August 16 was a big day for Michelle Williams, a nurse on North Memorial Hospital's cardiovascular unit.
That day, she won a trip to New York and a $500 shopping spree.
"That was very cool," Williams said.
In the eyes of the weight loss product company, Optifast, it was well–deserved, after she lost a total of 95 pounds thanks to a grueling 16–week program.
"February of last year, I was put on blood pressure medication and I was only 34," she recalls. "And, I work in a heart and vascular clinic so I kind of knew that was not a good sign."
After unsuccessfully trying to lose weight on her own, Williams heard about a new program being offered for North Memorial employees.
"So I went and checked it out and one of the first things they talked about was how this program was gonna help you get off your medication and all this other stuff," Williams said. "So I was like 'OK, what's the worst that can happen?, If it fails, then I'm right where I'm at."
For 12 weeks, Williams's diet consisted primarily of weight loss supplements.
"I thought I was going to die the first two weeks," she said with a laugh.
Instead, she thrived, thanks to the supervision and guidance of the hospital's weight loss center – led by Dr. Sophia Kim.
"We ask the individuals in the program to really take a hard look at the way they've done life and why they're there," Dr. Kim said.
It's a program that debuted at North Memorial last year, which helps employees change their lifestyle.
Michelle is one of 36 people who have enrolled.
Yet while each participant has the hospital's resources at their disposal, Dr. Kim says anyone can achieve Michelle's level of success.
"Spend more time in the moment and less time being stressed about everything else," Dr. Kim advised. "A lot of it is mindfulness when it comes to exercise, emotional well–being, what you're doing."
Williams had the mindfulness to get help when her weight reached 265 pounds.
Now she hopes her story inspires others.
"It's a lot of hard work," she admits. "And you not only have to change your habits, but also your mentality and that's a hard switch to flip sometimes."As for Williams, she says she now exercises more and eats healthier.
Aug. 21, 2012