Residents get fit on the bluff with Humana

Published 12:02 am Sunday, May 17, 2015

NATCHEZFive Natchez-Adams County residents were recognized Saturday on the Natchez bluff during a citywide health and fitness event.

Humana Inc. hosted a community-wide “Fit for Life” event Saturday to kick off the Clinton Health Matters Initiative’s goals to work toward improving the health of locals by 20 percent by 2020.

It was at this event where Natchez residents Bobby and Daphne Turner, Robert Pernell, Larry Andrews Sr. and Helen Brooks unveiled their giant, painted murals, which told the story of their journey to better health.

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Natchez resident Karlee Coldiron, who also had a mural, was not able to attend the event.

Pernell, who is a consultant, stood side-by-side a slightly taller image of himself with pride as he defeated Type 2 Diabetes.

“I’m blessed that I can say I’m diabetes free today,” Pernell said.

He said that diet, exercise and motivation from his adult daughters helped him overcome diabetes.

“The defining moment for me was my daughters telling me I need to get healthy,” Pernell said.  “Once I got started it became very easy.”

Brooks, who runs the Natchez Farmers Market, works for Alcorn State University’s extension program. The extension program  developed a plan three years ago to combat obesity.

Brooks said the health and wellness program has three components — community garden, nutrition and physical fitness.

But now Brooks has decided to practice what she preaches.

“I’m working towards eliminating pre-diabetes and high blood pressure,” Brooks said. “I’m exercising and more health conscious now.”

Brooks said she was honored to have a mural created for not only the work she has done, but for the work of the Alcorn Extension Program.

“It’s somebody in our life that we want to be around for,” Brooks said. “A lot of parents say they want to be around for their grandkids. But we don’t realize our kids want us around too, our friends want us around longer.”

After being laid off from his job as a physical therapy technician after 17 years, Andrews found his calling as a personal trainer at Total Fitness.

After Andrews unveiled his mural to those in attendance, he took to the center of the Natchez bluff to get everyone exercising, and it didn’t take long before everyone started exercising and doing what Andrews instructed.

Andrews gave a demonstration on how to strengthen the shoulders and the proper way to perform squats.

“I’m open to knowledge and one of my philosophies is that I realize every man knows something that I don’t know — therefore every man is my teacher. So I absorb it, and share it as I go.”

Bobby and Daphne Turner said they both have come along way in terms of heath.

Just 12 years ago, Bobby weighed 406 pounds. It was one picture of Bobby with three of his young sons on a carriage ride that woke him up to his weight problems. The carriage in the photo was leaning over due to his weight.

Through hard work and weight loss surgery, he began to regain his health.

Bobby’s weight is now down to approximately 200 pounds.

“My health journey has been great,” Bobby said. “But it’s because I had a lot of support around me. However, it’s not easy. I still love to eat. You can get new friends and don’t drink or do drugs but if you go to church and get saved the first thing they are going to do is feed you.”

Bobby and Daphne are the owners of Natchez Total Fitness.

Natchez Mayor Butch Brown was in attendance and spoke before the murals were unveiled.

“We are a smaller, manageable community,” Brown said. “But we have the demographics that suit the program very well. That is why we are all here today.”

Brown said the people of Natchez-Adams County could make an impact on their health.

“We want to complete the mission and the charge of eliminating or improving or wellness as a community in five years by 20 percent,” Brown said. “But I don’t know why that number is so low. If we are going to get involved and push the program, why not make the community 50 percent healthier.”