The week of May 13th is National Women’s Health Week and we’d like to address this by highlighting the accomplishments of women within our community who have taken charge of their health through exercise, healthy eating, addressing mental health and through preventative care and screenings. You can check out the stories of other women making a commitment to their health and more information about National Women’s Health Week here.

Patty Ledbetter, 55, Admitting manager at TMC, is a woman who’s taken charge of her health and is proactive in dealing with a high-risk family history.Creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a goal for most women, as it allows us to enjoy ourselves and stay fit. But what about women for whom it may be a matter of life and death?

Patty and Julia Strange (Vice President for Community Benefit) running on campus. Patty is participating in the program First Time 5K with Performance Executive Fitness Trainer Amy Maddox. Patty is training to run her first 5K at Meet Me Downtown on June 2. Julia joined her for one of the training sessions, along with her border collie.

This is the case for Patty. With a family history of heart disease, hypertension and high cholesterol, she knew that being in optimal health was essential. Extra body fat put her at higher risk for developing heart disease and other health problems, and she wanted to make lifestyle changes that stacked the odds in her favor.

Patty met with her doctor and committed to exercising regularly. “I found that focusing on consistency with my exercise, rather than length of time, made the difference. And once I began to see success, I was motivated to continue.” That’s a good reminder to those of us who think that if we’re not training for a marathon or can’t go to a 90-minute spinning class, we might as well sit on the couch. Every bit of exercise counts. A 20-minute lunchtime walk, a few laps in a pool on a summer’s day, walking stairs in your office building—make exercise part of your everyday life and it’ll become second nature.

Eating more healthfully was another change Patty made. She consulted with a nutritionist, and to make sure she’d be able to stick with the changes, she included her family in her new way of eating. “It helps when others are following a similar diet,” she notes.

So did these relatively simple changes—more exercise and a healthful diet—make a difference in Patty’s overall health? You bet! Her total cholesterol dropped over 50 points and her doctor took her off her cholesterol-lowering medication.

Working in a hospital no doubt helps Patty lead a healthful life. “The TMC community supports and encourages the choices I’ve made.” For those of us who aren’t surrounded by medical experts and health-care advocates, Patty has a few words of advice: “Make changes because you want to. Never stop trying, even if you can’t see results. Everything you’re doing is benefitting you. Surround yourself with others who support what you’re doing and who have similar goals.”

So get out there and ask a few co-workers if they want to go on a lunchtime walk a few times a week. If you drive to work, park father away than you need to. If you can bike or walk to your workplace or the bus stop, even better. Patty Ledbetter serves as a great reminder that no matter where we start, we can find our way to a healthier lifestyle.

Thank you, Patty!