By: Karen Stewart

If you think you’re not young enough, or too far gone to embrace difficult health changes, let this 52-year-old grandmother tell you about my five-year, 105-pound weight loss journey. Many of you know me, but for those who don’t, I am an integrated healthcare therapist at Bartow outpatient and have been with Peace River Center for 20 years. My journey began in 2010 when my physician prescribed blood pressure medication. At that time, I was at the highest weight of my life, 250 pounds and beginning to experience complications such as knee pain, back pain and difficulty sleeping. My (then) 27-year-old son was a hospital pharmacist, and was very concerned, seeing the dire results of chronic lack of self-care, he sat me down for an eye-opening “health talk.” He and his wife were planning for a child in the next year or two and wanted me to be a part of that child’s life for many years to come.
I researched health, nutrition, supplements, and exercise.

In the first year, I walked one mile every day and began thinking of food and supplements not only as nutrition but medicine. With a lot of help from BENGAY, I gradually worked up to walking 3 miles a day. In 2011, I joined Planet Fitness and challenged myself to add full-body weight resistance training 3 days a week. By 2013, my beautiful granddaughter was born and I married my super supportive husband, David. I joined Golds Gym, hired a personal trainer, and began a 5-day-a-week, weight resistance split plan, with cardio. With phenomenal encouragement, support, persistence and prayer, I was able to achieve my ultimate weight loss goal in 2015. I went from 250 pounds to 145 pounds, which I have maintained for 3 years now!

I’ve discovered setting and achieving health goals is not only satisfying but addictive.  So, in 2018, my new goal is improving my body composition— the proportion of fat and fat-free body mass.  I invite you to help me on this new journey. Ask me questions.  Cheer me on.  Help cultivate healthy food and activity choices in our work environment.  If you choose to share your personal health goals with me, I will surely cheer you on, give you encouragement and support.

During Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to share my passion with you–that our physical and mental health are so unquestionably interrelated! I am hoping one day to add Personal Trainer, and nutritional counselor, to my credentials.  But for today, my hope is that our Peace River Center family catch on to the excitement about health and that we join together to create an environment supportive of exceptional health, and exceptional health transformations, at The River!