In honor of Women’s Healthy Weight Day, Health Advisor Alison shares her personal health journey with us.

Let’s Talk Selfies

Have you heard the question people ask, “Why does she always take selfies from the shoulders up”? I always felt anxious when that question was asked. I was always insecure about my body. Growing up, I played softball from t-ball to high school and was a cheerleader in middle school. I was constantly engaged in sports. After college, I started gaining a significant amount of weight. After a few lab results, I found out I had hypothyroidism, where my body doesn’t produce enough of the thyroid hormone to keep my body’s metabolism functioning properly. I learned that I would be put on medication for the rest of my life to help with this metabolic functionality.

What Happened Next? 

Over the years that followed, I battled weight gain, which is related to my thyroid function. I have tried a plethora of things to maintain a healthy weight – the prescription Phentermine (that comes with many warnings and serious side effects), going to the gym with a friend, buying all those fad waist trainers and products, among others, but simply could not maintain my weight or lose any at that, because I did not know how to be conscious of my own healthy behaviors.

A close up of a sign

In 2015 I found myself weighing the most I had ever weighed in my life. I weighed 205 lbs. standing 4’11. At the time I was working in a hospital getting over 10,000 steps a day. However, I was indulging at the coffee shops for breakfast and eating in the cafeteria at the hospital for lunch with my co-workers. As a single woman, at the time, I was working 10-hour shifts. It was convenient for me to grab fast food for dinner. Also, during this year my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I was greatly impacted by my uncle’s death in 2014 from bone cancer. After speaking with my clinician, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. It took me testing several medications to find out which one worked best for me. I knew I was struggling physically, emotionally, and mentally. I was constantly stress-eating the wrong foods and feeling overly fatigued and mentally drained at the end of each day. So the 10,000 plus steps a day I was getting in movement and exercise wasn’t benefitting me at all because of my poor food choices.

My breaking point happened when I got up for work one morning and noticed I couldn’t fit my casual work pants. I told myself that I was not going to buy another pair. I immediately called my parents, who lived 2 hours away. My dad came down that following weekend and brought me his treadmill. Over the weekend, I did my research on healthy meal planning and the shopping needs that followed. In the past, I always had to have someone to go with me to the gym. If they bailed, I bailed. So, in this case, I was my own accountability partner in my journey ahead. I purchased a Nutribullet and started making smoothies once a day. I didn’t follow smoothie recipes, but I made sure that I used greens, fruits, seeds, and protein powder to keep them as nutrient-dense as possible. For breakfast or lunch, I would have the steamable vegetables (edamame (no salt), cauliflower, broccoli florets, mixed veggies, etc.) and a side of fruit, preferably mixed berries or depending on what fruit was in season. Dinner I would have my meals prepped and ready to heat up by having small amounts of lean protein (I switched between ground beef, ground turkey, and baked chicken). I also learned to try vegetables I’ve never tried before and usually paired them with some brown rice. I made time specifically on Sundays for shopping and meal preparation for the work week.  I decided to fully cut out soda from my diet. My go-to, growing up in the Carolina’s, was Sundrop. I felt like couldn’t survive one day without one. I made the decision to cut it out and replace with water and it helped!

Movement is Key!

Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays, I started out on the treadmill for 30 minutes daily. My clinician told me, “If you aren’t sweating, or your shirt doesn’t have sweat stains after exercising, then you aren’t exercising right.” And that I did. I made sure I started slowly until my body got used to my routine. Then, I gradually increased the incline and started jogging every 5 minutes for 1 minute at a time. I eventually built my time up to  60-90 minutes. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I would use my hand weights for 20 minutes. I started noticing a change in my face when I took pictures and started feeling better about myself. I never weighed myself, I let my clothes melt off of me. I started dropping pant sizes quickly. When I felt like I plateaued in my exercise, I would change up my routine. Even though I had to work 10-hour shifts at the time, I made exercise a priority. When I started to see I could do it on my own, without the assistance of medication and extra’s, it became my new normal.

A Success Story Worth Sharing

As of this week, I decided to weigh in to track my progress and weighed 128.4 lbs. I have a total loss of 76.6 lbs. since 2015 and have been able to keep the weight off. I can’t tell you how good it feels to actually wear a sundress again, or go to the beach. I used to never wear shorts, now I

wear shorts and rompers. I actually feel like a woman, instead of being held hostage in sweat pants and a hoodie. But, at the end of the day, this story isn’t about pounds lost or appearance, it’s about regaining control of my health – both physically and mentally. My testimony is only half the battle. But for you, our readers, and in honor of “Women’s Healthy Weight Day”, I hope this story can inspire or motivate women to overcome barriers and spend some time bettering themselves, for themselves!

Albert Einstein quoted, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” My advice to any current member or potential Pack Health member is that being overweight doesn’t define you. Our team of incredibly motivated Health Advisors here at Pack Health will gladly help and cater to your progression. As a Health Advisor, I can say that I am proud to work for a company that has the ability to reach out to members in distress or who is interested in learning about their chronic condition and encouraging them to set goals. Some of us have our own stories here at Pack Health, but our main focus is what we can help you with! We are here to lead by example, coach you through tough times, and congratulate you on wins. Most of all, we are here to be your accountability partners and teammates so you are not alone as you work to achieve the goals you want to set for yourself. If I had access to Pack Health during the time in my life where I struggled with my health, I can’t imagine where I would be now!

Check out Alison’s before and after photos below.

A woman wearing glasses and smiling at the camera  A person standing in front of water

Follow along with Alison’s journey to better health on Twitter and Instagram.

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