OT student chosen for statewide H-E-B Slim Down Showdown
By Rosanne Fohn
Now that it is February, many people who had New Year’s resolutions to lose weight have instead, lost interest.
However, that’s not the case for Brittany Ward, a second-year occupational therapy student at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio.
Ward, 26, is eating healthily and exercising daily as a participant in the H-E-B Slim Down Showdown. She was one of 25 contestants selected from hundreds of applicants throughout Texas.
The 12-week challenge, which began in mid-January, provides education, support and tools to help the contestants achieve their weight-loss goals and compete for prizes.
Now about a month into the challenge, Ward has already lost 21 pounds toward her goal of 60. She has inspired friends, family and many others in the occupational therapy program and School of Health Professions to work toward their health-related goals. And they, in turn, are supporting her.
“It’s truly inspiring how others have reached out to encourage me,” Ward said. “Everyone is on board! Several of my classmates have accompanied me to the gym to work out. The guys play basketball with me. They are very supportive and that means the world to me.”
That’s not to say that it has been easy. “There are some days I don’t feel like working out, but it’s a necessary component of achieving my goals,” Ward said.
In fact, it was her inability to keep up physically when playing her favorite sport – basketball – that caused her to consider joining the challenge. “I played basketball in high school and it’s always been my passion, but when I started gaining weight and getting winded, I felt I needed to do something to get this under control,” she said. Add to that a family history of obesity and diabetes, and Ward knew she definitely needed to improve her health.
What has she learned so far? “Diet is just as important as exercise,” she said.
“Planning my meals is time consuming, but well worth it,” she said. “I no longer eat sweet pastries and fried foods. Now my plates are colorful with fruits and vegetables taking up half of my plate. Black beans have become a staple because they are a great source of protein. As far as snacks are concerned, I eat a lot of protein bars and nuts (almonds and pistachios),” said Ward, a peer mentor, co-historian of her class and editor of the department newsletter, The Handprint.
“In the past, I didn’t eat foods that were filling, so I felt hungry all the time. Now I eat foods that provide me with the fuel I need to power me through the day,” added Ward, who also serves as chair of the Student Occupational Therapy Association’s Pre-application Workshop Committee and treasurer of the Christian Health Professions Association.
The healthier food and exercise are paying off. “My energy levels have skyrocketed! I no longer feel the need to take naps, and when my alarm goes off the morning, I am ready to take on the day!” she said.
Applying this to the future
Learning these lessons now will also help Ward professionally. “As a future occupational therapist, I will hold my patients accountable for achieving their goals, so it’s time that I hold myself to that same standard. Besides, I will need the extra energy to keep up with my patients, since I’d like to become a pediatric OT,” she smiled.
Be true to yourself
What advice would she give others who want to become healthier? “Be honest with yourself about why you want to change your lifestyle. Don’t do it for anyone else but yourself. You also must have a set of people to hold you accountable. It’s easy to set a goal that no one is aware of and let yourself down. When others are aware of your goal, they will help push you to succeed," Ward said.
“And go to the gym. Contrary to what you think, no one is looking at you,” she said. “They’re focused on their workouts. By going to the gym, you’re doing more than most people who are at home on the couch.”
Follow Ward’s progress
To support Ward in her quest for a healthier lifestyle, follow, comment on and “like” her blog at http://sdsd.heb.com/author/brittanywsdsd.
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