“I had a really great childhood,” Jaime Bies says with a beaming smile. With confidence and energy she hasn’t felt since her weight began to roller coaster after high school, she now eagerly shares the story of her struggle with being overweight and the impact it’s made on her life.
“I wasn’t so overweight when I was a kid, but I was really shy.” The simple country life she knew growing up on a farm near Bagley, Wisconsin instilled in her the values of raising a good family and working hard. In 2003, with her husband, Greg, and their son, Morgan, she came to Platteville where she earned a spot on the hardworking housekeeping crew at Southwest Health.
As time marched on, Jaime gained weight, and as so many of us do, she learned to live with the extra pounds she put on each year and to accept them as the new reality. But, Jaime’s painful reality was the physical and emotional toll her weight began to take on her. There was the physical challenge of an eight hour workday. Her legs ached. And at home all she could do was sit and rest to be ready for the challenge of the next day. The emotional pain, too, was difficult to bear. Driven by living a life far removed from that she planned for herself, the negative feelings fueled her appetite for unhealthy food and ultimately created a downward spiral.
Then along came a simple opportunity. One that changed everything.
As part of our employee wellness initiative, Southwest Health challenged the entire team—510 people strong—to increase our activity and exercise levels. To help us achieve our personal goals, interested staff enjoy the benefit of free wellness consultations and personalized training programs designed by Ryan Siegert, Sports Performance Trainer in The EDGE, Southwest Health’s center for sports performance optimization.
“I will never forget that first day,” recalls Jaime. “I didn’t know Ryan, and I was really afraid he was going to judge me. My first step toward a new life was stepping on that scale in front of him, and that was a big test for me.”
Jaime hadn’t weighed herself in a long time, which added to her tension. “The moment I stepped off the scale, I thought, I can do this. Ryan wasn’t judging me at all. He was there to help. In reality, keeping that appointment and getting on that scale in front of a fitness pro was the number one hardest thing I did.”
That moment also marked the beginning of a friendship that helped Jaime turn her life around 180 degrees and helped her drop a whopping 202 pounds from that day when she weighed in at 370.
“At that first consultation, Ryan gave me some ideas on what to eat. But, he didn’t give me an entire plan right away. When I first started, I couldn’t even walk a block, and he wanted to change things one step at a time. Now I do 60 minutes on the treadmill every day, sometimes 90. I track my heart rate. I do weight training. I check in with Ryan at least once a day. And when I go home, I have support there, too. My husband even tells me what an inspiration I am to him.”
Ryan created programs for Jaime in two areas: nutrition and activity. “You can’t get fit on a bad diet, no matter how much you exercise,” says Ryan. “Jaime is making healthy choices now. We’ve worked through what she should be eating and what she should stay away from. And we’ve gotten her to very impactful levels of cardio and weight training.” Still, Ryan insists the real keys to her amazing success are her dedication and consistency. “I believe we each have the power to determine our own lives, and Jaime’s done all this herself. I just feel very fortunate to be here to help her achieve her goals.”
“I learned how to do it from Ryan,” says Jaime. “Temptations are always in front of you. It’s not easy. Everyday takes willpower. I know this will be a success long-term because I have the tools thanks to Ryan. And he still helps keep me on track, too. If we didn’t have Ryan and this employee wellness program, I don’t know where I’d be.”