Allison, an Administrator for the Spine Center and Gonda Vascular Center at Mayo Clinic, shares her journey of staying committed to living a healthier lifestyle and surpassing her weight loss goal.
I had a moment in my life that changed everything back in January 2020, prior to COVID. I had been struggling with my weight & fitness for many years with the up’s and downs of both weight and a fitness routine. On January 25, 2020, I had a formal function to attend and the dress I wanted to wear wouldn’t zip. This was an a-ha moment for me. I vowed that I would make changes to improve my health and wellness. On Monday, January 27, 2020 I joined Weight Watchers and began the journey of working with a Well-Being Specialist at the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center (DAHLC).
The challenge of not feeling good about myself and wanting to feel better physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually was a real barrier. I finally felt like I had reached a point where I was going to buckle down and get healthy. My goal was to lose 54 pounds and start incorporating more activity, and better eating habits.
I started by joining Weight Watchers to learn more about portion control and making better choices. I learned that I could have some pizza or a Marvin Burger from Newts, but then I would need to get back on track. You don’t learn bad habits in a day, it takes time to learn better ones. For activity, I started with a very conservative exercise program. I was spending 15-20 minutes walking and 15 minutes on the stationary bike. I also started with a conservative strength training workout that was provided by the Well-Being Specialists. Then COVID hit and the gym closed.
When the gym closed, I was able to purchase some small weights and workout from home. I also started walking outdoors even on cold days, but if the weather became an issue, I just moved my walking to the downtown subways. I even took advantage of some of the virtual classes during the shutdown.
Once the DAHLC re-opened, I started increasing my strength training with the machines and equipment and started doing a walk/run routine on the track. I’m still working up to full running but finding that I have much more stamina for intense workouts.
Starting a routine and sticking with it came with numerous roadblocks along the way. To the outside observer, you would probably never know I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS) but I know, and I live with it every day. Having MS was a major factor in wanting to make changes. My biggest challenges are managing my fatigue and making sure I don’t overdo it. Most of the time I feel very good, but I have a tendency to push myself too hard. So, for me, it’s managing a reasonable amount of activity with also acknowledging that I can’t always do it all. There is no guarantee how my disease will progress, but I wanted to be in the best condition that I could be to stay as active as I could.
When I’m at the gym, I’m inspired by everyone there with me. I see all fitness levels, body shapes and sizes. I’m struck by the fact that although we may be strangers to one another, we’re all there with a singular purpose. That purpose is taking care of ourselves. We are more than a number on a scale or how much we can lift or how far we run. Who we are is on the inside.
Be kind to yourself, set realistic goals and only do things for you. Not for anyone else. For me, it was making the small wins that kept me going. I was inspired by these and a couple of my friends who had recently turned 50 and were incorporating small changes in their lives that eventually led to larger transformations. I set out to lose 54 pounds and I surpassed that goal and lost a total of 65 pounds. What’s even better is I’ve learned how to keep the weight off.
The future looks manageable and sustainable. I have spent the past 18 months developing new habits and improving my health. I am excited for what the future holds and feel that I can maintain my gains. I have learned that I can set a goal and stick to it and this has helped as I have set new goals in other areas of my life. I know that I can do it.
I would like to thank my fellow Weight Watchers team, my mom, my kids, friends, co-workers, and all of those at the DAHLC that helped support me along the way. I have learned a lot from the Well-Being Specialists that have stuck with me and got me through some challenging times when I didn’t have that daily or weekly interaction at the gym.