Practicing What She Preaches
This is the time of New Year's Resolutions and, at the top of most lists, is the vow to: 1) exercise more; 2) lose weight; 3) or just feel healthier!
These are not, however, among the resolutions of Elizabeth Huggins, Diabetes Education Coordinator for the Hilton Head Hospital, because those goals would be redundant. A petite and vivacious redhead, Elizabeth has always valued a healthy way of life, as second-nature as breathing, because a lifestyle of eating nutritiously and staying active has become habitual for her.
A southern girl all her life, Elizabeth received her bachelor's degree at University of Texas at Austin and later attended the University of Florida, where she received a Masters of Exercise and Sports Science. She laughs that this season she's been fortunate to root for two winning college football teams, with Texas soon headed to the Rose Bowl Championship!
In fact, when at University of Texas, Elizabeth was a cheerleader; and of course, given her diminutive size, she was a "flyer," one of the girls who was thrown in the air. In addition to her slight frame, many years of gymnastics training in high school didn't hurt either!
While visiting Hilton Head the summer after graduating from UT, Elizabeth met her future husband Kert Huggins. They have a vibrant eight-year old daughter who is a "mini-Elizabeth," shiny red hair and all, named Laura. Also a gymnast, she takes classes at Island Gymnastics where her mom helps coach.
At the hospital, Elizabeth specializes in counseling diabetic patients, as well as people who are at risk. "It is so much easier to prevent a number of health issues by making a long-term commitment to eating right and working out; doing what you can."
Not a fan of quick-fix or drastic diets, Elizabeth tailors her nutritional advice to the individual- their current fitness level and personality-but she recommends to anyone some steps which can be taken toward a healthier life. "The most important thing in being successful at healthy eating and exercise is to make gradual changes that you can live with, slowly and steadily, until they become a habit.
"I counsel people to plan ahead. Pinpoint the things that could trip you up, and try to avoid that pitfall with an alternate plan. And also, know it's not all or nothing. If you have an "off" day and make some not-so-great choices, you can start again tomorrow."
Elizabeth stresses the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle. "For some people that can be biking or jogging, for others, it might mean doing water therapy. But any amount is beneficial. Exercise doesn't have to happen an hour each day. In fact, very few people can make that level of commitment and stick to it. It's better to set realistic goals."
About five months ago, Elizabeth was in a serious car accident, when a driver blindly crossed three lanes and rammed her car in the side, rolling it several times. Thankfully, Elizabeth had her seatbelt on, and escaped the wreckage with only a large bump on the head. This experience had an impact, though, underscoring her commitment to enjoying life, and a life well-lived at that.
Elizabeth's favorite quote is from G.K. Chesterton: "The way to love anything is to realize it might be lost." She says, "This really applies to every aspect of life -- from relationships to wellness." Even more than before the accident, Elizabeth never takes for granted the gift of health. "It's a gift I'm happy to share with others, teaching them how to write a roadmap for their own success story."
Hometown: Edinburg, Texas
Moved to Hilton Head in: 1991
Favorite Go-To Snack: Cold, crisp apple with peanut butter
Happiest Weekend Activity: Spending time outdoors with family..hiking on Pinckney Island, biking, anything outside
Something Someone Might Be Surprised to Learn
About You: I'm an adrenaline junkie! I tried skydiving and loved it!!
Guilty Pleasure: Getting a backrub from my husband without immediately reciprocating
Music to My Ears: Tickling my daughter and hearing