These four Fitness Ambassadors have dedicated themselves to living healthier lives while motivating those around them to do the same. They aim to inspire individuals to make lifestyle changes that will allow them to live healthy and happy lives.
Patrick Schweri, Muskegon County
After watching his father pass away from congestive heart failure, Patrick Schweri decided that it was time for a change. He needed to change his life, for himself and his family. Patrick started working out and outside from the regular aches, pains and hurdles that many individuals have to overcome when trying to make a lifestyle change, he had to deal with something else—Crohn’s disease.
Patrick had 1/3 of his lower intestine removed due to Crohns’s disease. Crohn’s disease affects his intestines and bowels which makes running and training a hassle because of dietary restrictions. It also causes aches and pains in various muscles and joints. But Patrick made a commitment to overcome all of these obstacles. He began running and hasn’t stopped. Since he made his pledge, he has completed countless 5Ks, a trail marathon and is currently training for a second marathon. At 40, he urges anyone who wants to make a lifestyle change to go for it. “At any age, it doesn’t matter how young or old, you can always take control of your health if you put your mind to it,” said Patrick. It’s never too late to change your life and improve your health and lifestyle. I ran my first marathon at 39 years old.”
Patrick can now say that running is lifestyle for him and he’s made the changes he wanted to make for himself and those around him. He believes that anyone willing can make the changes to live a healthier life. He is glad that he was able to set a healthy example for his children who often run 5k’s with him and his wife who started running this past year and credits him as her largest influence.
“You don’t have to be the best or the fastest,” said Patrick. “You just need to get out there. Finishing is the goal, but you can’t finish if you never start.”
Shawn Wrathell, Ingham County
In June 2011, Shawn Wrathell of Ingham County made the decision to change his life for the better. Weighing in at over 300 pounds, Shawn knew that his weight was unhealthy and would eventually cause lifelong problems. He started off running short distances and by September of 2011 completed his first 5K.
Down 85 pounds, Shawn believes that running has changed his life for the better. He admits that overcoming the tough physical and mental challenges was not easy, but worth it. “It was a tough mental game to keep going and to stay active when I was overweight,” said Shawn. “But eventually the weight started to fall off and activity became much easier. I am now so much happier and healthier than ever before and love every minute I can spend being active and outside.”
Shawn has participated in many 5k and 10k races, ran the Lansing Half Marathon this past April, and recently completed a Warrior Dash. Serving as an inspiration to friends, family and co-workers, his commitment spans beyond himself. He currently works for the Human Resources Department at MSU Federal Credit Union, where he facilitates the employee wellness program, CU Healthy. Through his role he encourages a culture of wellness and motivates individuals to make a commitment to their own health by building healthy habits into their daily routine. After obtaining his weight loss goal, Shawn is still committed to being active. He encourages anyone that wants to lose weight, become healthier or just live a more physically fit life to overcome the mental and physical challenge and just do it.
“It may be challenging at first, but you can do it,” said Shawn. “Just get out there, start moving, and stay with it. You’ll get there if you put your mind to it.”
Katrina Smith, Oakland County
As a member of the Michigan Air National Guard, Katrina Smith is no stranger to hard work as it is a part of her daily work, but in 2007 she decided to take on another challenge—weight loss. Katrina wanted to lose weight and she knew it wouldn’t be easy, but she was prepared to work hard and accomplish her goal no matter how challenging it turned out to be, and she did. Katrina chose running as her primary exercise in her weight loss journey and it changed her life.
Katrina lost the weight and gained a healthier, happier life. Running has become her outlet to relieve stress and gain clarity. Now, as a personal trainer, Katrina helps others in their weight loss journey by introducing them to running on a variety of platforms from long distance to interval training.
“Running is a great way to challenge your body,” said Katrina. “It is important to keep active but even more important to have variety in your workout, so that it doesn’t get boring.”
Katrina is currently training for a marathon and with her busy schedule as a member of the Michigan Air National Guard, physical education teacher, and personal trainer she advises anyone who thinks they’re ‘too busy’ to think again.
“I have overcome the giant barrier of being busy and tired in order to become active,” said Katrina. “I had graduate studies, flight training and work but I still found time exercise. It wasn’t easy and it won’t be easy but it will be worth it.”
Joseph Pyszora, Ogemaw County
As a dedicated father of two, Joseph Pyszora wanted to change his life for his children. The saying, ‘lead by example’, rings true for Joseph as he made a decision to lose weight and change his life to show his children the importance of setting and accomplishing goals.
“I wanted to teach my kids how important it is to set goals, stick to them, and accomplish them,” said Joseph.
His goal was to lose weight and he accomplished that by becoming active and running daily. Since his weight loss, Joseph has completed multiple 5K races and a half marathon. Running has given him more energy and the boost he needs to keep up with his two sons. Keeping up with two toddlers is hard work, but even harder when they’ve become avid runners too! His eldest son, age 9, has been completing 5K races since age 7 and aspires to “be a runner just like daddy”. His wife and youngest son, age 3, were inspired by Joseph’s dedication and started walking in 5K races.
Joseph advises all runners and aspiring runners to do one thing, keep running!
“If its one thing that I’ve learned from running is to just keep going,” said Joseph. “Don’t give up. My children run races now and they don’t always win, but I teach them that finishing, not winning, is its own reward. ”