Our Humana Health Star is Eve Strain. At 35 she turned her lifestyle around and started with healthy and lost 25% of her body weight. She now runs daily and writes her own amateur fitness blog. Check out our interview with this amazing woman.
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Name: Eve Strain
State: Scottsville, Kentucky
What’s your favorite way to stay active? Running! On hot and humid days, it turns more into walking than running, but I love it.
What charities do you like to support with Charity Miles? My favorite charity to support is Habitat for Humanity. I grew up in beautiful rural Kentucky, a part of the United States that is known for its ongoing problems with poverty. Many people in the area live in substandard housing, which compounds the problems in poverty in countless ways. Habitat helps get people into affordable, comfortable housing built to modern code, and it helps to stabilize families and strengthen communities. My boyfriend volunteers with the WKU chapter of Habitat for Humanity. I tell him I’m about to earn him a box of nails when I go out for a run using Charity Miles.
Where is your favorite place to walk, run or bike? I live six miles outside of the nearest town, and I have my choice of county roads. I usually run on a path that takes me past small farms, a cemetery, abandoned barns, and a forest. When I do longer runs, I tack on another road that takes me into the local Mennonite community past farms and a school/church. I meet a lot of horse and buggy traffic when I’m on the road.
Where is one place you’d most like to walk, run or bike that you haven’t yet? I would love to visit the American west and run and hike in the desert. I visited southern Nevada and northern Arizona last year. I did a little Charity Miles hiking across the Hoover Dam and on Bright Angel Trail at Grand Canyon. The scenery was amazing on the way there and once we arrived. I would love to go back someday to do some serious hiking when I have longer than one day to spend there. I have a feeling running in the arid desert would take some getting used to after running in hilly humidity for so long!
What do you do to help your family/community get active? I have been an amateur fitness blogger off and on for a decade and served as a co-moderator for an online health and fitness subreddit for three years. I try to encourage my friends in all their exercise and healthy living endeavors. I don’t push anyone, because we are all on our own path, but I try to recognize everyone’s journey as individual and worthwhile.
I’ve posted on my social media the story of how I lost 25% of my body weight several years ago following my doctor’s dietary advice and started running a little over a year later. My friends went from teasing me about my eating habits to encouraging me, apologizing for teasing, and joining me for 5k walks and runs. A friend of mine did her first 5k with me, bought herself a wearable tracking device, and now walks several times a week.
Do you have any tips for others on how to take steps toward improving their well-being? Commit to your changes, even the small changes. Good intentions are fine, but they won’t do anything for you if you don’t follow through with them.
What’s your favorite workout song? I don’t listen to a lot of music when I work out, but when I do, for some reason, I like to listen to albums by Weird Al and The Lonely Island.
Are you training for anything? Right now, I’m working on recovery and then rebuilding speed and stamina. I have old injuries that flare up from time to time, and I aggravated one of them a few weeks ago. I work two jobs, and I’m really busy from January through April, so I don’t run much during those months. The summer is when I rebuild. I’m trying to increase my mileage per run this year as well.
What are your health and fitness goals? I would like to lose more weight and maintain a lower body weight. I was overweight from the time I hit puberty until I was 33, and the extra weight negatively affected both my physical and mental health. Managing my weight and staying active are long-term investments in my continued health for the decades to come.
What is one thing that Humana can do to help you live a healthier lifestyle? Be proponents of healthy eating initiatives. Publishing recipes is great. Pushing for more nutrition and cooking education in public schools, promoting healthy cooking competitions, and getting involved in public dialog about food deserts and food insecurity are worthwhile public health avenues to pursue.
What’s the best health advice you have ever received? Cut down on the sugars in your diet. I was a vegetarian for 8 years, but I wound up eating a lot of pasta and a lot of junk food because it didn’t have meat in it.
After I went back to a more omnivorous lifestyle, the key, for me, was doing a food lifestyle overhaul that meant eating a lot more vegetables and cutting out a lot of sugars and starches. Diabetes runs in my family, and modifying my diet is one measure of prevention I’m taking to be able to better face my long-term health.
Being ready, willing, and able to follow the advice of my doctor, as well as being able to see a doctor in the first place, are privileges that allowed me to take that step in improving my health.
Humana believes that everyone has a unique health and well-being story. What is yours? My doctor recommended I cut sugars, starches, and many carbohydrates from my diet four years ago. I lost 25% of my body weight at age 33. I was overweight from puberty until I was about to turn 34.
I have always loved being active and biking throughout college, but a series of injuries, from a torn meniscus to plantar fasciitis to a frozen shoulder, stifled my exercise and sometimes greatly affected my mobility.
Losing weight took the stress off my joints, and I became a runner for the first time when I was nearly 35 years old. I’m not very fast, but I enjoy it. I try to follow the healthy eating guidelines my physician laid out for me 4 years ago to manage my weight and anticipate better the health challenges that have faced family members, such as diabetes, arthritis, anxiety, and heart disease.
How did you start your journey toward better health? I have always been active, always trying to improve my diet and exercise, but I always believed you could out-exercise a bad diet. Turns out that isn’t the case. The turning point for me was going to the doctor in the summer of 2011 for a shoulder injury that I had tried to ignore for two years, even though it had begun to impact my left arm’s mobility and my ability to wear normal clothes.
While I was there, we talked about physical therapy, my weight, my old knee and foot injuries, and my anxiety. After several months of physical therapy for my frozen shoulder, done both at a PT gym and then replicated at home with home gym equipment, I regained mobility and was on the road to regaining full strength.
I implemented anxiety management techniques and medication. I went back to my doctor to talk about my snoring, and that’s when he recommended a dietary change and laid out a plan for me. There’s sometimes conflicting information about exactly what to eat, but in general, there are recommendations that most people will find successful if they follow them, and I was at a point in my life where I saw his words as a prescription.
It changed my life for the better – my respiratory health improved, there was less stress on my joints, and I was able to be active in ways I hadn’t been for a dozen years.
What have you been able to achieve from living a healthy lifestyle? I’ve been an inspiration to friends and family, for one thing. At 37, I am in the best shape of my adult life, and I would like to keep it that way for my long-term health’s benefit.
My main goal initially was to lose weight, but the second and more important ongoing goal is to remain active and mobile for as many years as I can. My grandmother was active and healthy into her late 80s, and I aim to emulate her example.
What motivates you to put your health first? The knowledge of the brevity of life. My stepmom passed away in August 2012 after a decade of fighting colon cancer. The loss of this woman who had been a part of my family since I was a child was devastating, but it did not defeat me. She was an inspiration to me because even with her diagnosis and rounds of treatment, she lived her life to the fullest – she got to know her grandchildren, went on vacations with my dad, saw movies with friends, cooked, stayed active running her business as long as she could, and did not give up. T
here is only one chance we get at being alive on this earth, and we are given just one body. Having suffered mobility issues and injuries in the past, there is nothing more freeing than running at my own pace on a country road in the warm rain or with the wind at my back or down a gently sloping hill. I almost feel like I can fly.
It is a privilege to be alive and able to move as I please, not a right, and I am grateful for that privilege every day it is afforded to me. No one is going to live forever. It’s up to us to live it on our own terms.