Monday, August 5, 2013

Healthy Employee Spotlight: Joan Divinagracia

     Life always presents us with choices. One important one is our lifestyle. Joan Divinagracia, a physical therapist at Meritus Medical Center, did not always live the healthiest lifestyle. She says her big wake-up call was New Year’s 2012 when she stepped on the scale and found she was back to the same weight she was carrying during her pregnancy. She made her choice. Her lifestyle was going to change.

How to change?
     Joan began eating smaller portions, having more fruits and vegetables and taking in fewer carbohydrates. She added exercise to her routine, riding a stationary bike for about 30 minutes three to four times a week. In three months, she lost 30 pounds! Joan was definitely ready to hit the beach, but she was worried how she would keep up with exercise on vacation without her stationary bike along for the ride.

Running machine
     Joan and her husband came up with the solution by running about two miles on the second day of their vacation. Years ago, Joan had a conversation with her summer intern—an avid runner—and explained she could not run because it hurt her knees. Although she was sore after her vacation runs, Joan received encouragement from her daughter to keep it up. Before she knew it, Joan had caught the bug. She even realized after continuing to run during the weeks following vacation, the exercise got a little easier. Prior to running, Joan often heard her legs crack whenever she would squat. Running has strengthened Joan’s legs and the cracking noises have ceased.

An advocate
     Joan still runs and loves it. “So far, I have finished two 5Ks, one 10K, one 15K and two half marathons. I am hoping to successfully finish five more half marathons this year and maybe a full marathon,” she says. “Sometimes while I’m out there chugging along, a thought hits me: ‘This is fun!’”

     Joan now believes running offers so many benefits: Fresh air, avoiding housework, building a stronger body. “And, I get to wear those cute running outfits,” says Joan. She says she really enjoys running when she doesn’t want to think about anything other than putting one foot in front of the other.

     Good eating habits and exercise make the perfect pair when trying to reach weight-loss goals. “This is evidenced by my recent lab results, courtesy of Better Me,” says Joan. “My cholesterol and lipid panels used to be border line at best, but now they are within normal limits.”

     Joan is a great example of a person who made a choice and stuck with it in order to see results. It is never too late to make a change and live a healthy lifestyle.

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