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Jerry Hayes’ new health journey takes him to the gym

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - For nearly a month now, Greg Screws and I have kicked it into high gear when it comes to living healthier lifestyles. We’re changing our eating habits and are focused on working out. We’re early in the journey, but we both needed to make some changes. And to be honest, I’m enjoying being back in a gym.

Todd Ziegler is a Huntsville Hospital Wellness Center personal trainer. He’s working with me for the next three months to make sure I’m on the road to a better and healthier me. The first day we met, my blood pressure was a little high. “As your weight drops, as your physical level increases, hopefully, we can get you off that blood pressure medication,” Todd told me.

But before we hit the gym, we take some body measurements, including chest, waist, hips, thighs, calves and biceps. While videojournalist Gregg Stone documents my consultation for TV, Todd jokingly told me, Show your guns.” I remarked, “Right now derringers but they’re going to be .45's soon.”

They also hooked me up to a machine to measure my BMI or body mass index. My body fat should be about 25. It's 32.6. So, I have some work to do to lower my risk of cardiovascular disease. I'll do that through losing weight and becoming more active. It’s time to hit the gym for a slow workout.

After seven minutes on the treadmill, we headed to the weight machines. We're not going for a touchdown on the first day. Todd made it clear, “You’re the boss. You’re going to tell me this feels good. This doesn't feel good.” We're just trying to make first downs.

“Once we get in our normal training sessions, we’ll start to move faster,” Todd told me. The goal is to start slow but Todd promised the workouts will get tougher. We hit several different machines to work everything from legs to abs and finished with some free weights. I made the comment, “Biceps just gained a quarter of an inch.” That got a laugh out of both of us.

When we wrapped up our initial session, he told me, “In the big picture you have a decent exercise history. You’re going to do okay with exercise. Don’t worry about that. When it comes to the changing our nutritional habits or our diet or what we’re used to, that's a little bit more challenging.”

I’ll admit, the biggest challenge is going to be changing what I eat, when and how much. But I’m already working on that and I’ll share with you how that’s going in two weeks when you meet my nutritionist.