Success Stories

Need some inspiration? Want to cheer others on? Here are some success stories from coworkers who have made lifestyle changes, have become healthier and how they did it. Pathway to Wellness can help you with your desire to change!

Shayna Greene

Shayna Greene

What lifestyle changes have you made?
The lifestyle changes I have made to get on the road to a better quality of life are: eating smarter (counting calories, carbs, sugar, and fat,) eating smaller portions, eating slower, eating mindfully, and staying away from the bad areas at the grocery store. I am also a huge advocate of not drinking empty calories. I am a believer of fitting in some activity for at least 20 minutes a day; whether it be walking the halls and climbing the stairs at work, or playing with my daughter at home. I try to not just sit around. Lastly, I quit smoking! I will celebrate my 5 year smoke-free anniversary in May 2015.

What made you decide to make the changes in the first place?
Learning that I was going to be a Mom. When I was pregnant, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. That diagnosis kind of scared me. Diabetes runs rampant in my family on both my Mom and Dad's side. My grandfather surrendered to a horrible fight against diabetes. It was hard to see him in such an awful condition. Needless to say, I wanted to do what I could to take preventative measures. Not only have I learned how to be healthy through proper food consumption, I know how to teach my daughter right from wrong in hopes of her having longevity and a great quality of life.

What keeps you motivated?
Seeing my progress. I've lost 115 lbs. I started at a size 20 and I am now a size 4! I have so much more energy. I feel motivated to do things that I was otherwise just too lazy to do when I was less healthy. I also sleep so much better - I fall asleep faster and have restful nights. I feel comfortable now...I might even go as far as to say I feel pretty. I have so much more confidence.

What was the most difficult to change?
My eating habits. Quitting smoking was so much easier than getting my poor eating habits under control. I was very greedy when it came to food and portion sizes. I used to grab big portions and eat it all - no matter how full I felt. Food really ruled my life...to the point where I would eat fast just so I could fill my plate again. So glad I got it together. I have control over the food now.

What it easier than you expected?
Overall, the process of getting health was easy! I think once I made up my mind that this was something I wanted and needed to do, it became second nature.

What is your plan to continue your healthy lifestyle?
To keep myself in check. I serve on the Pathway to Wellness Committee and represent Community Campus. I like to lead by example. I can't tell people that this is how to manage your weight while I'm stuffing Twinkies down my throat behind my computer. What you eat in secret, you wear in public. I also participate in Smart Moves. I have an amazing support system at home. My dad has lost nearly 90 lbs, my brother has lost about 50 lbs, my sister-in-law has lost 140 lbs, and my fiancÚ has lost 70 lbs. I have great motivation at home. Motivation from others has helped me during my rough times. Just remember, you have the ultimate last word on how to treat your body. You only have one body, so do it some good!

Has the Pathway to Wellness helped you in any way to achieve your healthier lifestyle?
Yes! Each challenge makes you aware of the small areas in your life that you might not otherwise think about...stretching, marching during commercials, eating leafy greens once a day, 20 minutes of daily activity, etc.


Emily Pellizzeri

Emily Pellizzeri

What lifestyle changes have you made?
I have added exercise and healthier eating everyday.

What made you decide to make the changes in the first place?
I was tired all the time, and just not feeling all that great.

What keeps you motivated?
My FITBIT! I am a very competitive person, so I like to have a competition against my friends to get more steps in everyday. Walktober, a walking challenge that happens during October, also REALLY got me motivated to get moving.

What was the most difficult to change?
Cutting back cheeses and breads! Being a vegetarian, these were my go to foods. I really wasn't consuming enough protein, and that was my biggest issue.

What was easier than you expected?
Adding exercise. I don't HAVE to go to the gym. I am able to do simple stuff around the house.

What is your plan to continue your healthy lifestyle?
I will continue to track my foods with myfitnesspal.com and exercise. Tracking the food really does help you to realize how many calories and fats are in food. I also cook more at home instead of eating out.

Has the Pathway to Wellness helped you in any way to achieve your healthier lifestyle?
YES! My friend Sonja had been doing the program, and told me about it. I found Suzanne's enthusiasm and materials a huge help. It's good for me to have someone to report to and helps you to keep it up! It also helped having a partner to go to the meetings with.


Deb Rexine

Deborah Rexine, Educational Communications

What made you decide to quit smoking?
My children were bugging me to quit smoking and my son said, "Mom you lied, you didn't quit." From that day, we set a date and I have continued to be a non-smoker for 3 ½ years.

How many years did you smoke before you quit?
I had been smoking 30 years before I decided to quit.

How many times did you quit before you were successful?
I only quit when I was pregnant for the health of my children. That quit lasted almost a year.

How do you avoid relapsing? Are there situations you avoid?
I don't avoid the situation. Facing situations makes it easier. My mantra is "The only way out is through." I went to www.quitnet.com for tips and advice. Also, cigarettes are only allowed in a few places now, and they are expensive.

What part of quitting has been easier than you thought?
Realizing that I am the same person without cigarettes has been easier than I thought it would be. I thought not smoking would change me.

What part has been more difficult?
The hardest part was to imagine my life without cigarettes; I thought I was going to miss out on something.

How has your health improved since you quit smoking?
Since I quit smoking I exercise. I started to walk, and that wasn't enough, so I started to run. I joined the CAB and in June I ran my first 5K.

What keeps you motivated to stay quit?
My health, my children, and living a more enjoyable life without cigarettes keeps me motivated.

What advice would you give someone who is trying to quit smoking?
Believe in yourself and know that it is possible. It is not easy, and the decision for me is simple, just stop. Also, seek support. You will have good days and bad days; however the bad days won't last long. Mind over matter.


June Edwards

June Edwards, RN, Employee Student Health Office

What made you decide to quit smoking?
I was in the hospital for four days and I was not able to breathe. There was no air movement in my lungs. The only reason I am alive now is because I quit smoking.

How many years did you smoke before you quit?
I smoked for 40 years.

How many times did you quit before you were successful?
I quit 3 times. August 10, 2010 is the day I was admitted to the hospital and I quit smoking for good. I have never had a cigarette since that day.

How do you avoid relapsing? Are there situations that you avoid?
Currently, there are no situations that I avoid. In the beginning I would not drink alcohol or caffeine. Stress is what caused me to relapse in the past.

What part of quitting has been easier than you thought?
Nothing was easy. It was like losing your best friend. It took six months to be "okay" with it. You don't realize how much you reward yourself with smoking. I would do housework and reward myself with a cigarette. So once I quit smoking, I had so much more time on my hands, I did not know what to do with it.

What parts have been more difficult?
The hardest part was driving without a cigarette.

How has your health improved since you quit smoking?
I do not cough or wheeze anymore. I can do more. I have less wrinkles, better teeth and better skin. My doctor said I will not have to use oxygen when I'm older. My sclera is whiter; and my voice has changed from being raspy. I exercised when I first quit smoking, and enjoyed it , which is wonderful since I am not a gym person.

What keeps you motivated to stay quit?
My health. The experience of almost dying was my wake up call. I also did a lot of home improvement and cleaning. When you clean a picture or window in a house that you've smoked in, the wipe is stained yellow with nicotine. I knew I did not want to do this to my lungs anymore.

Do you have advice for smokers who want to quit and stay quit?
You're going to quit when you're ready. Just do it. During prior quit attempts I had used Chantix or gum. However this final time, I quit "cold turkey."
I often consult with other smokers and try to find out why they smoke or why they relapsed.


David Wloch

David Wloch

When did you decide you wanted to make a lifestyle change?
Well, it was in January of 2013, this year, when I was diagnosed with sleep apnea.

What changes did you make?
I joined the gym and changed my diet habits.

What was the hardest to change?
The hardest thing to change was diet. Eating the right things and not snacking at night. Going out to eat was another challenge. I cannot remember the last time I ate out.

What was easier than you thought?
It was easier than I thought to cook my food. I pretty much eat chicken 2x a day, every day so I just cook a family pack of chicken 2 times a week.

How did it change your life?
I am sleeping better. My snoring has stopped. That makes my wife happy.

What keeps your motivated to stay with your changes?
I am not falling asleep at all times like I was prior to these healthy changes. I was always doing the head bob while driving home.

Suzanne's note:
I just ran in to David at the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge. He has gotten 15 pounds healthier since the photo taken at the Nurses Run. David continues to run more road races and has had his nieces challenge him for the next road race!


Donna Poppe-Wagner

Donna Poppe-Wagner

What lifestyle changes have you made?
Eating much better, mindfully and moving much more!

What made you decide to make the changes?
Health Joint pain, wanted to enjoy grandchildren

What keeps you successful at your changes?
I am motivated by support group and Pathway to Wellness programs.

What was very hard to do?
Cutting bad foods out of my meals such as ice cream.

What was easier than you expected?
Giving up soda and getting involved in the Pathway to Wellness.

How do you feel right now?
Great ! I can walk long distances pain free and not get out of breath.

What is your plan to continue your healthy lifestyle ?
Continue to take advantage of all the different learning, walking and fun programs offered by the Pathway to Wellness at Upstate. Pathway to Wellness is really helpful and inspiring. The nutrition talks by the SU students and the doctors here are super. Pathway to Wellness is always very welcoming and the energy is felt at the worksite. It helps to keep me motivated and continue my decision to be healthier.

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