Final Impressions

A healthy farewell

Written by James Combs

Healthy Living magazine is gone. But the knowledge readers gained will live on.

The April issue of Healthy Living magazine should have been thicker and more celebratory. A collectible. Something to place in a special box containing cherished memories.

During the past 12 years, I’ve written a zillion words for this publication, conducted a trillion interviews and come up with a billion story ideas. OK, those numbers are exaggerated, but I have poured my heart and soul into the magazine.

Which is why it’s all the more saddening to know that the April edition was the final issue of Healthy Living. The final edition of a much-loved magazine. Healthy Living is no longer sustainable during these difficult times for print media.

Ouch. That hurt. This is the Final Impressions that I never wanted to write.

I was hired in 2008 by Akers Media Group as part of the initial team that launched Healthy Living. As such, I’ve always considered the publication to be “my baby.”

My baby is all gone. But I’ll always cherish the memories. So many memories:

Chronicling B.E. Thompson’s amazing weight-loss journey. Meeting Olympic-bound athletes at Clermont’s National Training Center. Telling the story of the miraculous survival of Jaxon Buell, a child expected to die inside his mother’s womb but who lived to age 5. Visiting a death-row inmate at a Florida prison. Watching an open-heart surgery being performed at UF Health Leesburg Hospital. Interviewing well-known people like Dr. Drew Pinsky, a celebrity doctor, and Pam Tebow, mother of former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow. Seeing how former National Basketball Association player Pat Burke shapes the lives of children through his company, HOOPS Life Academy. Gaining a little bit of knowledge about the medical field through countless interviews with doctors.

Several months before launching the magazine, I met owners Doug and Kendra Akers at Bob Evans Restaurant in Leesburg. I came prepared with a list of potential stories. Kendra looked me in the eye and with a firm voice said, “I want our content to be hard-hitting and provocative.” I feel we achieved that. We covered controversial topics such as drug addiction, human trafficking, eating disorders, homelessness, school bullying and alcoholism. The public appreciated us for shedding light on these topics, and the feedback was phenomenal.

For me personally, one of the best moments occurred in 2016, when Kendra gave me the green light to write this monthly column. I loved having the freedom to write whatever I wanted and say whatever I wanted. Yes, I’m sure I irked some of you along the way, as I couldn’t stop myself from writing about social and political issues. No hard feelings, OK?

With that, it’s sad to know I’m writing the final words of Final Impressions, sending off a magazine that I helped birth. No, we didn’t produce a commemorative farewell issue. But it’s the final issue of a publication that made quite an impact on Lake County. Therefore, it will rightfully earn a spot in my box of cherished memories.


About the author

James Combs

Akers Media Group's James Combs has been a staff writer for several local publications since August 2000. He has had the privilege of interviewing some of Lake County’s many fascinating residents—from innovative business owners to heroic war veterans—and bringing their stories to life. A resident of Lake County since 1986, James recently embarked on a journey to lead a healthier lifestyle. He has lost 60 pounds and walks nearly five miles a day. In his spare time, he enjoys target shooting, skeet shooting and watching his beloved Kentucky Wildcats!

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