Posts for the ‘Person of the Month’ Category

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.

Results:

  • 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.

Results:

  • 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.

Results:

  • 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.

Results:

  • 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…

Results:

  • 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!!!

Could you be the Person of the Month?

One of the most-read features of the Take Control monthly newsletter is the article featuring our person of the month. Readers are inspired by the stories shared, success achieved, and maybe most importantly, realizing that change is possible.

Take Control is lucky to have so many stories of achievement and we know that with so many it can be easy to overlook one or two. That’s why we need to hear from you! Success comes in all types of packages. You do not need to have finished your journey, as the journey is supposed to last well after you complete the program. Maybe you’ve changed an especially hard habit for the better, or started to get more physical activity despite the fact that it’s not your favorite thing. Sharing this type of information may help make someone else’s journey easier.

Please share your story of success with us, and we’ll add it to the newsletter. It’s as easy as emailing Deidre  to let her know you’ve got a story to share. We can’t wait to hear from you!

“We’re Rowing This Boat Together”: Take Control’s December People of the Month

By: Laura Del Guerra, RD, CDE

This month we are featuring a couple who have teamed up to Take Control! They have used their partnership to accomplish the hard work of lifestyle change with encouragement and support. Since joining last May they have each made incredible changes.

Why did you join Take Control?
A.S.(husband): Because I needed to do something and when someone offers to pay for it you take advantage. Things were getting out of control so I needed to take control.
C.S (wife): The It Starts With Me printout. There were things on the report I knew but did not want to confront, like my percent body fat. For me, BMI is not as easy to understand but I got the body fat. It’s the power of information.

What is the biggest change you have noticed since joining?
A.S. Knowledge. Getting all of the information I have through the program has really increased my awareness. Now I can’t say, “I didn’t know that.” I do know and I am accountable. There is more pressure on me to do the right thing.
C.S. I feel more like me. I feel good about myself. This is who I am. When I was overweight I was not myself. Now I realize that this is the person I have been hiding for the last how many years.

What advice would you give to others in the program?
A.S. This (change) is not easy but it’s better and it keeps getting better. I’m not doing this perfectly. But I keep working at it.
C.S. I calendar all my workouts. That is my appointment. When people used to tell me it’s a lifestyle, I didn’t get that – I do now. The secret is that there is no ‘secret.’ What I have done is that I am eating less and planning more, I think about what I am eating and doing. I also remind myself that this is a long-term thing not just what is happening today.

How is having a partner in your lifestyle change helpful?
C.S. There are times I do not want to go to the gym and maybe he does not want to either. But we both want to be healthier. It’s great having someone else doing this too. It’s nice to have two of us rowing this boat together.

#change #power #teamwork #couples #healthy #wellness #takecontrol

November Person of the Month: Tim H.

Many of our Take Control participants are taking part in Fall Wellness Events. Having lab results can provide feedback in many different ways. This month’s person of the month used his lab results to take action and make some amazing improvements in his health.

Why did you join Take Control?
In my case, it was pure luck. I gave my physician the results of the “It Starts With Me” health tests about a year ago. He identified the early symptoms of diabetes and set up a consultation with a nutritionist at the local hospital. I initiated contact with that department and was immediately disappointed with the cost and the lack of interest. I was looking for alternatives when the nice folks at Take Control called.
I immediately felt like these were people that knew what they were doing and fit my style of tackling a challenge. I was not disappointed. I was encouraged when I did things right and gently nudged when I needed to fix some problem areas.

What have you gained over the past year while in Take Control?
I have gained an awareness of what diabetes is and the complications it can cause. In my case there were no obvious manifestations of diabetes in my day to day life. I wasn’t in pain. I wasn’t feeling tired. I could still do all of the things I wanted to do. I would have just gotten sicker and sicker until I died “too young” with a big smile on my face. I was shown what it was doing and what the end result of ignoring diabetes could be.

What are the biggest changes in your health since joining?
The biggest change has been an awareness of what I put in my body. I have a new awareness of things that affect my blood sugar levels. Hopefully, I have added years to my life. Even more hopefully, these will be quality years that allow me to do the things that I want to do.

What differences do you see in yourself as a result of your hard work on controlling your diabetes?

Like I said, I didn’t feel like I was sick. As a result of my health changes I was able to lower my A1c by 1.9 points, my cholesterol is down, and I have lost 43 pounds. I fit into pants that have been hanging in the closet for quite a while. I make smarter choices with food. I read labels. I am more aware and make decisions based on the ingredients in my food choices. I bought a wakeboard and use it. My guess is the big differences will be seen about 20 years from now. I am building a foundation for a healthier me in the future.

What advice would you give others in the program?
If I were advising someone else, I would say join because the help works. The people care, the advice is sound and works in real life. Take advantage. Be honest with them and yourself. Don’t be afraid to tell them the struggles that you’re having. They have good advice and some pretty cool tricks to get you over the hard spots.
For me, my biggest hurdle was that I didn’t feel bad. I have been a weirdo about obituaries ever since my Dad died. I started noticing all these people in their 40s and 50s that died from “complications from diabetes”. There are three very important people in my life that will do some very fun and very cool things over their lifetime. I want to be there to see it all. I want to be in the middle of it all.
Finally, find out what is important to you and use it as a lever. When it came down to it, I chose my family over the Snickers bar. It becomes a pretty easy decision when you realize the choices and the consequences.

What impact did this have on your family?
There is an example being set. When I was a kid, just about every morning before heading out to school, I would grab a coke and have it gone by the time the first bell rang. Coke was a food group for me. I worked at fast food restaurants where part of your compensation was all the pop and ice cream you could cram down in a shift. Now I have an apple, some yogurt and a glass of milk on the way out the door. My kids see that. They are told repeatedly if they take care of themselves starting now, the reward will be a long active life without the need to poke your finger with a needle three times a day. We involve them in the dinner planning process with the “kick it or keep it” advice that I was given by Shannon. We prepare a meal using healthy ingredients and decide whether it is something we all like, “keep it”, or if it something we would rather not visit again, “kick it”. I have been surprised at the large number of “keep it” responses that I get.

My family is a big part of the process and they are learning the effects of food on their body. My wife and kids have been very supportive through the last year. My wife gave up cigarettes quite a few years ago and loves to exercise. She has also been a great example. My kids like to ride bikes to the store. My son has been jogging around the neighborhood every weekday morning. We are growing vegetables in a garden. We are regulars at the farmers market. I think they have had more of an impact on me than I have had on them. They are my reason for everything and deserve the best in life including a healthy father that will be there to help guide them through this adventure that is life.