Lois Sanabria had an awakening. Weighing 350 pounds and subsequently diagnosed with diabetes, fibromyalgia and chronic heel problems, Lois was in dire shape. After trying many medications to control her illnesses, and ultimately rejecting the idea of gastric bypass surgery, Lois decided that diet and exercise were the best medicine.
With a little help from a nutritionist, a weekly regimen of swimming and yoga, and a lot of willpower, Lois has lost 135 pounds. She generally stays away from red meat and eats mainly fish and chicken, “and a lot of carrots,” she laughs. “It’s a battle every day, but it works,”
Now, Lois is focused on helping others learn from her experiences, as a volunteer coordinator and community outreach assistant with the CATCH Healthy Habits
program in the Bronx, NY.
“I am trying to give something back to the community, but I’m also satisfying my own needs. The CATCH program teaches kids and adults what I had to learn on my own, that you can do something about your health if you have a plan and stay committed to it.”
Tooling around in her motorized wheelchair, Lois spends several hours a week helping plan and coordinate volunteer schedules for the CATCH program offered through the Bronx House, OASIS’ partner in the New York City area. Dara Matthews, the CATCH coordinator there, says Lois is a role model for her family and everyone she meets.
“Lois’ journey from living an unhealthy lifestyle and being diagnosed with diabetes to controlling her health with exercise and healthy eating and now sharing her knowledge with the community is remarkable,” says Dara. “She focuses her well-being on eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet on a budget. She loves to cook and experiment with creating healthy and affordable recipes for others living with and without diabetes.”
Lois also loves working with both adults and children in the CATCH program. “If you show a person how to do something, they’re more inclined to get it,” she explains. She enjoys educating parents and children, both normal and disabled, about healthy eating and motivating them to overcome their own challenges.
“You have to see the brighter side of things,” she adds.