Women's Health Role Models

Who inspires you to live healthier? See our favorites in HealthyWomen's staff picks

friends laughingWho inspires you to live healthier? Read on to find out who inspires HealthyWomen staffers to go for their goals:


When I joined the local Curves fitness center, I wasn’t expecting the owner to become my health role model. When we met, Sara was a city firefighter, business owner and breast cancer survivor—all by the time she turned 30. At that time, she was recovering from her first bout with cancer. Through the years, I've seen her endure pain that few of us will ever know. Yet she shows up at Curves with energy, enthusiasm and optimism that most of us only dream of. Sara has played college basketball, run road races, hoisted a 250-pound fellow firefighter over her slender frame in training drills, and I'm sure done many things I would never dream of. When scar tissue and pain made it harder for her to tackle rigorous sports, she threw her energies into supporting others' efforts in workouts, nutrition and life in general. And she periodically takes off on big adventures, such as supporting the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and participating in an ultra-marathon through Costa Rica. Sara is once again battling cancer and is in too much pain to come to work right now. But her vigor for life and health and her desire to live life to the fullest remain an inspiration to me and many others.
—Marcia Mangum Cronin, Managing Editor

My health role model is the woman who said, "We put the wrong emphasis on what beauty is and what health is. Health is being vibrant and having energy and being happy. If you're healthy, it's got nothing to do with how much you weigh." Who is it? Ellen DeGeneres. I mean, look at her: she's 52 but doesn't look at day over 40! Personally, she practices yoga, eats a vegan diet and avoids processed and refined foods. But it goes beyond all of that. Ellen lives consciously, compassionately and courageously; she embraces all life (animal and human) and really embodies the change I hope to see in the world and in myself. When I think of Ellen, I think: Dance! Be free! Be yourself! And do it with a bunch of people around you, sharing in that good energy and love.
—Kristen Mucci-Mosier, Senior Online Editor

My grandmother is my health role model. She's 88 and still vibrant and strong. She's beaten a heart virus and breast cancer. She keeps herself healthy both physically and mentally by walking, swimming, playing bridge and hosting a book club. She does all this in her free time, when she's not selling real estate (she revels in the fact that no one in her office knows her age). She is truly an inspiration to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and I hope to carry on the tradition of enjoying a long, fulfilling life full of love, health and happiness!
—Julie Leff Buchanan, Web Producer

My health role model? My mom, of course! And, not because she's a senior division marathon queen or has abs to envy or "little black dress" upper arms. She doesn't. In fact, she has a killer sweet tooth and would take dessert before a vegetable any day of the week. But, I learned from my mom at a very early age the golden rules of health care advocacy: ask questions, explore options, expect to be treated respectfully and speak up or write letters to the top if you're not, and be resourceful in your caregiving, if you're called upon to give it. There's not a prescription that my mother receives that she doesn't review at home before she takes it to ensure it's not contraindicated for her heart condition or her other age-related issues. And, more than once, she's pointed out to one of her physicians that a prescribed medication isn't the best for her because of potential side effects. For more than 25 years, my mother provided care for my father, who suffered from Parkinson's disease, and made all of our lives better for it. She's a caregiver to her very core. From her, I've learned that aging isn't something to be feared or repelled by; that once a mental health nurse, always a nurse; that chronic conditions aren't a reason to give up; and that having a healthy "health IQ" that ranges from being on top of preventive health screenings to knowing about new medical trends can be lifesavers. And, did I mention that she turns 89 in June? Thanks, Mom!
—Heidi Rosvold-Brenholtz, Editorial Director

During college, I was fortunate to not only meet one of my very best friends, but also an incredibly inspiring woman. Sitting in an English course, a girl named Colleen and I quickly hit it off. She radiated positive energy and happiness. It was hard not to enjoy her company. I was amazed to find out that she had lost a sister to cancer when she was in middle school. Even more surprising, her mother was currently battling breast cancer and had been for several years. I couldn't believe how someone could have such a positive attitude about life having experienced so much health adversity under her own roof. Unfortunately, Colleen's mother passed away while we were roommates, and her father got cancer a few years after we graduated. When it seemed like things couldn't be worse, Colleen was diagnosed with two primary tumors. After a year of treatment, Colleen pulled through and has been cleared by her doctors. She recently returned to work and lives what may be considered the normal life of a 26-year-old. Colleen taught me that when it comes to your health, attitude is everything. Colleen has an amazing ability to remain positive, optimistic and determined through her many trials. I am grateful to have her as an example and hope to be able to replicate such an incredible perspective not only when it comes to my health and the health of my family, but through all aspects of life.
—Candace Jones, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications

ADVERTISEMENT

Black Women Turn to Midwives to Avoid COVID and ‘Feel Cared For’

Fear of the pandemic and historically poor outcomes for Black women giving birth in hospitals is fuelling a demand for home births.

Pregnancy & Postpartum

Menopause Goes Beyond Reproductive Issues

This change of life affects our health from head to toe; it's important to get educated and find the right health care provider.

Menopause & Aging Well