SALT LAKE CITY — Deciding to become more active, eat for health, or lose some pounds can certainly seem like a daunting task. But, like so many challenges in life, the key is to take them one step at a time like the Abel family did.
Jeff and Holly Abel typically spend three hours on their Saturdays grocery shopping and preparing food for the week.
"Before, nothing was ready so we would just go out to eat, or pick up a pizza on the way," Jeff Abel said. "Eating is a big part of it. Probably 70 or 80 percent of having a healthy lifestyle is what you eat."
Their improved food preparation habits have whittled both of their bodies down and helped each of them to lose a large amount of weight.
"We kind of created our own convenience store right here," Jeff Abel said. "Now we can just pick something up quickly."
Holly Abel also has noticed how easy it was to make the transition in their eating habits because of preparation.
"It's really not that big of a production," she said. "It's kind of fun. Especially at the end when you have all of this food that is all chopped and ready to go and you think, 'Alright, I have choices now.' "
And choice is what their healthy lifestyle is all about. About one year ago, the Abels began a modified Paleo-lifestyle of eating. The menu is low carb, high protein, without refined sugars, grains or dairy.
The Paleo-lifestyle has been working well for Jeff and Holly, but they don't necessarily advocate just one particular style of eating. They say to see what works for you, and to stick with it. Holly Abel knows about the exhausting roller-coaster of being on and off diets.
"You get to a point where you just think, 'I'm not doing this anymore,'" Holly Abel said. "'I'm just going to sit here and be a fat person and watch my TV.' You just get so discouraged."
But with a couple small changes like taking the stairs and walking the dog, the Abels began to see results. And in 2013, Jeff and Holly plan to increase their exercise even more.
"We want to be fit," Holly said. "We want to be strong. We want to start seeing some muscle tone."
They began their commitment on New Year's Day by running a 5k race. The couple plans to continue working their way up to running in a 10k, and eventually a half marathon in July.
The Abels encourage others to take the steps to becoming more healthy as well.
"You can either live life feeling yucky and overweight and having medical problems that come from an unhealthy lifestyle or we can just say, 'Hey, I'm going to embrace this and I'm going to make a change,'" Holly Abel said. "Take charge. It's so empowering."