Okay…so you might say that maybe that title is a little conceited. But when the West Orange Healthcare District proclaimed their goal “to be the healthiest community in the nation” I was sure I wanted to be part of that! Five generations of my family have lived here. I would love our community to be known as the healthiest in the nation! I wanted to be part of “Healthy West Orange.”
So last year, IDEAS competed and won an RFP to help that cause come to life. With our StoryJam™ process, we created the Healthy West Orange core story, their brand charter, their new logo, and created a webpage that would help people understand how to get started on making that goal into a reality for themselves…one step at a time. We recently created their new website (healthywestorange.org) and we are now working on plans to activate the brand. Part of that effort includes the “Healthy Leaders” program that started in January, and I AM part of that. I am one of about 150 people in West Orange County selected to be a “Healthy Leader.” It’s a role I took very seriously.
There was a kickoff breakfast, where motivational speakers got us going. We all had blood pressure measurements, blood tests, weigh-ins, waist measurements, and the In-Body test which is a comprehensive summary of what shape our bodies were in. Those served as the baseline measures for each of us. We had six months of opportunities ahead of us to improve! I was provided with a coach to help me make goals for myself: lose a pound a week and improve my cholesterol levels. Weekly I met with my coach to be guided toward those goals, and to understand that when I stumbled, it was not the end of the world. Any progress was better than no progress. It was truly a journey.
I had recently bought myself an Apple watch to track my daily activities. I’m not really too competitive, but I am a bit obsessive, so the watch let me compete against myself every day by exercising 30 minutes and to keep moving throughout the day to keep my metabolism up. I publicly proclaimed my commitment on Facebook by posting my “close the rings” picture daily. I was doing it! I was getting healthy. In fact, I lost seven pounds in as many weeks. And then…
While out walking one morning, I turned my ankle and got a pretty nasty sprain. BAM… I was looking at no exercise for the next eight weeks! Should I give up? I mean, I couldn’t even walk. No…I had committed to myself. I would somehow go on, but I needed to be realistic. My new goal was to log everything I was eating daily and to simply not gain back the 7 pounds I had lost. It worked. And then…
I started traveling for work. Weekly. For twelve weeks in a row! I love to travel and meet new people, but, oh boy, this was difficult. My schedule was not my own, and by about week eleven, I was pretty discouraged. I had gained two pounds back! And knowing I still had another week of travel to go, that weekend I decided (those are key words there) to try a new way of eating. I made another commitment…this time to a vegetarian diet for at least six weeks. I got on Netflix and searched “vegetarian” and “vegan.” Lots of documentaries popped up. I watched one of them that first night. Another the second night. I was convinced that this would be a new beginning. BUT…I was still traveling…and it was a big change for me…so I decided that the first two weeks of this change, I would NOT worry about my weight at all, and instead I concentrated on just eating well. It was a good change of pace.
That first two weeks, I gained yet another pound. BUT…for the first time in my entire life, I was not hungry! For real. I’ve “dieted” for what feels like forever, and I’ve always felt hungry. But not now. I guess all that fiber in the fruits and vegetables and rice and bread I was eating really did satiate me. And I noticed another thing. I didn’t ache anymore. Not really at all! Could it be that eating well and exercising was really doing my body good?
Week three of the vegetarian experiment, I started tracking my food intake again. I know this helps to make me more mindful of my food choices, and between that and my Apple watch helping me to be aware of my exercise, I was turning into a pretty health-minded person! Now I’m a little past the week four marker. Yesterday I weighed in for the end of my Healthy Leader six month program. I lost those three pounds I had regained plus one more…for a grand total of eight pounds lost. You might be thinking…eight pounds in six months…that doesn’t sound like much. Well, I can tell you, it was eight pounds more than I lost all last year! And although my total cholesterol level didn’t change, my HDL went up and my LDL came down. Both good markers. And the big deal…like I said…I feel better. I’m pretty sure that over time, these lifestyle changes that I have begun to incorporate into my body will help me improve my overall health. Thanks, Healthy West Orange, for the boost!
I’m just one person, but I am a member of #TeamHWO. You can be, too. Go to HealthyWestOrange.org and “Join the Movement” to become a better you. Together, we can become the healthiest community in the nation.