Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Congratulations to Sara McMillan, MBA, RT(R), manager of Centers of Excellence and Accreditation, on being named this year’s Spirit of Wellness winner for Norman Regional Health System!
Sara started her health and wellness journey in March 2020, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sara was working from home at the time, as well as homeschooling her two children – Caden, 11, and Cassidy, 9.
“I was in my office all day long – either working or teaching the kids. I had to get out of the house, but everything was shut down so I started walking at the park,” Sara said.
Sara was also 39, about to turn 40, at the time and she wanted to look and feel good and be healthy when she turned 40.
Sara’s goal was just to walk more, but eventually she could walk four miles in an hour.
“I’m not a runner or anything so that’s good for me,” she added.
In June 2020, Sara decided to also make healthy eating a priority and started doing Weight Watchers.
“I’ve done Weight Watchers before and I don’t know why this time was different. I was just to the point of really wanting to make a change,” Sara said.
Sara continued her outdoor walks until it got too cold outside, then she joined a gym with a friend. She previously thought she didn’t have time to work out, but she started going at 5 a.m. and made it a priority. Now she’s been consistently going at that time about five days per week for almost a year.
“What’s funny is I thought that’s crazy – that’s way too early, but I feel more tired the days I don’t go now,” she said. “Having an accountability partner is always good too. There are days I don’t want to get out of bed, but I know she’s there waiting for me so it helps.”
Aside from the health and wellness changes, she also removed other toxic things from her life, which she said helped her stopping eating emotionally as well.
Sara lost weight steadily at about two pounds per week until she lost 55 pounds total. She weighs less than she did in high school and said she feels all around better, stronger and happier.
One thing Sara said has been important to her is that she used to beat herself up after talking to others at health fairs because she felt like a hypocrite.
“I always knew what I needed to do, but it’s hard and it takes a lot of work,” she said.
Chief Nursing Officer Brittni McGill noted Sara’s involvement with community health fairs as a reason why she’s a great selection for the Spirit of Wellness winner.
“Sara has committed her professional career to helping patients achieve their optimal health. Sara understands the importance of leading by example and education through demonstration. She’s a true healer who loves her community,” Brittni said.
When Sara first started her journey to better health, she told Caden and Cassidy what she was doing – and they helped keep her accountable. Now, it seems like her lifestyle changes have rubbed off on Caden especially – as he’ll ask for healthier places to eat or tell Cassidy if something she asks for isn’t good for them.
Sara said it was easy before to use being a mom as an excuse because she always took care of everyone else and neglected herself.
“I even felt guilty when I first started thinking about the time I was taking away from my kids, but it’s important to make time for yourself.”
Sara’s children have continued to be a part of her health and wellness journey and accompanied her to the Spirit of Wellness Awards Ceremony on August 26.
As soon as they saw the big basket that was there for the winner, they said “mom, I want you to win that.” Sara said she never thought she’d be announced as the winner though and even told them that she wouldn’t get it so they wouldn’t be disappointed.
“It’s a great honor, but I was shocked. I never thought of myself as inspiring others – but I guess I am,” Sara said.
Amanda Jones, chairman of Norman Regional’s Wellness Team, said Sara’s efforts, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, are a reason why the team selected her as the winner.
“Sara is inspirational because during the COVID crisis she used the time to improve her health and well-being,” Amanda said. “What a strong and powerful way to combat the pandemic.”
Congratulations again, Sara!