While we take pride in sharing the message that a healthy lifestyle is important, it’s also critical to follow that advice and live a healthy lifestyle yourself! Highmark employees don’t just talk the talk – they also walk the talk (#IWalktheTalk). In this ongoing series, we’ll explore how individual Highmark employees stay healthy. They’ll share their tips for achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle – and also share what makes them tick when it comes to health.


In this interview, I spoke with Nicolette Lupinacci, who works here at Highmark. After spending two decades eating unhealthily, Nicolette realized that she wanted to live a healthy lifestyle–and help her family adopt healthy habits early in life.

Jasmine Davis: How do you stay healthy? What steps do you take to lead a healthy lifestyle?

Nicolette Lupinacci: I try to eat natural foods. Although there is always room for improvement, I believe in an organic, natural diet. No fake foods, no artificial anything. My ideal goal is to follow more of a paleo-style diet. Eating right is my biggest struggle, but I am trying to implement better food choices in my life.

I am also new to running. I appreciate that it doesn’t cost anything, just some good shoes, and there is no commute or extra preparation involved… I can just step out of my house and go! I enjoy getting out into the fresh air, and running about 10-12 miles a week. I run 50+ miles most months. It’s a great stress reducer and an opportunity to spend a little time with yourself and your thoughts, and a chance to develop an increased self-awareness.

Support and Accountability

JD: What is your favorite health tip for leading a healthy lifestyle? Keeping in mind that everyone is different, what would you recommend to people looking to start or maintain a healthy life?

NL: Set a goal. Let everyone know it, and be accountable. I use social media and friends and family as a support group. If I post on Facebook that I am going to get up at 5am and run… if I do not post that I did it, people will call me out on it! I also sign up for races throughout the year whether 3, 5 or 10 miles to give me something to work for. After the EQT 10-miler on November 3rd I started training for my first half-marathon.

JD: So, we know you recently completed your first half-marathon. First of all, how did you train for the race (especially given how cold it was this winter!)?

NL: I joined the Highmark marathon training team here. They provided me with a training schedule and running diary. Every week we had to report our miles into the Wellness Center, so it was nice to be accountable. I spent a ton of time on the treadmill and elliptical during the cold months. I had a coworker who was going to the gym quite often, so I would make her drag me over 2-3 days a week.

I also bundled up and ran during the colder days. One time, it was so cold my eyelashes froze shut! So, at that point I would only run when it was 25 degrees or warmer. I also ran a lot during my lunch hour, when I wasn’t at the gym. I found a great route from Highmark, through the Strip District [in Pittsburgh], to about 27th Street and back. It was flat and fast and I really enjoyed it. I also stayed in touch with my Highmark Running 101 coaches, who I would meet up with on the weekends for longer runs. I trained up to 10 miles, as the training program told us to do.

Maintaining Motivation

JD: That’s impressive! What kept you motivated, both when training, and then during the race itself?

NL: I was running the half-marathon and raising money for a cancer support group, so I had a lot of friends and family donating money. I had a ton of support, and raised almost $3,000 in my last 2 marathon events (the relay last year and the ½ this year). My husband has also participated in every event I signed up for, and always put the kids to bed so I could go out for my 8pm runs when I needed squeeze them in.

Nicolette is a Highmark employee making healthy choices

There’s nothing like the feeling when you reach the finish line!

Nicolette is living a healthy life

Another race done, another medal won!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the half, I felt really good for about 7+ miles. I got an extra boost around mile 8, when I saw my little brother volunteering at the Medic Tent, and he ran along with me for a bit until I saw my mom with her husband, and my 2 kids cheering for me. That really motivated me to keep going. Mentally, I started checking out around Mile 11. But I was 2 miles away from doing this! It would be insane to stop… and anyway how would I get to my car?! The last 2 were grueling, but all of the spectators were awesome, and it was great to just push through and do it!

Weird Health Advice

JD: What’s the weirdest health advice you’ve heard? Have you tried it? Did it work?

NL: I watched a documentary on juice fasting. I did try it…. I bought a juicer and fasted for 14 days, drinking only the fruit and vegetable juice I made. Everywhere I went I would bring this bottle of green stuff so I wouldn’t get hungry. I think it worked… jump-started my attempts at eating healthy and it was a great cleanse for my system, and I lost my first 20 pounds of the year.

JD: Wow! Was the juicing hard to stick to, for you?

NL: The juicing was hard to stick to for the first couple days. I just tried to keep busy and away from the fridge. My husband cooked dinner for himself and the kids so I wasn’t tempted to pick on their food.

JD: Why do you feel that health is so important? What are your motivations for leading a healthy lifestyle?

NL: I have over 2 decades of bad eating habits under my belt. It’s difficult to change habits that you watched other people do for so long in your life. Now that I have children, I want them to grow up with the head start of a living a healthy lifestyle, and not have that uphill battle. I want to be around for a long time, and I want to enjoy life with no restrictions. When you live a healthy lifestyle, your whole body operates the way it should.

 

Congratulations to Nicolette for completing the EQT 10-miler and the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon and for jump-starting her healthy lifestyle!

What are your favorite health tips? Do you have any questions for Nicolette? We’d love to hear ‘em! Share with us in the comments!