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Our Health Role Models in 2017

health role models

Who motivates you to think more proactively about your health and wellness? Who speaks out and makes change when it comes to the issues that matter to you?

As we enter 2017, we wanted to find out who is inspiring our community to prioritize their wellbeing and think about health from new or even challenging perspectives.

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MarlaJan Wexler from Luck Fupus

“Over the past 18 months, Selena Gomez has not only gone public with her battles with systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), but has shed light and awareness on this often under-publicized, misunderstood, debilitating disease. As someone who has a steady stream of funds, access to the best physicians and treatments/facilities, by going public, she has used her celebrity to showcase to the entire world both the physical and mental effects of lupus, a virtually invisible illness, and to bring attention to the fact that you must listen to your body and that it’s often times imperative to take a break.”

Cassie Bjork, RD, LD aka Dietitian Cassie

“My role model for 2017 is Glennon Doyle Melton, number one best-selling author and blogger from Momastery. Glennon is leading a movement of ‘real talk’ about vulnerable, raw, real-life topics that everyone can relate to, and that are often seen as taboo — like love, sex, faith, addiction, and pornography. Glennon gracefully dives into territory that is rarely seen in this day and age, and is a brave soul for speaking with love, acceptance, and understanding. I aspire to be more transparent like Glennon in my writing, speaking, and interactions, both professionally and personally.”

Magic

Josh Robbins from I’m Still Josh

“I really never knew that Magic Johnson was someone I looked up to — until recently, as I started learning more and more about his journey living with HIV and how much he really had to experience in front of the world for the first time. Because of his choice to own it and his example, I have the perfect example of how to live well with HIV. And how to take the punches that unfair circumstances hand me in the form of funny, stigmatizing jokes, and mischaracterizations.”

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Ashley Boynes-Shuck, aka Arthritis Ashley

“I actually think that celebrities going public about medical issues, such as Selena Gomez with lupus and Lady Gaga addressing struggles with chronic pain and PTSD, are great health heroes. Fashion designer Michael Kuluva sharing his RA diagnosis was also inspiring. By being open and honest, they are letting young people know that it is okay to have a medical problem, and to be real about it. They are also helping to shed light on invisible illnesses. Perhaps even more inspiring are ‘everyday people’ — the health advocates and patient activists who start support groups, fight for legislation, and continue to educate and inspire on their blogs and social media. These people and their caregivers are my personal heroes as a patient, advocate, and health writer.”

Ashley Graham

Rita Mauceri, Healthline senior lifestyle editor

Ashley Graham is amazing! She calls herself a ‘body activist’ and in 2016, she became the first plus-size model to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Her efforts to empower girls and women to embrace their bodies and feel beautiful at every size are inspiring. I will definitely be watching her in 2017.”

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Amy Tenderich, DiabetesMine founder and editor-in-chief

Susannah Fox, the first woman chief technology officer of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is a friend of mine and was the opening keynote speaker at our 2015 DiabetesMine Innovation Summit. She’s a premiere expert on how the Internet and social media affect the healthcare industry and the consumer healthcare experience, with a special focus on people living with chronic conditions. She also leads a new innovation lab for HHS to help employees at the federal agency focus on imagination, invention, and entrepreneurship. She puts a huge emphasis on peer-to-peer healthcare, crowdsourcing, and the real life challenges patients face—and the ‘home healthcare hacks"=’ they invent; she began to map this ecosystem of invention.”

Michelle Obama

Kareem Yasin, Healthline editor

Michelle Obama. Not only has her Let’s Move! campaign drawn a ton of attention to kids’ nutrition and overall wellbeing, but she spent a lot of 2016 talking about mental health stigma and advocating for more openness and acceptance of mental health issues — for everyone from children to military veterans. She promotes critical thinking and asks us to think more compassionately about how we approach health issues we may not be very familiar with. She’s definitely someone who inspires me both in my personal life and in my work.”

Alex Caspero, MA, RD from Delish Knowledge

Rich Roll is a plant powered wellness advocate, bestselling author, ultra-athlete, and podcast host. Besides being a strong voice for the plant-based community, his transformative story, from overweight lawyer to competitive ultra-athlete, is inspiring to all of us. Above all, he understands that health goes far beyond the diet and empowers his listeners to become their best, most authentic selves by addressing topics of spirituality, meditation, fitness, sustainability, leadership, and more.”

Amy Marlow from Blue Light Blue

"Jenn Marshall, co-founder of 'This Is My Brave.' Out of her own struggles with bipolar disorder, Jenn developed and followed her creative vision to use storytelling as a means of breaking down mental health stigma. The show takes place across the U.S. and offers a sense of solidarity and hope to both the performers and the audience. I first met Jenn over social media, and I gained confidence in my own recovery as I learned about her incredible work. I had the privilege to be a member of the 2016 Washington D.C. cast of 'This Is My Brave', and getting to experience Jenn's vision firsthand was so powerful. I am blown away by the ripple effect of her advocacy: one woman's bravery created a safe space for hundreds and even thousands of others to be brave, too--myself included. This quote of hers has helped me in my own work to share my story and shine a light for others who are struggling with mental illness: 'One day we will live in a world where we won’t have to call it “brave” when talking about mental illness. We’ll just call it talking.'”

Amanda Doyle, Healthline copy editor

“My health role model for 2017 is my best friend Whitney. She is constantly reminding me that there are no hard and fast rules for taking care of myself. Sometimes I have to push hard at the gym, sometimes I have to make the best food choices from the options I'm given, and sometimes I just need to lay in bed all day. All of these are appropriate and healthy choices! She reminds me to check the larger picture, make intentional decisions towards balance, and forgive myself and move on from behaviors that don't support my goals for physical, mental, and emotional health.”

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Andy Bellatti, MS, RD, strategic director for Dietitians for Professional Integrity

“My health role model is Dr. Marion Nestle. Dr. Nestle has been a voice of nutritional reason and knowledge for decades, and her work and writings on food politics were instrumental in moving the food movement forward. Her sharp insight, academic integrity, and wisdom have inspired many, including me. Her next book, on conflicts of interest in nutrition research, will surely be another must-read.”

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