Mamie lives in the coastal town of New London, Connecticut. She’s been married for 27 years and has one daughter in college. Years ago, Mamie suffered a stress-induced heart attack and almost died. She enjoys scrapbooking and gardening and is a storyteller at a local arts school. This is her story.
How did you hear about Livongo?
I’m very fortunate in that my husband’s pharmacy benefit sent me a letter saying that with my history, I was eligible for Livongo’s program this year. I thought about it and I said to myself, You’re being given a free opportunity to better yourself. So I emailed back and said I was interested in the program and got my introduction to Livongo.
Part of my post-heart attack life is trying to stretch myself a little more to be healthier and try to be here for my family as long as possible. I’ve worked a lot on the emotional piece, and worked on mindfulness practices and breathing because stress was the main trigger in my heart attack.
All I needed to do was put in the effort. I missed the athletic gene. I don’t sit around eating white bread and sticks of butter, but physical stuff is daunting and embarrassing for me.
How long have you been with Livongo?
I started with Livongo in January. It was my next step in taking care of myself. I shy away from resolutions because you feel bad when you don’t live up to them, so I thought, maybe instead of a resolution, an attitude: I can certainly step on a scale every day and face that reality.
What has your journey been like thus far?
It’s been a really interesting journey. I don’t go to the gym because I’m really self-conscious about my body ― I’m really self-conscious even talking about it ― but Livongo is something that I can do in the comfort of my home.
My scale is named Algorithm George and there’s no lying to Algorithm George. Facing that every day has been a big step for me. I focused a lot on my head and ignored the body. I have to find some balance that can buy me a few more years of life with my family. So Algorithm George and I have not missed a day. Every day, I get up and weigh myself before I walk the dog.
I have been more accountable to myself for what’s on the scale. I’m a nerd and word person and I love the articles and even printed out some that were really helpful. They’re on my fridge. I love the recipes. I find that they really go well with what I know and give us options to continue to expand our palates.
I asked about gentle exercises and was directed to a video showing a person doing different exercises that even a klutzy, plump person like myself could do in the privacy of my own home. The dog watches me, but the dog doesn’t judge.
The different resources that Livongo offers reach me where I am. The weekly check-ins that the coaches do are very positive, very kind. They refer back to something specific, meaning that they read the food logs. Every time, they end with another link that I can look at. I have always learned something from every article that Livongo has offered.
So for someone like myself that finds physicality hard, Livongo is helping me ease into healthy habits. And even if it were to end tomorrow, I feel like my life has really been helped by it, I have to say. It’s really high quality.
What changes have you seen because of Livongo?
It was one of the first visuals I got from Livongo. It was the plate visual that showed half the plate has to be vegetables. That has been an enormous change in my life.
Most of my friends are really concerned about how being home [because of the pandemic] and being stressed have led to anxious eating. Not only have I not gained any weight since being home, but I’ve lost a few pounds.
It really makes me happy that even with all the stress of being away from my students and worrying about my elderly mother, I don’t want to tell Algorithm George that I ate a bag of potato chips because I was stressed out. I don’t want to type that in, but Algorithm George is going to track those changes the next day. Now when I make the plates, half has to be vegetables. So I’m buying more vegetables and finding new ways to cook them. It’s a huge apparent change in our household.
The other thing Livongo taught me was that fruits are better than chips but they’re not on par with vegetables. Fruit is good, but it’s not as good as the green beans you can have.
What’s the best part of Livongo?
The best part of Livongo are the articles with visuals. I’m a visual learner, and while there are many different ways to learn, most people tend to be visual learners. For example, when you have that image of the plate and half of it is vegetables, you can’t forget that visual; it’s an arresting visual.
When we were super young, there wasn’t a lot of food to go around. We weren’t starving by any means, but there wasn’t much. So I think emotionally, often there’s something unconscious saying, “You can have a little more now, so go ahead.” And at 57 I’m telling that voice, “You were a kid when that was true, you’re an adult now in a different place and you’re fine.” The discipline of following the Livongo suggestions is helping me comfort that little kid and move on from the experience.
What’s your motivation?
My job. I love my job, and if I were to have to leave my job because of my health before I was ready to retire, it would be crushing to me. I’ve worked with children in some capacity for over 35 years. It’s an enormous part of who I am. Often when people ask us who we are, we respond with what we do. Work defines us and to an extreme it’s not good, but the moderate middle is absolutely fine. I’m an educator. My life is all about the moment that a child has their “aha” moment in front of you. If I had to leave that because of my health and behaviors, I don’t know that I could recover from the disappointment in myself.
Now that I have this knowledge from my experiences, from Livongo, it’s on me to try and live my best life, to forgive myself for when I mess up and try harder not to mess up.
What do you tell people about Livongo?
When my friends and I talk about what keeps us on a steady keel, we’ll talk about faith, family, friends, the positive sides of social media and how it can strengthen us.
I tell them I have a program that my husband’s insurance offered us that gives me resources and a friendly person to talk to for feedback. It’s clear and direct in addressing times that I haven’t been my best self, but we all have times that we need someone to say, “Let’s kick it up a notch.”