Rowena Crooks-Jackson, LPN
Nurse changes her lifestyle for the better to see her grandkids grow up
What’s your motivation?
The answer is easy for Rowena Crooks-Jackson, LPN. Her children and grandchildren are her greatest motivators and accomplishments. They are what compelled her to change her lifestyle for the better, and they are what keep her moving forward.
At the beginning of 2022, Rowena made 3 huge changes to her lifestyle habits. First, she made a goal to move more. Next, she chose to eat healthier, more nutritious foods. Lastly, she began eating fewer calories.
Rowena started using a fitness smartwatch/tracker in early 2022. She was shocked to discover that she only walked an average of 2,000 steps per day. As a home health nurse, she spends a lot of time in her car driving from patient to patient. All that sedentary time was taking a toll on Rowena’s health — her weight was causing knee pain and she didn’t feel healthy. She knew she needed more movement.
Her knee pain made exercising difficult, so Rowena decided to use a stationary bike for 20 minutes, 5 days a week. It took 60 days for exercise to become a habit for Rowena, and she increased her cycling workouts to 30-minute sessions. She eventually added variety to her routine with weightlifting and calisthenics, a form of strength training that uses body weight exercises.
While knee pain was a barrier to exercise at first, Rowena discovered that as she lost weight, her knee pain decreased. Today, less than 1 year later, she doesn’t have any knee pain at all.
Eat Healthier and Eat Less
The next major lifestyle changes for Rowena involved her diet. Swapping out convenient, processed foods that offered few nutritional benefits, she began eating more wholesome, unprocessed foods. Rowena kept a closer eye on her calorie intake, aiming for 1,700 calories per day or less.
She also made a goal to drink 1 gallon of water every day. It didn’t take long to notice the health benefits of proper hydration. Prior to this new habit, Rowena’s skin was often dry and flaky. But drinking a gallon of water every day made her skin moist, soft, and healthy again. It also curbed her appetite and helped her stick to her daily calorie goal.
Combined with her exercise routine, these healthy habits have helped Rowena lose 40 pounds in 9 months.
“I don’t have any knee pain and I definitely feel better,” she says. “I’m not as short of breath, I can tolerate stairs and movement so much more — and I’m happier because I feel better. These changes have improved my life and overall well-being.”
Long-Term Habits for Longevity
Rowena isn’t in this for short-term gains. She plans to stick it out for the long run — not just for herself, but for her family. Having good health allows for a longer life, and she wants to live long enough to see her grandkids graduate from college, get married, and have kids of their own.
“I became a grandmother 4 years ago, and it was like being born again,” says Rowena. “It gave me a new, improved reason to live longer. I want to watch them grow up, and that’s what keeps me going.”
And while Rowena is dedicated to sticking with the healthy lifestyle changes she’s made, she allows herself to indulge once in a while. She follows an 80/20 rule: She sticks to her healthy habits and stays focused on her wellness goals 80% of the time, but for the remaining 20%, she’s more lenient. Often on the weekends, Rowena gives herself permission to have rest days, eat her favorite foods, and ditch calorie counting.
It’s the perfect balance for Rowena.
Rowena believes these guidelines have helped her turn healthy lifestyle changes into habits:
- Start with small goals: Pick one thing to start with (like cycling for 20 minutes) and try to stick with it for 60 days. Hopefully it will become a habit, and you can adjust your goal from there.
- Add more to your goals over time: You can build on your habits by adding more after they feel like an essential part of your routine. This will make your goals feel more attainable. For example, you can start with eating fewer calories, then add more hydration.
- Be your own competition: Don’t compare your changes and goals to others’. Compare the current you to the past you. Think: “Let’s see if I can beat myself from last week.”
Rowena Crooks-Jackson, LPN, is a home health nurse at Humana’s CenterWell Home Health.
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