Re-Writing Your Resolutions

by Karissa Peyer

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution this month?  Even if you did not formally announce it or frame it as a resolution, perhaps you still had thoughts of exercising more, eating better, quitting smoking or getting more sleep.  According to statisticbrain.com, over half of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions and the most popular resolution is to lose weight or eat healthier.  Despite all these resolutions, nearly 50% of people fail to carry out these behavior changes beyond the end of January! So how do you stop yourself from joining this statistic?

There are a number of theories (Bandura, 1989; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Prochaska & Velicer, 1997) discussing what it is that makes people stick with health behavior changes, but they have many common threads. Among these is to identify WHY you are making the change, what barriers or supports are in your environment, and tracking your progress.  Below are some tips for sticking with your goals this year:

  1. Know your “Why.” If you know your “Why” you will find your “How.” Spend some time to really think about why you are trying to make this change. What benefits do you expect to see if you are successful?  What will happen if you fail?  How does this change affect those around you? The answer to this question is different for everyone.  While it sounds good to say that you are going to eat healthier because you want to lower your cholesterol, if the truth is that you just want your spouse to stop nagging you, own it!
  2. Adjust if needed. Maybe your original goal was to go to the gym five days a week but you’ve been struggling to make it just two nights a week. Cut yourself a break and acknowledge that two is more than zero! It is better to back off a bit than to quit completely.
  3. Identify barriers. This goes along with #2. What are the things that made it hard to hit your 5 day/week goal? Maybe you’re more likely to make it to the gym if you go in the morning because work or family commitments tend to eat up more time than expected in the evening. Perhaps you struggle with your healthy eating or smoking cessation goal in certain social situations. Identifying these triggers will help you to plan for them.
  4. Find your support. There’s a wealth of research (and personal experience!) showing that people are more likely to stick with behavior changes, especially exercise if they are receiving social support. This be a friend who meets you at the gym, a group exercise class where you make friends and people will notice if you miss, or just sharing regular updates with a friend or on social media to hold yourself accountable.
  5. Track, track, track. Keep track of your progress, including notes about what worked and what didn’t. This can be a reward in itself when you look back at the end of the week and see how much time you spent at the gym or how many vegetables you ate! Adding notes about what you enjoyed or tricks and tips that helped you stick to your goal each day will be good reminders when you struggle in the future.
  6. Reward yourself! While better health is certainly a reward on its own, sometimes we want something more immediate and more tangible. It is ok to reward yourself sometimes for your hard work! Make a contract with yourself to treat yourself to a new workout outfit or a new pair of shoes after 15 trips to the gym. Buy yourself that awesome new dinner set to eat all your healthy food off of when you stick to your meal plan.  Just be sure your reward doesn’t negate all your hard work! A scoop of ice cream for hitting your target at the gym is great – an entire gallon just spoils all that effort!
  7. Most importantly, find what works for you! Your initial goal may not be going as planned, but that’s no reason to quit.  Evaluate your plan, make changes as necessary and keep working at it!

Bandura, A. (1989). Human agency in social cognitive theory. American psychologist44(9), 1175.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York ; Plenum.

Prochaska, J. O., & Velicer, W. F. (1997). The transtheoretical model of health behavior change. American journal of health promotion12(1), 38-48.


file-phpKarissa Peyer Contact

Karissa L. Peyer, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She received her Ph.D. from Iowa State University in Physical Activity and Health Promotion. Karissa’s research focuses on physical activity, childhood obesity and behavior change in both children and adults. Karissa enjoys running, biking, swimming and hanging out with her dog, Mika

 

MIND-ful Superfoods

by Joel Anderson

These days, we’ve all probably heard of superfoods. Numerous lists online and in magazines describe the superfoods you should know and eat. But what makes a food a superfood? And is this sound nutrition or just hype? Will you really benefit from including these superfoods in your diet?

Foods are often given the “super” moniker based on nutrition density, whether that be vitamin and mineral content, levels of antioxidants, or amounts of healthy fats or other macronutrients. The antioxidant or anti-inflammatory properties of these foods often lands them into this category. Most often, these foods are plant-based. While more exotic foods such açai, mangosteen, and goji berries are often on these superfood lists by virtue of their antioxidant profile, more common foods such as kale, blueberries, and salmon are considered to be superfoods, too. But will incorporating these superfoods improve your health or provide you with a nutritional edge?

As much as we might sometimes like the idea of a magic nutritional bullet, one food or nutrient alone will not solve all nutritional ills or halt a chronic disease in its tracks. More current human nutrition research focuses on overall dietary patterns rather than on specific foods or nutrients. Our dietary patterns have more to do with our overall eating habits and the variety of foods that we consume, as well as the form in which we consume these.

Many have heard or read about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. First examined by Ancel Keys following World War II, the Mediterranean diet has an abundance of vegetables and fruits. The style of eating has received a lot of attention over the past several decades given the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease. In fact, this is what led Keys to study the dietary pattern in the 1950s. The benefits of the Mediterranean diet are supported by nutrition research over several decades. As a graduate student, I co-taught a course on the Mediterranean diet.

A similar dietary pattern that’s getting more buzz lately has been termed the MIND diet. In this case, MIND stands for the Mediterranean-DASH diet intervention for neurodegenerative delay (MIND). The DASH diet refers to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension dietary plan supported by research funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Older adults who follow the DASH and Mediterranean diets most closely have higher levels of cognitive function. However, the MIND diet score is more positively associated with slower decline in cognitive function than either the DASH and Mediterranean diets alone. In the case of the MIND diet, there is an emphasis on a few key superfoods for which there is a solid body of research. Specifically, the MIND diet focuses on the inclusion of dark leafy greens (think kale, collards, and spinach) and berries, like blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. Why these?

A number of research studies reported a slower decline in cognitive function with higher consumption of vegetables, with the greatest protection coming from green leafy vegetables. And while all of these studies found no association between overall fruit consumption and cognitive decline, one study did find evidence that berries may have a protective effect on the brain related to cognitive function. While the MIND diet needs further research, this dietary pattern, which includes some key superfoods, may be a great way of maintaining or improving brain health that might have beneficial effects overall given the emphasis on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.


file-php Joel Anderson Contact

Joel G. Anderson, Ph.D., CHTP, is an Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee College of Nursing. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Nutrition from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, and a certificate in Advanced Clinical Dementia Practice from the University of Michigan. Dr. Anderson completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Therapies at the University of Virginia. Dr. Anderson’s research interests involve the use of non-pharmacological strategies to enhance symptom management and caregiver support in dementia.

Exercise in the Winter

by Scarlett Underwood

Getting your daily workout in the winter can become a struggle for many and you aren’t alone.  Luckily, there are things you can do to help make it a little easier.  Whether you work out indoors and you can’t shake the fact that the sun doesn’t rise until later in the morning, or you love to workout outside and you can’t bear the cold.

For those that enjoy the early morning workouts, and find it difficult to wake up while there isn’t a bit of light outside, here are a few tips:

  • Go to bed earlier: slowly move your bedtime back 15 minutes earlier each night until you are able to wake up with ease in the morning
  • Set an alarm on your phone so you know when to be in bed
  • Turn TV, computer, or cell phones off an hour before bed to help the brain wind down

If you enjoy outdoor workouts and can’t find the perfect way to handle the cold weather, there are a few ways to combat that as well:

  • Warm up inside with jumping jacks, running in place etc. for 10-15 minutes before going outside
  • Dress in layers that are easy to pull off as your body temperature rises

Additional ways to create consistency throughout the winter weather is to have a workout buddy.  Having someone who will create accountability with you sets you both up for success.  Plan what time you will get your daily cardio, or pump in, and stick to it.  Put your workout clothes on, and head straight to the gym.  Once you are there, you have come too far to turn around and skip your sweat session.


Scarlett Underwood Contactscarlettunderwood

Scarlett joined UTC Campus Recreation as the Coordinator of Fitness in July.  She loves working out and teaching group fitness classes in her spare time, especially Les Mills BODYPUMP.  In her free time, she is an animal lover and enjoys getting out to explore Chattanooga and all of its surroundings

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.

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.

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.