Former Times Colonist Health Challenger Yvette Guigeno and her colleague, Molly Patton, are living proof healthy lifestyles are infectious.
Guigeno, 48, was a Health Challenger two years ago and lost more than 30 pounds with a new routine of exercise and sensible eating.
Since the challenge, she has managed to keep the weight off via regular fitness sessions.
“I’ve even gone surfing with my daughter, so I’m in pretty good shape for my age,” she said. “I’m pretty proud of that.”
So committed was Guigeno to her new lifestyle that she inspired Patton, a 26-year-old colleague at the Victoria Symphony office, to join her.
Patton’s progress has been even more dramatic than Guigeno’s — she’s lost about 200 pounds and counting with regular gym visits and healthier eating.
“There was a little bit of cajoling and a little bit of pushing, but she got me going,” said Patton.
Guigeno’s own story began in 2011 when she was one of three participants in what was then called the Times Colonist Health Club Challenge.
Co-ordinated by the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence, next to Camosun College’s Interurban campus, the challenge is a 12-week package of fitness sessions with personal trainers, nutrition instruction and even emotional counselling. Each package is worth about $2,500.
This year, six challengers will be selected for the special package.
Readers can also register for a special program they can follow at their local recreation centres.
Last year, the Health Challenge moved into the community, with municipal fitness centres taking on their own challengers. Staff at each centre cheered on their challengers’ successes.
This year, the challenge includes financial counselling.
The program begins with testing of participants’ fitness levels, conditioning and body mass to determine the appropriate level of physical stress.
Jackie Connelly of the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence said the challenge is about looking for a new approach to living.
“It’s a whole revamping of their lifestyles,” said Connelly. “They are going to get fitness tips. They are going to get nutrition tips. They are going to get financial tips.
“It’s kind of like starting the New Year off with this challenge to revamp all areas of your life.”
Patton had been active in ballet and sports in her teens when she was badly injured in a car crash in which her father was killed. Recovery, both physical and emotional, was hard and she found herself gaining weight. The cycle lasted about 10 years until she became determined to bring it to a stop.
Now she feels as if she has stepped onto a completely new path, mostly by opting for healthier food choices, such as fruits or vegetables, over things like take-out burgers and fries.
The biggest surprise is that she actually enjoys the healthy food and exercise regime.
“I went into this thinking I would be torturing myself,” said Patton. “But it’s not torture. It’s fun to actually do it.
“And not just seeing the results but actually doing it all, going to the gym, feels really good.”
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