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The 2016 Fit Family Challenge comes to a close this month, but four local radio and TV hosts who were the local Fit Family Challenge Celebrity Spotlight Personalities say they have learned healthy habits that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

“The challenge has made me think about exercise,” said Jack Roper, co-host of the “Your Carolina with Jack and Megan” morning television show on WSPA Channel 7. “I’m riding my bike and going to the gym more.”

Roper said he had exercised sporadically in the past, but through the challenge has gained consistency. The Fit Family Challenge is a free healthy lifestyle program that offers classes, advice and nutrition tips to help participants get fit and improve their overall health. It runs through June 26.

For Roper’s co-host Megan Heidlberg, the challenge has given her the motivation to try new things.

“The GravityFit class at Gravitopia was a really fun way to get a great workout,” she said.

She also enjoyed classes at 9Round as well as crossfit-type classes. Heidlberg, a mom of two boys ages 2 and 7, wants to remain active to set a good example for her kids.

“I make it a priority,” she said. “I put sessions with my trainer on my calendar, just like meetings. The kids see that it is important to me.”

In addition to exercising regularly with a trainer, Heidlberg plays a lot of sports. She is on basketball and softball leagues at her church.

“It is so much fun that you don’t even realize that you are exercising,” she said.

Heidlberg also makes exercise a part of her daily routine by taking walks after dinner and riding bikes with her family. She said that the challenge has taught her that every bit of activity counts. “We stay so busy, but there really are spots in the day —sometimes just 10 minutes here and there — where I can fit in some activity.” Increased activity causes Heidlberg to be more aware of her eating habits too, she said.

“I don’t want to work out every day and then wipe out all that I’ve done with poor food choices,” she said.

Instead, she tries to avoid sugar, alcohol, dairy and bread in the majority of her diet. “I use a plan called the Whole 30 twice a year — usually January and July,” she said. “The rest of the year, I just try to eat that way about 80 percent of the time.” Heidlberg still splurges occasionally, but when she does, she tries to make sure the splurge is worth it.

“I’m not going to eat stale fries, but if my mom makes my favorite strawberry cake, I’ll definitely have some,” she said.

For the busy mom, balance and simplicity are key to staying on track.

“We have flag football on Thursday nights, so I know that we will go to Chick-fil-A or Moe’s that night,” she said. “I just make sure that we are eating well the rest of the week. I try to do a lot of food prep on Sundays. Some weeks we do awesome with this; other weeks, it doesn’t work out so well.”

Heidlberg keeps meals simple, eating the same things for breakfast each day and sticking to simple, easily prepared meals at dinner. She has about five basic meals that she can cook in 30 minutes or less, she said.

Putting health into focus

Radio personalities Bill Love and Debra Capps participated in the challenge too, and say that it helped them bring healthy habits into focus. Love and Capps, who host the “Love in the Morning” show on 103.3 and 95.5 Earth FM WRTH radio, hope their listeners see family fitness as fun and integral part of their daily routines.

“Anything you do for a long period of time becomes part of your self identity,” Love said. “When I was a smoker, it was difficult to quit because smoking was part of my identity. Whether you are active or a couch potato, it becomes a part of who you are.”

Capps said she’d been in an exercise rut. The Fit Family Challenge reminded her that exercise really can be a lot of fun.

“I’ve tried a lot of new things,” she said. “I’m trying to find out what works for me every day. I’ve tried yoga, pilates, 9Round and the Gravitopia fitness class. I’ve brought friends with me. Sometimes we get bogged down with the thought of exercise and dread doing it. We forget that it can be fun.”

Capps said that some of her favorite childhood memories are of times when her family was active together.

“We spent hours on the lake water skiing, ice skating, taking dance classes and gymnastics, and (on) family hikes,” she said. “I wasn’t counting calories. I was just having fun.”

The challenge has increased her awareness of some simple ways to add healthy habits.

“I think about things like where I park,” she said. If I park a little farther away, I am taking more steps.”

Capps has made some changes in her diet too.

“Once you start working on fitness, your mind shifts and you care a lot more about what you put into your body,” she said. “You see how much work it takes to burn it.”

The biggest change for her was the addition of breakfast With her morning-show schedule, Capps rarely made time to eat breakfast. She began taking a smoothie to work. This made a difference in her energy level, she said, as does the food choices she makes the rest of the day.

As for results, Capps has seen a lot of fitness gains.

“I am able to do exercises in my yoga class that I was unable to do before,” she said. “I can do more sit-ups and am using better form for my plank.”

She has also seen an increase in muscle tone and a decrease in inches.

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Love has also had great results from the challenge. Though he didn’t enter the challenge seeking weight loss, he said he has lost 20 pounds. He attributes some of the loss to improved eating habits. “I’m trying to avoid a lot of sugar,” he said. “I’ve always been a dessert guy. I love sweets, especially chocolate. I’ve cut down on those and have become more conscious of breads.” Love said that for him, health is about much more than weight. A heart attack 10 years ago proved to be a wake-up call convincing Love to take a hard look at his health habits.

“I quit smoking,” he said. “That was huge. As a smoker, I didn’t even want to walk up the stairs. I felt weak. I decided to get in shape because I wanted to feel stronger.”

Today, Love uses a step counter and aims for 15,000 steps per day. He works out regularly using an elliptical trainer, treadmill and bike.

“I don’t think you have to go to the gym; just get out and take a brisk walk,” he said. “You will feel a difference. It is important that you just keep moving.”

Love, who is 60, is trying hard to avoid the slow down that sometimes is associated with aging.

“I get so frustrated when I hear my friends say, ‘By the time I’ve put on my shoes, I’ve used all the energy I had to work out!’” Love said. “Then they try to bring you into it. ‘You know what I mean?’ they say. No, I don’t know! I am a chronological age, but I never want to come to the point where I have to feel weak and tired just because I am a certain age. I want to keep moving and stay active.”

Love has enjoyed the challenge, and he advises readers and his listeners to keep trying new things.

“It doesn’t have to feel like work,” he said. “You can have a lot of fun. Keep moving and challenging yourself.”

There are many opportunities in the Upstate for new fitness adventures.

“Fit, family, fun are three great words,” Capps said. “It should always be fun!”

You can still participate!

Visit www.myfitfamilychallenge.com to find out more or to sign up. The 2016 Fit Family Challenge runs through June 26.

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