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, 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


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

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.


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.


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.

Favorite activity on the Michigan lakes!
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.

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 (

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.


Finding time to exercise – can you spare 10 minutes?

By Brian Hester 

As I have gotten older, finding time or motivation to exercise has been an increasingly difficult task.  During my college and younger adult years, there seemed to be plenty of time to fit in a 1-2 hour workout nearly every day.   Nowadays, having a full-time job, completing a PhD and helping my wife raise our 4 year old all take priority over daily fitness.

However, I’ve learned that skipping exercise – even just few days – can have negative consequences that will set me back.  This is especially true in the winter months, when I have even more excuses to skip daily exercising due to shorter daylight, cold, rain, sleet or snow.  If I miss several days of weight-bearing activity during these colder months, I am much more apt to pull a muscle, especially in my back.  When this happens, I am out of commission for at least a couple of days, if not longer. Finding a way to prevent this is a necessity to keep from missing work, falling behind in dissertation writing or missing out on the joys of helping my son with his daily adventures as he learns and grows.

So, what I have discovered – through wiser friends or the internet – is that when it comes to exercising in the winter, or any time throughout the year, less is more.  If I know that if I’m only going to spend 10 minutes a day “working out,” I’m much more likely to allocate this time to fitness and stick to it.   Therefore, my daily cardio and weight workouts have evolved to climbing the stairs at work or using just my own body instead of a gym for core weight-bearing workouts like pushups and crunches, and finding quick five to 15-minute exercise breaks that are most convenient and least likely to be interrupted from work, school or family commitments.  I have broken these times up into roughly four five-minute breaks during the work day hours and 10-15 minutes at home right after work.

At work, twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon (say at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.) I find five minutes to climb the stairs.  I do 10 flights in three minutes – I’m out of breath at the top but not broken into a sweat.  This covers my cardio for the day.  I know you are supposed to get 20-30 minutes and break a sweat, but hey, this is better than nothing.  For weight bearing activity, every day when I get home after work, I spend a grand total of 10 minutes that starts with simple stretches (check out YouTube for tons of good examples), then I do 100 pushups and 50 crunches.  This may sound like a lot to some people (or laughably little to others), but, believe me, you can work up to this amount in  a few weeks.   Supplementing this, three-days-a-week I mix in bicep curls with dumbbells (whatever weight that allows you to just barely finish a set of 10 reps), shoulder shrugs, and wrist curls.  I can get three sets of these exercises done in five minutes. During one week, this equals 15 minutes of exercise time at home on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, and just 10 minutes on the other four days.

I will assuredly not win any body-building or feats-of-strength competitions with this routine, but I have found that my long-term health and mood greatly benefit from this small amount of daily physical activity.  Yes, there are still those times when my back will go on a 24-hour strike, like after moving heavy objects or throwing Nicholas up in the air for the 20th time he’s requested it, but during the past five years that I’ve followed this routine, I have not had any back pain issues that have lingered more than a day.  Even more amazing, my annual physical exams have consistently resulted in my doctor being fooled into saying, “You must work out a lot!”


Brian Hester and his son Nicholas
Brian Hester with his son Nicholas

Brian Hester Contact
UT System Administration

Brian is the Assistant Director of Institutional Research for the UT System.  He is husband to Alice – a physician’s assistant at East TN Children’s Hospital, and father to Nicholas – who just turned 4 in January 2016.   Brian loves to read – anything on parenting and child development and fiction novels, when he can find the time.  As a family, they enjoy outdoor activities including hiking and fishing, and lots of sports – Brian currently is coaching a 4-5 year old basketball team, on which son Nicholas plays.


Making Time for My Sanity: Fitting Exercise into a Hectic Schedule

By Tiffany Carpenter

For years I debated going back to school for my master’s degree, but that seemed impossible with two young children and a full-time job.

I decided to take the plunge two years ago and start my master’s degree in business administration.

With UT’s educational assistance and fee waiver benefit and the convenience of the UT Martin online MBA program, I felt like it was something I couldn’t pass up. There wasn’t going to be a perfect time to do it, so I just needed to buckle down and jump in.

Between two kids, work and school, my days were running from 6 a.m. to midnight. (Did I mention my 3-year-old decided she wanted to wake up at 4 a.m. for about two months…)

I found myself cutting out time for non-essential activities, like sleep and running. I developed a serious caffeine dependency, and my stress level was through the roof. I desperately needed to find time to exercise for my mental and physical well-being.

I didn’t have an abundance of time to spend at the gym, so I needed to find things that would fit into my schedule.

In case my story sounds familiar, let me share a few of my favorite ways for fitting exercise into a busy schedule:

  • Quick jogs around the neighborhood while my 8-year-old rides her bike
  • High-intensity interval training apps that take less than 10 minutes—Quick 4 and 7-Minute Workout Challenge
  • P90X3 workout videos—30 minutes in the comfort of your own home

I’ve just finished classes this semester and will graduate in December! First thing on my agenda—SLEEP and maybe a good run.

Carpenter Family Tiffany Carpenter Contact
UT System Administration

Tiffany brings her love for UT to her job as assistant vice president for marketing for the UT System. Originally from Bristol, Tennessee, Tiffany has worked at UT for more than 11 years in various positions for the UT Knoxville Athletic Department and UT Foundation.  She currently lives in Knoxville with her husband, Allen, two daughters, Emily and Avery, and furry daughter, Bailey. When not at work, you might see Tiffany at a UT sporting event or at Dollywood with her family. She is a graduate of UT Knoxville and recently completed her MBA from UT Martin.

3 Dietitian-Recommended Steps for Losing Weight

By Chelsi Cardoso

Did you know the majority of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese?

Being overweight or obese increases the likelihood of developing several diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

As a result of increasing health concerns, many adults want to lose weight. But despite the availability of weight loss programs, achieving and maintaining weight loss is difficult for many adults.

Understanding Weight Loss
Our weight is a reflection of energy balance—calories in versus calories out.

Weight loss occurs when we consume fewer calories than we burn or when we achieve a calorie deficit. This equation sounds simple, but the complicated part is that we need to make lifestyle changes—specifically changing eating and activity behaviors—to achieve a calorie deficit.

What behavior changes are known to help people achieve their weight loss goals? People who have successfully lost weight do the following:

  • Reduce caloric intake by 500 to 1,000 calories a day to assist with a slow steady weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week. A calorie reduction can be achieved with any type of diet.
  • Engage in 60 to 90 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity.
  • Limit television viewing to less than 10 hours a week.
  • Track the intake of all food and drink.
  • Measure body weight on a weekly basis.

So how can you begin to apply these changes to your everyday routine?

Let me share some key strategies with you that are known to be effective for weight loss and provide suggestions for starting a successful weight loss journey.

Step 1: Start tracking your current eating and physical activity. This allows you to see what adjustments you may need to make for weight loss.

Step 2: Start setting achievable weight loss goals. Goals can make a difference when working on changing behaviors. Use the guidelines below to help design your weight loss goals:

Helpful goals are: Example
Positive “I will plan dinner menus with no more than 500 calories.” Instead of negative: “I will stop eating so much.”
Specific “I will walk 20 minutes on Tuesday after work.”Instead of vague: “I will get more physical activity.”
Something You Control “I will stop buying ice cream and ask my spouse to only eat ice cream when he eats out.”Instead of what you can’t control: “I will get my spouse to stop eating ice cream.”
Time Specific “I will lose 2 pounds by June 15.”Instead of open-ended: “I will lose 2 pounds.”
Small Enough So You Can Reach Them “I will decrease the number of times I eat out from 4 times a month to 2 times a month.”Instead of: “I will never eat out again.”
Broken into Small Steps “I will buy carrots and celery at the grocery store, cut them into sticks and put them in the refrigerator in small plastic bags for my lunches this week.”Instead of not broken down: “I will eat carrots and celery sticks for lunch.”
Related to a Reward “I will buy a copy of my favorite magazine if I pack my lunch three times this week.”Instead of: “I will pack my lunch three times this week.”

Step 3: Come up with a plan to help you achieve your goals. Achieving a healthy weight is more than following fad diets and changing what is in the cupboard. It’s about making lifestyle changes and sustaining those changes over time. Do a little research to find a plan that’s right for you, and talk with your health care provider if you have questions or need some guidance.

Use the comment section below to share other tips and strategies that have worked for you. Good luck!

Chelsi CardosoChelsi Cardoso Contact
UT Knoxville

Chelsi is a registered dietitian and a research associate III at UT Knoxville, where she manages the Healthy Eating and Activity Laboratory (HEAL) under the direction of Dr. Hollie Raynor. HEAL conducts research on factors that impact eating regulation and energy balance and that can be used to improve behavioral obesity prevention and treatment programs for children and adults. Chelsi enjoys powerlifting, cooking, watching sports, hiking and going everywhere with her two dogs, Capone and Angelou. 

Enjoy the Magic of Fall

By Synthia Clark

Fall is magical. I look forward to the crisp air, beautiful colors and leaves falling all around—creating a nuisance for some adults and an opportunity of fun for children.

Some of us are lucky to live where we can get the full experience of the season.

The autumn months signal the beginning of many holidays. I take full advantage of the local festivals and the opportunity to take great photographs.

It’s the perfect time to capture interesting scenes in nature like the unique colors and fun textures. Yes, the colors are the result of a scientific process, but that doesn’t make it any less magical. Plus, not as many bugs are on the attack.

Fall foliage is a beautiful passing with promises of an even greater beginning. So, get out there and experience the magic!

Here are some resources to help you get the most out of the season:

Synthia Clark Synthia Clark Contact  Website
UT Knoxville

Synthia works in the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling at UT Knoxville as an administrative support assistant and acts as webmaster, writer and photographer. She enjoys staying busy with hobbies like photography, travel and music.

Cholesterol, Cravings and Food Costs: My Experience with Clean Eating

By Susan Robertson

Following my physical in January 2014 to fulfill the Partnership Promise health insurance requirements, I received the report from my doctor that my cholesterol was too high. I also received a hand-written note that simply said, “Watch your sweets and get regular exercise.”

I exercised enough and ate relatively healthy, but the truth was that I didn’t exercise on a regular basis. And following each meal with a dessert was my weakness.

I was determined to lower my cholesterol the natural way and not rely on prescription medication. Through much research, I found that high cholesterol levels are caused by inflammation in the body and not enough movement; and inflammation can be controlled through consuming a diet rich with anti-inflammatory foods (i.e. almonds, leafy greens, fish, pineapple, etc.). You can read about anti-inflammatory foods on Dr. Andrew Weil’s website.

So, I made the decision to start walking every day and switch to a whole foods diet—no processed foods and very little sugar. There went my nightly handful of peanut M&Ms.

I started by shopping on the outside perimeter of the grocery store and buying only whole, organic foods—fruits, vegetables, nuts and lean protein.

As far as beverages, I drink mostly water and black coffee. Fortunately, I never sweetened my coffee, so that was one habit I didn’t have to break.

I don’t deny myself any food. I still occasionally have a piece of cake or some ice cream, but it’s not a regular part of my diet.

Something I always hear from people is, “It’s so expensive to eat healthy.”

I agree, it’s not cheap, but neither are prescriptions, doctor’s appointments and hospital stays! I’m a strong believer in the Benjamin Franklin quote, “An ounce of prevention is worth of pound of cure.”

One way I’ve kept healthy eating affordable is by joining a community supported agriculture (CSA) group. With CSA farms, you pay a set amount for a year, and in return, you pick up a bin of fresh vegetables every week from April through early November.

This has allowed me to enjoy vegetables I had never eaten before, such as kohlrabi, and vegetables I would normally not buy, such as beets and fennel—which by the way are very good sautéed together with some olive oil and garlic!

I’m also a frequent visitor to area farmer’s markets for fresh ingredients, including goat cheese, grass-fed beef and free-range chicken. We’re blessed to live in a state with so many farms. Visit this site to find a farmer’s market in your area.

I started clean eating in an effort to lower my cholesterol naturally, and as an added benefit, I ended up losing 30 pounds!

In my first check-up following my lifestyle changes, my cholesterol also dropped by 30 points. And based on my most recent biometric screening, my overall cholesterol dropped another 15 points— all because of clean eating and exercise.

When I made the decision to eat healthier and get regular exercise, I never called it “a diet” because that sounds so much like a fad. I called it a lifestyle change, and it certainly has been a very positive one!

In case you have a sweet tooth, too, I’ve included one of my favorite recipes. Enjoy!

High-Protein Breakfast Cookies


  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • 6 pitted dried dates, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes
  • ¾ cups shredded coconut
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 medium eggs (or if vegan, 2 tablespoons finely ground flaxseed + 5 tablespoons warm water)
  • ½ tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons dried unsweetened dark cherries
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons currants


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. If you’re doing the vegan version, whisk your ground flax and warm water in a bowl. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until it has thickened.
  3. Combine the coconut flour, almond butter and dates in a food processor. Process until it’s combined and the dates have broken into really small pieces—about a minute.
  4. Add the shredded coconut, applesauce, eggs or flax “eggs,” cinnamon, vanilla, salt and baking soda. Process for 30 seconds or until a wet dough forms.
  5. Add in the remaining ingredients, and pulse once or twice until the fruit is incorporated in the dough but chopped up.
  6. Drop the dough in heaping spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  7. Dip a metal spatula in water, and use the bottom to lightly press down each ball of dough. These cookies will not spread or rise so make sure to make them the shape you want prior to baking.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until they are golden on top and slightly brown along the edges.

Susan RoberstonSusan Robertson  Contact
UT Institute for Public Service

Susan handles communications for the UT Institute for Public Service. She enjoys spending time outdoors—hiking and documenting the natural beauty of East Tennessee through photography. Susan loves watching all sports, reading, cooking and fulfilling the needs of her demanding miniature dachshund, Wrigley.

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.