Wednesday, July 13, 2022

A Second Chance At Life

 New Life image

West Valley woman overcomes traumatic past, loses 130 pounds and inspires others 

As we celebrate the third anniversary of the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing, we wanted to share with you one of our many success stories. Our comprehensive suite of health and wellness services aims to promote the physical and emotional wellbeing of members of our community. From nutrition consultations with dietitians to massage and acupuncture, we offer a variety of services to meet your needs. Learn more at or call 623-832-WELL (9355).
When the scale tipped 330 pounds in May 2015, Sharon Brubaker decided to seek help one final time for her ongoing struggle with weight. Doctors advised the then 45-year-old Surprise resident to undergo weight-loss surgery, but Sharon realized self-medicating with food was an issue that needed to be fixed in her head, not in her stomach. After years of trauma and abuse, Brubaker joined Mending the Soul, a faith-based group, to learn proper coping mechanisms and also connected with Tracy Garrett, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing, who she ultimately credits for saving her life.

Rearrange your plate

At her heaviest, Sharon would often visit fast food restaurants and order two meals at a time. She was accustomed to eating large portions so it came as a surprise during a private consultation with Tracy, that she learned she didn’t have to reduce the amount of food she ate.
“She told me I simply needed to replace what’s on my plate with healthier options,” Sharon says. “That’s what changed my life.”
Following Tracy’s advice, Sharon began eating fruit and vegetables and incorporating healthy food into her diet.
“I was more concerned with the quality of food she was consuming than I was with the total calories,” says Tracy. “Sharon started to add in whole foods, developed a habit for healthy grocery shopping and was open to trying new things.”
Sharon became more aware of the ingredients in the food she chose and started preparing meals at home. Before dining out, she would review a restaurant’s menu online and decide what to order in advance to avoid temptation.

Maintain a food journal

Registered dietitian nutritionists often suggest clients write down their daily food intake to increase motivation and maintain accountability.

Sharon weighed 330 lbs in May 2015

“The first day we met, Sharon handed me her food log and was brutally honest in her recordings, knowing her eating habits needed work,” Tracy says.
Sharon began using “MyFitnessPal,” a free online calorie counter, which helps her stay on track.

Incorporate exercise

Because she walked with a cane and couldn’t stand on her own for more than five minutes, Sharon went to physical therapy before eventually hiring a personal trainer at a local gym. Today, she works out five days a week and incorporates walking and bike riding into her busy schedule.
Tracy helped Sharon learn about the appropriate timing and composition of meals to aid in weight loss. They also discussed sleep habits, stress management, behavior modifications and the use of food for fuel.
“She taught me that it’s beneficial for my body to eat protein within 30 minutes of completing a workout,” Sharon says.

Celebrate success

In less than two years, Sharon has lost 130 pounds. While she hasn’t yet reached her goal weight, she is well on her way.
“Sharon’s successes are due to her persistence and because she reached out to a team of professionals to help her on this journey,” Tracy says. “She changed the course of her life, and in the process, has positively impacted others, including me.”
When she isn’t working as a computer programmer, Sharon spends her time volunteering as a mentor to young girls at StreetLightUSA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending childhood rape and sexual abuse.
She is eager to move on to the next chapter of her life.
“It took me 47 years to transition from victim to survivor,” she said. “Now there is light.”


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