At the start of this year, Kim Conkling knew something had to change.
The 32-year-old mother from Stromsburg, Neb., was always tired and never had energy to play with her two daughters. She was overweight and unhappy.
So when she heard about the LiveWell Team Challenge, a 12-week nutrition and weight-loss program offered by the Nebraska Sports Council, she said “something clicked.”
“I just knew when I heard about it that I was going to do that,” Conkling said.
She worked out, sometimes for two hours a day, made better food choices and lost 80 pounds.
“I feel amazing,” she said. “I am more active and I can do more with my kids and my boyfriend. I'm all-around a happier person.”
Now, the Nebraska Sports Council, a nonprofit that also runs the Cornhusker State Games, is offering the LiveWell Fall Challenge, which begins Monday and runs through Nov. 18.
“The competition aspect is what makes it more fun,” Conkling said. “It helps keep you accountable.”
Through weekly emails, participants will receive tips that teach them how to manage calories and track nutrition and physical activity. Participants can also earn prizes as benchmarks are met.
The program is free to registered members of the LiveWell Challenge Series, which is sponsored by livewellnebraska.com, The World-Herald's health website. Registration, $15 a year, is available at www.livewellchallenge.com. Each member receives free entry in three challenges: the Fall Challenge, the Team Challenge in January and Summer Steps in June. Participants also receive an annual subscription to a health-related magazine and access to many online resources.
More than 100 Nebraska companies use the LiveWell Challenge Series in their annual wellness plan.
In 12 years, more than 85,000 Nebraskans have lost more than 400,000 pounds on the LiveWell Team Challenge and have increased activity levels to 31 minutes per day. More importantly, surveys indicate that Team Challenge participants have achieved a 70 percent maintenance rate six months after the program ended each of the 12 years.
That's exactly what Conkling's on track to do. Since the Team Challenge ended in April, she has continued a healthy lifestyle and has lost an additional 20 pounds.
“All the compliments that people give me make me feel great,” she said. “They tell me that I've lost a whole person.”
Dave Mlnarik, executive director of Nebraska Sports Council, said there's nothing more encouraging than hearing stories like Conkling's.
“One of my favorite parts of my job is having success with our challenges,” he said. “Our challenges are more about discipline than they are about weight loss.”
“It's a lifestyle change,” she said. “It's about eating healthier and working out. The best part is my daughters do the same, too. It's amazing to see my daughter choose an apple over chips because that's what I do.”
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