Brooke O’Connell, Hudson Valley, NY BetterU participant, shares the ways in which making small changes proved more sustainable for her in her journey toward better health.
I’m so thankful for the Better U Program. When I started this program, I had the hopes and dreams of losing a large sum of weight in a short amount of time and changing my life for the better. Then, life happened like it always does. I began the Better U program on the coattails of receiving a promotion to a job that I love, however the job can be demanding at times. I’ve also had some unexpected medical issues pop up for loved ones, which has taken some attention away from myself and the program. And I can’t forget to mention the most important, yet time consuming role I have: Mom to a toddler and pre-schooler.
I started the program working out 6 days per week and eating with the strict discipline for miraculous changes. These changes last for about 3 weeks when I started to feel burned out and by about week 5 or 6, I couldn’t keep up the rigorous change and found myself binging from the strict food restriction.
With all of the aforementioned items I dropped down to working out 3 times a week to make it more manageable, and moved away from a strict diet constraints to healthier choices, the sound nutrition advice that was provided to us by the Better U Program. However reducing my efforts made me feel like a failure in the program and almost led me to quit. Alas, I committed to something, and I don’t allow myself to fail, so I continued on.
Then in Week 8, the most wonderful thing happened; Better U had a seminar on mental wellness and the importance of making small changes! I felt like our presenter, Dr. Somjee was speaking directly to me and had been privy to my private insecurities. The recommendation to make small changes, stick to them then add more small changes, really resonated with me. No wonder I had failed so many times in my attempts to get healthier. Each time, I completely altered my life to the extent that it wasn’t realistic to sustain. I felt vindicated; maybe I wasn’t a failure, after all! Even though I wasn’t working out 6 times a week, I was still working out 3 times a week which was 3 times more than before I started the program. I was also making healthier choices and re-thinking the potato chips for raw carrot chips. This is something I can sustain far beyond the 12 week program!
So in summary, the Better U program has changed my life. I may not have the dramatic weight loss I was originally looking to achieve over the 12-week period, but I’ve gained something Better! I’ve gained the insight to move my body more, and know that every effort is worth it. I’ve gained the knowledge of making healthier choices rather than dieting, which will last throughout my life. I’ve gained the tools to make small, sustainable changes which will lead me to long term wellness. The Better U program has made a Better Me and I couldn’t be more thankful!!
April Dawn Shinske is the American Heart Association – Eastern States Regional Director for Internal Communications.