fit to be gold challenge: Katie Thompson



AGE: 25

HOMETOWN: North Augusta

WORK: Nursing student at Aiken Technical College


PERSONAL TRAINER: Darryl Richardson

WHY PARTICIPATE? "For my 3-year-old daughter who wants to be just like her mom. For my health. To give encouragement to my parents who have weight-related health issues."

Have you tried to lose weight in the past? "Yes. Mostly different diets. I've lost weight and maintained it pretty much until I had my little girl. And (now) it's kind of up and down (with) the stress of the single mom. I'm going to nursing school, so it's a lot on my shoulders and I've kind of taken the focus off of my health. You get to the point that you realize you have to be healthy. You have to put yourself first sometimes in order to be a great mom, in order to be a great student."

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE? "Fitting exercise into my schedule where it's not going to overwhelm (me) or hurt my studying time. Right now, it's early on. The motivation's still there. I'm still fresh. Later on, like a month from now, I'm sure it will be a different story.

HOW WILL YOU OVERCOME IT? "The good thing is it's a challenge, and we have eliminations. I have a white board and a dry-erase marker, and I count down days until the first weigh in. That's the first thing I see when I wake up. That's that big sign that this is a competition, you do want to win. I want to make sure I don't get eliminated. The eliminations were a good idea, I think, to keep everybody motivated because (without it) you're like, 'Oh, well, I still have 10 weeks to do it before the big weigh in.' "

DO YOU FIND IT HARD TO STAY MOTIVATED? "I'm making it a priority. Making it a priority will be a challenge eventually."

HOW WILL YOUR LIFE CHANGE AFTER THE COMPETITION? "You make a habit in 60 days. This is a little more than 60 days. I want to make being physically active a habit in my life. Hopefully I'll lose the majority of the weight I want to lose during the competition, and it'll be about maintaining. I'll form new habits. I think it will give me a great base to start on."

IS THE REGIMEN WHAT YOU EXPECTED? "When I knew that I was chosen I went back and looked at the previous articles, so I kind of had an idea. But it's definitely a challenge. I've never done strength training. And just putting the focus on my health and exercising first is new."

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR TRAINER? "He's really good. He takes me out there and shows me what I need to do. He keeps my heart rate up the entire workout. It feels like a cardio workout because your heart rate's going. We do everything fast. He's really supportive. I like him a lot."

FAVORITE FOOD? "Cookies and Cream Oreo ice cream from Brusters. And pizza."

THE DIET: "I think I will be a vegetarian by the end of this. (laughs) It is a lot of protein. (With) previous diets, you focus on whole wheat, vegetables, you've got your three ounces of protein. This is like six to eight ounces of protein and two cups of salad. So it's really different to get used to, to get my mind set that I can have butter on that broccoli, that that's OK now. I thank God I found egg poachers that you can do in the microwave. It's really good because it has saved my life. I hate scrambled eggs, but I can do poached eggs."

PROBLEM AREAS: "Probably my core and my legs. Before I started this and started nursing I was an office manager. I had 10-hour days where I literally sat at a desk all day. It wasn't good. I didn't even enjoy it. I think I've lost a lot of muscles and strength in my legs from having a desk job. That's something I really want to focus on is getting that strength back up."

-- Lisa Kaylor, staff writer


Pace is important

If you are just starting an exercise program, pacing is important. Everybody should start off short and slow and easy. Try limiting initial sessions to 30 minutes of exercise to get an idea about your conditioning. If you have to take brief stops every 5 minutes, that's fine. Just build up from there.

Source: Jeff Poole, exercise specialist at University Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute