By JEFF MEYERS
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Tammy Trombley and Holly Smith were each battling weight-control problems, and both Plattsburgh women found a helping hand at Behavioral Health Services North.
Through its Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) Program, BHSN introduced Trombley, Smith and several other local residents to Healthy Bodies/Healthy Minds, a service that connects mental health and physical health to improve the overall health of clients.
“Focusing on the whole person is really important when trying to address mental-health issues,” said Rheta Recore, a senior rehab practitioner and licensed mental-health counselor for BHSN.
“It’s been well documented that people have decreased symptoms of depression when incorporating healthy diets and exercise into their lifestyle.
“In our program, we talk about how someone can make small changes (to promote a healthy lifestyle) and feel better both mentally and physically.”
Healthy Bodies/Healthy Minds has done just that for Trombley and Smith.
“I’ve been struggling with my weight my entire life,” said Trombley, who said she once gained 175 pounds while she was taking a prescription medication.
“When I was depressed, I liked to eat junk food, drink soda. I became so overweight that I would wear men’s clothes to hide my weight problem.”
She joined Healthy Bodies/Healthy Minds a year ago and began to take the “small steps” that the group promotes as the most successful way to gain results.
She and a friend tried to sign up for the Plattsburgh Biggest Loser contest last December but were not chosen for that round. A caseworker then hooked Trombley up with a personal trainer, and she soon saw positive results in her weight-loss efforts.
She has lost 65 pounds since December and has set a goal to lose 50 more. She feels much better physically and has gained self-confidence from the weight loss.
“It’s a good feeling when I get compliments from everybody,” she said.
LOST 250-PLUS POUNDS
Smith’s weight problem was so severe that she looked into having lap-band surgery to restrict the amount of food she could eat. Doctors told her she could not qualify for the procedure unless she lost 50 pounds.
“My friend told me that if I could lose 50 pounds (without the surgery), then I could lose more weight on my own,” she said.
Over the next seven years, she was able to lose 288 pounds.
“I hit a plateau and wasn’t losing weight anymore,” she said of the time when weight loss seemed to abandon her. “I was getting depressed. I wanted to stay in my bedroom, didn’t want to leave.”
That’s when she joined Healthy Bodies/Healthy Minds, which has also helped her aim for weight loss through small steps. She has lost an additional 45 pounds since then.
“I’d like to try to get out into the community more,” she said of the confidence she has gained. “I’m trying not to isolate myself. I feel a lot better about myself, a lot better that I don’t have all that weight.”
The program has about 14 clients who support one another in reaching for their goals.
“One reason it has worked so well is that everyone encourages one another,” Recore said. “When one client doesn’t reach a certain goal, the others nudge them forward with support.
“When they do (reach a goal), there is active applause.”
The PROS Program offers a variety of services for community members with mental illness.
“We help people go to work or school, help them achieve goals of their own choosing,” said Shawn Sabella, director of the PROS Learning Center at the BHSN Center for Wellbeing.
“A lot of our focus is to balance mental health and physical health.”
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Behavioral Health Services North will host We Are You (2), an afternoon of fun-filled activities from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Center for Well-Being, 2155 State Route 22B, Morrisonville, across from the Clinton County Fairgrounds, to promote awareness of mental illness and to reduce the stigma that surrounds it.
The event emphasizes the need to recognize people with mental illness as part of the overall community. It will feature success stories by individuals who have overcome barriers and a presentation on famous people with mental illness.
The event will include the 1-K Steps to Success Wellness Walk, which will be held at the new outdoor recreation facility, located behind the former St. Alexander's Elementary School. It is free and open to the public.
For more information on the PROS program, call 563-8000.