Vickie Powell, MS, RPh, a busy pharmacy director at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, received a wake-up call from her doctor and took charge of her health.
Q: What’s your background and why is being healthy important to you?
A: I work full-time as a Pharmacy Director and I'm also a full-time mother and wife. I live in Harlem and worship at the Abyssinian Baptist Church. I'm very active in the church as a Sunday school teacher, and member of the Health Ministry. I am also involved in other activities in the community. So, with my busy schedule staying healthy is really important.
Q: What caused you to change your health habits?
A: I get regular check-ups with my primary care physician, Dr. McGregor at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. I’ve been his patient for four years and I really trust his advice. At one of my check-ups, he told me my blood pressure was high. As a pharmacist, I fill lots of prescriptions for high blood pressure medication, but I never thought I’d have to take it!
Dr. McGregor reminded me about all the potential problems that high blood pressure could cause: strokes, heart attacks, kidney damage and so on. We talked about what I needed to do to get my blood pressure under control. Dr. McGregor gave me three months to follow his prescription of reducing stress, losing weight, eating healthier and adding more physical activity to my daily routine. If after three months I hadn’t reduced my blood pressure he was going to write me a real prescription for medication that I would have to take everyday.
This was a real wake up call. My family, my church, my job…they all need me. I wanted to take care of this problem, right away.
Q: How did you make changes to adopt a healthier lifestyle?
A: I took Dr. McGregor’s prescription seriously, and began adding more balance, boundaries, discipline and discernment to my life.
There were two main goals I needed to achieve, lose weight and reduce stress. It helped me to break these larger goals into smaller steps.
I changed my diet to lose weight. I joined Weight Watchers® and added more fruit, vegetables and fiber. I exercised three times a week in the beginning. I joined the gym at work and worked with a personal trainer. Now, one year later I have worked my way up to at least 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week.
The exercise and yoga also helped me with the second thing, coping with stress. I also prayed and read Teresa’ Kennedy’s book Power Living. On the way to work in the morning I listen to a meditation DVD on my ipod that was recorded by Teresa Kennedy. It helps me bring focus, become more centered and reduce stress.
Q: Were you successful in reaching your goals?
A: Yes, I lost 25 lbs and Dr. McGregor says my blood pressure is down to normal. I know that to keep it there I have to keep doing what I've been doing. But I'm committed. And, you know what? If I can do, you can too!