Partnering on the Journey to Better Health

Waldo County General Hospital

MH-WCGH-CBR-2015-Carlene-RunningTwo years ago, Carlene Brown made a choice. As the single mother of two prepared to watch her son graduate from high school, she realized that for the first time in nearly 20 years, she’d be on her own.

“What do I do when I don’t have kids to take care of?” Carlene wondered.

She decided to get healthy.

Several years earlier, Carlene was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Her demanding desk job left her inactive for most of the day, which she said caused her to gain a lot of weight. After talking to her doctor, she decided to sign up for Journey to a Healthier You, a group health coaching class offered by Waldo County General Hospital’s Community Health and Wellness staff. The class focused on goal setting, nutrition, mindful eating and weekly exercise sessions. Joining a group program was a big step for Carlene, who describes herself as not very social. She said Hester and Mirja, the health coaches who led the program, instantly put her at ease.

“They were so down-to-earth,” said Carlene. “We were all learning together.”

The support Carlene received from the program gave her confidence to make changes. When she wanted to try a Zumba class, one of the health coaches went with her to help her feel more comfortable.

“That was a turning point for me,” said Carlene. “I thought, ‘That was fun, I had a good time and now I’m going to try new things.’”

Carlene continued to attend exercise classes provided by the hospital’s Journey to Health program after the class ended, but over time she started to stray from her healthier eating and exercise habits. In May 2015, when a painful, swollen leg landed her in the emergency room, she had a wake-up call — she had a blood clot in her calf. The doctor told her that her sedentary job was a big contributing factor to the development of the clot. After she recovered, she joined Journey to a Healthier You again.

“I was so mad at myself for not keeping up with the healthy changes I had made the first time around,” said Carlene. “The second time it clicked — I need to change what I’m doing for good.”

Now Carlene makes time for exercise breaks throughout the day. She enjoys walking, running, Zumba, step aerobics, interval training, weights and hula-hooping. She now eats six small meals daily and focuses on eating whole foods to fuel her throughout the day.

After two years and two times through Journey to a Healthier You, Carlene has lost 117 pounds. But she measures her success in more than just weight loss. Two years ago she was taking medications to manage her diabetes and high blood pressure. Over the course of her journey, her doctor has taken her off all of them.

“If I can do it, anybody can do it,” said Carlene. “Don’t be afraid to take that first step — it changed my life.”

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