Celebrating Life with Health Changes
Skip to Content
Alert IconEveryone, age 12 and older, is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Please visit our vaccination resources for more information.

Published on April 17, 2017

Celebrating Life with Health Changes

Anja Hoekman’s holistic approach to diet isn’t about weight loss or self-denial.

It’s all about building muscle, feeling energetic and enjoying satisfying, natural meals that focus on delicious ingredients and leave the processed products on the shelf.

She also had help.

Dr. (Julie) Reiland and I were discussing ways I could build muscle and get more protein, and her recommendation was for me to work with an integrative medicine coach,” Hoekman said. “Becky (Hanzen) and I worked together. I had an idea about what I needed to do, but she got me to the level I’m at now.”

That level includes plenty of fresh vegetables, delightful salads with freshly made vinaigrettes and lean proteins as well as 3 mile daily walks with her husband, and wellness center classes. Becky gave her some challenges to take on, too.

“That’s what I like about working with her: she’s encouraging but she challenges me to add things, omit things and find substitutions,” she said. “We focus on good nutrition, and along the way I maintain a healthy weight.”

Hoekman’s journey is all about optimizing what she eats and drinks to celebrate life. The 71-year-old retired elementary principal has faced breast cancer twice, and she said that experience drives her efforts.

“Breast cancer can be a blessing, and I do feel it blessed me with the insight I needed to relish life and to enjoy simple, satisfying foods,” she said. “Cancer changes your life, and for me, in many ways, it changed it for the better.”

Along with her husband, Don, Hoekman enjoys a wide range of healthy fats, proteins, whole-grain breads and a vibrant rainbow of vegetables. She drinks plenty of water – she aims to have at least 80 ounces a day – and she said there’s still room for an occasional indulgence.

“We rarely go out for meals, but we did recently to celebrate my birthday, and so I did enjoy what I wanted, including waffles and strawberries,” she said. “But the next day I found myself craving my avocado on rice cake and my green leafy vegetables. I get to have high-quality bread with real organic butter every day. There’s so much yummy food out there – once you get into that routine, you do not miss unhealthy foods.”

She still loves chocolate – and she’ll enjoy it. It’s not about self-denial, but health, Hoekman said. Becky has helped her understand that occasional indulgences should be enjoyed with no guilt and are important.

“Becky taught me that food is a vehicle toward the important things in life – spirituality, physical health, relationships, career goals,” she said. “Those are the cornerstones, and eating the way I do allows me to enjoy them more, with plenty of energy, good sleep patterns and easy weight maintenance.”

She said she likes – and lives – the expression, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper.” Becky guided her to use food as fuel with 80 percent healthy and 20 percent play.

“With Becky’s invaluable help, I have come to realize I want to make my calories worthwhile, so I do, and the results speak for themselves,” she said. “But I’m not a judgmental person, and I’m not an advice-giver. Each person needs to go on their own individual journey when it comes to improving what they eat.”

Subscribe to our

wellness e-newsletter

Live Better. Live Balanced. Avera.

Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

© 2021 Avera Health, Sioux Falls, SD. All Rights Reserved.