How I Thrive: Small Steps, Big Results

A mindful approach to wellness with manageable steps gives one Kaiser Permanente member — and employee — a new healthy new outlook on life.

Feature Story
Cheyenne Pickel's before and after weight loss pictures
Kaiser Permanente Northwest employee Cheyenne Pickel before (left) and after her health transformation.

Sometimes, small actions can have a major impact. Cheyenne Pickel, a dental hygienist at Kaiser Permanente Northwest’s Clackamas Dental Office, was tired of the extra 100 pounds she was carrying and decided to do something about it.

In February 2017, Cheyenne shifted her diet to focus on lean protein and plenty of produce. Then she added exercise. She has two young children, ages 1 and 3. She didn’t want to spend hours away from her family at the gym, so she tackled a half-hour exercise video on most days.

Inspiration to colleagues

Her coworkers began noticing a change and complimented her. That, in turn, motivated her to keep going and share her experience with others. As of October 2017, she has lost 60 pounds.

“Cheyenne has taken Kaiser Permanente’s Thrive campaign to a whole new level, and we are so happy and proud of what she has accomplished,” said Sandra Goddard, Clackamas Dental Office manager. Her Kaiser Permanente coworkers agree, calling her an inspiration for leading healthy lifestyle.

So how did she do it? Cheyenne shares her healthy approach to weight loss and wellness.

What changes have you made in your eating?

I was a breakfast skipper because I get up really early in the morning and leave the house at 6:15 a.m. My stomach would feel way too queasy for breakfast. I started drinking meal replacement shakes, so I can get some calories and nutrients in the morning and jump-start my metabolism.

I’m snacking. I used to eat three big meals. Now I have a midmorning snack and one at about 4 p.m. of maybe a banana and some almonds or carrots or celery and hummus, a nectarine and string cheese. Lunch is a protein with vegetables, carbohydrates and fruit. I might have chicken, fish or ground turkey and every so often lean steak or venison, with brown rice or quinoa. Dinners are about the same. Even the kids like it. I’m really getting into a mindset that this isn’t a temporary fix. This is what my lifestyle needs to be. I have cake or pasta now and then on a special occasion.

What’s your go-to dinner?

Anything in one pan. I bake chicken, zucchini, red peppers and onions with a little garlic, olive oil, Himalayan pink salt and pepper on a sheet pan and serve it with quinoa or brown rice.

What about exercise?

I find a lot of online workout videos that are 30 minutes. It’s easier than packing up the kids and going to the gym. I don’t want exercise to take me away from my family. I try for 30 minutes a day five times a week. I try to walk on my lunch break or at least take 5 to 10 minutes to pace the office. I’m not as tired as I was. With kids, I don’t get a ton of sleep, maybe six-and-a-half hours a night. I would be so fatigued toward the end of my day. Trying to play with my kids was really difficult. Now we can go to the park and I’m not feeling like I’m going to pass out.

Do you have advice for others?

If you don’t see results right away, don’t give up. Gaining weight didn’t happen overnight, so the success isn’t going to happen overnight. Just keep going. There is no one right way. What may work for some might not work for others. Reach out for support. You’d be surprised who’s willing to help.