Dr. Janet Tornelli-Mitchell Welcomes You to Health + Wellness Initiative
October 6, 2020
Hello and welcome to our Texas Tech University System Health and Wellness initiative!
I am very excited about sharing with you the initiative we are launching and my personal story so that you can understand my excitement.
I was born in Mexico City where I lived until graduating from high school. I am proud of my Mexican/American dual citizenship and in fact, I have made sure that all three of my children also have dual citizenship. Unfortunately though, my Mexican-Indian heritage puts me in a high risk group for the development of adult onset diabetes.
Growing up, I remember noticing how every member on my father’s side of my family, including my dad, had diabetes. I witnessed the unfortunate complications of diabetes (blindness, amputations, and kidney failure resulting in the need for dialysis, heart disease, etc.).
I developed an interest in diabetes, which also probably contributed to my desire to become a physician. The interesting thing that I learned from my reading was that diabetes could actually be prevented! And if someone developed diabetes, many of the complications of diabetes could be avoided. Most interesting of all – to prevent diabetes and its complications was actually very simple … you probably guessed it … maintaining a healthy weight, trying to follow a balanced diet, and yes, exercise.
So at the age of 15, I began to run and to learn about healthy eating. I was determined to do everything I could to run away from ever being diagnosed with diabetes like most of the members of my family. Fast forward in time ... I was accepted to medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. It is there where I met my husband, Tedd Mitchell, our chancellor of the Texas Tech University System. While in medical school and residency, Tedd shared my passion and interest in health, wellness and the prevention of diseases. It turns out he also had several members of his family with diabetes.
After graduating from UTMB, we moved to Dallas and started working at the Cooper Clinic. If you are not familiar with the Cooper Clinic, it is one of the world’s most renowned medical practices, focusing on the prevention of disease. In fact, still today, the Cooper Clinic and the Cooper Institute hold the largest repository for research on the effects of exercise on health and wellness.
At the Cooper Clinic, I became the medical director of the nutrition department. Every person who came to the clinic would fill out a three-day diet record trying to exemplify what three days of their normal eating patterns looked like. The nutritionist would then review it and provide information as to how to make improvements in their diet that would help with weight loss and improvement in well-being.
Fast forward again … Last year I learned that as an employee of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, one of my health care benefits was the opportunity to enroll - free of cost - into a program called Wondr. I glanced at it wondering if it was another one of those extreme or ridiculous diets that always seem to flood the media. I was certainly surprised.
This isn’t a diet program! It is a program that actually looks at what I call “the psychology of eating.”
I was so intrigued that I signed up for the program. I learned things about my eating habits, that even as a doctor I didn’t quite realize. This program has taught me how to be more mindful of:
1. how I eat
2. why I eat
3. why I overindulge
4. why I stress
5. and more
This program is something that is missing from most nutritional education programs. Even if you don’t “diet,” but are more “mindful” of how you eat, you can actually lose weight.
Imagine what you could do if you add a touch of exercise and make some healthier choices. By being more mindful about my eating, I lost a few nagging pounds that had crept up over the years and have been able to keep them off.
Let’s face it, if we want to look good, feel well and avoid health problems like diabetes, we have to find a program that we can follow easily every day of our life. This is that program!
I hope that you are as excited about this program as I am! Challenge your family members, your friends, your co-workers and see if you can feel better, look better and be healthier.
We would love for you to share your stories with all our Texas Tech family, your successes, trials and tribulations, form support groups, exercise groups, and accountability groups.
Let’s motivate and support each other while we try to make our Texas Tech family healthier!
I look forward to connecting with you, learning about you and your diet, exercise and health priorities as we move along this journey together.
Janet Tornelli-Mitchell, M.D.
Note: The Texas Tech University System Health + Wellness initiative began in 2019 with Naturally Slim, a program that was rebranded to Wondr in May 2021.