By the time she turned 50, Diane Koenig knew she needed to make some lifestyle changes. “I’d been heavy for a long time and I didn’t like the way I looked or felt,” she explained.
As a cardiac nurse for more than 20 years and the wife of a pediatrician, Diane knew the importance of healthy habits. “But I never practiced them. I was never taught to eat well as a child,” she said. “I’d drink a glass of KoolAid with three cups of sugar in it because I didn’t know any better. Even in nursing school, we never talked about healthy eating habits.”
Diane took it upon herself to focus on portion control and removed all junk food from her house. Today, she is 100 pounds lighter and is helping to share the lessons she has taught herself with the young children in the CATCH Healthy Habits program. She admits it was and continues to be a struggle, so she recognizes the value in teaching a healthy lifestyle to children before they develop poor habits.
“By starting with children in kindergarten and 1st grade, you really can make a difference,” she said. “It amazes me to see how much these kids listen and understand what we’re saying. They take away something from every session that will help them make healthy choices as they get older.”
Diane also hopes the CATCH Healthy Habits message gets through to parents as well. “You know, it’s not child abuse not to have chips and cookies in your house,” she noted. “It’s up to all of us to set a healthy path for these children to follow.”
Diane volunteers at two CATCH Health Habits programs in the St. Louis area. She likes to lead the games and exercises, which gives her a chance to interact with the 30 or so children in each group. “I talk about my own struggles with weight and poor habits and tell them I don’t want you to be like I was,” she explained. “I want them to eat healthy not so they can be a size 2, but because they’ll feel better and be happier. I’ve seen it myself. It works if you do it.”