Hilton Head Health logo
Wellness Wednesday: The Mindful Eating Challenge
April 2, 2016
Struggling with weight issues has been the norm for most of my life, but I always managed to have good numbers where cholesterol and blood pressure were concerned. Then in October 2009, my father-in-law, for whom I was the primary caretaker, fell and fractured his pelvis and was sent to a nursing home for recovery. Because of his advanced dementia, he was denied routine physical therapy and I knew I needed to be his strongest advocate…he wanted to walk, he wanted to recover, even though he was unable to verbalize it. I moved with him into a handicapped accessible room at a hotel and used the weight room and pool facilities to exercise him and give him back his mobility. After five weeks, he was able to return to assisted living but I was totally unaware of the toll it had taken on me, personally, until I was back at my part-time job as a standardized (professional) patient.

One afternoon I had two different third-year medical students practicing their physical exam techniques tell me that I had high blood pressure. Thinking that they had not used the blood pressure cuff correctly, I went to the doctor in charge of the training and asked him to take my blood pressure. It was 168! Before I even left the building I was on the phone to my own primary care physician making an appointment. In addition to the high blood pressure, I had gained about 20-25 pounds during those five weeks. I have always been a stress eater, or eating that which was convenient and my closet always held at least four different sizes of clothing and I would just grab whatever fit at the time.

I knew I had to do something to take care of me at this point and went online in search of somewhere I could go to get my weight down. With my husband’s support and blessing, I made arrangements to spend a week at Hilton Head Health (H3) in January of 2010, with no idea at all how drastically it was going to change my life.

I had never exercised regularly; not really exercised at all since gym class in high school! The first class I went to at H3, I thought I was going to have to be scraped up off the floor! But through the continual encouragement of the staff and other participants, I began to try all kinds of exercise classes and was actually having fun! I laughed along with others as I stumbled through Zumba with two left feet; I sweated alongside newly made acquaintances as we labored hard on the treadmills. I always tell people that it is as much about the mind and spirit as it is about the physical changes that take place. H3 provides an atmosphere that nourishes all three parts: education for the mind, exercise for the body, food for the soul and time enough to reflect on putting it all together.

As a Christian woman wanting to take better care of the temple wherein God’s Holy Spirit dwells I wanted to be a more fit testimony of His love and care. By taking care of myself, I am better able to take care of my family, be as healthy as I can possibly be so I can ‘run the good race’ and enjoy my children, and someday…my grandchildren!

The educational sessions provided such an excellent foundation and impetus to work towards making life-long changes. I was given exercises that could be done anywhere with minimal equipment. Cooking classes showed me some different ways to cook that would be healthier and use less fat. (May I just say that H3 does a fantastic job of making 1,200 calories look and taste like a gourmet feast!)

I lost several pounds while at H3, but more importantly, I came home with a new vision and goal towards my own health. I began to check out different exercise videos from the public library and tried several until I found ones that I liked. Now I have pretty much settled on two groups of videos: one for strength training and the other for cardio exercise. I do them in my own home and keep track on a goals chart. I began to use a free online calorie and fitness program to track my daily eating and exercise, and most importantly, gathered a few close friends to join in my endeavors and we daily encourage one another with comments.

The weight did not come off quickly, but over time I have managed to take off 43 pounds and 23 inches by eating sensibly, exercising six days a week, and gathering a supportive group of friends to encourage one another. I feel better now than when I was much younger and I am still amazed when I shop for clothing that I am buying smaller and smaller sizes. Is that really my size now?!

As a primary caregiver for someone else (my mother, now that my father-in-law has passed away), we can often tend to take care of everyone else’s needs and health concerns before we take care of ourselves. By making healthy lifestyle changes and exercising regularly, I have found that the stress and tension that at times weighed so heavily on my shoulders, have been reduced exponentially. When I feel better, I am better able to tend to the needs of the ones under my care. It’s a Win-Win solution.

Thank you H3 for inspiring me to ‘run the good race!’

Sue Ellen Sherer; Rochester, NY

Vote for H3 pop up