KTIL’s Shaena Peterson Finds Freedom from Weighty Problem

By Laura Swanson for Tillamook County Wellness

“It’s different for us all,” began Shaena Peterson about her transformation, “and it’s a process to figure out what will work for you. It doesn’t happen overnight.”
Shaena’s journey started around the Christmas holiday in 2012. Her hip was out and she weighed 300 pounds. Yes, really. “I knew that I had to do something, so I talked with Ginny Gabel, the community health educator at Adventist Health and, in April 2013, I attended their CHIP classes.” Through her participation in the hospital’s Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP) classes, Peterson lost some weight and saw her cholesterol numbers significantly reduced. “I started to realize that changing my lifestyle habits made a big difference,” she said. “It wasn’t hard to do, just eating healthier and walking more. I was learning about my body.” Other changes included quitting tobacco and a new awareness about food.

Shaena Peterson at the KTIL Booth at the Tillamook County Fair in 2014. Provided photo.

In 2014, Peterson continued her journey, trying a reduced calorie meal plan, dropping more weight, but she still struggled with maintaining a comfortable weight. Then Peterson changed her environment, moving back to the family cabin. After conversations with family members, Shaena made a decision to change her eating habits. “I purged my pantry, focusing my eating on whole foods while cutting out processed foods, especially those with refined flour and sugar,” said Shaena. She also noted that living alone made it easier to make the change.
In July of 2018, Peterson weighed 250 pounds. “The weight came off gradually,” she said. She lost 80 pounds in six months and has continued to maintain her weight at 170 pounds. Shaena grins, “I feel like this is the weight my body is supposed to be!”
Shaena now, June 2019.
Photo by Laura Swanson

To get started, Shaena used an app to help with tracking her food intake. “I wasn’t super-strict about some things and I’ve added back some treats, like these grapes,” she says, pulling them out of her bag of snacks. “I just wasn’t hungry. In fact, I ate more and was more satisfied. And it was so easy to source whole foods locally,” she continued. “Valley Produce out 3rd Street, Tillamook Meat. I’m buying higher quality, buying local and my food budget is less. It doesn’t cost more to eat healthy, it truly doesn’t.”
So what does Shaena’s primary care provider think about all this? “All my numbers are so good,” she again grins, sharing that her blood pressure is 91 over 62 and her cholesterol remains below 200. Since starting her journey, she has lost over 120 pounds.
Shaena said, “At my heaviest, I would say that I had a bad case of being 60. I’ll be 68 in September and I feel younger than I did in 2012. It’s about finding out what works for each person and taking advantage of the resources and education that are available. It’s a cliché, but it’s so true ‘we are what we eat.’”
For more information about local health and wellness resources, visit our website www.tillamookcountyhealthmatters.org or follow Tillamook County Wellness on Facebook.