I’m a firm believer that you can learn something from every single person you meet – and often even those you don’t meet. I’m the sort of person who wants to learn something new and/or be inspired and motivated as many times as possible during the day. Whether I’m reading a favorite magazine, blog posts, Twitter updates, or watching something on television. My “live to learn” antenna is up at all times!
Case in point: This morning, I was reading a story on one of my favorite websites – Prevention.com. The story profiled 5 finalists in the 2010 Picture of Health competition. 5 finalists – 5 motivating and inspiring hits to the antenna. I’ll hit the highs with these finalists below, so you can be inspired by them as much as I have been.
Paula Bruchhaus (43 – on the far right in the picture above), from Florida, is an elementary school teacher who lost 80 pounds and inspired her students to fall in love with running. “We’re not all going to be super fast or strong, but our goal is simply to improve,” Bruchhaus tells her students. “It is possible to change simply by eating healthy and exercising.” Her kids have run in marathons and over the years have raised $25,000 for charity.
I love that she’s reaching out to kids and to her community. She improved her own life and now has her mind set on improving other’s lives as well.
Dawn Forgione (51 – on the far left in the picture above), also from Florida, has had her fair share of scrapes and bruises, literally. She endured serious injuries, including 40 stitches to her face and knocked-out teeth, after a bad bike spill while training for a 150-mile charity ride. That was apparently one of her better days.
She has also faced bouts of cervical dysplasia, endometriosis (which led to multiple surgeries and ultimately a radical hysterectomy), knee surgery, two hip replacements, and breast and skin cancer.
Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for herself, she has been a busy girl! She has helped many organizations through the years, such as the American Cancer Society, the Children’s Cancer Caring Center in Miami, and the March of Dimes. “I love to be a positive role model and show others that a diagnosis is not a death sentence.” Those words just jumped off the screen at me – A diagnosis is not a death sentence. I’d say that she made diagnosis a life sentence! You. Go. Girl.
Linda Goff (42 – second from right in the picture above), from Missouri, once weighed over 300 pounds. She realized that her eating habits were setting a bad example for her kids and her weight wasn’t doing her marriage any favors. She prayed for the courage to take the first step —and it worked. A switch flipped, and by exercising and eating right, she went from a size 26 to 6.
Today, Goff says she feels better than she did at 25. She helps counsel weight loss support groups at the hospital, gym, and church. “I want to let people know that good choices are just like bad ones—they can become lifelong habits too.”
There were several things that stood out to me in Linda Goff’s story:
- She knew that it would all begin with a first step – the same place everything begins…. step number 1.
- Her quote about good choices becoming lifelong habits just like bad ones is a complete and total lesson in itself. What’s more, it’s as much a self improvement lesson as it is a physical fitness lesson. Anything we want to change in our lives can be cone by making good choices – then doing it again and again and again until these good choices become good habits.
Kristi Marsh (39 – the young lady in the middle in the picture above), from Massachusetts, found a lump in her breast when she was 35 years old. She was diagnosed with an aggressive kind of breast cancer, but didn’t cave under the pressure. What’s more, she used the horrifying experience to learn things about her body and to inspire her to make a difference. “Our bodies try so hard to survive, but we often compromise that with unhealthy choices that increase our exposure to pesticides and pollutants.”
She researched nontoxic products, joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm, and even started raising hens in her backyard for organic eggs! I love that. Seriously, I want some hens in my yard. Stat. My husband never knows exactly what kick I’m going to get on next or what will come out of my head or mouth next.. I hope he braces himself for this one. I want hens.
Krisit even started an educational organization called Choose Wiser, sharing her tips and advice with local groups. “I hope to educate people about what best fits into their lives so they can make healthy changes.”
Chris Word (52 – Let’s see… I believe he’s second from the left 🙂 ), from California, used his battle with colon cancer as a springboard for a life of service on the behalf of children. “My cancer struggle inspired me to help sick children.” Motivated by all the child cancer patients he met during his recovery, he decided to start the Lifedriven Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that supports research and treats children battling the disease with trips to Disneyland. How cool is that?!
“There is so much about cancer that people have no control over, but we can give a family a moment in time to experience some joy,” Word says.
If I were asked to design Heaven’s lay out (oddly enough, I have not been consulted), there’d be a special place… a very, very, very special place for people who help children.
I love the spirit, the fight, the drive, and the compassion in these individuals. If you ask me, they have plenty to teach all of us about life and about bouncing back.
When these people were knocked down, they not only got back up, they got back up fighting! This is the sort of spirit that makes the world a better place. Think about it. If everyone took their knocks and used them as inspiration to make the world around them a better place, can you imagine what a world we would live in? Unfortunately, many people are far too busy whining, moaning, sighing, and feeling sorry for themselves to take the time to reach out to others.
I hope you’ll read the full stories on each of these individuals by vising Prevention’s 2010 Picture of Health Story and Slideshow. Whether you’re looking to lose 10 pounds, improve the way your family eats, or simply want a inspirational fodder for your own antenna, these stories will touch your heart… flip a switch in your brain…. and light a fire under your feet. If that sounds like something that’d be all kinds of cool beans – have at it!
Photo Credit: Prevention.com