I decided to make these changes because:
My health was definitely sliding downhill. I was having trouble walking up my stairs, my joints hurt, my digestion was all over the place. I also knew that I was tired more than usual and really uninterested in doing anything, when I am usually a very social person. I felt as though I was no longer in control of my body, and that was dictating the way the rest of my life was going to run.
I found time to make these changes by:
In the beginning, this was my biggest challenge. Typically I am an all or nothing person. So if I had in mind I was going to make changes, I needed to do everything at once. Health coaching taught me how to break it down... to start small and then expand my scope and my goals of changing my lifestyle for good. This helped because I had to learn to put some aspects of myself first in order to become healthy.
My biggest challenge with maintaining these changes is:
In September of 2015, I had two major life events that changed my world. The first one was something that I am so thankful to health coaching for, for nudging me in the right direction. Based on my recent lab results, I followed up with my family physician. After a month of neglecting it, I finally made an appointment. Deep down, I knew what he was going to tell me, because I think my body had been telling me for some time, I just was not listening. I entered the doctor’s office that morning and filled out my medical information sheets. I always felt proud of the fact that I was never diagnosed with any chronic conditions, therefore had nothing to add in the medication history list. After my appointment that day, I left with a diagnosis of High Blood Pressure and Type II Diabetes. Along with that, I now had scripts for four different medications to take on a daily basis. This was not a surprise, but now I really had to deal with my health.
Two weeks later was the second biggest obstacle. My grandmother passed away. I continued to work with my health coach through December. I worked on eating healthier and I saw some progress by losing a few pounds, but I was far from feeling better. At the end of our time together, Kate provided me with some resources and several long-term goals. Unfortunately, I was unable to stick to those goals on my own. By March I had fallen back into old habits and gained more weight back than I had previously lost. My heaviest now skyrocketed to 304 pounds. March 14, 2016 changed all that. I went to dinner the night before with my family. I had a huge plate of chicken alfredo with rich sauce and garlic bread, an appetizer and a large piece of cake for dessert. I was very sick the next day. Almost like a food hangover. I had stopped checking my sugar levels at this time and was not taking any medication to control my blood pressure or diabetes. I stayed in bed most of the day and became more and more angry with myself. I couldn’t go on like this anymore. I needed to change something. I remembered some of the resources my health coach had provided me with, found some of them via Netflix, and started watching. I also started reading about how diet and exercise could reverse medical illnesses. That was a Saturday. Sunday morning I got out of bed early, cleaned out my refrigerator, made a grocery list and started my journey to becoming healthy.
I overcome this challenge by:
I learned that I needed to make some long-term changes. I decided to start a whole food, plant based diet. Not for a short time, but as my new lifestyle. I have friends that are vegan and vegetarian and they have been for years. Could I do this? Maybe not 100%. But I remembered I could start small and change slowly.
The first two weeks I added a lot of fresh vegetables and salads, and saved up any meat products for the two times I went out to eat. I also started exercising regularly. These changes helped me start to lose weight. I was already starting to feel differently in the way I was sleeping at night. By April of 2016, I was nearly a month into plant based eating, having fun by coming up with new meals and trying new foods, when I learned that St. Luke’s was offering a six week course on Plant Based cooking for a very minimal cost. This was perfect. I signed up immediately. The class was incredible. Being able to learn from others on what foods work and how the body responds to whole foods rather than processed chemicals was eye opening. Sharing success stories with others in the class, and even learning how to prepare different dishes was great. I started to enjoy grocery shopping. I planned out my weekends, making sure to incorporate time for meal planning and food prep for the following week. Daily exercise became routine. The results showed slowly in my physical appearance because I carry my weight in my stomach, but I was starting to feel incredible. When I returned to the doctor in May, he was impressed at my progress. At this point I had lost about 30 pounds, dropped my A1C level and my blood pressure had started to normalize — without taking medication. My doctor agreed that if I continued on this trend, he was comfortable with me not taking medication for diabetes or blood pressure. It is now July 2016, and I am eating about 90% whole foods plant based diet. I have lost a total of 50 pounds. My joints no longer ache in the morning. Exercise is something I miss now, more than the junk foods I used to crave. Don't get me wrong, I still have days that are challenging, but I am thankful for the support that I was given by my doctor, St. Luke’s and my health coach, and I am happy to share my story. This was not easy, but it has changed my life for the better.