By Michelle Jenck, Tillamook County Wellness Coordinator
Pam Russell’s health journey, like so many others, has had its ups and downs. Along with recovering from cancer and dealing with other life stresses, Pam has often been frustrated with her weight. As so commonly happens, it seemed there were always issues that got in the way of making lasting health behavior changes. She tried different “quick-fix” approaches, including a liquid diet, but she knew she was not on the right path. “For one thing, I wasn’t learning anything about making healthier choices,” she said, “Plus, I was spending all this money and not seeing the results I wanted. I knew I needed to change my approach but I didn’t know where to start.” Pam admits she was hoping to find a “magic pill” but she was also open to making a long-term commitment to change.
Pam learned that her risk for cancer reoccurrence would be reduced with healthier eating habits and better weight management. Highly motivated after going through cancer recovery, she asked her primary care provider for advice on how to improve her eating habits. Based on the success of other patients and knowing Pam was searching for a convenient solution, her care provider suggested she consider Weight Watchers.
After looking into the program, there were several elements that appealed to Pam. “I’ve learned so much!” she emphasized. “Choosing foods that are right for my goals and tracking what I eat has helped me eat differently.” Pam likes the app that is part of the program and how the points-based system helps with her decision-making throughout the day. What really works for her is that she is changing the way she eats, while also enjoying a better quality of life and sense of well-being.
Pam describes her own “aha” moment as she was learning about food choices. When she realized that fruits and vegetables are nutrient powerhouses that promote health and healing, she found they were much easier to choose and work into her day. She went on to say that what she has learned has totally changed her relationship with food and with eating. After trying many other “quick fixes” and spending a lot of money, she now firmly believes in the power of relatively simple food choices that can make such a big difference. Since, starting this journey, Pam has lost weight, reduced her cholesterol levels and she feels great.
Initially, Pam focused solely on changing her eating habits. Now that she has established a sense of routine around her eating habits, she has added exercise back into her daily life. She says, “adding exercise helped me bust through some of my weight-management plateaus and it also keeps me motivated.” She enjoys participating in group fitness classes at the Y and the sense of community and support they provide.
After the interview, Pam shared an observation of why she believes she and so many others come to the Y. “We go there to heal,” she said. “At least, I know that’s what it has done for me and I think that’s why a lot of other people are there too.”
There are many supports available to people seeking to improve their eating habits, including on-site nutrition services at Tillamook County Community Health Centers, Adventist Health, and Rinehart Clinic as well as community programs like CHIP, Cooking Matters, Diabetes UnDone and Diabetes Prevention Program classes offered at the YMCA. Be sure to check with your primary care provider to see what options are available to you and if they are covered by insurance. For more information about local health and wellness programs, visit tillamookcountyhealthmatters.org or follow Tillamook County Wellness on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.