I’m a native of Asheville – I’ve lived here all my life except for 1 year away at college in Savannah. My whole family consists of “super natives!” I have a degree in art from UNC Asheville – I love to draw. I work with my father at Hammond Antiques – an antiques store in Burnsville – where I repair and refinish furniture. I love working with my hands; taking something that’s broken and bringing it back to life.
I have four children; they’re 27, 22, 10, and 4 years-old. I also have an 11 month-old granddaughter.
I’ve always struggled with being a little bit overweight, but until my mid 20s I was active and took good care of myself. I was fit. But after a series of things that happened in my life I didn’t eat as well, and my metabolism couldn’t keep up with it. I reached a point where my health has been affected it.
I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes with my last baby – that was a wake-up call for me. My grandmother and mom have diabetes, and I knew that this is something that runs in my family. My doctor told me that my A1C was too high: “You’re diabetic – we need to do something about it.” I was fooling myself that I wasn’t getting less and less healthy. I needed that truth in my face that I really had to make some changes in how I was eating and how I was living.
I started the YWCA’s Diabetes Wellness & Prevention program in December. I love it here – it’s so challenging and encouraging. It’s made me face hard facts about eating habits and emotional issues around eating. The way I grew up I learned an unhealthy relationship with food. I come from a big family without a lot of money – we ate what was cheapest and easiest to get. I developed a taste for processed food. I’m also an emotional eater; I have struggled with depression and one of the things I do is eat.
When I started coming to the YW I started feeling so much better. I’m still struggling with what I’m eating, but my clothes are looser, I’m more energetic, and my body can do things it couldn’t do two months ago. I recently went on hike with family and climbed up a hillside of rocks, and it wasn’t difficult for me. It was really exciting for me – suddenly I could trust my body to do things that I hadn’t been able to trust it to do in a long time.
It’s a huge help to have the accountability of meeting with my YW trainer, Sean, every week. He’s a joy to work with. He’s encouraging, but he knows when to tell the truth. He asked me to keep a food journal… I was ticked off at him for a few days for that because it was easier to be mad at him than at myself. It showed me how deep my issues are, and how much work I have to do, which was discouraging and good at the same time.
It hasn’t been easy, but my family is very supportive. At first my husband would still get the kind of groceries that weren’t helping the situation. Then I explained to him that bringing food I shouldn’t be eating into the house is like if I was a recovering alcoholic and he was putting beer in the fridge. That really clicked with him. I can tell that he really cares. He is learning with me, and is committed to being my teammate.
I have 84 pounds to go to reach my goal weight. But that’s not my only goal.
-I want to go do a zipline. You have to weigh below a certain number, so I need to reach that first – my best friend promised she would do it with me.
-In 1 to 2 summers I want to take a two-week hike on the Appalachian trail.
-My goddaughter is a fashion guru – when I reach my goal weight she’s going to take me shopping for a whole new wardrobe.
-Lastly, my long term dream is to take my family to serve on a mercy ship – these are giant cruise ships that have been converted to hospitals that dock off the coasts of poor nations. Teams go in to the country and bring back people who can’t get medical care where they are. But they won’t let you go if you have a chronic health problem, so I need to make sure that my health is under check.
My goals are all things that make me hopeful. Before joining this program I had started to feel like: this is who I am; I can never be fit again. My identity had gotten wrapped up in things I couldn’t do physically – I had to get fed up with it.
I’ve embraced the spirit of the YWCA – that it’s ok to be honest about what’s bad and what’s good, and to be willing to face it and make a change. I find myself surrounded by people who’ve been on a journey. We’re able to understand and support each other because we’ve all had something to face in our lives.