About four years ago, I noticed the scale going up and up. I tried counting calories, but nothing brought it down. It was depressing, so I stopped. I refused to have pictures taken of me for many years. I had all but given up. Then I joined a walking group that WGU started. I got a Fitbit and started to track my steps. I had been seeing my blood pressure and sugars go up and went on BP meds to help manage that. I have a daughter who is young — I want to be around for her for a long time, and I want to retire with my husband.

A colleague told me about the coaching program and how much it helped her with stress. So I started doing it for myself and worked with Suzie. I told her I was not eating between meals anymore. We started with 3,000 steps a day and just 15 minutes of activity — small goals. Something clicked, and I kept doing it. I had never been able to stick to any exercise ever in my life. I liked yoga and Pilates, but I did a class a decade ago and never did it on my own at home before. I think seeing myself lose 2-3 pounds a week with these small steps helped a lot.

Having a coach who knew how much to increase exercise safely also helped with the coaching program. She asked me questions that made me reflect and think about how I truly felt about getting on the desk elliptical and staying on it. We also started a sleep goal: in bed around 9. If I don’t make these goals, Suzie isn’t some “authority figure” telling me to do better. Instead, she asks me why and helps me realize how stressful that week really was and how I did or didn’t cope. Over time, exercise started being a way I coped with stress, instead of eating chocolate.

Every two weeks or so, we would move my activity up to 5K and 20 minutes per day, or 10k and 30 minutes. I lost 20 pounds in about 5-6 months. I didn’t want to obsess over my weight for mental health reasons, and Suzie supported that. For that reason, I don’t weigh myself every day or every week; I do it about once a month. As a result, it was way easier to see and appreciate progress during the coaching program and not get discouraged.

Since then, my weight has plateaued. I am up to 50 minutes of exercise a day and dropped my steps from 12,000 to 10,000; I realized 10,000 steps was much more manageable for me time-wise. Plus, I felt strength might be even more helpful than just more steps or cardio time. To help with that, we added a 10-minute yoga goal. My parents and mother-in-law are in their 80s, so their bodies aren’t as strong as they used to be. Watching how downward dog has helped my mother-in-law get off the floor inspired me to keep doing it. However I was also testing myself. I had finally created an exercise habit that included cardio, and I started to notice my endurance was so much better. I could also cross my legs more easily now due to yoga … could I add this new habit on top of cardio?

I’ve now been hitting the yoga goal consistently for 60-plus days, for 10 minutes a day most days. It’s so much easier to lift things, such as heavy grocery bags. So it’s working! I’m also more mindful of when I’m getting good sleep and why I’m not when I’m not. I’ve created a way to cope with stress without eating, and I have more energy with my family. I want to swim, go sledding, and play tag with them because I now have the energy to do so. I am more comfortable in my clothes and can buy a medium every so often. My sugars are fine. My BP is the lowest it’s been in years (from meds and exercise). I am so much happier! I knew exercise improved mood, and I feel that is one of the best side effects of this new habit of moving, stretching, and sleep awareness. The Sonic Boom coaching program definitely helped me get back on track, and I’m forever grateful for Suzie.

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