East Tennessee moms take steps toward healthier lifestyles

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – It isn’t always easy getting in shape, especially if you are a busy mom. Oftentimes, it starts with setting a goal, like running a 5K.

A number of East Tennessee moms are taking the first step to a healthier and happier life.

“I guess I’ve just struggled all my life with maybe being overweight or with just struggling with balancing life and still do what I need to do,” Heather Thomas West said.

West spent her life putting others first, letting her health fall second to her job and being a mom.

It wasn’t until she was 34-years-old when she learned she cannot take care of others if she doesn’t take care of herself.

“I just came to the point where I decided I need to be the best me I can be for my family,” West said. “Mindset is everything. I shifted my thoughts from this is about weight and shifted it more toward quality of life and being there for my family and so when you put those things in your mind, it’s easier to get there.”

She is one of many East Tennessee moms going the extra mile to achieve her fitness goals. National Fitness Center trainer Julie Smith said getting in shape helps people improve all areas of life.

“I have a lot of moms that I train that that’s their goal,” Smith said. “They want to be able to play at the park with their children. They want to be able to push strollers and push them on the swings and chase them around the park and a lot of them couldn’t before they started training. They would get out of break walking 200 meters and that’s what it’s about. It’s about being fit for normal everyday things that we often take for granted.”

Many moms are looking ahead to the future, committing to 5K races and spending the winter months in training.

“I work out here five days a week, but I was just not a runner and I still don’t consider myself a runner because it’s not my favorite thing to do,” Karla Psimer said. “But I just started incorporating a little running every day…starting with intervals and just built up until I could go the full way and a little further.”

They are spending countless hours a week testing their bodies and their minds, proving to themselves that they can do anything at any age.

“They have a challenge here at the elementary schools in Knox County for the children to run 26 miles from January to April so I’ve started that way with her,” Shelly Wilson said. “We’re up to a mile she and I, and I decided to challenge a little bit more so now I’m up to 1.2 and in September I’m hoping to do a 5K.”

Trainers advise people preparing for a 5K to start slow, train with intervals and always vary workouts.

Trainer Julie said it’s easy to make excuses when it comes to getting in shape, especially for moms leading busy lives. But she said setting aside time for your health goes a long way both physically and mentally.

“You have a little time for yourself,” Wilson said. “You’re taking a little bit of time away from your children and you’re having 30 minutes to an hour just for yourself. It’s mind, body and soul. It’s all coming together and it not just helps you physically but it helps you mentally. That was the biggest thing when I had small children was I needed the time to myself.”

When it comes time to cross that finish line, moms said it will mean so much more than a race compete.

“Oh my word… I’m back! Smith said. “It will feel good knowing I can do anything even at this age.”

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