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Published on August 27, 2019

Erica Arends before and after photo

More than 200 Pounds Lost Thanks to Good Planning and Coaching

While Erica Arends was planning a vacation, she realized that while it looked like fun online, she wasn’t going to enjoy it. She didn’t waste any time starting on a life-transforming journey to lose more than 200 pounds.

“I needed a change, and I thought I would give Ideal Living a chance,” said Arends, 37, a clinic site supervisor who works at Avera Medical Group Harrisburg. “It was January 2018, and I had my initial consultation on a Friday. The following Monday, I started the first phase.”

Ideal Living combines learning and accountability with a unique approach to diet. She worked with her health coach, Becky Hanzen.

“I do better when I have a plan, and Becky helped me develop one. We planned out what and when I would eat, every day, every meal, for that first week,” she said. “I put together a spreadsheet so I could track everything. I’m a planner – and it helped me get going and build confidence.”

The ramp-up in diet restrictions that first week was “big” she said. But Hanzen was there for support and advice every week.

“There’s always a worry about failing when you try, but talking with her, she made it clear these were my decisions. I was accountable and met with her every Monday for weigh-in and to review and plan,” Arends said. “We’d have conversations that helped, talking about events that might have temptations or challenges. We talked through trips, dining out and holiday gatherings, and we modified things so I could keep on track.”

Friends and family were supportive and in many cases, over time, joined her in the effort.

“I was on a family trip to Sturgis we do every year, and people were noticing that I was drinking water and not alcohol. I told them it was a lifestyle change. It did take some repeating of things, but eventually they would come to my new ‘world’ and understand what I was doing,” she said. “After a while when I went out with friends, they were the ones noting things I could have or reminding our server about the specifics of what I could and could not have when I ordered.”

Past habits faded. Vegetables became an everyday food for her. The weight loss continued over time, and in February 2019, she reached her goal weight.

“I lost a total of 234 pounds,” she said. “The success shows itself in small ways. I used to feel so anxious when I would go to meetings, worried about the types of chairs available. Would I fit into them? Would they make my legs feel numb or bunch up my shirt? Now I can sit comfortably in any chair in the room.”

Arends said that she feels like my radar screen is now clear. She knows what’s needed to keep going with this success.

“Ideal Living works, and I think it can work for anyone because the coaching is so good. Becky was my No. 1 cheerleader,” she said. “I would tell people considering it to realize they will need to rework their thinking about food and focus on their goals as a marathon, not a sprint.”

She’s no longer anxious about that vacation – or about how to approach her ongoing new approach to life.

“I had supporters the whole time, but they just got stronger as I had more success, and that was important,” she said. “Now everyone knows my approaches and they’re second nature. They know I do meal prep on Sundays, and if I’m not at one fitness center, I’m at the other one I joined. The plan continues – and it’s going to for a long time to come.”

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.

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