September 14, 2016 | Staff Stories
Two years ago, Christine Garcia, our Baseline West WIC Supervisor, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Once the shock of her condition set in, Christine’s competitive side kicked in to high gear. She vowed to beat the disease, instead of letting it beat her.
“The first year was nerve-racking,” Christine told us. “I would go see Dr. Gaddam and every time I waited to get my A1C blood results back I would have tears in my eyes. I felt so vulnerable because everything depended on that one result.”
During her first check in at our Baseline Clinic with Dr. Gaddam, Christine was told to take Metformin twice a day because her fasting sugars were more than five times the normal level. Even during the first few months when her blood work was at a standstill, Christine never got discouraged. Although she was making changes to what she was eating, Christine really didn’t know what the right things to eat were. With Dr. Gaddam’s help and additional support from her friend and coworker Valentina Hernandez, our Health Education Manager, Christine started seeing results, and managing her disease became easier.
“If it wasn’t for Valentina, that accountability of her saying ‘Christine, let me see your lunch bag’ every time I passed her office in the morning, I might not have stayed on track like I did,” Christine explained. “Even when Valentina wasn’t there, I always heard her voice inside my head.”
To this day Valentina still makes sure that Christine stays on track and continues to improve her health and wellbeing.
“I remember Christine being truly shocked and scared when she first got the diagnosis, and she asked me what she could do about it,” Valentina told us. “I advised her to make an appointment with her doctor as soon as possible and the two of us sat and talked very honestly about her diet.”
Within a year of her diabetes diagnosis Christine managed to lose over 60 pounds. Then her doctor gave her great news: her diabetes was under control, and Christine no longer had to take the medication. She still watches what she eats, expanded her workout program, and continues to inspire others with her success story.
Health Scare Gives New Perspective on Life
A big health scare is sometimes all that it takes to start making a lifestyle change. It certainly was for Christine. Christine told us that she is almost grateful that she was diagnosed with diabetes because it helped her get to where she is today, the healthiest she has ever been.
“A big thing I changed in my life was not only what I put in my body, but the increase in physical activity,” she told us. “I trained for my first 5k at our Goodyear Clinic in April. I worked really hard and placed second in my age group. I was so proud of myself that day. I remember being at the starting line and feeling so intimidated because everyone was there ready to go. I kept telling myself ‘Do it in your own pace, you’re not here to win, you’re here to have fun.’ And that is exactly what I did.”
Christine enjoyed taking part in our annual 5k so much that she has started training for her first 10k that’s coming to Tempe this October. Every morning she walks three miles, and goes to Zumba classes after work.
“I love how I feel. I love everything about my life right now. I’m 49-years old and I’ve never felt this good,” she explained with excitement. “My muscles are getting toned and I’m getting stronger. My children are so proud of me. I really feel empowered by them and all I’ve accomplished.”
Two years ago Christine had severe body aches and difficulty getting out of the car because her knees and legs would hurt so much. Today, that’s a thing of the past.
“I never in my life thought I could accomplish the 5k like I did,” she said. “I am even more active now than I have ever been and my health has improved tremendously.”
“Even though my diabetes is controlled I still have it,” Christine said. “It’s like an alcoholic or drug addict. You can’t go back to eating bad, you have to control it. Now my life is all about being healthy. I owe many thanks to Mountain Park. It’s not just a job, but a true family that cares. I feel very fortunate and it makes me so grateful that I only ever want to do my very best at my job as a form of paying them back for what they have done for me.”
This past month Christine won a Personal Achievement Award from the Wellness Council of Arizona. Congratulations Christine on all of your accomplishments and the changes you have made to better yourself. We are so very proud of you!