Little habit changes add up to weight loss success for Albert Lea woman

June 05, 2014

Holty and dogIf you’re looking to shed some extra pounds, take a cue from Jessica Holty on how to get there: One little habit at a time.

“When you’re starting out, don’t think that you have to make a whole bunch of changes at once,” says the 32-year-old Albert Lea woman. “You just make little changes, one at a time. They’re not just for a day or two — they’re for the rest of your life.”

Read on to discover a few of the tips and tricks that made Holty successful — and nearly 50 pounds lighter.

Getting HEALTHy at Mayo

The Mayo HEALTH program, which stands for Healthy Eating, Active Lifestyle, Thoughtful Habits, is a required course for anyone in Albert Lea wanting a referral for bariatric weight loss surgery. But the class is available for people who want to learn new habits to lose weight on their own, too.

That’s how Holty got started.

“A group of about 10 to 12 people met weekly, and after weighing in we would talk about our struggles and what worked for us that week,” she says. “It was great motivation to push myself and be accountable.”

The Mayo HEALTH program is based on the No. 1 New York Times best-selling book, The Mayo Clinic Diet, says Susan Welnel, Psy.D., Albert Lea psychologist. Dr. Welnel leads the Mayo HEALTH program with her colleague, Ellie Wiemerslage, Psy.D.

chart“We talk about breaking five habits and adding five habits to lead to better health and weight loss,” says Dr. Welnel. “It’s a truly individualized program, because people are different and need different support to be successful.”

After just a few weeks, Holty noticed the weight start to come off.

“I was eating healthier and exercising, and I was continually losing weight,” she says.

One of the first little habit changes that helped her was decreasing the amount of soda pop she drank during the day.

“Someone shared a little trick with me,” she says. “Every time I wanted a pop, I had to drink 8 ounces of water first. Often by the time I was done with the water, I didn’t really want the pop anymore.”

One old habit down.

Other little tricks she tried included setting a beautiful table — and sometimes eating with chopsticks — to slow down and eat mindfully. She got into the habit of working out and out of the habit of snacking. And she had fun trying new foods, too.

“Turns out, I love avocados” says Holty. “Who knew?”

Setting and meeting goals

Everyone is going to have different motivations, says Dr. Welnel. One key to long-term success, though, is identifying what those are.

“They had us write down a list of our goals — what we hoped to accomplish during the course,” says Holty. “I wrote my list down five different times and posted it anywhere I could see it regularly to remind me why I was doing this.”

Holty’s goals? To improve her health, get off her high blood pressure medicine, and prepare her body to start a family one day.

Today, she has lost nearly 50 pounds, she no longer needs blood pressure medicine, and she’s happier and more confident.

“People have even commented that I’m acting more like the old Jessica they knew before I put on weight,” says Holty.

She credits the Mayo program and its leaders for helping her.

“Both Drs. Welnel and Wiemerslage are amazing women,” Holty says. “They help you though the struggles, and they give wonderful moral support. I can’t thank them enough.”

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