As leaders of their households and in the community, women play a vital role in the health of those around them. Each year, St. Luke’s Hospital Healthy Woman Award celebrates women who not only stay active in improving their own health, but also inspire better health in others. Here, read more about what makes this year’s winners healthy role models.
Keeping fitness in the forefront of everyday life is second nature to Laurel Hecht. As the director of Chesterfield Athletic Club, she oversees workouts for all ages, including leading nine classes—from yoga to Zumba—each week. She helps kids stay active during summer camps at the club, while adults attend workout sessions before or after work, or during the day through teambuilding exercises for their businesses.
Fitness not only is important for your physical wellbeing, but mentally, as well, Hecht notes. “Especially for women, it’s so hard to find balance in your life, between work, volunteering and family.” She advises setting aside 35 to 45 minutes each day to take a walk or do a fitness class. “Music is so important so you don’t get bored during workouts,” she adds. “Get out there, crank up the tunes and mentally reconnect.”
Hecht also leads the club in hosting 5k runs for nonprofits, such as St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital to contribute to cancer research. She also participates in cycling events for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, as well as 5k and 10k runs that raise funds for colon and breast cancer research. “There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think about being fit and well, and I love to help others do that, as well.”
Lauren Wilmore has danced her way to a healthy lifestyle—and inspired others to do the same along the way. As a dance teacher, a former Dance St. Louis employee and co-founder of St. Louis Dancing Classrooms, Wilmore is showing kids to adults how dance is an excellent workout for your body, mind and spirit.
The Washington University graduate has led the St. Luke’s Spirit of Women’s Day of Dance each year since its inception. “One-thousand women attend that event,” Wilmore says, “and it is so much fun for me to imagine what kinds of dance would inspire, encourage and energize all of those women, and help them to see that dance can be a great way to get your heart pumping!”
As a vegan, Wilmore also encourages others’ health by helping them to be aware of the foods they eat. “I love using social media to take people on my healthy vegan-eating journey with me, and I am proud to say that I've created many kale-chip addicts. How we eat is so important, as it affects how we look, feel and perform each day.”
Upon winning the award, Wilmore says she feels encouraged and energized to be recognized as someone who inspires other women to be healthy. “This award makes me feel empowered to use my voice to loudly stand in solidarity with women as we walk through life seeking to be our own personal best for ourselves, our families and our communities!”
Lucy Hey always is on the move. And she loves encouraging others to do the same. A finance systems analyst at The Boeing Company for 29 years, Hey annually leads a team of co-workers in the company’s wellness program, Boeing On the Move. “If I can be additional motivation—to help people with ideas for quick, low-calorie recipes, or add workout ideas into your day—I feel good about being a part of that.”
In today’s overscheduled society, women place too much stress on themselves, making it harder for their bodies to work and heal themselves, Hey explains. She recommends setting aside half a day each weekend to make a meal plan for the following week. “On Sundays, I make a main dish for dinner and morph that into two to three dinners for the week,” she says. Additionally, she prepares lunches and healthy snack packs. “Then you can grab and go, because nobody has the luxury of extra time.” Meal planning saves, time, calories and money, she notes.
Hey also is involved with health-friendly fundraisers for organizations such as the American Heart Association. And she keeps moving throughout the year by training and participating in the Ballwin Race Series, such as the Ballwin Triathlon in July and the upcoming Midnight Howl 5k.
Susan Bruno lives to do what she calls an ‘angel deed’ every day. Whether it’s helping strangers put groceries in their car or buying someone food at a convenience store, she always actively looks for ways to help others. “If you do it every day, it just becomes part of your personality and your habits,” she says.
A financial advisor at Wells Fargo Advisors’ Clayton branch, a mother of three and an avid community volunteer, Bruno still makes time to reach out to those in need because it’s “the right way to live,” she notes. And being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2002 has not slowed her down. For the past 10 years, she has volunteered for various MS fundraisers, including Bike MS, where she rode more than 20 miles with her husband, Phil, on their tandem bike last year.
And Bruno was certainly prepped for the ride—she takes an hour-long spinning class at 5:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. “Growing up in an Italian family, life revolves around food. And we didn’t know about exercise.” But today, being a healthy, positive example for women is a role she takes seriously.
Bruno says she is humbled by the award, and excited about what other volunteer opportunities may come from being involved with St. Luke’s. “I had no idea I was being nominated. It was just really fantastic to know that someone was doing an angel deed for me.”