As a supervisor for a hospital cafeteria, Loralie makes sure that the cafeteria has plenty of healthy choices. But until recently, she didn't take advantage of the healthy choices for her own meals.
Loralie's eating habits had caused her to gain weight, and her blood pressure was high. "I had given up, just given up," she says. "In fact, I had reached a point at my life where I figured, 'I'm in my 50s. This is just who I am. This is where I'm going to be.' And so I had accepted it."
She says all that changed after she ended up in the emergency room several times with very high blood pressure. "I just was going to have to take some drastic steps," she recalls, "I was getting scared, just getting scared at how I felt."
That led her to change her eating habits to get to a healthy weight and lower her blood pressure. She lost more than 40 pounds, and her blood pressure is now under control.
Making gradual changes
Even though Loralie was motivated to change her eating habits, the changes didn't happen overnight. "I've made some gradual changes. I did one or two things at a time."
The first change she made was to start drinking water instead of diet soda. Next, Loralie says, "I started trying to eat a little bit for breakfast. That was a fairly simple change to make."
Loralie found that each change she made motivated her to make another. "I think that, anytime, even if you just make little changes, the benefits spur you on to do more. You don't start out trying to change your whole life."
Fitting all foods into her healthy eating plan
Although she wanted to eat healthier, Loralie knew that she did not want to go on a diet. "One of the things that makes you resent healthy eating is depriving yourself of things that are tasty and yummy."
To avoid feeling deprived, Loralie still eats her favorite foods, including chocolate. But now she eats smaller portions. She has found that she doesn't have to have a large serving to feel satisfied. "Just to have a bite of dark chocolate makes me happy."
Loralie has also learned to pay more attention to portion sizes when she goes out to eat. In the past, she would finish everything she ordered. But now, "I always take home at least half of my meal."
Having support makes a difference
Loralie found motivation and support in watching her son and several of her coworkers change their eating habits. She says that seeing other people succeed helped convince her that she could do it too. "It does help to have partners and buddies that are going through this."
She encourages others to keep trying, even if they've struggled before. "I think that it's never too late."
Loralie's story reflects her experiences as told in an interview. The photograph is not of Loralie, to protect her privacy.
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator