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After learning her health numbers last summer, Dallas TIer Aparna Velnati started using a Fitbit and her smart phone to improve her health habits.
'Make taking care of yourself a priority'
Aparna Velnati joined TI right out of college, and the years flew by. She and her husband had two children, and she stayed busy with her family and career.
"I was never concerned about my health, and was regular about getting an annual physical checkup," she said.
Then, last summer, a colleague encouraged her to take advantage of a health screening in the SC Building where she works as an engineering program manager in the Educational Technology business.
"I had heard about the screenings, but never went in to do the numbers," Aparna said. "But I went this time. They did the blood work and then took me to a private room to discuss the numbers. They said my cholesterol was borderline and that I was pre-diabetic. I was only 34."
The screening was a wake-up call. With a family history of diabetes, Aparna realized immediately that she had to make some adjustments in her life. After getting the results confirmed by her doctor, she put her plan into action.
She changed the way she eats. She grew up in southern India, and rice was a regular part of her diet. No more. Today, she and her family eat lots of fish and chicken, vegetables and Greek yogurt. She's reduced her caffeine intake and tries to drink 64 ounces of water each day.
The servers in the SC Building cafeteria have noticed the change in her diet. "They know me there. Instead of a Philly chicken cheese-steak and fries, I get two vegetables to go."
She joined the Texins Fitness Center for the first time and started a rigorous exercise routine that includes boot camps, yoga and total-body conditioning with weights.
"My goal is to exercise three times per week," she said. "My stretch goal is four."
She uses Fitbit – a smart-phone based technology that helps people live healthier lives – to track how many steps she takes and how many glasses of water she drinks each day. Sometimes, she and her manager have one-on-one meetings while walking through the long corridors in the SC Building.
"The screenings are important. It made a difference in my life. If not for those numbers, I don't think I would have started eating healthy and exercising. I thought I was too young to worry about health-related things. My numbers made me realize you have to take care of yourself."
Aparna has some advice for those seeking a healthier lifestyle.
"Knowing your numbers is the first step," she said. "Then take time for yourself. A year ago, I was rushing from one kid's activity to another, spending time in traffic. There was a lot of stress. Just an hour a day for exercise will freshen your mind. Look at healthy options for your diet."
Her efforts are paying off. Today, her blood sugar and cholesterol levels are normal.
"Make taking care of yourself a priority and then stick to your commitment," she said. "You've got to take that hour for yourself."