This month’s W.O.W Employee of the Month is Welch Cancer Center Pharmacist, Sarah Opitz. As a mom to three young girls, Sarah was motivated by her family to start her wellness journey.
“Family is huge for me. I wanted to set a good example for my family and show them what it looks like to maintain overall good health,” said Opitz. “I wanted to be active, exercise, and maintain a healthy weight so that I can be there for them.”
A few months ago, Sarah was motivated to make positive changes after experiencing what many mothers go through after nursing.
“Having young girls, I was nursing for a long time, and I used it to justify eating whatever I wanted because I could do it without gaining weight. Now that stage is over and I realized very quickly that my clothes were fitting tighter,” said Opitz. “Once I noticed I was putting on a few pounds I realized I needed to be more conscious of what I was eating and that I needed to be more active. Once I realized I could do better and should be better, I started to make a few changes.”
Sarah started by making small changes, including exercising and monitoring her portions.
“It wasn’t big and I didn’t really change my diet, I just started being more conscious of the amount I was eating. I also started going to the gym more often,” said Opitz.
She started making sure she had veggies and fruits with meals and paying attention to what was going on her plate.
Before she started making changes, Sarah relied on the activity she got around the house and with her family. She started by creating an exercise routine that fit her schedule.
“I had to find times in my schedule that would work for me. I go to the gym on weekends and Wednesday mornings when my girls are at daycare,” said Opitz.
After she started making time for the gym she started noticing the positive benefits of exercise.
“It helps my mood and my energy, it definitely perks me up,” said Opitz.
Like many others, Sarah’s wellness routine has been interrupted by COVID-19, but she’s found ways to adapt.
“Looking on the bright side, we know that Spring is just around the corner. With the warmer weather we can spend more time outside doing things,” said Opitz. “You’re supposed to stay at home, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay in your house. Bryan, the girls, and I have been able to get out a lot, going for walks, bike rides, and taking the girls on their scooters.”
When asked what advice she would give to others starting their wellness journey she discussed the importance of making time for yourself and simple changes.
“My advice would be that if you’re feeling overwhelmed, or you want things to be better, or you need more structure, just stop and think about simple changes you can make. Find a few minutes to relax or go to the gym,” said Opitz. “The hardest thing for me was just deciding to do it and start. Once I made the choice to start doing it, I found it wasn’t as hard as I thought.”
Sarah uses the MyFitnessPal app to log what she eats and to calorie count. The app has helped her keep her wellness routine.
“Just taking the time to do those entries was daunting. I use the MyFitnessPal app because it’s user-friendly, quick, and slick. It helps make time not a factor. The thought of having to make a change was difficult. “I like routine and liked the way things were so I was lax and I ate whatever and did whatever. I didn’t have a routine and I needed one,” said Opitz
“I have to make sure that I have time for myself, even if it’s just a few minutes, it helps me relax,” said Opitz. “I really enjoy reading but since we had kids time is short and hobbies have fallen by the wayside. I’ve made time to read again and I also read with my daughter before she goes to bed and I really enjoy it.”
As a mom, Sarah knows the impact of making time for yourself and the benefits that a healthy lifestyle can have.
“These changes haven’t made me the perfect mom but they have definitely helped,” said Opitz. “I still struggle with the everyday challenges of being a mom, but it has helped and I can tell a difference.”