Posts for the ‘Person of the Month’ Category

IN CONTROL — Person of the Month: Jenni W.

By Kat Van Fossen, Take Control Health Coach

I chose Jenni W. as our Person of the Month because she showed that, even with a slow start, great results can come in the long run. She learned that losing weight is a process, starting with setting a goal of losing weight in 2 pound increments. Jenni far surpassed her own beliefs and expectations of herself by completing a marathon! She gain confidence and the strength to make good nutrition and exercise choices on a daily basis.

What made you decide to join Take Control’s Lifestyle Management program? I had been slowly gaining weight and spending less time on my health and fitness over the past several years. I reached a point where I decided “enough was enough,” and I needed to do something different to change direction. I had a gym membership which was going mostly unused, and I had almost cancelled it many times. My employer offered a gym reimbursement through Take Control, so I decided to try and utilize it as a catalyst to make a change.

What were your reasons/motivation for wanting to make changes regarding your health? My parents and in-laws began having health problems as they grew older, and I wanted to fight that and stay as healthy as possible as long as possible.

What are the biggest challenges and accomplishments in your health since you started?  What do you feel was your biggest obstacle? At this point in my life and career, my schedule is extremely busy and demanding, and I often don’t get enough sleep.  Both my schedule and fatigue create challenges for being consistent with exercise. Initially in the program, I wasn’t making a lot of progress, but about halfway through the year, I set a goal of accomplishing a marathon, and that really jump-started a significant change in my lifestyle.

What did you do to stay motivated? I found a marathon training program that I liked, and which seemed that it would be do-able with my schedule, and allow me to achieve my goal without injury. I also knew that in order to train as necessary, I needed to improve my nutrition. Finally, I set weight-loss goals in two-pound increments, and whenever I would reach a goal, I would mark the next goal on my bathroom mirror, so it was a reminder every morning and evening.

What have you gained through this process? I ran a marathon!!  Accomplishing this goal, and actually far surpassing my own beliefs and expectations of what I could do, has given me a huge confidence boost. I’m also healthier, and more inclined to make good choices about nutrition and exercise on a daily basis.

What differences do you see in yourself and the impact it has had on your health and life? I have set new goals, and have a new-found drive to work hard and place a higher priority on my health and my personal well-being. I believe that I’m also a better spouse, employee, and friend because of it.

What advice or encouragement would you give others in our program? Don’t let fear of failure hold you back. Challenge yourself with something that inspires you, and start with baby steps. If it scares you a little, it will be all the more rewarding when you accomplish it. Do it your own way – don’t feel like you have to do it the way your friends or others do.

Jenni learned how to follow healthy nutrition, and to keep her body well-fueled. She gained a good sense of work/life balance, and finds the time to take care of herself. Not only has she started training for marathons, but she is in it to win it: the marathon of a healthy lifestyle.


  • Weight loss of 15 pounds
  • Gained confidence in her body
  • Gained the ability to push herself
  • Completed a marathon
  • Gained a new high priority on her health and well-being
  • Became a better spouse, employee, and friend

IN CONTROL — Person of the Month: Cathy M.

By Julie Walker and Lindsay Watkins, Take Control Staff

Cathy had a slow start, but then around month 6 something clicked. She committed to food prep, and a food plan, and has been dedicated ever since! She is a great candidate for Person of the Month, not just because of her physical changes, but her mental changes were so apparent! She is happier, healthier and much more confident!

What made you decide to join Take Control’s Lifestyle Management program? Almost a year ago, I was recommended to apply to the Take Control program to assist me with lowering my BMI.

What were your reasons/motivation for wanting to make changes regarding your health? I had gained 20 pounds in the last four years, and was never able to get the weight off. I saw a wedding photo this year and realized it was time to make that change. I disliked the way I looked.

What are the biggest challenges and accomplishments in your health since you started?  What do you feel was your biggest obstacle? The first six months in the program did not go well for me, I struggled with eating and food selection. It wasn’t until my I hit my second blood test, I realized it was really time I take control of my life, and work hard on myself. The biggest challenge was committing to being honest with my eating and what I reported on my log. I had to commit to not cheating (a little candy here, a little chips here and there). My biggest accomplishment was sticking to a food plan (not cheating), and then seeing positive results. Wow! I discovered that it was really the food I was eating that was the big problem. My biggest obstacle was cooking. So I made a deal with my husband, and we now cook together in the kitchen every night. My favorite part of my day!

What did you do to stay motivated?  In order to stay motivated I created a journal. I wrote down everything I ate, as well as my exercise. It’s amazing to see results when you commit to something. Once I got past sugar cravings, I found my body started to improve. Having a friend like my husband cheering me on was a great thing, too. I find our nightly kitchen time is great bonding time we never had before.

What have you gained through this process? My wellness coach has been with me every step of the way. I learned that this is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. Making healthy choices will give you healthy results. I love how I feel now. This process was huge for me.

What differences do you see in yourself and the impact it has had on your health and life? So far, I have lost 15 pounds and over 6 inches from my body in measurements. I weigh myself weekly, take a photograph for progress tracking, and take weekly measurements. Each week varies in progress, but the scale and inches continue to change in a positive direction. I have tried so many diets over the last four years to assist me with a positive body change, but the Take Control program has given me hope, and I am loving my progress. It feels great to look in the mirror and see my old self. It’s wonderful to pull out my old clothes, and to breathe in pants without sucking it in. I am no longer afraid to be in front of the camera. I feel so much more confident, now that I’ve lost weight. This change has impacted my life in such an amazing, positive way. I feel healthier. I can run without aches and pains in my joints. I can feel my abs — and it’s been a long time since that has been the case. I am not hiding behind someone else, I am proud to stand alone and not afraid of what I look like. I included my start and current photo so you can easily see the big change in just 54 days. If I can do this, anyone can. What clicked for me was seeing my wedding photo and understanding I was not happy with myself. Now I feel more confident, I feel better inside and out. I know being healthy takes work and dedication. I use a daily log book to track everything I do from food intake to exercise. I am working on fine tuning my body and I have 8 more pounds to go to reach my goal weight. I am so thankful for the Take Control program, and the chance it’s given me to make a total lifestyle change.

What advice or encouragement would you give others in our program? My advice to others is don’t give up. Commit to your plan. If it does not go well, don’t give up. Give it time. Keep the strength and just get out there and do something. One of my favorite quotes is by Nelson Mandela:  “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”  This quote means a lot to me because I thought it was impossible to lose weight – heck, I didn’t lose any for the first six months! But I kept at it and never gave up. I switched things up, and finally saw great results.





  • Lost 16 pounds and over 17 inches so far!
  • Gained confidence
  • Learned to enjoy cooking and planning meals
  • Gained happiness


IN CONTROL – Person of the Month: Meriem H.

By Kat Van Fossen, Take Control Health Coach

I chose Meriem as our Person of the Month because of her positivity! Her outlook is not only the glass is half full, but she also figured out how to use the other half. Meriam showed bravery every step of the way – she was not afraid or intimidated to either lose weight or to stop smoking.

What made you decide to join Take Control’s Lifestyle Management program? I was tired of being overweight, and tired of struggling to lose it by myself.

What were your reasons/motivation for wanting to make changes regarding your health?  I wanted to get healthier for both my kids and for myself. I was always on the go, so I had no idea how to fit exercise or cooking into my lifestyle. I need someone to give me some guidance on how to fit everything into my life.

What are the biggest challenges and accomplishments in your health since you started?  What do you feel was your biggest obstacle? Not only did I need to lose weight, but I was smoking to keep from gaining more weight. Smoking was my biggest obstacle, because I was so afraid that if I quit smoking I would gain weight. Enrolling in Take Control gave me the tools to take on both problems at once. I was able to quit smoking and at the same time work on losing weight. The combination of being able to do that really set things in motion.

What did you do to stay motivated? Change was really hard because I had such a routine in place. But once I started paying attention to what I was doing, I was able to bring a newfound intention and focus to my habits. That awareness allowed me to truly “TAKE CONTROL” and break the robotic-type of behavior and routine I had been following. Once I put the intention in motion, things got so much easier and easier. Once things got easier, the motivation really increased. Taking the time to stop and look at my habits, and choosing to tweak them for the better really empowered me.

What have you gained through this process? I gained a lot more confidence in myself, and the drive to do better, not only for myself, but also for my family.

What differences do you see in yourself and the impact it has had on your health and life? My attitude has improved, my happiness has increased, and my stress level has decreased.

What advice or encouragement would you give others in our program? I would say try it! I was worried at first, but my health coach Kat eased that worry quickly. It didn’t matter if I had a good month or a bad month, she was positive and helped me gain confidence. Many weight loss programs want you to spend money for food, videos, or products. Take Control encourages you to work with what you have, and slowly add the changes into your life. But the key aspect was that you are a making the decisions throughout the process, not just doing what they say, you are in involved the whole way.


  • Stopped smoking!
  • Lost 33 pounds
  • Gained confidence
  • Improved attitude
  • Decreased stress
  • Gained mindfulness
  • Gained happiness

IN CONTROL — Person of the Month: Jill B.

By Kelly Sedgwick, Take Control Health Coach

Jill is the perfect example of how addressing stress can make you physically healthier. She really focused on creating a lifestyle that would allow her to decompress to help her manage her stress levels, and manage to lose weight as she hoped, but also saw an added benefit of lower blood pressure. She’s really a great example of how simply living healthier produces the side effects of risk reduction benefits without focusing on them directly. It’s simply just a side effect of living healthy and treating herself right. Just the right amount of self-care in each day created those benefits.

What made you decide to join Take Control’s Lifestyle Management program? It wasn’t a conscious effort on my part, but rather a phone call from the Take Control program itself. My health screening results put me on the spectrum as a candidate for the program. When I received the phone call to join the program my reaction became, “Why not? What do I have to lose?” I was curious to see what a health professional could do to help me turn my poor health screening results around to a positive direction.

What were your reasons/motivation for wanting to make changes regarding your health? Simple and numerous. I did not feel comfortable in my clothes (I was already stretching for the “fat clothes” hidden in the back of my closet), I was embarrassed to see myself in photographs, I felt bloated/heavy, I dreaded wearing shorts or tank-tops in hot weather, I was always tired, and I was ALWAYS hungry.

What are the biggest challenges and accomplishments in your health since you started? What do you feel was your biggest obstacle? The biggest obstacle was my own mind. Fighting the internal struggle to tell myself to make better eating choices, and to tell myself to stop eating when I knew I had enough. There has always been an inner voice telling me it was okay to have a little bit more, have a little something else that was salty or sweet, I’m not quite full yet, etc. What a challenge to have your biggest enemy living inside you, there’s no getting away from yourself. The accomplishment was using rationale. I had great advice from Take Control health coach Linda Hogg. Once I had my healthy plate in front of me, Linda suggested that I put my fork down between each bite, add a sip of water and then wait 20 minutes after I was done with my meal to decide if I was still hungry. About 95% of the time my fullness would kick in and I wouldn’t even be thinking about my meal ~ I was ready to do something else.

What did you do to stay motivated? The best way to stay motivated is remembering how good it feels when you make the right choices. Find the activities that clear your mind, that make you smile, that make you glad you got off the couch. Eat the foods that sustain you, give you energy and nutrition. Consistency is key. Get into a routine that works for you and stick to it. If you are enjoying the routine and it melds with your lifestyle it will become a natural habit and less of a “chore”.

What have you gained through this process? I have gained the knowledge of what is healthy and nutritious for my body to function, what I enjoy doing to clear my mind and help me sleep better at night, and how to deal with the inner self that doesn’t want to break the bad habits. Most importantly I learned why I thought I wanted more food. What was the void I was trying to fill? I knew I’d had enough to eat, so why do I want more? Thanks to health coach Kelly Sedgwick for helping me realize that our dinner time was actually a social time with my family. We had family dinners at the table each and every night with my daughter. After my daughter graduated and left for college, our dinners are a lot less social. The void was actually just missing my daughter and the one part of the day when we had each other’s attention. I learned that I could get up from the dinner table and give her a quick phone call to check in and see how she’s doing.

What differences do you see in yourself and the impact it has had on your health and life? The difference I see in myself is a better understanding of what works for ME. I can’t follow someone else’s plan and expect to see the same results. Once I started understanding what cleared my mind, what made me smile, what made me feel better, what gave me more energy the health had no choice but to follow. After working with Take Control for a year and putting everything “behind the scenes” in place, I started losing weight. Everything fell into place once I learned why I was stress eating, why I wasn’t sleeping, why I felt so heavy, why I wanted more food. So instead of just focusing on the scale – which was the only thing I had been doing before – I went to the root of why I was making poor choices. Not only do I feel better on the inside, the shedding of the weight is a reflection of me feeling better.

What advice or encouragement would you give others in our program? As stated above, the most helpful thing I learned was finding out what works for me and my lifestyle. I hate the gym and did not want a personal trainer, but I discovered that I absolutely love walking my dogs in our fields. I look forward to it each day. It clears my mind, I enjoy watching the wildlife that lives in our fields, I inhale the fresh (and sometimes crisp) air, and I loved watching my dogs explore and play. Additionally, understanding the reasons why you’re making poor choices can really help you identify the root of the problem and get you back on your way in a positive direction.

Jill is great inspiration to those who might struggle and feel like they should be doing more to really see big changes. Living healthy isn’t just about numbers and you’ve really learned the value of that – mental health is the ultimate reward of living healthy.


  • Weight loss of 34 pounds
  • Inches lost: 18
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased cholesterol
  • Gained nutrition knowledge and awareness of food triggers
  • Identified the activities that she enjoys that help clear her mind and reduce stress
  • Better sleep
  • Addressed background issues that blocked healthy choices

IN CONTROL — Person of the Month: Marlena S.

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

Marlena was persistent despite a lot of things that were thrown her way. She was always positive, and had a great mindset. Marlena didn’t let the tough times bring her down, instead she pushed past them.

What made you decide to join Take Control’s Lifestyle Management program? After age 30, I developed thyroid-related health issues that caused severe weight gain. Nothing I did to lose weight worked. This went on for over six years. Then a co-worker told me how successful she had been with Take Control, and encouraged me to at least look into it. Trust me, I was not convinced. Because no matter what success story I heard from someone else, if I tried it, it didn’t work. And we all know how depressing and discouraging that can be. After I found out there was no cost to me to join Take Control, I realized I had nothing to lose, and at least I could say I tried again.

What were your reasons/motivation for wanting to make changes regarding your health? Even though I am generally a very positive person, severe weight gain takes an emotional toll. The excessive weight affected me physically, emotionally, mentally, and even socially. I stayed away from people because I didn’t want to be seen. I wanted to make changes because I wanted to feel healthy, more energetic, and happy. I wanted to get in better shape, increase my energy level, and enjoy the things I used to, like hiking, fishing, cliff diving, rock climbing, and camping. Things I used to do, but had literally become breath taking. I have two teenage boys, and I wanted to be able to go have fun with them again without being in pain afterward.

What are the biggest challenges and accomplishments in your health since you started?  The biggest challenges were severe health issues that resulted in multiple surgeries. Being a single mom of two teenage boys has been challenging, because I don’t want to burden them with my health issues. My biggest accomplishments were staying positive, disassociating from a lot of the toxic people who were in my life, and meeting a lot of new, wonderful people. I have lost a lot of weight. I went from a size 22-24 pant size to a 14. I can now go hiking, walking, climbing, and hunting; and I hang out with my kids and friends. I am not nearly as depressed as I was. I am much more energetic and happy. I feel like I look like my normal self again.

What do you feel was your biggest obstacle? My biggest obstacle was staying positive — not just for myself, but for my children as well. I had a hard time making myself exercise. So I set appointments on my calendar to walk until it became a habit. I struggled with accepting things I couldn’t control. I overcame that by coping with things that were out of my control, and focusing on changing the things that I could control. I like to laugh, play, and spend time with the people I love. I want to be a good example for others who are going through difficulties.

What did you do to stay motivated?  The phone calls from Alicia kept me motivated. I know at times she may not have been sure of exactly what to say, but she always came up with something encouraging despite the situation. She was always very punctual and easy to talk to, and had suggestions to help me stay on track. I used a web site to keep track of my wellness plan, and used the additional education resources. I found that the more involved I became with different activities, the more motivated I became. The additional benefits really motivated me as well.

 What have you gained through this process? I have gained a friend, self-confidence, and self-worth. Take Control has helped me to not only set feasible goals, but also follow through with completing them. Which has helped me in all aspects of life.

What differences do you see in yourself and the impact it has had on your health and life? I can see my toes without having to squat! I feel better, my skin is clearer, and I can find nice clothes to wear at any store. I am more active and ready to just go, it is no longer this long debate with myself about the pros and cons. I don’t look in the mirror and nitpick about my clothes and how they fit, or if I’m fat. I am more comfortable in my skin now than I was when I was a teenager.

What advice or encouragement would you give others in our program? My advice is that no matter what you have tried that has failed, never give up. You are the only one who can really make a difference. You have to take the first step to start the process, and you will not regret it. If it is easy, then you may be doing it wrong, or it isn’t worth doing. When it is hard to do, it is usually working, it is worth doing, and you will see results. Follow the instructions and suggestions, set up reminders and calendars so you don’t forget to do the things you want. Remember that there is no such thing as fast changes. I have been in the program for a year, and I am still working on it. My favorite quote is: “Live like you’ll die tomorrow, act like you’ll live forever.” Have fun, don’t judge others, and treat others the way you want to be treated. (Not the way they treat you.) Life can be short, so make sure you let the good people in your life know how much they mean to you, and let the bad ones go. Remember only you can change you, and you cannot change others. Don’t worry about what other people think of you, they don’t know what you are going through. If anything, feel sorry for them and treat them with love and kindness. Misery loves company, and there is usually a hidden reason behind their actions. Don’t expect people to make a difference in your life, work to make a difference in theirs.


  • Weight loss of 63 lbs., and has continued to lose weight since completing the program
  • Besides weight loss, she is a great example of being persistent and never giving up
  • Maintained a positive attitude
  • Disassociated from toxic people
  • Dropped five pant sizes
  • Can now do activities she previously could not
  • Decrease in bouts of depression
  • Much more energetic and happy



IN CONTROL – Person of the Month: Bill S.

By Kelly Sedgwick, Take Control Health Coach

Bill was smart with how he used the Take Control program. He saw it as an opportunity — a vehicle to get him moving in the right direction — despite his challenges with back pain. Rather than focusing on the numbers, he really had his heart set on the ability to get out and hunt.

Bill worked diligently at his own pace. He recognized that he needed to begin farther back than he’d hoped, but he didn’t beat himself up about it. He just recognized it, worked at it, and gradually saw improvement.

What made you decide to join Take Control’s Lifestyle Management program? I honestly joined on a bit of a whim. Shortly after my first health screening in 2015, I got a friendly phone call from Take Control folks telling me that I qualified for the program and asking me whether I wanted to participate. At that moment my answer could have gone either way, but the friendly voice and no-downside approach influenced me to say, “sure, why not.” I’m very glad I did.

What were your reasons/motivation for wanting to make changes regarding your health? Years of “driving a desk for a living” and a series of painful lower back injuries had left me in neglectful shape. High cholesterol runs in the family, and I knew on some level that it was something that I would eventually have to watch. My 2015 health screening revealed my total cholesterol to be at a scary 290. I was well on my way to heart-attack territory, and I was only 35. That was one of those wake-up calls that concentrates the mind. I began thinking about the many things that I liked doing and still wanted to accomplish in life. At the top of the list was home ownership (and all the physical demands that entails), backpacking, fishing, and hunting trips. My wife and I were even discussing becoming parents, and the thought of not being there to raise my (at the time) hypothetical kid was sobering, as well.

What are the biggest challenges and accomplishments in your health since you started? What do you feel was your biggest obstacle? The biggest challenge of getting started was simply getting started. Inertia is a very real thing, and deep-worn physical and mental ruts are tough to break. Beyond that, my always present, usually mild, occasionally debilitating back pain made it hard to progress in any real exercise program. My back was in such bad shape at times that even mild physical activity could send me to the local urgent care, writhing in pain and in need of medication to function on even a basic level. At the beginning of the program, setbacks were the norm, and this reoccurring injury made it feel like I was never going to be able to progress. This project felt like fighting a war on multiple fronts, and setbacks in one area would cause setbacks in another. “Exercise” presented itself as a goal, a solution, an obstacle, and something that could actually harm me from time to time, if that makes any sense. In any case, I felt stuck. Cole, my Take Control coach at the time, helped me realized that I needed to start WAY back at the beginning — physical therapy — in order to push the reset button. Slowly, painfully began the non-linear process of repairing my lower back so that I could begin very mild exercise and gradually progress from there. Progress was slow and arduous at times, but I eventually began to win back mobility, strength, endurance and confidence.

What did you do to stay motivated? There were definitely times that I wanted to give up — especially at the beginning. It’s a rotten feeling to know that you’re doing everything you’re supposed to, following all the experts’ advice, seeing tiny bits of progress, and then having everything fall apart and the lower back pain return. And when it did, I had to stop everything, literally lay on the floor, put my feet up on a chair or couch, and stare at the ceiling for hours or days on end. During that downtime, I would often pass the hours listening to hunting and fishing podcasts and videos. I started to get really excited and motivated about the 2016 hunting season, and I even dared to dream about roaming the mountains on foot looking for deer and elk — one of those unmet life goals I had often thought about in the preceding years. This was a ridiculous dream at the time for someone who, on those really bad days, needed help putting on my own socks. But I can be forgetful and stubborn, and those qualities kept me dreaming, and, unlikely though it was, I set my sights on getting well enough to hunt in 2016. I doubled down on my motivation and recommitted to doing everything the physical therapist and doctor told me to do. I had to recommit a few more times after that, too, but each ensuing setback was gradually less severe and shorter in duration. I began to bounce back quicker and develop some resiliency, which served as verifiable positive reinforcement. I was beginning to reclaim bits of my life and all of the sudden, extended hikes in the backcountry didn’t seem to be such a distant dream. During this time, an interesting thing happened. I actually stopped thinking altogether about my cholesterol or any typical training metrics one might set for improvement. I just simply thought about getting myself in good enough shape to get out in the mountains again, under my own weight, and be able to carry a pack. Everything that happened next followed from that mindset.

What have you gained through this process? No sane person would have voted me the most likely person to notch an elk tag in 2016, but in November I did just that. It wasn’t easy and it involved months of training in the gym, weeks of scouting in the mountains, and long days of hiking a lot of miles over steep terrain. But eventually sweat, hard work, determination, and a dash of luck coalesced into the opportunity I had been imagining for months. Getting the animal out was a slow process that took numerous trips over two days, but I packed every last bit out on my own back using my own two legs. That’s an accomplishment I’ll remember forever and a memory made sweeter by knowing what I had to first go through before showing up for opening day. A freezer full of elk meat is a very nice fringe benefit, but what I really gained through this was a better understanding of my body’s own resiliency and awareness of my ability to simply decide to change course. Inertia, after all, works both ways — it may be tough to get started and establish a routine, but keeping things going is relatively easy by comparison.

And the hypothetical kid my wife and I had been talking about earlier? She’s not so hypothetical now. My baby girl will be born in March, 2017. I swelled with pride at Christmas this year, as my wife and I ate Montana bull elk, knowing my unborn daughter was receiving the nutritional gift of the elk through my hard work and persistence. I’ve given her a father who is in better shape, and who (thanks to exercise, lean meat, and a statin), now has a cholesterol number that is down to a less outrageous 180. I’m nowhere near as good as I’ll be, but I’m a lot better than I was. My family deserves that and so do I.

What differences do you see in yourself and the impact it has had on your health and life? I’m still the same lazy, stubborn, flawed person that allowed my physical health to slowly deteriorate. But thanks to Cole, Kelly, and others at Take Control, I’ve identified some life hacks that allow me to recognize those challenges and work around them. One of the biggest differences is that I say “yes” more often to invitations to do things that involve physical exertion. As recently as a year ago, I would regularly turn down invitations to go skiing, for fear that my back would suddenly go out. Now, my back episodes are much fewer, less severe, more manageable, and less frightening. The resiliency I’ve built has increased my confidence to venture further out from my comfort zone, which has, in turn, created opportunities for larger successes, which again increases confidence. I’m in a positive feedback loop now that reinforces my commitment to exercising, eating well, and taking care of myself.

What advice or encouragement would you give others in our program? The main advice I have is simply to follow that old Nike tagline — just do it. No matter your starting point, just accept it, and begin as slowly and thoughtfully as your situation allows. And when you don’t feel like keeping up with your commitment, do it anyway. Eventually the changes become part of your daily routine, and from there everything gets easier. It’s probably also worth pointing out that, for me, it was far more effective to focus on a genuine aspirational motivator (“bring home elk”) that complemented my fitness goals rather than to obsess about abstract obligations like “lower my cholesterol” or “lose some weight.” In my case, those secondary benefits manifested as happy byproducts, not ends unto themselves, so consider talking with your Take Control coach about identifying your own fun, meaningful, big-picture goal.

The best part of his accomplishment was hearing the pride in his voice as he told me about his hunting trip. He recognized the consistent effort he invested in his goal and was incredibly proud and grateful to have been able to accomplish it. It’s the ultimate goal as a health coach to have someone prove to themselves that the CAN achieve the goal and to know the FEEL the pride in that achievement. Was one of my favorite coaching calls with him – I could not have been happier for him.


  • Reduced total cholesterol by 119 points
  • Decreased LDL (bad) cholesterol by 111 points
  • Maintained HDL (good) cholesterol levels
  • Reduced systolic blood pressure by 10 points and diastolic blood pressure by 20 points
  • Reduced back problems
  • Accomplished major goal of harvesting and hauling a Bull Elk on his own
  • Is expecting his first child as a healthier man
  • Now accepts friend’s invitations for physical activities


IN CONTROL – Person of the Month: Mary Ellen L.

By Kat Van Fossen, Take Control Health Coach

Mary Ellen L. has been selected as our Person of the Month. When she first joined Take Control, she was honest with herself and her coach about where she was at and where she had come from. Her positive attitude and fortitude to push through difficult physiological and psychological barriers made her successful and inspiring.

What made you decide to join Take Control’s Lifestyle Management program? I was new to Montana and my job. My co-workers were all talking about the Take Control program. They were excited! I decided to give it a try. Probably the single most important decision I have made regarding my health.

What were your reasons/motivation for wanting to make changes with your health? I knew I wasn’t healthy. I had dabbled in “healthy eating” and being “active.”  I realized that parking in the farthest spot in the grocery store parking lot and walking the distance to the front, really did not constitute “exercise.” I needed a plan, a direction.

 What are the biggest challenges and accomplishments in your health since you started?  What do you feel was your biggest obstacle? I was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy in February 2016. That means I caught a cold virus and the virus gave me heart failure. This was a BIG challenge and obstacle. However, this was exactly what I needed! It actually excited me to be in control of my health destiny. If I lived or died, it was all up to me. I decided I am going to live and live extremely well!

 What did you do to stay motivated? My husband found an eating plan which incorporates our faith and using food as medicine. Although I am taking heart medicine for now, whole foods and my faith in God are my path to good health. I also religiously kept my appointments with my health coach, Kat. Kat was part of my health team. I had cardiac doctors, general doctors, nutritionists, Cardiac Rehab trainers, and my personal coach, Kat. Kat was able to break down what I needed to do into attainable and measurable goals. My journey will never end. Good health is a lifelong commitment.

 What have you gained through this process? I am in control. No matter what I decide — eat a carrot or a doughnut, go to the gym or sit on the couch, the control of choice belongs to me.  I used to be a “decoration.” Kat and I laughed over a song “Pageant Material” by Kacey Musgraves. What a long way I have come from despising the outdoors, sweat, and exercise.

 What differences do you see in yourself and the impact it has had on your health and life? I am not a victim or a survivor. I am worthy to be loved. I love myself, not for how I look (which is fabulous, by the way), but because I took responsibility for my life. I have earned every drop of sweat! It is my badge of honor. Every step I took towards becoming healthy; finishing Cardiac Rehab, going to all of my doctor appointments, buying a gym membership AND using it, choosing whole foods; it is all MY victory. Our oldest daughter is getting married next year. I am planning to have a beautiful dress made, and fully enjoy my role as Mother-of the-Bride. I have an entire life to live, and I am going to enjoy every moment.

 What advice or encouragement would you give others in our program? I have given myself a job. I speak to all women, who will listen, on the importance of making their health a daily priority. I use the example from the airplane safety speech regarding oxygen masks: if an oxygen mask deploys, passengers are instructed to put on their own mask first and then help someone else. You do this because you can’t help anyone if you are unconscious. If you don’t make your health a priority, you will not be able to care for your family. To date, I have been able to help five women “Take Control” — to go see a doctor for an annual exam, and/or to begin eating a healthier diet.

Mary Ellen never had excuses, she always made her desire for change greater than any obstacle. She turned a negative outlook on exercise and self-care to a passion, and further, she wants to share her experience with other women.


  • Weight loss of 23 pounds
  • Decreased her blood pressure
  • Reduced total cholesterol by 108 points
  • Reduced “bad” LDL cholesterol by 90 points
  • Reduced triglycerides by 93 points
  • Changed her mind set about exercise from not wanting to sweat to understanding that every drop is a badge of honor.
  • Realized the importance of caring for herself as a top priority

In Control – Person of the Month: Vicki O.

By Richel Stropky, Take Control Health Coach

I loved being a part of Vicki’s health journey over the past year! She is a true example and inspiration of how taking control of your health can have such a positive impact.

What made you decide to join Take Control’s Lifestyle Management program?

After my fourth child, I had gained way too much weight. I’ve spent years trying to lose it. I would have success losing 10-20 pounds, but then I would gain it all back. A co-worker told me about the Take Control program, and I thought this might be it, it was time.

What were your reasons/motivation for wanting to make changes regarding your health?

I decided that I needed a lifestyle change because I want to be healthy, and be around for my children and grandchildren. I work with children at an infant center, and it was getting difficult to get up and down off the floor to do things for my job. I did not want to continue gaining weight.

What are the biggest challenges and accomplishments in your health since you started?  What do you feel was your biggest obstacle?

The biggest challenge I had was overcoming myself. I was an overachiever when it came to school work (completing my BS) and my job; but when it came to my health, I always put it second to everything else. I realized that I needed to start taking care of myself. My Take Control Coach Richel suggested that I take advantage of being an over achiever and be an over achiever when it comes to my health. This was a light bulb moment for me, and became the mantra that kept me going strong through the process.

What did you do to stay motivated?

My phone calls with Richel were a great motivator, because I wanted to be able to tell her my success. She gave me great tips and advice about how to overcome challenges. She suggested making a list of alternative things to do when I got the munchies in the evening, and hang it on the refrigerator. Other tips included eating high protein snacks instead of sugar snacks, and getting rid of all sugar snacks in the house. Making fruits and vegetables easier to reach, and most importantly, to plan ahead with food. I also signed up for Weight Watchers, which was great for learning about portion size and healthy choices. It really kept me on track with what I was eating, and allowed me needed splurge days. Another thing that helped me stay motivated was to schedule days at the beginning of the week when I was going to go to the gym. I would take everything I needed to work with me so that I had no excuses. It was very effective for me.

What have you gained through this process?

I have gained a confidence in myself that I have never had before. I now know that I can do anything I set my mind to. It feels good to take care of myself! There has also been a positive effect on my family. My teenage boys are making healthier choices, and working out with me. My husband, who works out of town all week, eating in restaurants and sitting in the hotel room every night watching TV; is choosing to eat salads once and awhile, walking every night and going hiking with me. So Take Control has helped my entire family.

What differences do you see in yourself and the impact it has had on your health and life?

I feel so much better. I’ve lost 35 pounds and lowered my cholesterol, blood pressure, and BMI.  Basically all of my “numbers” went down. I have more energy and feel so much better about myself.

What advice or encouragement would you give others in our program?

 Be an overachiever for your health! (Quoted from Richel, the best coach!) You are worth it. Take care of yourself, and never, never give up! I faced a challenge this summer after developing a complication from surgery. I was able to recover much more quickly than I would have if I had not been taking good care of myself, exercising and eating healthy. I was soon back at the gym, hiking, eating healthy, and still losing weight!  I AM WORTH IT AND SO ARE YOU!!

Not only did Vicki’s numbers improve, but she has more balance in her life, increased energy, and she gained confidence about her health. In addition, Vicki’s attitude to make changes and keep moving forward helped in her success. I am confident her journey to take care of her health will continue on…


  • Weight loss of 35 pounds
  • Decreased total cholesterol by 86 points
  • Decreased blood pressure from pre-hypertension to normal
  • Increased energy
  • Feels better!

Transformation, Grace, and the New Me!

Tipped Pomegranate
Person of the Month: KIM S.

By Shannon Jones, Health Coach and Exercise Specialist

This past year I have been inspired by Kim and her life changing weight loss journey. Her perspective has made all the difference in achieving her goals and making achievements over the long haul. I am excited to share how she took the steps to transform herself and become the person she wanted to be.

Kim’s Story:

What made you decide to join Take Control’s Lifestyle Management program?
I decided to join the program because I had previously been a part of the Wellweight/Wellheart program through the MUS and they ended before I could finish. I originally joined because I had just begun my journey of becoming a healthier person. The timing was just right and there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity for having gym membership reimbursements, reimbursement for a personal trainer, and the information I needed to be successful.

What were your reasons/motivation for wanting to make changes regarding your health?
I felt awful. I was lethargic, achy and considered to be morbidly obese. I wanted to be able to keep up with my kids and the rest of the family, doing the kinds of things we like to do. I was also scared that my high C-Reactive Protein (CRP) levels might indicate some type of disease. As I learned about the body, prevention became a new motivator for me.

What have been the biggest challenges and accomplishments in your health since you started? What
do you feel was your biggest obstacle?
My biggest challenges: Taking things one day at a time and learning to have grace to make mistakes and get back to where I needed to be in terms of behavior/habits. My biggest obstacle has been figuring out which foods my body is most sensitive to and doesn’t handle well.

My biggest accomplishment: I would like to say that it has been the weight loss I’ve experienced, but it really is more than that. I’ve changed who I am, how I cope with things, and how I view the relationship between my body, food and exercise. A bumpy road is OK and that each day is a new day. Each choice is a new choice.

What helped you stay motivated?
The scale used to be what motivated me. I was tied to it for a long time. Seeing continuous weight loss was very motivating. From there, it changed to how I felt. Eating the right kinds of foods became more important than the scale. How I feel (less achy and tired) has become one of my biggest motivators. I also used a personal trainer to help motivate me. It is psychologically motivating and it I feel it keeps me focused on the right things. My personal trainer is a good fit for me and he has become like family! While I know I can work out on my own, this is something I plan to continue for as long as I can afford it.

What have you gained through this process?
I feel as though I have gained a whole different me. I’ve been able to discard some of the pieces of myself that I picked up along the way- the ones that weren’t really who I was, but changed who I became. I’ve learned to relax and enjoy life as it comes. My entire outlook has changed and I feel as though I am the perfect combination of my younger self and my wisdom.

What differences do you see in yourself and the impact it has had on your health and life?
Everything is different. My size and shape are different. I’m happier. I have more energy. My CRP levels are now at a normal level, I’m no longer in the obese category. Life. Is. Great!

What advice or encouragement would you give others in our program?
Take it day by day. Make room for the things you normally avoid because you are afraid to deal with them. Have respect for yourself to feel what comes from those experiences, the grace that is needed with yourself to work through whatever comes of those experiences, and try to find a way to learn from each of new thing without expectations as to how things will turn out. Visualize who you want to be and put one foot in front of the other.

“The wings of transformation are born of patience and struggle.” ~ Janet S. Dickens

In Control!

Tipped Pomegranate

Person of the Month: Sydney H.

By Michelle Crowe

We have chosen Sydney H. as our Person of the Month due to her outstanding success in many areas of the program.  When asked what made her initially want to join our program she told me that her mom suffered a stroke last year stemming  from obesity and heart disease. This pushed her into taking action.

Sydney has been in our program for 10 months.  In that time frame she has dropped her total cholesterol 25 points, reduced her triglycerides by 104 points and lost 42.5 lbs which is a loss of over 22% of her total body weight!!!  Way to go Sydney!!  Not only has she accomplished all of these amazing feats but in addition she quit smoking and has remained cigarette free for 7 months!  We all applaud your perseverance Sydney!

I asked her what she thought her most difficult obstacle was to overcome.  For her it was getting away from processed and fried foods.  She usually drank a 2 liter or a 6 pack of regular Mountain Dew soda every day.  One of her mantras is to not live so black and white, and with that she realized that taking a particular food item away completely  would not be conducive to a successful program for her so she still drinks Mountain Dew, just maybe one can a day.

Take Control has helped the most by having someone outside her circle of friends and family support and encourage her on her journey.   Sydney recommends that folks take baby steps, change small things, such as starting to drink a set amount of water per day or start to eat breakfast daily.

Some suggestions she has for current and future participants are to have monthly goals. It really helps gauge and evaluate where you have been and where you are going.  The clinician helps you stay on track with chosen goals and helps set new ones to fit your needs.  Sydney offers this advice, “You have to put in the work but also work overtime.  Persistence + time means eventual success.”

Way to go Sydney, you are an inspiration to us all!!!