Volunteer spotlight is a monthly feature at Community Strong to hightlight some great people working to make a difference in St Charles County.
Our interview with Christine…
Who are you, what do you do, how are you connected to Community Strong?
Christine Vancil, MBA – Marketing Director for Advent Behavioral Care. I have been a member of Community Strong’s CRUSH group for three years.
How are health and wellness revealed in your life? How you always been active?
I have suffered from osteoarthritis pain for 15 years which I thought meant I couldn’t be active because it would cause more pain. After five surgeries I’ve realized that I must keep active to keep my body strong to help fight the pain. So now I’m a regular on the many beautiful St. Peter’s walking trails enjoying nature, my dogs and friends while keeping my body fit. I feel incredible now!
True confessions: what is one of your vices?
Baked goods are one of my go to favorites whether I’m happy or sad! Old Town Donuts is my love on a Saturday morning!
What is one thing you wished the residents of St. Charles County would do to improve their health?
I would love to see everyone eating healthy, being active, and practicing self-care because these are key to keeping our bodies and mind strong and stimulated for a lifetime.
What is your greatest accomplishment or barrier you have overcome with your health so far?
I was overweight the bulk of my adult life. My doctor told me I was very overweight and at serious risk of being diabetic. I had to make a change because I knew the consequences of diabetes having worked for JDRF years ago. So, I started by drastically cutting my carbohydrates – no bread, rice, cereal, pasta, or potatoes. I started exercising and lost 40 pounds. But then I gave in and started not eating great again and gained back 15 pounds. Then my doctor said I had to start taking a diabetes medication and I was devastated. I had to get healthy. For me. For my life.
In February I contacted a woman I met at a networking event and said I was ready to get healthy. She became my health coach on my journey with the Optavia Habits of Health® Transformational System. It made eating simple and helped me learn to cook healthier. It was learning one new healthy habit at a time. It’s now October and I’ve lost 65 more pounds for a total weight loss of 90 pounds! I’ve achieved my optimal health and am in the healthy range on the BMI chart that physicians use to measure health. I never thought it was possible, but I did it with the help of my coach and best friend helping me along the way. I felt so excited and inspired that I’m now a health coach too and am helping other people like me achieve their optimal health and well-being.
What is a negative health outcome you have recently learned about that is affecting St. Charles County?
Unfortunately, anxiety and depression are on the rise due to covid-19. At Advent Behavioral Care we are seeing an increase in new patient’s seeking mental health services for counseling and/or psychiatry at all three of our offices. Thankfully, we have new patient appointments available within 48 hours because when someone is reaching out for help, they need it now and not months from now. Anyone can call 636-939-2550 or go online to adventbehavioralcare.com to make an appointment.
“Overall, 40.9% of 5,470 respondents who completed surveys during June reported an adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including those who reported symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder (30.9%), those with TSRD symptoms related to COVID-19 (26.3%), those who reported having started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19 (13.3%), and those who reported having seriously considered suicide in the preceding 30 days (10.7%) (Table 1). At least one adverse mental or behavioral health symptom was reported by more than one half of respondents who were aged 18–24 years (74.9%) and 25–44 years (51.9%), of Hispanic ethnicity (52.1%), and who held less than a high school diploma (66.2%), as well as those who were essential workers (54.0%), unpaid caregivers for adults (66.6%), and who reported treatment for diagnosed anxiety (72.7%), depression (68.8%), or PTSD (88.0%) at the time of the survey.” *Link to Resource
How does your purpose or calling in life help direct your health choices?
Having worked in mental health for almost 20 years, I have focused on helping people in need access services. It took me a long time, but I finally realized that I am also important, and I need help too. That’s why it is so important to me to begin helping others as they start their journey to healthy living.
What advice would you give someone who trying to live a healthier lifestyle?
Make the commitment and start now. Don’t wait for when you have more time, have more money, or when the kids don’t need you as much. YOU are important. YOU are worth the time for yourself and your kids, grandkids, spouse, or family. It doesn’t take a gym membership or a lot of money. Walk our great trails. Watch yoga, meditation, and healthy cooking videos online. If I can do it, you can do it!
What is your go to healthy recipe?
I love pizza and have discovered that I can make a healthy pizza at home that I really enjoy.
1 Cauliflower pizza crust (low-carb version)
No-sugar added pasta sauce
Turkey sausage crumbles
Veggies of your choice
Low-fat low-moisture mozzarella cheese
Cook the crust on 425 for 5 minutes. Remove and top pizza. Bake for another 10 minutes. Enjoy!!
What would your life be like if you were not active and pursuing health?
Because I have lost weight and am walking a few times a week I am no longer taking medications for high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, or cholesterol. If I wouldn’t have changed my lifestyle, I’d be adding additional diabetes medication and continuing on the path to heart disease, diabetes, stroke and continued arthritis pain.
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