Share Your Story
The journey to HEALTHY YOU is a personal one. Understanding your health and getting healthier can positively affect your life. It can also serve as a powerful inspiration for your family, friends, and co-workers.
Your colleagues and peers are sharing their HEALTHY YOU stories, and we encourage you to join the conversation.
Navigate and review the video playlist and written testimonials below. Testimonials are published in order of their submission date—newer testimonials appear first.
I have made three commitments to myself in order to live a healthier lifestyle. First is to exercise in the morning before going to work. We have added free weights, elliptical machines and a wonderful sound system in our basement, which helps to encourage working out. Second, eating healthier meals, especially fish and chicken, as well as preparing lunch salads in advance for the work week. Finally, I have committed to take a walk around Lake Waban at least once every two weeks. If I hit the two-week mark, I take the walk, regardless of weather conditions. I am happy to say, I have yet to go a full two weeks without taking the walk.
One of the most delightful aspects of working at Wellesley has been the opportunity to take part in the Faculty/Staff Wellness program. Technically, I enjoy being active, but with a 45-60 minute commute and a job that has me tied to a computer 6-8 hours a day, it is really easy to let inertia set in. There is a difference between being thin and being fit, and while I am grateful that my weight is not an issue, I was far from my peak, in terms of health. It got to the point where I had no regular exercise in my life. Yikes!
Fortunately, the College makes it relatively easy (and affordable) to participate in some wonderful classes. I tried several, including Zumba and Water Aerobics, but the one I have loved and been most committed to is "Rebounding." Jumping around like monkeys on a bed to dance music with a creative, inventive, and always entertaining instructor—what's not to love? Rebounding class at Wellesley made a huge impact on my overall fitness and wellness, and had the side benefits of providing a lot of laughs and introducing me to several colleagues I would never have known otherwise. On the weeks that I go to Rebounding, I feel more optimistic, more energetic, more confident, and, over the long hall, I absolutely see a difference in my strength and physical wellness. I will be leaving Wellesley soon, and one of the MANY things I will miss is Rebounding class. The friends, the fun, and the fitness have all made a real impact on my life. I plan to maintain or even increase my activity level in the future, because I have seen the changes that have come through just this little bit of regular exercise. Thank you, Connie Bauman, Joanne Schmalenberger, and Wellesley College!
I have always been active. I was a ballet dancer when I was younger, and my passion for physical activity continued into my adulthood. As I get older, it's really important that I maintain my energy and protect my body as best I can. My husband and I actually met at a health club, so a big part of our relationship revolves around exercise. We go the gym 4-5 times a week and encourage each other to push ourselves. He motivates me in strength training, and I try to get him to do more cardio. A few months ago, we decided to try a vegan diet—partially because of our love for animals, and partially because we are very aware of what we put in our bodies. We try to eat a well-rounded diet of whole foods. We feel great and hope to keep this up long into the future!
As someone who has a history of heart disease in my family, I felt the Healthy You campaign was a great initiative to identify areas where lifestyle, nutrition and level of exercise could all be improved. Although I attempt to make regular trips to a physician for physicals, I felt the biometric screening was a great way to take another checkpoint to help identify areas of improvement. Viewing the results for weight level, cholesterol and body mass index helped me reinforce the consistency of my exercise routine and nutrition habits in order to maintain the healthy lifestyle that is so desired by all of us. To try to achieve this lifestyle, I have begun to alternate swimming and running in an attempt to keep workouts fresh and avoid falling into a mundane routine of doing the same exercise every day. In addition, I use an iPhone app called "imapmyrun" which records workouts and lets you know politely when too many days are missed and it hasn't been getting enough workout data stored in its database (more motivation!).
The second piece of this important puzzle relates to nutrition. In our house, we try to eat foods from the major food groups consistently and choose grain or wheat products whenever possible (pasta, bread, rice). In addition, we often find healthy recipes on the free iPad/iPhone app called "Whole Foods Recipes." With hundreds of healthy recipes to search, this app provides you with the ability to filter recipes based on health needs or preferences (such as Gluten Free or High Fiber). You can even make a shopping list from the recipe (and you don't have to shop just at Whole Foods for the ingredients). My hope is that by taking these steps, it will help to improve my lifestyle as whole. Below are links to the two iphone/ipad apps that I previously mentioned.
http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/apps/index.php and http://www.mapmyrun.com/imapmy/iphone
Try to be the healthiest that you can be by walking and talking with relatives and friends and by playing sports like you used to as a kid. That will help you to have a better disposition and attitude and will also help suppress and regulate your appetite. Then try to eat better food by limiting eating out and take out and cook meals at home and try to use good quality ingredients. On the weekend it is a good idea to make a very large dish that will produce two or more meals for leftovers during the following week. Read food labels and stay away from saturated fats, sodium, high fructose corn syrup and limit your meat intake. Make a large salad at every dinner. Use low fat dressing. Make vegetables 2/3 of what is on your dinner plate. Oh and have fun doing this.
Listen to your body; be mindful of what you do to it. For years, I suffered through stomach pains and a variety of medications and regimens recommended by various doctors that did little to help. As a vegan, I consider myself a healthy eater most of the time because of how important it is to get the right amount of nutrients in a vegan diet, like iron, calcium, and protein. However, I knew that eating certain foods like tofu and seitan (wheat gluten) hurt my stomach, but because they were so palatable and provided a good source of protein, I thought little of the pain and didn't want to stop eating them.
Over the summer, with the coaxing of a friend, I decided to try an elimination diet to figure out if perchance it was the things I was eating that were the source of my years of stomach pains. It took weeks, but I was able to discover that I had sensitivities to not only soy and wheat, but also a host of other things that I had been mindlessly eating and suffering through. I hadn't listened to my body for all of those years and I decided that upon this discovery, I would start listening. I stopped eating the things I knew I was sensitive to and my daily stomach pains went away. I was elated! And surprisingly, it wasn't hard to find replacements for my main protein powerhouses (soy and gluten); increasing my leafy green and almond intake was an easy solve for that. The conclusion of my long-winded story is that being mindful is a simple notion, but one that can change your life.
Even though membership at the Wellesley College gym was never too high, the small amount of money was a deterrent. Last July I knew that the membership fee for staff would be waived in the fall, but I was so eager to get started, I paid the small summer fee. The biggest draw was the pool! After decades of procrastinating, I finally learned how to swim and was excited to be able to be in the water almost every afternoon. Unfortunately, I sustained a hip injury and was out of commission for a few months this winter. I've taken full advantage of the pool and exercise bikes to help me in my post surgery recovery process. I've slowly gotten stronger thanks to easily-accessible equipment. In addition, I've dealt with the pain and frustration of my recovery by attending a Harvard Pilgrim mindfulness seminar. With these tools I feel like I can get through anything that comes my way.
Surprised by a blood pressure reading that registered as borderline high (to date my BP has been well within the normal range) at a Wellesley College health fair, I took the WC sponsored HPHC Mindfulness and Meditation class. In addition to a healthy diet and regular exercise, which have been an established part of my life, I was hopeful that the class might help change my response to stress, and more specifically, lower my blood pressure. I'm happy to say that developing even a modest meditation practice has helped bring my BP into normal range. Beyond that, our class learned how to apply aspects of mindfulness to communication, which have been helpful in both personal and professional relationships. I am grateful to Wellesley and Harvard Pilgrim for offering this opportunity. It is well worth considering adding meditation to your overall health and wellness plan. My story is a mere anecdote; however, a growing body of scientific research also supports the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.
Working in HR, I am surrounded by ideas and thoughts of Healthy You on a daily basis. I finally started preaching what I've learned at home! This has resulted in the entire family eating healthier and exercising more. In addition to my strength training and cardio workouts 3-4x/week, my daughter and I have started a Yoga Class 1 night a week and try to walk the dogs each night as well (weather permitting); this also allows us valuable time to catch up on things going on in our crazy lives/schedules! During one of our walks we even created a plan to get her dad to stop smoking! The start date is coming up—on his birthday in June! I love attending the programs Wellesley has been able to offer the employees, and even more, I love hearing the positive feedback from all those who attend—even those who can't attend, they are always asking for more programs— it's really quite inspirational. It's so much fun working with and promoting Healthy You, sometimes I forget it's my job! How lucky is that? The biggest difference in my lifestyle that I've learned with the help of Healthy You programs is the art of meditation! I commute an average of 3 hours per day—mostly heavy traffic, incorporating tips and ideas from these meditation programs has significantly reduced my blood pressure—not to mention any thoughts of road rage! Thank you Healthy You!
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important, regardless of age. I may be young and healthy now, but the decisions I make in the present will tremendously impact my future. As a result, I eat well and I regularly attend yoga, Pilates, and rebounding courses offered by Wellesley. They give me the opportunity to meet other faculty and staff members in an informal, supportive environment. I also wear a pedometer to keep track of my steps (with a goal of 10,000 a day). Doing so significantly increases my overall activity awareness.
In order to keep fit, I hike, bike and walk. Fortunately, the Greater Boston area has loads of hiking trails to choose from. I recently discovered some good trails at the Middlesex Fells Reservation in Winchester. There are also plenty of options for bike rides. My favorite one starts on the Minuteman Bikeway in Arlington and winds through Lexington, Concord, Carlisle and Bedford. One area that I need to address is strength training. I hope to do that at Wellesley's gym, which now offers a free membership to staff members. Last but not least, a walk around Lake Waban is always fun.
Healthy You is a great initiative. Having been on the heavier side and having had high blood pressure, I realized just how much exercise and nutrition matter. I went from zero exercise and horrible eating to running a half marathon and getting in the best shape of my life. The amount of energy I now have is amazing! I continue to run and now I run with my 1-year-old daughter in her jogger. I figure I might as well set an example for her now :)
When I started working at Wellesley, I wanted to treat the change as an opportunity to start a new, healthier chapter in my life. So far, I've picked up the habit of going on a quick run around Lake Waban on my lunch hour and have been absolutely loving it. It's a literal breath of fresh air in the middle of my day, and I find myself more energized and productive. I also recently created mini-resolutions for myself, like drinking at least two huge bottles of water at my desk every day, getting enough sleep and one larger resolution—I have been inspired to become vegan, and have so far spent a fun three weeks finding new ways to make my old favorite foods!
My mother died 18 months ago...and I ate my way through grieving. When I finally realized what I was doing to myself, I chose to join Weight Watchers. Since that time, I walk every day, fill my house with fruits and vegetables and drink water. I look and feel so much better.
Many years ago, I decided that exercising twice or three times a week didn't work for me. I would often find an excuse for postponing until the next day. Then one day became two or three.
So I decided to treat exercising like any daily activities we don't question, such as brushing your teeth or taking a shower. I do not question when or if I am going to do it. I automatically do it early in the morning right after coffee, regardless of the weather or other external factors. If I have to be somewhere early, I simply wake up earlier. If the weather is bad in the winter, I have all the necessary gear to go running even in the snow. This way, I have given up deciding when and how I exercise. I simply do it as part of my daily routine. Of course, I do not run when I am sick, but I have figured that I manage to run about 350 days in any given year.
Any other form of exercising doesn't work for me because it requires depending on a gym schedule or closing times, so it cannot really become a daily routine.
I have been active—gardening, swimming, walking, dancing, and taking yoga classes—for over 40 years. So I was quite taken aback by my bi-annual physical two years ago when my internist told me that my blood pressure had reached the "borderline hypertension" zone. After all, I took yoga classes twice a week, swam once a week, and walked as often as I could. My cholesterol, which had been lower for most of my twenties, thirties and forties, was creeping up as well. "Get more aerobic exercise," he advised me," and I think you'll lose some weight, and the blood pressure and cholesterol numbers will improve." I began walking—fast and vigorously—with a long-legged younger friend, twice a week for an hour, in all weather. I enrolled in Zumba classes, first through my Wellness Program at work, then at a nearby town's adult education program. My blood pressure went down to normal. I am having my cholesterol checked in a few weeks, and hope it has descended the 25 points to put me into the "safe" zone. Hats off to my primary care physician!
I found that attending yoga classes before, during and after my pregnancy was a great way to stay in touch with myself and my body's changing needs. As a new faculty member at Wellesley, I'm excited to attend the Wellness Program yoga classes this fall. I also enjoyed several sessions of this summer's Yoga and Pilates Under the Trees and got to meet some wonderful people who work on campus. I've also begun to take regular walks with my neighbor, a fellow junior faculty member and new mom. It's a perfect way to exercise, bond with our babies, exchange ideas about caring for kids and discuss scholarship and teaching—all at the same time!
I have always lived a healthy, active lifestyle. I have three children and I need to keep young and strong for them. I currently try to walk every day, and I love it! I participate in Strength Training four times week as well as Zumba. Soon I hope to start Yoga and Bar Sculpting.
Earlier this year, I learned my cholesterol went up from last year. I am working hard with diet and exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle and bring this down.
I hope to live a long, healthy life by staying active and fit.
A friend introduced me to the binary system for exercise: you either do it or you don't. The goal is simply to do it each day. What you actually do for exercise is not the point.
With the approach of the binary system, I started going to the gym or working out at home every day. Anything—a walk, some stretching, a swim, a run, even if it was only 15 minutes long—counted as a workout. With the goal of doing something—anything!—every day, I found I didn't need to push myself to get to the gym (victory is declared the minute you walk through the doors), and once there, I'd often do more than I thought I was going to when I set out to get there. Even walking to the gym counts, but once you are there, you may as well check out the Pilates class...
In December of 2009, I turned 45. All my life I have been overweight and at that point, I was at the same weight I was at the birth of my child. I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded, I was on blood pressure medicine, I had regular heart burn and my clothes were all too tight because I refused to buy them any bigger. Over the past 10 years, I had joined four gyms and never lasted more than a few months because I didn't feel comfortable. In short, I came to the realization that things had to change or my quality of life would continue to diminish. On my birthday, I made a long-term goal to be healthier on my fiftieth birthday than I was at my 45th.
The next week I made a two short-term goals: to weigh less on New Year's 2011 and to join a gym and to go at least three times a week for six months. When the opportunity arose to join Weight Watchers (WW) on campus, I took it. In June, I was still going to the gym and successfully doing WW. By New Year's, I had lost 25 lbs and was not only going to the gym but working with a trainer once a week. I was achieving fitness goals I never thought possible and loving it!
Each year, I have renewed my goal of weighing less than the previous year, and I'm on the road to achieving that for the third time. I've lost a total of 45 pounds and I am off of my blood pressure medicine. In a few weeks, I'm competing in my first sprint triathlon with a co-worker. I regularly ride 15 miles and can swim a half mile. I still struggle with finding a fondness for jogging but I look forward to the gym and can do a push up while in a handstand.
The free access to the Wellesley pool, gym and spin room has been extremely helpful in this journey. I am easily bored and enjoy the variety. I believe that if I can succeed at this, so can anyone! The trick is finding exercise you can enjoy and setting small achievable goals. Find co-workers you can swim or spin with and do it during lunch. I am grateful to have a job that helps enable me to complete this journey to good health!
For the last four years, I have been a runner. I first started just to relieve stress during my qualifying exams. Then I started running just to have an hour in the morning to think clearly and let my mind wander. During my dissertation research and travel, I started running to get a feel for new cities and places.
I just moved to Wellesley this morning. The movers are arriving in an hour to unpack my U-Haul. By the end of the afternoon, I am really looking forward to my first of many runs around Wellesley Pond.
Previously, I did not exercise very much since most of my day was taken up by commuting an hour each way and working a full day. However, the lunchtime Wellness classes at the gym have made it really easy to fit in an hour of exercise during the day. I have also started taking 15 minutes to stretch each evening. It's all about small, achievable steps!
I'm committed to maintaining a healthier lifestyle. This summer, my family and I participated in a community garden project. Along with other members from the Stoughton community, we were assigned a raised bed. Together, we decided to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, swiss chard, zuchini, squash, green beans, basil and eggplant. We enjoyed cultivating our garden all summer long. Each of us had a responsibility to plant, weed, water, and tend to the garden. Gardening has yielded more benefits that I could have imagined. We have bonded together as a family. We're also committed to making healthier choices in the supermarket when we shop for food. We love being outside and we enjoy doing family fun activities together. Our energy level and enthusiasm for life has increased as a result of eating healthier foods and the simple act of gardening together as a family.
I practice yoga every day. I love it because I can do it anywhere. All I need is my mat. This summer, I realized I needed to do some more cardio, so now when I walk my dog, I do sprints as we go. I love to feel the blood pumping through my body. And my dog needs the exercise, too. Our family made a commitment to consume every vegetable we get this summer from our summer share. If we get something we can't eat fast enough, we put it in our vitamix, add some raspberries and drink it.
My husband and I are busy people, and to save time, we often picked up fast food after work. But in the past two summers, we have joined the Red Fire Farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and pay about $26 a week to get two large shopping bags full of organic vegetables at South Station in Boston. So every evening now, we make ourselves dinner, eating vegetables we normally avoid at the supermarket such as cabbage, lettuce, and cucumbers. We've also discovered vegetables we never ate as children, including beets, garlic scapes, and kohlrabi. It's always a joy to try out new recipes for a vegetable we've never eaten before. In the summer months, we never go to the supermarket, and hence avoid the temptations of convenient processed food, which also saves us a ton of money. In general, we feel better about our eating habits, love supporting the local farm economy, and feel conscientious that we're helping the environment by reducing the use of transport oil and pesticides that might have been used if we had shopped at a regular supermarket.
This summer I started using the Wellesley College sports center. I worked out a few times a week in the weight room. I immediately began to feel stronger. I have always loved to walk and move for exercise, but working with weights was new to me and is something I will continue to do.
I started seeing a nutritionist to get my diet under control. I walk nightly with my wife to get some exercise instead of trying to fit the gym time in that I know I need. I do go on my days off and I feel much better. I also have been avoiding caffeine later during the day so I can sleep better.
Working in the Keohane Sports Center, one would think that it would be "easy" to exercise daily as options abound. Unfortunately, that has not proven to be the case as I transitioned from a faculty appointment to a staff position. Overseeing the Front Desk operation and assisting with the facility management, I am always "on" whenever I am in the building, even if I am working out. As a result of this reality, I have taken two key actions that have enabled me to have some semblance of a regular workout. First of all, I walk everywhere and I track my steps with an inexpensive (but accurate) pedometer. Whenever possible I take the long way to my destination, adding a minute here and there to the activity built into my day. From taking the stairs to the printer on the second floor to using the bathroom farther down the hall to walking to the main doors rather than cutting through a shorter route to access the building, there are many opportunities throughout my workday to build in a little extra movement. With a little extra awareness, I am able to successfully walk at least 10,000 steps daily. The second action step I have taken is to wear headphones when I am working out in the field house. More often than not, I am actually not listening to anything nor watching anything, as I prefer my exercise time to double as thinking/reflection time. I wear the headphones as a "do not disturb" sign. This allows me to work out uninterrupted (usually), maximizing the precious time away from my desk. I have heard many Wellesley College employees (faculty and staff alike) comment that they do not use the KSC to work out as they feel they cannot do so uninterrupted. This little trick has allowed me to take advantage of the tremendous convenience of working out on campus while also having the opportunity to do so without having to pause to talk or stop to problem-solve.
This summer I really embarked on a program to get some exercise and eat right!
After a very busy year teaching, I felt very out of shape at the end of the semester. With a knee replacement, I can't jog, but walking is fine! I devised a pleasant 40-minute walk in my neighborhood, up a long hill and then down. I take "play-away" books on MP3 out of the library and listen while I walk fast with hand weights. It feels great and I lose myself in some good books at the same time.
My husband and I also ate all summer out of our vegetable garden. Veggies are much more exciting when you pick them fresh yourselves. Most nights we were happy with a salad of our own fresh lettuce, arugula, cucumbers and tomatoes and some protein on top, like grilled chicken, fish or tofu. We included fresh herbs too! We're planning ways to keep this kind of diet going through the year, though as New Englanders, we'll have to miss the fresh produce!
When I was in my 20s, I ran four marathons, including a finish in New York under four hours. But moving from LA to the cold Boston winters for graduate school and a career in research left me out of shape and with plenty of bad habits. Over the last few years, with the help of my local YMCA's Fitness Challenges, I've returned to my former fitness, albeit somewhat slower with age. Nutritional changes and good exercise habits have really made a difference in my ability to challenge myself. So, 25 years later, I'm finally conquering my fears of open water swimming to compete in my first triathlon. This summer has been particularly exciting and fulfilling in training with co-workers for the swim, bike and run. We look forward to our race on September 9th and to what the next season will hold as we plan to encourage others to join us.
The Healthy You program has made a huge difference in my health-related activities this year. I've always lived a healthy, active lifestyle, but after our first child was born in 2010, I stopped making time for regular exercise. My "scare" came at the Wellesley College Health Fair when I discovered that my blood pressure was too high. All of my other numbers were ok, but there is a history of high blood pressure in my family, and I knew that I hadn't been handling stress well in recent years. I'd always found peace and strength from my beloved long distance runs, and I realized that I had to make a commitment to bring running or some sort of cardiovascular activity back into my life. I've always enjoyed road running, but because of my schedule, I can only do workouts early in the morning or after 8:00pm when it's too dangerous to run outside. So I joined a local gym that has 24/7 access, and I've been hitting the treadmill 3-4 times a week. It's been so satisfying to see my progress in the way of longer, faster runs and feel my strength returning. I've also noticed a huge difference in the way I handle stress, and I'm sleeping much better too. For me, running is also a time to mentally regroup—something that is difficult when you have a young child. It's wonderful to feel like I'm doing something special for myself; yet the positive outcomes benefit my entire family—my lower stress levels certainly have a positive effect on my relationship with my partner, and I have more energy to play with our very active toddler. So thank you, Healthy You!
I have always believed in living a healthy life. I have worked out most of my life but after having children, it became difficult to make the time to work out. My children are now teenagers and so I finally have the opportunity to have some time for "me." I try to work out at least five times per week, alternating between cardio and strength training. My goal for this Fall is to run a 5K in November. Long term goal for 2013, is to participate in a triathlon (may have a team member to assist!)
I have always been careful about what I eat, and I make sure that I exercise at least 6 days a week. I plan my family's weekly menu and very rarely fry anything. I always serve two vegetables with meals. While most might object to this, what works for me is to weigh myself each and every morning. This tells me if I have any room to splurge on something or not. I never allow myself to sway more than a pound from my goal weight. For exercise, I run two miles on the Wellesley College track each and every night. It is so peaceful to run on the track, while overlooking the lake. It's one of my favorite things to do and many times family members join me.
I recently relocated to Wellesley from Indiana, leaving my friends and family behind. While adjusting to my new life, exercise took a backseat. With the "Healthy You" program, I was motivated to pick my exercise habits back up. I started small with an evening yoga class that was wonderful. Now I am back on track. I weight-train four times a week and generally get in a 30 minute walk at least four times a week. The campus at Wellesley is so beautiful—how could I not want to investigate! I also started frequenting my town's farmer's market to purchase fresh produce (when open). I feel a lot better and I know it has helped transition me into my new living and working environment.