“I have lost over 100 lbs, beaten chronic heart failure, and feel better than I have in eight years”: Thriving Campus
By Melissa Lafrance on December 7, 2016
This month’s Thriving Campus feature is Sue Lebrun, Return to Work Advisor in Human Resources. Thriving Campus features, testimonials, contributions and personal experiences linked to health and wellbeing from UBC staff.
How do you Thrive at work?
About two years ago, I was diagnosed with several serious and life-threatening medical conditions. I am lucky enough to be living in Vancouver where there are world-class doctors, and was referred to some amazing specialists who provided me the necessary treatment to bring these conditions under control. I was, and still am, extremely fortunate to be working in Human Resources at UBC where not only do they talk the talk but walk the walk when it comes to workplace wellbeing and providing an environment where staff can thrive.
My manager and my amazing team supported me throughout my journey back to wellbeing, including implementing accommodations that allowed me to continue to work full-time while at the same time providing the assistance I needed for some physical limitations I was experiencing as a result of my illnesses. I also developed a “healthy lifestyle” support system with several colleagues who started walking with me a couple of times a week so I could engage in the physical activity I needed to do as part of my wellbeing journey. My whole team also provided me with the encouragement and support I needed to start making healthier lifestyle choices. As a result of this support, I have lost over 100 lbs in the last 13 months, have beaten chronic heart failure, and my other chronic medical conditions are well-controlled. I feel better now than I have in the last eight years and I am happy to say I am thriving at work.
How do you Thrive at home?
When I was diagnosed, harsh reality set in and I realized I needed to find a way to make some significant lifestyle changes around diet and exercise as well as making tough decisions about the life I was living at the time. Fortunately, I am blessed with a circle of caring and loving family and friends who have supported me with my journey to wellbeing. With their love, encouragement and support, I was able to move past a very unhealthy personal relationship and start implementing healthy food choices and increased physical activity.
My friends take me on hikes on the weekends, my dog makes it easier to exercise regularly during the week as she loves and needs to walk, and my son helps with the physical things I am unable to do. In addition, my sisters and nieces who live in Ontario and I have started a weekly internet group called The Show – The Sisterhood of Wellness. The group focuses on looking at the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of wellbeing and engaging in activities that fulfill those needs – regular physical activity, making healthier food choices, loving ourselves for who we are, supporting one another, forgiving ourselves when we mess up, and reminding ourselves that the journey to wellness is one step at a time and a slow and steady journey towards a lifelong implementation of healthier choices rather than “dieting” and “exercise”. As a result of my hard work and the support I was provided and continue to receive, I am a very healthy, happy and thriving woman leading a full life.
Susan Lebrun was born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario, in a very close and loving family. She was married and had a child at the age of 20, became a single parent at the age of 27, and was on social assistance and lived in subsidized housing for a number of years. Through some amazing opportunities, she was able to begin post-secondary education at the age of 30 and after completing her Early Childhood Education program at Cambrian College in Sudbury, moved onto the Social Work program at Laurentian University in Sudbury and graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work degree in 1999 while working and raising a child on her own. She was employed in both the non-profit and private sector for 10 years working in vocational rehabilitation. She moved to Vancouver in 2004 and continued working in the disability management industry up to 2012, when she joined UBC as a Return to Work Advisor in Workplace Health Services.
By Colin Hearne on December 4, 2014
This month we have a special holiday season edition of The Healthy Path from Stephanie Dang, fourth year dietetics student at the University of British Columbia and contributor to the Healthy UBC Recipe Series . Read on to see how Stephanie’s Surviving the Holidays tips can help you avoid the trap of excess holiday indulgence, while also picking up some information on valuable resources available to support you at UBC.
Surviving the Holidays!
The Holidays are fast approaching, which means the days of endless treats, dinner parties, and drinking are also fast approaching. Worried about overindulging during the holidays? Read these tips to try to keep on track with your health goals this year.
Healthy Eating Strategies
- Don’t skip meals before a party – this will make it easier to control your appetite
- Fill your plate with veggies, fruit, lean meat, and seafood
- Make your calories count! Remember, half the portion is half the calories and fat
- Before going for seconds, try to wait at least 15 minutes to see if you are still hungry
- Bring some gum for you to chew on after you have eaten dinner. This will help prevent you from over-snacking the rest of the night
- If you do indulge, make sure it is a food you truly enjoy
- Just say No! Practice polite, but firm ways to say “no thank you” to unnecessary, high calorie foods
- Focus on family and friends instead of food
- Bring your own healthy dish to dinner parties to you can be sure there will be something for you to nibble on
- The occasional indulgence is good for the soul, as long as you keep in mind your bigger health goals this season
- Half a glass of low-fat eggnog and half a glass of skim milk instead of a full glass of eggnog
- Alternate each alcoholic beverage or pop with a glass of water or sparkling water
- Try fresh fruit drizzled with melted chocolate instead of pie or cake
- When eating pie or tarts, avoid eating the crust to save calories
- Make a wine spritzer using soda water instead of having a full glass of wine
- Shrimp and cocktail sauce or sushi rolls instead of sausage rolls
Healthy Eating @UBC
If you are interested in improving your nutrition, the following resources and services available to UBC staff and faculty through Homewood Health, UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program provider:
- Nutrition Resource Kit: The kit contains useful information on making healthy food choices, as well as delicious healthy recipes for you and your family to try. Nutritional Counseling, 30-Day Nutrition Challenge and 12 Weeks to Wellness Program are services delivered over the telephone. Call Homewood Health at 1-800-663-1142 to sign up.
- Nutritional Counseling: a registered dietician will conduct an assessment of your dietary needs and work with you to develop personalized food plans, provide nutritional information and ‘how-to’ advice and coaching.
- 12 Weeks to Wellness: a self-directed program that offers a comprehensive approach to behaviour change. You will have access to life coaching, nutritional counselling, and health risk assessment over a 12-week period
Stephanie Dang is a fourth year dietetics student at the University of British Columbia. When she is not busy studying, Stephanie volunteers at the eating disorder clinic at Children’s Hospital, works at a local bar, and plays soccer. Stephanie believes that living “healthy” means enjoying everything in moderation, and maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Staying physically active and satisfying your body’s nutritional needs shouldn’t be considered a burden, and if it is, seeing a dietitian is a great way to get advice on how to enjoy healthy living!