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A BeWell wake-up call
I am Jeremy Benjamin, and this is my story. I joined Stanford in January 2010. I remember, in my orientation, hearing about this crazy thing called BeWell where they actually pay you to do something health-related.
Here is where I admit that since my daughter was born six years ago, I hadn’t been to the gym and — yes — I had put on 25 pounds. I’d always rationalized it by thinking that I had been active most of my life. I only go to the doctor when I get really sick, I don’t eat fast food (not much anyway), and the last time I had done a real blood test and full physical exam the doctor said I was in good enough shape to be a Navy Seal.
I was shocked when BeWell discovered that my cholesterol was very high, as was my blood pressure, and the percentage of fat on my body put me at borderline obese. Borderline obese! No way, this was insane, not possible! So I called my doctor and set up a “real” test. But it was all true and worse. Suddenly I realized that I’m 38 with two wonderful kids, a wonderful spouse and a great life. If I wanted to hold on to the things that matter in life and enjoy them for as long as I can, I’d better shape up — and fast. So I made up my mind: I was going to fight for it. I created a plan with my doctor to hit my health issues with everything we could think of, all at once, all the way, over the deep end, dive in head first. I joined a gym, started taking a few pills and referring to my fat cells as visitors for the past six years who had no intention of leaving. I started going to the gym after dinner, after giving the kids a bath and putting them to sleep and right when my loving spouse has gotten comfortable on the couch and turned on our favorite shows, from 8:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. It’s not ideal, but it’s what I’ve got to work with. I also did the last BeWell step of five “berries,” mainly so that I could get a free personal trainer session and the fitness test. Seriously, it is one of the best benefits we’ve got.
The results are in …
OK, the results: From April to today, I’ve lost that 25 pounds, around 10% of my body weight. My cholesterol has dropped in half, my resting pulse is down 10 beats to 50, my blood pressure is down and a few of my other blood markers are in good shape and I had to buy a new belt. But something else happened. That constant pain between my shoulders has disappeared; when I’m on my feet for hours at work, it doesn’t hurt as much when I finally get to sit down. I’m not as tired as I used to be. I keep thinking about a 25-pound metal weightlifting plate being taken off my back.
I can’t help but credit Stanford and BeWell for probably saving my life. I needed that kick you know where to take matters seriously and into my own hands. Interestingly, it also opened up a discussion with my spouse, my parents and my brothers. I found out that my family, in various ways, had been keeping much too quiet about our health and all the issues we were facing. That’s my story. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to tell it. And thank you, BeWell.
UPDATE: While the BeWell program has changed over the past few years, Jeremy’s commitment to healthy living has not. Now 40 years old, Jeremy has kept his weight, cholesterol and blood pressure all under control.