Johnnie Is Still Off the Yo-Yo—and Loving It

She’s even modifying some recipes for favorite Caribbean dishes, using less salt and fat; bonus discovered when she learns her new routine can help cut cancer risks.

When this beautiful Caribbean lady started dropping the pounds, her co workers began to talk. There was some buzzing near the water cooler in the lunch room.

“Have you seen Johnnie?”

“No What happened?”

“She is looking good.”

Some wanted to know what she was doing. Others were afraid to come out and ask up front.

Johnnie’s boss, Karen, summoned the courage and asked.

With lots of joy, Johnnie began telling everyone about her new lifestyle change, and the different things that she is learning about this new life style. She told them that since last fall she has changed her routine.

Johnnie told them how she began taking daily walks, eating smaller portions, cutting back on late-night eating—and, most of all, planning her meals a head of time. The bomb shell dropped when Johnnie told them that while she was waiting in the X-ray room waiting her turn for her mammogram, she heard another patient talking about the anti-cancer diet for women her age.

Johnnie said that everyone had to know more—and not just her fellow Caribbean islanders. The Latinos and African Americans and white folks all had the same question.

“Say what? Anti cancer diet?”

A doctor told the women that the anti-cancer diet is similar to the routine for losing weight. Johnnie said this sounded good for her. Actually she could use the one stone to kill two birds, losing weight at the same time she cuts down on her chances of getting cancer.

Johnnie found out that the extra fat in the body can easily turn to cancer cells. She found this to be scary. She resolved stick with her change of life style and get off the yo-yo diets that had taken her weight down in the past only to rise again.

Johnnie likes the life style change, and she’s noticed that she’s feeling better about herself. The clothes in her closet are becoming easier to fit her. She feels happy, and would do anything to keep up this trend. Her mood is getting better. She’s going out more, and not so depressed.

That’s all easier said than done, but there’s no need to panic. Some medical research shows that people who take care of their weight and eat healthy reduce their chances of getting major sicknesses, including cancer. Other studies showed that worry and panic and stress make matters worse.

A key for Johnnie has been taking control of her body…stopping the yo-yo dieting…learning more about herself, foods…and how to eat healthy meals. Educational DVDs helped, and Johnnie also began seeking advice from her doctor’s office and the nurse at her work place.

A key challenge arose because Johnnie likes Caribbean foods. She has now learned to modify many tasty Caribbean dishes by adding less salt and animal fats. She was already eating more green veggies (boiled and raw), but her weakness was sweets, such as coconut drops and gizzardas.  Johnnie’s watch word soon became “moderation”

A change in perspective has also been crucial for Johnnie. She is nearly 40 years old and still in good health—and she wants to keep it that way. She’s learned that she can take off 15 years off her appearance by keeping her weight down and eating the right foods. Johnnie likes these bonus points. Now she looks around and sees that she has a lot of things going for her. She has her work, her health, friends, her church, and her new figure to wear her beautiful clothes.

Johnnie plans to wear her alter back, multi colored, silk blouse that dips down to her waist in the back to the “Jamaican Jump Up” at the Jamaican independence dance, next Saturday night. She’s thinking about her future instead of the past. She is more hopeful for her future, and her health, job and family have taken on new meaning. Her closet is now a friendly place. When she opens it, Johnnie sees possibilities. Johnnie has even started to attend church more often.

Continuing her progress will mean maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Johnnie has added a few other elements to her healthier diet and meal planning. She sleeps at least six hours each night, which helps her body get rid of the stress. She has built an exercise program into her daily routine. She does at least fifteen minutes each day—and she doesn’t get crushed if she takes an occasional day off. Johnnie also mixes up her exercise. She commits herself to an early workout at least three to four days a week. She now knows that most exercise is medicine. In other words, people who stay active are simply healthier, are less likely to experience serious chronic health problems.

Johnnie is learning everyday, and the knowledge she gains is changing her outlook about health. She is also realizing that it is not simply how she looks, or fitting into her clothes that matters. Can she be healthy without wearing a size two? The answer is yes. Johnnie realizes that it is not simply how she looks but the new behaviors that she is engaged in from day to day that truly make her healthy…and happy.

RMJ is the author of “Afraid no More”

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