Making Wellness a Workplace Conversation

Wellness doesn’t start when the workday ends, it’s a 24/7 commitment, and the University of Tennessee understands the role a supportive workplace plays in helping employees live healthy and balanced lives.

Work Healthy UT is a new statewide initiative led by the UT System Office of Human Resources to better communicate the dozens of health and wellness resources available to our employees and to create a network for connecting to others with similar interests, sharing success stories, recommending tips and offering support.

Let us know if there are topics you’re interested in learning more about or stories that would be helpful. We’re also looking for guest bloggers if you’re interested in contributing to the blog.

TEDx Memphis- “Be a Daydream Believer”

by Peggy Reisser

You might not expect a department chair at an academic health science center to give a talk about daydreaming, but that’s exactly the topic Anne Zachry, Ph.D., OTR/L, chair of the Occupational Therapy Department at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, chose when she spoke at the latest TEDx Memphis.

Dr. Anne Zachry

She said the idea for the talk came from research for her books — “Retro Baby,” a back-to-basics guide to parenting published in 2013 by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and “Retro Toddler,” which is in the works.

“I kept running across content or studies that said children‘s creativity is limited,” Dr. Zachry said. “Children who have been born in the digital age have less creativity than those who were born earlier.”

She explained the hypothesis is that because there’s so much media use, children don’t have down time, and they don’t have time to daydream. “With daydreaming, they use part of their brain, the default mode network, which is also associated with creativity,” she said.

Dr. Zachry was invited to submit a proposal for the TEDx event after leaders from the College of Health Professions at UTHSC began investigating the possibility of hosting a TEDx event on campus in the future. She told the organizers she had an idea for a talk, and to let her know if they ever needed a speaker.

A few weeks later, she was on stage giving a 9-minute talk titled, “Be a Daydream Believer.

“I was so nervous, but halfway through it, the audience was listening, and by the end, I didn’t even realize I was in front of that many people,” she said. Roughly 300 packed the Rose Theatre at the University of Memphis.

Dr. Zachry said she hopes the message of her talk resonates with her students. “We need our students to be creative and spend time thinking about what life really means to you and what kind of difference you want to make in this world,” she said. “You will become more creative, because you are taking time to reflect.”


Peggy Reisser Contact
UT Heath Science Center

Peggy Reisser is a media relations and communications specialist in the Communications and Marketing Department at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC). She joined UTHSC in July 2013, after more than 25 years as a reporter, editor and department head at The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. Her reporting has ranged from business news; to general assignment, lifestyles and feature stories; to coverage of crime, law enforcement and state and federal courts. She served as an assistant features editor, and directed and managed the paper’s Lifestyles Department. She began her career at the Nashville Banner, where she was a political reporter, covering state government and the state Senate, and served as an assistant metro editor.

A graduate of the School of Journalism at the University of Mississippi, she is a board member of the Memphis Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

Are You a Stand-Up Person?

By Scott Senseman

After finding out that I was getting the opportunity to become a faculty member and department head at the University of Tennessee in the spring of 2013, I was working with several people to help in the transition to a new state and a new position. Knowing that the position that I was accepting potentially had more stress related to it, I was concerned about the toll that the job itself, as well as the travel, might have. However, I had not given much thought to the office furniture that I might consider as a part of my overall well-being in a potentially more stressful job situation. I had originally decided to get the similar, more conventional furniture in my office that a colleague had shown me.

While expressing my thoughts to Cynthia, our staff person who was going to order the furniture for me, she asked me if I had considered other options for better ergonomics. I had but thought perhaps that it would be frivolous to consider purchasing something like that in my role. She talked me into at least looking at some options, so I did. After some investigation, I finally decided on a desk that was adjustable so that I could stand or sit. It turns out that human beings really aren’t built to sit that much based on the some of the research that I had read about. What was the worst thing that could happen? I get a desk that allows me to stand but I sit instead? All furniture is expensive it seems but, so is a triple bypass. Maybe I have better circulation because I stand and maybe it prevents some bad things from happening too soon from a stressful job.

After three-plus years of using a stand-up desk, I am a strong proponent. If I am in my office at the computer, I stand on a mat that I purchased on my own that has memory foam. My lower back feels great when I used to have some issues from time to time. I feel much more engaged while I’m reading or working on the computer, particularly in the afternoon. Seems like if I read anything while sitting, I tend to wobble my head like a newborn toddler with no neck control because it puts me to sleep. I don’t have that problem in the afternoon while standing. I don’t feel as if my mind wanders as much and that I am a bit more intentional about what I’m trying to accomplish. It is almost as if I am “in the game” and doing what I can to maximize my efforts.

I am glad that I have a stand-up desk and I highly recommend it. I have noticed that others in the department are adapting to these also. They come in many forms and price ranges and can conform to an already established desk (See varidesk.com). I settled on a Biomorph (www.biomorph.com) but there are many others. Take a look; maybe it will work for you, too.

Scott Senseman Contact
UT Institute of Agriculture

Scott is a professor and department head in the Department of Plant Sciences. He and his wife, Laura, have been in Knoxville since July of 2013. He is originally from Tipp City, Ohio and received his B.S. from Wilmington College of Ohio. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas and spent almost 19 years as a faculty member at Texas A&M University prior to starting his position at the University of Tennessee.

What’s In a Name?

By Britton Sharp

What’s in a name?

I am named after my two grandfathers. My first name comes from my paternal grandfather, he was a coal miner from rural Kentucky. My middle name is my mother’s maiden name. Her dad was a first generation immigrant just before the second World War.

My name tells a story.

A few years ago my brother and I realized that we didn’t fully know that story, so we began to explore our family history.

Genealogy has become a popular topic in our culture. There are TV shows about people exploring their heritage and many online sites offer to help.

What we found is that what looks glamorous and easy, takes a lot of work and can often be frustrating. However, when the connections are made they uncover not just information but also identity.

We learned several lessons during our search for our story.

The first was to be patient. Family history can turn into family legend, which makes the process a bit frustrating because you are looking for the thread of traceable fact. This may mean that while the story of great, great, grandpa Cletus was hilarious and a great story, it can’t be verified and you have to keep digging. Looking for your family’s story will seem frustrating, especially when there are multiple threads, but if you are patient you will find that following a thread will unlock a new section of your story. It will also take time, it became a bit of a hobby that we would work on when we had both the time and resources. Over the course of around five years, our story unfolded.

I am an artist and have always been told my perspective is unique and while at times this has been encouraging it has often caused me to feel a bit isolated. I grew up being told that my grandfather on my mom’s side was German. However, in following the thread through online searches, local libraries and talking to some people from the town in Germany they were from – my family actually moved to Germany from France. In following this thread it revealed that my unique perspective was also found in my ancestors who were craftsmen, composers, and fashion designers. The thread linked a painting country boy from rural Tennessee to a notable composer in Germany and a fashion designer in Europe.

The second lesson we learned is that you will use both primary and secondary tools. While one site may offer to be a one stop shop, you will end up using several various methods to discover your story. We found that using sites like ancestory.com were helpful, but we also would use local libraries (many now online) and church records to fill in the gaps. You will also discover others that are looking for their story and your paths may cross, at these moments we found that information was most often freely and excitedly shared.

Lastly, one of the most helpful things we found was taking a trip to some of the destinations we uncovered. It was like stepping back in time, finding the church they attended, looking through phone books searching for our last name, talking with locals about the town’s history. I wouldn’t suggest this for every location you discover, it was most helpful when got stuck in our search. Our trail got stuck in Germany, specifically Dresden. One summer we took a trip to Dresden even though the leads were getting cold. We told the locals our last name. They didn’t understand so I wrote it down. Their eyes lit up and said “Oh! You are pronouncing it wrong because it isn’t German it is French!” After a few more conversation, the French thread of our story line was revealed. We discovered that the town was actually a popular destination for French Huguenots who were escaping persecution.

We all have a story and that story is valuable. Uncovering the story of your past will take work and effort, but knowing your past may also help understand your present.

Here are some tools that proved helpful in our search:

http://www.ancestry.com

http://www.familytreemagazine.com/article/25-best-genealogy-websites-for-beginners

The local library closest to your family and their Genealogy and local history department.


img_0446Britton Sharp Contact
UT Knoxville

Britton is an artist, writer, gardener, husband, and father. When he isn’t chasing toddlers with his wife, Brooks, you can find Britton writing in a coffee shop or watercolor painting downtown. He is a regular contributor to the blogs: https://collegiateabbey.com/ and http://www.flightnetwork.com/

As vice president of the Campus Ministers Council and director of Collegiate Abbey, he works to provide self-care resources to UT Knoxville faculty and staff.

Supporting your spouse with dementia starts with caring for yourself!

By Karen Rose

According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2016 Facts & Figures, every 66 seconds someone in the U.S. develops this disease. The hidden heroes are the family members who support their loved ones with dementia in maintaining their independence and dignity, too often at the expense of their own health.  Below, I offer my insights for supporting a spouse with dementia—although these tips apply to supporting anyone with dementia.

  • Take care of yourself! Supporting a loved one with dementia is a hard job.  Family caregivers are known to forego their own health needs as manifested by skipping medical check-ups and failing to maintain routine self-care activities.  This likely plays a role in poor health outcomes for many family caregivers.  Make and keep the appointments you need with your healthcare provider to maintain your own health.
  • Stay connected with your social networks. Your loved one with dementia is a person who benefits from being around others to maintain their own dignity and self-worth. It may be that your loved one no longer enjoys being in big, noisy crowds—but, that doesn’t mean that smaller, more intimate social activities surrounded by loving family and friends need to be relinquished.  You need to stay connected with your friends and your loved one does, too.
  • Stay active! Regular physical exercise is good for you and for your loved one with dementia. Being outdoors, weather permitting, can have a calming effect for your loved one as the sights and sounds of nature are known to be soothing. And, there are health benefits from regular aerobic and strength-training exercises for persons with dementia, so it’s a good thing to do for everyone.
  • Get adequate rest and sleep. You cannot support your loved one if you are operating from a glass that is “half full.”  Maintaining adequate rest and sleep help support your ability to be at the top of your game.  Avoid too much caffeine and strive to maintain a regular schedule for when you go to bed and when you rise in the morning.  A routine for you and your loved one with dementia helps everyone feel well rested.
  • Ask for help. Family and friends want to help support family caregivers and aren’t always sure how to do so. Make specific requests for assistance, like picking up a prescription or going grocery shopping, as you will find that people are eager to help.  People want to help—it makes them feel good and it helps you to continue to provide support for your loved one.
  • Reexamine holiday traditions. Are you able to pare back some of the activities of your holiday traditions while still maintaining what’s important to you and your family? You may notice that your loved one with dementia becomes anxious or seems agitated when many people are around, even if the people are family members. In this case, reexamining family traditions and reframing these in ways that will not overwhelm your loved one may allow you to continue to honor family traditions in a different way.
  • Plan for the future. Now may be a good time to have meaningful conversations with your loved one with dementia and your family so that you can make plans for your future.  Working with your attorney and financial advisor will provide you with comfort in knowing your wishes for the future are carried out in the ways in which you and your loved ones want them to be.

In short, taking care of yourself is the best way to support your loved one with dementia.  There are many community resources that are available to support family caregivers and persons with dementia.  A great place to start is by contacting your local Area Agency on Aging.  Additional resources are available through the Alzheimer’s Association and through the Family Caregiver Alliance.

https://www.tn.gov/aging/article/aaad-map1

www.alz.org

www.alztennessee.org

https://www.caregiver.org/


rose_karenKaren Rose Contact
UT Knoxville

Karen Rose is the McMahan-McKinley Professor of Gerontology in the College of Nursing at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in gerontological nursing. Dr. Rose’s program of research is focused on supporting family caregivers for persons with dementia and in addressing and ameliorating neuropsychiatric behaviors in dementia. Karen enjoys traveling, hiking, doing almost anything outdoors, and spending time with her family and friends.

The Beauty of a Tennessee Autumn

By Britton Sharp

Autumn in Tennessee is one of my favorite things. Perhaps it is because much of what we have become so accustomed to seeing around us begins to display a new brilliance. Paths we walk to our office or class begin to change, life visually is entering a new phase. Things become more vibrant and we know that a change is coming. (Even if it is still 84 degrees!)

As the seasons change, it reminds me of changes in my life. It is my belief that our lives have seasons as well- periods of new beginnings, seasons of fruitfulness, times of transition and moments of internal development.

A few years ago while I was working in Sweden, I had the opportunity to speak with one of their top botanist. We were discussing the beauty of the season of Spring in her country. She began to explain that the external beauty of Spring is only made possible due to the internal development that occurs during Winter.

The same has proven true in the many areas of my life (professionally, personally, emotionally, physically and spiritually). I have struggled when I have compared myself to those around me. However, as I look back, I see that many times I was comparing my Winter to their Spring. When we compare ourselves to others it can so often rob us of the depths of our current season. Just because my growth in an area isn’t visible, doesn’t mean it isn’t occurring. We do have the responsibility to cultivate environments of growth, but we have to realize that much like nature around us, we cannot rush it. You can yell at an apple tree all you want, but you will still have to wait for an apple.

As the season visibly changes around us, my hope is that we would be reminded of the process of growth and the seasons in our own lives, that we strive to cultivate healthy environments in all areas of our lives, but also be patient to see those areas bear fruit.

May you enjoy the beauty of a Tennessee autumn.


Britton Shaimg_0446rp Contact
UT Knoxville

Britton is an artist, writer, gardener, husband and father. When he isn’t chasing toddlers with his wife, Brooks, you can find Britton writing in a coffee shop or watercolor painting downtown. He is a regular contributor to the blogs: https://collegiateabbey.com/ and http://www.flightnetwork.com/

As vice president of the Campus Ministers Council and director of Collegiate Abbey, he works to provide self-care resources to UT Knoxville faculty and staff.

Crock-Pot Cooking is Convenient Cooking

By Reston Hartsell and Tsz- Kiu Chui

September is the month of the year that gets us excited about fall. Temperature fluctuations have many, including myself, hopelessly optimistic about cooler temperatures, leaves changing colors, Labor Day festivities, and plenty of college football. Rather than looking forward to the sea of orange that fills Neyland Stadium on game day, others view September as the month prior to seasonal pumpkin treats (Starbucks fans rejoice!). While it is exciting to think all of the activities and festivities that occur during the month, it is worth mentioning that September runs the gauntlet for health awareness issues, such as Childhood Cancer Awareness; Blood Cancer Awareness; Ovarian Cancer Awareness; National Food Safety Education; Healthy Aging; National Childhood Obesity Awareness; Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN); and even National Yoga Awareness!

Your health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”1 To prevent disease, physically speaking, we all can do our part to eat our fair share of pumpkin treats (Kidding! Moderation is the key!). On a more serious note, taking care of our social well-being is key when we are stressed and overworked. When I need to decompress and reflect, I often reminisce about the fun times of playing Catch Phrase during the holidays or thinking of memories of staying up too late telling stories with friends. Of all places, the kitchen table was where these fun times occurred, and I often didn’t want to remove myself from the fun to cook or clean up the dishes. Yet, eating is a special event that allows us to further be in communion with those around us. If you should find yourself away from the table making a meal, why not try something easy like cooking with a crockpot?

If you are like me and want to find more time to be with your friends, while cooking at the same time, I recommend getting “crocky.” Yes, I’m creating a word, but stick with me for a moment. The art of getting “crocky” is the state of cooking in a crockpot (or slow cooker), while simultaneously enjoying one’s social environment, preferably in one’s home with or without a glass of wine. Crockpots are convenient, affordable, easy-to-use, and fun! There are numerous uses for crockpots that range from snack mixes to desserts. However, for the sake of our physical well-being, delicious nutritious crockpot cooking is key. If you are busy, tired and overwhelmed with work, crockpots may offer you an escape from the routine question of asking yourself, “What should I make for dinner?” Rocky Top, it is time to get “crocky!” Let’s make September the month to bring back the crockpots. Happy September, Crock Potters!

Caramelized Apple Slow Cooker Oatmeal

breakfast-pic1

Want a hot and ready-to-eat oatmeal for breakfast?  Try this recipe!  You can simply make this before you go to bed and enjoy your freshly cooked oatmeal in the morning!

 

 

 

View recipe: http://nourishingjoy.com/caramelized-apple-slow-cooker-oatmeal/

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

 soup-pic2Craving for soup? You can make it as simple as this recipe.  More importantly, it’s easy and delicious!

 

 

View recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/89539/slow-cooker-chicken-tortilla-soup/

Company Pot Roast

pot-roast-picYou can’t leave pot roast out when cooking with your crock pot!  This recipe might take a little more time for preparation in advance, but it’s going to be well worth it.

 

 

 

View Recipe: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/company-pot-roast

Snack: Pumpkin Nutella Slow Cooker Granola

 pumpkin-nutella-picIt’s Fall! You got to have pumpkin! Try this easy recipe with your crackpot to make your own seasonal granola.

 

 

 

 

View Recipe: http://www.crunchycreamysweet.com/2014/10/22/nutella-pumpkin-slow-cooker-granola/

 

For More Crockpot Recipes Please Visit The Link Below:

http://greatist.com/eat/healthy-crock-pot-recipes-for-breakfast

http://www.cookinglight.com/food/top-rated-recipes/slow-cooker-favorites

  1. Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19-22 June, 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948.

img_11373Reston Hartsell Contact
UT Knoxville

Reston is a graduate student in the Healthy Eating and Activity Laboratory. He received his Bachelor’s of Science in Health Sciences from Furman University in Greenville, SC. He is a dual graduate student seeking a Master’s of Science in Nutrition with a concentration in Public Health Nutrition and a Master’s of Public Health with a concentration in Community Health Education. His hobbies include cooking, ceramics, tennis, and being outside.

headshot-22 Tsz- Kiu Chui Contact
UT Knoxville

Kiu is originally from Hong Kong and is currently a graduate student pursuing her Master’s of Science degree in Public Health Nutrition at UT.  She’s also a registered dietitian, who practiced in both clinical and community settings, with a passion to inspire people to enjoy healthy food.  When Kiu is not in school, she’s probably traveling, making Chinese food or playing volleyball.

A Wish for My Children

By Sarah Colby

I have two sons.

One is six feet and 125 pounds and can’t gain weight. He is mostly sedentary and eats atrociously. A few years ago, when he got a respiratory illness, he got worse fast. He did not have the 10 pounds to lose that he lost. It was scary and to this day, I wish I could personally thank the inventors of the medicines that saved his life.

My second son is about six feet, three inches and well over 300 pounds. He goes to the gym, is physically active (much more than my first child but still less than I would like) and eats a pretty healthy diet. He was 18 pounds at 2 ½ months of age, wore size 16 shoes by the time he was 12 and has always been as far above the growth charts as the charts are wide.

The ultimate irony- I am a childhood obesity prevention researcher.

Obesity is a worldwide public health crisis. Medical cost associated with weight-related illnesses may cripple our economy. Many overweight or obese children of today may become young adults with diabetes. If things continue unchanged for those young adults with diabetes, what will it do for the workforce and economy if they begin to lose their eyesight, kidneys, or feet when they are barely even middle-aged? Will our children grow up to be healthy enough to take care of their own families, contribute to society, or to protect our country? Sound dramatic? It is a realistic concern. And that does not even begin to address the human suffering that occurs at every point of this spectrum.

This threat has been widely recognized and many are dedicated to changing the outcome of this story. The great news is that among young children we are beginning to see positive changes in the overweight/obesity trends. The efforts to reach families, schools, and communities, through education, programs, policies, systems, and environmental change appear to be having an impact. That investment of research funds and time may be making a real difference.

So what patterns of healthy eating might be making a difference? In general, most of us need to consume a variety of foods, in moderation, more natural and unprocessed, enough fiber (we almost all need more beans), lean proteins, more water, and eat all the colors. No, sorry, colorful candies don’t count. If you absolutely want to cut something out of you and your child’s diet- added refined sugar. That is the one thing that I can say is fine for almost everyone to cut completely out of their diets.

eatinghealthyfood
http://www.investitwisely.com

So if I know all of this, why do I still have one child seriously underweight and one child obese? Because it is not that simple. We don’t have all the answers, but we don’t give up. I talk to them about food not because they should look any specific way, but because I want them to be happy, healthy, and living the life they want to live. It is hard to be happy when we hurt and if we get sick from the way we eat and live, then we hurt. I teach my boys to enjoy healthy food and be active. Our job as parents is to provide healthy foods at every meal or snack, have regular meal times, let our kids see us enjoying eating healthy foods and being active, cook meals with our kids, eat together as a family, not use food as a reward or a punishment, and then, here is the key, not focus on what they are eating or their weight. That is the most and best we can do until we have more answers. I also believe that teaching my boys to love and appreciate their bodies and that they are beautiful the way they are, is most important. Weight matters not because we all need to look a certain way or fit a certain body type, it only matters because it impacts our health and our lives. Celebrate you, love you, accept you and live the life you want to live. That is what I wish for my children.


colbyheadshot

Sarah Colby Contact
UT Knoxville

Dr. Colby is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition at the University of Tennessee. She is an obesity prevention behavioral researcher with a focus on health communication through novel nutrition education strategies (including marketing, arts and technology). In addition to her focus on novel communication strategies, she has research experience with young children, adolescents, and young adult populations; community-based participatory action research; Latino and Native American populations; food security issues; and environmental and economic influences on food behavior.

Get Out and Play!

by Dawn Coe

Growing up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I spent most of my free time outside playing with the neighborhood kids.  We played sports and games such as basketball, street hockey, “kick the can” and “washers”.  Although I spent a great amount of time outdoors, very little of that time was spent engaged in nature.  The urban setting offers few opportunities to truly experience nature.

After high school, I moved to Michigan.  Living in Ann Arbor, I began to experience nature primarily through hikes and trips to the arboretum.  I later settled down with my husband on Lake Michigan, taking advantage of the lake and hikes in the surrounding area.  Eight years ago, my family moved to Knoxville.  We immediately fell in love with the area and started going on family hikes shortly after my daughter’s birth; taking her on her first hike at only two weeks old.   As a parent, I know the importance of physical activity for children.  Therefore, my husband and I have always modeled a physically active lifestyle for our children.  I love that our children have grown to love the outdoors and have a natural tendency towards being active.

coe3
Favorite activity on the Michigan lakes!
coe4
Going on a family hike.

As a pediatric exercise physiologist, I have always known the positive benefits of children engaging in an active lifestyle.  As my research has evolved during my time at the University of Tennessee, my research line has veered towards the measurement of outdoor activity and activity behaviors in children.  Through this research, I have found that activity in nature provides a host of additional benefits to children than what is seen with physical activity alone.  Outdoor play encourages risk taking, providing opportunities for children to become more aware of their bodies as well as engage in vigorous activity.  Play in nature also provides a variety of sensory experiences (i.e. motor, visual, tactile) and the opportunity for active, imaginative play.  These types of experiences not only benefit the child physically but also mentally.  In general, young children (3–5 years old) should accumulate approximately 180 minutes of activity per day, while school-aged children (6-17 years) should accumulate at least 60 minutes of daily moderate (brisk walking) to vigorous (jogging) physical activity that is developmentally appropriate.

coe5
The view from the top of Mt. LeConte

I feel the multitude of benefits of outdoor activity provide a strong impetus for me to continue encouraging my children to engage in outdoor play.  While both of my children currently take part in athletic pursuits, they still enjoy our family time outdoor together.  We try to periodically “unplug” and enjoy fun days in the Urban Wilderness or Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Resources detailing the importance of nature play in children can be found in Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods and on the Children & Nature Network website (http://www.childrenandnature.org/).


Dawn Coe Contact
UT Knoxville

Dawn P. Coe, Ph.D. is an associate professor in the department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sports Studies within the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  Dawn is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine.  Dawn’s research focuses on physical activity assessment in youth, natural playground activity and behavior, and the impact of physical activity and physical fitness on academic success in children and adolescents.  Dawn enjoys watching her children play sports and spending quality time outdoors with her family.

 

2 Lifestyle Changes to Curb Chronic Headaches

By Beth Ford  

I began having little headaches in my early 20s. Small nagging ones that lasted an hour or so and eventually went away.

In my 30s, the migraines developed. They only came on occasionally but led to me seeing a neurologist and adding prescription medication to my over-the-counter relief regimen.

The pattern continued through my 50s. According to my neurologist, I was experiencing rebound headaches from all the medications I was taking.

I finally decided to take his advice in November 2011. I went cold-turkey and stopped taking everything. I had one of the worst migraines I’ve ever had. I missed a week of work—tossing and turning in bed, pacing back and forth through the house—until the headache wore off. It was one of the most miserable weeks of my life. But I did it.

The next four months, I had some headache-free and some not-so headache-free days. The days I struggled, I would fight through it without taking anything.

I became engaged to my now-husband, Charlie, and had a wedding to plan. Three days before our wedding, I gave in and took an Excedrin to get rid of a nagging headache. Unfortunately, that was all it took.

The same problem returned—infrequent headaches that intensified and drove me back to medication.

By February 2016—yes, this year—I decided enough was enough. I was going to try going cold-turkey again. I missed another week of work with an excruciating headache.

While I was in bed suffering, my twin sister Nancy, who is a nurse, came by to check on me. She was going over a list of other potential causes of my headaches and asked me how I drank my iced tea.

We grew up on iced tea, and it was my go-to beverage. Over the years, I switched from sugar to Sweet’N Low to Splenda. Being healthy wasn’t quite the fad it is now.

Nancy banned me from using artificial sweeteners in my iced tea, and I agreed. That’s the decision that changed everything.

I have been a headache sufferer most of my life. Now at age 61, I can finally say I am headache free.

Four months ago, I gave up Excedrin and stopped adding artificial sweetener to my iced tea. I no longer have daily headaches. I feel great and love life again!

Beth (right) vacationing with three of her four sisters
Beth (right) vacationing with three of her four sisters

I had heard through the years that sweeteners can cause headaches but never really put much stock in that. After all, if it’s on the market, it must be safe, right?

Wrong. I now firmly believe my daily use of artificial sweeteners was the main cause of my headaches. I am ever so thankful to my caring and knowledgeable sister who solved my headache mystery.

I hope this story helps anyone who might have a similar problem. Life is too short to not be enjoyed every day!


Beth Ford Beth Ford Contact
UT Knoxville

Beth was born and raised in Knoxville, along with her six siblings. She grew up an avid tennis player, following in the footsteps of her parents. She has also discovered pickleball with her new headache-free life and cannot get enough. Beth and her husband, Charlie, attended high school together and have a love for animals. Beth is an administrative support assistant in the UT Knoxville College of Law.

Walk this Way

By Jane Barcroft

I’ve struggled for years to come up with some form of physical activity that I would actually do on a regular basis. Something that would permanently imprint in my brain and positively change my behavior.

Habit
“You see the signs—but you don’t heed,
You’re walking at a different speed,
Your heart beats in double time,
A few more steps and you’ll be mine…”**

 It started with a commitment I made to myself,
A significant change from far right to far left,
It was way past time to get out of my chair,
So I strapped on a Garmin and took off from there,
Slowly at first and then a pattern took hold,
Results of the day are synced to my phone,
Progress is made with daily routine,
Family and friends become part of the team,
Competition is fierce and we speak of steps,
How far and how many and who needs help…
To stay on track and remain in the game,
A challenge to us – never the same,
My cue to move is a scary red line,
That appears on my tracker when it’s time,
It’s almost insane – exciting and fun,
At the end of the day we’ve really all won,
A habit is forming and we’re all in line,
“A few more steps and you’ll be mine…”

**Adapted from “Addicted to Love” by Robert Palmer

The voice of Habit (subconscious) comes through at the beginning of my poem. At first, I was not interested in what this habit wanted from me. But, Habit was persistent—waiting for me to change from the same old way to a new way. Finally, I caught on and the “steps” are chronicled in my poem.

I’m not exactly sure when I decided that walking might be a good activity, but last year I purchased a small electronic pedometer that would fit in my pocket. I couldn’t be seen wearing one of those black plastic devices on my wrist—what if someone noticed? I might have to be accountable for how many steps and how far and how often I walked.

I was not a good steward of the pedometer. I ignored it and did not let it work for me—left in my pocket, it fell victim to the washing machine. My son purchased another pocket pedometer for me and the same washing machine got that one as well. I was not a faithful walker.

During a check-up with my internist earlier this year, he strongly suggested that I get more exercise. And I decided it was time for me to get serious. I needed to make a commitment to change my behavior and stick with it.

I purchased a Garmin Vivofit and Hoka walking shoes. The walking habit was within my reach—it was out there just waiting for me, refusing to give up even though I had ignored all the signs and made excuses for not fully participating. This time, I strapped that Garmin on my wrist and have never looked back.

One step at a time (documented) progress is being made. A friendly step competition takes place with family and friends. Co-workers have been interested and some who were reluctant to participate have been won over.

We talk about how far and how many steps and what we are doing to stay on track. We make an effort to get up and move during the day, and I think it makes us all more productive.

I use my lunch time to walk from Morgan Hall to UT Gardens and back—about 2,500 steps. I park my truck on the far side of the UT parking lot and walk 900 steps to my office. Now I park on the far side of any parking lot and am really happy when it adds at least 200+ steps to my trip to the store. In the afternoon when I get home from work, before I go inside, I walk on one of the trails near my home until a minimum of 10,000 steps per day is met.

Four miles a day! I love it and feel great. I don’t worry about not getting enough exercise these days because it’s something I want to do and plan for every day. My acquired behavior pattern has become involuntary…finally I have a walking habit to call my own.


Jane Barcroft Jane Barcroft  Contact
UT Institute of Agriculture

Jane Barcroft is an artist, a poet, and a walker.  She spends her workday as an accounting specialist for AgResearch at the Institute of Agriculture. She enjoys spending time with her son, daughter-in-law and three beautiful and energetic grandchildren. She also has found favor with her grandson’s hamster, Rory Jenkins and the family dog, Sky. Jane grew up, the oldest of five, in a military family where she moved all over the country and spent her high school years in Bermuda. You can follow Jane and her Bermuda-state-of-mind on Twitter at @1bdagal.