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A step toward healthy living

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Motivational speakers are fond of reminding us of that familiar saying, and it is true, especially in regard to matters of health.

Last week the Piedmont Healthy Living Coalition (PCHC) launched the first phase of its community health improvement plan, “Spring into Health,” to connect area residents with health-related resources and activities. It is, in fact, the first step in the coalition’s plan to promote “HEAL” — Healthy Eating and Active Living.

“We organized to address some of the community’s health needs,” Piedmont Health District Director Dr. Alexander Samuel said of the coalition. “We decided to kick off with obesity prevention given its many downstream health consequences that include diabetes, various cancers, heart disease and stroke.”

Taking that first step toward a healthier lifestyle is no doubt the most difficult.

At a professional conference last week, I struck up a conversation with another journalist who was also a runner.

“Sometimes when I reach that second mile I ask myself — why I am doing this?” she said. “But when I finish the run, I feel awesome.”

I had a similar experience several years ago when my granddaughter challenged me to run a 5K  — something I had never done.

I started training on weekends with a brisk two-mile walk; then I progressed to a walk-run routine. Two months later I finished the 5K with a time of 42.1 minutes — the best in my age bracket. Completing a 5K was an awesome accomplishment for me — and one that literally started with a single step.

Also based on the single-step concept, the coalition’s Spring into Health program begins with participants visiting James River State Park, the Beulah M. Wiley Fitness Center, High Bridge Trail, Farmville Community Marketplace and the Extension’s Family Nutrition Program Community Garden.

“This program is to help people get connected,” program organizer Caitlin Miller said. “In this region our adult obesity rate is one-third of the population.”

The Healthy Eating and Active Living program is an important first step for our community. The coalition’s acronym says it all: HEAL.

Marge Swayne is the lifestyles editor of The Farmville Herald. Her email address is marge.swayne@farmvilleherald.com.