Local business owner stresses importance of physical fitness

Published 8:35 am Friday, August 15, 2014

The nation’s obesity problem has come to the fore of late, and nowhere is that problem more pronounced than in the South, where deep frying is a way of life and rich sauces accompany almost every dish. But local entrepreneur and fitness enthusiast Larrilyn Hickman is trying to change that, at least in Washington Parish, one person at a time.

Hickman, who recently shared her story with the Rotary Club of Bogalusa, is the owner of local fitness and body care center H.L. Brownstone.

Hickman is able to speak with authority on the subject of struggling with weight loss as she once tipped the scales at nearly 300 pounds, but through hard work and perseverance she has slimmed down considerably.

“I am healthier than I’ve been in my entire life,” she said.

Hickman said there is no quick fix regarding healthy weight loss.

“This is blood, sweat and tears, right here,” she said.

Sustainable weight loss, she said, can only come from making better choices, both nutritionally and physically. Small changes, such as skipping that afternoon cookie or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, can add up.

Along her weight loss journey, Hickman discovered a strength in herself she never knew she had.

“Somebody challenged me to a triathlon,” she said.

And although that experience pushed her to her limits, Hickman finished the race. She followed that up with a half-marathon last year, and there are more on the horizon.

Now Hickman is hoping to share that sense of accomplishment with the rest of the community as H.L. Brownstone has a number of fitness-focused events planned.

“There are some exciting things happening,” she said. “We’re bringing it home.”

Her business is hosting a 5K in conjunction with the third Bogalusa Blues and Heritage Festival. Additionally, it will be bringing an extreme obstacle course race to the Cassidy Park area that will involve participants making their way through challenging and sometimes messy impediments, such as climbing under barbed wire or up the banks of Bogue Lusa Creek.

Hickman said the obstacle course has a particularly symbolic message.

“The obstacles in our life make us stronger,” she said. “Obstacles are a great thing.”

H.L. Brownstone also offers several incentives to those having a bit of trouble getting started on the path to fitness. It will again be sponsoring the Biggest Bogaloser contest — she said the combined weight loss total for the previous Bogaloser contests is 4,300 pounds. Brownstone also offers free lifetime membership for anyone who loses 100 or more pounds.

She also stressed the importance of getting fit before being directed to do so by a doctor.

“Take care of yourself. Take care of your body,” she said. “It’s just important to move.”