Healthy lifestyle concept with diet and fitness

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on our lives. For some, it is delayed medical care, isolation from friends and family, increased demands at work and home and so much more. We know we need to take care of ourselves to feel and be our best so that we can be the caregivers we are in the places we work caring for those who cannot care for themselves. We are great educators about what people ‘should do’ to be healthy, but sometimes fall short ourselves.

Submitted by Tammy Wagner, Quality Improvement Advisor with Great Plains QIN

Tammy Baumann HeadshotA few short years ago, I remember reading the quote from Caroline Myss, “What drains your spirit drains your body. What fuels your spirit fuels your body.”  At the time, I did not like my spirit or my body.

I had my annual wellness exam by my provider. I was scared, as usual, about being weighed and what my doctor would say to me about that extra weight I was carrying. Honestly, he couldn’t say anything more hurtful than I had been saying to myself every day for years. My self-talk was worse than anything anyone else could say to me, but I didn’t want to hear it out loud, from someone else’s mouth.

After having labs drawn and my blood pressure and other vital signs checked, my provider walked into the room and said, “Tammy, your A1C is 6.4, you have pre-diabetes, your blood pressure is too high and you are 90 pounds overweight. I am worried that you will soon need to be on a diabetes medication and possibly suffer from a stroke or heart attack. Can we talk about what you can do to reduce your risk?”

I am sitting there and hearing his voice telling me the things I already knew; those habits I should be doing to better care for myself, but I did not want to hear it. My mother and my aunt both had diabetes and were both on insulin. I did not want to take medication and I fully understood the outcomes for people who have high blood sugar, high blood pressure, obesity and/or other chronic health conditions brought on by lifestyle choices.

I decided to take ACTION!  Along with my provider, we developed a plan. I would schedule regular visits to check on my progress and avoid being prescribed medications. Our plan provided me with time to change my eating habits and increase my activity level.  I didn’t realize by doing the first two my self-talk automatically became more positive.

What can you do?

  • Attend routine health care visits
    • Visit your healthcare provider at least one time per year
    • Visit your dental provider two times per year
  • Move your body
    • Regular physical activity improves health, fitness and quality of life
    • Older adults should do strength training and stretching for mobility and balance
  • Eat healthy
    • Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats for healthy meals and snacks
  • Drink water
    • Substitute water for sugary or alcoholic drinks to reduce calories
  • Sleep
    • Get at least 7 hours of sleep each night
  • Unwind and connect
    • Take deep breaths, stretch, meditate or do an activity you enjoy
    • Express gratitude

Looking back, it was really important for my provider to understand what my personal self-care goals were. He was also willing to help me envision my future if I did not start making better choices. Had he not helped me meet my first goal of avoiding medication, I would be in a different place today. I now recognize that my provider utilized Motivational Interviewing techniques with me that day in the office and throughout my health journey. By him not just trying to ‘fix’ my problem and exploring my goals and listening for my change talk, we developed a plan and I became engaged and a willing partner.

I am still a work in progress. For the most part, I can focus on my health by eating healthy foods, exercising and using positive self-talk. I do sometimes slide back to negative, but I can identify and quickly change. Overall, with these changes, my life has been much more pleasant and exciting.

Updated Coalition Logo with ColorsDo you have a story to share? If so, we would love to help you tell it. We are looking for stories and experiences, like Tammy’s, that can help or inspire others. If you are willing to share, we would love to have a conversation with you. We will draft the story for your review and approval.

Tell Us Your Story.

Are you struggling to have productive conversations with family members, loved ones and patients on needed health changes or lifestyle choices? Have you relayed data and facts and used pressure tactics and still hitting road blocks? If so, have you considered motivational interviewing? Motivational interviewing allows us to serve as an objective partner when it comes to decision making.

Additional Resources

Great Plains QIN – Motivational Interviewing Tip Sheet
OARS+ Model for Motivational Interviewing
Great Plains QIN Webinar – Motivational Interviewing | August 2021
Motivational Interviewing – Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)