Making Changes: The ‘AH-HA’ Moment

Making Changes:
The ‘AH-HA’ Moment

By: Velta Vikmanis

In 2005 I moved from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Toronto and while waiting for my immigration documents I began volunteering at TGH in the Volunteer Resources Department getting to know the hospital and staff. Soon after, I joined the Staffing Department in Human Resources. A year later I was an instructor in the SIMS Education department before settling in Corporate Nursing where I have been the Coordinator of Nursing Transitions & Commitment for more than three years.

Do you ever have that moment when you are ask yourself, how did I get here? I did, lots of times but I never did anything about it until one day I was forced to reflect on an unpleasant possibility.  My husband’s health was becoming a greater concern since we relocated to Toronto. Diagnosed with Type II diabetes while living in Minnesota and not really listening to anyone’s advice about the recommended lifestyle changes we continued on the comfortable path of self indulgence and waiting for the quick fix. Then in 2006, just before Christmas he had to have an emergency angioplasty. This was the first time that things started to come into focus. There were some slight changes but not enough to navigate us off the path of health-destruction.

After a vacation in 2010 the physicians told my husband, change or you will be insulin dependant. AH HA! It was the moment of clarity when it all came together. Why this time? Why were other moments less significant? Why did we begin the journey of true lifestyle change with those words? Who knows but what I know for sure is that we are never going back.

I need variety and I need to set goals for myself. Stair climbing at work seemed a good way to start. No gym membership required and you have someone to talk to while you climb. A small group from Corporate Nursing started climbing the Eaton building every day at noon and soon I had others joining us from General Internal Medicine and other departments.  We started off slowly climbing to the top and back down and now we climb five times and elevator down in 30 minutes or less. For the second year I climbed the CN tower for United Way with team UHN and I look forward to doing it again in 2012. 

We started a Biggest Loser challenge in Corporate Nursing. Individuals pay $20 for five weeks and the Wellness Centre tracks weekly weigh-ins of participants.  The individual with the greatest percentage of weight loss walks away with the cash.  It is a nice added incentive to maintain an active lifestyle and seek out new fitness goals.

The greatest resource for me has been the Wellness Centre. For the first time in my life I tried a group exercise class and encouraged others from my area to participate. It was a nice break in the day and I got to interact with colleagues on a more personal level. I also got to meet other UHN staff that I did not have an opportunity to interact with in my role. The new goal, new challenge search continued and our Boxercise class instructor offered a free personal training session for anyone in the class. Now I work with Suzanna Dreifelds twice a week on muscle toning and strengthening. She listens to what my goals are and what I want to accomplish. With a great deal of humour, patience and encouragement Suzanna is helping me get there.  What next?  The running clinic!

So, it has been 16 months since the “AH HA” moment and the permanent changes that have led me to being a Wellness Leader. (Never thought that would happen) This adventure has impacted me in such a significant way that it is very hard to articulate. I feel better, look better and cope with everyday life better with greater enthusiasm and passion.
The greatest bonus… all of the remarkable people that I have met along the way!


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

One response to “Making Changes: The ‘AH-HA’ Moment”

  1. Eric Hanmer says :

    Ive been at UHN for 5 years and just stumbled across this blog. I am an RN. I have lost a total of 250 lbs. and am proud that my employer recognizes wellness. Thank you.

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