Oliveen Cowans-Mitchell

Faced with an increased risk of diabetes, Oliveen Cowans-Mitchell got her health back on track with the help of her Benefit Fund.

Every morning, Oliveen Cowans-Mitchell, a Certified Nursing Assistant at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, begins her day with a smoothie packed with leafy greens and seasonal fruit. But that wasn’t always the case. Oliveen had always enjoyed making home-cooked meals, often rich dishes from her native Jamaica, while her busy work schedule had led her to rely on snacks and quick and convenient meals heavy in starches like potatoes and rice. After a routine checkup with her doctor in 2018 revealed she was pre-diabetic, Oliveen used her Benefit Fund coverage to take control of her health.

“I’ve loved learning more about food and how to read nutrition labels. There is a lot of hidden sugar!”

Oliveen began regularly attending the Benefit Fund’s wellness workshops for healthy-eating tips, and she was excited to learn that she could receive additional help through pre-diabetes counseling. When she enrolled, a counselor helped her create a personalized diet and exercise plan to keep her blood sugar levels in check. Oliveen learned how to make some simple changes that made her meals healthier without sacrificing flavor
or taking too much time to prepare.

“I’ve loved learning more about food and how to read nutrition labels,” she said. “There is a lot of hidden sugar!” Oliveen now follows a diet low in carbohydrates with no added sugar, uses oil-free cooking methods to prepare favorites like baked salmon and steamed vegetables, and pays attention to portion sizes.

She also exercises three to five times a week at a gym near her home in the Bronx, where she focuses on cardio workouts on the StairMaster or the stationary bike. Weight training has become a favorite part of Oliveen’s regimen, which she says makes her feel “strong and toned.” Her healthy lifestyle has even helped her lose 23 pounds and drop several sizes over the past year.

With a family history of diabetes, Oliveen knows the importance of continuing to manage her risk, and she tries to encourage her sister to be more proactive with her own health. She has also shared her healthier outlook with colleagues, who say they’re motivated to make changes after seeing her success. Oliveen is confident she will reach her weight-loss goals and get her blood sugar levels within the healthy range: “I’m never looking back!”

What Do Your Benefits Mean to You?

You count on your health benefits to support you in your efforts to stay healthy, whether it’s by getting regular checkups, keeping a chronic condition under control or just improving your lifestyle in general. But has there ever been a time when your health coverage literally saved your life or the life of a loved one? If so, we’d like to hear from you. To share your story with your fellow members in an upcoming issue of For Your Benefit, please contact the Fund at Communications@1199Funds.org.

Marcella Smart

Marcella Smart credits her benefits with protecting her health, and our wellness workshops with helping her maintain a healthy weight.

Wanda Santiago

After being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, Wanda Santiago has lost more than 30 pounds through healthier eating and exercise habits, which is helping keep her condition under control.

Tereza Ubinas-Valle

A medical issue during her second pregnancy motivated Tereza Ubinas-Valle to commit to making her health a top priority—for herself and her growing family.

Share This