My mom had been dealing with serious illness, and I didn’t want her worrying about my health. I felt I was headed toward an untimely death. I was morbidly obese, had hypertension and high cholesterol. Medications and their side effects were also taking a toll on my health.
Fortunately, a physician specializing in weight loss recommended the Health Management Resources (HMR) program through the Aurora Wellness Center Fitness Facility. My husband and I carefully reviewed the program and enrolled.
Shortly after we enrolled, my mom was diagnosed with terminal Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS). (With these bone marrow disorders, the bone marrow doesn’t produce enough healthy blood cells. TV host Robin Roberts has been diagnosed with MDS.)
I wondered if I was going to deal with this news as I had so many other challenges in my life – with food. KFC buffet or HMR? That was the question.
We stuck with the program and learned about the HMR exercise program. I thought the first program meeting would be a demonstration. Imagine my surprise when we found ourselves exercising. I told my husband, “This class is going to kill me.”
Well, it didn’t. Actually, we learned how to adapt the exercises to meet our bodies’ limitations. A spinal fusion and osteoporosis in my knees required me to do things differently. Our trainer said, “There’s always another way!”
We learned to listen to our bodies, rather than overdoing it and becoming injured. This helped me avoid injury and ending more sedentary than before.
The program’s nutrition education and targeted circuit training helped the pounds melt away.
Each day I spoke with my mom, she asked if I had worked out yet. When we traveled, we maintained our nutrition and exercise programs.
After six months, I lost close to 100 pounds. I discovered the athlete within and started training for the Aurora Wellness Center Triathlon. My trainer helped me adjust the bike to accommodate my knee problems.
Thanks to the Wellness Center staff, my mom was able to see me participate in this race.
The swim was challenging, the bike went well and I walked most of the two miles. When I finished the race, I felt like I could do anything. So I signed up for the Iron Girl triathlon with double the distances compared to my first triathlon.
Soon after that first triathlon, mom died. After an all-night vigil, all I wanted to do was work out. I knew if anyone at the wellness center asked me about my mom, I’d be unable to do my workout. Thanks to my trainer’s sensitivity, I made it through the class before anyone asked about mom. My trainer encouraged me as I worked through my grief and continued my training for the Iron Girl. He even rose early with his fiancée to attend the event and to cheer me on.
During my journey I found, because I’m a goal-oriented person, that training for an event appeals to me more than simply working out. It adds a purpose for working out. The Aurora Wellness Center trainers create events for us and help us set training goals.
Over time, we discovered that my knee could no longer cope with triathlon training. My favorite part of training had been lifting weights, so I started looking for events that involved weight lifting. I discovered the Wisconsin Senior Olympics and Powerlifting. My trainer created a program for me. The first day I tried to squat 45 pounds, it hurt my shoulders, so I asked my trainer to take it. He remained patient and encouraging. A year later I competed for the first time. He was there coaching me through it.
Everyone I’ve encountered at the Aurora Wellness Center has been kind and encouraging. Group instructors take the time to understand why we’re there participating and how their classes fit into our training programs.
When we find something that works for us, we want to share it with others. As a parish pastor, I frequently shared the story of how the Aurora Wellness Center helped me. I’ve invited women I’ve worked with to try the training and get involved in the Biggest Winner program.
Since my turnaround I was inducted into the Wisconsin Senior Olympics Board of Directors (due in part to a letter of reference written by my trainer), and I’m called to coordinate the Living Resource Center programming.
There is a humility that I’ve learned at the Wellness Center as well. Each time I have thanked them, their response is, “You did the work.” This reminds me that the Wellness Center can help and facilitate our efforts, but ultimately we must do the work.
In the article, “Beating All Odds” in Spirituality and Health, Jeffrey Rediger, MD, MDiv observes, “Here is what I believe is the real crux of healing: We live in a world where it’s easy to conclude that there’s something not good enough about who we are.” The way the Aurora Wellness Center gives life, changes our outlooks and heals is by showing each one of us through words and actions that we are good enough just as we are. This then inspires us to realize our potential.
A range of weight management services are available in many communities. Health Management Resources at home allows you to get the benefits of the HMR program wherever you live. Start by calling the closest HMR location to get more information.