Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Brenda knew her doctor was right. “In many ways I’d been so very fortunate. I was able to retire at age 47. I had my whole life ahead of me to enjoy, but instead I was on the verge of losing my life. I had to change.”
Did she ever. Last year she went to Pritikin. Today she’s a size 14. She’s off all diabetes and lipid medications. She’s up most mornings to walk the dog at 7:30 and on to the gym by 8:30 to work out five days weekly with a mix-it-up plan of weight-lifting, Pilates, and cardio. (“I now have enough endurance to spin for an hour!”)
She takes regular spins through Nordstrom now, too. “Before, there was one little corner of Nordstrom that I was aware of – the fat women’s section. Now I have the WHOLE STORE. I’m so confused! I don’t know where to look, so I have a personal shopper. I just sit in the dressing room, and Alice brings me everything!”
Brenda’s husband Ron has made big changes, too. He came to Pritikin with Brenda but left within 24 hours “because it was just too much for him,” recalls Brenda. “Our first meal at the Center was vegetarian meat loaf. Well, Ron was used to starting each day with three fried eggs, fried potatoes, bacon, and a bagel with cream cheese.”
Though he left, Brenda returned home from Pritikin two weeks later fresh with ideas about healthier, tasty food that even a guy like Ron would like. And sure enough, Ron has dropped 80 pounds over the last year and is now off all his high blood pressure medication.
“We’re not dieting.”
“The really nice thing,” says Brenda, “is that we don’t miss anything. We’re not dieting. This is just how we live now.”
And they’re loving it. Last summer, the couple took off for a two-month vacation hiking through Alaska, the Yukon, Denali National Park, reaching elevations of 8,000 to 11,000 feet, and then onto the Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Zion.
“Never before could I have hiked and climbed and withstood elevations AND BREATHED all at the same time,” laughs Brenda, “and here I was, doing it!”
Home life is a lot of fun, too. It’s very different, to be sure. Gone are the days of baked potatoes smothered with butter, sour cream, and bacon bits, and cocktail hours with vodka martinis and cheese and crackers. “We don’t do anything like that now, and we don’t miss it,” says Brenda.
Instead, there’s a lot of fruit and vegetables in the house. “I’d always eaten a lot of vegetables – I’m Italian – only now we don’t soak them in olive oil.” There’s also whole-grain cereals like oatmeal, whole-grain waffle mixes, salad fixings, no-sugar yogurts like Dannon Light & Fit, seafood, and chicken breasts.
Easy-to-prepare chicken breasts. Brenda buys several cutlets at a time, cooks them up in her George Foreman grill, and freezes each individually. “I have my own vacuum seal machine.” Whenever she wants chicken strips on her salads, she just takes one cutlet out of the freezer, sticks it in the microwave, “and I’m done. It’s so much better than getting those individually-wrapped ones in the store that are full of salt and other junk flavorings.”
At night, just to make sure her blood sugar is staying at nice normal levels, Brenda takes the dog out for a 20-minute walk right after dinner. “It’s not as if the dog needs the walk. I take him out because it’s good for me.”
When guests come over for dinner, “they know they’re getting salmon,” laughs Brenda, “and no dessert. There are no desserts in the house, and I don’t miss them. I don’t go to the store and linger at the bakery department thinking, ‘Oh, I wish I could have that.’ Those cravings just aren’t part of me anymore.”
She does crave fresh delicious fruit like Clementines, and had just finished one before her interview with Pritikin Perspective. “They’re so sweet. That’s all I need.”
That’s saying quite a lot coming from someone who used to keep a bowl of Hershey Kisses on her desk at work. “I think they were more for me than for anyone else.”
Combine those Kisses with 60- to 70-hour work weeks, red-eye flights every other week to San Jose, California, and a social life both before and after retirement that revolved around eating (“I never thought about if I were hungry or not, I just ate”), and it’s no wonder that last year her health and life were in jeopardy.
The wonder of it all, observes Brenda, is that change was easy thanks to her education at Pritikin – the doctors, dietitians, and “all my friends in the gym” who taught, supported, and encouraged her. “Pritikin gave me the tools. When I got home, I knew exactly what I needed to do.”
Diabetes free, and feeling AMAZING
And she’s had no problem maintaining her new lifestyle because “I feel SO GOOD.” It’s both the little things she marvels at (“I can wear three-inch heels now – I haven’t been able to do that in ages!”) and the big ones: “I sleep at night now. It’s AMAZING. I used to get up every hour to hour-and-a-half. Now I’m up just once to go to the bathroom. And every morning I wake up ready to roll, full of energy.”
And full of gratitude for her brand new life.
“Thank you, everyone at Pritikin. I did it!”