"We're kind of in transition, where food's concerned," Toney said, grinning and shrugging. "We've come a long way with exercise, but several of us have hit a plateau, so we know it's time to think about what we eat, too, if we want to keep losing."
They are taking steps in that direction. Thursday, the production company filmed the Pound Punchers and other fire department members taking the nutrition class at the fire hall, taught by Marshall University's Sally Hurst.
"We want to teach these classes in fire halls, churches and senior centers, and they're a perfect group," Hurst said. "Good on physical activity and just starting to think seriously about nutrition."
During the class, they listed obstacles to healthy diet: the cost, a junk food habit and the fact that no store within a half-hour's drive sells healthy food such as dried beans, brown rice, fresh vegetables or fish.
They brainstormed things they could do: raise gardens, can food, carpool to the grocery to save money. "We could set up a little farmers market," Toney said.
The film crew recorded the class. They filmed them cutting up tomatoes for lunch. They filmed Kevin Ferrell injecting his insulin. They interviewed them for hours.
"It's sort of scary to have people following you with cameras for two days," Melisa Ferrell said Friday. "If this show helps people, I'll be happy, but I'll be glad too when things get back to normal."
Step by step, they're improving
The film crew left Friday evening. "We'll have to wait to see what they make of us," Ferrell said. Meanwhile, "we'll just keep doing what we do."
They are better equipped to do what they do, now that the Mud River VFD has a small, first-class gym. "It's there for anybody in the community who wants to use it," Toney said.
In early May, Commissioners Thomas Ramey and Dr. Charles Vance came to the gym opening.
"So many West Virginia areas have lost their schools, so sometimes fire departments become the center of the communities," Ramey said. "These exercise machines will be another way for this community to come together in a healthy way."
Parks and Recreation gave the fire department money to buy two basketball nets for the kids.
"It's such a positive thing for kids to see their parents enjoy exercising and keeping at it," Vance said. "They're learning healthy habits.
"We've got to address childhood obesity, and there's no better way to do it than in families." He likes the nutrition class. "Step by step, they're gradually improving their diet and, with the exercise, achieving things they wouldn't have achieved otherwise.
"We have a big problem with diabetes and hypertension in the county, and these people are addressing it right here, without having to spend a lot of money. That's impressive."
Friday, Melisa and Kevin didn't get home until late. They live in a tornado-damaged house. When it rains, they move pots from place to place to catch the leaks. "We're back to reality," she said. "But today, we're forgetting our problems. Today we're celebrating."
Reach Kate Long at katel...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1798.
"The Shape We're In" was written with the help of the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism, administered by the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.