Lorie Domingue wins MHealthy Dr. Robert Winfield Champion Award

12/10/2018

The admissions customer service associate was chosen from nearly 700 MHealthy champions for her long-standing commitment to staff wellness.

Lorie Domingue MHealthy Award
Lorie Domingue MHealthy Award
Lorie Domingue, right, shares a moment of celebration with colleague Kevin Lewtschanyn after receiving the Dr. Robert A. Winfield Champion Award from MHealthy.

Energetic and bubbly, Admissions Customer Service Associate Lorie Domingue — known for having her water bottle on hand and possibly being the fastest walker on campus — often is found facilitating conversations at meetings, sharing ideas and rallying her team.

She’s a natural fit to be her office’s MHealthy champion. She enjoys creating and promoting living-well initiatives with her colleagues for the University of Michigan’s faculty and staff health-focused service.

Together, Domingue and her admissions crew have done gratitude turkey trots — where the office walks around the University Center handing out thank yous — a healthy food potluck on Halloween in an effort to stave off all those fun-sized candy bars, and a summer-time sun information session. And yes, there was a quiz — along with a prize of aloe vera and other beach goodies for the person with the most correct answers. In 2014, she also received an MHealthy grant for Omron Pedometers for the entire office staff to promote walking.

But when she recently was put in the spotlight for all her front-facing MHealthy work — she received the Dr. Robert A. Winfield Champion Award, naming her the champion of MHealthy champions, if you will — something unexpected happened.

“I was stopped-in-my-tracks speechless,” said Domingue, who received the award, voted on by her MHealthy colleagues, at the at the annual MHealthy champion retreat in November. “I didn’t expect that honor. I do MHealthy because it’s fun and I learn so much; not to be recognized. I was absolutely speechless and I told the audience that my director wasn’t going to believe that I was at a loss for words.”

Now that she’s found her voice again, we caught up with Domingue and asked her about her MHealthy experience, why she does it and — with those New Year’s resolutions right around the corner — what tips she has to put more of a focus on health.

What does it mean to you to be named an MHealthy champion of champions?
The award means so much to me. I had the honor to see the late Bob Winfield speak at a previous MHealthy retreat; he was passionate about MHealthy and motivational. It’s quite humbling to have my name next to his.

I’m happy that what we are doing here on Dearborn’s campus is being recognized; but honestly, I don’t see myself differently than anyone else. I’m someone who started as MHealthy champion because my supervisor asked and I said yes. I was nervous about it. There was a learning curve. But I was open to giving it a try and I’ve gotten so much out of it — learning how to take better care of myself and teaching that to others, making new friends and having an overall better outlook on life. That’s not the most exciting story, but I’m sharing it because I think many of us have been in a similar situation with an unexpected opportunity. If you are offered something that will help you grow, I say go for it.

So was your healthy focus a New Year’s resolution?
If New Year’s resolutions work for you, that’s great. But no matter how many times that I’ve told myself on Jan. 1 that I was going to start a diet, it didn’t last long. So I’ve learned through experience that the ‘new year, new you’ idea isn’t a motivator for me.

But what I have found to work is moderation. Don’t deprive yourself. Don’t go to extremes. Set smaller realistic goals, things that can be done on a regular basis that you will be able to maintain. Drinking water instead of sugar drinks to stay hydrated. Going for walks at lunch. Staying positive by taking the time to count blessings. That way it’s not an annual renewal; it’s just a part of your day. And when you do things you are able to maintain, it eventually becomes part of your routine.

You’ve done MHealthy for six years now. What keeps you going?
MHealthy is a wonderful thing to be involved in. It shows you how to find ways to be healthy, have fun and connect with each other in our work life. I’ve helped organize campus-wide things like the scavenger hunt and office-specific activities like partnered walks around campus, water hydration challenges, replacing Valentine’s candy with fruit and many other activities. We also share MHealthy information and updates at our monthly staff meetings. We currently start our meeting with a joke or funny story submitted to our laugh box (which has replaced our previous gratitude box). It’s a great, positive way to begin our meetings.

It’s great seeing that camaraderie and knowing that I helped promote it — along with the admissions wellness committee, there’s a group of us who brainstorm and carry out ideas now. Fun and humor, just like physical activity, are essential to well being. 

But there also is an important serious side too. I’ve learned about GMOs in food — it made me think twice about what I eat and feed my family. I’ve learned more about how stress can make you physically sick, but research shows that something as simple as kindness decreases stress — so choose to be positive in your interactions with others. 

There’s always something new to learn with MHealthy. I think that’s what keeps me hooked.

What’s the most important things you’ve learned as an MHealthy champion?
Motivating your team to be physically active is important, but so is including the people who may not participate in other ways. We never know what others are going through. We all have those days, weeks — maybe months — where we feel overwhelmed with life. When I’m in that overwhelming negative place, I focus on what’s good in my life and exercise to work out the energy. 

But everyone is different and there are a variety of ways that you can help, such as asking how someone is doing, really listening and showing kindness. We are all going through something. So count your blessings, try not to judge and find a meaningful way to connect. 

MHealthy is more than a program you do, it’s a life lesson.

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