Cathy and Gerardo Ligsay always try to improve their health where they can. A nurse at Frederick Health Hospital, a LiveWell Frederick partner, Cathy never shies away from a health challenge. She and Gerardo would count calories or increase their steps, but then the holidays would tempt them, or they’d lose steam and start to gain the weight back. They’d diet or exercise for days then eventually return to old, unhealthy habits.
Nothing stuck—until the Healthy Habits Reset Challenge earlier this year.
The Healthy Habits Reset Challenge followed our 5-2-1-0 program. It motivated participants to reach their nutrition and fitness goals in the new year. It was all about incorporating small healthy habits that enhance health and wellness. Not a fad diet or 21-day challenge, it focused on adding elements of a healthy lifestyle into your daily routine until it becomes the norm.
The challenge couldn’t have come at a better time. Gerardo had just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Something had to change.
Before the challenge, the Ligsays often went back for second helpings, sweets, and desserts. They’d keep a stash of Ho Hos or Little Debbie cakes “in case of emergency” in the pantry. Gerardo, now retired, would dine out at least twice a week.
But during the challenge, the Thurmont couple married for 39 years, flipped the script.
They became more aware of portion control. They read their food labels and took their time at the grocery store. They never felt deprived, just opted for healthier options instead. They chose nutritious snacks like apples, strawberries, and yogurt over junk food.
To avoid temptations, they stuck to the outer aisles of the grocery store only, where fresh produce, meats, and dairy are found. They ate more salads, getting creative with different toppings like fruit. “If you have that, you don’t need salad dressing because you get that sweetness from the fruit,” Cathy says.
Gerardo continued to monitor his blood pressure levels. Within the first week of the challenge, his numbers had already started to drop. Within two weeks, his blood pressure normalized completely. To date, he’s lost 12 pounds and Cathy 9. “And we’re not even really trying,” Cathy says. “We don’t consider this a diet. It’s healthier lifestyle choices.”
They limited their TV time and started walking—a lot. They went outside when they could, but with the cold weather, they often walked a figure-8 around their living and dining room. Whatever they could to get that 1 hour or more of physical activity in each day. They even got their sons and grandchildren involved. Their 6-year-old grandchild couldn’t wait to show Cathy the sit-ups and push-ups he learned.
Most importantly, they held each other accountable. “I’m proud of him especially,” Cathy says. “He’s always wanted seconds. He’s never followed typical portions, but he’s doing that now, and he’s satisfied.”
The challenge ended, but their healthy habits have not. They continue to follow the 5-2-1-0 program—and continue to see the rewards. They have more energy, more stamina. They’re saving on their grocery bills because they’re eating smaller portions and buying less expensive yet healthy foods. Gerardo goes back for bloodwork at the end of May, and Cathy is excited to see his progress.
“I know people want a quick fix, but good health is long term,” Cathy says. “It wasn’t hard. If you make healthy choices by just walking or adding steps and staying on the outskirts of the grocery store, you’ll feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment with what you can achieve. Don’t give up.”
“We just want everyone to live their best life.”
Stay tuned for our next LiveWell Frederick challenge!