Realizing that she needed to become healthier and lose weight, Jessica Brezina decided in 2015 to join the newly formed Passport to Health program at her church, New Life Christian Center. The Passport to Health program is part of the Bon Secours Healthy Communities Initiative that aims to improve the overall health of the East Ocean View community in Norfolk, Virginia.
The six month program consists of health screenings, cooking demonstrations, educational classes, and exercise programs. Participants also receive bi-weekly farm to table bags, which include a variety of fresh produce and simple and healthy recipes. Family members are encouraged to join and participate together in healthy and engaging group activities.
Brezina is now in her fourth year as a participant, this year serving as a group leader. The program started working for her once she embraced healthy eating, exercised more, and increased her water intake. “What really turned me around was adding more fruits and vegetables to our diet, and learning about processed foods and sugars and how to avoid those foods for better eating,” said Brezina.
Health screenings are offered at the beginning and end of the program to determine the impact on participants overall health and well-being. Screenings include body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, hemoglobin A1C and glucose. As a result of her participation in Passport to Health, Brezina was able to lose and maintain a weight loss of 40 pounds, thus bringing her BMI score to a normal range for her weight and height.
Her advice to those looking to lose weight and improve their cholesterol and blood sugar levels? “Find a person or group of people that can hold you accountable. You can easily find a diet to follow, but if you can find someone to do the diet or program with you, that is what can make a healthy lifestyle last.”For more information about the Bon Secours Healthy Communities Initiative, please visit https://bonsecours.com/hampton-roads/community-commitment/healthy-community-initiative.