Peterson Nutrition and Fitness: Services


Edna's Success Story

My adventure with Elizabeth began with a phone call from my doctor. The blood tests from my annual physical showed an alarming elevated cholesterol level. My doctor suggested a visit with a dietician and gave me Elizabeth's name. I immediately made an appointment. I knew that I needed advice and support to encourage me to live a healthier lifestyle. My weight had ballooned and my family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes would only threaten me further if I ignored the health risks I had largely brought upon myself.

Elizabeth outlined a nutritional and exercise plan, explaining good fats versus bad, fiber, limiting carbohydrates, all information I had heard before but never put into practice. She also outlined the importance of exercise. Even as I was determined to commit to the plan, I was skeptical that diet and exercise alone could dramatically lower my cholesterol level. I had seen the drug commercials: "You've tried diet and exercise, but your cholesterol is still too high. Ask your doctor about…." No way would diet and exercise be enough! I thought that I would follow in my parents' footsteps to a regimen of statin drugs. But Elizabeth was positive that after three months both my weight and cholesterol levels would be lowered.

I began the nutritional plan. I limited my saturated fat intake and eliminated all trans fats. I incorporated fish into my diet twice a week, and substituted high fiber foods for refined foods. Brown and wild rice took the place of white rice, sweet potatoes for white potatoes, oatmeal and high fiber cereal for breakfast, and whole grain bread for white. These were some of the changes I made. And yet, I never felt like I was on a diet. I was simply making better food choices.

I also began a daily regimen of exercise. I dusted off my treadmill, and every morning I trudged for at least 45 minutes. As my stamina increased, I added two nights of water aerobics at the YMCA. I began to notice how much more energy I had. I could now push a full cart of groceries uphill to my van without being winded. Headaches became less frequent. I began to realize just how bad I had felt. It was almost as if I were in recovery from some long-term illness.

Better yet, my clothes began to get baggy. I noticed that I actually had muscles under all my flab. And the scale started nudging downward. I lost more than 10% of my original body weight. The first time I tried on a smaller size pair of jeans and they fit, I cried in the dressing room. I hadn't realized what an emotional issue this had all become.

Three months after I began seeing Elizabeth, I had my blood work redone. The results floored me. My cholesterol levels had dropped nearly 80 points, putting my LDL (bad) cholesterol at only 91. I was amazed. I had really thought it wouldn't work.

But I haven't stopped. The dedication to my new food choices must be a lifelong commitment, and my entire family now eats healthful meals. I have engaged a personal trainer and am learning to exercise more efficiently. I feel that more than physical weight has lifted from my body. I have a different outlook on my physical and mental health that I didn't before.

None of these changes was easy to make. Exercising everyday was especially difficult. I simply hate to sweat. But no one ever feels guilty after getting off a treadmill! My weight did not magically melt away. It dropped slowly, and I sometimes saw no change for a week or two. I still have many pounds to lose. But I am determined to follow through.

Here are the four elements that facilitated my success:

  1. Fear: My cholesterol levels were dangerous. But the fear of its threat motivated me to effective action.
  2. Responsibility: I took the blame. Through years of bad eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle, I had put myself in this position. I also took responsibility to do something about it.
  3. Education: Elizabeth provided me with the information and encouragement I needed to make informed changes in my lifestyle. I did not need to resort to drugs with potentially debilitating side effects. Elizabeth taught me to take control of my situation, and she provided the tools to make it happen.
  4. Commitment: As amazing as Elizabeth is, she wasn’t with me everyday of my life. She didn't go grocery shopping with me and she didn't inspect my refrigerator or my pantry. I had to be committed to my new life or it wasn't going to work. I had to get on that treadmill everyday. I had to exercise self-control. And as I did, each day became easier and easier.

I am now an enthusiastic evangelist regarding dietetic counseling. Everyone, those with health concerns and those without, would greatly benefit from seeing a dietician. But even more, everyone would benefit from actually following the advice of a dietician. It certainly changed my life.