Amie Vaughn – February 2018 Wellness University Success Story
When Amie Vaughn
, a Senior Staff Assistant for Pharmacy Administration, became pregnant with her daughter 5 years ago, she knew it was time to make changes.
Since being in a bad car accident a few year prior, she used pain medications to ease her neck and lower back pain. And she was taking other medications, including those to control high cholesterol.
Being pregnant gave her the motivation to get off medications and start using exercise to manage her overall health and pain.
It started with walking daily up to 3 miles during the weekdays and 5 miles in the weekend. When walking wasn’t an option, she would swim. She made it a point to do some form of exercise daily during her pregnancy.
She discovered that exercise, especially swimming, helped to manage her neck and hip pain, boosted her emotional wellbeing, and improved her sleep.
Once exercise became a lifestyle habit for her and her husband, they started working on nutrition, including eating fresh vegetables daily and consuming no processed or canned foods. “There is always a salad for dinner, with a lean protein like chicken,” said Amie. “We recently started to add tofu to our meals.”
Her daughters also eat lots of fruits, and the family practices this rule at their dinner table: You have to try a new food at least one time. At first her children would take just one bite, but now Amie has a 5-year-old who eats her salad every night.
To stay on track, she tries to plan her meals for the week. She and her husband buy only what they need and make sure that there is always healthy food easily accessible at home. “When you have healthy food ready, you are less likely to grab something unhealthy when you are hungry,” she said.
Amie brings her lunch daily and her go-to foods are turkey and cheese roll ups, apples, and cut up veggies. Her favorite snack is celery and peanut butter. “Bringing lunch everyday not only saves on calories, but also saves money,” she said.
It has been over 5 years since Amie has taken any pain medications. And, even as a full-time working mother, she always blocks 30 minutes of her lunch time to exercise, knowing that it benefits both her and her family. Exercise also helps her to be more present and gives her more energy. Either going to the gym to taking a daily walk also helps manage her stress.
Amie stays on track with her cholesterol by attending an annual Employee & Physician Health Fair. “Doing the health fair every year is a great and easy way to check my levels annually,” she said. “It’s nice KP offers that to their employees.”
Without any medication, Amie’s total cholesterol dropped from 289 to 200. She’s also lost 40 pounds in 5 years. “It’s not just numbers though. My emotional and mental wellbeing have also improved,” she said.
Shifting her wellness management from medications to daily exercise and improved nutrition has not only improved her health, but helped her to be more present for her kids. “I want to make sure these changes for my kids help them to have a good start at life,” she said.