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Dean Rutland

I never thought I could run — and now I’m training for a marathon. This program saved my life!

I saw the flyer about the CRI Life Enhancement Program in my Cleveland neighborhood at a time when I was feeling bad emotionally and spiritually. I knew I needed to do something, so I called to sign up.

I went in for my assessment and got a real shock. I couldn’t do a single sit-up. I couldn’t do jumping jacks or walk for five minutes on the treadmill. And then, I got the news that I had high blood pressure. It was so high that they told me to go see my doctor immediately.

I managed to hold my tears inside until I got out of the room, but I began to sob as the elevator doors closed. I was overwhelmed with the reality of what poor health I was in, and I was scared.

At that point, I had no intention of going ahead with the program. But Teresa Brown, the Core Team member who had done my initial assessment, called me at home. She talked to me about putting my embarrassment aside and taking the first step. She also assured me that I would meet others in the group who needed to make changes.

Teresa was right. Before long, I had made some new friends. We would even meet outside the program sessions to walk together. I could tell I was on the right track.

One of the hardest things I had to do was take the blood pressure medicine my doctor prescribed. I had a real “A-ha!” moment when he told me my blood pressure had gone down. With continued progress, I might not even need the medication. I knew I didn’t want to take pills for the rest of my life, so it made me feel awesome to know I had done something so positive.

What I learned in the program helped me to change what I ate and motivated me to move every day. I completely re-stocked the food cabinet at home. My five children are encouraged to eat better and my daughter in North Carolina even walks with me. We use our phones to connect by voice and picture, and then we talk while we walk “together.”

Since the CRI LEP, I’ve lost 40 pounds, and I finished my first 5K race. When I crossed the finish line, I wanted to keep on going, so now I’m training for a full marathon. I have to give a lot of credit to the CRI LEP, the Core Team members who supported me even after the program ended, my family, and the friends I’ve made.

Yes, I give myself some credit, too, because making changes took some courage. What I want others to know is that once you take that first step, you can’t believe what you can accomplish!

Dean Rutland
Program Participant
CRI Life Enhancement Program in Cleveland, offered by The Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland, OH