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Personal Wellness Stories

Lois Skillings
President and CEO

As part of our vision for the future of healthcare, we have committed to improving the health and wellness of our community. A big part of that goal is my wish for all Mid Coast employees to achieve better health. To help guide you on your own path to wellness, I would like to share my own personal journey toward better health.

My wellness mantra is, “Just make a small start – it doesn’t take much.” I admit that making changes to improve my health was very hard for me in the beginning. This was mostly due to my over-achiever personality. I used to feel like I had to make big dramatic changes and then would give up when I couldn’t keep up. But over the past few years, I have made small, steady changes and have achieved better health than I have had in a long time.

Lois Skillings in KayakI was blessed with good health throughout my life and never had to worry. When I was younger, I could eat what I wanted with no negative impact and although I was not active on a regular basis, I could easily do physical activities. For example, I could readily go cross-country skiing, dancing, or kayaking, even though I was not regularly physical active. I was lucky enough that my body pretty much did whatever I asked of it.

However, as I got older I began to realize that my sedentary lifestyle had crept up on me. I couldn’t just “get up and go” like I used to, and my weight had increased as well. I found myself turning down invitations from friends for hikes or snowshoeing because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to keep up.

A pivotal moment for me came a few years ago when I decided to join a gym and “get healthy.” I pushed myself too hard, too fast and injured my knee. When seeking treatment, my doctor discovered that I had degenerative arthritis in both knees. After many months of uncomforted pain, I was heading for knee replacement surgery. As I planned for the impending surgery, I was advised to lose weight in order to take the strain off my knees.

When my doctor said, “You know Lois, if you lost 20 pounds, it would really help your knees,” it was a wake up call that I had some control over the situation. It was at that crucial moment when I realized it was my personal responsibility to make changes for the good of my health.

Around that same time my husband, Jim, was told that he needed medication to control his diabetes. This added to my motivation and we both decided to get serious about changing our lifestyle. We gained inspiration from the documentary Forks Over Knives and also by Switch, a book that examines how to make personal and organizational changes.

We began by making small lifestyle changes a little at a time. I began a weekly yoga practice, went to physical therapy, and maintained my prescribed knee exercises. Both Jim and I focused on adding fruits, vegetables, tofu, fish, nuts, and rice to our diet. I am thankful to Jim for being the driving force behind our healthy eating.

Now two years later, I have lost 20 pounds, love my weekly yoga class, avoided knee surgery, and mostly eliminated my knee pain. I went from inertia to increased energy and have not felt this good in my body in a decade! Jim has lost 40 pounds and totally avoided medication for his diabetes. He is able to control it with diet alone.

It has become a lifestyle. It is simply what I do everyday, like brushing my teeth and putting on my seatbelt. Of course, some days are better than others when it comes to health choices but I’m not going to beat myself up. Yesterday is gone. Today is a new day and a new start.

Finding your own path to better physical, emotional and spiritual health is really about personal choice and discovery. Having support, coaches, and guides to help along the way can truly make a difference. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my husband Jim, my yoga teacher Jessie, my physical therapists Tina and Sara, and my health coach nurse Celeste!

I hope my own story resonates with you in some way and inspires you to make small changes that overtime, will lead to a happier and healthier life. Remember to start slow and small and make lifestyle choices not dramatic changes. Try not to be so hard on yourself and make a conscious choice to do something that feels right for you. It really doesn’t take much to make a big difference!

 
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Lois Skillings, President & CEO of Mid Coast Health Services
 
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