February Member Success Story

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Healthy Heart Month is a great time to celebrate our members’ success in creating and completing their healthy life goals. This month we celebrate Sister Karen Salsbery, who has been in the HAWA Program for about a year now. Sister Karen, please tell me a little bit about yourself.

Hello my name is Karen Salsbery and I am a 50 year old Catholic Sister.  Having finished a graduate degree in social work, I am now serving as a counselor in a transitional housing program for survivors of intimate partner violence and at a clinic which serves adults who are uninsured. 

Being healthy has always been a value of mine, yet with the stress of work and school, as well as, life transitions, I had slipped into old habits and needed some way to get back on track. 

 As we know, transitions come throughout our lives, so the coaching available with HAWA gave me another tool to incorporate on the journey. So with gratitude- I share my story. 

Q -When did you begin your HAWA journey?

A - In the winter of 2017.  January through March is typically when I gain weight.  Last winter I wanted to find a way to be healthier, so I became active with HAWA.

Q - Which HAWA providers have you worked with (nurse, fitness specialist, nutritionist)?

 A - The main provider was Annie, the fitness specialist. I also met with, the Valerie, the nutritionist.  Both Annie and Valerie offered helpful hints and encouragement to help me walk this path toward a healthier lifestyle.

Q - Can you tell our readers, what was your original goal or goals when you began working with HAWA?

 A - One of the things that I always thought would be helpful is if I could just check in at the doctor’s office briefly and in certain time intervals to help me be accountable for my health.  Lab numbers are highly motivating to me…getting that good cholesterol to increase, for instance.  With the HAWA program, I was able to connect with Annie to update her on what I was doing and she offered support and ideas I could try out.  My goal was to improve my health and to have a “place” where I could check in, periodically. 

Q -That was a great goal! What challenges have you faced in your wellness journey, and how have you overcome them?

A - When I started the program I was in graduate school, doing a lot of sitting and reading, along with working, so my time was limited.  I did gain weight, but I also made it a practice with the nutritionist’s advice of preparing food ahead of time, to ensure that I took healthy food to class or work, rather than going out to eat or just eating junk food.  Another of my challenges is emotional eating, and one of the biggest helps with this was the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class I took this last fall.  This truly helped me to discover that thoughts, feelings, etc. are passing.  I could notice and acknowledge feeling hungry for instance and choose to eat or not eat.  I could notice that I wanted to eat if I felt anxious and learn to attend to the emotion and what I really needed, rather than eating. 

 Q -That is wonderful. You mentioned that you have previously had knee surgery. Many of our readers have also had surgery or have physical limitations. How did you overcome this obstacle?

 A - I have learned to adapt the exercises in my group fitness classes (Cardio and Core) so that I get a good workout without jumping or running, which is hard on my knees.  Group weight training classes using the barbells have also been a great addition to my fitness routines, helping me to feel stronger physically and emotionally.  I’d like to say that I’ve become faithful to Yoga…that is on my agenda for 2019. YouTube videos recommended by Annie, make this goal possible as I can choose the class that works for me and complete it at home, at a time that works for me. 

Q -Sister Karen, hearing about your goals and the journey you have taken to achieve them is very helpful to other readers who are also looking for a way to get started. What success (small or large) have you had in your journey?

 A - Through this journey, I have become stronger and more healthy - body, mind and spirit.  I was able to lose 20 lbs. 

 Q - The HAWA Team is very pleased to hear about your success. I also believe it’s encouraging for our readers to learn more about what type of benefits they may be able to realize if they start focusing on their health goals. What health benefits have you noticed? (Energy levels, Sleep? Motivation)?

 A - Truly, I feel better and I am more motivated.  At first when I was lifting weights I didn’t notice anything.  Then one Saturday I noticed that I not only felt stronger physically, but that strength really came from the core of who I am. 

Q - I have had other HAWA Members mention that as well. That is wonderful, thank you for sharing that. Can you describe how your HAWA providers have helped you work towards your goals?

 A - Annie’s encouragement and support gave me a place of encouragement and accountability.  She always noted the good even when I didn’t pay as much attention to it. 

Q - Thank you Sister Karen, it is a pleasure to work with such a motivated and goal-driven member. What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

 A - There is not one “great” piece of advice, but more important to me was the great attitude of openness, encouragement to try new things, and a celebration of the fact when I did try new things. 

Q - Very well said. How have your providers helped keep you accountable?

A - This periodic checking in was helpful to me in keeping me on the path.  As I write this, it is January again, another winter is here and knowing that I can check in with Annie helps me recommit to my plan and recognize what I have accomplished which helps keep me motivated and moving forward. 

Q - With such a busy schedule, how do make time for your health/workouts?

 A - I am really committed to a Monday evening and Saturday morning work-out and I do what I can to protect that time.  Other workouts are more flexible and I fit them in two or three times a week as it works out, but I have the plan in my head, so that I really commit to actually doing them.

 Q - That is great! I’d encourage others to also approach their workouts that way. Have you used any health devices (Fitbit™/iHealth®) and if yes, how have they helped in your journey?

 A - The Fitbit helped me to see concretely my activity level each day, so if one day I was less active, I could be more attentive the next. The Fitbit scale was also a big help as seeing the numbers: weight and fat percentage is motivating for me.  It has been nice to finally see the fat percentage decrease.

Q - Many HAWA Members speak highly of connected health devices aiding in their success. I’m glad that was the case for you as well. What recommendations would you give other HAWA members, who are trying to start a new fitness routine?

 A - Find what works for you.  Each person is the expert in their life, and at the same time we benefit from the wisdom and support of others, like the fitness specialist.  Try new things, do things you like and that you can maintain. 

Q - That is outstanding advice Sister Karen, thank you. To conclude our interview, how would you describe HAWA in 1-3 words?

 A - Support, inspiring & hope 

Thank you, Karen. We appreciate your time talking and sharing with HAWA and our readers, today. Your first-year journey through the HAWA Program is part of the ongoing pursuit for health, and one of many tools and benefits available to you. With each step of your journey, take a moment to look back at where you’ve been and then look forward, appreciating that you took that first step, then continue to move in the direction of health maintenance and health improvement. It’s a great way to stay on track!