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Carla SimonEditor’s Note: The following is a guest blog post by Carla Simon who has competed in Special Olympics for six years. She is also on the Special Olympics Arizona Athlete Input Council.

Hi, my name is Carla Simon, and I am competing at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games in New Jersey in less than a month. Throughout the year, I compete in Special Olympics in 11 different sports. About a year and a half ago I started getting more involved with Healthy Communities through Special Olympics Arizona and learned some good nutrition tips from my coaches and the volunteers and how to stay healthy as I began my training for USA Games.

My coach said in order for us to do our best, we should try to eat healthy and maintain a good weight. This is what got me inspired. Now I am down to 150 pounds from 192, so I have lost more than 40 pounds since I started receiving the health advice my USA Games’ coach gave me.

Because of losing the weight, it has brought some good changes to my endurance and how I perform on the sports stage. I now am able to run 1,500 meters, something I never was able to do before in the six years of competing in Special Olympics. In addition to completing my first 1,500 meter run, I now can finish faster in 5K races than I did last year. Last year it took me 45 minutes to finish a 5K race but now since I lost the weight, I can finish in 38 minutes and now can play 10 minutes on the basketball court without getting tired too. Losing the weight has really helped and it makes me feel happier in the end too.

Thank you, Special Olympics, and all of the volunteers involved with Healthy Athletes [an event-based program] and Healthy Communities [a new year-round initiative focused on health and wellness] for all of your encouragement and help along the way. You have helped me gain confidence and want to work harder at what I do. The way I lost these 40 pounds is because I started eating only two big meals a day versus three. My style of losing weight is: you can still enjoy the foods you love but you just have to portion them out the right way.

I would like to encourage more athletes to improve their health. In sports, it takes dedication, a positive attitude and encouragement from others. Getting involved in the Healthy Athletes clinics also helps because you can get advice from the doctors on how to stay positive before a race and healthy tips before a race or competition.

Carla’s story is a great example of an Athlete Health Corner. If you are an athlete and would like to share healthy tips, please contact Renee Dease at rdease@specialolympics.org. Learn more about the Athlete Health Corner.

2 thoughts on “How Healthy Communities Improved My Health and Nutrition Habits

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