When Rochelle Culp couldn't walk a few miles in a walk for charity in her 20s, she felt it was time for a change. "I struggled to do the walk, but it should have been easy," she says. "I wanted to live a life of joy and be active. I knew if I didn't make a change, my health may affect that."
Initially, Culp decided to change her life through portion control and by walking, her favorite exercise. Eventually, she incorporated healthy, fresh foods into her diet.
The Durant native is now celebrating her 20th year since losing 100-plus pounds.
Culp says losing weight and becoming healthy is a bit easier now. "All the low-fat options weren't available at that time," she says. "Most restaurants didn't have calorie guides."
She suggests cooking at home, a hobby of hers, as a great way to eat healthy as well as build relationships within the family. "So many meals you can prepare in a few minutes," Culp says. "Having family night once a week ... keeps families together."
Not only does she strive to have a healthy lifestyle, Culp encourages people to become healthy in other ways. After 18 successful years at Allstate Insurance Company, Culp decided to change careers from doing something she liked to something that fulfilled her. She began managing grants for nonprofit organizations, especially those that contributed to keeping people healthy.
"I wanted to make a difference and work directly with the community. A lot of people didn't think it was a smart move," Culp says. "Wellness is my passion and my ministry. I am very fortunate to have a job I love so much."
Today, Culp works for The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi and is the project director of the Mississippi Tobacco-Free Coalition. She has worked with the coalition for 12 years. On the job, she manages a variety of grants to help people stop smoking and works with children and communities to prevent their using tobacco.
With projects aimed at students, such as R.A.T (Reject All Tobacco) and Generation Free, Culp hopes to keep others from facing the same fate as her father, a smoker, who died at a young age due to smoking- and obesity-related health problems.
Culp is also a fitness and personal trainer and wellness coach at Fitness Lady Health Clubs. She has been an instructor for 19 years and is certified to teach classes such as spin, kickboxing and "boot camp" workouts that combine cardio, strength training and calisthenics. She is also a motivational speaker and workshop facilitator who travels and speaks on obesity prevention and wellness.
Culp teaches her students that consistency is the key. "Society tends to start and stop. Each time you stop, it's harder to start."