Reaching a Goal Requires Setting One

By Gina Stafford

As busy as we all are with work, family, social and personal obligations, there’s often no choice but to skip deliberate physical activity when our schedules get overcrowded. At least, that’s true for me.

Whether walking, hiking or going to the gym, I really enjoy getting to spend some time exercising. Recently, though, that time was consumed by the need to support my husband, Bill, as he underwent knee replacement surgery. We both knew it was a big deal, but I had no idea how much of my days were going to be filled at the hospital, the inpatient rehab facility, traveling to physical therapy and tending to our household completely solo.

For three full weeks, I lived in the world of caregiving. In that world, as anyone who’s spent time there knows, your otherwise normal routine disappears, household chores fall by the wayside, and you eat from a vending machine or a drive-thru. And for me, let’s just say poor food choices and getting no exercise were a bad combination for weight management, and leave it at that.

Bill’s knee replacement surgery was on May 5, 2015. He has had the best experience possible and is recovering quickly, for which I’m very thankful. I’m thankful, too, that I’ve been able to resume a near-normal routine, with some time for periodic exercise.

I’m also looking forward to the time in the future when Bill can join me in some of our favorite active pursuits—a list topped by hiking. In fact, while still a rehab inpatient, Bill set a goal of hiking to the top of Mount LeConte next year, on the first anniversary of his new knee.

Bill on Alum Cave Trail en route to Mount LeConte in 2014
Bill on Alum Cave Trail en route to Mount LeConte in 2014

At an elevation of 6,593 feet, Mount LeConte is the second-highest peak on the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with Clingman’s Dome the highest at 6,644 feet. LeConte is one of the park’s most beautiful, signature hiking destinations, accessible to the public only on foot via challenging trails. In my experience, Clingman’s Dome is more of a driving destination, where people park at the base of a paved, one-mile walkway and make that very steep trip on foot to the impressive observation tower.

Hiking Mount LeConte can be one of those “been there, done that, got the T-shirt” activities, thanks to a small-scale store operating in a lodge atop the mountain. Each year, a new “LeConte Lodge” T-shirt design – complete with the current year’s imprint – is sold only on top of the mountain. Bragging rights and avid hikers are good for T-shirt sales.

Bill 2015, Post-opWhen my husband wore his 2014 shirt to post-op physical therapy, he was the talk of the group. His therapists were impressed that a knee replacement patient had ascended LeConte with what had to have been a very damaged and painful knee just 11 months earlier.

That inspired Bill. Having learned that total knee replacement requires 12 months for full, complete recovery, he decided he would celebrate the one-year mark by ascending LeConte again, via the 10 miles roundtrip Alum Cave Trail. I was pleased his experience was going so well that he was already looking forward to returning to hiking, and a big hiking challenge, at that.

We have a long way to go, and he has a lot of physical therapy ahead to prep for us to take on that challenge, but I’m eager and confident it will happen. I’m also reminded of the importance— to exercising regularly—of setting goals. I don’t know anyone who decided to run a marathon and ran one the same day. I never have and am confident I never will run a marathon, but I have set activity-related goals, and every time I did, they were the catalyst to better fitness.

Setting goals is motivating and helps you stay focused. Goals give you a reason to stick with and track your physical activity. Checking off a goal—whether it’s walking five miles a week or running five miles a day—brings a satisfying sense of accomplishment and can encourage you to set more challenging goals. Among family members, setting goals can encourage participation and friendly competition. Goals can start anywhere—wherever is most realistic—and without them, it can be hard to start at all.

The American Heart Association has some good tips to help you introduce routine exercise into your life in its “Five Steps to Loving Exercise…Or At Least not Hating It.”

If you’re older and it’s been a while since you were active, you also might enjoy the wealth of great information in the National Institute on Aging’s “Exercise and Physical Activity” guide. It’s a comprehensive resource on various types and benefits of exercise – and identifying and setting goals.

In my house, Mount LeConte is on the figurative horizon until May 2015, when I’m counting on seeing its actual horizon.


Bill and GinaGina Stafford  Twitter  Contact
UT System Administration

Gina and her husband, Bill Phelps, are outdoor and hiking enthusiasts who especially enjoy venturing into new territory. They share a love of all things Vols, baseball and travel. Gina is assistant vice president and director of communications for the UT System Administration.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Recipe: Pecan-Encrusted Salmon

By Rebecca Krukowksi

Ingredients
¾ pound salmon fillet
Freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons low-fat yogurt or sour cream
½ cup ground pecans

Instructions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pepper both sides of salmon and place in pan covered with aluminum foil. Combine mustard and yogurt; spread over salmon. Sprinkle with pecans. Bake 12-15 minutes at 450 degrees.


Recommended by Rebecca Krukowksi  Contact
UT Health Science Center
Assistant Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Hit the Trail and Ditch the Stress

By Gina Stafford

As a little girl growing up in the country, I spent summers in the woods. Climbing trees, wading creeks and exploring. When I grew up and moved to the city, I left the woods, but the woods have never left me.

Fortunately, I live only 50 miles from about a half-billion acres of woodlands in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Even though it’s the most-visited national park in the country, it’s still plenty big enough to offer the peace, quiet and beauty that draw me to the woods. I go there to hike, my favorite combination of stress reliever and physical activity.

Hiking is something almost anyone can do, and you don’t have to live near a national park to take advantage of it. Besides the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee has another National Park Service site, the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, along with 56 state parks. Those, combined with greenway systems in many Tennessee cities, make up almost 1,000 trails and walking routes accessible throughout the state. That’s a lot of opportunity to get out of the house, away from the office and into a happy place.

There, parents can spend time with their children, friends can spend time together, but you don’t have to spend any money. Tennessee’s state and national parks are open seven days a week, year-round, and they don’t charge entry fees.

No special equipment or knowledge is required, either, but here are some basic tips for hitting the trail:

Know the distance and degree of difficulty—most park or trail maps have labeled routes according to the challenge presented. Beginner trails are usually suitable for all fitness levels.

Check the forecast—being unprepared for weather conditions makes for a bad experience. Even if the forecast is clear, it’s still a good idea to take along rain gear if you may be out most of the day.

Footwear and gear—sneakers or athletic shoes are OK for flat, smooth surfaces, but more challenging terrain or hikes much longer than a couple miles call for comfortable and waterproof hiking shoes or boots. Apply insect repellent and sunscreen before hitting the trail, and dress in layered clothing suitable for the temperature.

Food and water—plan to have snacks or food and water appropriate to the amount of time and distance you want to cover. A good rule of thumb is to bring enough water so that you can drink 8 ounces (one cup) for every 15 minutes you’re on the trail, and a healthy snack for every 60 to 90 minutes.

Start short—beginners can easily overestimate how far they can go. It’s not only no fun to run out of steam mid-hike, it can be a health or safety risk. Know your limitations and those of anyone joining you. Start with an easy trail and limit the distance, to maybe 2 miles or less.

Don’t go it alone—it’s best not to take chances on having a problem and no one to help. Those new to hiking, especially, should go in pairs or small groups. Take your cell phone—though signal is not always available in state or national parks—and let someone know when you expect to return.

Barred OwlMy husband and I really enjoy hiking and our relatively close proximity to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We go often with friends—hiking 600-800 miles a year—and you never know when you might make a new friend, such as this Barred Owl watching over us once as we passed along a trail below his perch.

For more information on walking and hiking trails in Tennessee, visit:


Gina Stafford and Bill PhelpsGina Stafford  Twitter  Contact
UT System Administration

Gina and her husband, Bill Phelps, are outdoor and hiking enthusiasts who especially enjoy venturing into new territory. They share a love of all things Vols, baseball and travel. Gina is assistant vice president and director of communications for the UT System Administration.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

5 Lessons from a Recovering Barbecue Addict

By Keith Carver

December 2014 was a low point.

I had just gotten my annual physical. My doctor told me that I was 30 pounds overweight. My blood sugar was dangerously high. And my blood pressure had gotten to a level that had captured my physician’s attention.

I was stunned. While I knew that I was overweight, I had recently completed the St. Jude marathon in Memphis and had set my personal best for that race and distance. I was “in shape.” But I knew that I hadn’t felt well in years. My sleeping habits were suffering, and I had noticed more swelling and pain in my joints. Something had to change.

He suggested that I consult a nutritionist to look at my eating. I immediately contacted a local professional to help educate and train me on good food choices and habits.

I’ve learned a great deal in the last four months.

Lesson 1: You can’t out-exercise bad eating habits.
No matter how much you walk or run, poor food choices will derail any good total-wellness plan.

Lesson 2: A well-balanced diet is easy to follow.
It just takes discipline and preparation. Use your Sunday evenings to plan your week of eating. When are you traveling? How often will you be eating at restaurants? When can you bring your lunch to work? Planning ahead so that you can make food choices ahead of time is essential. We are sporadic about eating healthy. Not planning ahead equates to poor decisions.

Lesson 3: Exercising 30 minutes a day is key to good physical (and mental) health.
I used to think that hours in the gym or on the road were needed to lose weight. I’ve now discovered that a mix of healthy eating plus consistent exercise—regardless of the particular routine—keeps me headed in the right direction. Try 30 minutes of walking with your spouse or riding bikes with your kids. Get up 30 minutes earlier in the morning to go for a run before work. Get on an elliptical machine or stationary bike while you watch the news. Whatever it takes—fit exercise into your daily schedule and make it a priority.

Lesson 4: Figure out your nutritional needs.
It varies from person to person, but I currently subscribe to a 40/30/30 plan. That’s 40 percent of my diet being lean proteins, 30 percent being good carbohydrates and 30 percent being heart-healthy fats. I eat three meals a day, plus three snacks in between. This keeps me satiated and full. A doctor or nutritionist can help you figure out a plan just for you.

Lesson 5: Set attainable goals.
Instead of striving to lose 30 pounds, break it into smaller units. You want to lose 5 pounds. Or, you want to fit into those jeans you wore two years ago. Whatever your goal—make it reachable and tangible.

I’ve lost 19 pounds since the holidays. My blood sugar is down, and I’m sleeping better. Best of all, I feel so much better.

I still have miles to go, but I’ll get there…one decision at a time.


The Carver FamilyKeith Carver  Blog  Contact
UT System Administration

Keith is husband to an amazing woman and dad to three active children. He enjoys getting outdoors with his wife, Hollianne, fishing, watching his children play sports all over East Tennessee and reading biographies of historical figures. He currently serves as the executive assistant to UT President Joe DiPietro.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Recipe: Baked Vegetables

By Melissa Powell

Ingredients
2 yellow squash, sliced
2 zucchini, sliced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt & pepper, to taste, optional
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Instructions
Combine the squash, zucchini and tomatoes in a bowl; toss to mix. Add the olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper; toss to coat. Spread one-third of the vegetables in a baking dish and sprinkle with cheese. Repeat the layers two more times. Bake, covered with foil, at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Serves 4.


Recommended by Melissa Powell  Contact
UT Chattanooga
Clinical Instructor, Lecturer and Registered Dietician, Department of Health and Human Performance

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Recipe: Julie’s Cauliflower Patties

By Julie Floyd

Ingredients
1/4 cup finely diced onion (optional)
1 head cauliflower, finely chopped, cooked and drained well
1 cup panko crumbs
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Dash of hot sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Instructions
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Mix 1/2 cup panko, the egg and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Add Worcestershire, mustard and hot sauce. Fold the cooked, chopped cauliflower into the panko mixture. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Shape into patties, and cook until crispy golden brown.


Recommended by Julie Floyd  Contact
UT Martin
Associate Professor, Department of Nursing

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Recipe: Fruity and Nutty Whole Grain Cereal

By Rebecca Krukowksi

Ingredients
6 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup of oat bran
1 cup of wheat germ
1/2 cup of ground pecans
1/2 cup of ground walnuts
1/2 cup of sliced or slivered almonds
1/2 cup of flaxseed
1/3 cup of sesame seeds
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds
3/4 cup of honey or molasses
3/4 cups of oil (any type other than olive oil)
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup of any combination of dried fruit (chopped if needed)

Instructions
Combine oats, oat bran, wheat germ, nuts and seeds in a bowl or pan with high sides. Mix well and set aside. Combine honey/molasses, oil, cinnamon and vanilla in a measuring cup. Pour over the oat mixture. Toss until well blended.

Microwave on 50% power (don’t miss this or you will burn your cereal) for 10 minutes. Stir well and microwave again on 50% power for 10 minutes. Cool. Add dried fruit. Store in refrigerator in air-tight container.


Recommended by Rebecca Krukowksi  Contact
Assistant Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine
UT Health Science Center

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Addressing Obesity and Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices

By Erica Jenkins

While one out of every three Tennesseans is obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s important to realize that the core problem isn’t obesity—it’s the combination of multiple unhealthy lifestyle choices.

To help Tennesseans understand how to overcome health-related challenges, UT Extension’s Family and Consumer Sciences division has put together a research-based program, “Pathweighs to Health.” The six-week program provides information and a support network to help jumpstart lifestyle change.

Below are four tips to help you get started. They were developed by Donna Calhoun, a Family and Consumer Sciences agent who administered the program in Polk County in February 2014.

TIP 1: IT’S HARD FOR A REASON

With fast-food restaurants beating out local grocery stores in convenience and sometimes price, it can be hard to make the choice to eat at home or plan a week’s worth of affordable meals. Also, food manufacturers spend lots of money ensuring their products help you reach the “bliss point,” which is when the right combination of sugar, salt and fat in a food chemically produce the greatest amount of pleasure. Starting a healthy lifestyle is about realizing that it can be hard to make healthy choices, and there are natural reasons why it’s easy to make unhealthy ones.

TIP 2: START BY BREAKING IT DOWN

Before you throw out everything with a carb in it, take a step back for a few weeks and look at your eating and exercise habits. Making small, sustainable changes can be more beneficial than radical ones, like cutting out all carbs. Use apps like MyFitnessPal or a food diary to track the types of food and exercise you have on a weekly basis. Then, commit to modifying your habits in small ways—maybe popcorn instead of chips for a snack, or parking on the far end of the lot. Remember, it’s your life, and being healthy should become something you take pride in because you’re investing in a better future.

TIP 3: CREATE A SUPPORT NETWORK

Changing your lifestyle is hard, especially when your family may be used to eating out. Partnering with your spouse, a friend or group of co-workers to encourage each other to make healthy choices will increase your chances of success.

TIP 4: YOUR ACTIONS MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Your lifestyle choices have a direct impact on your loved ones, especially your spouse and children. While children whose parents are obese are more likely to struggle with weight from an early age, children who learn healthy food choices and are exposed to a variety of fruits and vegetables are more likely to carry those habits into adulthood. Choosing a healthy lifestyle at any age will increase your longevity and positively influence those around you.

Contact your local UT Extension office to find out when Pathweighs to Health will be offered near you and learn more about healthy lifestyle choices by visiting extension.tennessee.edu.


Erica Jenkins HeadshotErica Jenkins  Contact
UT System Administration

Erica joined the UT System Office of Communications and Marketing in 2011 and currently serves as public relations associate, specializing in measurement and analytics and managing communication planning for government relations and advocacy initiatives. When she’s not involved in community and campus organizations, Erica enjoys deep sea fishing with her family and working on music. 

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Why I Only Have One Coke Per Week

By Sue Denning

Why I Only Have One Coke a Week:
Because I feel a lot better when I drink water or unsweet tea.

My Motivation:
I became more aware of studies about sugar and sweeteners and realized I just didn’t feel very good after drinking soda.

My Wellness Goal:
I try to watch what I eat, walk, chose lean proteins that give me energy, keep an eye on sodium and balance indulgences with healthier options.


Sue Denning  Contact
UT Foundation
Alumni Assistant

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Why I Go Metal Dectecting

By Chris Armstrong

Why I Go Metal Detecting:
Because it’s a way to connect with the past, and it lets me get out in the woods, feel the sun and breath the fresh air. It’s a mental break, and I can just relax and have fun.

My Motivation:
I’ve been into history all my life and enjoy reading something, finding the spot where the story took place and then holding a piece of that history in my hand.

My Wellness Goal:
To have balance and spend time relaxing and rejuvenating.


Chris Armstrong Contact
UT Space Institute
Safety Coordinator

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.