By Savannah Billie
My name isSavannah Billie. I am 25 years old and I am from Crownpoint, New Mexico. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes while I was pregnant with my last child; and it made me think about changing my lifestyle because there is a history of diabetes in our family.
Last spring, I weight over 188 pounds, and now I am 30 pounds lighter, full of energy, and people paying compliments about how I look.
I knew I was overweight. I felt lazy all the time and I was very inactive. I just wanted to sit on the couch, watch TV, and have something to eat. My sister, Sylvia, encouraged me to sign up for the 100,000 Pound Weight Loss Challenge that was held by the Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Project. I thought about it. I knew it was something I needed to do, but when my sister got after me, then I decided I’m going to do it.
It took about three months of participation in the 100,000 Pound Weight Loss Challenge before I decided to get serious about losing some of my weight. I started walking mostly around the track at school after I signed up with the weight-loss challenge on April 20, 2010.
I walked around the track. I started out slow and increased my distance as I gained some strength in my legs. At first, my legs would get sore, and my body would ache, but I kept pushing myself. There were times I felt like quitting, but I kept thinking about the end result. Soon, I started jogging and really got into it. Sylvia, who works with the Navajo Special Diabetes Project, kept encouraging me and giving me advice, and that really helped me.
After I started jogging and began to push myself harder, I started losing weight. When I reported for the weigh-in after about a month, I couldn’t believe that I had lost five pounds, but seeing the result made me want to lose more.
I think it was June of 2010 that I joined the Native Lifestyle Balance classes, again hosted by my sister Sylvia with Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Project. It was in those classes that I learned about eating less, eating more nutritional meals, and being physically active. The Native Lifestyle Balance encourages you to lose seven percent of your weight, which isn’t much when you think about it. The greatest benefit is that your life is increased by a number of years by just losing that much weight.
Through the Native Lifestyle Balance classes, I learned about reading food labels, serving sizes, and actually measuring how much I should eat. That really helped me. Now, when I shop, I look at food labels and see how much sugar, sodium, and fat are in the foods, and I’ve learned to avoid those with a lot of fat and sugar.
The wonderful thing about this experience is that when my four children noticed that I had made changes in my lifestyle, and I had more energy, they joined me by jogging and they’ve stopped eating “junk” food. My children continue to encourage me, and when they want to go do something, I am there and ready to go with them. This is completely different than the way I was a year ago when I would just stay home be a couch potato.
I am a lot happier now, and my friends, relatives, and neighbors have noticed. People tell me how good I look and how happy I am. That makes me feel good and makes me want to continue. I know I still need to lose more weight. I used to wear sweat pants a lot, but now I am back to wearing jeans and feeling great.
I have been able to encourage my friends now because of my experiences. It’s not easy, but if you actually do it, and see the end result, then it is very uplifting.
I continue to jog more and more, and I have increased my physical activity by doing sit-ups and lifting some free weights. This is making me stronger.
At first, my mom used to tell me that I need to lose weight, but now she’s saying that I’m losing too much. But I don’t think so. Like I said, I need to lose more weight.
I am glad that my sister, Sylvia, encouraged me to participate in the 100,000 Pound Weight Loss Challenge and the Native Lifestyle Balance classes. They have taught me a lot about myself and how to take care of myself and my children. It’s great to go out and have people notice the changes I have made.
It can be done. It’s true that it takes some hard work and determination, but when you feel the difference in being healthy, then it’s worth all the effort that you go through. I challenge others to fight diabetes because it’s a fight we can win. This is my story.