During her 11 years as an award-winning paramedic for the Detroit Fire Department, Imana (“Mo”) Minard was never afraid to face up to a challenge.
After she rescued a three-year-old girl from almost certain death due to smoke inhalation during a west side Detroit house fire in 2010, the city’s firefighting agency acknowledged as much – by honoring Mo as “Paramedic of the Year.”
But the fearless Detroit native wasn’t finished yet.
Armed with a newly acquired nursing diploma and a master’s degree in the same field, she signed on at the Detroit Medical Center (DMC) and quickly rose through the ranks to her current position – as the manager of both the DMC emergency room (ER) and its clinical decision unit.
Both of those jobs call for steady nerves and calm courage, whenever a struggling ER patient’s life is on the line. Ms. Minard has both – along with a hospital-wide reputation as a savvy administrator who never loses her cool, regardless of the situation in the ED at any given moment.
And now she’s about to be tested again.
Only a few days ago, the 42-year-old ER manager decided to “take the plunge” – by joining this year’s DMC-sponsored “61 Day Health Challenge,” in order to begin losing some of the extra weight she’s been carrying around with her in recent years.
As an accomplished health care professional, Ms. Minard has long understood that being overweight isn’t good for your health. She’s also had the courage to go public with her problem, while vowing to participate in the upcoming annual health challenge program of eating more nutritious foods and less sugar, while also exercising more.
The annual DMC 61 Day Health Challenge is a two-month period – November through December – in which Detroit-area residents both young and old take a special pledge to eat better, exercise more and learn more about good health and nutrition.
For Mo Minard, it’s “the perfect solution.”
Ask her how she became significantly overweight and she won’t hesitate to point out that although she’s a disciplined health professional, she’s also very human.
And when her beloved father, Tony Moore, died suddenly a couple of years back – after a 45-year career as a hardworking UAW Hi-Lo driver at Chrysler – Mo went into a long period of agonizing grief. While struggling to come to terms with the loss, she took comfort wherever she could.
“Food can be very comforting,” she said, “and you can always count on it to be there when you need it. While I was struggling with my dad’s death, I ate almost constantly.”
After more than two years of compulsive overeating, Mo became afraid to step on the scale. “I can’t face what I know it will tell me,” she explained. “I’m sure I’ve gained 50-60 pounds – and I must be up near 300 pounds, at this point.”
In recent months, however, Ms. Minard has become increasingly determined to start losing that extra weight. “I’m tired of feeling uncomfortable all the time,” she says, “and I know that being overweight is bad for my overall health. Obesity is a big risk factor for adult-onset diabetes and hypertension – to say nothing of heart disease.”
After several years of fretting over her weight, Ms. Minard says she began to feel a new sense of hope recently, when she learned about the DMC 61 Day Health Challenge. “When I heard about the goals of the program – better eating habits, more exercise, and learning more about nutrition – I knew it was perfect for me.”
While saluting his skilled ER manager, DMC Harper/Hutzel and Receiving Hospitals CEO Reginald Eadie, MD, MBA, said he understood exactly why she’s so excited about joining this year’s Challenge. “Mo is a terrific manager, and she understands why it’s so important to reduce your health risks by taking appropriate steps to change an unhealthy lifestyle,” said Dr. Eadie.
“She’s been a leader ever since she arrived at the DMC, and now she’s going to be a leader in the 61 Day Health Challenge.”
This year’s Challenge will begin with a special kick off gala event at the DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan auditorium in midtown Detroit, from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, October 30.
As Mo Minard learned only recently, the Challenge began in 2012 at DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital when then hospital president Dr. Eadie and a few colleagues realized that if they could help employees and community members “Say No to Soda Pop” – the exclusion of the excess sugar in their diet might help put a dent in the so-called “obesity epidemic.”
Now four years later, participates are asked to not consume pop or fried foods, consume less sugar and more fruits and incorporating more steps into their daily routine.
According to Dr. Eadie, this year’s Challenge Motto says it all: “Less sugar, more steps, eat more fruit!”
As always, this year’s kick off will be marked by the participation of the “Challenge Community Partners” – including students from the Cornerstone Health & Technology High School and other groups – all of whom will be taking this year’s Challenge pledge.
For her part, Mo Minard says she can’t wait for the October 30 event to begin.
“As a professional healthcare provider, I know education is the key to better health,” she said. “And for several months now, I’ve been telling myself: You can do it, Mo. You can do this. Don’t be afraid of failure. If you slip once or twice, that’s okay . . . because with the 61 Day Challenge, recovery can always begin at your very next mealtime. Right now I’m feeling very optimistic about taking this year’s pledge.”
To learn more about the DMC’s 61 Day Challenge and this year’s kick off event visit www.dmc.org/61days.