Families Step Forward to Meet the Challenge

We asked for volunteers, and we heard from dozens of families in Central Kentucky.

They sent a consistent message: We want to get fit, eat right and lose weight, but we need HELP!

Don’t we all.

Everyone knows the issues that the U.S. – and Kentucky – faces with obesity.

We live in a culture that almost defies fitness. Too many of us have sedentary jobs. Processed, fat-laden food is available everywhere.

Lexington, like many American communities, was built for automobiles, not pedestrians.

Plus, many families have two working parents. Finding time to prepare a nutritious meal that children actually will eat is daunting.

Squeezed for time, families find themselves eating fast food, snacking on junk food, and staring at computer TV and cell phone screens instead of exercising.

But we at Lexington Family believe the battle is not lost.

So, to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the magazine, we have launched a Fit Family Challenge.

With Challenge sponsor Family Practice Associates, we sought four families courageous enough to vow to try to get fit, eat right and lose weight in public.

The families will receive assistance from Family Practice Associates and its weight loss program, plus the help of local personal trainers.

For four months starting in January and culminating with our annual summer Camps & Activities Fair on April 13, we will chronicle their progress in the magazine.

Let’s wish them luck and meet these four brave families.
Name: Beth Purdy, 35

Children: Colleen, 4

Occupation: Beth is the director and teacher of the ESL program at Georgetown College

Background: Beth is a single mom after losing her husband last year to cancer. She comes from a family with a poor health history, but she has eaten well and exercised regularly… until lately. Time pressures, and financial and child-care restraints have been challenging.

Goals: “It has been challenging to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I would like to turn this around before it gets worse and could use inspiration and assistance.”
Name: Holly, 36, & Wilson Ackerman, 36

Children: Sarah, 10, Emily 4

Occupation: Holly is a technical assistant with First Steps. Wilson does auto body repair at Fortune Collision.

Background: On both sides of the family, there are multiple health issues related to being overweight. Holly works in Frankfort and Wilson often works late, so the family feels squeezed for time.

Goals: “My husband and I are overweight, and we want to be healthier for our children,” Holly said. “We want to start making a difference for us and our girls.”

Name: Shelley, 43, & Matthew Hopps, 41

Children: Jacquelyn Young, 19, Katie Young, 16, Connor Hopps, 11, Faith Hopps, 10

Occupation: Shelley is a chemist at UK. Matthew is a fork lift operator

Background: The family has a history of heart disease, and two working parents makes eating well difficult – the kids’ diets all over the map. Neither parent can find time to exercise.

Goals: “I come from a long line of Paula Deen type cooks,” Shelley says. “Please help us learn how to eat better and work it into our schedules.”

Name: Geneva Thomas, 36

Children: Dontaz, 17, Saraya, 13. Not pictured: Chris Henderson Jr., 2

Occupation: Geneva is an insurance billing and coding technician.

Background: As a single, working mom of three children, Geneva has much to juggle. Both she and her daughter have taken medication for weight-related issues, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Dontaz will join the Marines after high school.

Goals: “We have tried exercise videos and walking before but haven’t had much success. I want our family to be healthy and eat better so we can have longer lives.”