Juan’s Rex Wellness Center Success Story

If you are setting a New Year’s goal to slim down-do not put “diet” on your list. According to Shelly Wegman, a nutritionist for the Rex Wellness Centers, “Diets make you deny yourself something, which is why they fail.” For some, the New Year brings along with it a time of renewed commitment to self-improvement and that means setting many ambitious goals for the future. It might be to work toward a promotion, organize your home, make healthier decisions or lose weight.

Juan Hernandez before he started his wellness program.

Juan Hernandez before he started his wellness program.

If becoming healthier and losing weight are your goals for the New Year, where should you start? Juan Hernandez, a member of the Rex Wellness Center in Garner, seems to have the answer.

For more than two years, Juan struggled with medical issues that left both his wife and him stressed, exhausted and often sick. In January 2011, after yet another round of medical issues, Juan knew he needed to make a lifestyle change. He joined the Rex Wellness Center in Garner at the end of January after seeing an online advertisement for a program called The Healthy Way. At the wellness center, he was given a free assessment and decided to join The Healthy Way class. The class, which combines nutrition education, exercise and a focus on well-being, met once a week for 12 weeks. “We help with goal-setting, barriers to change and setting up a meal plan that works with your specific needs,” says Wegman, one of the presenters of The Healthy Way program. Wegman lists three common barriers to New Year’s resolutions that relate to healthy weight and wellness-unrealistic expectations, time and lack of motivation.

It all starts by setting a realistic goal.

Last January, Juan’s goals were simple: To make a change in his life and get healthy overall. Whether that meant eating better, being stronger or just more flexible, he was going to feel better. One year later he’s still at it and he reminds us that simple is not the same as easy. Making a change, like Juan did, is anything but easy. “I had to totally restructure my habits and my schedule,” he says.

Find the time to eat healthy and move.

Programs like The Healthy Way and many others can help, but if joining a fitness facility isn’t a possibility at this point, there is still plenty that you can do at home to achieve wellness. The key is to take small steps and work your way up. A realistic food goal could be portion control, while an exercise goal could be to take a walk three times a week. Creating overly ambitious goals, such as working out five times a week at the start or completely removing all fatty foods from your diet, can lead to frustration and failure.

A meal plan should be designed to fit your needs. If you can, consider meeting with a dietician to discuss your goals and ways to work toward them. “It doesn’t have to be expensive to eat right,” says Wegman. “It just depends on what you buy. You will spend the most money on fruits, vegetables and meat, but if you are trying to save money, frozen fruits and veggies are a good alternative, as is buying local produce. Beans and eggs are also healthy choices and are not very expensive.” Wegman stresses portion control and suggests, “If you take smaller portions, your money will go farther.”

Juan Hernandez after one year of making healthy lifestyle choices.

Juan Hernandez after one year of making healthy lifestyle choices.

Rex Wellness personal trainer Learie Joseph suggests that you use your goals to determine the steps you should take next. “If you want to exercise more, there are many activities that can be done at home, including push-ups, pull-ups, lunges and squats, walks with family and going to the park. It also may be helpful to do these activities with a friend or family member. Sticking to a new task may be difficult if you are doing it alone and a partner can provide motivation.”

Staying motivated.

Over the last year, Juan has followed the advice of Wegman and Joseph, and used the information he learned from The Healthy Way class at the Rex Wellness Center. Thirty pounds later, Juan is off of his medications for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He no longer needs his Bi-Pap machine to help him get a restful night’s sleep and has reduced his waist size by seven inches.

“I have more energy, I am sleeping better and I am happier all around,” says Juan. When asked what his next goals are, Juan replied that he wants to continue his efforts and work toward dropping his weight to 200 pounds. “Eventually, I would really like to run again and be lighter on my feet,” says Juan, who was an avid runner in high school.

Article by Kendra Jordan and Jenny Johnson. Kendra Jordon and Jenny Johnson work in the marketing and public relations department at Rex Healthcare.