Profile of Hope: Vickie Powell

Vickie Powell, MS, RPh, a busy pharmacy director at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, received a wake-up call from her doctor and took charge of her health.

Q: What’s your background and why is being healthy important to you?

A: I work full-time as a Pharmacy Director and I'm also a full-time mother and wife. I live in Harlem and worship at the Abyssinian Baptist Church. I'm very active in the church as a Sunday school teacher, and member of the Health Ministry. I am also involved in other activities in the community. So, with my busy schedule staying healthy is really important.

Q: What caused you to change your health habits?

A: I get regular check-ups with my primary care physician, Dr. McGregor at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. I’ve been his patient for four years and I really trust his advice. At one of my check-ups, he told me my blood pressure was high. As a pharmacist, I fill lots of prescriptions for high blood pressure medication, but I never thought I’d have to take it!

Dr. McGregor reminded me about all the potential problems that high blood pressure could cause: strokes, heart attacks, kidney damage and so on. We talked about what I needed to do to get my blood pressure under control. Dr. McGregor gave me three months to follow his prescription of reducing stress, losing weight, eating healthier and adding more physical activity to my daily routine. If after three months I hadn’t reduced my blood pressure he was going to write me a real prescription for medication that I would have to take everyday.

This was a real wake up call. My family, my church, my job…they all need me. I wanted to take care of this problem, right away.

Q: How did you make changes to adopt a healthier lifestyle?

A: I took Dr. McGregor’s prescription seriously, and began adding more balance, boundaries, discipline and discernment to my life.

There were two main goals I needed to achieve, lose weight and reduce stress. It helped me to break these larger goals into smaller steps.

I changed my diet to lose weight. I joined Weight Watchers® and added more fruit, vegetables and fiber. I exercised three times a week in the beginning. I joined the gym at work and worked with a personal trainer. Now, one year later I have worked my way up to at least 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week.

I found a great place to do Yoga that I highly recommend in Harlem: Ta Yoga. My yoga teacher there Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy not only teaches yoga but gives advice on how to live on purpose with power.

The exercise and yoga also helped me with the second thing, coping with stress. I also prayed and read Teresa’ Kennedy’s book Power Living. On the way to work in the morning I listen to a meditation DVD on my ipod that was recorded by Teresa Kennedy. It helps me bring focus, become more centered and reduce stress.

Q: Were you successful in reaching your goals?

A: Yes, I lost 25 lbs and Dr. McGregor says my blood pressure is down to normal. I know that to keep it there I have to keep doing what I've been doing. But I'm committed. And, you know what? If I can do, you can too!

Read more from Vickie Powell by clicking here.

Profiles of Hope are health testimonials with Northern Manhattan community members written by HHPC and reviewed by our Health Advisory Board.

1 Comment

My mom went through the same issue about her cholesterol. She was always a busy bee, working more than 40 hours a week, plus being a full time mom and a wife, which took a toll on her body. Last year, my mom went to her primary care doctor for a routine checkup and found out that her total cholesterol was borderline high at 195. The desirable reading would be below 200 and readings between 200 -240 would be considered mildly high. Her doctor advised her to start eating healthier with more fruits and vegetables and suggested she join a gym. She was scheduled to return for a follow up visit within the next three months to see if her cholesterol reading was more than 200, and if so, he would have to put her medication. With that, my 55-year-old mother asked me to buy her a pass to Planet Fitness and some gym clothes. She wanted to prove to her doctor that she could decrease that cholesterol number and not have to be on medication and she did it! About 3 months later, her total cholesterol reading was 180. Just like Ms. Powell, my mom changed her ways of living because of a doctor’s warning. This motivated me to exercise more and eat healthier because a scenario like this can happen to anyone at anytime.

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