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Lake Shore Couple Takes Top Prize in First Couples 100-Day Heart Challenge

Janet Frank




After losing a combined 62 pounds and dropping 474 points from their triglyceride levels, Marlene and Dennis Murray of Lake Shore are the winners of Utah Valley Heart & Vascular Services’ first Couples 100-Day Heart Challenge.

The Murrays entered the Heart Challenge as a way to begin a healthy lifestyle that would help ensure they were around in the future for their children. Dennis admitted he never thought they’d get picked to participate – and certainly never imagined they’d end up winning the 100-day competition. “Three of our kids laughed when we started saying, ‘Dad, you haven’t even mowed the lawn in 20 years,’” Dennis said.

Mary Kirkham and her daughter, Bonnie Marrow, both of Provo, took 2nd place in the Couples Heart Challenge while Ali and Matt Bawden, of Orem, captured 3rd place. Ten couples, age 30 and above, started the Intermountain-sponsored Challenge in the middle of February with the goal of improving each of the 12 factors that determine overall heart health. Personalized exercise and diet plans, weekly nutrition classes and weekly sessions with a trainer helped them achieve that goal.

“Improving your diet and getting regular exercise will decrease many of your risk factors for developing heart disease. Showing people how to do that is what the Heart Challenge is all about,” said Maria Black, APRN, administrative director for Cardiovascular Services.

Marlene Murray lost 35 pounds during the Challenge, the most weight lost by any participant. She also lost 5.2% in her body fat, dropped seven inches from her waist and lowered her total cholesterol from 186 to 152 and her pulse from 86 to 62. Dennis Murray improved his triglycerides from 472 to 105, dropped 6.5 inches from his waist and lost 27 pounds.

Dennis said the hardest part of the Challenge was the nutritional changes he had to make. “I’m a chef and I know what food needs to taste like. But healthy food can taste good too and it’s all about portion size and making better choices,” said Dennis. Getting herself to the gym was the hardest part of the Challenge for Marlene. However, once she was there, she said she really learned to love the exercise.

“It’s not just about me and Dennis. It’s about all of us and the great changes we’ve made. I’m so glad everyone was on the journey with us,” said Marlene.

This is the fourth 100-Day Heart Challenge, but the first one to include male and female participants and the first one designed for couples. The remaining couples are listed below:

  • Christi and Jeff Winters - Pleasant Grove Michelle Mendenhall and Betty Foster - Santaquin
  • Brittany Snow and Brenda Mathers – Orem Kendra Coral and Mary Halvorson - Springville
  •  Lisa and Brice Hutchings - American Fork Kathy and Eric Vorlage - Woodland Hills
  • Lana Herre and Christy Martensen - Orem

Most improved awards were given in each of the categories that were tested during the Challenge. Results are below:

  • Cholesterol: Michelle Mendenhall (203 to 156)
  • HDL level: Brenda Mathers (40 to 68)
  • LDL level: Michelle Mendenhall (123 to 80)
  • Triglycerides: Dennis Murray (472 to 105)
  • Glucose: Matt Bawden (203 to 141)
  • Blood pressure: Mary Kirkham (192/74 to 122/72)
  • Pulse: Kendra Coral (85 to 59 bpm)
  • % Body Fat: Bonnie Morrow (down 6.7%)
  • Waist Circ: Mary Kirkham (down 9 inches)
  • Weight loss: Marlene Murray (35 lbs)
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