My hard work is paying off!

I have been very fortunate to be part of the Humana Vitality wellness program.

I have won the Maintain Don’t Gain Holiday Challenge, The Biggest Winner Challenge and have earned bragging rights!

I could not have done it without Lisa and Michelle. They provide great inspiration and guidance.

I remember them telling me to focus on eating properly, exercise and be mindful of what I am eating.

Minutes later I walked by a big bowl of Tootsie Rolls. I kid you not the Tootsie Rolls were calling me over!

I heard Lisa and Michelle’s instructions in my head. If not I would have devoured the entire bowl of Tootsie Rolls. But I kept my promise to eat healthier and smarter.

I could not believe it when I won! I really wanted to win that bike badly. Lisa advised me to concentrate on clean eating and walking more each day. For a week and a half I had boneless skinless chicken breasts with a healthy salad. The pounds just fell off. I thought to myself at that time that there must be something to this.

My hard work is paying off!

I created a nickname for Lisa and Michelle. It is “The Ladies of Diet Discipline”.

Rest assured there is not enough paper in this world to express the accolades these ladies deserve.

They greet you with big beautiful smiles and a caring and loving attitude. I owe a lot to them.

They genuinely care for each and every participant. They listen carefully to each and every one of us and provide great instructions and guidance to help us achieve our goals.

I have been blessed to meet them. I actually look forward to them coming to the Government Center West.

Thank you, Lisa and Michelle, you both are truly a great inspiration.


I have even motivated my wife and kids to start making wise choices.

October 17, 2013

Hello Lisa and Michelle,

I just wanted to say thank you for all of your support and motivation. Since you have started the Biggest Winner Challenge at our location, my overall health has greatly improved. I have been diligent in increasing my exercise program by staying on task. My daily diet consists of more healthy choices and the right meal portion sizes. I have even motivated my wife and kids to start making wise choices when it comes to meals and exercise. They hate to see me coming but it is my goal to have a healthy family. Keep doing the awesome thing that you do.

Thanks to the “Dynamic Duo”.

Roy Gibbons

TEAMWORK – What’s Your Inspiration?

As the team captain, I take pride in seeing others succeed. Keeping my colleagues motivated and pushing them to go farther is a challenge. Their results are my reasons for continuing as a team captain. Watching their pounds melt off with minor changes to their daily life is an inspiration and a testament for all. Small incremental steps are the keys to better health and weight loss.

The Biggest Winner competition has been a blessing. Winning the Biggest Winner challenge with a loss of 17 pounds has motivated me to keep going. The Wellness program has heightened my awareness to better health. The nutritionist, God bless her, has shown me how to implement healthier eating habits. Also, I’ve been introduced to foods that keep me recharged not lethargic. I still love to eat but I eat smarter.

There were days when I would come home turn on the TV, sit on the couch and eat a large plate of food. An hour later I was snoring. My days off were spent on that couch watching TV, drinking beer, eating pizza or chips. The local grocery store was a 10 minute walk. Luckily for me I have a car. I wasn’t getting quality sleep. By 10:00 AM I was fighting to stay awake. At work I was sitting at a desk for hours. My stagnant life style was slowly killing me, I had no energy.

The days of driving everywhere has been minimized, I now walk throughout the community to enhance my health. Just think, by walking my wife and I have rediscovered the community. It feels great to see the beauty of the neighborhood from the sidewalk and not from a car window. We are encouraged by the support we’ve received by fellow walkers. It’s funny how others question your whereabouts when you miss a day of exercise. They keep you going and you hate to disappoint them. All awhile, it’s your health that’s benefiting. The community of walkers has embraced us, regardless of our size. They just want to see us succeed one step at a time. I never knew how tremendous the sense of community was until we started walking.

The exercise has increased my quality of life. I sleep well and wake well rested. The stiff and sore joints have diminished. People say I have a spring in my step. I have remarkable blood pressure and my bad cholesterol has decreased tremendously. Exercise no longer seems like a second job, I enjoy being active. As an added bonus, I continue to reduce weight. I strongly urge all Broward County employees to take advantage of our on-site wellness programs and enroll in the Biggest Winner Challenge. There is nothing to lose but weight. You’re only steps away from transforming your life.

“TEAMWORK”, Key to a Healthier Lifestyle
Garvin Manswell

Thank you so much for your advice and guidance.

September 19, 2012

I was very encouraged and found myself that I need more knowledge regarding my eating habits.

Ms. Stewart was pivotal in lighting the path out of my ignorance and I’m making adjustments in order to turn the tide in my favor.

I’m glad I met you and we will be keeping in touch.
Thank you so much for your advice and guidance.

Joel Galeano

I have lost a total of 45 lbs. and 17 1/2 inches!

My name is Nancy Garrett and I am 62 years old. My doctor has prescribed blood pressure medication for me since I was 42. The BC Wellness Center has been a blessing because I joined the group that walks on Wednesdays in March 2010. After attending a few of the Wellness Center’s activities, I decided to work a little harder on my exercise program, meal planning, and my overall lifestyle. By June 2010 I had lost a few pounds and I entered the “BC biggest winner” contest and tracked my weight loss for 3 months. In September I weighed 10 lbs. less. Now they had my attention! Walking Wednesdays wasn’t enough, I walked one half hour every lunch time and weighed in for the “BC biggest loser” contest again. In December 2010, I was down 20 lbs. and my doctor started weaning me off my medication. Throughout January 2011, I started adding different exercises and each day did something different. Now I do my yoga poses twice a week, weight lift once a week, do aerobics three times a week and still walk at lunch or after dinner. My eating habits have improved 100% since I gave up a lot of carbs – no bread, no pasta, no rice, and no potato. All my meals consist of green vegetables, fresh fruit and a protein. By February 2011, I was the “Wellness Team Captain” and started another little group of my own colleagues in the office and we were walking up and down the stairwell in the garage at lunchtime. It is October 2011, I have lost a total of 45 lbs. and 17 1/2 inches and no longer take blood pressure medication. That’s a real lifestyle change – instead of 62 I feel 26!

I am no longer a size 16+; I am now a size 8.

I originally approached the Wellness Center out of curiosity. I spoke to Lisa, asked questions and found answers, who referred me to Michelle.

That was the start of my healthy journey. I spoke to Michelle, the Nutritionist, and she was of immense help. I have lost 38 lbs. to date. Miracle of miracles, I am maintaining and the weight has not come back.

Michelle offered nutritional suggestions and healthy snack ideas. She calmed my fears and explained that a commitment was in order…A life style change. She suggested exercise, walking and said 3 times a week would be sufficient to maintain. Dancing, yoga and meditation were also suggested. I took everything she said to heart.

I started incorporating fruits and vegetables at snack time. Smoothies were introduced at breakfast. I started eating more often and smaller portions ensued, I was on a tight schedule. It was the life style change originally suggested by Michelle. It was not difficult.

Michelle taught me to stay hydrated at all times. My food schedule allowed me to lessen my prescription drug intake; my diabetes was under control and I was able to stop the use of steroids. I am healthier, happier and more active and less tired.

I am more focused, health conscious, healthier and driven, thanks to Michelle. I have reached my desired weight with little maintenance; I feel good about myself, energized and contented. I feel pride in myself.

Michelle offers individual attention to everyone. She analyzes the situation and offers genuine ideas and solutions. Her classes and seminars are informative, and pertinent. She offers recipes and encourages the exchange of ideas.

I have succeeded thanks to her encouragement and support. I am no longer a size 16+; I am now a size 8. I owe it all to Michelle and to the Wellness Team.

With Michelle’s help I am a skinnier person; happy, healthy and fit. I could not have reached my goal without the support, invaluable assistance and guidance of Michelle and the Wellness Team. I AM MAINTAINING!!! I am even doing Zumba!

Thanks Michelle.

Grace Notaro

I met my goal weight of 120lbs.

I am originally from England and have been living in the USA since 1987. I was always a very overweight child from the day I can remember and even had to have most of my clothes made for me. Unfortunately, my mother loved to feed me larger than life portions; needless to say I couldn’t just have one cookie even as a child and remember dieting from a very early age. At the age of 16 I suddenly lost what people say must have been “baby fat” and I managed to keep it off for a few years, but I always had the low self image of still seeing myself as heavy. I would binge, and then purge and became somewhat of a closet eater. Well after two pregnancies it was all downhill for me, I followed every diet under the sun (again), Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach, diet pills, Xenical, Nutri System, you name it I did it. It worked for a while then I would gain it back again plus some.

The sadness of both of my in-laws passing further disrupted my eating habits and made me turn to food even more; you know that old comfort eating we all have? A few months later I was diagnosed with severe Sleep Apnea. At that point I had reached my all time high of 230lb which on a 5’2″ frame like myself, is neither healthy nor attractive. That’s when I decided to look into weight loss surgery after much research I had LAP RNY done on December 16th, 2005 and my life changed for the better.

It was a tough start at first and I questioned myself as to why I had it done. I started to grieve for my best friend – FOOD – but that soon faded when the weight started to melt away. I felt healthier and more energized, and after only 3 weeks post surgery I was able to throw that “Darth Vader” mask and C-pap machine away. My blood pressure went down and I just overall felt great. I started taking walks a week after I came home from the hospital, slowly at first but then built it up to 30 minutes a day.

One year to the day of surgery, I met my goal weight of 120lbs, I was ecstatic, but not only because of that number, but because I had finally been able to achieve my goal of success and become healthy. My surgery was done by Dr Marema, at US Bariatric in Ft Lauderdale where I was given amazing guidance from their nutritionist, Michelle Stewart. She was (and still is an incredible support in my life, I still ask her questions when I need some much needed advice. This surgery gave me back my life and the confidence I had lost for so many years.

I now run a non-profit local support group once a month where I love helping other stay on track.

Thank you for reading my story.


Finally back to my desired weight.

May 5, 2007

Dear Michelle:

I would be remiss if I did not write to tell you how much I appreciate all the information that you mailed me in March. Frank and I often talk about our meeting with you. We were pretty confused and desperate for guidance. You were right there to guide me. “My Guardian Angel” I am very grateful for that. You give so much more than anyone could expect and I thank you..

Now how am I doing? The good news is that urine protein number is coming down; After dropping to a concerning weight, I am eating more and finally back to my desired weight. I am still working on Fluids. After many tests they are still not sure of the cause of my other concerns. My gut feeling is that it relates to another area.

I hope that you and your husband are enjoying a wonderful New Year; that you are both in good health and happy.

Sincere thanks,
Maria J.

My blood pressure is way down, my cholesterol is down — I am sleeping better.

From: Mark K.
Sent: August 22, 2007
To: Michelle Stewart
Subject: The Greatest!

I will never forget the day, January 31, 2007 when my doctor told me I was headed for a train wreck. He told me that if I did not lose weight and start to exercise, I would be having a serious issue with either heart attack, stroke, diabetes–none of the options were pleasant. So now what do I do. I have eaten like a horse my whole life and did not have a clue how to eat correctly. Called up Holy Cross and they set me up with Michelle Stewart. We went to see Michelle, both anxious (My partner came with me, as he does a lot of the cooking). To make a long story short, Michelle made a very stressful time–fun, entertaining, informative and effective–when I started this journey, I weighed 254 and I now bounce around 215. I have lost 16% of my body weight thanks to Michelle’s guidance and encouragement, and the fact I haul my butt out of bed every morning and walk for an hour. My long term goal is to get to 200, but I was nervous about getting through summer and vacation without gaining any weight back, and I succeeded. Now I work on the last 15.

Michelle taught us how to shop, cook and eat in pretty easy to remember ways. She had charts and lists for us that I have found very helpful. She had many tips but I think one of her most effective tips was this—there is no way you are going to be able to follow all of the rules; if you try you will fail, so follow as many as you can. Changing every single one of our eating habits is hard–so the rule about eating early would have been just too much. So we still eat later than we should, but we are eating asparagus, salad and meat at 9 instead of a heaping bowl of spaghetti and garlic bread!

I feel much better. I only have one chin now. People actually notice that I have lost weight which is a great feeling. My blood pressure is way down, my cholesterol is down–I am sleeping better. I have not bought new clothes yet, as I still want to lose that last bit–besides, after having clothes fit tight for so many years, it is fun to have them baggy for a change.

I feel I will be able to eat this way for the rest of my life. I still get the munchies–but Michelle was able to guide me towards snacks which are good for you. The old me would have had no problem eating half a bag of cookies (on top of a bowl of ice cream)–now I am thrilled when I have a peach, or an apple and a piece of cheese as my afternoon snack.

Michelle and I have emailed back and forth, when I have specific questions. I find that helpful. When you are ready (or even if you are not!) to make the diet change, give Michelle a call. You will be glad you did.

Mark K.