Story last updated at 1/7/2009 - 10:52 am
KLAWOCK - Darlene Reyes was feeling pretty low when she happened to see the WISEWOMAN logo on Brenda Isaacs' jacket.
Darlene, 34, recently had been told by her doctor that if she didn't start making changes that she was on her way to becoming a diabetic. Then Darlene saw Brenda outside the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Alicia Roberts Medical Center in Klawock, and asked about the logo. Brenda explained that WISEWOMAN was a heart health program for women, and invited Darlene to join.
Since joining WISEWOMAN, Darlene has made major improvements in her health. She eats healthier food, is more active and she feels a lot better. Even though the WISEWOMAN program isn't geared specifically toward weight loss, the lifestyle changes helped Darlene lose more than 60 pounds (going from 300 to 239) and four inches off her stomach. Darlene said her goal is to get down to 155 pounds, so a size 16 is baggy on her 5-foot-4 frame.
"It's been a lot of walking," Darlene said. "I eat more fruits and veggies, and I don't fry meat now, I bake it."
Said Brenda: "Darlene looks fabulous these days. She's very motivated to stay on track."
Darlene, whose nickname is "Giggles," is a mother of four who works as a propane attendant at a convenience store. She had to start her walking program slowly, since she carried so much weight and she was in pain from a 1991 basketball injury, which resulted in four knee surgeries.
After one of her knee surgeries, "My doctor said, 'Stay in bed,' but I wanted to be active," Darlene said. "My heart was pumping pretty good and I was short of breath, but now I have no more chest pain. I can breathe better now."
When Darlene worked as a cashier at the convenience store, she always had doughnuts in front of her and found herself eating one about every half hour. Since changing jobs, Darlene no longer has doughnuts tempting her. She cut down on her other food, and now weighs her portions. She also drinks more water, and hasn't had a pop in three months.
"It was really easy, because I was tired of where I was before," Darlene said. "I was tired of junk food. I don't have the cravings for sugar I used to. If I can do it, anybody can. I've got the healthy habit now."
To find out more about the SEARHC programs visit www.searhc.org.