Grand Strand residents Will Merriman, 18, and Ross Haglar, 77, prove the axiom that it is never too early or too late in life for exercise.
Both credit Liz Reighard, certified fitness trainer and nutrition maven who works out of the North Myrtle Beach Aquatic and Fitness Center, as giving them help in their continuing efforts to stay fit.
We can exercise daily, but without good nutrition to go along with it, we wont be as healthy as we can be, Reighard said.
Merriman, a senior at North Myrtle Beach High School, has been exercising regularly since he was 11.
I started a regular program of exercise to combat weight problems, he said. We were living in Rocky Mount, N.C., at the time. My dad took me to the gym on a regular basis. We moved to North Myrtle Beach when I was in seventh grade. My dad and I joined the gym here to continue to exercise. I really started to get serious (about health) in ninth grade when I began to combine good nutrition with exercise. I recommend going to a gym because there are so many options presented to you.
Merrimans favorite kinds of exercise are working with weights and strength training.
You need someone to show you the right way to do those, working abs, jump training and others, he said.
Another reason Merriman likes the gym is that he meets other people there who are interested in fitness, like Reighard, who share tips with him.
We met when I was in the ninth grade. She gives me health and diet and exercise tips and she has been a really good friend to help me out, Merriman said.
Although his father cant go with him to the gym as often anymore, and his buddies do not often accompany him, Merriman sticks to his program.
Even with my schedule of high school sports and studies, I try to exercise. I sometimes go at 5:30 in the morning or after school.
He explains that sticking to an exercise program is not a struggle for him because I love all kinds of exercise. Its all exciting, including stretching, which is great for flexibility.
Classes dont fit into his schedule right now, but he does take classes when he can.
I do stretching three times a week in the summer, he said.
Fitness is more than just a personal objective for Merriman. He wants to share the gospel of training and good nutrition with others.
I just gave a presentation at school on the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. If you are healthy you do yourself a favor and others. People take more notice of you and you are more confident. You will live longer and life will be easier for you.
He adds, My own diet is pretty strict 3,500 calories a day of lean proteins good carbs and low fat. I do have a couple of cheat meals each week.
He favors the hibachi buffet for his cheat meal opting for protein over junk.
I am a teen and I do eat but I do not eat junk food, he said. I try to eat healthy and exercise to stay healthy. Sports are not enough. I work out all the time to stay healthy. I want to be in good condition when I am older. I want to live a healthy lifestyle.
Haglar would certainly agree. At 77, he is healthy and fit and recently completed the NMBAFC Smallest Winner Program.
Haglar began fitness training right after college.
Over the years, there were times I had little time to exercise, but I got back to it as soon as I could, he said.
Throughout his working life he has belonged to gyms. In his last position before retiring to North Myrtle Beach, Haglar, as Chief of Police in Kinston, N.C., instituted a fitness program in cooperation with a local college for police and fire department employees to use the colleges gym facilities.
Haglar and his wife, Dorothy, have lived in Cherry Grove since 1991. Haglar likes the discipline of going to the gym and the range of equipment available there. Exercise is a quality of life issue for Haglar.
When you are over 70, exercise is important to keeping life good as you age. I just feel my body needs it, he said. If I dont work out, I dont feel good. I start having aches and pains. Exercise helps with mental sharpness, too.
In January, he enjoyed the challenge of the gyms Smallest Winner Program, a six-week exercise and nutrition program that anyone can join. Haglar wanted to jump-start his usual routine and lose a bit of stubborn weight.
He met Reighard through the program.
Liz (Reighard) is very good with nutrition. When you are working for weight loss, nutrition is as important as exercise.
The (Smallest Winner) teams enjoy working out together because they have each other to encourage them during the difficult times ahead, added Reighard. The purpose of the program is to have a little fun while teaching clients to change their lifestyle permanently to live life to the fullest without having to worry about their health keeping them from being all that they can be.
Although Haglar favors a gym, he feels exercise is important no matter what it is. Walking, house work garden work whatever you like. The important thing is to do something you like. Dont start doing something you will not stick with it. You need to do it on a regular basis for it to have any benefit there are lots of studies on that.
Reighards own experience echoes those of Haglar and Merriman. She shares her own story with clients and friends at North Myrtle Beach Aquatic and Fitness Center to inspire them, especially in the Smallest Winner program.
Reighard stresses that she is a certified personal trainer, not a nutritionist, so she does not create personal diet programs for clients or friends. She simply makes them aware of good diet and nutrition habits.
I exercised for many years but didnt lose that additional 10 pounds I needed to lose or keep it off because I didnt understand how important protein was to repair my muscles after workouts, keep me feeling full and not be a slave to my cravings. The information I give to clients is readily available in the U.S. governments Food Pyramid and on the newer My Plate website. I refer people to these along with the website www.myfitnesspal.com so they can track their (food intake) daily, Reighard said.
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