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June Wellness Hero June Wellness Hero

Making a Run for It

“I decided I needed to get healthy and once I started running, it was stress relief for me. I became addicted to it.” – Melissa Acuna

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Melissa Acuna, RN: RN Coordinator, Baytown Clinic

June 2023

With a family history of diabetes, Melissa knew she couldn’t go down the same road and started running toward a healthier lifestyle. Even though she never enjoyed running when she was younger, it became a magical part of her healthy lifestyle when she combined her love of Disney with her new passion for fitness.

What inspired you to start your wellness journey?

I had always been fairly healthy, but I noticed my blood sugar would get high at times. With my parents both having diabetes, I realized I needed to make some changes.

What changes did you make?

Even though I always hated running when I was younger, in 2018 I decided I was going to run my first half-marathon. Once I started running, I became addicted to it. It really gets me in a good mood afterward.

I haven’t made many changes in my diet, but during the work week I stick to more salads and veggies, and on weekends I eat whatever I want.

How often do you exercise?

I actually have a little training calendar that I follow. During the week, I’ll run 3 miles and on weekends I’ll take longer runs. I also have a Peloton at home, so I try to fit that into my workout schedule. I know I have to exercise right after work because if I go home first, I won’t do it. There are times when I don’t feel like it, but I know I’ll regret it if I don’t – but I never regret it when I do. I also walk every day at lunchtime when I’m at work.

Tell me about the marathons and races you run.

I did my first full marathon in January 2022. I didn’t think I could do it, but I needed to challenge myself. I’m a big Disney nerd. It’s my happy place, so I thought if I was going to do a marathon, it had to be there. You run through all four Disney World parks. It’s so magical. You run through the castle and there are character stops along the way. So, whenever I’d get tired or frustrated, I’d see a character on the side and stop and take a photo. It gives you the energy to keep going.

I have also done the Disney half-marathon every year since 2018, and I do 5K runs with my family quite a bit.

What’s your advice to others who want to start a wellness journey?

My advice to others would be to not be scared. Don’t doubt yourself. Your body can do things that your mind says you can’t do. Don’t doubt what your body can do.

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