Spotlight on Wellness

 Share your wellness experience to inspire others!

Do you have a recent wellness success story, tips for maintaining a good work-life balance, or an amazing wellness program you are excited about? Maybe you’ve been inspired by a co-worker’s wellness journey? 

Nominate yourself or a co-worker today!


May 13, 2024: Rachel G.

Briefly introduce yourself and share a bit about your background. 

Hi, my name is Rachel Goldsmith! I graduated from UA in 2024 and was blessed with the opportunity to transition into a full-time UA staff position right out of college. I am a Talent Acquisition Specialist in the Human Resource Department. 

How has your wellness journey influenced your daily life, including work, relationships, and overall well-being?  

I played sports growing up and would run here and there, but I never committed to an active lifestyle. Post-college I began to realize just how little I moved in my daily life. I sat at my desk most of the day and then sat on my couch when I got home. Since beginning my wellness journey, I have been encouraged to be more active. I now do HIIT workouts a few times a week, stretch daily, and walk my dog daily. The steps that I have taken to live a more active lifestyle have made me more motivated in my daily life and have given me a more positive attitude. 

Is there a specific wellness program that has had a positive impact on you?  

The MoveSpring Challenge is great! I really like that I am given a workout routine that I can follow. I also like that I can track how much of the challenge I have accomplished and how much I have remaining. I get competitive with myself and enjoy seeing physical improvement. 

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their wellness journey?  

Keep yourself accountable in some way! You can get an accountability partner, set reminders on your phone, or put sticky notes somewhere you are sure to see them. Accountability helps you begin a new habit or quit an old one. For me, I put reminders on my phone, and I put workout times in my calendar. I also let my fiancé know that I am going to work out that day, which helps me follow through with it. 

How do you plan to sustain your well-being and continue growing in the future?  

Sustaining these habits can be difficult. For me, accountability is key. I will keep putting workout times in my calendar, and I will keep using my fiancé as my accountability partner. I will also keep reminding myself of the reason that I want to prioritize my workouts. It can be easy to lose motivation when life gets busy, so staying motivated is important. 

April 29, 2024: Melani H.

Briefly introduce yourself and share a bit about your background.  

I have worked in some aspect of the health care field most of my adult life and have been employed in administration at University Medical Center for slightly over 6 years.  I live in Northport, am happily married to Jeff Harrell and we have two adult sons, three precious grandchildren and two cats.   My oldest son works in the football/athletic arena and my younger son is in the Army and currently stationed in Korea.   We love to travel, even if it is just a day trip, and I am always looking for an interesting place for our next adventure. 

Can you describe the starting point of your journey and the factors that led to this decision?  

In 2010, I was diagnosed with two auto-immune diseases/disorders (Sjogren’s Syndrome and Fibromyalgia) and started to really feel my health declining.  I also have a strong family history of high blood pressure, diabetes, strokes and heart related conditions.  I knew I had to make up my mind that even though I may have a disease, that disease did not have to have me.  It is hard for most people to understand what a person with an auto-immune condition is dealing with because they look “fine” on the outside but internally the body is at war against itself and just waiting to surprise you every day with a new symptom or side effect to deal with.   In addition to the auto-immune disorders, I have hypothyroidism and all of the issues can cause weight gain, low energy and fatigue which make it hard to exercise and stay motivated.  I also had some health issues and surgery in 2022, that sidelined me for a while and shortly afterward lost a close family member and I have had to work hard to come back from that physically, emotionally and mentally. 

How has your wellness journey influenced your daily life, including work, relationships, and overall well-being?  

Having grandchildren has made me want to be healthier so that I am able to play and keep up with them.  When I feel better it makes me more productive at work and more likely to plan activities with friends and family.  I am blessed with a great group of friends, and we try to plan a day trip at least every 6 weeks and often these trips include hiking or lots of walking and I want to be able to keep up. 

What wellness practices or habits have you incorporated into your routine? 

I have become more aware of little steps that I can take to work on maintaining the health that I have and stay ahead of my symptoms.  Things like always taking the stairs at work and parking further away from the entrance.   I have tried to increase protein in my diet and not eat a meal after 6pm.  The main thing I have done is to increase my water intake and that made has made a big difference.  I use the MoveSpring app for fitness tracking and also use the Walk-Fit app that has daily 7-minute exercise routines.  Even though I have not seen the weight loss I would like to see, at my last check-up all of my lab values were within normal range, and I got a “gold star” from my physician.  At my previous job, I used a standing desk so that I was not sitting the majority of the day.  Since starting at UA, I have participated in the American Heart Association 5K and the Couch to 5K each year.  Both of these events motivate me to walk more and be more active during the training and in the months to follow but I tend to really slack off during the winter months and I want to get better at sticking to a program through-out the year. 

How do you plan to sustain your well-being and continue growing in the future?  

I am enjoying the ease of the exercise routines on the Walk-Fit app, and I plan to keep using it. I am working on developing better sleep habits and I know that will make a big difference in how I feel and my energy levels.  The WellBAMA program has truly influenced some of my decisions in trying to become a better version of myself and I am thankful for that. 

April 15, 2024: Isabella M.

Briefly introduce yourself and share a bit about your background.  

Hi there! My name is Isabella McVeagh and I am an Instructor and Advisor in the Department of Health Science. I have lived in Tuscaloosa since 2013 and am so lucky to call it home.  When I am not in the classroom, I enjoy coaching soccer, cooking for others, being with my family, and cheering on the Tide! 

How has your wellness journey influenced your daily life, including work, relationships, and overall well-being?  

My wellness journey has a direct impact on my daily life, work, and relationships alike. I often notice that when I put my wellness on the back burner, the effects of that inevitably show up in my personal life as well. My mental and physical health both rely on the capacity for me to engage in wellness. Whether that is going for a walk, writing in a journal, meditating, or simply getting enough sleep – all of these activities allow me to be the best version of myself so I can then give my energy to others.  

Coaching soccer has played a large role in my wellness journey, as well. Not only does it allow me to connect with a sport that I loved and played my whole life, but it also allows me to pour into these younger players as well. This sport allows for not only physical wellness but also serves as a form of stress relief and social connection to the community. 

Have you noticed changes in energy levels, focus, or other aspects of your daily routine? 

YES. There is a clear shift in my mood, energy and focus when I engage in some sort of wellness, which is why I try to incorporate it as much as possible. It allows me to almost disassociate for a little bit, which allows me to be more centered and grounded when it comes time to work again.  

What were some challenges or obstacles you encountered during your wellness journey?  

The main challenge that I encounter is finding time. With teaching, advising, and other service obligations that come with my position, it is hard to find the time in the day to focus just on myself. I need to get better about realizing that wellness doesn’t have to be a scheduled workout class or event, but rather just a small, but intentional, moment where I can engage in some sort of activity that will make me better in the end.  

How do you plan to sustain your well-being and continue growing in the future? 

I think continuing to set goals for myself will allow me to continue to grow. I am very goal-oriented and outcome-oriented (sometimes to a fault), but I think this will allow me to not remain complacent and allow me to sustain my well-being moving forward. 

 

April 2, 2024: Paige B.

Briefly introduce yourself and share a bit about your background.
Hi, my name is Paige, and I am a runner. I would not have said that to you when I was in elementary school and having to run the mile each year for the Presidential Fitness Test. A lot has changed since then. I found track in high school running sprints and have since transitioned to long distance running. I have run three half marathons, two 10 milers, a 10k, and three 5ks.

Can you describe the starting point of your journey and the factors that led to this decision?
I have been a runner since high school when I started with the track team. It started as a way to stay in shape, but quickly turned into something more. Running was how I connected with people. It brought my brother and I closer. It got my dad to run a 5k and actually want to do another one. Since starting as a professional, I let running take a backseat, but I have jumped back on the wagon. Running with Wagner’s has been a great motivation and safety net. I would not be this prepared for my next half-marathon without them.

How has your wellness journey influenced your daily life, including work, relationships, and overall well-being?
I have noticed a big change in myself this semester since starting the half-marathon training program with Wagner’s. I have a more consistent sleep schedule; I work harder to get a workout in most days of the week; and I feel so much better about myself.

What wellness practices or habits have you incorporated into your routine?
Besides running, I have found that I really enjoy GroupX classes and Pilates. I am very fortunate that I work at the Rec Center and have so many classes and equipment at my disposal. Outside of other forms of exercise, I have started to train myself on running nutrition and found that Gu (basically exactly what it sounds like) is so helpful on those long runs. I can feel my body being ready to take on more.

How do you plan to sustain your well-being and continue growing in the future?

To sustain my well-being, I will keep running as I am looking to do as many races this year as I can. I have my first RunDisney event coming up and am so excited! Can’t wait to see what other races strike my fancy this year.

March 18, 2024: Madison S.

Briefly introduce yourself and share a bit about your background.
My name is Madison Sidote, I completed my undergrad here in 2023 with a bachelors in public health and a minor in Biology. I am finishing up my MPH as I work as a graduate assistant for the Department of Health Science. I teach undergrads and am on my way to going to PA school.

How has your wellness journey influenced your daily life, including work, relationships, and overall well-being?
My wellness journey started after I fostered and rescued my beloved dog, Biscuit, when I was 19. She has been a massive contributor to so many positive aspects of my daily life and my wellness journey in general. I have this little thing relying on me to go on walks, take her outside, and keep me from just lying in bed all day. Having my dog has brought a support network and numerous positive people into my life.

Have you noticed changes in energy levels, focus, or other aspects of your daily routine?
Oh, most definitely. With Biscuit we are up bright and early every day. Some days are a little more challenging with getting my routine going, but Biscuit is wide awake and ready for that morning walk every day. I teach Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so I try and get an early start on that. Her positive and energetic persona definitely helps boost how I am feeling each morning and I think that is super important because it allows me to come in and have a more positive impact on the students that I get to teach.

What were some challenges or obstacles you encountered during your wellness journey?
With how hectic the world is, I am always trying to find ways to remain composed and collected. Finding the time to prioritize myself has been invaluable in allowing me to remain on track with bettering myself physically and mentally. I still struggle with balancing my wellness with everything else that needs to get done every day. I have been applying to PA schools for the better part of a year now and this involves many travel days, meetings, writing papers and other things that seem to get in the way of working out and remaining healthy. Overall, there are still many things that I am trying to incorporate into my wellness journey. Being stricter to my workout routine and diet and trying to find a better balance with that is something I am always looking to improve.

How do you plan to sustain your well-being and continue growing in the future?
Recently, I have been putting greater emphasis on things that help me feel more relaxed. I love painting and doodling on my many paint by number books. Along with the physical being of wellness, I think the mental aspect is just as important. I have also recently started liking meal prepping and cooking healthier food options at home. Making nice, fun dinners has allowed me to have something to look forward to (other than my dog of course) when I return home from work. I also really want to find some more ways for my dog and I to continue being active. I have been looking at some agility training classes for her and I to take to try and mix up our fitness activities. Overall, she has been an immensely positive gift in my life, and I am so fortunate to have rescued her, because she has helped rescue me.

March 4, 2024: Blossom R.

Briefly introduce yourself and share a bit about your background. 

Hi, my name is Blossom Rogers and I am a Recovery Support Specialist for the Capstone College of Nursing. I am an author of multiple books, a motivational speaker, and I have dedicated my life to women and children whose objective is to remain sober. I suffered from an addiction to crack cocaine that lasted 19 years. I have remained clean and sober for the last 20.  

Can you describe the starting point of your journey and the factors that led to this decision? 

I remember it like it was yesterday. June 4th, 2004, the day that I decided I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I still have the outfit that I was wearing that very night when God called me home. I had a child and had gotten married at a very young age. I figured this was going to be the easiest way to escape the tribulations that I had gone through when I was a child. I really did not know who I was at this point in my life. An abusive relationship led me to believe that if I was unable to avoid these people, I may as well join them. This may sound confusing to those who may have never dealt with a situation like this, but all I wanted was to fit in. I have three grown sons; all were raised by my mother and grandmother. After years of prison, mental institutions, and being diagnosed so that the people around me had a quick solution, I was tired of doing the same thing over and over. I always tell people, if we want better, we have to do better. There are so many ways for those with situations like mine to get better; mine was church. The night that I went clean, I wrote a letter to God. A little over two hours later, I checked myself into the hospital. 

What were some challenges or obstacles you encountered during your wellness journey? 

After I quit and became clean, I realized there were still going to be life incidents. I knew I was going to have to deal with these all the while remaining clean. After dealing with a divorce, the foreclosure of my house, and repo of my car I still did not relapse. So I tell people, even though we have challenges in our life, we do not have to go back to unhealthy people, places, or things. 

Is there anything that you practice daily to keep yourself focused on the future?  

The only person who can truly keep you on track with the goals and wants in your life is yourself. You must remain committed to being self-accountable. Is it easy? No. Is it rewarding? Absolutely. I remain focused on the positives. I don’t let the negative people, places, and things that I discussed earlier have such a heavy influence on my life anymore. God knows what is best for Blossom and I follow his guidance every day.   

Is there anything else you would like to share about your wellness journey? 

Becoming clean was one of the most difficult things I ever did in my life. Somebody is going through what I have been through. I have always wanted to help others. If you want to help those around you, you must help yourself first. On airplanes the flight attendants tell you, “put your mask on first, then you can help somebody else”. Get yourself together, then you can go help someone else. I was lifted from what happened to me, I hope to help others be lifted to. 

February 19, 2024: Elester S.

My name is Elester Smiley, and I work in the Office of Finance. I am the married mother of three adult children. I love to cook and experiment with different foods using and tweaking recipes to make healthier yet tasty food. After working in Corporate America in New Jersey for 30 years, I returned to Alabama and began working at UA where I completed my bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in community studies. I am also a WellBAMA Ambassador. 

Can you describe the starting point of your journey and the factors that led to this decision? 

I had always thought about and knew that I needed to work to get in better shape, but my knees hurt so badly that I could hardly move. I finally had both knees replaced, but shortly after my second knee replacement in 2022, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. With my knees feeling better, I knew that it was time to do something to improve my health. I purchased a gym membership and started going to the gym five mornings a week, even though this meant that I had to get up at five am. It was a bit difficult at first, but I stuck with it. It wasn’t long before I noticed an improvement in my stamina. Along with exercising, I began to pay closer attention to the foods I was consuming. So, with the combination of exercising and healthy eating, I really began to see and feel the positive transformation that my body was undergoing.

Have you noticed changes in energy levels, focus, or other aspects of your daily routine?

My energy levels have increased immensely. That is true from the time I wake up in the morning until I go to bed at night. I no longer have a problem getting out of bed at 5 am. I have also noticed that my focus has changed. I am more in tune with my body and what it needs. I am more mindful of what I eat and in what activities I engage and how those actions impact my overall wellbeing.

How has your wellness journey influenced your daily life, including work, relationships, and overall well-being?
My wellness journey has caused me to be much more mindful of my body and my surroundings. I am more intentional in my approach to daily activities, whether at work, at home, or in social settings. Prior to my wellness journey, my daily routine was getting up, going to work, preparing and eating a quick supper, and going to bed to watch a bit of TV before falling asleep. Of course, this left little time for interacting with my family. Now, I have enough energy to do a few chores around the house after work. I even have enough energy to do activities such as gardening with my husband in the evenings. All of this is intentional, as I know beforehand what my plans are for the day.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their wellness journey?
Wellness is not a one size fits all journey. Find what works for you and stick with it. If you fall along the way, get up, reassess your journey, and get going again. And don’t forget to have fun along the way!

February 6, 2024: Jodie M.

My name is Jodie, and I work in Student Account Services. I am also a WellBAMA Ambassador. I am married to the best man, Johnathan Mize, and have three children and two grandchildren. I also decided to return to school and get my bachelor’s degree in communications.

Can you describe the starting point of your journey and the factors that led to this decision?

This is tricky to answer as we all start – stop – and start again. My final starting point was last July when I determined that I had had enough of the health problems and main problems with my knees after I had my sixth knee surgery in June between both of my knees. I was always in pain, and it was starting to affect my mood and not wanting to be active at all.

What were some challenges or obstacles you encountered during your wellness journey?

• I grew up on southern sweet tea, cathead biscuits, and all the red meat. My biggest challenge was letting go of that southern sweet tea. It has been nearly a year, and it is still hard not to drink it. I had help letting go of the red meat when I was diagnosed with alpha-gal.
• I am an emotional eater – this one has been tough to deal with because you must try to substitute something instead of food. I still struggle with this, and I imagine I always will.
• Water intake! The Strive for Five helped me conquer drinking more water. I got one of those water bottles with the times on it to help as well.

What advice would you give someone just starting their wellness journey?

1. Stick with it. It is hard; there will be many trying times. You will have good days and bad days. Don’t get discouraged when you have bad moments; it is just a moment, and you can bounce back from them ( I know this is easier said than done).
2. Have someone that you can rely on to hold you accountable. I only weigh once a week, around the same time of day at home, and I also weigh in at Tide Wellness once weekly because that keeps me accountable.
3. Start with nutrition. I will be the first to say that I am not the best at logging my food, but that helps me, especially when I get in a rut. This way, I can go back and see what I need to do differently to progress. Don’t take everything out of your diet at once. Start with one thing, and then go to the next. I find that when I am craving something, good or not, it is best to go ahead and eat a small amount, no more than one serving size, to quench that craving, or I will end up eating the same amount or more of other food and still have that craving.
4. I know I will probably get criticized for this– cut out the negative people in your life. This was hard for me, but my attitude turned positive, which has helped a lot.
5. Once you get the nutrition aspect figured out, move on to more of the physical side, like going to the gym.
6. Be sure to include your primary care physician in your plan and what you are doing. Doctors and nurse practitioners are great at helping you out!

How has your wellness journey influenced your daily life, including work, relationships, and overall well-being?

I am more optimistic. I enjoy getting up out of bed and going to work now. I can do more things with my family, especially my four-year-old granddaughter and my eighteen-month-old grandson. My knees are much better with getting the weight off. I am almost back to my usual self.

January 22, 2024: April K.

I am April, an assistant professor in the college of Human Environmental Sciences and serve as director of Child Development Resources, a non-profit agency focusing on programing serving young children, families and educators.

Tell is about a recent wellness success you had.

Most recently I utilized the MoveSpring app to create a habit goal as part of my mental health wellness. I felt that I was on a good path with my nutrition, sleep and water intake, but especially as we entered the holiday season with the stress that comes with it, I wanted to focus on a positive mental health habit. I chose a “pay it forward” task, where each day I would find some way of performing an act of kindness for someone else. It didn’t have to be a big thing, it could be letting someone in front of me in the grocery line; thanking someone in the service field for working extra hours during the holiday; randomly paying a toll or a meal for someone else; or even just being more patient and giving during driving by letting someone merge in front of me. I found that by having this as a daily goal and reminder, I was able to take more time to be present, not in a rush all the time. I had more patience with others during shopping and driving. I found myself less stressed, and really enjoyed giving small acts of service or words of affirmation to others. I had not previously considered tracking a habit goal until I saw someone else create on in the MoveSpring app. I’m glad I did it.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

I try to take time every week to get outside and in nature. I have a horse that I ride, and he serves as a tool for not only my physical wellbeing as a sport, but also for my mental health. The barn is a place where I unplug from devices, and really enjoy being in nature and with friends. So, my tips would be to find time to unplug from devices, get out into nature when you can, and find ways to connect with others in something you enjoy. Be intentional about it. If you have to put it as a dedicated time on your outlook calendar as a reminder and placeholder.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

I have participated in several over the years. I enjoyed the challenge of the Crimson Couch to 5K and was so pleased that I have since completed a few 5Ks. I have enjoyed the journaling for your activity during a time when I was riding my horse and preparing for shows, but also working on strength training. The journaling allowed me to create my own wellness program that likely fell outside some of the more traditional ones. I have really enjoyed the classes too- most recently the class on nutrition during menopause was great and had some immediate tips for time saving nutritious meals!

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

  1. Slow and steady wins the race. Having a big goal is fine, but setting smaller goals that you are able to track seems to be really effective when evaluating and reflecting on progress. I would also say, overall wellbeing is more than just physical wellbeing, but also thinking about mental health.
  2. One of the very important mantras I have is “work hard, play hard.” It is so important that even as adults we take time to play (do something just for the joy of it).

December 7, 2023: Aatish A.

Hi, my name is Aatish. I am a Scientist at the UA. I am from India and here as a part of an exchange program.

What is your favorite way to stay active and healthy?

My favorite way is to maintain a good diet, having plenty of water, working out at the gym and walking. I love cooking hence I mostly have homemade food. I stress at lot on having good sleep. Having enough water in the morning and mild workout makes me active throughout the day.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

I recently joined the program “Hunt the good stuff” which helped me appreciate the good things in my daily life. It is very important in a high-productivity environment which is often stressful. Also, it motivated me to be more active.

What is a recent goal you have reached in your wellness journey?

A notable achievement in my wellness journey is the considerable improvement in my sleep quality, attributed to a more active lifestyle. Despite the challenges of the festive season and indulging in good food, I successfully maintained my weight.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

I think consistency is key for maintaining it. Despite occasional reluctance to engage in physical activities due to work-related stress, I make a concerted effort to remain consistent. This includes regular walks and workouts, with the understanding that adequate rest is equally essential for overall well-being.

November 20, 2023: Nick F.

Nick was born in England and moved to America 15 years ago. He grew up with a strong sports background in soccer and rugby, but his lifestyle changed after moving to the United States in August of 2018. He became less active and adopted an American diet, leading to health issues. Despite this, he continued to be involved in sports as a coach for his son’s soccer team.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal? 

In 2017, he trained and completed a marathon. In 2018, he was training for another marathon and felt something was off, which lead to the discovery that he had a full blockage in his heart at the early age of 38. On January 1, 2019, he made a commitment to change his lifestyle and has stuck to those new healthy habits ever since. He focused on lowering his cholesterol and adopted healthier habits, including eating overnight oats for breakfast. He also gave a shoutout to DCH cardiac rehab program for helping him to rehabilitate his heart and regain the ability to run. Last year he was able to run a total of 1,378 miles and has run 989 miles so far this year.

What is a recent goal you have reached in your wellness journey?

Prioritize making positive choices, such as working out during his lunch hour, rather than give in to unhealthy temptations like Dunkin’ Donuts.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

He always makes sure to complete the annual WellBAMA health screenings to compare the numbers each year.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

Know who you are and what works for you. Be consistent and execute your habit. If you don’t build a habit and make a routine, you will not make it happen. Choose to do what is best for your personal goals and not worry with competing with others.

November 6, 2023: Rebecca P.

My name is Rebeccah Payne, I am the Program Assistant at the RISE Center. I have three boys (14, 9, 4) who keep me busy with all the boy mom activities (wrestling, karate, and baseball to name a few). I enjoy pretty much any outdoor activities, Bama football, and running!

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal? 

I have really enjoyed the Move Spring app! Joining challenges and meeting new people help make it fun.

What is a recent goal you have reached in your wellness journey?

In the past year I set out to improve my overall health and be more active. I have fallen in love with long distance running (for the second time in my life.) I’m proud to say that I have not only lost over 80lbs but have also accomplished a few new goals this year including completing a 5k and 8k race as well as planning/training to run the Tuscaloosa half marathon in March.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

Make time for the things that bring you joy! As a busy working mom, I’ve learned that I can’t take care of others if I’m not taking care of myself. This might look like an early morning run before work or a living room workout video while the kids play after school. You will find time for what is important.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

Consistency! Pick a few small goals that you can work on each day and stay consistent.

October 23, 2023: Carina L.

Hey! My name is Carina Larbig, and I am the Events Coordinator for the College of Education. I am from Frankfurt, Germany, and moved to the States with my husband in 2022. I have been working for UA since May. Outside of work, I spend most of my time playing board games with friends, reading, hiking, running, or gardening.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal? 

I have partaken in so many programs and classes that it is hard to pick just one because they all have been helpful. The one that had the most impact was the UREC Summer Heat Program, which helped me overcome my fear of the gym and sign up for personal training sessions. Now I actually like weight and strength training!
As for my goal (running the Tuscaloosa Half Marathon next year), I am not there yet, but moving in the right direction.

What is a recent goal you have reached in your wellness journey?

I reduced my phone screen time from around four hours daily to one and a half hours.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

Step away from your computer during lunch break, and do not check your emails outside work hours. I love my job, but I know it is okay not to be available 24/7.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

• Wellbeing is a constant journey, and things will take time to have an effect. And you will need to make adjustments along the way.
• Having goals is motivating, and I believe that leaving your comfort zone is crucial for reaching those goals. But all that can become frustrating if you pressure yourself too much. So, instead of focusing on what you cannot (yet) do, focus on what you can do. For example, if you do not have the time or energy for a 30-minute walk, try going for 5-10 minutes instead.
• Progress can be measured in so many better ways than the numbers on a scale. Like reps and weight used during an exercise, steps walked, etc.

October 9, 2023: Judy S.

I am the Regional Recruiter for UA in the NNJ/Greater NY area for the past 6 years. I am the mom of 4 children and my two youngest attended UA (UA’19 and UA ’22). I have always been interested in fitness- I was a fitness professional/trainer for 17 years and a Wellness Director for 5 of those years. You could say the mind/body connection is ingrained into my life.

What is your favorite way to stay active and healthy?

I love Barre, Pilates, Strength Training, and making healthy meals for my family. Mediation is something I need to do daily. I am not there yet but do some reflecting/mediation/journaling daily.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal? 

I use the Peloton App daily- I have worked out for 135 weeks straight!

What is a recent goal you have reached in your wellness journey?

I have gotten my strength back after a serious bout of COVID landed me in the hospital for 8 days.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

Schedule your “me time” (workouts, meal planning) like you would schedule a meeting. There are 24 hours in a day, 6-8 are sleep times so make yourself a priority.

September 25, 2023: Colin J.

My name is Colin Johnson. I serve as the Info Systems Business Analyst within Finance Technology and Data Integrity. I graduated from UA in May of 2020.

What is your favorite way to stay active and healthy?

I enjoy walking around campus with my wife on my lunch break. I also go to the gym after work or during my lunch break if I am working from home. I lift heavy weights and incorporate some cardio.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal? 

I enjoy the exercise journal because it keeps me on track, motivated, and accountable. It helped me with meeting a goal of exercising 4+ days a week. The Apple Watch Is also a great way to stay accountable with friends, family, etc. It also helps keep me motivated to achieve fitness goals.

What is a recent goal you have reached in your wellness journey?

Dumbbell pressing 220 (110 each side) total on chest press. Also, working out 3-4+ days a week.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

Being intentional with setting aside time to walk during work hours. If feasible, use your lunch hour to incorporate some form of activity or going to the gym. I think a hybrid work format is great for many workers since it allows one to use their lunch hour to get a workout in, house tasks, etc., so they have an extra hour to spend with themselves, spouse, family, etc.

September 11, 2023: Sherri S.

Hello, my name is Sherri S. Sellers and I just started UA on April 10, 2023, in the Student Engagement department. I am enjoying UA, my position and very thankful for my supervisor Dr. Rosalind Moore-Miller.  I have lived in Tuscaloosa all my life and have two sons, Blake (29) and Garrett (26) who both graduated from UA.  Both of my children are married, and I have some wonderful daughters-in-law.  I just found out my first Grandchild will be arriving in January 2024, so our family is so excited for this little blessing.

What is your favorite way to stay active and healthy?

I try to walk every day, twice if possible, during the weekdays, once during my lunch (3 miles/60 mins) and again after work (3 miles/60 mins) for a total of six miles a day.  On the weekends I can walk longer to get about the same distance as I try to get 10,000 steps a day.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal? 

I truly just walk all the time!  I have enjoyed the UA Wellness challenges that I have participated in so far during my time here, such as the “Beat the Summer Heat” again helping me to get all my daily steps and competing is always a little fun.

What is a recent goal you have reached in your wellness journey?

I have recently lost 20 pounds but would love to lose 20-30 more.  But the older I get the harder it is!!

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

Diet, exercise and drinking water all are very helpful for me.

August 28, 2023: Lynn W.

I am an OIT project manager that works mainly on getting the network requirements completed on Construction Projects. I am from Montgomery, AL and have recently moved from Northport to Moundville to be closer to my grandchildren. My favorite hobbies are working on projects on my home and puzzles.

What is your favorite way to stay active and healthy?

My favorite way to stay active is swimming and taking long walks.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal? 

I have really enjoyed participating in the MoveSpring Challenges. I look forward to the challenges and strive to get more steps. It motivates me to be more active.

What is a recent goal you have reached in your wellness journey?

I decided it was time to lose weight when my third grandchild was born in March 2022. I was tired of being tired all the time and wanted to get healthy and set a good example to my children and grandchildren. My husband joined me in the weight loss journey and we both learned how to eat healthier and the right size portions to eat. The biggest difference was going sugar-free and drinking more water. I reached my goal of losing 75 pounds in October. I feel so much better now. All aspects of my life have greatly improved.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

My tips for maintaining work-life balance are prioritizing my health by taking time for a lunch break and taking a small walk when work is stressful.

August 14, 2023: Qiang H.

I grew up in China, completed graduate school in US, and I moved from New York to Tuscaloosa in 2016. I am currently an associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. So, I teach and do research related to this field. I like to read, watch TV/movie, and travel. But more recently, I like to hike with my dog, Pete, since I adopted him right before COVID-19.

What is your favorite way to stay active and healthy?

Since Spring 2020, I have hiked a lot with my dog every day, in various places, such as UA Arboretum, hurricane creek park, and Sokol Park. Before that, I used to do Yoga very often, almost every day. 

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal? 

MoveSpring provided additional incentive as I believed it would be counting my steps toward the credit of health.

What is a recent goal you have reached in your wellness journey?

Nothing special. Just continuing to stay healthy.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

To be honest, I really don’t know any tips. If I have to have one, I will say, figure out a way to like the job or enjoy the work, so the work-life balance is not an issue.

July 17, 2023: Gretel E.

My name is Gretel Engel. I am originally from Central Missouri, but I moved to Tuscaloosa in 2014, the day after I married my middle school sweetheart. I started working for the University in 2016. I work in the Registrar’s office and my team handles Academic certification for athletes. I enjoy spending time outside with my husband, two children, and dog. I also enjoy sewing, knitting, and crocheting, my favorite is making baby blankets and hats.

What is your favorite way to stay active and healthy?

I enjoy taking walks, playing games out in the yard with my little ones, and going to the gym.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal? 

I participated in the Better Bites program for the first time this year. I was full of good information that has helped me start making some changes to my meal planning.

What is a recent goal you have reached in your wellness journey?

In January I started my gym membership again. My goal was to get to the gym at least once a week and so far, I have been doing pretty good at that.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

Take breaks when you need too. Even if it is 30 seconds to stop staring at your computer. Know your limits.

July 7, 2023: Chris M.

My name is Chris McVay, and I am originally from Clay County, AL. After graduating from high school, I attended Jacksonville State University and earned my bachelor’s in education. I then attended and graduated from Auburn University with a master’s in education. I taught in public schools as an English teacher for twenty-five years and am currently teaching at the WOW for the University of Alabama. I have been married to Lisa McVay (Buckhannan) for twenty-three years and have two daughters, Sophie, who is 13, and Hannah, who is 11. My family and I have lived in Guntersville and Troy, but we now call Northport our home. My hobbies include running and other activities to improve overall health and spending time with my family. 

What is your favorite way to stay active and healthy?

I enjoy running, walking, biking, and strength training to stay active and healthy.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal? 

I really do not have a wellness program that I follow, but I enjoy using Hal Higdon’s training guides for running half and full marathons.

What is a recent goal you have reached in your wellness journey?

My goals for any run are to spend time worshiping God and to begin and end each run injury free. My goals for the journey are to improve my mental and physical health. One of my recent goals was to run a marathon before 50, and I accomplished that in January by running the Big Beach Marathon in Gulf Shores. Even though I did not meet my goal for time, I enjoyed the experience and will begin training for another marathon in August.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

When I began running for my mental and physical health a couple of years ago, I discovered that it can interfere with spending time with family, so last summer, I began running and working out before the kids and sun come up. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I run short distances of three to five miles and strength train afterwards, and on Saturday mornings, I run longer distances of six to twelve miles. This method allows me to not miss the family moments, and it allows me to go to work during the week feeling great and stress-free. On Sundays, I ride a stationary bike at PARA after church, and the family usually goes with me where they work out, climb a rock wall, or swim. I have been able to include the family with walks and bike rides as well as running a mile with my youngest daughter. Hopefully, she will want to try a 5K one day. The other tip is to take rest days to prevent injury, which are my Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. 

June 20, 2023: Gary V.

I am Gary Vaden and I am originally from Texas.  My family and I moved to Tuscaloosa 7 years ago.  I am the Coordinator for Recruiting and Services for New College LifeTrack.  My hobbies are going to the gym, walking, bowling, working in the yard, spending time with friends and family, church, and cooking.

What is your favorite way to stay active and healthy?

Going to the gym every morning at 4:30 am and getting a good workout in before starting my day is one of my favorite ways to stay active and healthy.  I also go on a long walk during my lunch break which also gives me time to think and clear my mind.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal? 

My favorite wellness program is honestly the Couch to 5k training time.  The program helped me develop the habit of tracking everything I did working out, walking, yard work, and other things.

What is a recent goal you have reached in your wellness journey?

My most recent goal is that I have lost 45 pounds since I began my wellness journey.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

Some tips that I have for maintaining your work-life are:

  1. Set an achievable goal (step away from your desk, turn off email notification when you leave for the day or are on vacation)
  2. Track your progress
  3. Surround yourself with people that will help hold you accountable whether it is working out or taking a few minutes in your day to step away from your work
  4. Take a break from your desk and get up and move (take a short walk)
  5. Find a hobby that you enjoy and do not let anything get in the way of you doing the hobby if it is something you do on a regular basis
  6. Have a walking meeting rather than sitting in an office if it is appropriate
  7. Make time for you. It is okay to check out from work and take care of yourself.

June 5, 2023: Clay D.

I was born in Centre, AL, however, my family moved to Georgia at the start of my second grade year, and I only moved back to Alabama in 2003.  I work at OIT on campus and not only is IT my job, but it is also one of the things I love to do.  I love tinkering with IT and electronics. Other hobbies I have are: snow skiing, mountain biking, and camping.  I have water skied, and I really enjoyed it, but I don’t get to do that very often…. just like I like to go canoeing, but I don’t do it often.

What is your favorite way to stay active and healthy?

My most common way to stay active since last summer has been jogging with the great Dane/German shepherd mix puppy we got.  She requires about 4 miles of walking/jogging each day + a decent amount of either soccer or fetch.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal? 

My favorite wellness program is most definitely summer slim down.  Not only have I learned so much about exercise and fitness, but I’ve also had fun doing it.

What is a recent goal you have reached in your wellness journey?

A recent goal I have reached in my wellness journey has been to track my Blood Pressure each day.  In the past, I would go to the wellbama wellness checkup, and they would ask, “What does your BP run normally” and I would always say, “I don’t know”.  But now, I have one of those BP monitors that sends the results to my phone, so I have a record of all the readings.  

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

To reduce stress of a busy day, I keep one list of all my work To-do items and add stuff to it as soon as I receive them.  That relieves my brain from having to remember all those things…because the list never stops growing, but I know my brain can only hold so much before things fall out (ha-ha).  The second thing I would say has helped is to take five minutes each day and clear your mind.  Don’t think about anything but relaxing and enjoying the moment.  Then, I go back to the hustle and bustle.  It has really helped.

May 22, 2023: Carrie B.

I am a 2009 University of Alabama graduate who waited to get my degree until my kids were older. Taking advantage of what was then Bama Online, I earned my B.S. in Human Environmental Sciences.  When my daughter decided to attend UA, that is when I returned to the Capstone to start a new career in higher education. I am a newly empty-nester and a medieval recreationist who enjoys crafting and reading in my free time.   

What is your favorite way to stay active and healthy?

Going to the gym, lifting weights and walking. I also enjoy being outdoors as much as possible.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal? 

Yes, that would be Virta.  I’m so thankful that the university made this program available to us.  I started down the keto path when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in early 2021.  I was doing this on my own and then found out about Virta and this provided me a community of people to draw inspiration from, a team of coaches to keep me focused and free testing supplies.

What is a recent goal you have reached in your wellness journey?

In 2 years, after a few bumps in the road like the loss of my mother and getting Covid, I’ve lost 60lbs and dropped my A1C from 11 to 5.7 and cut my diabetes meds in half!  While this is in the pre-diabetic range, I’m hoping to drop this further with continued weight loss and hopefully stop taking any medication altogether.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

I’ve learned to let things go a little more and enjoy the moment.  I take time to shift gears at night when I get home before changing into home mode.  I don’t check email when I’m at home and I try not to talk about work.  I make sure there is a separation between the 2 parts of my life.  I also take advantage of conveniences, like shopping for groceries during lunch time, online, and pick them up after work on the way home freeing up my time on the weekends for other things that bring me happiness.  More than anything though, I’ve realized that you have to make your work-life balance a priority and not an afterthought.

May 8, 2023: Felicia B.

Hello, my name is Felicia Britton, I am from Tuscaloosa Alabama, I work at the University Recreational Center. I love doing Zumba it is so therapeutic!

What is your favorite way to stay active and healthy?

My favorite way to stay healthy and active is by being a happy eater, I eat what I like but in very small portions, and the fact that I work at the Rec I have no excuses not to be active. I also work 2 jobs and that keeps me very active!

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal? 

My favorite wellness program is keeping an exercise journal.

What is a recent goal you have reached in your wellness journey?

My goal starting off was to at least lose 15 pounds and went beyond and lost 17 pounds.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

To maintain my work-life balance I try not to overschedule or overbook my things to-do list and also, I try to write everything down so I won’t get overwhelmed with things!

April 24, 2023: Matthew V.

My name is Matthew VanDyke. I’m an associate professor and interim department chair in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. I teach courses in public relations and conduct research in science communication and environmental risk communication. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family, walking the dog, cooking, reading, and I’m currently getting back into running (after a decade hiatus).

What is your favorite way to stay active and healthy?

I like to be outside—walking, running, fishing, or doing work around the house.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal? 

I really like the Crimson Couch 2 5K program. “Competing” against colleagues at UA makes for fun and friendly motivation to be more active.

What is a recent goal you have reached in your wellness journey?

I had gained quite a bit of weight in recent years, but in the past six months I’ve lost 45 pounds. I’m more active, I’m eating better, and I feel better than I have in years.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

I’m probably better at preaching than practicing, but I strive to be more intentional about my time at work (so I can leave work at work), and I work to integrate wellness into my daily habits from standing (rather than constantly sitting) at my desk to taking a quick walk between meetings to closing my door for five minutes if I need a breather.

April 10, 2023: Amy H.

I’m Amy Hagedorn and I am an Accommodations Specialist at the Office of Disability Services. I’ve worked in this role for just under 12 years. I attended UA for both undergraduate and graduate school. I love to travel, go to concerts, and spend time at home with my husband and cats. I also love decorating my yard for Halloween and Christmas, and I’ve won our neighborhood’s decorating contest several times over the years.

What is your favorite way to stay active and healthy?

I’m a certified Jazzercise instructor, and I teach or take classes 4-5 times per week in the evenings and on weekends. I found the program in 2011 and I’ve consistently participated in group fitness ever since. I found that group fitness and the community that comes along with it is key to my success. Jazzercise was the original dance fitness program, founded in 1969. The company held strong over the decades, and the current program blends dance with Pilates, yoga, kickboxing, and strength training. Instructing is a lot of work but also a lot of fun.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal? 

I like to attend WellBAMA events that involve movement, such as Quad in Motion. Moving a little throughout the day and getting some fresh air makes a big difference in the way I feel. I utilize the Exercise Journal every year to meet my program participation requirement, since I work out regularly already.

What is a recent goal you have reached in your wellness journey?

For me, consistency is always the goal. I took over 190 Jazzercise classes in 2022, so I’d say I was pretty darn consistent.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

Moving my body is the essential piece of stress management for me, so that comes first. I’ve also worked hard to set boundaries for myself when it comes to being off work – no checking or responding to emails after-hours or when I’m out on annual leave, for example.

March 27, 2023: Cayla H.

I am a two-time UA grad and have worked at the University for 17 years. My husband and I have 3 children that keep us busy with sports, activities, and church events.

What is your favorite way to stay active and healthy?

I enjoy taking my breaks at work on our desk exercise bike, getting up from my desk to stretch and refill my water bottle. I choose to always take the steps and not the elevator. Most recently my kids have started skating, so I am right along with them at the skating rink!

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal? 

 I really enjoy the exercise journal to hold me accountable.

What is a recent goal you have reached in your wellness journey?

I am drinking more water and moving for 30 minutes each day!

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

Do your best during work, but when the workday ends focus on you and your family. Stay positive and smile!

March 6, 2023: Hannah G.

I grew up in Kentucky but landed in Alabama for my professional self; I completed my PhD from UA and just couldn’t leave! I enjoy reading, historical walking tours, and any Alabama sporting event.

What is your favorite way to stay active and healthy?

I absolutely LOVE doing aqua fitness! I have a membership at PARA and attend two classes a week. It’s a great cardio workout that is low-impact or no-impact. And having a schedule helps keep me accountable. The classes are small enough, so the instructor knows if I’m not there, but there is zero pressure or guilt if I have to miss.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal? 

The best wellness program I’ve used through UA is the MoveSpring app. It easily syncs with my Apple Watch so I can see how my activity compares with others. It’s fun to join a group and compete with other offices! I walk around the Quad with my coworkers just for a quick break during the day.

What is a recent goal you have reached in your wellness journey?

My goal was to become more aware of what I was eating, and how much. I’ve started logging my meals and snacks but am not focused on strict number goals. I needed to start with awareness before I started revamping my lifestyle. I’ve set goals for each year quarter: track what I’m eating, then set healthy eating goals, then focus on weight loss, then focus on maintenance.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

I pick group fitness times that are after work but require that I leave the office at a set time. It means I’m getting home later, but my partner and I have a schedule of who makes dinner when, so I’m not rushed or pressured to get home. This means I can commit to leaving work and exercising without feeling the guilt of missing family things.

February 20, 2023: Grace L.

Originally from Alabama, I have been with the Law School since 2008 and have served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs since 2016.  In addition to hanging out with friends and with my dog, Elsa, I love dancing and playing games like mah-jongg and poker.

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

Even though I didn’t start running until after college, I was eventually able to complete two marathons and several half-marathons.  I had to take a break from running after several injuries, but I’ve recently started again and can now run five miles.  I’m looking forward to participating in the Tuscaloosa Mayor’s Cup 5K, which will be my first race since COVID.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

It’s really hard!!!  I try to make sure that my down time is true “down” time by not thinking about work.  It’s so tempting to let work thoughts creep in when you’re supposed to be relaxing, especially since we often feel guilty if we’re not working.  But I try to remind myself that focusing on things I enjoy when I am away from the office will actually make me a better and more productive worker.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

I love DAZE classes, particularly with Adam and Whitney!  I have also been meeting with a personal trainer since I came to the University.  My current trainer, Jim, is really focused on strength training, which has been really great for helping me maintain my overall fitness as I approach 50.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

Try not to think of exercise as something you “have” to do in order to meet someone else’s expectations of what you should look like or what you should be able to do.  Instead, try to think of exercise as something fun that you can do for yourself to make yourself feel better.  There are times when I have to psych myself up for an activity, even something I enjoy (like DAZE); when that happens, I mentally remind myself how much fun I’m going to have while doing it and about how great I’ll feel afterwards.

January 23, 2023: Nan G.

My name is Nanette Sue Glaus, Nan for short.  I’ve been working as a Parent Resource Specialist with the Parenting Assistance Line (PAL) since 2014 on a part-time basis, and was hired for an additional position in 2021 to implement and coordinate the PALbyText messaging/support service to parents/families in Alabama.  In 2022, I also was hired to deliver the BabyTALK program at our local hospital to families with newborn babies.  As a mental health and trauma counselor, I like to balance the challenges of that profession with creating, building a positive environment, and encouraging others.

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

Since getting an I-watch and smart phone with fitness tracking capabilities a couple of years ago, I have made it a goal to attain a minimum of 10,000 steps every day with the Pedometer ++ app.  This app recognizes achievements and gives little awards, so I have recently completed a two-year streak, and currently working on attaining the three-year recognition.  Now, I have to give a little disclaimer because the app does allow you to program in a rest day one day a week so there have been two times, I fell a little short by 20 steps, and one day by 500 steps when I was traveling.  It’s amazing what we do for a little icon on your phone!

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

Since I work part-time in three positions that total maybe 25 hours a week, sometimes more, it’s probably a little easier than a full-time employee can work out, but I walk every morning before getting to work, park far away from the building, always walk during my lunch break where I get most of my steps, then after work walking on campus or local park or maintaining the 30 acres I take care of.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

I am motivated by the MoveSpring app when UA has a challenge. When a challenge with UA ranks us individually, I always try to get ahead of the person ranked above me.  It’s not a wellness program per say, but I also use Pikmin Bloom to collect digital postcards from places I visit and special characters and badges.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

First, just make the decision to improve and what you want to do, then keep it simple, and work a little every day so it becomes part of your routine. 

January 9, 2023: Chris L.

I am Chris Lee, and I am an academic advisor in the College of Education.  I have been in this position for twelve years.  

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

Since 2010 I have lost about fifty pounds and counting.  I attribute this to proper eating, regular exercise, and participating in WellBAMA events and activities.  

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

Schedule some time for yourself and allow for some downtime, just not too much or you could become lethargic.       

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

Project 180, the Couch to 5K training, and the various workshops have all been helpful. It was a mix of training sessions and workshops. 

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

Get a medical checkup, go see a nutritionist, and then schedule a session or two with a personal trainer.  Make regular physical activity part of your weekly schedule.  

December 19, 2022: Kay N.

My name is Kay Norred.  I work at WVUA 23, which is in Bryant-Denny Stadium. I moved from Virginia to Tuscaloosa one year ago to work at the university.

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

I have lost about 15 pounds since I started working out at UREC. More important than weight loss is the muscle I have gained and the mental well-being that working out gives me.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

Life is crazy and unpredictable. I try to work out at 6AM so I start my day doing something good for myself. I also try to take an exercise class when I can get a lunch hour (power half hour is great). The class allows me to step away from work for a bit, clear my head, and refocus on work afterwards.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

I take exercise classes. I need the accountability of a group setting. I also need the friendships that are formed in the class. My favorite classes are: TBT, Power half hour, Boot Camp, and Daze. I used to do a lot of cardio.  I changed my workout routine since starting UREC. Now I do more strength training. I have gained muscle which burns more fat and calories for a longer period of time.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

Take advantage of all the wellness classes and exercise classes that are offered. The classes are good for mind and body. Don’t concentrate so much on cardio. Try strength training. It has helped my mental and physical health. Let’s get out there and feel the burn.

November 28, 2022: Vanessa G.

Hi there! I am Vanessa Goepel and I serve as the Executive Director of the Office of Disability
Services (ODS).  I am in my ninth year with the University of Alabama, completed my undergraduate degree at UA and am local to Tuscaloosa.  I began my fitness journey in college as a runner but found my love for yoga and the weight room thanks to a fabulous personal trainer in graduate school.

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

Since having children, my metabolism slowing with age, I found my weight creeping up over the last 10 years.  I was weightlifting, practicing yoga, and running, clearly building muscle but continuing to add numbers to the scale.  I tend not to fret about those numbers but decided to address it before my 40s got the better of me.  I spent three months being mindful of my food intake and calorie tracking and I dropped the weight.  What I discovered was my bread intake was a culprit in my weight gain.  My morning bagel and cream cheese, for instance, was heavy in calories and sodium, but low in protein and did not keep me full until lunch.  Now I opt for Greek yogurt or egg whites in the morning.  I also know how many calories my body burns throughout the day and (usually) choose proteins, fruits, and veggies instead of sandwiches and pasta.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

Managing a complex office of fifteen people, I am a strong proponent of work-life balance.  Staff look to me and follow my lead, so I must practice what I preach.  I take my lunch hour each day, usually spent at UREC, and I encourage others to do the same.  I do not check my email after hours or when I am on vacation, and I do not contact staff when they are off.  I schedule time for myself and staff to have opportunities for professional development.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

I like the Wellness Journal.  It is nice to have an option to track the exercise that I am already doing, and not add more tasks to my to-do list.  I also usually run the Couch to 5k.  This year, the glow run was super fun, and I was able to run it with my kids.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

Start somewhere, anywhere.  Take a walk, check out the free Faculty/Staff yoga classes, park farther from the office so you have more time to stretch your legs.  If physical activity is not a viable option, be mindful of your food choices.  Create a menu (even in your mind) of food options that are tasty, healthy, and CONVENIENT!  That way you won’t be tempted to pick up fast food from your local delivery service.

November 7, 2022: Ashley C.

Hi! I’m Ashley Chambers, and I’m a 36-year-old married working mom of 3. I’ve been at The University of Alabama for over 3 years and enjoy my role as the Director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). I’m in better shape now than I was in high school or college because of recent small changes I’ve made to my lifestyle.

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

Each week, my husband Rhett and I meet and work out at the UREC in the downstairs weightlifting room. (That room used to intimidate me – but I now spend most of my workout time in there.) During our 50–60-minute workout, we swap out on one bar and do free barbell full squats. Rhett can squat over 250 lbs., and I currently squat 160 lbs. The changes I’ve seen in my body were not expected. Weight loss was not my goal, but it’s what I have seen. In a matter of weeks, I began to see definition in my legs, stomach, back, and arms. Even my face has slimmed – because of heavy barbell squats. Who knew? Measurable success – I’ve lost 5 lbs. and went from a size 6 pants/skirt to size 2/4.

I cut out alcohol. Alcohol wasn’t serving me, so I don’t drink anymore. Do the research, but if you’re looking for a way to feel better, look better, and sleep better – cut out alcohol and watch your mind and body respond in a great way.

I’m sleeping better. This probably has a lot to do with the heavy lifting.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

Tip #1 – Ashley’s “Throw It in The Lake” Method. I used to have a hard time separating work and personal life, but I use a silly exercise to make me mentally separate work life from home life. Here’s the method: Each afternoon as I drive home, I drive past Lake Tuscaloosa and mentally “throw” the worries and stress from work “in the Lake”. I do that so I can clear my head, remove stress, put a smile on my face, and prepare to walk into my home ready to be the woman my family deserves. The next morning, I know when I pass by the Lake, those thoughts about work will be there in the Lake for me to “pick up again” before driving to the office. It’s the silliest exercise – but it really helps get in the right headspace.  

Tip #2 – Outlook’s Delay Send feature has been a game-changer for me. I also stopped looking at emails after 6:00 pm.

Tip #3 – Use the Out of Office feature. There are a few LinkedIn Learning trainings on how to maximize work efficiency by utilizing the Out of Office feature – even when you’re not on vacation. 

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

I enjoy the MoveSpring challenges. I have my account synced to my Apple Watch and my iPhone health app. I like when my devices tell me I’ve accomplished my step/movement/stand up goals. I try to finish each day with over 10,000 steps – and have recently tried to get the first 2,500 steps in before 10:00AM.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

Don’t wait for the motivation to get started. Just start. Some examples: Start drinking more water, start walking, start taking the stairs, start drinking black coffee instead of adding cream or sugar, start going to bed earlier, start cooking more meals at home, start visiting the UREC, etc. Your body is worth taking care of now!

October 17, 2022: Tabitha T.

My name is Tabitha Tuten. I currently work as an Academic Advisor II in the College of Arts and Sciences Student Services Center. Exercise and sports have played a role in my life since I was old enough to attend baby dance classes. I was once a college athlete, although those workouts have been adjusted as well. I try to incorporate eating and exercise habits that still fuel my current daily routines. I love lifting weights and running as my forms of exercise. Fitness gives me a center and helps me feel like a better version of myself.

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

I am currently 36 weeks pregnant (today!), and this alone has been a wellness journey for me for a few years. I have been very conscious of keeping both baby and me as well as possible. I think one “success” I can label of recent is still being able to (safely) lift and incorporate running into my workouts.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

I try to remember that – for me – having a life function with my fitness activities is what helps me maintain focus on work in its time. Being able to “escape” either for an early morning lift or lunchtime run provides a break from work while also enjoying something in personal life that makes me happy. My tip is to find that happiness for you as well, whatever it is.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

I am a big supporter of any Couch to 5K program, so I love when the Crimson C25K comes around. I believe it is a great way to encourage people to move. This last year it was my first ever 5k completed while pregnant.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

Find what works for YOU! I am a big proponent that there is no magic anything. There is no ‘diet’ that is correct for all people; there is not a workout plan that works for every human. Your journey is yours, and you should enjoy it. Whether wellness means moving 1000 more steps a day that on average, choosing to not sample the office-birthday cake, or sticking to a rigorous meal plan… it matters because it works for you and makes you feel better. I am not perfect – and I certainly do not always make choices that would fall under a ‘good wellness’ category, but I always support people finding their own journey and cheering that on!

October 3, 2022: Bingqing L.

Hi, I am Bingqing Lu, working in HR as a data analyst. I am passionate in pursuing wellness both physically and mentally.  

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

I started to set a small wellness goal and accomplish it daily. It could be as easily as take a 5-min walk. By talking a few minutes for myself, I feel more energized for my work.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

We could all squeeze a little time for ourselves every day. It does not need to be a formal workout in the gym or a long meditation. A small act like taking a water break from your desk would benefit as well. We can make family time more active, such as taking a walk as a family. Although these acts do not seem much, they can definitely have some positive impacts towards your work and life. I also like to make a to-do list every morning and do things in order from the most urgent and important tasks. In that way, I feel organized and can concentrate more on those things with high priority.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

I like wellness classes. They have topics that I am interested in and helpful information and resources. I also love the health screening which can help us track our health.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

My advice is starting small and starting today. It is never too late to make some small and positive changes to your lifestyle. We can achieve a big goal by starting small and seeking improvement continuously.

September 19, 2022: Allison S.

I am an Instructor in the Department of Psychology and also a graduate of the University of Alabama. I frequently teach courses that related to athletics, sports, and performance which is an area I thoroughly enjoy myself.

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

My sleep has improved recently. And I have always been a pretty active person, but it has been beneficial to have a somewhat competitive aspect to my exercise minutes/steps and team rankings [in MoveSpring]. This has at least increased the amount of cardio I typically do within a day.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

I try to stay on a schedule and have dedicated times for each task- such as my work out schedule being early mornings and my working hours being limited until 5pm. Most of the time I can stick with those time frames, although not always.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

I train using a Powerlifting Style of exercise programming, and it’s the one I have enjoyed the most. Focusing on the ability of the body instead of the look of the body, or exercise as a means of punishment, has really been a game changer for my physical fitness as I have gotten older.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

Consider the time you have dedicated to exercise and the way you approach it. There are so many different forms of physical activity, and it is not a one-size fits all. Find something that you really enjoy, make a time slot for that, and stick to that schedule. Approaching exercise as an opportunity to see what you can do versus as a way to shrink and punish the body is a great predictor of program adherence.

September 7, 2022: Aurian E.

My name is Aurian Eghbalian and I am the Education Abroad Advisor for Culverhouse College of Business students.  I’m originally from Birmingham, AL and I started working at UA in December 2019.

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

Last year, I was watching TikTok, and I saw somebody who had a mobile desk bike.  I thought that was so cool and asked my husband to get it as my birthday gift.  I had it at home but I wasn’t really using it, so I brought it to the office last month and I have been using it a lot more! We have a tv in our office and I like to bring it out and play cycling videos of places abroad while I work on my computer.  My coworkers laughed at me at first but now they ask me if they can borrow the bike from time to time!

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

Setting boundaries for myself.  I consider myself a perfectionist and I will spend way too much energy on one project if given the chance.  So, I have literally blocked off times in my calendar for tasks like “Email response” and “Social media creation” and once the time is up, I let it go and move on.  It has helped me become more productive and reduce my overall stress.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

Nothing in particular.  I do like watching Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube and doing her 15-minute videos in the morning or during my lunch break.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

Be kind to yourself when you don’t have a perfect wellbeing day.  Acknowledge the good things that happened today and try to do better the next day.

 

August 11, 2022: Monica H.

Hi!  My name is Monica Hollie and I enjoy participating in the Wellness programs.  The classes, webinars and material used in the program has been a wonderful experience.

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

I recently participated in the Sleep More, Stress Less program.  Although I took it the last time it was offered prior to the pandemic, I was able to get more out of it this time around.  There was more information, insight and tips that helped me achieve my goal of obtaining a more restful night’s sleep.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

What I found interesting was at the beginning of the program you are asked to complete an assessment of what you want to accomplish throughout the program through a series of questions.  This gives you an idea of what you may want to work on or addresses any concerns you may have in the beginning.  At the end of the program, you are asked to complete the same series of questions, however, your answers may be slightly different.  Upon comparison of your answers, you will determine that you have either made several changes for the better or that you have been doing everything correct in the first place but needed a new perspective on what you were already doing. My favorite part of the program was receiving the “Miracle Pack” containing an eye mask, earplugs and a little notebook!  The earplugs and eye mask worked absolutely A-M-A-Z-I-N-G for my sleep improving.  I used the mask, plugs and techniques learned during the course and I am having a better night’s sleep than I have in years!  I’m so grateful to have participated again. 

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

Be kind to yourself when you don’t have a perfect wellbeing day.  Acknowledge the good things that happened today and try to do better the next day.

July 18, 2022: Fred M.

My name is Frederick Mackey. I have been a part of the UA community either as a student or employee since 1998. I earned both my undergraduate and master’s degree (both in physics) at UA and I am currently employed at the College of Continuing Studies in the IT department as a CRM Technical Analyst. My hobbies range from the mundane to the exciting. Depends on the day.

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

In 2020, I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. I was fortunate to discover the condition early. My lifestyle had to change drastically. Due to motivation, dedication, and education I was able to offset many of the symptoms and I now live a normal life.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

Enjoy everything! (Within moderation.) Have a sense of humor. A good laugh can put anything into perspective. My condition taught me that time is precious. Make time for the important and the unimportant.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

I really enjoyed the Summer Heat program. The trainers were excellent, and the experience was wonderful. I also the Strive for Five program and the Couch to 5K. Pretty much everything.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

Keep a realistic perspective. Start low and build from there. Growth on any level feels great and a win is a win is a win. Stay persistent and, most importantly, have fun with it!

July 5, 2022: Jennifer S.

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

My name is Jennifer and I have been taking advantage of WellBAMA since January. Prior to getting my job (July 2021) at UA, I struggled off and on with establishing a routine that worked for me and my well-being. I have been in education for about 16 years now and each day, I struggled with finding time to rest, relax, and be good to my body. This really bothered me because prior to my knee injuries, I was in the gym at least 3 days a week and pretty active in adult sports leagues. I’ve traveling more and enjoying this new me!

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

Well, since I started the wellness program, I have lost about 12 pounds and I feel much better! My main goal was to get control of my high cholesterol levels and I’M DOING IT! I have taken advantage of some of the virtual wellness classes that have placed an emphasis on healthy life choices to de-stress daily life. I am more intentional about BEING AWARE of when, why, and what I’m eating throughout the day (mindful eating. I’ve had some knee surgeries which have limited my options for the workouts I love, however, I am learning that walking can be just as effective as running and I don’t have to overdo the workout. TRUSTING MY BODY to indicate REST TIME has also helped with balancing work-life. TIP: Quitting time means just that, it’s time to quit.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

My favorite wellness program was Road To Resilience: Becoming Your Best Self. I loved this because it equipped me with some tools that I needed to remind myself that it’s ok to love me first and do what’s best for me.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

TIP: Give yourself permission to love and nurture yourself and your body!!! The BEST advice I can give someone who has tried to tackle your well-being ALONE is to NOT DO IT ALONE! There is NOTHING wrong with getting help from experts and support for people who not only have a common goal but also understand your journey! 

June 13, 2022: Alex T.

My name is Alexander Thompson. I’m in the middle of my seventh year full-time at Alabama and my eighth year overall. I work for the Athletics Communications office as an associate director and cover the Crimson Tide’s baseball team along with coordinating communication efforts for the Tide’s football players. I graduated from UA in 2010 and earned my Master’s from UA a year later in 2011.

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

Ever since the pandemic I’ve focused on eating better, always taking long walks and continuing to do morning workouts. More recently, I’ve made sure to stick with a healthier diet during the baseball season, as the wild, long hours can really mess with what, when and how much you eat.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

It can be tough to maintain a work-life balance, especially working in Athletics. The best advice I have for people is to try to get your workout completed first thing in the morning. It may be tough to wake up early at first, but after a few weeks of doing it, you’ll notice how nice it is to get everything out of the way before work. This also allows you the opportunity to get a second workout in, take a long walk or do something strenuous later in the day.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

I do not have a specific one. I would suggest trying them all to see what best fits your wellness needs.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

Take advantage of any opportunities you have to burn some extra calories. Take the long way to the bathroom, do an extra lap around the building during lunch, etc. Those small things will add up over time and help accelerate your transformation without ever requiring a regimented workout plan or diet. I would also suggest doing yoga and taking a long walk in the morning/at night at least once a week. They can be very calming and refreshing after a long week or day and can really improve your stress levels and mental wellbeing.

June 1, 2022: Ida Z.

My name is Ida Zago and I am the new Assistant Manager of Access Services Operations at Gorgas Library. I recently moved to the area from Maryland but I’ve also lived in New York, Michigan, California, and Tennessee! I love puzzles and games, visiting museums and parks, and spending time with friends and family.

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

Last spring, I ran my first half marathon. It was a virtual half marathon, so you ran it on your own within a certain time period and tracked your race with an app and then they sent you your medal in the mail. I trained (virtually) with a long-distance friend and having that support and accountability (plus knowing I’d spent $50 on my registration) motivated me to get up and run before work on wet and cold February mornings and do my long runs in the snow! I’m hoping to do an in person half marathon this year and I’m excited to experience the race day atmosphere!

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

Make sure to take time to decompress and reset, whatever that looks like for you. For me it looks different on different days, it might be a run, or a yoga video on YouTube, or catching up with a friend, or just sitting with a cup of tea and reading or catching up on a TV show. I need at least a few minutes of downtime every day to stay productive at home and work!

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

I’m brand new to UA so the Crimson Couch to 5K Training Challenge through MoveSpring is my first wellness program here! I love being able to check off the goals and engage in friendly competition with colleagues. One of the great things about my position at Gorgas Library is that I frequently need to go check on things on all different floors—from LL2 to the 6th floor. It keeps me moving and helps me refocus after long stretches of sitting at a computer. This program encouraged me to take the stairs between floors and not to hesitate to take extra trips.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

Try different things to see what works for you and find creative ways to move. Explore campus to find a lunch spot that’s a little farther than where you normally eat.  Take advantage of opportunities to try different kinds of workout classes (and don’t feel bad if you don’t like them! Keep looking!). Try to find what motivates you best. That could be a walking buddy (in person or on the phone) to keep you company and keep you accountable. For some people it’s meeting goals on a fitness tracker to get your daily achievement notification (I’ve been known to walk circles in my living room late at night when I’m just short of my goal). Personally, I love audiobooks. I am constantly borrowing books from the public library on Libby and Hoopla and listening to them while I walk or run. Don’t reach for one of those dense, important books you know you ‘should’ read, this is the perfect time to get lost in an engaging page turner—time will fly, and you’ll find yourself walking or running longer than you’d planned!

May 16, 2022: Steve R.

My name is Dr. Stephen Ritchie.  I am an Associate Professor in Chemical & Biological Engineering.  I have been at UA since 2001.  Besides teaching, I do research on modified synthetic membranes mostly applied for process water such as the dairy industry.

I started walking for exercise about 10 years ago.  Walking can be boring, so I learned to bird while I walked from a colleague in my department.  Birding has made my walks more interesting and given me another reason to spend time out in nature.

I found my dog while birding at Palmore Park 4 years ago at the end of April.  She is now my workout buddy and the reason I walk every morning and evening.  She is also the secret to my step-count, even during inclement weather.

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

I recently passed 18-months of being a vegetarian (+ eggs and dairy).  The diet has been great for lowering cholesterol.  However, I have also learned that portion control is still needed regardless of diet to achieve weight loss.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

My dog helps me to maintain a workout schedule during the week.  She also gives me a reason to avoid late nights in the office.  The weekends are reserved for more extensive walks.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

My Fitbit has been very helpful with the many programs that involve counting steps.  I have tried to up my step-count each challenge, and the device gives me reminders throughout the day so I can pace myself.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

Start small and don’t give up.  I remember when 5,000 steps per day seemed like a chore.  Now I reach that value by the time my class ends every morning.  The same thing works on diet, such as switching to water for meals.  Finally, eating vegetarian is much easier than you think.  I tried it because I thought if I could go vegetarian, then I could stick to any diet.  Then I found out I did not miss the meat and most side dishes are vegetarian anyway.

May 2, 2022: Chris D.

My name is Chris D’Esposito, working on my 17th year at The University of Alabama, all serving in Transportation Services. My wife and I have been married for 32 years and have three grown daughters and we were blessed with are first grandchild in 2021. Prior to coming to UA, I spent 12 years in transportation working for both Roadway Express and FedEx.  

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

There are multiple one-liners that I try to follow. You have to plan and schedule. Time is going by regardless, and it’s up to you how you use it. If you don’t set a course for the day, the day will control you. I always share with our staff. We are with our coworkers during more wake hours than we are with our families. We owe it to each other to enjoy our time together. In Transportation Services, we work multiple academic and athletic events. A football Saturday could be an 18–20-hour day, but we make sure we are having a good time while we are getting the job done.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

I appreciate the fact the UA makes a conscious effort to promote health and well-being. I participate to be part of the bigger goal of hopefully encouraging others to do the same.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

Any area in our lives that involves change can be overwhelming, challenging, or met with hesitancy. Whether adjusting your diet or working out in an organized environment, take small steps to incorporate the change over time. If your goal is to lose weight, track your daily intake and look at areas you can reduce. Maybe you are a soda drinker. Instead of consuming four sodas a day, reduce that to 2. Before long, you will probably remove those empty calories altogether. If you have never exercised before, start small and simple. Park your car in the back of the parking lot instead of looking for the nearest space. As we age, you realize this is not a competition or a race. The only person you are in control of is you, celebrate the victories and learn from the hiccups.

April 15, 2022: Leah B.

My name is Leah Breeding and I am an accounting specialist for the Digital Media Center.  My husband and I have been married 15 years this June. I have two daughters, two dogs and a grand dog that I love very much. I enjoy traveling, being outdoors, watching sports and spending time with family and friends.

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

In 2018, I weighed 280 lbs and knew I needed to change my life. Eating healthier and exercising regularly helped me to lose 120 lbs. 

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

Exercise really helps me to maintain work-life balance and is a great stress reliver.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

I also enjoy group fitness classes like Zumba, and I love the Move Spring challenges that we have through the University.  

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

My husband and I started working with a personal trainer for toning and strength at the beginning of the year to try something new and it is helping to keep us on track. My advice to anyone that is working on improving their overall health would be to take one day at a time, don’t be too hard on yourself and just keep moving.

April 4, 2022: Bill M.

I am an Associate Professor and Director of Vocal Instruction for the Musical Theatre program here at UA. I am a professional singer and actor with credits in both opera and musical theatre including the National Tour of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (Maurice). I enjoy being outdoors, video games, good books (sci-fi/fantasy and historical fiction), and boiled peanuts.

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

My most recent wellness success is fairly simple–getting back into a healthy routine that includes physical activity and a decent diet. During the height of the pandemic, I struggled with motivation to get out and move. I gave in to easy food solutions that weren’t the best choices and gained a few pounds. As we returned to our regular class schedule and face to face teaching, I decided it was time to recommit and take better care. Now, I’m happy to say that I exercise in a focused way every day and it has given me the push I needed to make better food choices.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

We have so many commitments to the people in our lives–family, friends, students, colleagues, etc. As I strive to maintain those commitments, I remind myself that what I need is also valid and important. I give myself permission to take alone-time and to engage in non-work-related activities (cooking, reading, exercising) that bring joy on a daily basis.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

I enjoy being active and outside so my favorite program is the CC25K followed by Strive for Five. I particularly like the daily goals aspect of those programs.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

For someone looking to improve their overall well-being, I would say be motivated but pace yourself. Mentally, I take it one day at a time. I focus on daily goals that are achievable with the knowledge that each one of those small, daily steps has a cumulative effect that gets me closer to my overall goal–physical health with minimal medication through consistent, healthy habits.

March 7, 2022: Jessica R.

My name is Jessica R. and I currently work in Testing Services, under the Office of Enrollment Management.  Prior to that I worked in Campus Mail for six years.  I was born and raised in Tuscaloosa, and I come from a very large family that I love dearly.  I enjoy traveling, reading, and spending time with my family, especially my nieces and nephews.

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

Walking has always been my first choice for getting exercise on a regular basis, however I had to give it up for a while due to medical reasons.  Recently, I have been able to gradually add it back into my daily routine and I’m so excited about it.  For me, walking not only helps me with weight management but it is very relaxing.  In addition to that, we have a beautiful campus full of places to walk with gorgeous sceneries. If you can try to spend some of your lunch break walking on the Quad, it is such a beautiful place to go. 

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

The biggest tips that I have for finding a balance between work and life are to realize that it is ok to make some time for yourself, form some type of structured schedule and learn that it is ok to say no sometimes.  So many times, we find ourselves doing things for everyone but ourselves.  I believe that everyone needs to occasionally set aside some “me time” to rejuvenate yourself.  In addition, don’t take on too many tasks or obligations at one time to avoid burnout.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

I have enjoyed each of the wellness programs that I have participated in since I’ve been at the University.  The programs and challenges that are offered help to keep me focused on my personal health and exercising because they motivate me to get up and move around and to stay active.  The leaderboards on Move Spring are helpful because I can see the work that other employees are putting in and that motivates me to want to do better.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

The biggest piece of advice that I have is to start small, before you know it a 15-minute walk will turn into 30 then an hour.   Also, try not to set your goals too high initially because not meeting them may lead to frustration and thoughts of quitting all together.  Lastly, surround yourself with people who are going to genuinely encourage and motivate you and ones who are going to be a positive influence on your wellness journey.

February 3, 2022: Maggie M.

My name is Maggie Moore and I work as the Office Associate II in the WOW Program through the school of social work. I have been married 13 ½ years to my husband Nathan and we have a 12-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son. I am a transplant from Indiana and have lived here 13 years.

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

In January of 2021 I set a goal for myself to lose 40 lbs. by the time I turned 40 in late December of 2021. I joined a gym and would go and walk on the treadmill after work about 3-5 times a week. Setting the timer for 60 minutes and the random program would allow me to walk a little over 2.5 miles each time. I didn’t try to be the best. I didn’t try to over work and exhaust myself. Turning on a streaming device on my phone, putting in the headphones and zoning out was key. If you tell yourself I’m going to walk for one hour, your brain thinks…ONE HOUR?? But turning in and binge watching a series, catching up on a movie or watching anything entertaining sets your focus on the program and not you’re timing. I also ate smaller portions and tried to increase my water intake. I would eat what I wanted but moderation was key.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

The mybama and Wellness portal had a “Strive for Five” program in the fall. I made the effort to make the checkmarks and reach those goals weekly. I am currently working on the “Exercise Journal” program on the WellBAMA tab. Logging activities and seeing a progress chart really influences your mental visuals of your progress.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

As a mom having young children with activities, I realized I was putting myself last and I HAD to make time for ME! Don’t have the parent guilt. You need that inner calm. I am sad to say I only got to the 38lb mark of my journey by my 40th, but I will consider 38lbs and 3 pant sizes down a win for me!

January 31, 2022: Kimberley L.

My name is Kimberley Lee and I currently work for the Capstone College of Nursing as the Executive Assistant to the Dean since October 2021. Prior to that I worked at the Office of Nursing Student Services. My husband and I have been married for 25 years and we have 4 children together. We moved to the Tuscaloosa area from Michigan 4 years ago. We enjoy spending time together as a family, camping and going to the beach.

Tell us a recent wellness success you have had.

For the past 5 months I have been unable to do my regular morning routine of working out at Para due to an accident. The first few months it was very hard to maintain a healthy routine and mindset due to not being able to work out in the morning like I always do. I use exercise as a stress reliver, and it energizes me for the rest of the day. Working out has benefited me both mentally or physically. When I started my wellness program it helped remind me of the simple things I can do to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In my case I was unable to return to Boot Camp, so I had to find other ways to maintain my health. I started to make small goals for myself to reach. As weeks went by, I was able reach my goals and I celebrated those that I achieved.  At my last wellness screening and follow up from my doctor due to my accident all my lab work, x-rays and MRI came back excellent. By going back to the basics and managing my health I‘ve now been cleared to return to my daily morning workout at Para.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

I go to Para to attend what I call Boot Camp class at 5:00 A.M.  Monday thru Friday. When it’s nice outside I will come to work and walk outside for about a half hour. During my lunch hour you will find me outside walking to reduce any stress that I might have or just to enjoy the beautiful weather. Two of my youngest girls are still in high school and very active in Colorguard and the Danceline and I’m always attending their games and competitions. As a family we spend most of our time at our pool or at the beach. My first part of my day I dedicate it to me, I focus on myself. After that I’m completely focused on my work responsibilities and making sure I complete what needs to be done before I leave for the day. My nights and weekends are dedicated to my family. When you get down to it, it’s all about time management. For me I have to prioritize what’s important to me every day.  

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

I strive to reach my goal of 10,000 – 15,000 steps per day. After having my youngest daughter, I decided to start weight watchers which taught me how to discipline myself in regards to healthy eating, portion control and exercise. I found that when I journaled it helped me identify what was working for me and what were trigger points that would be obstacles for me to reach my goals.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

You need to take time for yourself every day. Identify and know how to deal with your stress triggers. If you have a bad day it’s ok, start fresh the next day. I have found that it takes time to discipline yourself when you are trying to make changes within your life.  I believe it’s important to prioritize what’s important in your life and making sure that there is a good balance between how you manage your time. My goal is always striving to be the best that I can be for myself, my employer and my family and that’s worth investing in.

December 12, 2021: Maranda W.

My name is Maranda Whitney and my husband’s name is Mike Whitney. We decided to have an annual done in June 2021 after we noticed he was always tired and sluggish. He was diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes. In solidarity, I went to my appointment and was diagnosed with high cholesterol. We decided to make a lot of good changes immediately and called it our health journey, rather than a diet. Diets never seem permanent for people like us…

Tell us about a recent wellness success you have had.

After he informed me of his appointment, I immediately made an account with Hello Fresh and cleaned out my Pinterest from all the meals we were used to. Hello Fresh gave us time to meet with doctors and a UA dietician regarding how to move forward with possibly reversing his high blood pressure and diabetes. We began with portion control and unsalted snacks. We both like a variety of nuts, so that made for an easy snack. We also made sure to start buying fruits for home and our office, so there was a reason to stay away from the snack machines. Mike began working out during his lunch break two to three times a week, as well. I started physical therapy three times a week around the same time and used that as exercise time. We also completed the Wellness Health Screening. This occurred shortly after we started our health journey. It allowed us to see small changes in our numbers, which were fantastic boosts of confidence that we were on the right track.

What are some tips you have for maintaining your work-life balance?

We both have stressful and similar jobs. Mike likes to talk about his job stressors, and I typically do not. While cooking dinner, Mike is able to chat about those stressors and I listen. This works really well for us. If I need to vent, he is there to listen, as well. After we get out whatever stressed us out that day, we let go of work talk and move on to family time. Family is very important to us both and we adore our kids and pets. They are nice distractions from a hard day.

Do you have a favorite wellness program that helped you meet a goal?

We signed up for the Wellness Program and began utilizing whatever we could to help us stay on track. I really enjoyed Strive for Five. I signed up for several of the options through Strive for Five and was able to see where I needed to improve weekly. I did well with fruit and vegetable intake but could see I needed improvement in the sleep department. I hate water and seeing my lack of effort by the end of week five encouraged me to try again on the water intake. I started putting strawberries in my water and that helped a lot. Mike has been a rock star with maintaining healthy options. He loves to snack, so he found several options to help him get through the day. This allowed him to lower his blood pressure and sugar numbers. He has done so well; he is now off of the medication for diabetes in less than six months! We have both lost weight, improved sleep habits, and became more active. We also allow ourselves grace on cheat meals and days.

What advice do you have for someone trying to improve their overall wellbeing?

My advice to anyone who wants to make drastic changes would be to not wait until someone tells you make the changes or else. It took diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol to make us change our habits. Genetics may have played a role, but we could have been making better choices to help combat these issues. The changes we made were drastic in some ways but easy in others. The drastic changes were empowering, and we do not regret them at all. Between healthy numbers at the doctors’ visits and weight loss, I would say the changes made saved our lives.

November 10, 2021: Darrell H.

Darrell Hargreaves is the Associate Director of Facility Operations and Events at the University Recreation. Click on the video below to hear how WellBAMA keeps him on his wellness routine.

November 3, 2021: Tonda C.

Tonda Cammon started working for the University of Alabama in September of 2010 as an Admissions Service Associate for Campus Tours in the Undergraduate Admissions office. She briefly worked as a Program Assistant in the Department of Health Promotion and Wellness but have since returned to Campus Tours. She enjoys meeting prospective students and their families while making sure they enjoy their visit here on campus. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree (Criminal Justice) in 2015 through continuing studies here at the UA. She has participated in health and wellness programs such as couch to 5K, Quad in Motion, and Strive for Five. Since starting Strive for Five this Summer, she lost 10lbs and plans to keep going until she reaches my ideal weight.

What do you do to stay active? 

I make sure that I get up and move. My Fitbit has a reminder that tells me to move at least 250 steps every hour. If I don’t have those 250 before 10 minutes to the hour, I receive a reminder to get up and move. I also take the stairs at work. I use them when entering and leaving the parking deck. I also use them inside buildings when going from floor to floor. At my age, I need to move as much as possible.

What motivates you to live a healthy lifestyle? 

I am motivated by the health issues that my family has. My family has a history of diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, and cancer. I want to do whatever it takes to avoid these issues.

What are some barriers that limit your overall health? 

Not being able to prepare my meals throughout the day. My busy schedule also prevents me from working out as often as I would like to.

Do you have any current health-related goals that you are trying to achieve? 

I would like to reach an ideal weight that is best for my height and age. I would also like to have better vital readings at the next wellness health screening. I need to lower my cholesterol, blood pressure, BMI, etc. So, my goal is to work on all of these and have better results for the Spring Health Screening.

Do you have any tips/recommendations on how to live a healthy lifestyle? 

My tip would be to find out what motivates you to be healthy even if it’s something negative. Let that motivation push you and don’t allow anything to stop you. Find a buddy that goals and work together to reach them.

What are other important factors to consider regarding your fitness journey? 

Since I am close to 50, I find it harder to be healthy. My weight loss journey is not as easy as it was when I was in my thirties. Certain foods I eat don’t agree with me like they did in the past. Working full-time and running a home-based business keeps me super busy which causes me to neglect my health at times.

October 27, 2021: Jennifer S.

Jennifer Smith joined the Alabama Math, Science, & Technology Initiative as a secondary math specialist this past year at the University of Alabama. This is her 16th year in education and she is excited to work with middle school math teachers to strengthen student achievement. Click on the video below to hear her recent wellness success story.

March 2, 2020: Dr. Michael Fedewa: Assistant Professor,  Kinesiology Department

Mike Fedewa received his PhD from the University of Georgia in 2015 and has been with the University’s Kinesiology Department for 5 years now. Most of his research is body composition including muscle mass, strength and performance changes in athletes, weight loss, body fat loss, physical activity, steps per day, hands on training interventions supervised in the kinesiology lab, and more. 

What do you do to stay active?

I run about three to four miles through my neighborhood. I don’t love it but I do it out of necessity. My wife and I have children so on top of everything else it is really difficult to get to the gym on a consistent basis so I have found that it is much easier to get up first thing in the morning, before the kids are awake, and to run through the neighborhood. I can get up, have coffee, and focus on my day. I get this nice thirty to forty-five minutes to zone out and do my thing before the rest of the world is awake. It is really peaceful and centers my day. 

What motivates you to be well? 

It has changed. When I was in college, it was about appearance and performance. I was motivated by how much weight I could lift, body fat percentage, and muscle mass. As I have gotten older my motivation has shifted to feeling good. I have noticed that on days that I exercise I am probably 10% nicer, 10% better person, and have 10% more patience. It’s a silly thing but it makes me feel good and I can get it done first thing in the morning. I can tell the difference, my wife can tell the difference on days that I don’t. I do it selfishly for those benefits. When you get older and have a family and career, the motivation to look perfect goes out the window a little bit. Eventually I’ll be 65 and I want to be able to do the things I want to do like biking, hiking, running. It’s a long-term game. 

What have been some barriers to staying active?

You have 24 hours in the day and you have to sleep, eat, and take care of family and work so when you have all of those things competing for your time it takes a lot of time. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed with responsibility and want to skip your workout. That is why I have to workout first thing in the morning. It’s my time. I’m prioritizing my workout. It took me a long time to figure that out but I have to get up before everyone else is awake if I want to complete my workout because otherwise I am distracted. There is always a pressing deadline and always somewhere else I should be. Now that it is a routine it is much easier to keep up with. If there is a part of your workout that is lacking or a part of your life that you want to make a priority you have to move it to the front and get it taken care of first. 

Do you have any health related goals you are currently working on?

Last year my goal was to run 1000 miles and I am doing that again this year. I figured if there are 365 days in a year, and if I do about 3 miles a day, I’ll reach my goal. If I break it down, it is manageable. If I can’t do my three miles today I can do a little more for the next few days. It is more manageable that way. A really long run is not going to get me drastically closer to 1000 miles than a few shorter runs do, so it makes it okay to take a day off or to just do a mile or two if it is what my body needs. I think a lot of times people get really discouraged when they miss a day and it’s really easy to get frustrated and quit or drop it for a while. But if there are only a few miles a day on your schedule it’s easier to get back on track if you do have to miss. You’re always on track that way. It’s small but manageable. 

Do you have any tips for anyone who would like to enhance their wellness?

Enhancing wellness is key and it can mean a lot of things. Staying active and focusing on the smaller gains is important because there is an emotional, mental part that goes along with it. I know I feel better when I exercise and part of that is the satisfaction of finishing it first thing in the morning. I love to be able to check the box so if I can see that I’ve gone on a certain number of runs this week, that is a great feeling. There is a mental part that is associated with feeling accomplished which is valuable, and is even completely independent of the physiological benefits. My definition of wellness has changed as I’ve gotten older and more mature. There is a holistic component that I think is important and rewarding. Being well now means spending quality time with my family and being okay with letting certain things go to make time for what matters. There always has to be a balance. You can’t pour from an empty cup so if you are drained or empty you can’t possibly give anything to anyone else. 

What is your favorite physical activity?

Weight lifting has always been the thing I look forward to doing. Getting into the gym is such a great feeling. My favorite exercise is probably pull ups; they are cool. Jumping up to reach the bar and doing pull ups feels awesome. They can be done almost anywhere, they’re difficult, and a lot of people can’t do very many which makes them even cooler to attain.  

Do you have anything on your bucket list?

I would like to do another marathon. I have done a few of them but there is always the thought in the back of my mind to do one more. 

Is there anything else that you feel is important to your wellness journey?

There are so many different aspects of health. Lots of things are related to wellness because it is a journey and a process. Treating yourself is a part of that, one cheat meal or one skipped workout is not the end all be all. We have to keep moving because new information and ideas will constantly evolve. Try to do the best with the knowledge and time that you have now, and the rest will follow.

February 21, 2020:  David MacPhee, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Dr. David MacPhee is  originally from Canada then moved to San Diego, California for graduate school with his wife in 2009. They came to Alabama in 2015 and have had three beautiful children since then. He teaches classes and conducts research on sustainable energy like wind and solar energy. 

What do you do to stay active? 

I walk to work every day and I try to walk a lot in general. My kids keep me very active too so when I get home I play with them. I also try to get fifteen to twenty minutes of exercise every day. Depending on the amount of time I have, I will use my weight set at home, go for a jog, or swim. I just do something to get my heart rate up for fifteen to twenty minutes every day. 

What motivates you to be well? 

Being active makes me feel better. When I first got to Alabama, I wasn’t doing much exercise and I was so tired all the time. However, I found that when you take the time to be active, you are less tired. You can be more fit and you have more energy for family and work. I want to stay healthy and live a long time. 

What have been some barriers to staying active?

Time is the only barrier that I have to being active. Finding a spare fifteen minutes in the day can be an issue so sometimes I have to wait until 10pm. 

Do you have any health related goals you are currently working on?

I’m clawing tooth and nail to combat aging. I see that it happens to a lot of people so I’m just trying to fight father time. I’m not that old, but I’m still working towards reducing the aging process. 

Do you have any tips for anyone who would like to enhance their wellness?

Try to do something every day. Do it for ten minutes, it doesn’t have to be something super difficult, try to eat healthy, and the rest takes care of itself. 

What is your favorite physical activity?

I like to do pull-ups and push-ups. It is easy to find time to do those things and you can do them almost anywhere; I love the convenience. I would say running but it is a lot of stress on the knees. 

Is there anything on your excited for in the future?

I’m excited to take my son fishing this summer during our family’s trip to Canada. He will be close to five years old at the time so he is finally old enough to really enjoy fishing. 

Is there anything else that you feel is important in your health journey?

I feel like nutrition is more than half the battle. When you are younger you can eat anything you want but nutrition becomes more important when you get older. My family makes it a point to eat healthy so we make food at home every day and we don’t eat out. We also don’t have processed foods. I feel like eating healthy can accomplish a lot of the goals that exercise accomplishes. It is so helpful. You can go for a run but you can also easily intake enough calories to reverse this if you aren’t making conscious decisions. 

February 10, 2020: Amy Nichols: Content Coordinator, Academic Outreach

Amy Nichols has worked for the University of Alabama since 2012. She is currently the content coordinator for the Program Development and Marketing Team for non-traditional degree programs. Her wellness journey and the realizations she has had through this journey are truly impressive. 

What motivates you to be well? 

I have struggled with my weight my entire life. I was overweight from puberty on and have always been concerned about it. Most of my life, that concern was a superficial concern about being accepted by other people and feeling like I had to be thin or had to be a certain weight to be found acceptable to other people. I would always hear people say, “I just want to be healthy,” and through high school and even in college I was thinking, “I don’t want to be healthy I just want to be a size six.” In college I had some success going to the recreation center and counting calories. It was a control thing for me. I lost a good amount of weight one year but did not succeed in keeping it off because it was not an effective, lifestyle change for me. It was very calorie restrictive so I lost thirty to fifty pounds but when I went back to a normal life I was imbalanced. Later, I got married then got a job and right before my oldest daughter was born I watched a documentary on Netflix and got really into what we eat and what we put into our bodies. I was paleo for about a year and a half and was fascinated by how different I felt physically and how that was impacted by what I was eating. At this point, I was starting to understand that it is not all about calories. We have to be balanced so now it is about nourishing my body with foods that are full of good things and nutrients. Then, I got pregnant and gained a lot of weight. My husband was deployed in Afghanistan for about eleven months and he came back to our seven month old daughter which is the first time he met her.  I’m pretty positive that I gained about 100 pounds while I was pregnant; it was not a healthy amount. I lost most of it by eating healthy foods and working out. Almost a year later in 2016 when we were trying to have our second child, I went to the doctor and found out that I had a cantaloupe sized mass on my ovary. We scheduled surgery to have it removed, they didn’t think it was going to be malignant, they were so sure it was benign because I was so young, 28 years old. However, it was malignant, I had ovarian cancer but I was very fortunate that surgery was all I needed. I didn’t have to go through chemo or radiation treatments and I am cancer free now. That put things into perspective for me with wanting to take care of my body. Shortly after that, I got pregnant with our second child, my son. I gained a lot of weight with him, not one hundred pounds but still a good amount. When I was breastfeeding with him, I got to a place emotionally and mentally where I was grappling with the weight issue I have dealt with my whole life. He was about six months old when I decided that this was crap, to feel like I have to look a certain way or be a certain size. It’s worldly and I started to realize that it wasn’t something I wanted to be so devoted to. I didn’t want to be such a slave to trying to please the world with what I look like. I think I had to take a break from counting carbs, calories, and trying to lose weight. I had to free myself from that for a little bit. In 2017 I decided I really wanted to treat and take of my body. That way, it wasn’t about looking a certain way, even though that is a benefit. I started to run again and realized I liked it. It’s so good for my mental, emotional, and spiritual health. As a working mom with two small children, a marriage that is very important to me, and part time graduate school, protecting my time became important to me. Making sure I was taking care of myself physically and beyond. Then I started mixing in other workouts and paying attention to what I eat. Life is about balance and I’m not perfect but the majority of what I consume now is healthy, as opposed to something that’ll make me feel awful later. 

What do you do to stay active? 

Three days a week I do a dumbbell routine, which I can usually fit into my lunch routine because I use compound moves, so it works more than one muscle group at a time. I like to get a total body workout by checking all the movement boxes. I reached out to a friend who knows a lot about fitness and nutrition after I had my daughter and said that I needed to make the most of thirty minutes. She pointed me in the right direction to build my compound weights routine. I do three sets of fifteen and I increase the weight so that by the last set of fifteen I am exhausted, like that was all I had to give. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday I run. Tuesday and Thursday I usually run on campus since it is on my break and one day a week and I try to run four or five miles and the other days I do three and a half. The longer run is more difficult to schedule because I have to make sure my hair has time to dry before any meetings or other scheduled events. Saturday I try to run five or six miles and Sunday is a rest day for me. 

Do you have any health related goals you are currently working on?

I am still trying to get to a healthy BMI. I am less focused on sprinting to get there and now using lifestyle changes to get there. I would rather take two months to lose five pounds as opposed to losing two pounds in two weeks and gaining it back. I feel that when I take a longer time to lose weight, it stays off. I have learned that if it isn’t sustainable, you won’t maintain the weight loss. Figuring out my balance and still enjoying life without feeling super restricted is what I want to maintain. 

Do you have any tips for anyone who would like to enhance their wellness?

A life hack that I have found about two years ago is working out on my lunch break because I have the flexibility to eat lunch at my desk while continuing to write or copy so I can work through the eating time and take my hour in the day whenever it makes the most sense during my day. I can go running, do a weights routine, or do a workout video off of YouTube. It makes it difficult to make lunch plans to see friends or something similar but it kind of gets me out of whack if I have plans more than once in a week. I feel like I have to get my life in order. I try to give myself forty minutes to workout then ten minutes before and after to change and freshen up. I have shower wipes, new clothes, dry shampoo, and other things that allow me to be presentable enough to go back to work and sit in a professional meeting, not looking sweaty or being smelly. I have never been so consistent with a workout routine as I am with my lunchtime workouts, I can now fit it into my busy schedule. Sustainability is key. 

What is your favorite physical activity?

Running. It is frustrating to not be able to run everyday. I can listen to worship music and not think. I like to run outside; I do not like running on a treadmill and I do not like running on a track. I can handle the river walk and quad but even then I want to do something different then finish in those places. I like to have a different route every day, the scenery changes, the fresh air, and the alone time. I’m such an extrovert but forty minutes by myself is good for my head and heart. 

Is there anything on your bucket list?

I would really like to go to Italy. My parents went when my mom was pregnant with me, which is probably why I like Italian food so much. It is beautiful, old, and romantic.