Regina Hooks

Working with her primary care doctor, Regina Hooks made healthy lifestyle changes and lost more than 60 pounds. Now she’s ready to take her routine to the next level!

For the past 10 years, Regina Hooks, a Financial Advocate in the Patient Access Department at Catskill Regional Medical Center, was reminded over and over again that she needed to lose weight if she wanted to get her Type 2 diabetes under control and avoid more serious health problems. Her primary care doctor was the first to tell her, and she also heard it from nurses at the Benefit Fund’s worksite wellness events and health fairs. Try as she might, she just couldn’t shed the extra pounds. “I was like a yo-yo,” she said. “I’d go on some crash diet, lose weight for a little while, and then gain it back.”

Rather than trying yet another fad diet, Regina took her doctor’s advice last year and began seeing a dietitian once a month to learn more about how a well-balanced diet could help her control her weight. She took the suggestions seriously and stuck to her healthier habits, which included writing down what she ate and how much she exercised every day. Before long, she could feel the difference. “Most of my clothes were getting loose after a month,” she said. “It boosted my self-confidence, because I knew I was doing it right this time.”

One of the first changes she made was to replace soda with water. She also cut way back on breads (which often contain added sugar), desserts and red meat. Regina admits that the new habits were tough at first but have gotten easier with time. Another key to her success was portion control. For those times when she treats herself to a piece of cake or some chips and dip, she is careful to set limits on the amount she eats. She’s also discovered that she actually prefers healthy foods. “I eat lots of salads, vegetables and an occasional baked potato,” she said. “For dinner, I have a lean protein like chicken or fish, along with fresh vegetables. That’s usually it.”

Regina has also made exercise a part of her daily routine. During the week, she gets up early each morning to walk her two dogs—one at a time. “I walk them separately so that I double my distance,” Regina said. “Every morning, I walk for 40 minutes and cover about two miles.” At work, she takes the stairs to her office rather than using the elevator. On the weekends, she works out on an elliptical machine and with weights at a local gym. After a year of her healthier lifestyle, she’s gone from 237 pounds to 173, but her ultimate goal is to lose another 35 pounds. “I feel like I’ve plateaued a bit in the last couple of months,” she said, “so I’m upping my game, walking at a faster pace and working out harder at the gym.”

Through it all, her husband and three children have been supportive, even if the kids occasionally complain about the lack of snacks in the house. The entire family now practices healthier eating habits, and Regina’s blood sugar level is back to a manageable number. Because of her hard work, she has not needed to take medication for her diabetes, and she wants to keep it that way. “I wouldn’t trade the way I feel for anything. I have more energy. I’m more efficient and don’t get tired as easily, even after a long day,” she said. “Most important, I’m confident that with my health benefits and the convenience of our wellness workshops, I can stay well and watch my children grow up.”

What Are Your Health Benefits Worth?

Living with diabetes can be a challenge, but one thing 1199SEIU members with the condition don’t have to worry about is getting the care they need. The cost of managing Type 2 diabetes totals about $8,000 per year; add in care for diabetes-related complications such as heart and kidney disease and that number goes up to $13,700.* Fortunately, 1199SEIU members have little to no out-of-pocket costs for doctor visits, medication and testing supplies. Compare that to a person covered by a marketplace “platinum plan,” whose out-of-pocket costs would include a monthly premium that can start at $350, doctor’s visit co-pays and prescription co-pays of up to $60.

*American Diabetes Association

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 Funds at [email protected].

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