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Network Health Blog

Making Healthy Choices

plank exercise

(Pictured left to right, Julie Cleaves, Sam Schnell and Anne Rappert)

Making healthy choices is a lot easier once you eliminate all of the excuses holding you back. That’s exactly what Anne Rappert did when she committed to the Healthy Jumpstart program back in March.  Eating healthy has been a huge change for Anne but she left her excuses at the door. Anne went from eating fast food and gas station products for nearly every meal, to eating a variety of healthy and well-balanced meals and snacks.

One of the first things Anne and I went over was how important nutrition is to this journey. There are many 80/20 rules and one of those applies to weight loss. I remember telling Anne, “About 80% of your success will be nutritional changes.” This is something Anne took very seriously and has led her to success when making healthy choices.

Anne’s first challenge was making the choice of what was more important to her, her health or the food she was used to. She didn’t hesitate with an answer, she was committed to this new lifestyle. Anne and I started meeting once a week to go over her nutrition logs and various topics to help educate Anne on what healthy choices truly look like. We started with the basics. We increased fruits and vegetables, limited processed foods, increased water consumption.

These changes weren’t always easy. Anne admits “The hardest thing for me to give up was drinking soda. Before starting Healthy Jumpstart, I drank a lot of it every single day. I was addicted to it.” Anne was drinking two to three large Cokes every single day. I told her if she can get through the first three days without soda or any other highly caffeinated or high sugar beverage, she will be able to do it for good.  To this day, Anne has made the choice to not drink soda. She aims to get at least eight-10 glasses of water a day and has noticed a huge increase in her energy levels.

Healthy choices are also important with every meal and snack. When comparing Anne’s nutrition logs from the start of her journey to now, it shows drastic changes. Her first lunch consisted of a  Kwik Trip fried chicken sandwich, a 20oz soda, and two egg rolls. Now, Anne makes an effort to prepare her lunch beforehand and always has healthy groceries in the house. This makes it easy to make smart choices every day. On June 1, her lunch consisted of a chicken breast sandwich on multi-grain bread with celery, carrots, Greek yogurt and an orange.

She aims to have a fruit and vegetable at every meal and to eat clean throughout the day. That means to eating simple, whole foods that aren’t overly processed. To limit temptations, Anne now makes it a point to have snacks throughout the day. Anne typically eats three meals and two snacks a day which helps avoid her from getting past the point of hunger, which is when people tend to make poor choices.


When faced with difficult choices, Anne tries to think of how her choices will affect her goals. She explained:  “I feel great after eating a healthy meal. It gives me gratification knowing that I made a good choice which will not only bring me closer to my goal but help me sustain a healthy lifestyle”. She went on to explain, “Before my journey when I ate unhealthy meals, I would feel guilty after eating. It was always a vicious negative cycle from meal to meal. Now I look forward to eating healthy choices for my meals and snacks”.

At first, making healthy choices can be hard because your body is used to a different way of eating. Processed foods contain high amounts of sugars, salts and preservatives; all that can be very addicting. However, if you commit to focusing on the quality of your calories and what the food will do for your body, the changes will come. When Anne was asked what has helped her make, and continue to make, healthy choices she stated: “Being prepared and having healthy food readily available helps me to make healthy choices. Also learning more about nutrition steers me in the right direction when reading food labels or customizing my order at restaurants.”

Anne has continued to make healthy choices at work, home and on the go. She shines in her success because she puts her health as her top priority. That being said, she is also learning that making healthy choices isn’t about perfection. Nobody can be perfect, the occasional treat or snack is something we encourage Anne to take part in. It’s important to not beat yourself up or feel guilty from one bad choice. I often tell people, “it’s just one meal, keep it at one meal, don’t let one bad choice lead to other bad choices that drag out for days. Enjoy a treat and move on”.

Anne has been a great role model for anyone who wants to make healthy choices. With courage to let go of old habits and try new things, she has not only lost 50 pounds but her quality of life has improved significantly. She has learned to custom order meals at restaurants, plan out meals before grocery shopping and prepare for success when traveling to new places. She is a prime example of how one healthy choice can lead to many others.

In addition to helping Anne with meal planning and nutrition, Julie also joins Anne at the YMCA to help motivate her and keep activity fun. This approach has helped make Anne successful in her wellness journey.

In the comments below, tell us how you keep yourself motivated to eat right and get active.


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