Renae Schumann, PhD, RN, CNE
For Renae Schumann, a nursing school dean, health isn’t just about getting in a workout or eating nutritious foods. It’s also about finding peace.
Which is why the dean makes it a priority to focus on all three (and much more) on a daily basis.
It all started 14 years ago when Renae weighed over 200 pounds. She saw a photo of herself and disliked it so much, she immediately changed her lifestyle. She dropped sugar, started going to the gym regularly, learned how to box and powerlift, and lost 100 pounds in 14 months.
She recognized her own hard work and improvement. From that moment on, there was no going back. This “new” Renae was now the “only” Renae.
“To me, health is feeling my best no matter what,” said Renae. “I know what it takes to be healthy. I know it’s harder these days than when I first lost the weight, but I also know what I have to do.”
Now in her 60s, the health challenges Renae has faced stem from two factors: a change in her career and menopause.
Once a bedside nurse, Renae now works as a dean running the administrative side of the School of Nursing & Allied Health at Houston Baptist University — which is both challenging and stressful.
“Being a dean is much more sedentary, and it’s harder to find time to work out,” said Renae. “I’ve had to make adjustments and find other ways to accommodate daily exercise.”
Renae wears a fitness watch that reminds her when it’s time to get up and get moving. It also keeps track of her workouts throughout the day, which it logs as any movement that lasts 10 consecutive minutes or more.
Renae walks/runs every day, and even participates in the occasional 5K race. Recently she won a race for her age group.
“If I go a whole day without any workout, I know it was a tough day,” said Renae. “I’ll tell myself I need to go home and do something about that so I don’t slip back into old habits.”
The other challenge — increasing age — is a daily hurdle.
“Life happens. Changes in your body happen. But I’ve been able to maintain such a good level of health that, even at my age, I don’t take any regular medications,” said Renae. “That’s something I’m really proud of.”
Renae has adjusted her lifestyle over the years based on what her body needs as she gets older. For example, she might decrease the amount of weight she lifts or prioritize sleep. She’s constantly listening to her body and adapting.
What truly gets Renae through the day isn’t the workout reminders or the walks. It’s the moments of peace. Getting up from her desk to go for a walk around the university not only counts as a “workout” for Renae, but it improves her mindset.
“The older I get, the more important I find peace,” she said. “I find things in my life that help promote peace, which I’ve found also help promote better workouts the next day.”
While she works in an urban location, Renae owns a piece of property away from the hustle and bustle of city life. She travels there often to sit in nature to decompress. While she’s there, she doesn’t hear highway traffic or city sounds. Instead, she listens to the sound of wind blowing through the trees and cows mooing in the distance.
She also drinks lavender tea every evening before bed. It helps her body relax for sleep — a huge priority for Renae — and clears her mind.
Renae knows what it’s like to prioritize a healthy lifestyle while going through menopause, and she’s passionate about helping anyone else going through it. Her advice:
- A lot of being healthy is being smart. It’s important to make healthy changes for the right reasons, and only you can decide what those reasons are. Make smart choices and make them for you.
- As long as you’re doing it, that’s great. It doesn’t matter how fast you’re doing it or whether you “win the race.” The fact that you’re doing something, and it makes you feel good — that’s what matters.
- Find some peace within yourself. In turn, you’ll find the joy that accompanies that peace.
- You’ve got this. Being motivated to not give up is sometimes the best you can do.
Renae Schumann, PhD, RN, CNE, is a Dean & John S. Dunn Professor at the School of Nursing & Allied Health at Houston Baptist University.
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