Welcome back to our “Healthy Habit Heroes” blog series, where we share members’ stories in their own words about their experiences with Yes Health.
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Last fall, Rhonda’s employer announced a health-related test pilot to see if preventative programs could help insurers save money by keeping people from getting chronically ill. This coincided with an important personal health marker: Rhonda was the heaviest she’d been in her whole life. On January 1, 2018, she weighed 174 pounds–at just 5’2”. Her BMI was over 30. Her resolution? To be healthier and do it the “right way.” She was one of 200 people chosen to participate in the pilot based on BMI and overall diabetes risk. Here’s how Rhonda reclaimed her health:
I was so out of shape that when I leaned down, I couldn’t easily get back up. Walking up the stairs at my office made my heart feel like it was going to explode out of my chest. I felt awful–and also ashamed. How did this happen? I thought, if I don’t get myself together now, it’s only going to get worse. I knew I didn’t want to live the rest of my life this way. As part of my employer’s pilot program, I joined Yes Health on January 25, 2018.
I liked the idea of asking questions and getting advice, but I’m pretty autonomous. It turns out, Yes Health offered the perfect balance; I got all the support I needed, exactly when I needed it. I’m so motivated, my energy has been contagious at the office. Even my boss is inspired. It’s actually been fun—and no one ever has fun losing weight. At least, this hasn’t been my experience before.
Sending the coaches photos of my meals felt intimidating at first. It makes it hard to cheat (even though the only person I’d be cheating is me). As soon as I knew what to shoot for—a good mix of protein, healthy fats, complex carbs and lots of veggies—I started making big changes in the way I eat and grocery shop. Nothing is really off the list—it’s all about proportions.
I was never a label reader. Now I carefully check the macronutrients and ingredients. And I’ve learned the other names for sugar and fake sweeteners so I can easily spot them. When my mom tried to give me some strawberry Greek yogurt, I saw that it had 24 grams of sugar. (No thanks!)
I used to just toss things into the grocery cart—lots of frozen meals and pre-packaged foods, which are easy, but not very good for me—without looking at what was in them. Now I use fresh, whole food ingredients to make meals from scratch, and I’m trying lots of new things, like spaghetti squash instead of pasta. It takes a little more time, but it’s worth it. I’ve also discovered healthy shortcuts, like salad in a bag that’s pre-washed and ready to go.
I’ve learned that I’m a chronic “sweet-aholic.” I couldn’t pass up anything with sugar, to the point I would get what I call the “sugar shakes.” I’d feel lightheaded, off-balance and fatigued if I went too long without a “fix.” I used to keep a pack of “emergency” cookies in my car. One day I realized, wow, those cookies look pretty bad—I hadn’t touched them in over a month. Now my favorite snacks are cottage cheese, apples, fresh mozzarella sticks, hard-boiled eggs and, when I’m craving something crunchy, multi-grain crackers. I haven’t had any rapid drops in my sugar levels since I started Yes Health. I’m happy to say, my “shakes” are a thing of the past.
I always thought not eating was a good thing when it came to weight loss. But, the coaches taught me that even if I’m not hungry, I need to keep my body fueled so I don’t crash. I also drink a full glass of water before I eat to help me figure out if I’m truly hungry, or just thirsty. I used to drink Diet 7-Up all day long. Now I make sure to stay hydrated with 80-90 ounces of water every day. I haven’t had a soda in months!
When I first started using my Fitbit, I remember getting an alert after sitting for nearly two hours—it thought I was asleep! It’s trained me to get up from my desk every hour to make sure I get in my steps. I walk as fast as I can to meet my goal of 1000 steps an hour and at least five miles a day. I never thought I would consider stairs fun, but now I challenge myself to take them as many times as I can. I also walk laps at lunch (six times around my building is a mile). And I play little games to stay active: when I grocery shop, I park as far away as possible, and when I watch TV, I get up during commercials and walk around the house, or step side to side to get my heart rate up. To help tone my arms, I use a strength training gizmo and keep upping the resistance and reps. (No dingle-dangle wing things for me!) I also follow along with some of Coach Chloe’s exercise videos on the app. She demonstrates correct form and gives modifications too. It’s like having my own personal trainer.
The coach advice, plus eating right and using my Fitbit every day have added up to a much healthier lifestyle. I can really see and feel the results—I’ve lost 29 pounds so far (40 is my goal). My endurance has improved, my resting heart rate has come way down and I recover much faster from intense activity.
My tummy is shrinking and I’m looking forward to wearing short-sleeved shirts and cute clothes (instead of huge, floppy things) this summer. My new blood work results show my cholesterol has dropped from 236 to 197. A huge goal of mine was to get it under 200. I love Yes Health! 💗
Challenges still come up, but the coaches are always there to step in and help. I recently had an event at a fancy restaurant and felt intimidated about what to order. The coaches gave me some easy ideas and I even took some food home so I didn’t overeat. I’m getting a level of support that helps me make healthy choices AND enjoy myself. I now understand that getting healthier is a process. One yellow meal doesn’t mean I’ve failed the whole program. The coaches help me keep things in perspective. It’s all about balance and taking small steps towards my goals.