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A happy ending to unhealthy habits

'New You' participants achieve goals

Fricker water
Diet changes -- drinking water, for example, not high sugar sodas -- helped Fricker lose 20 pounds.
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CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a final update of the "New You Revolution" participants and how they fared losing weight and breaking unhealthy habits. (March 8)
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(CNN) -- For years, they were stuck in a rut: Each day older, their bad habits became only more ingrained, and their futures only looked murkier.

Each of the five participants in CNN's "New You Revolution" knew that their routines weren't working. But that didn't mean they knew what do about it.

Over the course of the eight-week program, life changed significantly for the grandmother, the minister, the father of two, the newlywed and the new fiancé. The participants not only achieved their goals, they surpassed them by working hard and making better, if sometimes harder decisions.

Harald Fricker, for example, started out 100 pounds overweight -- despite the fact that he ran early every morning, alongside his dogs and cat. His two children signed him up for "New You" in hopes of improving his health. (Fricker's profile)

As Fricker learned, more was not necessarily better. Under the supervision of trainer Joel Weinstein, the former endurance competitor began varying his exercise routine with more cardio and weight training and much less running.

"He's had to learn to train smarter, and not harder," said Weinstein.

Fricker stopped running and began walking, adding bowling, basketball and other such endeavors to his list of activities. He reinvented his diet, eating more healthy foods. (Fricker's journal)

The Colorado resident also began donning a special mask, so that he could sleep better and longer -- sufficient sleep being one of several factors in weight control.

The result: 20 pounds lost, at a steady rate of two to three per week. And Fricker said that is only the beginning. (E-mail Fricker)

"I wish we could flash six months forward, because I'm absolutely sure I will be close to 100-pound weight loss," he said.

Sandra Garth

Sandra Garth had her hands full entering the "New You Revolution." She was raising two of her grandchildren as their parents -- her son Casey and daughter-in-law Theresa -- were in Tikrit, Iraq, serving in the U.S. military. (Garth's profile)

The former aerobics instructor had little time or inclination for exercise, plus a weakness for "everything that's not good for me -- greasy food, salty food, sweet food." Garth also waged an ongoing battle with depression, which she disclosed several weeks into the program.

Eight weeks later, most everything had changed for the better.

By watching her diet and working out regularly -- even tracking how many steps she took in a given day -- Garth shed 19 pounds. Her greatest difficulty, ironically, was trying to consume at least 1,200 calories daily; her nutritionist warned her that eating too little may impair her metabolism. (Garth's journal)

Last week, she got the good news that Casey had left Iraq and would soon be returning home to Michigan, where he would soon join his mother, Sandra, and wife, Theresa, who came back in late February.

Garth shopping
Garth lost so much weight -- 19 pounds -- that she had to buy new, slimmer clothes.

"She does so much for us, so for her to ... lose weight -- that makes me even more proud," said Theresa. (E-mail Garth)

Jonathan Karp

Jonathan Karp's bad habit didn't involve exercise, diet or time management, like his fellow "New You" participants. But his problem -- habitually biting his nails, sometimes so much that they bled -- was just as serious, and something he'd been unable to shake in the first 28 years of his life.

Karp set out to stop his nail-biting habit -- and sport healthy, relatively long nails -- by the time he married his fiancée, Erika. Ultimately, it only took him a week to stop biting. (Karp's profile)

"It was easier than I thought, ... but I did have a lot of help," Karp said. "I was constantly just being monitored ... so there was no room for failure."

The first and most important step, he said, is admitting the problem and making a strong commitment to end it. Karp credited his daily video journal for forcing him to count the number of times he bit his nails -- so that the habit became more conscious, thus more controllable, rather than subconscious.

While he tried hypnotism and other alternative treatments, simply quitting "cold turkey" did the job for Karp. (Karp's journal)

The New Jersey resident admits he still sometimes has an urge to bite. If he does, he takes out his nail file to take care of any loose or annoying edges. (E-mail Karp)

"I feel like I'm done," he said. "I feel like I'm ready to enjoy ... scratching my neck, scratching my scalp."

Thekla Fischer

Recently married, Thekla Fischer entered the "New You" program thinking intently about motherhood, but not thinking that she was ready, mentally or physically. (Fischer's profile)

An attorney and New York City resident, Fischer had trouble fitting in regular meals and workouts, so finding time to raise a child seemed daunting. (Fischer's journal)

But over the last two months, she got a hands-on experience with babies, even talking to working mothers about the joys and challenges of raising children in today's world. (E-mail Fischer)

Experts gave her tips on nutrition and time management, urging her to make lifestyle changes not only for her future baby, but for herself.

"Instead of doing the late-night eating, I've been doing the late-night yoga class," said Fischer.

With her husband Jason having returned from serving in the U.S. military, Fischer has begun taking prenatal vitamins and gotten a step closer to parenthood.

Raynor workout
After years of inactivity, Raynor began working out regularly.

And last week, Kerri Sullivan-Kreiss -- head of SullivanKreiss Financial -- gave the couple a fiscal checkup, helping them get their money matters in order before their family expands.

Leigh Ann Raynor

For years, Leigh Ann Raynor suffered from heart problems -- something that surgery last year helped, but her affinity for fast food certainly did not. (Raynor's profile)

For Raynor, the road to success led through her kitchen -- a room that, until recently, she generally avoided at all costs.

Cooking tips helped the minister feel more comfortable in creating quick, healthy meals that gave her more control of her diet. (Raynor's journal)

"I cook, on average, about four times a week now, which is up by, oh, four times a week" from the start of the "New You" program, Raynor said with a smile.

Under expert supervision, the Georgia resident also began exercising regularly. The sum of her efforts: 14 pounds lost over eight weeks. (E-mail Raynor)

For all that she's accomplished, however, Raynor said she realizes her fight is far from over -- something that could be said for the other four "New You" participants as well.

"The hardest part is making up my mind, understanding that this is something that I'm going to do for the rest of my life," she said.

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