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Wellness Rebels: Hilarie Bain

Hilarie Bain, the University of Mississippi’s director of printing and creative services, logs about 14,000 steps during her work day and has taken many measures to stay healthy over the last 12 years.
Hilarie Bain, the University of Mississippi’s director of printing and creative services, logs about 14,000 steps during her work day and has taken many measures to stay healthy over the last 12 years.

Hilarie Bain rarely stops moving.

The University of Mississippi’s director of printing and creative services walks all over Sam-Gerard Hall during her workday. She cheerfully meets with colleagues from one end of the building to the other. She takes the stairs as easily as someone stepping over a puddle. 

Thanks to a pedometer, she knows that from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., she takes about 14,000 steps – the equivalent of seven miles each day. 

She takes seriously the idea that sitting at a desk all day is dangerously unhealthy. Science has confirmed this notion in recent years.

“I don’t sit still,” Bain said. “During my breaks, some employees and I go walking. We take 20 minutes to walk around campus because otherwise, I would sit at my desk all day. I don’t want that. It’s not healthy.”

She’s never been in better health, but she had to take many steps to get where she is today. It all started 12 years ago when she got engaged to her husband, Kevin Bain, a senior staff photographer with University Communications, who works in the same building. During that planning process, she started a nutrition program and has maintained a healthy weight and lifestyle since. 

Nowadays, the couple’s two children, Sam, 8, and McCord, 4, are the couple’s motivation for staying healthy.

“Being an older mom – I was 35 when I had Sam and 39 when I had McCord – I wanted to be around,” Bain said. “I want to be healthy and have fun with them and be able to play. That’s the reason.”

A busy schedule of work for her and school for the kids really takes a chunk out of quality time she can spend with her husband and children. But she wants the energy to make the most of that time. 

“I really want to be there when I get home,” Bain said. “After working eight hours a day, going home, cooking dinner and doing homework, I want to have a little bit of time with them. If I don’t exercise and eat right, I am just sitting around. I am quiet and not the mom I want to be and not the wife I want to be.”

For her, exercise is the key to feeling well. In addition to the impressive number of steps she logs during the workday, Bain tries to go on walks four or five times per week and uses a Fitbit to measure her daily activity levels. 

“If I go for a period where I don’t work out, I really can tell a difference in how I feel,” Bain said. “I am just lethargic and get home in the afternoon, and I lie down on the couch and don’t want to interact with the boys.”

She sets an example in her household that everyone follows. Staying in motion is a way of life for the family. Kevin and Hilarie take their children to the Grove or the local parks to play often. The family is also usually up and moving early on Saturday mornings. 

Kevin Bain said his wife often joins him and their sons in the front yard to throw the football. Her strong arm impresses him, but her overall commitment to physical activity is inspiring to them all, he said.

“We both like to walk,” Kevin Bain said. “She likes to go around the Square to see what’s happening and then around one of the neighborhoods. I like to go on the trails at Whirlpool. We will usually walk one on one day and one on the other.”

But a healthy diet is also a major component of the Bain family’s lifestyle. They eat lots of salads, fruits, spinach and other vegetables and lean meats, such as chicken and fish. The key to staying on track is advance meal planning, Hilarie Bain said.

Her commitment to cooking healthy, tasty meals even after her long, busy workdays impresses her husband.

“She doesn’t throw together just some junk out of a box or can, but good, healthy food, and tasty,” Kevin Bain said. “Some people might think that since she is health-conscious, that it’s cabbage and beets on the table for supper. Hilarie makes some delicious meals.”

Not missing out on the occasional less-than-healthy treat is also important.

“I don’t deprive myself of anything,” Hilarie Bain said. “That’s one thing I learned a long time ago. If we want to go out and have hamburgers and French fries, that’s something that’s a treat and not something to have all the time. The same thing goes with desserts. I’m not going to deprive myself or the kids of anything.”

The university has many resources in place for those who want to get healthy. RebelWell offers a wide range of opportunities to become educated about living a healthy lifestyle and also offers group fitness classes, cooking demonstrations and nutrition counseling, among other services.

Bain sets a great example for those who lead busy lives but still want to focus on wellness, said Wendy Carmean, RebelWell project coordinator.

“Hilarie sets fantastic examples for busy moms balancing family and thriving careers,” Carmean said. “More importantly, she’s teaching her children how to live a healthy lifestyle. Hilarie is truly a great example of what RebelWell represents.”

Hilarie Bain encourages others to start their own fitness journey. She said it’s OK to ease into it.

“Just start with one thing, whether it be drinking water instead of drinking sodas all the time,” she said. “If you do it long enough, it becomes a habit. After that, add on something else. Give yourself 15 minutes to go walk. Just choose something and commit to that one thing. Once you have that one thing and you get going on it, it’s so much easier.”

Courtesy of Michael Newsom and the Ole Miss News Desk

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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