I had been a smoker since I was nineteen years old, but besides some shortness of breath and occasional high blood pressure, I thought I was perfectly healthy. It wasn’t until staff at the Employee Health Clinic encouraged me to see my primary care doctor, who then prescribed blood pressure medication, that I realized the truth.

Though I had previously tried to stop smoking without success, I felt confident that with health coaching and encouragement from Natalie Guynn, NP, this time would be different. I also enrolled in the S.P.A.R.K. Program and completed a biometric screening. When the screening revealed that my cholesterol was high too, I knew then I had to do something.

I have since learned the art of adjusting and substituting: I avoid the smoking block at work by walking, do push-ups in lieu of smoking to relieve stress, and often swap my beloved Mountain Dew for water. Through the S.P.A.R.K. Program, I learned I can eat what I want as long as I adjust the amount, ultimately changing the way my wife and I prepare food. We now have more energy to exercise and even talk about dancing in our living room for cardio!

Prioritizing my health is the most important thing I can do for my family and myself. I have been nicotine-free for 56 days – overcoming the urge to smoke despite the stressors in my life – and I am proud of that. Thank you Natalie, Alicia Caldwell, MA, and Marathon Health for starting me on my path toward better health!