OneStepStories-NickVI was looking at an entirely different person in the mirror.

I graduated from MSU in May 2013 and started my full-time job with Whirlpool in July. Excited to begin my career at Whirlpool, I took a major leap and purchased a home in St. Joe. Compounding this, I broke up with my girlfriend, left good friends, and started this new job. My stress levels were off the charts. My life was still very much in line with my college life: a poor sleep schedule, unhealthy eating habits, and ineffective stress management. By October, when I looked in the mirror I felt like I was looking at an entirely different person. As a former high school swimmer, I had been lean and healthy, but the person I was looking at was a complete stranger at 235 lbs.

After that moment, I knew I needed to make some serious changes. I committed myself to going to the gym at least 5 days a week, with a greater emphasis on cardio, along with weight lifting. My roommate and I made a pledge to eat healthier and exercise more. It’s good to have a buddy to push you and keep you honest. Seeing many fellow Whirlpool employees at the RAC was motivating because if they could make a commitment to health despite their busy schedules, then so could I. I also focused on purchasing more healthy alternatives and preparing meals ahead of time for lunch and dinner, so being too tired to cook healthy could no longer be an excuse. Whirlpool was a big help by providing access to healthy meal prep recipes, literature and classes on healthy lifestyle improvements, and also the employee discount at RAC. It wasn’t easy overcoming the cravings, but the more I stuck to my regimen, the easier it got. I also got some great tips about stress management from within and outside Whirlpool. I started to feel less anxious and more in control.

This change has really affected all areas of my life in a very positive way. I have more confidence, energy, and positivity on a daily basis than ever before. I feel more focused at work and ready to tackle the challenges that lie ahead, both personally and professionally. To date, I’ve dropped 55 lbs of fat and built a lot more muscle mass than I had two years ago. I look and feel like I did in high school. I would recommend making a plan of attack and sticking to it. Make it manageable and recordable. I set up a simple excel sheet to measure my progress on a weekly basis and also tried to track the foods I was eating. It was an amazing feeling to see the numbers falling, and when a plateau occurred, I realized it and pushed myself a bit more to breakthrough.

I feel like I’ve got the tools and mental stamina in place now to handle new opportunities with grace, while successfully continuing my journey towards an even healthier lifestyle of body and mind.

Nick Vaive, Benton Harbor, MI

March 10, 2016