Background: Amber is a member of our Weight Management program, and has worked with Health Advisor MKayl to achieve her health goals. In addition to losing 100 pounds and quitting her habit of smoking for good, she has used her success to start a platform to motivate others. We interviewed her to learn more about her journey and the lesson she’s learned along the way.
Can you tell us a bit about how you became a member of Pack Health what made you decide to sign up for our program?
It was something that was offered through my employer. When they were reviewing my benefits, they asked if anyone would want to volunteer to test out this program with Pack Health. I was all for it, considering I was new to my company. I was hoping, from what I had heard about Pack Health, I was going to be able to extend health goals from work to home and back to work. If you can keep up with your health goals through the work day, imagine how far that would go in your personal journey.
So I connected with MKayl, my Health Advisor, and she’s the reason I’ve been pretty much accelerated through my program! I’ve just loved working with her.
That’s awesome! Can you share a few of your tiny steps with us? And maybe a bit about your experience with MKayl?
Well, I actually met Mkayl by accident when I first tried to sign up, I think I accidentally signed up twice. I got two kits in the mail and Mkayl was the one that kept reaching out to me and eventually got me through my work email and gave me options on how I could communicate best with her. She made it as convenient as possible for me, which I really appreciated. What also really stood out was how she started by establishing a relationship with me, so it was easier to set tiny steps.
We started by focusing on quitting smoking and upping my water intake, two things I really struggled with. I had already started on my weight loss journey when I met her. At that point, I had lost my first 30 pounds, but I was having a hard time kicking the habit of smoking.
She just stayed on me. She asked me how many cigarettes I smoked last week, as well as the current week, and then helped me figure out what I could do to decrease that number. She got to the base of why I was smoking:t was my stress. At the time my mom was still alive, I was taking care of her, and taking care of two kids as a single mom while working full time and trying to lose weight. When I started focusing on myself it was like boom! I quit smoking almost immediately because I realized it was just something to do with my hands.
I have to say, I swear by that little Pack Health magnet. It’s such a nice reminder that I can keep in my house and see every day.
I’m very visual, so it helps hold me accountable and reminds me to grab my water jug every day, and my packed healthy lunch! There are certain things when you’re a single mom that you just forget to plan for, and you’re forced to do what’s easy. But that magnet truly helped me stay prepared!
How are your health goals supported (or not supported) in the workplace?
Well, my health goals really aren’t supported in the office at all, but that hasn’t stopped me. I run an entire group on facebook (Mission Slimpossible), which I started last February. It started out with a small group of 5 people and now we’re up to 73. I started it because I really don’t have any family around me. I lost my mom in May, and since then, I’ve grown to depend on the people of this group to share my journey and help pump me up on days when I’m down.
You know, I’m 28 years old, I have two kids, by the time I get home from work, I’m exhausted. When I lost my mom, I found I was having a really hard time focusing. My doctor told me to start taking a walk every hour. So that’s what I started to do. Once every hour I would get up and take a walk around the office building. I also suffer from chronic migraines, but I find that keeping my blood pumping helps keep them to a minimum, and helps me finish the day. Tuesdays and Thursdays I do Zumba after work. Since I walk throughout the day, I’m able to really enjoy those cardio days, and it’s not as hard for me to get warmed up.
Honestly, I would rather give up 15 minutes of my lunch break to go and do a 20-minute yoga routine in the morning. I think some of my coworkers would want to join me! I’m the youngest in the department, so I feel like any movement would benefit everyone in the company so much. No one wants to sit at a desk all day. It’s not healthy. They might just need a bit of a push. It would make everyone’s days and lives so much easier and better. I think that would really change the company as a whole! It’s not taking money out of their wallets. It takes 3 minutes to do a lap!
It’s a productivity thing too. Work was really starting to get hard for me while dealing with the stress of losing my mom. I was battling depression and so on, I was really not performing well. Then after I got into walking, I went from 400 invoices a month to almost 100 per day! I mean, that was huge. The proof is all in the numbers! You just need someone outspoken enough to help lead, so that’s what I’m working on right now. You can either walk with me and follow me or sit and do nothing… I’m a big positive change person in my personal life, and I hope to bring that into my work life as well.
What was the most helpful part of the program for you?
The most helpful part was also the most annoying part. MKayl kept calling and emailing me and I felt stressed, but in the end, I was so thankful for that, I needed it. The world today is filled with busy people, we don’t want to stop and take a second to realize what helps us or what brings us joy, we tend to push it away because It’s not in the moment of what you’re doing. But looking back, I am so THANKFUL I didn’t ignore Mkayl. She always kept me on track and pushed me to want to be better. It was consistency in my life when I didn’t have it, she kept it there for me. It felt like I was more than just a task for her job.
What advice would you give to people who are considering Pack Health or just starting out?
First, I would say, find another coworker or friend in the program. I had a couple coworkers ask me for advice at work. I was able to help them feel more confident after they were able to speak with someone that’s also going through it.
Don’t give up, STICK WITH IT. You have to, whenever you start a journey for your health, you have to be consistent and stop making excuses. I’ve always had yearly goals, last year my goal was the be consistent, this year, no excuses. Once you’re consistent, you realize the importance and you start to do more on your own! I started reaching out to Mkayl about things I talked about with my doctor. I also asked her about gym memberships and she literally helped me find gyms in the area with daycare, she did all the work!
Be prepared for excuses. Not having time is not an excuse. This was the hardest obstacle for me. I would say things like, I don’t have enough time, I don’t have enough hands to carry around a gallon of water. Change your thinking and reprimand yourself. I had to go around saying how I honestly felt. When my friends would ask me to do things with them I would have to say, I’m not going to get my goal if I go with you. It took awhile for my them to support me on that, but they do now. I now know that Pack Health does so much more than I could’ve ever imagined.
We’re really proud of your weight loss victory! How has it been keeping that weight off and how have you kept yourself motivated?
I have two kids. I have my closest friends. I have my FB group. I’m a single mom. Often times when I find that my life is so hard, I find that my kids look to me to be perfect. That’s the best motivation. I really learned to appreciate those people that are actually there for me, to root me on. I’m overly thankful, I take everything I’m given and I take that thankfulness and give it to other people. There’s a lot of things you can do with the Red Cross or Habitat for Humanity, that can help you give back. That keeps me motivated. I have more than other people. I have recently met a lot of people in workout groups that help me stay motivated because they have the same goals as I do. They have pushed me further!
I went to the gym, and for the first time ever, I was able to push 300 pounds on the leg lift machine. You never know what you’re capable of until you try. It keeps me going. I want to be there for my kids’ graduation and my grandchildren. I want to be someone. My mom was a recovering addict and wanted me to be someone, so I told myself that’s exactly what I was going to do.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Tell people not to give up. Everytime that you stop, you have to start over. When my mom died, I stopped for a month and a half and I had to start from the bottom again. It was so hard to restart. If you’re aiming for weight loss, always take photos.
Taking photos really helped me appreciate the progress I was making. Obviously, weight isn’t just a number, it shows on your body!
Photos really help track your progress if you want to inspire yourself.
At the end of the day, I’m just so thankful that I did this! From 24 to 14, I lost 24 inches. I’m learning to love scale victories as much as non-scale. All this has saved my life!
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