Dr. Helen Kuroki’s Wellness Journey

As a physician, Dr. Helen Kuroki advised her patients every day to live a healthy lifestyle; see their doctor, exercise, eat well, take care of yourself. But out of the exam room and in her own life, she had a number of excuses as to why she couldn’t afford to take her own advice. Then, during a vacation with her daughter in 2012, she got the wake-up call she needed to realize that she couldn’t afford to ignore that advice any longer.

My Wake-up Call

In the summer of 2012, my daughter Laura and I boarded a Mediterranean cruise and headed to Greece. It was the trip of a lifetime. During our trip, we visited the Parthenon, which is located up a steep hill on the Acropolis. Never in a million years did I expect to be standing there, but here I was. Although we were able to take that walk up the hill, there were about 100 seniors with walkers and canes who had traveled the world to see this landmark in person, but the frailties of their bodies wouldn’t take them further.  I realized I didn’t want to have the same fate.

They often say doctors are the worst patients. Although I had never considered myself to be an athlete, I didn’t realize how out of shape I was until my trip to Greece. It was a very warm trip, and I found myself having to take frequent breaks to catch my breath. It was there, walking through the streets of Greece, that I realized I had not been taking good care of myself. I had a litany of reasons of why I didn’t have time: I had sick parents I was taking care of, I was working two jobs, going to graduate school at night, and trying to take care of my family. But I had to face the truth.

I realized that if I didn’t do something soon to improve my health, my ‘trips of a lifetime’ might be limited.

Committing to my Health

When I returned to the States, I decided to commit to my health. I signed up to participate in the Main Line Health Heart Walk on behalf of Riddle. I had a history of heart disease in my family, and it seemed like the perfect way to commit to my new, active, healthy lifestyle.

I started training for the 5K walk by finally taking advantage of my family’s gym membership to a local gym. We had been members for ten years, but it wasn’t until then that I had made it past the front door. During my first visit, I took one lap around the track and was already winded. By the second lap, I felt my heart racing.

After that first trip, I started going to the gym three or four times a week for one hour. I walked and rode the stationary bike. By the time the Heart Walk came around in November, only two months after I had begun my regular workouts, I was able to complete it with ease.

Continuing My Journey

I felt so much better after completing the Heart Walk that I decided to focus on weight loss. My body mass index (BMI) categorized me as obese, so I set a goal to lose 51 pounds and get back into a healthy range. I’ve given up soda and snacks, tried to eat healthy meals and continue my workouts; nothing too hard, just small changes every day. I’m currently down 36 pounds, which means I have 15 left until I’ve reached my goal weight. It’s been harder to lose the last few pounds, but I’m committed to losing my weight gradually and in a healthy way.

In addition to losing weight, I also recognize that improving my health means recognizing the need to see a primary care doctor for the blood work and medical care that’s recommended for general health.

In the past year, I have re-dedicated myself to wellness and making my health a priority. I hope that you’ll follow my wellness journey here, and will appreciate my open, honest account of my struggles and successes. I welcome your feedback and personal stories, too, and am hopeful that my story will inspire anyone to begin their wellness journey.

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