By: Cassie Carey has a background in teaching in both Physical Education & Health Education, she also is a certified lifestyle coach in the National Diabetes Prevention Program, and graduated with her Registered Nursing degree in 2014. Cassie is the director for Crow Wing Energized working for both Crow Wing County and Essentia Health. She provides energy and passion in sustainable efforts surrounding health and wellness in our county and beyond!
It seems like just yesterday when I was coming back from a lunch hour at the Valdez High School in Valdez, Alaska to find my husband in the principal’s office to share that my father had died of a massive heart attack. Sure I knew he dealt with heart disease, which started six years prior with a few stents put in his heart, but he had started making lifestyle changes. Looking back I know that these changes in his eating and exercise added years to his life.
That day was an eye opener. At that point in time, I had just turned 30 years old. I was over 300 pounds and well on my own way to a massive heart attack. The weird thing was, I had an LPN nursing background and was currently the lead health and physical education teacher at our high school. I was educated on f health and wellness, yet still, I struggled with choosing healthy behaviors.
I often look back to those days and have sorrowful feelings on how I was mentoring children emotionally and physically, but was still eating double cheeseburgers and pizza on a regular basis, not going for daily walks or getting on that elliptical like I asked my students to do. It was time for me to do something about my lifestyle, I was ready for change!
The reason I share my personal story to you in this article, is that it is important to realize that I had many tools in my tool kit to be a healthy young vibrant individual and choose a regular healthy diet filled with at least five fruits and vegetables a day. I could have gotten at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise, but I personally, was NOT ready.
The day that my dad passed away changed everything for me. I was ready to prioritize me, my health, and be the best ME that I could be. I knew then, in that making lifestyle changes had to be a priority. Fortunately, I was supported by friends, family, clergy, my students, and my community. I was truly inspired and ready to be the best wife, teacher, coach, mentor – and within a few years the best mom I could be! I am proud to say that my weight is now within normal limits as I continue to battle my lifestyle change on a daily basis!
We as a society are very busy people. We have full time jobs – maybe even have a second job in order to pay those bills that keep piling up, attend local faith community activities, attend school related extracurricular activities, and volunteer. It is a balancing act, to say the least!
This week the Your Energized Year curriculum will cover “Tipping the Calorie Balance”. I feel strongly about ensuring to eat under or at your calorie allotment and exercising regularly in order to maintain weight or even to lose a few pounds. I also know it is equally important to learn how to balance our lives. If we can prioritize what is really important in our lives. I think being ready for a lifestyle change will be that much easier.
The fact is that 65% of adults within Crow Wing County are considered overweight or obese, and nearly 1 out of 3 youth are overweight or obese. Has your health care provider told you recently, “you might consider losing a few pounds…”, or at work your boss and colleagues are stressing that you might consider choosing healthier snacks, and utilizing the healthy vending options in which were implemented? There is a reason for this – we as a community need to be one another’s support system, we need to make healthy choices the norm, and also the easier choice!
Ask yourself this… Am I ready for a lifestyle change? Am I ready to work on my balancing act? Not only with calories and exercise, but in my life. Perhaps you knew back in February that you were ready and you are one of the over 500 people within our community who are enrolled in the “Your Energized Year” lifestyle change program. Maybe this week is the time you want to start. The weekly Monday Motivator section of the Brainerd Dispatch will provide information and encouragement. CrowWingEnegized.org has tools to support you and highlight healthy community activities. And talk to your doctor to get connected to future lifestyle change groups starting soon.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if it didn’t take losing a loved one, or some other catastrophic event to open our eyes to prioritizing our own health – it’s time to prioritize YOU! You are worth it; consider this as you are on life’s journey, and your very own personal balancing act!