January 2015Denise Jonathan’s father had a heart attack at 43. There’s also a family history of diabetes and high blood pressure. It’s what motivates her to run in half-marathons, work out daily and eat healthy. She also draws inspiration from others.
How do you stay so fit?
I’m a runner. I mainly do half-marathons. I do two per year and usually they are in October and January. I always run in the Houston Chevron in January as long as I’m elected through the lottery, and I’ll either do the Sugar Land half-marathon or another one. This year, I’m running in the Luke’s Locker Houston half-marathon.
I was a track/cross-country runner in high school. I enjoy it because that’s my quiet time. You can’t read emails and answer phone calls while you’re doing it, so it’s my time. It’s spiritual as well. Having “me time” is important.
What inspires you to be so active?
My family has diabetes and hypertension – my dad had a heart attack at 43. So this is my way of preventing it for as long as I can.
What are some of your challenges?
It’s just making time. After a long day, it can be tough to get out there, especially when it’s hot. But that’s when I get up an hour earlier and run before I go to work to avoid that as an excuse for not doing it.
You started the FitClub at the Kelsey Administrative Offices. What do you get out of it besides getting your own workout in?
I think I’m making a difference in people’s lives. I’m providing that motivation that they need to get started and maintain it. And I’m creating new friendships. I’ve met people from all over the building who I would have never worked with before. It’s nice!
How can someone just starting out break down the barriers to getting healthier?
I set a lot of goals. I’m an overachiever. I take it hard when I don’t hit a goal that I want so then I push even harder to make it the next time. Keep the goals coming. As soon as you don’t have any goals, it’s easy to just stop.
What other advice do you have for others?
I recommend simple things. For instance, a lot of us sit at a desk all day. Just standing up while you’re working helps. Or, use some light weights while on the phone. Take the stairs instead of the elevator – stop and rest if you have to, but keep going.
Start with little steps. It doesn’t take one giant step to make a difference. It’s a lot of little steps. Start with 10 minutes a day of walking. The next week, do 10 minutes a little faster. Pump your arms while you’re doing that walk. The next week, increase to 15 minutes. Before you know it, you’re walking 30 minutes a day at a fast pace. It may have taken you three months to get there – but you’re there!
How can others eat healthier?
It’s all about watching portion sizes, eating lean meats and seafood, fruits and vegetables, and cutting back on sweets. But treat yourself occasionally when you’ve met a goal. It’s not about never eating something; it’s about making healthier choices.
Any last words of wisdom or encouragement?
You’ll hit plateaus. Don’t give up! When you think about quitting, remember why you got started. If you do that constantly, you’ll make the time for it.