Ash Hekmat ’03, an optician at Kennebec Eye Care in Waterville, walks a mile to and from work every day from his home in Winslow, regardless of the weather. He finds the fresh air exhilarating and enjoys the healthy feeling of walking. “This morning, I walked to work at about negative 15 degrees,” he said recently. “I like to challenge myself.”

After losing his mother five years ago to a long battle with diabetes, he looked at his own health and made it a priority to improve his physical condition. Initially weighing in at 280 pounds, he lost 90 pounds in the first year and continues to eat well and take better care of himself, making an effort to walk four to six miles a day.