By Meghan Cartwright, Senior Mine Engineer at Red Lake Gold Mine
Today, on World Health Day, we share a very personal health story from Meghan Cartwright, Senior Mine Engineer at Goldcorp’s Red Lake Mine. She takes us on her own journey toward a healthier lifestyle and outlook, supported by programs, initiatives and colleagues at Goldcorp.
World Health Day is a perfect time to assess our mental, physical and spiritual health, and ask ourselves, “Am I as healthy as I want to be?” Over the last year, I’ve put a lot of thought into this question and have made a series of daily efforts, using a variety of tools, which have contributed to huge improvements in my health. I would like to share some of my journey with you, to encourage you to question how you take care of yourself and inspire you to know that small, sustainable changes can help you lead a healthier life.
Hitting Rock Bottom
A year ago, I was at my heaviest weight ever. I was discouraged, ashamed and angry at myself for getting to that point. I wanted to be healthy, happy, in control of my health; be able to actively participate with my loved ones; be alive for as long as I could be; and be an inspiration to my family and friends to want the same – but I also didn’t know what to do about it. I had tried diets before that were too restrictive or depriving. I had tried logging my food and counting calories, but I found them too time-consuming and I wasn’t losing the weight. I wanted sustainable changes that I could maintain for the rest of my life.
I know how important it is to have the right tools for the job, so I started looking for resources that could help me improve my health. The nurses at Red Lake had recently started the Hunting for Health program. Thanks to this program, I underwent various health screenings, had my blood pressure and blood sugar level tested, saw my optometrist to update my prescription and get new glasses, visited my dentist, tried out a new yoga practice, consulted with a dietician, and saw a counselor. This helped me assess where I was, and get some professional guidance to set me in the right direction. I also took advantage of other opportunities that Goldcorp provided me, such as walking to and from work during the summer in an effort to achieve at least 10,000 steps per day as part of the Global Corporate Challenge.
Being Accountable to Myself and Others
I was inspired by the physical transformation of a friend of mine who led an online “challenge group”. The challenge group gave me the resources, support and accountability that I needed to succeed. Learning to eat “clean” meant shifting towards whole, natural foods or foods with very few ingredients, and more home-cooking. Planning my meals out for the week ensured that I was not making food-related decisions when I was tired or hungry and more likely to make poor decisions. Instead, I only bought what I needed, and followed the meal plan and controlled my portions, which provided me with a simple and sustainable way of making sure I got a variety of nutrients to fuel my body. Following workout DVDs helped me learn how to use weights, how to vary my workouts, and how to strengthen my muscles. I also started reading more about healthy living, mindfulness and time management, started incorporating things I learned into my daily life, and sharing my learnings with my fellow challengers. I have continued to participate in these groups actively, and am now a coach myself, because I found it invaluable to be part of a team dedicated to mutual support, accountability and self-improvement.
Small Changes, Significant Impacts
The most impactful small change that I made has been re-prioritizing how I spend my time in the mornings: making a shake for breakfast I could drink at work, packing my lunch the night before, having my workout clothes and DVD ready for me first thing in the morning, setting my alarm a few minutes earlier, checking social media and emails later in the day. Now I have time for a 30 minute workout or run every morning before work, and most importantly I have chosen to prioritize myself and my health. This gives me so much extra energy throughout the day, and I have maintained this habit now for almost a year. I honestly look forward to it, even on weekends.
Where My Journey Has Taken Me
When I started a year ago, I couldn’t finish my first 30-minute workout, even modified to be easier. Since then, I have lost 35lbs and 32 inches, and more importantly, I am able to do things I never thought I could when I started this journey. My body now has energy and strength because I’ve fueled it with the proper nutrition, I rest and get enough sleep, and I exercise regularly.
Aside from the physical transformations, I also feel better mentally and emotionally. I am more focussed, I have improved self-confidence, and I am now able to be more aware of how I feel, reflect on it, and change how I think and react.
This is a journey and I am still learning and growing every day. I am grateful for all of the support and encouragement that I have received from my husband, family, friends and colleagues, and I hope that I can now pay it forward. My current goals include running the equivalent of one marathon per month in 2017 (through training and participating in virtual runs for charity), learning to meditate, and helping others on their health journey by coaching my own challenge groups.
On this World Health Day, will you join me in choosing to prioritize your health? What small steps are you going to take to become healthier?