As part of our ongoing commitment to the health and wellbeing of employees, the UVM Medical Center offers free biometric screenings and online health assessments. The screenings and assessments are part of the UVM Medical Center’s Employee Wellness Engagement Program to help employees find an easy way to identify health risks and develop an action plan for the future. Bonni Martin is one of the employees who took advantage of this program. This is her story.
My wellness journey did not start out in any remarkable way, but it has changed my life nonetheless.
I’ve always been fit – and I have always been committed to staying fit. But, I started smoking when I was a teenager and continued to smoke daily. Typically, a pack a day. What’s surprising is that I was very aware of the implications of smoking. I worked as a hospice nurse for many years. That didn’t deter me. It was only after a major change in my personal life, that I was forced to make changes. Frankly, I needed to save money – and smoking was costing me $8-10 per day. That adds up. When my husband and I quit smoking, we ended up saving $400-500 per month. Talk about an expensive habit!
I turned to the UVM Medical Center’s Employee Wellness Program when I was ready and needed to quit. But, it isn’t easy. You don’t just snap your fingers. It was hard. It was frustrating. I gained weight, about 40 pounds. I took a step back and decided to give myself a year and a half to quit smoking, and to lose the weight, too. Taking it slow worked. I lost 57 pounds, started walking and running. I even started doing yoga, cardio, and muscle strengthening. At the age of 53, I’m doing more physical activity then I did in my twenties!
There was also another thing going on with my health. Prior to quitting smoking, I learned from my doctor that my cholesterol was high. Here again, exercise helped me. I didn’t want to go on medication. So instead, my doctor and I created an exercise regimen. I went from an elevated rate to a normal rate. Simply put, exercise keeps me healthy – and I have to do it. I’m at high risk for diabetes due to family history – and for high blood pressure.
My story may be like your story – you may have a family history of disease motivating you to stay healthy; your smoking habit may be cutting into your budget. Know that you can get help. Know that resentment and frustration is normal. And, when all else fails, get out and exercise: you will feel better and be better. I know I do.
Learn more about the UVM Medical Center’s Employee Wellness Engagement Program.
Want to quit smoking? Learn more about our Tobacco Cessation Program to get the support you need and the option that works best for you.
Bonni Martin, RN, BS, is Coordinator for Accreditation and Regulatory Affairs at the University of Vermont Medical Center.
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