November 29, 2021

December Member Success Story: John D.


What type of change did you make in your life? Or what goal did you set out to achieve?

I had a kidney transplant in August of 2020. In the months leading up to my transplant, I did a great job of walking every day, changing my diet, and improving my health. But of course, as things can sometimes go after an immediate health crisis has abated, my work and family took precedence and I started to backslide in old habits. This combined with a work injury in March 2021 of a torn hamstring, caused from falling on ice, and a painful recovery, most of my progress went away.  

I wanted to make a deliberate and conscious decision to lose weight, improve my overall well-being, and to take care of my health. I had some routine post-transplant bloodwork in September 2021 and while most numbers were fine, there was definite room for improvement. My wife, Jamie, and I decided to make a commitment to improve our health, lose weight, and to take care of ourselves for the sake of each other and our children.  She has been a tremendous source of encouragement for me as we commonly go the gym together most mornings.  My goal is to lose the 30 lbs. I had gained since having my second kidney transplant in August 2020.  As a result of my efforts, I have lost 15 lbs. in the last 8 weeks.

What are some challenges you faced that elicited that change or that made you want to go for that goal? What barriers did you run into while pursuing your goal?

I made the decision to leave my former employer and accept a position with Mayo Clinic.  My former job was incredibly stressful.  I was working 70+ hours a week and had zero time or energy for any attempt of exercising or eating healthy.  Accepting a job at Mayo Clinic immediately improved my life in multiple ways and brought back the much-needed work-life balance and allowed me to begin to focus on my health again.   

I've been working towards my goals for a few months now and thankfully, there have not been any immediate barriers. Since I work Monday through Friday, I appreciate the hours of the DAHLC that allow me to use it based on my work schedule.  I find that I look forward to the gym now and am more confident in general about my ability to improve and meet my goals.

What are some factors that helped you make that change or that helped you achieve your goal? List any specific services you used at the DAHLC (you can use any services even if they go back a ways)

I would say that DAHLC’s convenient location, being right on the bus line, shower facilities, and convenient hours have helped greatly with achieving my goals.  I've only used the exercise facilities so far but am eager to participate in classes and utilize other services as well as time goes on.  I appreciate the variety of machines and equipment that are available at the DAHLC.  This variety allows for a continued yet varied workout routine without monotony or boredom setting in.  The cleanliness of the DAHLC is impressive as well and the people who work there are always inviting and encouraging.  The convenience of being able to walk to work right after working out every morning has been a big motivator for me to keep up my exercise regimen as well.  I find that I look forward to the gym now and am more confident in general about my ability to improve and meet my goals.

I’ve also began making more concerted efforts to eat healthier and eliminate foods which aren’t helpful to my goals.  I find that things I used to like before, particularly full calorie sodas, just aren’t worth it anymore, as they aren’t worth setting myself back for. 

What would you tell or encourage someone with who is in your old shoes and doesn’t know where to start? Anything in particular that inspired you throughout your journey?

It sounds completely cliche, but there's truth in cliches. You just have to make the decision to start and the next day do it again. Will it be perfect when you start? Absolutely not. But you learn and make changes as needed.  When you "fall off the wagon" so to speak, you just get right back on. One bad day does not need to turn into a bad week or a bad month. Everyone must start somewhere, so make the decision. It really is that simple. Keeping realistic goals and expectations is also very important. Realizing there will be a pitfall here or there, along the way, is critical. Small setbacks cannot be allowed to deter one from the long-term goal they have set. Making the commitment to invest in your health and wellbeing will always pay off and never be regretted. Working with transplant patients now, along with being a transplant patient myself, also keeps me motivated to continue my journey towards better health. It has been an incredible feeling to see as each week goes by that my strength and endurance have improved and that keeps me completely motivated.  

How does the future look different than it did before?

I feel very hopeful and excited for my future. I love that my children get to see the dedication and work I'm putting in to improve myself. I am appreciative that my wife is with me on this journey also. But ultimately, I want to pay respect and show appreciation to my donor who literally gave me the gift of life to be able to have a second chance and I do not take this lightly.  I will never be able to repay that gift, but I can make the decision to live whole and healthy and that is a great way to say thank you. 

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