Meet Our 2017 WOW! Superheroes
When the journey to better health started for this patient registration representative from LincolnHealth-Miles Campus, she didn't feel healthy or like how she looked. So when her dad expressed his fear of losing her, April committed, making an appointment with a nutritionist and a wellness coach at Maine Medical Center.
April wasn't just dealing with the physical effects of an unhealthy lifestyle. She's also a proud survivor of mental illness, and she's showing us all how to overcome life's challenges. Though she never thought she would, she's trying things like Zumba and aerobics, and eating more fruits and veggies. She's even challenging herself to run to participate in charity events.
April stays on track because of the support she gets from her coworkers and family.
"My support network checks in with me about my eating. They remind me of how hard I've worked, " she said.
April also uses a food journal and arranges to exercise with friends and family. "You're more apt to exercise when you don't want to let someone else down."
She's even inspiring her coworkers.
"When I started in patient registration we often had potlucks where people would bring in mostly unhealthy foods," she said. "Now we have healthy potlucks."
April knows she still has work to do. But she's convinced her goal of losing 100 more pounds is obtainable. She's encouraged by sharing her story, and knows if a brief relapse occurs, it's important to keep going.
"Keep on keeping on, and never give up," she said.
Nancy Chaves and Hannah Williams have a saying for when times in the endoscopy center get tough: “Exercise and fresh air will make it better.”
According to their co-worker Elizabeth (Liz) DeFeo, RN, the two are constantly encouraging each other to run or walk after work and coordinating runs on the weekends. And they are always asking everyone in their department to join them, admittedly to mixed results.
“I’ve made it clear to them on many occasions that the only time I run is if the cops are chasing me,” teases Liz.
It doesn’t stop Nancy and Hannah from trying, however. Liz says that the duo is always positive and never overbearing with their encouragement. So much so, that Liz admits, “I have no doubt that they’ll eventually convince me to go— cops or not.”
Jenny loves horseback riding. Marsha loves to garden. But as these two RNs from the Pen Bay Medical Center Anticoagulation Clinic faced the realities of getting older, they realized how much their extra weight impacted their jobs and the activities they love.
So in February 2016, the duo committed to changing their lifestyles. And together, they've lost more than 40 pounds.
Through WOW!, they joined Weight Watchers and learned how the small steps you take every day add up. That's why their best advice to anyone considering changing their health is to take it one day at a time.
Of course their journey hasn't been without obstacles. Learning how to control binge eating particularly with sweets and around the holidays- is an ongoing concern. But having your coworkers notice and support your weight loss is gratifying. Hiking and walking longer distances (without avoiding the hills!) also serve as great motivators.
If there's one thing these partners know for sure about their journey to better health, it's this: Having a friend committed to the same goals is extremely helpful.
"We're not sure if we would have had the results without each other!"
“I decided I’d never see photos of myself like that again,” she said. True to her word, this director of leadership development at MaineHealth has lost 48 pounds since February 2016.
Deborah started by participating in nutritional counseling classes offered by Maine Health. Less than a year later, she now spends her time devouring all the information she can find on healthy eating and weight loss. She even counts reading articles about nutrition as one of her favorite activities!
But eating healthy consistently has been challenging, especially when family members tempt her with her favorite foods. She’s learning how to stay motivated, relying on her scale to keep her honest.
“I get on it every day,” she said.
Deborah’s husband and co-workers have encouraged and supported her in reaching her goals. Their feedback has been invaluable.
“Looking good, feeling good, and receiving compliments for how I look is worth giving up my unhealthy food habits,” she said.
Most of all, Deborah has succeeded because she’s changed her mindset. “Now I eat to live versus living to eat.”
Mia lost weight by joining Weight Watchers and a gym. At first she was inspired by her test results. But today, it’s all about how she feels.
“I have more energy than I have in years,” she said. “I never thought I could feel this good.”
Mia admits that before she lost weight, she had a hard time getting off the couch after work. And as someone who struggled with her weight for years, it can still be easy to slip back into old patterns.
“I always remind myself that I can do it.”
Mia’s friends and family motivate her and give her support when she needs it. They tell her how great she looks physically, and Mia credits her new lifestyle with positive emotional changes, too.
Mia believes anyone can live a healthier life.
“We are all in control of our choices,” she said. “And we all deserve to choose better health!”
If your employer encourages and incentivizes you to be fit and healthy, how can you say no? This question helps WOW! Superhero Donna McGrew stay on course with her healthy lifestyle. And being diligent with exercise has never been more important, considering she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2010.
“You have to move, move, move to be your healthiest,” she said. “Exercise is very good for MS patients. Both my primary care physician and neurologist support my wellness activities.”
This long-time athlete has taken part in the WOW! program since it started. She credits the Maine Medical Center Impressions Café with helping her make good choices. “The calorie counts on the menu make it easy,” she said.
Donna walks at least three times a day during her shifts. “There are so many places to walk at the medical center. You never have to take the same route,” she said. “Our walks are brisk and short, but we at least get up from our desks and move.”
Besides walking, Donna also bikes—an activity she picked up after turning 50. Her daily routines help prepare her for two events that raise money for MS research.
“Since 2009, I have raised over $100,000.”
Although Donna makes her health a priority, she still faces challenges. She occasionally skips meals while she’s busy at work, which makes keeping healthy snacks nearby a necessity. “The other obstacle is finding the energy to exercise as much as I would like,” she said. “MS fatigue can be a barrier but I work through it. It’s all about determination!”
Donna also counts on her family and friends. “My family members are beyond supportive,” she said, explaining how even her parents, now nearing 90, get involved. Her daughter, Katie, pedals by her side during their two-day MS cycling event.
“Katie’s support and involvement has made such a difference,” she said. “We keep each other pedaling to the finish line.”
Donna encourages anyone interested in improving their health to think about her fundraising motto.
“Keep looking up. If you are looking down, that is where you are headed. Never give up on yourself. You are stronger than you imagined.”
Elizabeth Frechette traded cigarettes for running shoes back in 2010. Since then, the 51-year-old RN from Stephens Memorial Hospital has run more miles than many people do in a lifetime, completing three marathons and 10 half marathons.
Several of her coworkers, including her supervisor, inspired her to hit the pavement. Now she inspires others.
“I love to see and talk with other people trying to get and stay healthy,” she said. “I encourage people to try different activities to find the ones they really enjoy—it’s so much easier to keep going once you find a favorite activity.”
Frechette is thankful to have a supportive community of friends, family, and coworkers. “My husband has been my biggest supporter. He’s gone to every one of my races.”
Finding the time to run isn’t always easy, but finding an activity she loves has made all the difference.
“Running has changed my life,” she said.