Valerie adopts a healthy lifestyle
Valerie lives with an intellectual/developmental disability and is a program participant at the S:US 5th Avenue Day Habilitation program. About 10 years ago, Valerie began to volunteer with S:US’ Urban Farms. Being around the gardens, vegetables, plants, fruits and flowers, seeing them grow and produce food, helping to care for them with other volunteers and farmers along Urban Farms Director Mike Hollis, inspired her. “It motivated me to make healthy choices, for my food choices. I was heavy and it was not good for my heart because I am short. My weight was no good, it put me at risk for a heart attack or a stroke. I had trouble moving well and was often out of breath.” Valerie was also being monitored for high blood pressure. Her doctors were monitoring her in case her blood pressure spiked and she needed an intervention. In addition to her blood pressure concerns, she also has arthritis in her knees which makes them hurt and her ankles and back were sore when she walked. Her doctors told her that if she lost weight, her knees would feel better. Thus, Valerie was inspired to make lifestyle changes for her health.
Fast forward to three years ago, Valerie gave up eating all types of meat and became a pescatarian, eating only fish plus vegetables, beans, fruits, dairy, grains, breads and cereal. She has also embraced the art of cooking. Since becoming a pescatarian, she cooks fish often and has lost a lot of weight. Valerie shares, “I wanted to do it for myself, to be healthy. I used to be big; my back, knees, ankles and body would be sore. They were weight issues for me. Now, I am less sore, and I have less pain in my knees, ankles and back. I take daily walks and I’m able to walk longer (I use a walker which helps me). I also have more energy now and my clothes are big on me. Plus, I sleep better and longer. Being in the gardens inspired me to make these choices. I also learned how to cook more dishes with vegetables like eggplant and broccoli. My skin is smoother, and I can reach my legs with more ease.” Valerie also makes smoothies with yogurt and fruit. She loves to cook for herself and her peers and uses an air fryer to bake fish, french fries and broccoli. She likes to stretch, exercise, swim and walks daily. The changes that she sees in herself motivates her to keep making healthy choices – like having more energy, noticing how her clothes fit differently, being able to walk longer, and experiencing less soreness in her body. We are so proud of Valerie for the healthy choices she has made and continues to make in support of her wellbeing!