As with many people with and without intellectual disability, Janelle Evrard, a Special Olympics athlete from Massachusetts struggled with her weight for years – feeling embarrassed, physically ill, and disappointed in herself. But then, she decided to make a change.
“I knew I had to do something,” she said. “My doctor told me that I really needed to lose weight and get in shape. Diabetes is in my family, and I became worried about my health.”
Instead of choosing among any number of fad diets that are available, Janelle decided instead to try the simplest of plans – changing her diet and exercising more. She ate more fruits and vegetables and began walking around her neighborhood. Later, she also started going to a gym on a regularly basis. Once she starting losing weight, it began a positive
cycle that continues to this day.
“There was no stopping me,” Janelle said. “I set small goals for myself each week of a couple pounds, and when I reached that goal, I kept going. I was very determined because I could picture myself as a smaller person and people complimenting and noticing my
change cheered me on. My Special Olympics coach, my friends and my family were encouraging me. That got me to stay focused.”
Janelle is working now to maintain her weight and is thrilled with both the positive physical effects and the psychological boost of living a healthier lifestyle.
“My lower back doesn’t hurt anymore,” she said. “At night, I used to snore a lot
and have acid reflux, but that stopped too. I couldn’t walk much before, but now I can walk anywhere and it is a lot easier. And I can look in the mirror and feel proud of myself now.”
Janelle will be travelling to Athens, Greece this month to compete in Bocce at the 2011
World Summer Games. It will be her first world games. Read more about Janelle
and the other athletes from Special Olympics Massachusetts on the state Program’s blog.