewed active life has given me a lot of pleasure.”
Joyce explained, “One of the key lessons I’ve learned by working towards wellness is to know when to stop or when to make adjustments with the exercise. I have to understand my body and treat it with respect and kindness.”
Sandra Nichols | 58
Sandra Nichols has not always been physically active. A few years ago, she learned she had high cholesterol and was approaching pre-diabetic levels. She was given two options; get her numbers down within 3 months or start taking cholesterol medicine. With a few changes in her diet, along with a new exercise routine, she was able get her numbers down and avoid medication.
Today, she trains for races along with running, biking, strength training and swimming. “When a minor injury kept me from running this year, I decided to take swim lessons. I went from refusing to go in water above my knees to swimming laps after a few lessons,” she said.
Along with exercising, Sandra eats a diet featuring plenty of vegetables, nuts and dairy products. She has been a vegetarian for over 20 years. “Because I’m a runner, I probably eat more carbs than most vegetarians,” she explained. “My carb intake will increase or decrease with the number of miles I run each week.”
Sandra’s biggest motivation is herself. She has a deep desire to stay as healthy as she can be.She knows that staying in shape will give her enough energy to run around with future grandchildren. “If you aren’t doing this for yourself, it will be too easy to stop working out,” Sandra said.
Sandra has been a running mentor at the YMCA and has volunteered with Girls on the Run. She said, “It was so rewarding talking to the kids about healthy habits and setting goals while running with them.”
Jeff Hester | 52
Jeff is the general manager at BME Mechanical & Electric. He is the proud husband to Rebecca, father of five children and four dogs. After getting married and having children, Jeff recalls how easy it was to fall into unhealthy eating habits. “It seemed like we were always celebrating a birthday, so birthday cake seemed to be my favorite dessert there for a while,” he recalled.
“I was up to a 36 inch waist and had to buy new khakis back in 1996, so I decided enough is enough and I joined a gym and started watching my diet a bit more,” he said.
The hard work paid off. Jeff enjoys doing a variety of different workouts to keep in shape, from boot camps and crossfit to cycling classes at Cycle You. “I like to switch it up as I think I get bored or just want to do different things to keep it interesting as well as hit different muscle groups and keep my body guessing,” said Jeff.
Fitness has become a stress reliever for Jeff, keeping him mentally and physically balanced. His biggest motivation is his family. He said, “I want to be around to see my children have children and be a good example for them.”
Jeff’s biggest fitness accomplishment, he said, “was reducing my overall BMI and cholesterol and maintaining a healthy lifestyle for the last 10 years.” His goals for the next 10 years include competing in obstacle course racing.
Michelle Mulligan | 47
Michele is familiar with the pressure that comes with wanting to lose weight. In her late 30s, she was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure and a low lung function of 64%, all of which made daily tasks challenging. “My biggest motivation is that 3 years ago, I couldn’t stand for more than 2 to 3 minutes or walk more than about 100 yards without being in severe pain and gasping for air,” she explained. Since then, Michele has lost 150 pounds, and she isn’t stopping there!
Having competed in cheerleading, track and swimming in high school, Michele understands the importance of consistency and working towards an end goal. “I think fitness has been key to helping me lose my weight. It helps my stress levels, gives me energy, and gives me goals to work toward.” Michele’s motivation to work out daily is fueled by her encouraging trainer, who challenges her with HIIT (high intensity interval training) and Crossfit. “I work out like it’s a job I get paid for. It is something that I have made my top priority–no excuses,” she said. “Excuses got me where I was: I don’t use them anymore!”
Today, having increased her lung function back to 98%, Michele celebrates her health by competing in 5ks and participating in events such as the Lexington Fireman Memorial Stair Climb. Her biggest accomplishment to date is summiting a mountain in Alaska in 2016. When Michele reached the top, she thought to herself, “3 years ago, you couldn’t walk to your mailbox, but today you climbed a mountain.”
To anyone having doubts about getting started on their weight loss journey, Michele encourages them to start slow but stay steady, make fitness a priority, and find what works for them.