For many of us, the new year brings new beginnings, new goals and new resolve. All too often, however, that energy fizzles out after just a few weeks. On average, 80% of Americans who make resolutions fail to keep them, and most lose their resolve by mid-February.
Centura Health is on a mission to support your whole health – not just in January, but throughout the year – and two of our own inspiring people are proof that hard work, dedication and a supportive environment can bring about lasting change.
In April 2019, Mathew Garcia, surgical biller and data coordinator at St. Anthony Hospital, began going for walks over his lunch break. He had recently been to see a CHPG primary care provider who offered a different model than Mathew’s previous doctors. Rather than lecturing him about his weight, his new doctor sat down with him and had a heart-to-heart about why it’s important for him to make healthier choices and the obstacles Mathew faced to achieving his goals.
“Dr. Shepard made me really believe I could make these changes,” said Mathew. “I thought to myself, if my doctor has so much faith in me, there’s no reason I can’t do this.”
Mathew knew he wanted to make big changes, but he began by setting small goals that felt attainable. First, he set out to lose 15 lb., and achieved that by making healthier food choices and incorporating more movement into his daily routine. His coworkers were soon joining him on his lunchtime walks, and he set his sights on the next 15 lb. weight loss goal and requested a standing desk for his workspace.
Mathew’s coworkers were a vital support for him as he began incorporating simple but effective ways to stay active during his work day, like exercises he could do at his standing desk. By September, he was not only able to join his coworkers in the St. Anthony Hospital stair challenge – he won it, taking the stairs more than any other associate who participated in the month-long challenge. Thanks to the stamina he built during this challenge, he was also able to join his coworkers at the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb at Red Rocks.
In under a year, Mathew had lost 65 lb. and remains committed to making these changes a permanent lifestyle.
“It’s hard to see at the beginning how taking these small steps will achieve big things, and don’t be upset if you don’t meet every little goal. Big change doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s okay if you don’t meet every goal perfectly,” said Mathew. “But if you’re able to set little goals, and keep going, those little steps add up to monumental outcomes.”
For Monica Michaels, Occupational Health Technician at St. Anthony North Health Campus, approaching her well-being journey as a lifestyle change was key. Both her brother and sister had developed Type II diabetes, and she knew if she didn’t make some changes she would likely follow in their footsteps.
“I had tried all the diets, diet pills…I’ve tried everything. But they’re just not sustainable, and as soon as you stop, you gain it right back,” said Monica. “I knew I had to find something I could do for the rest of my life.”
In 2009, Monica weighed over 400 pounds. She joined TOPS, a nonprofit weight loss group, and made some small but important changes: taking smaller bites, setting her fork down between bites, checking in with herself about how full she really was, and making sure to go to the gym six days per week. After losing her first 100 pounds fairly easily, she hit a plateau.
“I was frustrated. I thought I’d never get down to the goal weight my doctor had set,” said Monica. “Really, I just wanted to be able to walk; there were times when even walking from the car in to work was hard for me, and we live in an area with such beautiful walking trails….I saw people enjoying those trails, and I wanted to be able to do that too! I needed something to get me going again.”
Monica switched up her routine and began using new programs available to her through Centura’s associate wellbeing program. Her favorites are Zipongo, which has helped her stay on track with healthy eating, and her conversations with health coaches, whom she says got to know her by name because she asked them so many questions!
In 2018, Monica reached her goal weight, losing more than 225 pounds in all, and was crowned state, national, and international TOPS queen – which means that out of all the TOPS participants to reach their goal weight in 2018 at each level, Monica had lost the most weight. She’s now sustained her lifestyle changes for more than a decade, has lost more than half her body weight since she started her wellness journey, and has completed the BOULDERBoulder 10K.
“My best advice, if you’re just starting this, is to choose what you’re going to do each day, set an alarm, and make sure you do it. Once you do that for three weeks, it will become part of your daily routine,” said Monica. “It’s also important to find a partner for moral support – if I didn’t have support people, there’s no way I could have achieved my goals.”
“But most importantly,” said Monica, “don’t ever give up!”