Forget about crash diets and marathon sessions at the gym. To reach your health goals, your best bet may be small actions that add up to big results over time. That’s what worked for Maria Gonzalez, Business Readiness Analyst, who recently lost 155 pounds.
Her journey began two years ago when she decided to sign up for a step-based Take Action activity. Although she originally looked at it as a way to save money, it ended up being the final spark she needed. “I had personal reasons as well. I was a type 2 diabetic on insulin, and I just wanted to be healthier. I was also diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2013 while I was pregnant. That’s what got me thinking about what I put in my body. All these things motivated me.”
To achieve her goal, Maria made a series of small steps in the following key areas.
- A game plan. Maria worked with onsite wellness coordinators to set goals and create detailed plans to reach those goals, breaking each one down into smaller action items—such as identifying what she needed to do at night and what time she needed to go to bed if she wanted to work out the next morning. As she progressed, she continued to set new goals and action steps, which kept her pushing forward.
- Food. “I didn’t have a diet in mind. Instead, I focused on eating food in its natural state and removing processed foods little by little. Today, portion control is important. I still have pizza, but not four pieces,” she said. “Now when I have cravings, I tell myself ‘You had that before. You know what it tastes like and how it makes you feel.’ Sure eating a burger sounds great but I’ll feel lazy and stuffed afterward, and I hate that feeling. So I think about my choices.”
- Activity. After starting with the elliptical machine, Maria reached out to her wellness coordinator for help creating an all-body workout for toning. “Once I got into a routine, exercise was motivating. I found myself getting stronger and I was able to do yoga poses I couldn’t do before. Now exercise is natural to me. I crave it,” she said. “I do spin twice a week, I’m in the pool swimming, I’m lifting weights—things I never thought I’d be doing. I even completed my first triathlon in September.”
- Mindset. Maria says everything became easier as she got to know herself and understand her “why”—the reason she wanted to be healthier in the first place. “I was in the doctor’s office often and realized that wasn’t how I want to live my life.” That desire to improve her quality of life and get off medication kept her motivated. And so did the encouragement from her colleagues. “People notice your hard work and dedication. People would tell me I look great or was doing a great job.”
“It took a lot of baby steps to get here,” said Maria. “But I took small steps to not overwhelm myself.” And the results, she notes, were worth every minute.
“In my wildest dreams, I always told my husband it’d be cool to lose 100 pounds. Now it’s reality and I could pinch myself because I can’t believe it,” she said. “But I realize it’s a journey. I’m never going to be done. I’ll always be working toward goals and trying to better myself.”
For now, however, Maria is in a great place. She’s off insulin and says her energy and passion for life are sky high. “If I had known I’d feel this good. I would have done this a lot sooner,” she added. “This is the happiest I’ve ever been. It’s a great time to be me.”