I wanted to feel better

by Rhonda Kelley

Holly Walsh is naturally a fitness inspiration to others with her “just do it” motto for exercise. A mention of her name in a room full of colleagues is accompanied by praise of how great she looks, how much weight she lost and kept off over time and admiration of her well-defined, toned arms.

Adopting the Nike slogan into her everyday life, Walsh exercises six days a week. At age 62, she is sticking with her workout plan because health and fitness is nothing short of a lifestyle commitment.

“I was always involved in exercise in my 20s 30s and 40s. I would start running for a couple months or join a club for a bit, and I would stop very sporadically and go back to my old habits,” Walsh said.

“When I turned 50, I wasn’t focused on losing weight, I wanted to feel better. When you don’t have the energy you had in the past, it causes you to open your eyes.”

Walsh, the executive director of Development for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, looked to Health Plus for a plan she could embrace more than 10 years ago. At the time, she traveled extensively for Vanderbilt and wanted a doable routine that was not overly aggressive.

“They sat down with me and created a plan that was very simple. We kept it to the basics and I started off with three days of exercise each week. I didn’t worry about diet at first but I kept working toward those goals and as I saw improvements, I wanted to do more,” Walsh said.

She shed 30 pounds and has kept it off.

Not a mystery

“I took their advice and 10 years later I am still taking their advice and I love it. Nothing I have done is a mystery, it’s just everything the fitness and wellness professionals tell you.”

Walsh’s love for exercise combines a mix of cardiovascular workouts, aerobics, yoga and weightlifting. One of her keys to success is that every Sunday she schedules her workouts throughout the week like business appointments. She sticks to her commitment and fits it in around her work hours in the mornings, during lunch, or immediately after work.

When she started seeing and feeling the rewards of her fitness routine, she wondered what the next benefit could be.

“I have a different attitude about everything, and feeling better motivated me. Weight loss, having more energy and sleeping better at night were the byproduct of the plan I worked on in my early 50s.”

Walsh knew she couldn’t continue to make progress and eat the same foods.

“Eating habits were never my original goal although I knew it would be a benefit. As I exercised more, I didn’t crave the high-fat foods,” Walsh said.

“That’s a constant battle. The eating I have to think about. I have my ups and downs, and then I get right back on track.”

Support is important

She is encouraged by the motivation of her supportive husband and children, who are also involved in fitness and understand the benefits of an active lifestyle. Family and friends notice her progress and comment on her journey, keeping her anxious to do more.

“They start remarking and that’s your motivator, you don’t want to let them down. How long have you been doing this? Kept your weight off? What’s your routine now? That’s a built-in support mechanism.”

For some people, it’s hard to start an exercise program and stick with it. Walsh recommends Health Plus to get started and support you through your journey.

“Start small—determine what you have time to do and what you would like to accomplish. Go to Health Plus. They will work with your schedule, and there are a variety of programs to fit everyone’s need. If you slip up, get back on track, put that behind you and start on the right foot the next day,” Walsh said.

“I have gotten to know the wonderful staff and I enjoy the camaraderie, it’s very welcoming. I appreciate the beautiful facility, we are so fortunate to have Health Plus as a free resource to employees at Vanderbilt.”

She lost weight, feels better and is overall healthier. However, she doesn’t slow down there; she has goals of increasing the intensity during her workouts, losing 5-6 pounds and incorporating more yoga into her workout schedule for increased flexibility.

It’s only fitting for Walsh—after all, when you “just do it,” you don’t stop.



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