My biggest passion in life is to inspire others to live better, from the inside out. This is based on an unshakable belief that health is the first and most important wealth, and that there are things you can do to greatly preserve and protect the miracle machine—the only body you will be given.
Born into a medical family in a small town in Arkansas, I was raised serving the sick ––shut-ins, hospital patients, and nursing home residents. From an early age I saw bedridden, isolated, and forgotten people, sick, lonely, and hurting—and I wanted to take away their pain. The only way I knew to do that was to follow in the footsteps of my mother, Gloria White, a geriatric nurse. She had founded a non-profit organization called Project Compassion in 1975, which provided visitors to elderly nursing home residents to assure that they would not die alone. My father, an incredible support for her, was a Marcus Welby-like medical doctor with a busy private practice.
These incredible role models taught me the extreme value of human life, a belief that I have since learned is not shared by everyone. In my first career as an ICU nurse, I quickly saw that a great amount of sickness and disease is self-inflicted—obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, COPD—at an incredible emotional and financial cost. It greatly bothered me to know that had we intervened earlier in a patient’s life we may have broken the destructive cycle of lifestyle mismanagement.
In the small community hospital where I worked as a graduate nurse the stress of 12-hour night shifts, an early charge nurse position, chronic understaffing, and unpleasant work situations with both physicians and hospital administrators drove me to seek advanced education outside the nursing arena. With an MBA from the IU Kelly School of Business I hoped to improve my work conditions, transition to a more progressive part of the health industry, and earn more income.
Hired by Bristol-Myers in Evansville, Indiana I was able to move to a new life with my husband, who had just completed his law degree and had been hired by a local law firm. Working in corporate America with a business suit was a big change from shift work in scrubs at the hospital setting. I loved the freedom, travel, expense budget, interaction with physician thought leaders, and being part of the marketing team. Then two events rocked my world and forever changed it–the birth of my first son, and the early death of my mother.
Mom died in 1991 at age 54, 5 weeks before I delivered Jeff. She had been diagnosed with malignant lymphoma 18 months previously. Ironically, I was employed by the market leader in anti-cancer drugs at the time of her diagnosis. All the power, skill, and treatments of modern medicine could not save her, and in fact may have contributed to her early demise.
My father died of sudden coronary death in 1997 in his office with lab coat on doing what he loved most–practicing medicine. Although a brilliant physician in the science of pharmacology and endocrinology, his own lifestyle was not so healthy. His focus was on his patients’ disease, not so much how to prevent his own.
An orphan by my early 30’s, the reality of my husband and I raising two small boys without family made life extremely challenging. Working 70-hour weeks as a pharmaceutical marketing manager, I walked away from corporate America to raise my own children and serve my community through my passion–health, fitness, and wellness.
I built a private gym in my home to teach the health benefits of strength training, wrote the first Evansville Courier and Press wellness column “Keeping Fit”, and lectured to schools, organizations, and corporations on the health benefits of exercise. I incorporated a critical health biomarker into my practice that was featured on the Dr. Oz show in May of 2011 and have worked to educate on the importance of intracellular antioxidant levels. Today I continue to serve through Mayor Lloyd Winnecke’s innovative fitness initiatives.
There have been many frustrations in trying to make Evansville a healthier place. Many people resist taking ownership of their health and instead want to delegate it to their physician—they want to wait until something is wrong before taking action. Develop disease first, then poison it, cut, or burn it out. Take medications instead of making lifestyle changes (with 125,000 deaths per year from properly prescribed and administered medications.) They are suspicious of nutritional interventions and resist even moderate exercise.
Doctors are trained in crisis intervention and pathophysiology, not disease prevention, and are only compensated when a disease is diagnosed. Therefore there is a gap that exists between apparently healthy and the presence of disease. The part of science that demonstrates interventions a person can do to delay the onset of disease is called wellness. Most doctors know very little about it.
As a lone voice in the wellness movement I have been privileged to join forces with some amazingly passionate corporate partners, such as Cady Wellness Institute, Bob’s Gym, and NuSkin Enterprises/Pharmanex. These partners have taken me further on my wellness journey than I ever could’ve travelled by myself.
Today I work to help others improve their lives by incorporating lifestyle interventions that can help them live better longer, fundamentally in the areas of exercise, nutrition, and gene expression. It just so happens that positive, healthy lifestyles help people look younger too, so it is a win-win. I continue to teach fitness classes like Zumba and group strength at Bob’s Gym, help corporations move more through the “Chicken Fat” mayor’s fitness initiative, and still share my health passion through lectures with groups of any size.
Part of my drive to change lives came from the intensely lifelong pain of early death in my family. My prayer is that others don’t require such a jolting blow before they too appreciate the blessing of health and begin taking steps to protect it.
My prescription for health—Engage in moderate exercise most days of the week, eat a healthy diet with sufficient water intake, minimize Diet sodas and alcohol, and take a pharmaceutical grade cellular antioxidant supplement two times a day. I also recommend a supplement line called Vitality by Pharmanex that makes the power-producing units in muscle, brain, and heart product energy as a much younger person.
My why? Two boys named Nate and Jeff, now 21 and 23 years old. They have been a comfort and joy to me from my darkest days of despair and loss to the present, and it is my goal to spare them the pain of my early death. In fact, I want to be able to work out and hang out with them and their children when I’m 80!!