UK Human Resources

Success Stories: One-on-One Consults

What You Need to Know: 

The One-on-One support programs offered through UK Health & Wellness have improved health & wellness for many of your fellow UK employees, and they can do the same for you. Read their inspiring stories below.

Emily Hicks: "Even though a path has a puddle, it doesn’t mean I have to step in it."

I had known for a while that I was going to quit smoking, telling myself that I wasn’t really addicted. But when it came time for my “smoke break,” I was always outside (across the street of course) with a cigarette.And driving, oh man, driving was the worst. I felt like I didn’t know how to drive without a cigarette in hand. I remember walking into Wellness on Wheels and being excited about learning more about nutrition, but when they offered up a program to help you quit smoking, I was intrigued. I remember thinking that I wasn’t really going to quit, but I signed up anyway. Andrea called. I set a goal date of February (this was in early September). I remember her response was something along the lines of “Well, we’d like for your goal to be more short-term.” So, with a cigarette in hand, I reluctantly set a quit date in late September.

I remember the first informational email I received. Delete. Didn’t even think about it, let alone read it. Smoke break came and I smoked. Same thing the next day. Another email, but this time I read some of it. Delete. Kept smoking. Then the phone calls started. There were days I wanted to just not answer. I didn’t really want to hear what she had to say. As it got cooler, I started to cough. I realized that after a few emails and few calls that I didn’t want to smoke as much. And I didn’t. I was on my last pack of cigarettes that I had purchased, so I went and got the Nicorette lozenges via the voucher provided by the program. I sat in my floor and read every paper in the package. I wanted to know everything about them.

Knowledge truly is power, no matter how cliché it sounds. We all face our own struggles and nicotine was my outlet. Have a bad day, smoke a little more. And preceding meeting the Wellness crew, I had a dear friend tell me that I was not allowed to smoke in my wedding dress. My whole reason for wanting to do the Wellness on Wheels was to be healthier and more confident on my wedding day. Turns out no matter what your reason for that first step, or how much you battle with yourself over quitting, this program works! I wanted to quit, but I didn’t want to put forth any effort. If you are reading this, you are probably there. With the knowledge, resources and coaching provided, I am proud to say that I have not even had a puff since late September.

Andrea is a blessing. I remember being so frustrated with her because I would tell her how irritated I was and she had a way of putting things in perspective that allowed me to realize that even though a path has a puddle, it doesn’t mean I have to step in it. And that’s it is acceptable to be frustrated and/or annoyed … and that I was going to need a new outlet. One of the first calls, Andrea did a basic overview of the program and I remember thinking – how is she going to not only give me replacement therapy, but also provide me with coping mechanisms for replacing nicotine in my life with healthier outlets? I’m still processing how it all happened, but what I do know is that I am healthier and happier than I ever was as a smoker. I’m not going to lie, I did gain 8 pounds since September, but Andrea was also there for me when I was ready to combat that with additional resources available to me at UK. Andrea herself, and I’m sure whoever else coaches, was a great resource for me throughout this process and I am sure I will never be able to repay her for seeing me through.

Antonia Hansen Shares Her Nutrition Consult Success Story

Why did you decide to get a consult? In short, my main reason was to learn how to eat healthy on a budget.  My fiancé decided to get another degree at UK, and my income became the only income for us and our son who is 2 years old.  Yet, I felt a strong responsibility to make sure that we had healthy meals and not do take-out or become lazy and cook pre-cooked meals just because I was tired at the end of my work day.  Information on the Internet was so confusing to me about what was a carb; what are good carbs, good fats, etc; and most options looked quite expensive.  I desperately needed some concrete info and someone to talk to about my own situation instead of mindlessly searching the Internet for answers.

How did the consult/staff help you? Karen McNees was so easy to talk to and completely eased my nervousness -- because let’s face it, who doesn’t get nervous when having to tell a professional about what you eat and how you feed your family?  It’s a nerve-wracking situation because I feel so responsible for what my son and fiancé eat, and I dreaded to hear that I had been doing everything all wrong.  Yet, I knew a change had to be made in order to raise my son to understand the benefits of eating healthy. 

Karen listened to my family’s situation.  I told her that I don’t feel like cooking during the week because my 2-year-old doesn’t eat a whole lot at once, and I can pretty much fix simple things to get by.  She immediately helped me create a plan for how to cook for my family, save time during the week, and how to plan meals for weeks at a time to help save money.  I had always considered making a plan, but had never before done it.  She showed me how easy the process can be and gave me tons of literature on how to eat healthy and then followed up our meeting with an email with websites crammed full of healthy recipes.

What are your results to date?  Have you reached your ultimate goal? So far from January to now, I have kept up with making a dinner plan for the entire month before heading to the grocery.  We’ve only eaten at restaurants occasionally and have lessened our grocery bill to an average of $100 because we buy our meat in bulk, separate the meat into small portions and put in the freezer.  The most expensive items tend to be buying the fresh fruits and veggies.  I’ve set up my garden for planting and hope to alleviate buying most of our store veggies.  We have “discovered” Good Foods and it’s so much cheaper and easier to buy lentils, couscous, etc there so eating healthy is always in the forefront.  Both my fiancé and I feel more energized and better about eating healthy.

How does it feel to be YOU now? I feel so much better as a mother to know that my son is becoming familiar with healthy foods. He actually is asking for yogurt and fruit by name every day! I feel better knowing my fiancé is also eating a good, healthy, and hearty meal, and he doesn’t have to worry about meals every night.  I allow one night (usually Friday) to be either a pizza night or take-out night and that keeps us from feeling like we’re denying ourselves.

What would you tell someone who wants to change but is hesitant to take the first step? First of all, no one will judge you for good or bad decisions. The atmosphere is completely positive and encouraging.  The nutritionists really want you to succeed and fight through any difficulties, and they are there to help you the whole way.  Not to mention, it’s impossible to understand how much better you will feel after you’ve been eating healthily for a few weeks.  Eating healthy has gotten a discouraging rap as being too expensive for the average household. But if you plan your food, you’ll be surprised at the money you’ll save and how you aren’t wasting any of your food!  I’ve found that it is unbelievably exciting to be able to try new foods (I had never cooked lentils before the consult) and new recipes.  You might surprise yourself by falling in love with couscous and spices and wonder how you missed these great foods.  Or you’ll carry this new passion with eating healthy to a new level and start your own garden!  Most importantly, you’ll be making a beneficial change that will truly help you the rest of your life.  The knowledge I have gained from eating better has enabled me to pass my experience to my friends.  We now have a support group in each other to find healthy recipes. Two of us are going to grow gardens, and we keep each other motivated.  Friends and family will help you stay on the right path- just don’t give up at the beginning when everything seems so daunting. In summary, you’ll feel better, save money, and have the opportunity to explore foods you’ve never thought to taste before.

Antonia Hansen works with the Kentucky Geological Survey.

Mike O'Brien, the spouse of a UK employee, shares his Nutrition Consult success story.

"I never thought I would be able to get healthy. But I have finally done it. It was not easy, but the benefits far outweigh the difficulties."

Why did you decide to get a Nutrition Consult? In November of 2012, I was hospitalized for an unrelated condition. While there, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I have had a weight issue for years, as food has been my crutch, especially during times of stress. In my life, stress has, unfortunately, been abundant. I knew I had a significant amount of weight to lose, but, weight loss and great health felt unattainable. I have had joint replacements, and a fractured spine, so I also had a lot of pain. That made me feel worse.

How did the consult/staff help you? My wife suggested I speak with Karen Bryla McNees, as we knew her from Weight Loss Matters.  We met with Karen, and she was so positive and helpful. She spoke to me about controlling the diabetes. She gave us ideas and information regarding how to maintain a good blood sugar level. She taught us so much in WLM and then in our consult. She makes it feel attainable.

What was your biggest challenge? One of my biggest addictions was diet soda. I drank at the very least, 80 ounces of it per day, and often, much more. I quit that within about a week. It was so difficult, and I had plenty of headaches. I soon lost my taste for it, and within two weeks, my joints started feeling better.  At that time, I was also controlling my carb intake, and immediately began losing weight. I believe I lost nine pounds in the first two weeks. By Christmas, I had lost 15 pounds. I also cut out late night snacks, which was difficult, but really helped in my weight loss.

What are your results to date? Have you reached your ultimate goal? I have lost 46 pounds so far. I move around so much easier. It is so much easier for me to work around the house, in the yard, and go to water aerobics. The water classes have helped a lot also. I still have a considerable amount to lose. But I am no longer focused on the number, which helps so much. My other result is that my A1C level was so much better; also my cholesterol and triglycerides have already come down quite a bit.

How does it feel to be YOU now? I am more confident and looking forward to the future. I feel like I have so much more to look forward to.  I just found out I am having my first grandchild this year. I used to wonder if I would live to see that. Now, I know I will, and can enjoy doing things with my grandchild.

What would you tell someone who wants to change but is hesitant to take the first step?  Keep trying.  I failed at this so many times before. I never thought I would be able to get healthy. But I have finally done it. It was not easy, but the benefits far outweigh the difficulties.  Every little thing I do to contribute to my health, no matter how small, adds up, and leads to more successes. I am so much happier and optimistic.