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Success Stories

Are you looking for motivation to live a healthier lifestyle? Some of your co-workers who have successfully increased their physical activity, decided to make healthier food choices and quit using tobacco shared their stories to inspire you and offer advice. Watch and read their stories below.

If you'd like to inspire others with your story, fill out the appropriate success story submission form below:


Debra - Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities
Debra took charge of her health by taking advantage of Working for a Healthier Tennessee's challenges and events with her co-workers.

Charlie - Human Services
After finding out she was in kidney failure from diabetes, Charlie made a lifestyle change. 

Morgan - Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities
Morgan was an obese teen with high cholesterol and prediabetes. Now she's healthier than ever!

Morris - Agriculture
When he was diagnosed with diabetes and watched both of his parents suffer from it, Morris took control of his health.

Heidi - Agriculture
After years of not feeling well, Heidi was diagnosed with Type II diabetes. Learn how she took control.

Jeremy - Human Services
Learn how a Working for a Healthier Tennessee challenge motivated Jeremy to live a healthy lifestyle.

Anonymous - Labor & Workforce Development

After completing the Celebrate a Healthier YOU Challenge:

I have decreased the amount of sugar in my diet substantially. My poor spouse - I have not made cookies or peach cobbler in over a month!

Tara in a yoga pose

Tara D. - Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

As a teenager I began taking an active interest in my health. I developed an understanding and foundation for physical and mental wellness. By cutting down on my portion sizes, making healthier food choices and exercising (mostly walking and strength training), I lost 70 pounds. Through the years I have continued to make my health a priority. I have developed a love for many different exercises. I even taught spin class, weight training and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for many years. With both of my pregnancies I gained 78 pounds and lost all of the weight by eating healthy and exercising. I have been on my wellness journey for almost 20 years. I make healthy choices most of the time but also give myself leeway to not exercise as well as having “treats” (ice cream!) occasionally. Now that my husband and I have children, we are both working on helping them develop a foundational understanding about wellness. Our hope is that by instilling this from an early age they will both develop a personal responsibility and love for wellness.

Anonymous - Human Services

I started my weight loss journey in 2012, shortly after I had my first child and had gained 60 pounds. I started to notice I would become out of breath very quickly, and I would always feel uncomfortable in my clothes. I had my second child in 2015 and I still struggled with keeping my weight under control. Starting here at DDS really has helped me maintain my weight. Being a part of the biggest loser challenges give me some accountability and help me stay focused on where I want to be with my health.

I drink five to seven bottles of water daily to keep my system flowing. I try my best to keep my eating habits on track. Taking advantage of the workouts offered here... give me that extra movement I need throughout the day instead of sitting all day. I also work out at home, taking my kids to the park and finding many ways to increase my heart rate.

Anonymous - Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

Tell us about the healthy changes you've made.
I joined WW (formerly Weight Watchers) in 2012. I began following the plan, and continue to follow it to this day. I have lost over 100 pounds and kept it off.

What inspired you?
I decided I was tired of being overweight and unhealthy.

How did you get started?
I had been talking with a friend about joining WW but got tired of waiting for us to do it together, so I walked into a meeting and joined. It was helpful that the meeting was right up the street from my house.

What were your fitness goals?
I joined a gym and just focused on cardio at first. When I joined WW, they hosted a 5K. It took me almost an hour to complete it, but with the help of my WW leader, I was able to complete it. I wanted to increase my activity levels and be able to complete my next 5K in a faster time, which I did. Now, I incorporate weights and strength training into my routine as well. I try and get to the gym four to five days a week.

What were your healthy eating goals?
My healthy eating goals were to follow the WW plan, and work on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into my diet. Now I am working on changing the kinds of foods I eat because I get into a routine and get bored with eating the same foods.

How do you stay motivated?
I keep my old driver's license in my wallet and an old picture in my bedroom. I have come so far and don't want to go back to the person that I was because that person was unhealthy and unhappy. I also have a wonderful WW family that doesn't let me get down on myself when I don't see the results I want, and they motivate and inspire me to keep going.

What has been your toughest obstacle?
My love for food, and being an emotional eater. Through WW I have learned that we are all going to slip up sometimes and it's ok. If I have a slip-up, I just get right back on track. I no longer use the excuse that since I didn't follow my plan for one meal, I should just throw in the towel. The next meal, I am right back to eating healthy.

How do you reward yourself when you meet a goal?
I usually buy a new piece of clothing.

How do you plan to reach your ultimate goal?
It's been a struggle to get to a goal due to health-related issues, but I am still working towards my goal. I continue to follow my plan and change things up occasionally so I don't get bored. My doctor has recently changed my weight goal, and I am close to meeting it.

What's your favorite part of Working for a Healthier TN?
Being motivated by others that participate.

What's your advice for others?
Believe in yourself. A positive outlook will help you to achieve whatever your goals are. Also, have a good support system. I don't think I would have made it this far without my support system - that includes family, friends, co-workers and my WW family.

What have you learned about yourself during this journey?
I am worth the effort, and I am stronger than I think.

Robyn - Human Services

What inspired your health journey?
Last spring, I decided I wanted to lose some weight for a big family vacation in the fall. My office put me in charge of creating a Wellness Bingo game for one of the DHS wellness challenges, and I've been working on my fitness goals ever since.

How much weight have you lost?
At my heaviest, I was 212 pounds. Now, I am down to 186.

What would you say is the most important factor in your success?
I feel like changing my eating habits has helped tremendously. I've always tried to stay active, but was just not losing weight with exercise alone.

What is your current fitness goal?
I'd love to lose another 20 pounds, but for now I'm happy just trying to live a healthier lifestyle.

What are you doing to achieve your goal?
Mostly portion control, and when I snack, I try to eat healthier foods instead of junk.

Describe the healthy eating plan you're following.
I've always loved food. I love to cook. I love to bake. And I love to eat! Mostly, I am just trying to make better choices with my food. Eat smaller portions, or don't go back for seconds even if the food is delicious and keep my snacking to a minimum. If I do snack, I try to eat nuts, fruits or veggies.

Dr. Ryan Dulling and Michelle

Michelle - Military

In April 2018, I decided that I wanted to lose weight, eat healthy and exercise. I knew it would boost my morale and improve my outlook on life. I started to exercise, saw a nutritionist and began to slowly lose weight. I started to walk short distances, and increased it to make sure I made 10,000 steps a day. My nutritionist guided me with healthy eating and showed me how to macro count so my body would metabolize in a healthy and achieving way. 

In August 2018, I started to have physical pain in my back. My doctor sent me to physical therapy. Because of disaster response in the past, and many injuries that went without being attended to, as of April 2019, I'm still in physical rehab. My doctor of physical therapy and I are slowly working towards increasing beneficial exercise so I can achieve my goals and increase my physical well-being. 

I have now lost 40 pounds, and I will continue this journey for the rest of my life. I'm 47 years old. I have been told time and time again that women in their 40s have difficulty losing weight. This is true without exercise and help from a nutritionist, but I will say, and even promise, it is completely possible.

Pictured here is Dr. Ryan Dulling (my physical therapist) and myself. He is the mastermind behind helping me get through my physical difficulties and helping me heal. This is a team effort with my regular physician, Dr. Dulling, my nutritionist and mental health support.

Physical Activity

Rachel - TennCare
Rachel opens up about being overweight, bingeing, purging and starving herself. Today, she's stronger than ever!

George - Transportation
After breaking several bones, George ran The Dopey Challenge at Disney World, nearly 50 miles in four days!

Daphne - Human Services
On her 50th birthday, Daphne ran, walked and biked 50 miles! Learn how to go from walking to racing.

Steve - Correction
Steve completed his first Spartan Run at age 63. He has encouragement for others who want to be more active.

Jason - Revenue
Jason recently lost 50 pounds by making small, gradual changes. Do you need motivation? He offers some advice.

Buddy - Finance & Administration
After participating in a steps challenge, the Asst. Commissioner of F&A experienced unexpected results.

Cherrell - Human Services
Cherrell no longer views exercise as a chore. She explains how to change your mindset.

Cathy - Labor & Workforce Development
This single mother survived an aneurysm. Her dedication inspired her son to join her in exercise.

Deborah P. Before and After

Deborah P. - Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

Tell us about the healthy changes you’ve made. 
I started walking four to five miles a day. I am now walking five to six miles a day and sometimes up to eight miles. 

What inspired you to make those changes? 
I got up to 195 pounds. Being diabetic, that is not healthy, so I decided to make a change so that I can live a longer life and be around to see my grandchildren. I am now down to 149.2. I have lost 45.8 pounds.

How did you get started? 
I started slowly, staying under 1500 calories and walking every day.

Have you participated in any Working for a Healthier TN challenges or events? 
I have. It is very motivating for me. I love participating in all the challenges. I like competing and getting others to compete. 

How do you stay motivated? 
My husband is good about helping me meet my goals, he will start dinner so I can complete my steps.

How do you plan to reach your goal? 
I am currently at 149.2 pounds.  If I could get to 140 that would be awesome. Just continue to keep working hard.

What have you learned about yourself during this journey? 
I have learned that I am stronger that I thought I was, and I can do anything that I set my mind to. 

Kristi A. - TN Courts

Tell us about the healthy changes you've made. What results have you seen because of these changes?
Back in 2012, I joined a gym, got a trainer and started running. Since that time, I have lost 70 lbs. and have managed to keep it off.

What inspired you to make those changes?
My sister passed away in June of 2011 from colon cancer. When that happened, I took a long, hard look at my life and decided a lot of things needed to change. And I made a promise to her and myself that I would run a half marathon in her memory to benefit colon cancer. While I have not done a specific run for colon cancer, I have completed a few half marathons, 15Ks, 10Ks and 5Ks.

How did you get started?
I joined a gym one day and just kept moving.

What were your health-related goals?
To love myself again and be happy with me!!

How do you stay motivated?
It's been hard, especially since the end of last year with work as busy as it was, but I have a family that pushes me and friends that stand beside me and hold me accountable.

How do you reward yourself when you meet a goal?
I enjoy running, especially my long runs. Every February I run 30.4 miles in two days, where I can eat the things I would never eat on a normal basis.

What's your advice for others?
Just set a goal and stick to it. You will love yourself for it!! I know I do!!

What have you learned about yourself during this journey?
I've learned that I am much stronger than I ever would've imagined, both physically, mentally and emotionally. I truly did not think I would make it through my sister's death, but she is the one out there pushing me every time I get down or tired while I'm out there running.

Corinne running a half marathon

Corinne G. - Agriculture

I had three goals and they were simple: finish the race, run the whole way and don’t throw up.

Prior to my first half marathon, I had only ever run two 5ks that were less about training and more about survival. Confession: I’ve never actually enjoyed running. I’ve been known to pound the pavement from time to time when I need to burn some excess energy. And I keep hearing rumors of that ‘runner’s high.’ As of yet, the only thing I’ve ever felt after a run is a strong desire to sit down.

That all changed in early February when my cousins emailed me with details of a race along the coast of Maine. They were running the full marathon and a quick Google search revealed that I had just enough time to train for a half marathon. Having never been to Maine before, I figured that was a good reason to go.

That Google search also produced the adage, ‘If you can run three miles, you can run 13.1.’ I didn’t really, truly believe that. But I like doing stuff that’s hard. I figured it was worth a shot.

Following a basic 13-week novice training plan that I found online, the distances slowly built up. My speed never actually improved. A 12- to 13-minute mile is pretty typical for me, which is quite slow. Those three simple goals kept me moving despite bad weather, illness and general feelings of I’d-Rather-Be-Doing-Anything-Else.

On May 11, I found myself surrounded by 2,999 people I had never met before, at a starting line in a city I had never been to before, about to do something I had never done before. Just short of three hours later, I crossed the finish line, having run the entire way and without (thank goodness) throwing up.

Still no runner’s high. But the people were so nice, the scenery was gorgeous, and salt and vinegar potato chips taste AMAZING after you’ve spent almost three hours sweating to death. I’ll also never forget the lady who hollered “GET IT GIRL!!!” at the end as I was sprinting toward the finish. I heard that. I needed it.

I’m slow. But I did it.

Next race: Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon, September 7.

Elverna weight lifting

Elverna C. - Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

I had my annual physical on July 3, 2013 and realized I had gained 36 pounds over a three-year period. My blood pressure was high, and I had not had problems with that before. The doctor said it was probably because of my weight gain. We also realized that, based on my labs, I had gone into early menopause. All these factors had my metabolism in slow motion. I left my doctor’s office and found a personal trainer that day.

My fitness goal when I met with my personal trainer was to lose the weight I had gained. My trainer informed me that I was not eating as often as I should or the combination of fats, protein and carbohydrates that I should to ignite my metabolism. I started to eat every three to four hours per day. I measured/weighed all of my food for the proper portions. I lifted weights four days a week and did cardio five to six days a week. My body started to change. My trainer asked if I was in a hurry to lose the weight. Initially I said yes, but that changed as he explained about losing body fat versus concentrating on the numbers on the scale. He also realized I knew how to lift weights and asked if I had lifted before. I told him I had been lifting since college. He also asked if I had ever thought about entering a fitness competition. I informed him that I was training for a competition in 1991 with my then husband and discovered I was pregnant. After I had the baby, I just lifted weights to look good. I thought I was 45 and too old to think about competing. But I thought about it and discussed it with my young adult sons and they wanted me to go for it. I have competed in four shows placing in every show. I became a certified personal trainer in 2014.

I love the fact that I’m 50 years old and do not take any medications. My blood pressure and lab work have been great. I enjoy meal prepping and getting up at 4:45 a.m. to workout. Also, I enjoy training others to reach their goals. I’ve learned that only can stop me from obtaining my goal.

My favorite part of Working for a Healthier Tennessee is the accountability that it brings – co-workers holding each other accountable and being a buddy to encourage each other.

Lindsey at Tour de Nash with her bike

Lindsey W. - Health

On May 4th I participated in my first “long mile” cycling event, Tour de Nash. It was 25 miles in Nashville. I had recently started training to do some bike rides when a former co-worker and friend was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. I knew I wanted to ride for her. She passed away in February, so riding in her memory was something I knew I had to do. I began with riding around my neighborhood beginning with short distances. Once winter months hit, I knew I needed to continue to ride so I invested in an indoor trainer for my bike. Utilizing that, as well as outdoor biking, helped to increase my mileage a little at a time.

Since my first ride for my friend in May, I have taken up another challenge in Cycle4Chiari in honor of another friend. Cycling doesn’t only offer health benefits. It has given me an outlet to help others.

Kelly L. - Finance & Administration

My son Evan came to me toward the end of 2018 and challenged me to play tennis with him. He had just learned to play the day before and was looking forward to schooling his old dad. I accepted immediately because I played tennis on my high school team and have always loved the game. Unfortunately for Evan, my serve came back to me fairly quickly and ended in his defeat in our first outing. Since then we have tried to play at least once each weekend continuing to push each other’s skills higher. He gives me a great challenge on the court as he enjoys hitting a variety of drop shots and lobs as he attempts to wear down my 51-year-old body. Despite that strategy, we tend to be fairly evenly matched and typically split sets for a draw.

Besides proving to Evan I am a still force to be reckoned with, I also saw it as an excellent opportunity to spend quality time with my 18-year-old son before he left for Tennessee Tech in August. Driving back and forth to the courts together has opened up many interesting conversations about relationships and growing up that we may never have broached otherwise. We have enjoyed the camaraderie as we pushed our bodies to their limits (and lost some weight along the way) and exercised our minds by trying to outthink each other on the court. We have played long enough with each that we know what we are going to do in most cases so it forces us to think outside the box and take calculated risks to attempt to win critical points. My ultimate goal for this time together has always been to have us move to the same side of the court when we feel our games have reached the right level of consistency. Playing against others as a father-son doubles team would be the ultimate high for this experience together. I am so thankful to have this precious time with my son doing something we both enjoy and keeping our bodies and minds healthier.

Pete - Agriculture

What is your success?
I lost 30 pounds.

What motivated you to make a change?
My stomach was in the way when I put on my shoes.

What positive impacts have you experienced?
I can put on my shoes without my stomach getting in the way. I also noticed I could better tolerate the summer heat.

What do you do when faced with temptation?
I just remind myself of how much better I feel and eat a very small portion.

What's your advice for someone who is trying to make a similar change?
Just try walking and reducing the amount of food you eat for a week or two and you will see results. If you like to eat, try consistent weight training with light weights and walking. Changes come only if you do something.

Healthy Eating

Seanna - Finance & Administration
After a frightening discussion with her doctor during an annual physical, Seanna adopted a healthy lifestyle.

Kathy - Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services
Kathy has lost weight and maintained a healthy lifestyle for many years. Find out how she stays motivated.

Elizabeth - Health
Since her mother died at an early age, Elizabeth and her family decided to make a lifestyle change.

Cris - Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services
Cris lost 100 pounds and has maintained that loss for many years.

Dana - Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities
This single mother credits Working for a Healthier Tennessee with jump starting her healthy lifestyle.

Lesley Farmer

Lesley F. - Human Resources

My meatless journey started about three years ago. I went to a biometric screening at the Tennessee Tower and noticed that my numbers were off the charts – but, not in a good way. My cholesterol was very high. I was fairly active and knew I had to make some changes, so I looked at my diet. First, I stopped eating beef. This was a fairly easy step, as I barely ate beef products. Next, I gave up pork, and yes, giving up bacon was tough; but I did it.  My next screening, my numbers were better, but not good enough.

In March of 2019, I decided to cut out chicken and turkey. I figured I would do a meatless March and see how it worked. I realized I did not miss eating meat. I found other meatless, high-protein options; however, I still include fish and seafood in my diet. I immediately noticed that I have more energy, without the stuffed feeling when I eat. My numbers on my last wellness screening were great. Changing to this diet has made me more thoughtful about what I eat. It has also allowed my family and I to cook more at home, with less takeout and fast food, which has its own health benefits. I am not sure if I will ever eat meat again; however, I am happy to have started on this path and plan to continue my journey.

Anonymous - Human Services

Tell us about the healthy changes you've made.
My husband and I have joined Weight Watchers.

What inspired you to make those changes?
We knew we were eating unhealthy. Every night we felt bloated and sluggish.

How did you get started?
I am a lifetime Weight Watchers member. I told him if he would join, I would guarantee he wouldn't feel bloated every night.

What were your health-related goals?
Wanting to shed a few pounds and develop healthy eating habits.

What's your favorite part of any of your department's Wellness Council challenges or events?
It challenges me to be active when I don't want to be.

What obstacles did you face during your journey and how did you tackle them?
I have a thyroid condition which is a huge obstacle for weight loss. I am losing weight, but at a snail's pace. I will get there. :) My husband has lost 28 pounds since January. We have both been able to discontinue our blood pressure medicine under our doctor's advice due to the healthy eating habits. That is worth gold to me.

How do you reward yourself when you meet a goal?
Losing a pound is a reward in itself.

What's your advice for others?
Whatever you're wanting to do, whether it be join a gym, start walking, join a weight loss program, just do it!

What have you learned about yourself during this journey?
Time and age changes your body! Keep moving. I love to walk. I find when I walk it is good for my body and my mind. Awesome stress reducer.


Kim G. - Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

My doctor had been monitoring my glucose levels due to seeing a slight increase with each lab result. My last A1c was 7.1 which carries a diagnosis of diabetes. It was that day that I asked my primary care physician to allow me to make the necessary changes in my diet and exercise to reduce my levels. I went to a diabetic training which gave me the needed tools to make nutritional changes. I consume less fat, sugar, carbs and salt. I measure my food and prepare my meals at home.

My fitness goal is to work out at least three times per week. My healthy eating goal is to keep my regimen for a lifetime – not to deprive myself of enjoying food, but to eat less.

I have participated in almost all of the Working for a Healthier TN challenges. They have truly helped me stay focused. They are a way to help kick start needed changes and actively get others involved.

When you see and feel the change in your physical and mental status, it keeps you motivated to take it to a higher level. I also believe in keeping myself surrounded with people who have the same goals and provide the needed support to keep me going.

Anonymous - Human Services

I’ve started observing Meatless Mondays, eating salmon twice a week, strength training twice a week and walking every day because my biometric screening is coming up and I want to have good results. I started by looking up vegetarian recipes and meal prepping for the week. I participated in the WFHT Jump Rope Challenge and enjoy the weekly recipes our Wellness Council sends. I love when our Commissioner participates in our department’s challenges and events. My advice for others is that not every day will be perfect, but don’t worry about messing up. Do the best you can. One slip up is not a failure. Do better at your next meal or the next day. You have nothing if you do not have your health.

Anonymous - Safety & Homeland Security

Both my husband and I decided to change to a healthier diet after I had my gallbladder removed and he was diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure. I have seen significant weight loss and have fewer cravings for sweets. My husband has seen his sugar levels and blood pressure go down. We started by cutting back on items high in sugar. Then we started cutting back on fatty foods. We stay motivated because we would like to live longer, feel better and be happier. Our advice for others is to maintain a good schedule of appointments with your physician, listen and adhere to their advice and guidelines. Begin with small goals first. Once you tackle those, work your way up allowing your body and mind to adjust.

Tammy - Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

Tell us about the healthy changes you've made.
In March 2018 I began a low-carb diet as part of a weight loss challenge. It was a struggle to give up sugar, but within a couple of days, the craving ended and I do not want to go back to feeling sluggish and tired like I did previously.

What inspired you to make those changes?
Due to restless legs and a heel spur I wanted to make more healthy choices to lose weight with the hope that with less weight to carry my legs would feel better at night.

How did you get started?
Initially I read some success stories on Facebook and YouTube and wanted to give it a try and the first signs that it was working was almost immediate so that encouraged me to continue on this journey.

What were your fitness or healthy eating goals?
My goal was to lose 100 pounds. Currently I have lost 52 pounds since March 2018 and I have lost 3 pant sizes. My fitness goals include wanted to do a little better each time I get on the exercise equipment at the gym and to continue going to the gym - not just have a membership there!

How do you stay motivated?
It is very motivational for coworkers that see me daily to notice a change. Like meeting me in the hallway and saying, "Tammy, you are melting!" Also, I am noticing a change in my clothes and in the mirror. I also have more energy and just feel like I am in a healthier place in my life.

What's your favorite part of Working for a Healthier Tennessee?

What's your advice for others?
To take being healthier day-by-day, one little goal at a time.

What have you learned about yourself during this journey?
I have learned to like myself and to discover that I can be determined to reach a goal. I have learned I can be strong enough to not give in to temptation.

Millie - Agriculture

What is your success?
I am a 5'2", 68-year-old female Criminal Investigator for the Department of Agriculture. In January 2018 I weighed 168 pounds. I was really miserable with the extra weight so with the advice of my physician I set a goal of 20 pound weight loss by June 1. We felt like a change in diet and calorie counting would be the best way to achieve this goal. I also walk a lot. I started a 1200 calorie diet and cut out sugar, white bread, pasta and also watched portion control.

What motivated you to make the changes?
My motivation was the way I was feeling and how uncomfortable I was feeling. Also, my daughter came up to me one day and I mentioned that I was going to lose 20 pounds. She commented she liked me puffy. Well, I don't like me puffy. I wanted to be less puffy and feel better about myself.

What positive impacts have you experienced?
Friends coming up to me commenting how good I look and wanting to know how I obtained this weight loss. Since I have to wear a uniform every day, it's great to feel good in that uniform.

What do you do when faced with temptation?
My worst temptation is ice cream so I get up a lot of courage and I have found that I feel so proud of myself when I just say no.

What's your advice for someone who is trying to make a similar change?
First set a goal. Get help from your friends, family and for sure your doctor. Don't expect it to happen overnight, and never give up.

Janice - Human Services

During the last few months I have had at least two bad colds. This left me with a lot of sinus issues. I began to eat more fruit in hopes that it would help build up my immune system and alleviate some of the sinus issues. I have been killing boxes of tissues. One of the fruits I eat is a lot of pineapple. I recently noticed that my sinuses were clearing up, which helped me breathe easier and not feel so congested.

Last year I found a Juices & Smoothies Encyclopedia, which includes a section on the Nutritional Benefits of the different fruits and vegetables. The book was put away with some other books when I first moved here, and has not been used in awhile. I pulled it out to look up the benefits of the fruit I have been eating and found that pineapple can be used as a treatment for sinusitis! 

I decided to test it out and stopped eating pineapple for a week. Sure enough, the drainage started again. I went straight to the store and bought some pineapple and included it, once again, into my fruit consumption, and my sinus problems have ceased! This may not work for everyone, but it certainly did for me. 

Anonymous - Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

I have decided to give up all soft drinks. I have been drinking only water, and have been successful doing this so far. My family has been supportive. Some of them have even been only drinking water, too, so I am not tempted to stray. I think this decision is going to make a huge difference in my overall wellness.

Vanessa - Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

Tell us about the healthy changes you've made.
Healthy food choices and exercise when I can

What inspired you to make those changes?
Life!!! I want to be able to move freely as I age.

How did you get started?
I eliminated refined sugar, and changed to whole grain breads and spaghetti. 

What were your fitness and healthy eating goals?
My fitness goals were to feel strong and energized. My healthy eating goals were to decrease my fat intake, lose weight and feel great.

How do you stay motivated?
I push myself because I know it is what's best for me. I understand that poor eating habits and being inactive are bad choices for health.

What has been your toughest obstacle?
Scheduling time to exercise as I have to take care of my elderly mother.

How do you plan to reach your ultimate goal?
Stay committed. Even if I get tired or sidetracked, I will always return to the healthier mindset. I am aiming for the best body, mind and spirit.

What's your favorite part of Working for a Healthier TN?
The different challenges and good information

What have you learned about yourself during this journey?
I've learned that I can do what is necessary for my health through planning and commitment. I have learned that sometimes I am lazy, but the second wind always comes because of my desire for good health.

Carol - Agriculture

Tell us about the healthy changes you've made.
Instead of eating healthy, balanced meals, I had gotten in the habit of eating high-fat foods, snacks, sweets and fast food. On August 27th, I stopped eating sweets, carbohydrates, and quit drinking diet colas. As much as I enjoy eating beef, pork and chicken, I learned that I was not eating enough protein. Now, I watch how many carbs and sweets that I eat, but I do not plan to drink diet sodas again.

What inspired you to make those changes?
I was feeling draggy, tired and unmotivated. I got to a point that I needed to make a change of some sort. I had put on some pounds around my waist and middle, and was extremely uncomfortable.

What positive changes have you experienced?
Loss of 25-30 pounds, more comfortable, feel better, lots of positive comments from friends, family and co-workers, confidence boosted, spend less money eating out, new clothes

What do you do when faced with temptation?
I think about how I used to feel and I certainly do not want to go back. I will allow myself to eat things that I love (sweets, chocolates, etc.), but definitely in moderation.

What's your advice for others?
Determination - you have to have a drive within yourself to get on the right track. Something snapped within me last August and I remained committed to improving my eating habits.

Tobacco Cessation

Susan - Revenue
Susan quit smoking so she can enjoy her retirement in a couple of years. Find out how she did it!

Tammy - Human Services
Tammy smoked for 17 years before quitting. Find out how she did it.

Barbara - Human Services
Barbara started smoking when she was 16. Find out how she finally kicked the habit.

David & Joseph - Correction
These co-workers helped each other quit tobacco with friendly competition.

Heather - Agriculture
At the urging of her children, Heather quit smoking. She has advice for others.

Michelle - Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

Tell us about the healthy changes you’ve made.
I became a non-smoker on September 2, 2013. I am able to enjoy life. I am able to breathe easier.

What inspired you to quit smoking?
I am a trainer for a wellness program. I found it difficult to teach wellness when I was not practicing it in my own life. I wanted to be a role model to those I was teaching. I also realized that I used smoking as a coping technique and wanted to have healthier coping strategies. I had made a goal to live to be 100 years old and knew I would need to make changes for it to happen.

How many years did you smoke?
I started smoking regularly the summer of 1987 after suffering a tragedy. Smoking for me was a way to cope. I quit smoking in 2002 for four years. I picked the habit back up and smoked for another six years.

What resources, if any, did you use to quit?
The first time I quit, I used the patch. I asked my doctor to help me become a non-smoker the second time. He wrote me a prescription.

Have you participated in any of your department’s Wellness Council challenges or events? If so, which ones?
I have participated in a few challenges and events. Last year, we had the stair climbing challenge and the heart walk.

What’s your favorite part of your department’s Wellness Council?
Teaching other people about wellness – teaching people that wellness has many dimensions, it is not about “dieting” or joining a gym.

What obstacle did you face during your journey and how did you tackle it?
An obstacle that I faced was the weight that I gained the first year of being a non-smoker. It was discouraging. I decided that I was not going to be overweight and a non-smoker, so I decided to become a runner to help with the weight gain. My journey as a runner has not been linear. I have had to remember my lifetime goals to keep me on track.

What’s your advice for others?
Make a big overall goal. Mine is to live to be 100 years old. Then determine the steps that you need to take to get to that bigger goal. Setting smaller action plans along the way helps to achieve the bigger goals. One of the first steps for me was to become a non-smoker. It took me a few months to get used to not smoking and to find other activities in place of a cigarette. Unfortunately, I chose food the first year. That is when I decided to start running to lose the weight and to stay a non-smoker.

What have you learned about yourself during this journey?
I have learned that I am stronger than I ever thought I was. I have learned that I am able to achieve goals. I have learned that I am not a quitter.

Anonymous - Human Services

My parents had been smokers for many years (since their 20s), until my dad was 68 and needed to have a double carotid endarterectomy to clear out 90 percent plaque build-up in both carotid arteries on the sides of his neck. This almost certainly would have led to a stroke, if it hadn't been caught. Unbelievably, after smoking a pack a day for all those years, he stopped smoking cold turkey! To be supportive, my mom also went cold turkey with him and neither of them ever smoked again. I was so proud of them! My mom actually said to me, "Why didn't you tell me that quitting smoking would add seven years to my life?" (Nevermind that I had nagged them both, for years, to stop. Ha ha!) But the happiest news of my life was that they both quit, they never went back, and my clothes would never again smell like smoke when I would go to visit them.

CJ - Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

Tell us about the healthy changes you've made.
I have been a non-smoker for approximately four years now.

What inspired you to make those changes?
I found myself being out of breath from simply climbing a flight of stairs. I was also inspired by fear upon watching a loved one go through two strokes in a three-month time period.

How did you get started?
I simply said, "No more." Then started the nicotine patch. I used the nicotine patch for much longer than was recommended, but was advised that the use of the patch was better for me than smoking. I gradually tapered (at a much slower rate than recommended on the packaging) across a year and finally just didn't need it anymore.

What were your goals?
I simply wanted to extend my life by being healthier, and to be able to live my life without being short of breath.

Have you participated in any Working for a Healthier Tennessee challenges or events?
Yes. I have participated in a variety of walks, a weight loss challenge and several healthier eating events.

How do you stay motivated?
I honestly don't give smoking a second thought most days. The recent Great American Smokeout made me feel anxious when someone asked me to participate and then I remembered, "Hey, I don't smoke anymore. I've got this." I try to walk 10,000 steps per day and I'm success at that most days. My Fitbit helps me quite a bit because it effortlessly tracks where I am at and reminds me to walk with a cue every hour.

What has been your toughest obstacle?
By far, my toughest obstacle has been weight gain. Food tastes so much better when you don't smoke!

What's your favorite part of Working for a Healthier Tennessee?
It helps to have a supporting and encouraging work environment. Having someone stop by to see if you want to have a meeting while walking is always good.

What's your advice for others?
I found that I wasn't able to permanently achieve my goal until I was determined to do it for me. I had quit smoking three other times when pregnant and ultimately went back to it each time when my babies were about six months of age. This time I quit for myself and I think that made a difference. Sometimes you have to make your own way of doing things. It may have taken me an entire year to become nicotine-free, but in the end, I can honestly say I have zero desire to go back to smoking - absolutely none whatsoever.

What have you learned about yourself?
I've learned that my motivation has to come from within. No external source of motivation can have a lasting outcome.  Quitting smoking was one of the toughest things I've ever done. Now, I really feel like I can overcome anything.

Anonymous - Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

Tell us about the healthy changes you've made.
I quit smoking eight years ago and have never picked them up again. For the past year, I have been working on healthier eating and exercise.

What inspired you to make those changes?
My children. And I was tired of being out of breath when doing simple things.

How did you get started?
I told myself that after I graduated nursing school I would quit smoking. One day I smoked what was left in the pack and never bought another pack. I quit cold turkey.

Have you participated in any Working for a Healthier TN challenges or events?
Yes, just about every one of them for the past year or so. I like the competition.

How do you stay motivated?
By others - it helps to be on this road to being healthy with fellow co-workers and my spouse who also want to be healthier.

What has been your toughest obstacle?
With quitting smoking - making it through the first few weeks. With continuing to get healthy - consistently eating healthy. I cheat a little and get in a rut and have to dig myself back out and start eating right again.

How do you reward yourself when you meet a goal?
I buy something new to wear. It makes me feel like I've accomplished something when I get to buy something in a smaller size.

How do you plan to reach your ultimate goal?
I plan on sticking to the plan of eating right and exercising.

What's your favorite part of Working for a Healthier TN?
I have somebody doing it with me.

What's your advice for others?
Don't give up! If you fall, pick yourself back up and keep going.

What have you learned about yourself during this journey?
That I generally achieve what I set out to do, and that when I fail I am my hardest critic.