The American Heart Association recently announced its 2021 Healthy For Good™ Lifestyle Change Award winners, sponsored by Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. This annual recognition celebrates individuals who have made positive changes to improve the quality of their health. The three winners were chosen for their achievements and were recognized during the New Haven Heart Walk digital celebration on Saturday, May 1st, on the American Heart Association Connecticut Facebook page.
Healthy For Good™ is a revolutionary movement to inspire you to create lasting change in your health and your life, one small step at a time. The approach is simple: Eat smart. Add color. Move more. Be well.
The Lifestyle Change Award submissions were made by the nominees themselves or by others on their behalf. Here are their stories:
As told by Lifestyle Change Award Winner – Gerri S. Lyons Bell:
In March of 2020 I has at my heaviest that I had ever been. I constantly felt tired, blotted, with low energy, and honestly, without really knowing at the time I was feeling a little depressed. It is only in retrospect that I gained perspective. I did not know where to turn to get the proper guidance to make healthy lifestyle changes that would not only work for me, but remain sustainable. After trying different exercising programs and feeling like I was getting nowhere, I decided to respond to a Face Book message inviting me to do an assessment. Shortly afterwards I began on a life-style program that would teach me healthy habits mind, body, and finances and change my life forever. At this time last year when were told that we had to stay home due to the pandemic. We did not know how long it was going to last. I had decided that if I were going to be forced to stay home that this would be the ideal time for me to focus on my health. I knew that if I didn’t make my health a priority right then that my weight gain would get out of control. It was already out of control and I refused to gain more weight while being home. I was determined to do something about my health!
So, at the end of March I started a program that ended up being one of the best investments of time and money that I’ve ever made in my life. I was thinking that I would lose 10 lbs. when I started this program. Well, in twelve weeks I lost 15 lbs, and then went on to lose 5 more lbs. In total and in less than three months I lost 20 lbs. The best is that it was an easy program to follow to lose the weight, however I gained so much more in return such as more confidence, better sleep patterns, more energy, and a routine of life-long healthy eating habits. Just one week after starting the program, I decided to pay it forward and became a health coach. Over the last year I have helped dozens of friends, family members, and clients get and stay healthy. In addition to working for a major healthcare organization, I started my own company and became a certified health coach. As I continue my own healthy journey, I also get to walk along side others and coach them to reach their optimal health mind, body, and finance goals-as well!
As told by Lifestyle Change Award Winner – Stan Osowiecki
“On October 19, 2020, my Dad passed away due to a heart attack most likely brought on by his cancer treatments. While still dealing with his passing, I found a lump which turned out not to be cancer – but a visit to my doctor did reveal that I was at risk for diabetes and other conditions based on my weight and lab results. I began to make changes to my diet and activity levels in early December of 2020. My diet changes included being more mindful of what I ate, especially the portion sizes, a reduction in the amount of sugar and carbohydrates I ate, and increasing the amount of water I drank each day. I began walking more and bought a rowing machine that I used a few times a week.
As a result, I have lost over 50 pounds in the past 4 ½ months. In addition, I have seen positive changes in my bloodwork results, most notably in my Hemoglobin A1C levels. I went from 10.2% in December 2020 to 5.2% in mid-March! These lifestyle changes have made me less tired, decreased the volume of joint discomfort and has increased my energy and stamina levels.”
As told by Lifestyle Change Award Winner – Michael Capalbo:
“On April 24, 2020 I had a massive heart attack. I had 100% blockage of the left main artery, also known as the widowmaker. Oddly enough, it may have been the best thing that ever happened to me. Since my heart attack, I have started a great strength and conditioning regiment including being at the gym at 5AM, six days a week. My diet and cooking skills have improved ten-fold. I don’t eat anything white and don’t eat red meats or saturated fats. I now drink water and only decaf tea. Most importantly, I quit smoking! In five short months the changes were drastic. To name a few, my cholesterol went from 195 to 105, my triglycerides went from 265 to 80 (wow), and my A1C went from 6.1 to 5.7. I have done two public speaking engagements with the theme, ‘don’t be me, be better than me!’ My goal is to continue to do more speaking engagements so others can learn from my experience.”
The New Haven Heart Walk, in its 29th year, is a fun and meaningful way to celebrate heart and stroke survivors, raise lifesaving funds and encourage physical activity. To continue on with the tradition, the New Haven Heart Walk was held virtually on May 1st. Participants can continue to walk and fund-raise through June 5, 2021. Go to www.NewHavenHeartWalk.org for more information!