Finally Fit!

By Nadine Reid

Seven years ago, I had reached my highest weight of 335 lbs. I suffered from sleep apnea and increasingly spent many nights awakened by choking in my sleep. I also had struggled with mental health issues in my life and the medication I was taking to manage my symptoms really made me put on weight. I had gained 100 lbs in 18 months. The last straw occurred when I severely injured my back and was rushed to the hospital.

The doctor told me my heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar were through the roof! My health was slowly deteriorating and my doctor revealed that I wouldn't have long to live at this pace.

The news hit me hard and I knew I had to make serious changes. I started working with a community health nutritionist and after a couple of months I started to develop my own philosophy as to how I must relate to food in my life. Over time, I learned that food education is essential to conquering my weight issues. I learned to cook nutritious meals within my budget.

But most importantly, to keep the weight off, I had to incorporate physical activity in my daily routine for long-term results. I have been working out regularly for six years and my mental health has also significantly improved. I credit these positive changes to consistently using fitness and nutrition as essential tools for a healthy lifestyle.

I have been a Community Service Worker at Sound Times Support Services for the past four years. Through my involvement in the mental health consumer/survivor community, I have learned that we must share our knowledge of health issues to educate and support each other. As I have physically transformed, I have realized that the support I have received has played a big role in my life and that’s what keeps me going to achieve success.

This newfound inspiration has led me to develop numerous initiatives at Sound Times to address the overall health and wellbeing of the membership. At Sound Times presenting a holistic approach to harm reduction has opened up many opportunities for the members to take charge of their health concerns. Sound Times offers a weekly fitness group in which participants can learn cardiovascular and weight training techniques, address weight management issues as well as meditation methods for wellness.Due to high rates of diabetes among the membership, a monthly diabetes clinic is held in partnership with DecNET to educate people about diabetes management and dietary habits.

Our newest program is the Sound Times Marketplace. For the past year the marketplace has been providing access to fresh fruits and vegetables for our membership at affordable wholesale prices in partnership with the Toronto Christian Resource Centre. The marketplace is held once a week and usually there is a cooking class after the market closes, teaching healthy methods of preparing meals.

As a community we do have the ability to inspire and motivate each other through our common experiences.

Nadine Reid is a Community Service Worker - Harm Reduction at Sound Times Support Services in Toronto. For more information about the Sound Times program, Fit for Survival, see the Program Directory.