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What I Learned from the GO! Challenge

During Diana Suruki’s year-long journey to better health choices, she discovered it takes both commitment and companionship to make change that lasts.




Diana Suruki
Sacramento, California
February 2016

In my younger years, I could walk into the mall, pick a cute dress from the rack, buy it in my size without trying it on, and wear it to a party a couple of hours later looking fabulous. A year ago, that was NOT the case. As an adult, I had steadily gained weight, which made me depressed and discouraged. So when a co-worker at the synod office told me I could earn wellness dollars from Portico through the GO! Challenge, I decided to sign up and make a serious commitment to my health.

It started with a simple 5-minute walk around our building at work. Every hour, on the hour, a couple of co-workers and I would get up and go for a quick walk. We even encouraged our neighboring office staff to join us! Then we set a goal to walk twice around the building each time we walked. I learned that when I came back to my desk my brain felt energized and I quickly completed my assigned tasks for the day.

I took this feeling to a new level. My family joins our neighborhood swim club each spring. Normally, I would take the kids to the pool, jump in, play a couple of games with them, and jump out to dry off. Not this year! I decided that when the pool was empty for “adult swim” at the top of every hour, I was going to swim laps. At first I was embarrassed. Though a former swim team member in my younger years, I could barely swim four laps! That embarrassment turned to motivation not to be defeated. With my two children sitting poolside cheering me on with each lap I completed, I began to swim more laps. I even inspired two other adults to begin swimming with me. At the close of the pool season, I was swimming a total of 52 laps every day and treading water for one hour with my daughters (their challenge exercise for me). The pounds were melting off and I was feeling great! I learned that my children are watching how I care for my health, and that their cheerleading kept me going when I wanted to give up.

When the pool closed, my two adult recruits and I decided to begin a jogging group. As a former track team member, I knew proper running and stretching techniques, so I took the lead to teach them to my new adult joggers. Taking things slow, we moved from jogging one lap to 15 laps before the cold winter weather started up. I learned that others can and will be inspired by your actions, and that serving as a coach both gave me confidence and held me accountable.

Almost a year later, I am now 16 pounds lighter, eating a lot healthier, and receiving compliments from others who notice a change in my appearance. And I have learned a new motto: Why not lead by being the best you can be?

I thank Portico for these life lessons, and for offering the GO! Challenge and the chance to earn wellness dollars. These opportunities helped me take my goal of achieving better health more seriously this year, and I am loving the result.

This submission describes a personal perspective on an aspect of the ELCA benefit program that may or may not reflect the experience of others.


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