University HealthCare Alliance

April 02, 2018

Karen Kline, PA-C | Alameda Family Physicians

Karen Kline, PA-C is our March wellness spotlight award winner!  Karen is a physician assistant at Alameda Family Physicians and was nominated by her colleague, Vanessa Machuca.  

Vanessa’s nomination:

“Karen is an inspiration for healthy living and weight loss. Since she started her journey, she has not stopped. Karen is always planning healthy homemade recipes and encouraging staff to work out and be healthy. Karen is a runner and loves to run marathons. She’s also part of a boot camp program that she goes to most evenings after work. I have now joined thanks to her! Karen has gone from good to fabulous.”

WELL@UHA asked Karen to share more about her motivation and how she cultivates wellness both for herself and her team. 

Q. Your nomination from Vanessa mentioned your starting a healthy living journey. Tell us more about how you became interested in wellness and what inspired you.

A. I’ve been running half marathons since 2005, but never really addressed my diet. My sister and I joined Team in Training in 2005 with the intention of running a half marathon and raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I was hooked on running and continued to run and train for other races. In 2016, I was inspired by some of my running friends who were going to the gym, getting stronger and running faster. I never enjoyed going to the gym and preferred to run outside, despite “supporting” several gyms over the years. Encouraged by my friends, and a great WELL@UHA deal for a “challenge” at a boot camp style gym, along with a recent visit to my doctor, I decided it was time to make some lifestyle changes. When I started at the gym, the warm-up was exhausting and the work out was such a challenge, even with the lowest weights and modifications. My competitive side helped me to follow the meal plans for the gym challenge and I started getting results. It wasn’t too hard to continue to make lifestyle changes because I was feeling much better. Stronger, lighter, healthier. Since 2016, I have lost 40# and feel much better. My half marathon time has improved, I have gotten off blood pressure medication and my cholesterol has greatly improved. 

Q. What’s your favorite place to run?

A. Lafayette/Moraga trail.  I love the rolling hills.  It’s my go-to spot for my half marathon long run training.     I also love the Bay Bridge Trail on a clear day and Inspiration Point in Tilden Park.  The scenic views are amazing and always make me think, “this is why I live here.”  We are so fortunate to have so many regional parks to choose from.

Q. Your nomination also mentioned your dedication to healthy eating and continually planning recipes.  What strategies help you stick with your goals and healthy eating when times are busy?

A. Once I made the diet changes, I felt better.  I never really thought of it as a “diet”, so I did not really feel deprived.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have a sweet tooth, I have just learned control it better. 

Meal planning is key to maintaining healthy eating.  I don’t usually have time to go out and get lunch, so I bring my lunch.  I also have a couple of go-to places where I know I can get a healthy lunch.  It’s much easier to keep on track if you have your meals planned, prepped and ready to go.  When I get home from work, I head to the gym.  If I don’t have a plan for dinner, I find myself making less healthy choices on the way home.  

There are also several of us in the office that have been using Instant Pot cooking and trying new, healthy recipes.  We share our successes and brainstorm our failures.

Q. What is your favorite way to encourage wellness for your team at work?

A. I try to encourage by example.   Inviting coworkers to join on local weekend runs/walks, encouraging healthy choices.   When your lunch smells good as you heat it up, people want to know what you made.  The Wellness Ambassadors in the office have also been coming up with lots of good ideas to get us moving.  I think it’s easier to make changes when you don’t think of it as “a diet” or “exercise” which tend to have negative connotations.   It’s also much easier to talk to patients about a healthy lifestyle when they see that you are following your own advice!

Q. What brings you joy?

A. My extended family and my terrier, Henry.   I am so fortunate to be part of a large, extended family.

Q. What’s your wellness wish for 2018?

A. To continue to be healthy and to inspire others to do the same. To be able to continue to travel and run and enjoy life.

Thank you to Karen for sharing her story and to Vanessa for recognizing her contributions to workplace wellness!