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Jane
Jane Sutton

Jane Sutton is the Chairman of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC). NPC is an advocacy and support organization for the advancement of the sorority experience. (A sorority is a club for women, usually at a college or university.) Jane chose a career in health care after being inspired by her sister, who had a serious heart condition. Jane helped establish one of the first artificial heart programs at a Humana hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. She will remain chairman of NPC through 2013.

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An Interview About Living a Healthy Lifestyle: Jane Sutton

In May, the Office on Women’s Health celebrates National Women’s Health Week. This important week reminds women to make their health a top priority. Many women find it hard to take care of themselves because they are busy working and taking care of others. Jane Sutton, a successful professional, wife, and mother, learned early on that healthy eating and exercise would help her achieve all of the things she set her mind to. Read on for tips and suggestions to help you make the most of all the years ahead of you. Learn more about balancing your career and your health in this interview.

Tell us about yourself.

I am a wife, mother, professional, and volunteer. I have been married to my husband, Bob, for 32 years. We have a daughter who is a TV writer in Hollywood. My professional background is in the healthcare industry. Currently, I am the Chairman of the National Panhellenic Conference, the umbrella organization for the 26 women's sororities.

We understand that staying healthy is important to you. When did you first realize that it's important for busy women to prioritize their health?

In my mid 20s, as a young wife, mother, and professional, I realized that I could not take care of my family and my career without first taking care of myself.

What kinds of exercise tips do you have for working mothers?

Finding time to exercise as a working mother takes commitment, dedication, and the support of your family. You have to determine if it fits better into your lifestyle to exercise early in the morning, during your lunch break, or in the evening. When our daughter was small, I got up early and rode my bike in the neighborhood before the family got up. A lot of women I knew brought their tennis shoes to work and walked with co-workers during their lunch break. I tried going to the gym before going home at night, but that didn't work for me even though it does work for a lot of women. You have to find what fits for you and stick with it. Now my husband and I get up at 5:00 in the morning and are at the gym by 5:30. It took a while to adjust our 'internal clocks' to get up that early, but it fits our lifestyle and the benefits far outweigh the early rise.

In addition to hosting National Women’s Health Week, the month of May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. Did you know that being physically active is one of the most important steps that Americans of all ages can take to improve their health? According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans External link, children and adolescents should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Adults should do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week. The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition External link offers lots of tips for staying active.

What kinds of healthy eating tips do you have for working mothers?

Plan ahead! If you don't, you'll eat at a fast food restaurant and we all know what that does for you. On the weekend, I would make a menu for the week and go to the grocery store and buy all the ingredients. Dinners were simple, but healthy. Also, we ate together as a family and shared what happened during the day…an added bonus!

Do you have any tips on how to order healthy when dining out?

Order one meal and split it. Just last night my husband and I had dinner out and split the salad, entrée, and side. Portions are much larger than you need, so this is a great way to keep it in check. Obviously you should avoid fried foods, heavy sauces, and too many sweets.

When you're overwhelmed with work responsibilities, how do you find a better work/life balance?

I live in central Florida, but we have a weekend retreat in Homosassa, a small town in 'old Florida.' Sitting on the dock and watching the boats go by, or going fishing with my husband, puts everything back into perspective for me. It takes away my stress. You have to find what centers you and realize when you need time to regain your balance. If you take care of yourself, everything else will fall into place.

Content last updated May 16, 2012.

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