By Katie Watt
September 3, 2013--Small steps can add up to big success. Just ask Cheryl Jackson, who lost 40 pounds, achieved a healthy BMI (body mass index) and lowered her blood pressure all in the past year.
During DU's benefits fair in May 2012, Cheryl stumbled upon the Weigh and Win kiosk. She'd avoided weighing herself for a long time. When the number on the scale was slightly lower than she expected upon weighing herself at the kiosk, she was encouraged. This provided the impetus to kick-start her wellness journey, along with the looming threat of being put on blood pressure medication.
"You come to a point in your life, as you get older, where you stop taking things for granted," says Cheryl. "It becomes about quality of life. You can have quantity of life, but if you're unhealthy you don't have quality of life."
Cheryl started Thrive Across America last fall through well@du, DU's employee wellness program, and has participated in almost every wellness program since. For Cheryl, the team aspect is a motivation driver. "People are depending on you," she says, "it makes you accountable."
Cheryl started walking at least one hour every day and watching her diet by eating smaller, healthier portions more frequently throughout the day, and balancing her intake with activity. "I don't deny myself anything," she says, "but now if I want chocolate ice cream I'm going to walk 45 minutes each way to the grocery store to get it!" Cheryl learned that a restrictive diet, alone, is merely a Band-Aid solution. "You have to look inward and deal with the deeper issues of why you're overeating, too" she emphasizes.
The weight came off slowly; two pounds here, three pounds there. "It takes baby steps, which was hard for me. When I was a kid I wanted everything now, instant gratification," says Cheryl, "It's easy to look at the big picture and become intimidated." Cheryl has also learned to value the journey, and the process showed her that small steps really do add up, which she is able to translate into other aspects of her life.
Though she wants to lose a few more pounds, "for me," Cheryl is now at a healthy BMI, has stable blood pressure and still walks at least an hour a day.
Her advice? "Take the first step, value small successes and value yourself, not only for your benefit; but for your loved ones who depend on you."
"My wellness journey has been a springboard to accomplish my other dreams," she says. "Everyone is granted the gift of 24 hours a day; what you choose to do with this time can lead to great things. It starts with taking the first step."