This has been the most successful experience I've ever had in a decades-long quest to get healthy.
As I told you before you chose your participants, I was afraid that I was slipping into metabolic syndrome and felt rather hopeless, afraid that I didn't have the inner fortitude to do anything about it. By myself. But I didn't have to battle that downward spiral by myself. Your study came at just the right time to help me fight against all the forces that were at work -- lack of exercise, disregard for the nutritional value of the food I was eating, apathy regarding my own health. With a family history of strokes and heart disease (with two parents who were never heavy but died of cardio-vascular disease nonetheless), I felt that my weight was a self-imposed punishment and it was taking me down.
I had not always been so cavalier about my health. As a young woman, I was athletic. I was a good swimmer. I participated in all kinds of intramural sports in high school. I was thin and self-confident, got good grades, and even had the honor of being voted prom queen. I put my academic dreams on hold and married the captain of the football team. I was very young, just 20, and the marriage was not a good one. As the marriage began to disintegrate, my weight escalated, very slowly at first. I was 120 lbs. A few years later, 140. As things got worse, my weight kept climbing to an unknown high - I stopped weighing myself. I tried to lose weight, but my efforts and temporary successes didn't last. I never exercised. My ex-husband became a fitness fanatic then (in his second adolescence) and I resented gyms and people who frequented them. I felt very alone in my "cocoon" of fat.
Once I was divorced and working full-time at Skidmore, I began to care about my health and my appearance. I started taking classes and I started exercising. I'd either diet or exercise, it seemed, never together. Your first study, about seven or eight years ago, put me on the right track. I did very well. Subsequent studies helped as well, but when they were over, I slept late again and started eating things I'd "missed." That's not happening this time. This time, you made it more interesting. You've told us "why," not just "how." You gave us varied exercise programs, web guidance, and the very best staff of student interns to keep us motivated. This time, you are watching us beyond the end of our formal experience. This time, I care about the food that I put in my mouth and the physiology of my body. This time, I am exercising for my life, not for results. You have started all of us on the life-long path to continue and improved healthy living, and I am very, very grateful. And I expect you will continue to see in us the truly successful repercussions of this study for a very long time.
Can’t thank you enough for the positive impact you’ve had on my life.