Get to Know: Louise Hughes
                            Louiuse 2
Wife, mother of five, and grandmother to 17 beloved grandchildren, Firestone resident Louise Hughes is also one of the most refreshing, positive, and delightful people you may ever have opportunity to meet. Speaking with her, it’s impossible not to be buoyed up by her enthusiasm and gratitude for life and all it offers, or her resilient, positive energy. She is a true role model, inspiring others in achieving big goals through steadfast commitment and sensible choices that build a healthy lifestyle. THANK YOU, Louise, for sharing your journey with us!
LWL: Louise, you've experienced great success in working toward and maintaining your weight loss and healthy living goals. Congratulations on all you've accomplished so far and continue to strive for! What first motivated you to get started?
Louise: My inspiration first came back in 2006, when my husband and I took a trip to Hawaii and wanted to ride the helicopter. There was a weight limit. I knew I was overweight, but avoided scales because I didn't really want to know the extent. We went to the health club, and I weighed 286 pounds. That was the moment I realized my weight was holding me back from doing things I wanted to do. I have a goal of taking another trip to Hawaii one day...and riding that helicopter!
LWL: Once that moment on the scales hit you, you immediately took action steps. You had some hurdles, but ultimately found a course of action that works for you, sustainable for the long haul. Can you share what the process of discovery has been like?
Louise: I came home and started tracking food and watching calories. For awhile I became an exercise fanatic; I went to the gym everyday for 2 hours a day. I lost 70 pounds, but then I started having back issues--I stopped exercising, and weight started coming back on. Later I had back surgery, and a new lease on life. But, I had lingering spine issues. I knew I needed to find a new way to be healthy. I could not rely on exercise only, and I needed more balance in my approach. I needed a healthy lifestyle that incorporated changes on different levels. 
In the spring of 2013 I went to the doctor, who advised me to lose weight. I started Sue Heikkinen's class, Healthy Connections through Kaiser, on May 29, 2013. It's an 8-week long class. At the beginning, Sue guided us in setting manageable goals. I lost 20 pounds, meeting my initial goal. Since then, in the last year and a half, I’ve steadily and sensibly lost weight. It’s not fast, and it’s not a diet--that’s what I love. It’s a lifestyle. I feel so much more energetic. I still have some weight to lose, but I know what I’m doing now. I think I have inspired a few others in the class, too, which feels great. At almost 60, I fear I’ve cheated myself out of a few things having been overweight so long, but I am enjoying life so immensely now.
LWL: Your joy is infectious! What are some of the activities and daily routines that you find fit you best, and do you have any special advice for others seeking to find what works for them?
Louise: Because of back issues, I’ve taken up bike riding--that’s my thing. I love the fact that there are safe and scenic bike paths out here that we can use to stay out of traffic. I don’t need to go longer, I just need to intensify. I go for about an hour and feel satisfied. I go at least 5 days a week. Everyone has a limitation. I’ve learned to work with my limitations and improve. My advice: find what you enjoy and do it consistently.
LWL: You are so motivated. What keeps you motivated best?
Louise: My family, and being able to share with them. There are so many things I couldn't do before that I now love to do with them.
LWL: You mentioned you have had some challenges along the way. What was that like, and how have you coped?
Louise: There have been challenging times. There was a period where I had whooping cough, then a cruise with my husband, and many other things come up, for example. However, I was able to maintain. And now I have confidence, knowing that I am capable of maintaining even in the face of adversity. What could have been a downer became a success. The positive mindset that comes from that is key to facing challenges when they come up.
LWL: What are some things you do to help prioritizing healthy eating and active living?
Louise: My husband tells me I can't go a day without a honey crisp apple and a cup of grapes. I love getting acquainted with good food. Starting to chart my food was so helpful for me. It gave me accountability. I also have my own garden. We love eating our own tomatoes, with a little balsamic vinegar. We also have all kinds of squash, through fall and winter. 
I do love a good slice of carrot cake on occasion. On the first class with Sue, she told us, "This is not a diet. You should be able to eat anything and everything in moderation." That's what I love. It's so rewarding for me to know that I can just be normal, while doing what I need to do for me. 
From Louise's Kitchen:
Chicken salad
  • 2 12.5-ounce cans white chicken, drained and rinsed 
  • 6 tablespoons light mayonnaise 
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard 
  • 2 stalks of chopped celery 
  • 2 dashes of celery salt 
  • 2 medium honey crisp apples, chopped with skin on 
  • 2 cups of grapes 
Toss all ingredients together. Serve on a bed of lettuce.
*Yields 13 1/2-cup servings at 74 calories each.