In 2011, Jerrlee Szabo remembers thinking, she shouldn’t have this problem at her age.
Szabo was in her early 40s, a single mom with two kids and working six days a week to provide for her family. She felt like she was on the verge of death, having heart pains at least three to five times a day. She was about 50 pounds overweight, had digestive problems, liver issues, severe asthma and low energy.
After reviewing her lab tests, her doctor at the time said that she appeared to be suffering from issues that usually come on later in life, that this was just a part of life and she just needed to accept it. He handed her a sheet on how to eat healthy for her heart. It was a low fat diet, including meats, cheese, vegetables and fruits.
“I was puzzled because a year earlier I had already adopted a healthy eating plan, or so I had thought,” said Szabo. “I soon found out from friends who had previous experience with heart issues that they had wonderful results with a program called Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP). They suggested I see Dr. Rob McIntosh and he was gracious enough to take me on as a patient.”
When Szabo found out that CHIP was an intensive program involving several nights a week for a number of weeks, she couldn’t imagine how she could fit it into her life.
“I remember how afraid I was that I wouldn’t learn in time, that I would have a heart attack before I could get to that class. On the first night of CHIP, I was having heart pains while waiting for the class to start. At that moment I remember promising myself and God that I would do whatever it takes to live,” said Szabo. “As my mind raced, I recounted all the things I wanted to do in life. In fact, I had so much on my bucket-list, I knew I hadn’t finished living. I wanted my future to include playing with my grandkids, instead of having them push me in a wheelchair. At that moment, I made the decision I want to live.”
Szabo said through the program she became more aware of what she put in her body and learning about new foods to put in her diet which made a major difference in how she felt.
“Most importantly, I learned that it was what I was not allowing on my plate that made the difference. Prior to CHIP I was seeking the correct information to address my health problems and I felt bombarded with conflicting messages. I reversed my heart issues due to high cholesterol during those few short weeks of CHIP. My lab tests showed drastic results,” she said.
The program also had a further impact on her family.
“As I began to take personal responsibility for my own health, I felt like I was taking back power of my life. I know that my change in lifestyle has set a powerful example for my children,” said Szabo.
Now five years later, Szabo said she is grateful that CHIP was there to help her learn how to fuel her body. She is now married and her husband has adopted this lifestyle as well and has seen great improvements because of it.
“My life is so rich and fulfilled now because of the hope that I have, not just for my family, but my community and the world. CHIP gave me hope and I want to share this hope with others,” she said.
Szabo is challenging others in the South Okanagan who have health issues to claim 2016 as a year of personal responsibility. CHIP information/registration Sessions will be held on March 12 at the Healthy Living Fair at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre. Other sessions include March 15 at the SDA Community Hall located at 290 Warren Ave. W.
The program runs Tuesday to Thursday evenings (7 to 9 p.m.) from April 5 to May 5. Prices range from Gold at $399, Silver $299 and Bronze $199. Call for special discount prices for spouses.
For more information about Penticton CHIP, call Connie Kiefiuk 250-496-5966 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.