This story is featured in the Fall 2012 edition of myBoone Health magazine. Click here for a free subscription.
One day Sharon McCallister was dragging a 50-pound bag of potting soil to her picnic table, getting ready to plant some flowers. She was huffing and puffing, giving it her all, when the thought struck her.
“That was my epiphany. I realized I was dragging three of those [bags] everywhere I went,” she said. “Every step I took, I was dragging three of those extra 50 pound bags around with me. That’s what did it — a bag of dirt. It’s true.”
That pinpoints the exact moment her weight loss journey began. Three years later, the WELLAWARE employee is 148 pounds lighter and has a whole new outlook on life challenges.
Facing The Challenge
In her own words:
“I thought I put my heart into everything that I do that matters to me — my Christian walk, my marriage, my job at Boone. Everything I do, I want to give it my best. My health was probably the one thing in my life that I went about half-heartedly.”
Like many people, McCallister had trouble sticking to a healthy lifestyle, “I’ve stayed with my Christian walk; I’ve stayed with my husband. I thought, why can’t I take that work ethic and put it into getting healthy? I think when I came to that, it was a big eye-opener.”
McCallister decided to recognize her excuses and face her fear. She took it one day and one meal at a time. She fell back on prayer when she felt the pressure to eat more.
All in all, her changes boiled down to a simple philosophy, “Eat healthy, eat less, move more.”
Eat Healthy, Eat Less
In the past she had tried all types of diets. McCallister gave up carbohydrates or some other food to follow specific rules. Each one would work for a little while, but she always felt miserable and eventually gained the weight back, plus more.
“I would feel like I was being disciplined, like I was in timeout because I was in trouble,” she said.
When she decided to get serious, she knew it would take a lifestyle change. She found a purpose to eat healthy and quit saying no, but started eating less.
“If I don’t like the taste of a low-fat or fat-free salad dressing, I just don’t buy it. I buy products that I do like and eat less of them,” McCallister says.
She will have a slice of pizza when she’s with her family or a piece of cake at a baby shower if she really wants it.
It’s all about moderation and not denying herself treats.
She asked her husband to mark out a mile on their big driveway. Each morning she would lace up her shoes and walk 28 and a half laps, seven days a week.
Later, she bought a Bowflex and still spends 20 minutes on it each morning before her day begins.
McCallister works a little exercise into her everyday routines as well. She walks around the hospital without using the elevator, parks far from the doors at Wal-Mart, empties the dryer one piece of laundry at a time instead of by handfuls, and uses the push mower instead of the riding lawn mower. She believes these little things add up and make a big difference in her commitment to health.
Celebration And Support
The other secret weapon in McCallister’s arsenal is her cheerleaders. Her daughters and husband inspired McCallister. Each lost weight successfully and went on to cheer for her progress.
“I really made my family crazy doing it,” McCallister said. “Every ounce I lost, I reported. I know I wore them out, but they were very supportive and encouraging.”
Instead of rewarding herself with food, she promised herself a new necklace or a top. As she shed the pounds, her new wardrobe of smaller clothes grew.
Her coworkers at WELLAWARE were just as encouraging. Office chatter is often about an upcoming 5K or marathon. Her coworkers generally avoid bringing in unhealthy snacks, instead sharing recipes using fresh foods.
“They truly represent what a team is,” McCallister said. “They’ve done a beautiful job making me feel like part of that team. It’s such an honor.”
Honored By Boone
In August, McCallister was surprised at her desk by her coworkers carrying a bunch of balloons and a certificate.
One of them nominated her for the Boone Hospital Health Literacy Health Hall of Fame. She won the annual award, which included tickets to a Cardinals game.
“I appreciate the award, and I think it’s awesome. It’s very humbling,” McCallister said. “My greatest award is the weight loss, to feel good again and have the energy back and buy cuter clothes.”
McCallister leaves anyone wanting to begin their journey with these words: “You can ultimately achieve the number on the scale you desired, but to maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight, you have to have a purpose to be healthy every day. It is so much like learning; you can achieve your degree, but that doesn’t mean the learning ends. It should be something we all do every day.”