Today we’re spotlighting Athena, who’s lost 4 pounds and doubled her exercise since becoming a Pack Health member in May. Let’s jump right in!

Can you tell me a bit about how you started your journey to better health?

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes three years ago, based on a routine blood test, and I just felt like my world came crashing down around me. You know, they prescribed me an injectable and a pill and my sugars still weren’t where they need to be, so it’s been a difficult road.

A big part of it is that I had my stomach stapled 30 years ago which really limited what I eat. I can’t eat meat, for example, and I’m also a picky eater I really don’t like other sources of protein. My Health Advisor, Katie, has had suggestions for healthy eating but you know, I told her, I live on carbs.

I have made some changes. I learned beans have some protein so that’s good. Also, I drank sweet tea in the morning now I’m drinking more water and unsweet tea only and I’m actually keeping track of it now. Yesterday I drank 9 cups of water because I got this new thermos bottle yesterday and it has ounces on it. So I’m keeping track of my water and giving up sweet tea. Hopefully when I go see the doctor my A1c will better. Katie says between x and y is acceptable, and I’m aiming for 80-130 mg/dL before a meal, and less than 180 mg/dL after. So that helps.

Katie’s your Pack Health Advisor, right? How did you find Pack Health?

I discovered Pack Health through my insurance, I got a letter in the mail that this was a covered benefit so I decided to give it a try. And Katie’s my lifesaver, I’m telling you.

She’s so sweet and understanding and I can talk to her about everything. I was talking to her last week about how we’re trying to come up with $3,000 dollars for my daughter’s tuition – because that has just been a huge source of stress. She’s the one who recommended we do a Gofundme campaign, and we actually ended up getting a loan for this semester and refunding everyone from the first campaign but we now have a go fund me up for next semester because this tuition can really add up.

We actually talk a lot about my daughter because she’s my main motivation. I need to be there for her – not just for a couple of months but for a long while – because she’s anticipating staying with me while she pays off her student loans. Really that’s what motivated her to do this program and what motivates me every day.

Motivation is so important. Can you tell me a bit more about your daughter and how else she’s motivated you on your journey to better health?

Yeah, a big part of it is that we lost her dad 2 years ago to diabetes. He lost sight in his left eye when his retina detached and lost both legs 5 years apart, and he died 2 years ago. He was on an insulin pump and there were times when we had to take him to the hospital for low blood sugars, or high blood sugars, it was just terrible. But of course it was my job as his wife, for better or for worse, and we had 25 years and a beautiful daughter from it. She’s wonderful I’m so proud of her and so blessed by her because she cares. She lives with me still and she hugs on me. I mean really, my baby is my life. I’m so blessed by her.

It was actually her father’s illness that inspired her to do this program at AUM. He was on dialysis for over a year and he had to go in to get his levels checked and she was driving him to those appointments over the summer when she wasn’t in school and that’s when she decided- that’s what I want to do – and enrolled in the Clinical Laboratory Sciences program at AUM. She actually started learning about diabetes this semester so she always has a lot of advice for me. She asks me every morning, what’s your sugar today? Keeps me accountable. She also introduced me to myFitness pal, sedentary exercises, and walking.

I’m walking more than I used to since talking to Katie – 3-4 days at least 30 minutes – we’re increasing it as my tiny step weekly goal. It doesn’t sound like a lot but for me it is. I’m a bit of a couch potato. But it’s like Katie said I don’t have to go out in the heat, I can go to the grocery store, or target, or an air-conditioned mall. We recently moved offices at work so sometimes I walk around the building or across the building. I’m trying to get up away from my desk more because I feel almost chained to my desk sometimes.

Awesome. Can you tell me a bit more about the progress you’ve made since talking to Katie? 

Yeah I think the biggest difference for me since talking to Katie is understanding more of the way stress can affect me, lack of sleep can affect me – that’s a big part of being a diabetic. When I first started talking to Katie I was under a lot of stress at night and taking a sleeping pill at night because after my husband died I’ve found it really hard to get to sleep. But Katie taught me controlling my stress and making sure I get enough sleep really affects my blood sugars – 9:00 pm – 6:30 am, I get about 9 hours a night. That was actually a bit of a surprise.

Increasing my tiny step goals has also been great – especially when my pedometer was working. I’ve focused a lot on exercise and it’s helped increase my mobility and motivation to walk.  I’ve also lost 4 pounds and my clothes are starting to fit looser which is a good thing – the measurements are what matters. I took my measurements last week so I’ll take those again in a few weeks and see!


To contribute to Athena’s daughter’s gofundme campaign, visit

To become a member of Pack Health (100% grant-funded, no credit card info required), click here.

To explore more stories from Pack Health members, click here.

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