A healthy lifestyle is important and key in everyday life. A healthy lifestyle can help keep us from diseases that can damage our life and even damage the lives of others around us. I didn’t fully understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle until spring of 2009. I was always active. I played sports. I exercised. My diet, I thought, was reasonably healthy. If I put on weight, I would diet and usually it worked. It wasn’t enough and to be frank, I wasn’t taking care of myself in the right way. I found myself at my primary doctor’s office with high blood pressure at the age of 23. I was placed on medication and it was the start of something I never thought would happen to me. By summer I packed on 17 pounds and weighed XX on a 4’10” frame. During that time, I tried working out, but I found myself short of breath and tired, making it difficult for me to exercise. I became stressed, emotional, embarrassed, you name it. I struggled with food, too. I would eat healthy, but I would also find myself dining out and pulling up to drive thru windows a lot. I didn’t think it was affecting me, though. My eating habits had been the same for years.
During that time, I went back to my primary doctor. I told her something was wrong and that I am putting on weight like crazy. Her response, “Keep exercising”. I asked her if there was another high blood pressure medication I could go on as I was convinced it was the medication. I was placed on a water pill. I still put on weight, but for the most part, I was leveling off. I wasn’t satisfied. What was I doing wrong? I was living my life the same way I had been for years and now my body was completely rejecting it. By the fall I was miserable and fed up, ready to figure out what was wrong with me. My mom was ready, too. We met with my doctor. We asked her again for help, another alternative. She told me the blood work that was done months prior was fine and it wasn’t anything else. I was told to try counting my calories and exercise. I asked her to refer me to an endocrinologist. She didn’t want to, but agreed. By November, I was having blood work and glucose tests done. By December, I was informed I was prediabetic and once again placed on medication. I was 24 and on my way to having type 2 diabetes. This was not going to happen to me and I prepared myself to do what it takes to make sure I would have it under control. This time it wasn’t going to be a crash diet.
My amazing endocrinologist referred me to a program through Aurora. It was called the Living Well Program
. This program truly saved my life. I had a support system that I met with on a weekly basis for the first three months. I worked with a dietitian and a personal trainer. I learned a lot about food, personal wellness, exercise and most of all how to maintain a healthy lifestyle that worked for me. The weight was coming off like crazy and by the end of the third month I was training for my first triathlon. I continued into phase 2 of the program, which was a commitment of another nine months. Within one year, I lost 32 pounds, completed a triathlon and built and maintained a lifestyle of healthy eating and daily exercise. Most of all, in a way you could say I beat type 2 diabetes.
As of today, I am no longer on any medication and I am the healthiest I have ever been. I didn’t do it by crash diets or by burning myself out with too much exercise. I did it by making changes that I can take with me for the rest of my life. The Living Well Program is what brought me here today. I wanted to tell my story. I wanted to start with an introduction as to what I want for my future. I currently have my Bachelor’s in Science in Education and Human Services from the University of Wisconsin- Oshkosh. However, the career path I have been on is not what I am looking for. Health and wellness have become important aspects in my life and I want to share that with others. Making the decision to go back to school for dietetics feels right this time around. I want to take the knowledge I have now and the knowledge I will gain and put it towards something I believe in my hope is that I can use it and be what could be considered a health and wellness “life coach”. I want to take it and develop goals and plans for those that will be my future patients. I want to help others focus and strive for a healthier life free of disease that can be controlled with the right tools. I want to help others strive for what they may have thought was the unthinkable.
Unfortunately, we have allowed ourselves to create a society that doesn’t revolve around health and wellness, causing an increase in health problems among Americans. With the right people and persistence in prevention, we can create a healthier society. I want to take part in that. I understand the efforts, the time and hard work involved in making lifestyle changes. I want to help coach someone with the knowledge I gain, the efforts I make and the support I can give in helping save another person’s life and keep them free from disease. This is why I am making the decision to continue my education in a field that is very important to me. Thanks for listening,Samantha Rappa