It was this month last year that I embarked on a journey I never thought I’d find myself taking. I was almost 29 and had never before set fitness goals for myself.
In fact, I was the last person I think anyone would have expected to participate in the esd Health & Wellness Employee Program. It had been in place for over a year and as much as people spoke about how amazing it was and begged me to try it out, I still did not care to join, and continued to eat my Whataburger grilled cheese sandwich kid’s meals. (No regrets!)
It all started in 2015, when good friends of my boyfriend’s and mine asked us to stand in their October 2016 wedding. We both wanted to look fantastic, so in January of 2016, we started getting fit slowly. So slowly that I didn’t even really start then (he did, though). I saw his effort and knew I really needed to step it up too. So, I guess you could say that I mentally prepared myself for a February start. February came around and I set a weight goal. I never really expected to reach that goal, or even get to a point where I needed to set a second one but I started at least going through the motions.
To help reach my goal, I invested in a few tools and used the esd Health & Wellness Employee Program as a starting point to guide me. I bought a Fitbit Charge HR to track my steps and started to count calories using the MyFitnessPal app. I also walked as much as I could, and started to work out twice a week to a P90X Kenpo DVD at home.
I loved using my Fitbit to see what my heart rate was for various things I did throughout the day, and I was fascinated at how my calorie intake compared to my calories burned. And the workout sessions? Yeah, I totally dreaded them at first.
Soon after habitually logging my food with MyFitnessPal, I started to really care about meeting my suggested calories per day. I especially loved seeing the “if every day were like today, you’d weigh X in 5 weeks” when I completed my food diary each day. I’d often think, “yeah right.” But sure enough I eventually reached those predicted numbers.
After tracking my progress daily for myself and to receive benefits from the company (gift cards!), I really started to notice a difference in my food choices, my weight, my energy level and in my attitude at life. For the first time in my life, I actually wanted to get up and move.
By mid-August, I had reached my first goal. I felt absolutely great and thought, “why stop there?” I still had a couple of months left to get myself a wedding-ready body. So I set a new goal. And I reached it in late September – just in time for my last dress fitting.
Throughout the months of eating healthier, moving more and trying to avoid all the “bad” food, I had always said the days after the wedding I was going to pig out on anything and everything that I had avoided during this time. The wedding came and went, and I could not bring myself to go back to my old eating habits. I was shocked because I thought this was just a 10-month plan. I never thought it would transform me into the calorie counting, step-tracking person I am today.
Now, I get the most from the esd Health & Wellness Employee Program, and even helped the company receive the 2016 Healthy Workplace Award at the Platinum level from the San Antonio Business Group on Health.
I have healthy hobbies now. I enjoy walking, running and being as active as I can. I owe a bit of this success to my boyfriend, as it definitely makes things easier when someone is rooting for you (and also holding you accountable for those early Saturday morning jogs!).
From February 2016 to today, I have lost a total of 27 pounds. I will admit there were definitely some pounds gained over the holidays, but I have pulled myself back up and am ready to continue my journey. Next stop? My first 5K.
Johanna Salazar is part of the account service team for esd. When she’s not working with her team to create extraordinary results for her clients, she’s spending time with her boyfriend and family at various restaurants (counting those good ol’ calories).