to main content
January Wellness Hero Laura Cole January Wellness Hero Laura Cole

A Walk in the Park – Literally

“I’ve lost over 70 pounds from walking and watching what I eat. I want people to know that walking is a key to fitness that almost everyone can do – and all it costs is a good pair of shoes!” – Laura Cole

Are You Connected?

Be part of the KelseyThrive movement!

Laura Cole: Director of Third Party Administrator Services, Pearland Administrative Offices

January 2024

Laura struggled with her weight for years and had tried everything to shed pounds. But it wasn’t until she changed her diet and discovered the power of walking in nature that she was able to maintain a healthy weight and become truly healthy.

When did your wellness journey begin?

Thirteen years ago, I was 285 pounds. I was flying to Tampa for work. I got on the plane and had to ask for a seatbelt extender. That was so shocking. I hadn’t even realized how heavy I was. So, I went on a low-carb diet and lost 50 pounds. I stayed there for a couple of years, kind of gaining and losing. Then, I decided to have gastric bypass surgery. But that is a tool. If you don’t follow the guidelines that go along with it, you’ll regain weight, which is what I did. I wasn’t exercising. I wasn’t eating right. And then COVID happened.

That was a difficult time for all of us. What was your experience?

When we shut down for COVID, I started working from home. I was at a different company at the time. I lived in the small town of Tyler, Texas. I was very sedentary. Out of boredom probably more than anything, I would just start snacking. I would grab a pretzel, a handful of this – it adds up – plus a full lunch and a full dinner. So, I found myself putting on weight.

Did you have health issues?

Yes, I was diabetic, and my cholesterol was high.

What was the turning point for you?

In May 2020, I had DNA food sensitivity testing done. They take a swab of your saliva and send it off to the lab. They analyze food sensitivities based on your DNA, not sensitivities in terms of an allergy. It’s the food, based on your genetic markers, that are best to avoid or have in limited quantities. I have a report with a list of foods that spike my insulin and my blood sugar. And when you’re sedentary, that sugar converts to fat.

How did your eating habits change?

I eat the same thing for lunch probably 99% of the time. It’s a cracker and cheese packet, some other form of protein – either cottage cheese or yogurt – a bell pepper and a cucumber, or carrots and celery. That’s usually my biggest meal of the day. I have a very standard way to eat. And I use the 80/20 rule – 80% of the time I stay on plan, but sometimes a lady needs to have a piece of birthday cake. Sometimes you have to have some pizza in your life. Life without pizza is not worth living.

One of the things that I do to jumpstart my metabolism in the morning is eat something 100 calories or less within an hour of waking up. You have to fuel your mind and body. I eat a banana, and that jumpstarts my metabolism. I might eat something later in the morning for breakfast, like yogurt, then I eat the same lunch every day, and then a small dinner.

What else did you change, other than your diet?

I knew I needed to move, so I started walking during lunch. I would get out and walk a mile or a mile and a half. I realized I really liked being outside again, so I started challenging myself. I’d go a little bit faster, a little bit farther, or give myself other challenges. It took a couple of months, but I started seeing results.

Once I started at Kelsey-Seybold’s administrative offices in 2021, I walked on the nature trail behind the building. If I couldn’t walk at lunch, I’d walk after work at Tom Bass Park near Pearland. I still walk two to three days a week at a minimum.

Why did you choose walking as your physical activity?

I have arthritis in my left hip, so I’m not allowed to run. That’s why I walk. But it’s also for my physical and mental health. I’ve done a few 5k walks, like the Turkey Trot in Houston and the Rock & Roll Half Marathon in San Antonio, but I walked them. I did the 10k, which is 6.2 miles, in lieu of running the half marathon. I’ve done 5ks here in Pearland. I’ve actually beat people’s times in my age group who were running.

What changes have you seen in your health?

I’m at my goal weight. Sometimes I don’t recognize myself. Not only have I lost weight, but I’ve also maintained it. And that to me is the most critical outcome of the whole thing.

And last time I had a physical, my labs were immaculate. My cholesterol was low. My A1C was low. I’m glad that I look better, but what I’m really proud of is my internal health is recovering from the abuse I put my body through with overeating and inactivity. The change in my physical and mental health has just been profound. And I owe it all to walking and really understanding what to eat and what’s good for my body.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give someone who’s just getting started on their journey?

Take it one day at a time and celebrate non-scale victories. That could be that you stayed on plan today or got back into that dress you’ve had for a year. When I was married, one thing for me was being able to wear my wedding ring again.

Especially for women, the scale can lie. I’ve literally had the scale say I gained 3 pounds in one day. How does that happen? It’s because we retain water.

What would you say to someone who feels as if they don’t have the time to stay healthy?

I would challenge that. Because the time you invest in this is the time you invest in yourself. Examine the time you do have and carve out pockets of time for yourself. Use your lunch break. Take 30 minutes and go walk outside. And ask for help. Ask someone to watch the kids so you can get a workout in. Ask your family if you can make a quick, easy dinner so you can have time to work on yourself. Whatever it is, really take a look at your day. Don’t assume you don’t have time.

Did you learn anything about yourself during your journey?

What I’ve learned is forgiveness. I forgive that woman who was 285 pounds, who was juggling a full-time career, a house, a family, and going to college as an adult. That woman did the best she could. A lot of it is forgiving yourself for being flawed and learning from it and moving forward. Forgive yourself for a failure that may happen, or a perceived failure. Have some grace and kindness for yourself.

We make scheduling easy for you

You can schedule appointments through our secure patient portal, MyKelseyOnline, or call our 24/7 Contact Center at 713-442-0427. Virtual Visit options are also available to all new and current patients.