Firefighters' biggest challenge in the My Heart Challenge

By Jason M. Carlton, APR

It's not easy to change behaviors that have been established over many years. Cutting down on the Mountain Dews, finding motivation to exercise or taking the time to eat breakfast are some of the biggest challenges the 15 firefighters are facing in the 2014 My Heart Challenge.


A weekly report is submitted by the 15 firefighters each Monday, detailing their heart-healthy behaviors from the week. They report on number of minutes spent exercising (both cardio and strength training), the number of days they ate a heart-healthy diet and their current weight. But each contestant is also asked to share a short response to a very simple question. 

The most difficult behavior modification I have made so far has been...

"Not wavering from the diet, and not going out to eat with my crew at work. Also, finding motiviation to exercise during a busy day at work. Equally tough." - Kevin Platt, Firefighter/Paramedic, Sandy City Fire Department

"Cutting sugar and diet soda." - Scott White, Captain, Murray City Fire Department

"Going cold turkey on Mountain Dew and energy drinks." - David Larsen, Firefighter, South Salt Lake Fire Department

"I am trying very hard to limit my sugar intake. I still find that in the afternoon I get a craving for something sweet." - Karl Steadman, Battalion Chief, Salt Lake City Fire Department

"When I look at everything I am eating - including salt, spices, drinks, etc. - it all adds up! It's an amazing amount of calories, sodium, fat, etc. I didn't may much attention to this earlier, but now I do. It may take a little more time out of my day, but I know it will add time to my life and life-style." - Sharee Rosqvist, Firefighter/Paramedic, West Jordan Fire Department

"Trying to eat three meals a day and not skip breakfast when I get busy at work or at home. Not perfect at this, but getting better at it." Bruce Cline, Fire Chief, Sandy City Fire Department

"Eating. I LOVE cookies and I haven't had one since starting. I would like to say strength exercise, but I haven't mastered that one yet." - Chris Kinzel, Captain, West Jordan Fire Department

"Eating out and watching caloric intake, as well as strength training with bad/rehabbing shoulder." - Gil Rodriguez, Fire Chief, Murray City Fire Department

"I think the biggest challenge for me is keeping healthy foods in my house. I like eating this way but it is expensive and not always possible due to budget constraints." - Todd Caldwell, Battalion Chief, Unified Fire Authority

"Changing eating habits." - Fenton Quinn, Firefighter/Engineer, Unified Fire Authority

"Having to deal with my sweet tooth. Plus, I had a cheat day to satisfy my desire to eat good food. The diet is a lot of the same foods. I am going to have to find new things to eat." - Jeff Paul, Firefighter/Engineer, West Jordan Fire Department

"Adding more veggies, also have a meatless day. It's kind of hard to change when I've always built my meals around the meat." - Mary Lindsay-Vonk, Engineer/Paramedic, West Valley City Fire Department

"Having energy to continue to do cardio workouts. I get bored easily with running, but will try and power through. Meals have been getting easier and easier, and I have found some healthier foods that I enjoy. Of the one day I did not have a heart-healthy diet day, I ate really healthy all day, then went to the movies and had popcorn. I still stayed under my calories, but it still wasn't the best for me." - John Gulley, Firefighter, Unified Fire Authority

After participating in a media story with Fox13 News, John Gulley was interviewed for a short video asking what his biggest challenge has been so far. Watch what he had to say about it: