Living a Healthy Life: One Woman’s Journey Back to Health

Ginger Spallek, an accounting professional, was not overweight in her youth. “I was raised with healthy eating habits and was active when I was young,” she said.

But as she aged, worked sedentary, stressful jobs and cared for her children, Ginger’s health took a backseat, and she gained weight. She was diagnosed with high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, or atrial fibrillation (AFib), and sleep apnea. Even though her high blood pressure and AFib are treated with medication, Ginger followed her doctors’ recommendations for incorporating a healthier lifestyle focus to help manage and improve these chronic conditions.

Ginger lives a healthy lifestyle for many reasons. She believes that our bodies are God’s temples and we should be good stewards of this gift. She comes from a family who places high value on healthy living, and she has shared that focus with her children. And finally, her employer offers reduced health insurance premiums if biometric targets are met. 

Ginger’s healthier lifestyle goals include losing weight and lowering her body mass index (BMI). One of the first steps Ginger took toward reaching these goals was to schedule an outpatient wellness visit for nutrition counseling with Sherri Hoyt, RDN, LD, Missouri Baptist Medical Center registered dietitian.

“Sherri helped me set a daily calorie goal based on my level of activity and talked about portion sizes and the kinds of foods to include in my diet,” Ginger said. “She’s been a key resource on my healthy living journey and mentioned to be mindful of the positive impact that my lifestyle changes would have on others. She was right!”

Ginger uses an online app to track her daily food intake so she’s aware of what she’s eating and how many calories she consumes. “The app makes me accountable for my choices,” she said.

Sweets are Ginger’s weakness but having incentives keep her on track and push her to reach goals. “Last year, I used my high school reunion as an incentive and lost close to forty pounds. I wanted to feel confident and look good for that major event,” she said. “I’d like to lose an additional thirty pounds and my incentive is my sixtieth birthday in November. I purchased a right-now-too-small black dress for the occasion.”

Knowing the importance of adding exercise to her routine, Ginger also committed to taking 10,000 steps a day and measures her activity on a fitness tracker. “I’m moving and getting in my steps throughout the day, whether it’s walking in my neighborhood before and after work or walking around my office building twice during the workday with co-workers,” she said. “It typically takes me about an hour to reach 10,000 steps.”

Ginger mixes up her exercise routine to keep it from getting stale. “A treat is when I walk with my daughter, son, son-in-law and my daughter’s dog, Bailey,” she said.

To motivate herself with exercising, she thinks of her exercise clothes as a distinctive uniform. She’s chosen bright yellow, orange and electric blue shirts and splurged on some nice walking shoes that make her feel good when she wears them.

Knowing that change happens over time, Ginger doesn’t beat herself up when she has a setback. “I put the past behind me and start fresh the next day,” she said. “I live by the phrase that today is the first day of the rest of my life.”

Since losing weight, Ginger handles the stress in her life much better and no longer has sleep apnea. “Both my cardiologist and primary care physician are happy with my progress,” she said.

When she looks back at and sees how far she’s come, Ginger feels a sense of accomplishment. “For anyone on a healthy lifestyle journey, I recommend working with your doctor and a dietician to set realistic goals, surrounding yourself with supportive people and making time to take care of yourself.”

Ginger’s Favorite Smoothie Recipe

4 oz water
Dash vanilla extract
¾ cup Greek nonfat plain yogurt
1 packet Sweet-N-Low
1 cup frozen mixed berries
¼ cup frozen blueberries

Blend and enjoy! 

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