Schuldes Practices What He Preaches: Eating Healthy, Exercise

What Scott Schuldes has done is not so much about himself but about what he wants to see for everyone in the greater Hilbert area.

Schuldes is the advanced practice nurse at ThedaCare Physicians, 308 W. Main St. He is  beginning his fourth year in that position in Hilbert this fall (after 15 years at another clinic), and one of his top goals in Hilbert has always been to see an overall improvement in the health of area residents. It is not just his goal, but something upon which ThedaCare Physicians measures the success of its clinics.

Schuldes is living proof that it can happen. “If I can do it, you can do it,” he said.

He is 55 years old but does not look it, especially since dropping 40 pounds since last October. He has gotten to know the village of Hilbert by walking around it everyday, and he also has gotten to better know the fruits and vegetables aisle of his favorite supermarket.

Schuldes has been warning area residents for years about risks they face as they age and are not eating properly or exercising enough. Then he said he took a look at his own risk factors and decided he could and should do better. “You really have to practice what you preach,” he said. “I think that’s been contagious.”

He pointed out what most people have already heard—diets do not work and there is no magic pill to lose weight. It really does boil down to the permanent lifestyle change of eating right and exercising more.

“You need to give people choices and strategies,” he said. “Not one thing works for everyone.” Schuldes said he enjoys biking and walking—including in area malls—but other people might enjoy swimming or some other form of exercise.

He also offered up some fun tips which have helped him improve his diet, starting with more servings of fruits and vegetables. “When you have fresh produce, you really know the beauty of Mother Nature,” he said. He said he enjoys frozen cherries as a nighttime snack.

As for meats, Schuldes said, “Two-legged creatures are better than four,” meaning chicken and turkey are healthier options than beef. He also said, “If the bag crinkles when you open it, it probably isn’t good for you,” meaning processed foods are generally not good choices.

Schuldes also advises people to not give up if they are trying to do better and slip up every now and then. “I’m not very good at golf, but I know I can start over on the next hole,” he said, and people can do the same with their improved eating and exercise.

He also does some yoga and three other exercises daily, breaking them up throughout the day. He uses simple things to help him exercise—stretch bands, an exercise ball, and an exercise bike placed in front of his TV. “It just helps me feel better,” he said of exercising.

“The cost of things is going to go up—health care is going to go up,” he said. People can head off those costs by getting healthier now.

Spreading that message to more people has been another goal for Schuldes as he has wanted to grow the number of people ThedaCare Physicians is seeing in Hilbert. He said he would eventually like to see a second practitioner in Hilbert, but they are not quite there yet.

“Growth is still there, but it has been at a slower pace,” he said. “I think people have been conscientious on how they spend money.” Schuldes said he understands that people have to put food on their tables first, but he worries too many people are forgoing preventive health checkups and procedures such as blood pressure checks, mammograms and colonoscopies. He said it is not uncommon for those relatively simple tests to turn up something which needs attention. “We do a good job of reminding people, not beating them up about it,” he said. “I’ve been very pleased that people have been receptive.”

ThedaCare Physicians also seeks and receives feedback from patients following their visits to the clinic. “We take those messages to heart on how we can improve our care,” Schuldes said. “Are we meeting the needs of our patients?”

ThedaCare Physicians in Hilbert does several things to try to meet those needs. They can see patients as early as 7:30 a.m. every weekday, and they continue their pledge that anyone calling before 3 p.m. can be seen that same day.

Schuldes said they pride themselves on easy access and an experienced staff which does not change from year to year. That is all part of providing health care in a small community, something Schuldes said he really enjoys. “I’ve always enjoyed the stories behind the families,” he said.

When people need something beyond what the Hilbert clinic can offer, they can be rest assured they have some of the state’s best physicians and specialists waiting to help. ThedaCare Physicians is a group of more than 200 doctors, physicians assistants and nurse practitioners offering care at 20 locations through the Fox Valley, Shawano and Waupaca areas. Its physicians have earned national recognition from independent agencies over the years for their quality of care.

“When you need help and I make a phone call, people are quick to respond,” Schuldes said. “We’re just a piece of the puzzle.”

This story ran in the Hilbert Progress Edition of the Chilton Times.