For Sandy Brizendine, losing weight was all about choices. Seven years ago, her weight had crept up and up, and she was heaviest at 220 pounds. She was getting short of breath just walking from her department out to her car and was embarrassed by it.
“I didn’t want my co-workers and friends to see me out of breath, so I decided to do something about it. It was never about losing weight, it was about getting healthy,” Sandy remembers. “As a nurse I see patients every day and how unhealthy our society is, and I didn’t want that for my life. I was healthy other than my weight, and I was concerned the extra pounds might lead to medical problems.”
Not a Temporary Fix
Sandy had seen other people struggle to lose and gain weight through the years, and she didn’t want that to be her story. She wanted to make a lasting change, so she started small by tracking her daily activity— determined to meet every step goal. Then she added weekly exercise classes.
“I joined an exercise group that met in the old Chattanooga Heart banquet room, and it made it easier to get into a routine. I could go immediately after work with no excuses,” says Sandy. “That eventually led to working out at the gym, weight lifting and taking plyometric and spin classes. I even worked with Todd Reeves, certified personal trainer at CHI Memorial's Employee Fitness Center to learn how to box.”
Sandy also changed her diet, but not by restriction. She was determined to get healthy and was motivated by her family and friends cheering her on to choose healthier options and add foods into her diet instead of making certain foods off-limits. She tried different fruits and vegetables and learned that she liked many more foods than she previously thought!
“I’d always eaten bananas and apples, but I started switching things up and going for strawberries and kiwi. I added nuts and found that grilled salmon was delicious,” says Sandy. “I still love to eat out and I indulge in pizza and fast food occasionally, but I also discovered that I actually like Brussels sprouts and avocado—who knew?”
Living Her Best Life
Today Sandy has lost a total of 102 pounds and kept it off—without surgery. She attributes her success to hard work and being dedicated to this lifestyle for the rest of her life. She also began to understand how the choices she makes today have real consequences on the way she feels tomorrow.
“If I get bored, I find myself not wanting to exercise. That’s why I constantly change up my routine and incorporate new things. I want to keep it fresh,” says Sandy. “You can live healthier and happier, because it’s not an unattainable dream—it’s your choice to make. So why not start right now?”