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Hagerstown Y Rat up to fitness challenge

October 22, 2007|By JANET HEIM

Tillie McCoy of Hagerstown is dedicated to exercise. She can be seen at the Hagerstown YMCA just about every day of the week.

"Actually, I don't want to use the word 'addiction,' but I hate the days the Y is closed," McCoy said.

Even so, McCoy, 60, knew there were other things she could be doing to improve her health. That's why she signed up for the Health for Every Body Challenge, a six-week campaign organized by the Nutrition & Physical Activity Partnership of Washington County.

The challenge began Oct. 1 and ends Nov. 11.

McCoy serves as the captain for her team of seven members ? which includes her husband and daughter ? who call themselves The Flab-ulous Y Rats. They are one of 99 teams in the county, three of them Y teams.

The challenge has three focuses ? eat more fruit and vegetables, get more physical activity and drink more water. Each team earns points by doing these things, and the results are posted each week.

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The team with the highest points for the week gets a bushel of fruit as a reward, McCoy said.

The challenge's Web site ? www.healthywashcomd.com ? has information about the challenge, plus a link to the federal government Web site that has information about the food pyramid, nutrition and healthy lifestyles.

McCoy said she was surprised to learn through the government Web site that for her age, weight and activity level, she could eat 2,000 calories a day and still lose weight gradually.

The goal of the challenge was to educate local residents about simple lifestyle changes they could make to improve their health. There are no weigh-ins, although several of McCoy's teammates would like to lose a few pounds.

McCoy said she has lost one pound in two weeks, just by drinking the 64 ounces of water recommended daily, eating 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables daily, and exercising at least 30 minutes a day.

She said that might not seem like much to most people, but that by making small changes, the results can add up over time.

The hardest thing for McCoy has been drinking the amount of water required. She drinks four 16-ounce containers of water a day and said the first two go down pretty easy, the third one is OK, but the fourth one is tough.

"I just didn't realize how much water was involved," McCoy said with a laugh.

She said her two-diet-sodas-a-day habit is down to four ounces a day because "there's only so much you can drink in one day." McCoy said she's eating fewer simple carbohydrates now that she's paying attention to the amount of fruit and vegetables she's eating.

Another teammate struggles to get the necessary vegetables, but by encouraging each other, the team is doing well with the challenge. McCoy said she checks in with teammates when she's at the Y or e-mails them.

"I think we're all in it for the fun. I think this is something we'll incorporate in our lifestyle," McCoy said.

The Hagerstown native has one daughter and three grandchildren. Besides exercising, McCoy said her favorite pastimes are reading and gardening.

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