Healthy Choices

Barb had become a couch potato, and junk food was her solace. Worse yet, her habits led to hyper-tension and diabetes, and she felt sluggish and self-conscious about her appearance.

But the thought of changing her lifestyle seemed overwhelming.

In December, Barb discovered making big changes can be easier when you face the challenge with a friend. That month Barb, 47, who has been receiving services from Boone County Family Resources since 2001, relocated to a different supported-living site and began rooming with Shaina, a young woman who has transformed herself through diet and exercise.

Inspired by Shaina’s success, Barb began watching what she ate and took up walking. She admits eating healthy and exercising weren’t easy in the beginning. But she stuck with it. 

Before long, Barb opened her closet and couldn’t find a thing to wear. Nothing fit. She’d lost more than 30 pounds, and her energy was through the roof. Best of all, the doctor reported her hyper-tension had disappeared and her diabetes was better, too. In fact, her blood-sugar levels are so low that she only has to test them twice a week.

“I feel really good about myself for losing the weight,” Barb said. “It’s been a long process, but it’s been worth it.”

Natasha Grayson, who supervises the supported-living site where Barb lives, said she has watched as Barb has been transformed physically and emotionally. 

“I have seen great growth in Barb’s confidence and how she speaks of herself losing weight,” Natasha said. “Shaina and Barb really are great supports for each other, especially since they are doing this together.” 

The key to losing weight for Barb is creating a weekly menu. With the help of staff, she plans each meal and makes a grocery list of what she needs. If she veers from the plan, she doesn’t give up; she makes adjustments, realizing a healthy lifestyle is a process and not necessarily a goal.  

“I can still eat all the foods I love, I just have to put it on my menu,” Barb said. “My favorite meals are spaghetti and pizza.”

Barb’s exercise regimen is impressive. She walks on a treadmill 45 minutes a day, five days a week. Plus, she walks outside daily and sometimes treks the MKT trail. One night a week, she joins other residents and staff who complete at least three miles walking and/or running on the MU campus. In September, she hopes to run in the Roots n Blues n BBQ race downtown.

No doubt, there were times Barb wanted to throw in the towel, but she held fast to her commitment.

“In the beginning it was really hard,” she said. “But I kept telling myself, ‘I can’t eat that, it’s not good for me.’ Then it got easier.”

This fall, Barb hopes to reward herself with something special: “A whole new wardrobe!”