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Works for me

Health coaching, healthy living journey continues, remains successful

Rebecca Stevenson, research scientist, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, is the epitome of a healthy Boiler. Her progress and success didn’t come overnight, and it hasn’t all been easy; but each day Stevenson continues to stay focused on her goals. Since Stevenson shared her success story in a “Works for Me” profile in 2015 highlighting her initial success with the health coaching program at the Center for Healthy Living (CHL) on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus, she has continued to stay on track and remains as dedicated as ever to improving her health.

Stevenson’s journey to a healthier lifestyle began in January 2014 as a result from findings shared during her annual physical at the CHL.  She was at risk in the prediabetes category and heading toward a type 2 diabetes’ diagnosis. Providers at the center urged Stevenson to start seeing a health coach. And so she did.

Since that time, she has partnered with Cheryl Laszynski, RN health coach, at the CHL, to improve her health and well-being. Stevenson said there are two main things that she relies on health coaching for:

  1. Keeping her accountable and not letting her backslide into gaining weight.
  2. Discussing how to cope with food situations like parties and vacations as well as food choice to get the best results.

“Cheryl helps me maintain a healthy lifestyle,” Stevenson explained.  “Because of that, I feel good, clear headed and able to concentrate at work and my sleep has improved greatly. I can’t remember the last time I was sick enough to miss a day of work.”

“Most definitely maintaining the partnership (with Cheryl) has helped me maintain my goals.” – Rebecca Stevenson, Purdue employee

According to Laszynski, who has been a health coach at the CHL since 2013, Rebecca’s motivation and drive to be and stay healthy is what stands out to her. When you combine that with a health coach who is there coaching and inspiring you and who is on your side listening and wanting you to accomplish your goals, results like those that Stevenson has seen are obtainable, she added.

“She worked very hard to get to where she is,” Laszynski said. “She feels healthy and loves the way she looks. What contributes to her ongoing success is that she continues to stay focused on her goals. She keeps her “check-in meetings" with me, her health coach, so we can review her challenges and brainstorm strategies to overcome obstacles. She likes being accountable to a health coach to help keep her on track.”

Becky and CherylStevenson agrees.

“Most definitely maintaining the partnership (with Cheryl) has helped me maintain my goals,” Stevenson explained. “Knowing that I have to check in with Cheryl twice a month is a push to not skip the gym when I’m feeling tired or eat an entire package of cookies when I’m feeling stressed. Each time we meet, I talk about the different challenges I’ve had in the past two weeks, and we talk through them and she gives me suggestions on how to better deal with them if they are causing me problems.”

When she started four years ago, Stevenson made a few changes to her lifestyle that she continues today. First, she started going to the gym daily. For her, a self-proclaimed cookie lover, this allows her to indulge a bit. Second, she stopped eating out as much and ate smaller portions when she was at home. Lastly, she tracked what she ate using the smartphone app, My Fitness Pal, and stuck to a 1,200-calorie diet. The only difference today is that Stevenson sticks to 1,400 calories a day to maintain her weight.

“I work out first thing in the morning,” Stevenson said. “The Co-Rec [on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus] opens at 5:30 a.m. week days, and you’ll find me there at that time.”

In regards to foods she frequently enjoys for lunch, Stevenson said she’ll have a hardboiled egg (70 calories), a package of flavored Star Kist tuna (70-80 calories), sugar free jello (5-10 calories) and two Oreo cookies (100 calories).

“The tuna and egg are almost pure protein, which for me keeps away the afternoon hungries that send me to the snack machine,” she explained. “The key is to eat smaller amounts more often. Never get hungry, because that’s when poor choices happen.”

Since food is such a major player in Stevenson’s healthy living journey, she said she feels like her pallet and taste buds have changed through her health transformation.

“I used to avoid vegetables except potatoes,” she shared. “I would never have dreamed of eating fish or trying to cook it.  Now I have at least two to three meals a week with fish or shellfish and any vegetable is welcome … the weirder the better. For dinners we eat at home we use a mail order meal ingredient delivery service that lists the calories so it’s easy to keep track of that meal, too.”

“People don't always realize that sometimes small changes in what they’re eating or that being a little more active can make a significance difference in their lab results and in their health.” – Cheryl Laszynski, RN health coach at the Center for Healthy Living, West Lafayette

Using the health coaching program at the CHL to spearhead and facilitate her healthy-living lifestyle was an easy choice, according to Stevenson. It’s a free, no-cost wellness program the center offers to all benefits-eligible employees and spouses covered on a Purdue Health Plan.

Laszynski recommends health coaching to anyone who is considering a lifestyle change for healthy living.

“People don't always realize that sometimes small changes in what they’re eating or that being a little more active can make a significance difference in their lab results and in their health,” she said. “The health coaches have educational materials to assist clients who are interested in healthy living on a variety of health topics such as healthy food choices, exercise and more. The resources at the CHL are so plentiful, and we all work together to provide comprehensive total health care for our clients.”