The day Paula walked into the CNE Wellness Center, she took her first step to beginning a new, healthier way of life. Paula was tired of being heavy and uncomfortable. She had gained a great deal of weight, due to the side effects of medication and poor eating habits, all compounded by not exercising. Life before the Healthy Steps Program consisted of bagels with butter and jelly for breakfast- bagels, in the plural sense, meaning sometimes two in the morning. She used to skip lunch, eat a dinner of fried chicken cutlets, potato and veggies, and consume LOTS of ice cream, up to a 1/2 gallon (yes, really!) on some occasions while she was watching television.
Paula started the program with an initial consultation with a registered dietitian (RD). She was given instructions on reading food labels, counting calories and creating a food diary. She was also asked to maintain a diet of 1600 kcals/day, which was a severe deficit, compared to her normal food consumption. Paula committed herself to follow these suggestions, and in the first nine weeks she lost a total of 25 pounds, averaging 2.8 pounds per week.
Paula has radically changed her eating habits since starting Healthy Steps. She now snacks on yogurt between meals, eats every 3 to 4 hours, and never gets to the point where she is “starving”. Instead of eating regular ice cream, she has switched to low fat, sugar-free ice cream, and is careful about measuring out ½ cup servings. Paula might have more than one serving, but pays close attention to how many calories she has eaten, and makes sure that it fits into her daily calorie “budget”.
She even reports that she used to hate water and never drank it prior to enrolling in the program. Now, however, through some gentle coaxing from her RD, she drinks at least eight glasses of water per day. Overall, she says she is more in tune with her hunger, and is satisfied with eating smaller portions. She follows her RD’s advice, which is to eat as many healthy calories as possible, allowing her to lose body fat while maintaining her muscle mass.
Eating is not the only routine that has changed in her life. A smoker for forty years, she kicked the habit three years ago, after being diagnosed with asthma. Paula has also recently committed to a strict exercise regime. Monday is her “marathon” day. She takes low impact aerobics, followed by her treadmill routine and weights. On Wednesday and Friday, she does 45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise then 13 circuit machines for muscle strengthening. At the beginning of the program, Paula could only walk for five minutes on the treadmill, and was winded and quite uncomfortable. Gradually over time, she worked her session up to 45 minutes.
What are Paula’s words of advice? “PAY ATTENTION! Listen to the RDs, exercise physiologists, and the fitness staff at Healthtrax. They are trained to teach you how to change your habits and develop effective strategies to improve your health. Trust them. Don’t get caught up in the numbers, and don’t try to lose weight too quickly.” Paula believes the focus should be on how you feel. The Healthy Steps program has taught her to pay attention to her energy levels, listen to her body, and become aware of the types of food she eats, including how much and how often. She feels great and is confident about her progress, success, and commitment to her health and wellness. With a big smile on her face, she says, “I feel great and think I look 10 years younger due to my increased energy levels, weight loss, and overall adoption of a healthy lifestyle.” She realizes the changes she has made are long-term lifestyle changes and not just quick fixes. She is 100% committed to taking better care of herself and as a result has lost 50 pounds. Congratulations, Paula!