When she was a busy wife and mother working for the U.S. Treasury, Kathy Young felt she simply did not have time to worry about her diet. After taking a new position at the University of Illinois, her workload meant that she was constantly rushing around and grabbing convenience foods. At 5’4 Young found herself unhappy and uncomfortable, weighing 185 pounds. That’s when she decided to make a change that has lasted for more than 12 years. Young signed up for the HMR program.
“Not only had I lost control of my schedule and stress level, but I had to start taking medicine for a health issue which caused me to gain 20 pounds in five months,” Young explained, “Those issues led to me spending more time sitting at my desk which just made things worse.”
Like many people, Young was an active child who was able to “eat like a horse” without gaining weight. Four pregnancies, stress, and aging caused gradual weight gain, which led Young to try different diets over the course of several years, but when Young saw a picture of herself in 2005, she knew she was not healthy. She decided to seek advice from her boss who had previously lost weight with HMR. Young started with the 12-week Decision Free plan. The plan involves drinking five nutrient-rich shakes every day. Young said that it was helpful not to have to think about what she would be eating.
“I was just done,” Young remembers, “I was tired of not recognizing myself and not wearing all of the beautiful expensive suits in my closet, so I just decided to do whatever it took to find my best self.”
After the initial stage, Young had lost 30 pounds. The HMR staff helped her transition to the next stage, the Healthy Solutions plan, which incorporates additional entrees and snacks. She lost an additional 20 pounds in this phase and worked with the staff to make adjustments and stabilize her progress.
Young’s job required frequent travel. She was so determined to succeed that she would take her blender on business trips. She learned which entrees tasted the best after being warmed up in a sink of hot water when there was no microwave in a hotel room. “Sometimes it was difficult, but where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Young said.
While Young succeeded in reaching her weight-loss goals in 2006, life continued to be busy. She found motivation through her husband’s support, and in her ability to inspire others around her workplace. She returned to weekly meetings with her dietitian and if she had a bad day and went “off-plan,” she knew she could get back on track by drinking HMR shakes the next day.
“For the most part, not having to make a lot of decisions about what I was going to eat made it easier for me to succeed,” Young said, “I could find creative ways to prepare and present the HMR foods while staying on-plan.”
Young stresses that the last 12 years have not been without struggles. She has faced difficult medication side effects, illnesses, and the stress of caring for her aging parents. “Ultimately, a weight-loss journey is mental,” Young said, “Every day you have to make the decision to be healthy. It can be frustrating, but you can’t let negative self-talk take over.”
Young recommends that people who are trying to lose weight make an effort to recognize their body’s limitations so they can plan meals that work for their lifestyle. “Be sure to listen to stories of other people who have shared this journey,” Young recommended, “Hearing that history is helpful. I know I couldn’t have done this on my own.”
Now within 10 pounds of her goal weight, Young wants others to know that they are not alone. “If I can do it, you can do it,” she said, “There is hope with HMR.”
Kathy’s Helpful HMR Hints
- Add frozen cherries to a chocolate shake for a delicious treat.
- Mix sugar-free orange drink mix with a vanilla shake packet and some vanilla pudding mix for a Dreamsicle-flavored drink.
- Freeze strawberries and substitute them for ice cubes in drinks or shakes.
- Blend an HMR Five-Bean Casserole meal into dip. Make chips out of the HMR chicken soup mix and you have a delicious on-plan appetizer.
- Mix an HMR Turkey Chili with Beans meal with an HMR Chicken Pasta Parmesan meal for a delicious combination.
- Add chunks of HMR Benefit Bars to shakes for a filling meal.
- Munch on waffle-cut carrots for a crunchy chip-like snack.
- Find supportive restaurants that will help you by making dietary accommodations.
- Have a filling HMR shake before attending holiday parties in order to avoid the temptation of unhealthy foods.
- Visualize how good it feels to be healthy.
- Keep a three-ring binder with HMR recipes from meetings and websites.
Kathy’s Favorite HMR Breakfast Soufflé
- One package HMR vanilla shake mix
- One package HMR cereal
- 8 oz. can pineapple with juice
- Cranberries and almonds (optional)
Blend all ingredients together and pour into baking dish. Heat for 15 minutes at 350 degrees for a delicious breakfast.