When people are looking to get healthy, they can turn to expensive diets and gym memberships. But for some, that is just not realistic.
That was the case for a working mom and wife in Lake Charles who created a group called "Team Healthy," using community parks and free recreation areas - along with accountability and willpower - to slim down with new friends.
Before the physical work-out, there is a spiritual exercise with the circle of women in Team Healthy, praying together before they get to sweating.
Then it is go time: 35 minutes of cardio and strength training for every fitness level. "We jog, we do squats, we do suicides, we do exercises on yoga mats," said founder, Lela Belton.
It has been four months since Belton decided she was fed up with her unhealthy habits. This working wife and mom knew she needed accountability to make diet and exercise changes stick. "You need that dedication, you need that determination and that commitment to get healthy, so that's what we're all about," she said.
Lela told a few friends about her plan to start exercising in city parks and free recreation centers. They told a few more friends, who told more...and you guessed it! Team Healthy keeps growing, now 50 women strong, including 28-year-old Vanessa Simien, ready to break a cycle of obesity. "I didn't know where to start, so starting was the biggest part and just to get it going and now it's like I can't stop," she said.
Vanessa has dropped 14 pounds in six weeks, Lela has dropped 20 since starting the group in the summer. Of the fifty women committing to 60 days of clean eating and exercising three times a week, all have been successful. "We just motivate the person on the side of us," said Lela, "we keep pushing the person on the side of us and we form not just a group of women working out, but we've formed a family, we've formed a friendship ... which is awesome."
Lela says every person is overcoming something. Those victories are celebrated at the end of every work-out in an "overcomers" cheer. For Lela, her victory is not on the scale, but in the women next to her. "I just want to get healthy and I want to bring every woman I meet along with me to get healthy," she said.
Lela says she went online to find healthy meal and exercise plans that these working women could follow.
Before you start an exercise plan, you should talk to your doctor.
If you want to join up with Team Healthy or learn more about how you can start a similar group in your community, click here.