Carmen Chong, Department Support Specialist II, Berthelsen Main Campus
“Stop.” It was the first word that came to Carmen’s mind when she realized her habits were having a negative effect on her health. Once Carmen decided to get healthy, she made immediate changes in her life. She did not wait for Monday or the beginning of the following month to begin a new diet and exercise routine. She changed her mindset on a Thursday and hasn’t looked back since.
Why did you decide to make changes in your diet and exercise habits?
I was gaining a lot of weight after having my last two babies. I had high cholesterol and was pre-diabetic. So, my husband and I decided to just stop. We realized we were both out of control. We didn’t wait until Monday or anything like that. It was actually a Thursday, and from then on, we started getting healthier the old-fashioned way – through diet and exercise.
What changes did you make?
Every day after work I would walk 6 miles. No excuses – even on weekends! I did this for about two months beginning in August 2020. And I started eating healthier – salads, veggies, and protein. I was also determined and focused. I had changed my mindset.
I started feeling better and had more energy. My clothes started fitting loosely. Once I noticed that, I knew I could not go back to old habits!
A lot of working parents struggle with fitting in exercise and making healthy meals – how did you make this work?
Yes, I have four kids – they are 17, 13, 4, and 3 years old. I came up with a schedule and do a lot of meal prep. So, Sunday evening I make meals for the work week. This helps a lot, especially when I first started trying to be healthier. I would get home from work and feed the kids a meal I had already prepped. Then I would head to a nearby park to walk my 6 miles. This was my daily schedule, which really helped. My husband encouraged me and helped a lot with the kids.
What other types of exercise did you do?
After two months of strictly walking, I created my own gym at home. Now I do that during the week and only walk on weekends.
How do you manage your diet?
I weigh my rice, protein, and vegetables – I’m very strict with that. I try not to exceed my allotted calories for the day. My go-to meal is usually chicken breast, brown rice, and a vegetable. My breakfast is egg whites with turkey ham or an oatmeal smoothie. For snacks, I eat fruit or nuts.
What about cheat meals?
My cheat days fall on the weekend. I may eat red meat – but it has to be a steak with little fat. If I know I’ll be at a party or something where I will be eating food that isn’t necessarily healthy, I will still eat the cake or other treats but limit myself to a small portion.
Now that you’ve made these changes, how has it affected your health?
There has been an unbelievable, dramatic change. I’ve lost 40 pounds, and all my test results are now normal! I don’t have fatigue – sometimes I don’t even need my morning coffee to wake up! Changing your diet and exercise makes a big change in your health and how you feel.