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Tales from the Scales: Karen’s success story

My journey began at my annual physical. I was shocked to see the number when I stepped on the scale. When I looked back, I realized I was seeing changes in my health due to my weight. I was on high blood pressure medication. I became short of breath and fatigued with physical exertion (like walking up a flight of stairs). However, the deal was sealed when I saw my photo in a church bulletin and didn’t recognize the person looking back at me.

I knew it was time to take ownership of my health, so I joined the Weight Race with my work colleagues. I was our team captain, and I took it seriously, challenging myself and my team to group activities and reducing sweets at home and in the office.

I started tracking and monitoring my weight regularly. I also set physical activity goals and began meeting them by taking the stairs—and let me tell you, the U.S. Steel Tower has a lot of stairs there!

I made walking up to the 64th floor my goal. I started walking the stairs to reduce stress and would sing as I went (I sing professionally). The music kept me going. The day that I reached my goal—two weeks into my challenge—I was listening to Aretha Franklin’s “Jump to It.” Along the way, I met people who cheered me on. I took a picture when I got there, and I was so excited I ran all the way back down! Four years later, I am happy to say I am more than 40 lbs. lighter and have maintained the weight loss—but I still make sure to walk the steps!

What advice do you have for others who want to lose or maintain their weight?

Keep in mind that it’s a journey. Monitoring [your weight and activity] helps because everyone has their ups and downs. It’s a lifestyle change, and I am still working on it, every day, four years later. Be patient and kind to yourself, but stick with it!

How do you support others in their wellness journey, either at home or in the workplace?

I encourage others to walk with me [outside] when the weather is good and walk the stairs during poor conditions. I also [brought in] a fruit snack bowl, which sits on my desk to replace the typical candy dishes in our office. I go shopping for fresh fruit and [healthy] snacks every week, and leadership and [other] team members support the healthy culture initiative through monetary contributions.