By Member of the Month
This month we have the honour of sharing Jill’s journey with the LIVE WELL Community. Jill reminds us all that with commitment, dedication, and JOY – we CAN reach goals towards living a healthy lifestyle.
I joined LIVE WELL in August 2016. I discovered LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic on the internet when I was searching the web for contact information for Dr. Ali Zentner. To make a long story short, Dr. Zentner had been recommended to me by another physician, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, from Ottawa. I had read his book, The Diet Fix, which had a profound impact on me. For the first time in my life, I felt like someone understood why I have struggled with my weight for most of my life. I had the good fortune of meeting Dr. Freedhoff in person in July 2016 while on holiday. Our brief meeting was the turning point for me. He suggested that I connect with Dr. Zentner.
In googling Dr. Zentner, I discovered that she had written a book, The Weight Loss Prescription: A Doctor’s Plan for Permanent Weight Reduction and Better Health for Life. This book was further reinforcement for me that I needed to see Dr. Zentner. I felt that she had written the book just for me. I completely resonated with what she described in her book, including her own story of weight gain through medical school (except that my excessive weight gain occurred through graduate school).
Through my search for Dr. Zentner, I discovered LIVE WELL. To my surprise, there was an exercise clinic at a convenient location (between work and my Vancouver “home”) that specialized in helping people with diabetes and obesity. It was like I won the lottery. I had been living a “temporary” life in Vancouver – I work in Vancouver but live in Victoria; I would work long hours while in Vancouver so that I could spend time with my family at home on the weekends. The weekly commute and long days were taking its toll. Joining LIVE WELLchanged (and probably saved) my life.
I had decided that something had to change. I sought a referral to Dr. Zentner, but her waitlist was 10 months. I was hugely disappointed as I was ready to take action, but I asked to be placed on a cancellation list. While I was waiting, I contacted LIVE WELL and attended my first consultation appointment. I was keen to start, but I wasn’t sure if I could fit the gym times into my busy schedule. I signed up for twice a week for three months to try it out. No sooner had I signed up, I received a call from Dr. Zentner’s office – an appointment came up the following week. The stars had aligned – within a week, I had committed to Live Well and I had my first appointment with Dr. Zentner in August 2016.
While it was an adjustment, attending LIVE WELL twice a week after work (and aquafit twice a week) has had multiple health benefits for me. The obvious (and expected) benefits have been improved cardiovascular fitness and strength. More importantly, however, has been the positive effect attending LIVE WELL has had on my mental health. By having “appointments” at the gym, it forces me to get out of the office at a decent time. The regular exercise has helped to reduce my stress and improve my sleep.
Aside from the routine times in my schedule to work out at LIVE WELL, I have benefited from the behaviour change strategies reinforced by Dr. Zentner and the LIVE WELL Program. Setting short-term goals (and reviewing them regularly) and making small changes over time have helped me to build healthy habits. Each of these small successes – one step at a time – is progress toward permanent lifestyle change.
In addition to providing individually tailored exercise programs and support for healthy behaviour change, LIVE WELL is also a supportive community. Walking through the door at LIVE WELL is like walking into Cheers bar…where everyone knows your name (I am dating myself!). I am always greeted by name and people notice when you are not there. I have made friends with people who have similar struggles as my own.
Since joining LIVE WELL, I have lost 42 lbs. I have been able to come off of three medications –insulin (three times daily) and two blood pressure medications. I feel better physically and mentally. I have changed my eating habits and, believe it or not, I have come to love working out. I hope that my story provides further evidence that “exercise is medicine!”
I still have a long way to go in my weight loss journey and in becoming the healthiest I can be, but I feel empowered and encouraged with the structure and support of LIVE WELL. I am grateful to Sara Hodson and Tasha McRae for founding LIVE WELL and having the vision to support people with health issues to embark on healthy lifestyle changes. You have built a team of kinesiologists and certified exercise physiologists to support those that need it the most. I thank my trainers – Stephanie, David, Paul, Cory, and Jason – and Dr. Zentner and her team for helping me achieve the health benefits I have realized thus far. I look forward to continuing to work with you in achieving my short- and long-term health goals, including walking the Honolulu Marathon!
Thank you to Jill for sharing her experiences. After reading Jill’s journey, we all can agree that our many small achievements can lead to a bigger triumphs towards permanent lifestyle changes. Jill has it spot on – EXERCISE IS THE BEST MEDICINE!