Amber Elmore, a volunteer firefighter, was introduced to the National Volunteer Fire Council’s (NVFC) Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program by NVFC Board Member Thomas Miller of West Virginia during the annual Sissonville (WV) Fire and Rescue School earlier this year. At the time, Elmore’s lifestyle included a high-fat, high-calorie diet with little to no exercise. She tipped the scale at 263 pounds and realized she had become the heaviest and unhealthiest she had ever been. She no longer had the energy to chase her daughter around and it was more physically difficult to run fire calls.
As an author, Elmore had an upcoming book release party and felt successful in every aspect of her life except for her health. She decided to participate in the NVFC’s free health screenings at the fire school and was not happy with the results. In fact, seeing the numbers inspired Elmore to be proactive about her health and take better care of herself.
Elmore’s approach to a healthier lifestyle consists of a high-fiber, low-fat diet, but if she does want something unhealthy, she doesn’t restrict herself from it. Instead, she has a small portion of the snack and then balances it out by eating more fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Elmore also participates in Zumba (Latin cardio dance aerobics) four days a week and recently started to lift weights. On her days off from Zumba, she rides her exercise bike while watching TV.
“I maintain my healthy lifestyle by setting small goals,” says Elmore. “Instead of saying I want to look a certain way or get to a certain weight, I set fitness goals and I take it day by day instead of creating daunting goals.”
Within two months of adopting her healthier lifestyle, Elmore lost 16 pounds, improved her energy levels, and started sleeping better. She is looking forward to her next visit to the doctor to see how her cholesterol levels have improved. Elmore reports that she has more energy to play with her daughter than she has had in years.
“Small changes go a long way to feeling fit and active,” said Elmore. Her weight is not the end goal – it’s being able to live every day with vibrancy and energy. Elmore says that her husband, who is also in the fire department, has been watching her new lifestyle closely; she hopes that she may have a new workout buddy in the near future.
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