Setting and keeping personal goals can actually affect an individual’s happiness. The only difference between those who achieve their goals and those who don’t is the way they live each day.

Brownwood’s Get Healthy Challenge is a team-oriented approach with a simple, but important, goal — to help the population improve its health through weight loss. The 9-week program will provide participants with opportunities to learn more about proper nutrition and exercise, to meet people with similar exercise interests and hopefully, say organizers, to help start building a foundation of healthier living.

“Positive change is often necessary to live a long, healthy and happy life,” Laura Lewis said. Lewis is a nutritionist and author of the book “52 Ways to a Healthy You.”

“Changes can improve your health, help you live longer, look younger, feel better, boost your energy, get leaner and most importantly, be happier than you have in years,” Lewis writes.

The Get Healthy Challenge is open to teams made up of three to eight people. Each team will report its combined weight weekly, and e-mail updates will be sent to all participants. At the end of nine weeks, the team with the highest average weight loss will win various prizes. During the challenge there will be several programs offered that focus on proper diets and nutrition, exercise and healthy living in general. There is no cost to participate. The program is sponsored by Brownwood Regional Medical Center and the City of Brownwood.

To kick off the event, a come-and-go informational meeting will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Adams Street Community Center. Teams will register at the meeting and information about different exercise groups will be available. Pre-registration forms and additional information are available by calling 649-3391. At the meeting, participants will receive a card that will allow them to receive discounts at many area businesses.

Among the businesses offering discounts are Humphrey Pete’s, Chik-fil-A, The Turtle, Underwood’s, Fit By Faith and The Brownwood Regional Medical Center Fitness Zone. The hospital’s nutrition staff will hold four diet-related meetings addressing topics such as “Trimming fats from your diet” and “Myths about fads and supplements.”

“We really hope the team approach will motivate people to participate with friends or co-workers, and also take away some of the intimidation factor that some people might feel,” Reed Smith, marketing director at BRMC, said. He encouraged anyone who is interested in organizing a group for activities such as tennis, walking, jogging, swimming or cycling to call him.

Based on her new book, Lewis offers readers 52 tips to get on track and live a happier, healthier life. Here are several of her favorites:

Create a Little Resistance — One of the easiest ways to keep our metabolism revved is to improve heart and lung health and keep bones strong through resistance exercise. Resistance exercise, or weight training, can increase energy levels and simultaneously increase lean muscle mass. Great examples of resistance exercise include incorporating elastic resistance bands or free weights into workouts two to three times weekly. Make Yourself Feel Good — Get yourself in that space of just plain feeling great. You could have all the tools before you, but if you don’t feel good about yourself, about life in general, you won’t be motivated to change. Watch funny videos, feed the ducks or get rid of negative people and negative thoughts. Get Those ZZZ’s — Short-lived bouts of insomnia are usually nothing to worry about, but chronic sleep loss can contribute to health problems. Not getting enough sleep can affect metabolism, mood, cardiovascular health and the body’s ability to learn and retain information. If you are having problems sleeping, avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before bedtime and if you don’t fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes after lying down, get up and do something relaxing. Be Balanced — If your goal is optimal health and longevity, it’s best to take things gradually. By balancing the addition of each new lifestyle habit, you can increase the chances of long-term life changes, and feel less overwhelmed in the process. As you take on each new change, focus on how great you look and feel as a result, not only a few weeks from now, but also years down the line.

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