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Like many people, Melody Reuter had an on-again, off-again relationship with healthy habits.
“I’d struggled with changing my habits for years,” she says. “I’d commit for three months, then fall off the bandwagon.”
That changed after she was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and her provider, Jennifer McElroy, D.O., an obstetrician-gynecologist at Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse, Wisconsin, made a suggestion.
“Dr. McElroy told me that if I could commit to and stick with healthy habits, that would really help the PCOS,” says the 28-year-old Onalaska, Wisconsin, resident. “She told me that “A New Me” would really help me maintain good habits.”
While doctors don’t know what causes PCOS, heredity, low-grade inflammation and excess insulin may all play a part. Regular physical activity, combined with a low-carbohydrate diet, can help lower insulin levels and may improve PCOS symptoms.
Reuter took her doctor’s advice and registered for the lifestyle management program , which helps participants adopt a variety of health and wellness changes. The 12-week program focuses on eating well, moving more and stressing less. A registered dietitian, exercise physiologist, stress management expert, and certified health and wellness coach facilitate the program.
Reuter says “A New Me” lives up to its name. She grew up on a dairy farm, eating comfort meals that regularly featured meat and potatoes.
But since taking the program, that’s all changed. The white bread, pasta and potatoes that used to be staples of Reuter’s diet have been replaced with chicken breasts, cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles. She’s also started exercising.
Reuter admits the changes she’s made weren’t always easy, especially at first.
“Finding the right workout for me was a bit of trial and error,” she says. “It took time for my palate to adjust to eating differently. Now, it’s second nature. I don’t really even have to think about it.”
That’s due in part, she says, to the way “A New Me” taught her to think differently. The program includes information on how emotions, stress, lack of sleep and self-esteem can sabotage positive changes. That new understanding was important, Reuter says.
“I’d struggled for years on end to make changes, and, through the program, finally truly learned how to do that,” she says. “I learned how to take care of myself and nourish my body."
Reuter says she’d recommend the program to anyone who wants to be healthier; but, she says the program isn’t a magic pill. Participants need to be ready to do the hard work it takes to truly change.
“You can’t force people to change who they are,” Reuter says. “I wanted to be healthy and feel better. The program helped me do that.”