Stephanie Brister: Leader in Wellness

When Elise Manera, the Coordinator of the UHN Wellness centre asked if I would be this quarter’s “Leader in Wellness”, I thought to myself, “WHY?” Upon reflection, it occurred to me that my tale of fitness (or lack thereof!) is probably common to people like me who think that we are just too busy to have time to exercise regularly. But, by sharing my story, perhaps others may be encouraged to give exercise another try.

As a teenager, I was very active in the usual high school sports like basketball, volleyball, track and field. I also am an excellent swimmer and worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor throughout high school. However, my participation in sports progressively declined during my undergraduate years and medical school. I thought, perhaps naively so, that I was healthy because I did not smoke, I had no weight issue, and I could swim, ski or hike on holidays with no problems.

At the onset of my residency training program, I had a plan for exercise, which I would follow for the next 20 years in my professional life as a cardiac surgeon. Every December 31st, I made my usual New Years Eve resolutions. I acted on them – for about 1 month, well, maybe for about 2 weeks. And then my plan fell to the wayside for the next 11 months, until it was time to make my new resolutions. Of course, I had the typical excuses – I had too heavy a work load, I was too fatigued from being on-call, I had too much stress from other commitments; I simply did not have time for regular exercise. Of course, I did have time to counsel my patients about their healthy life style choices – that, after all, was just part of my job as a specialist in cardiovascular disease. Hummph, I was not setting a good example.

Then one day. Egad! My weight increased. I was always tired. I was short of breath going up stairs. I felt unwell. And all of this happened just overnight. Hum, maybe I should not wait until December 31st. I should do something! Now!

A year later, I swim, run or spin for 45 minutes everyday. My personal wellness program fits into my schedule in the same way that all of my meetings, clinics or operations do. I made the time. I have lost weight. I sleep more soundly. I am not short of breath at the top of the stairs. I go to work refreshed. I am more productive. I feel WELL!

The Wellness Centre, on site at TGH, makes access to exercise programs easy and efficient. The programs vary to accommodate individual needs. The instructors are excellent and encouraging. Over the year, a core group of ‘spinners’ has evolved (all ladies except for D D). We have a lot of fun on our road to fitness. Come and join us.

Stephanie Brister


About Jav Girl

1) Background: - Originally from Guelph, ONT, - Honours Bachelor of Kinesiology from McMaster University, - Workplace Wellness & Health Promotion (WWHP) Post-Graduate Certificate from Centennial College - Completed my WWHP placement at UHN - Hired at UHN August 2008 2) Passions: - I love to run! Nothing beats a runner's high! =) 3) Achievements: - Competed at the National Track & Field Champions for Javelin [I named my javelin 'Orville' after the Wright brothers who invited the airplane - as I wanted my javelin to 'fly'] 4) "I love what I do because . . . it allows me to help others incorporate aspects of a healthy lifestyle into their lives. I've always wanted to help people get active and live better lives; I just never knew it could be my day job.' 5) Book Recommendation: 'Mindless Eating' by Brian Wansink and 'The Happiness Project' by Gretchen Rubin

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