Coached by the Best

By Erica Jenkins

If you’re looking for a way to fit exercise into your day without going to the gym, try these coach-approved exercises.

Step-Up + Backward Lunge

By Leslie Gillies, Assistant Head Coach of the UT Martin Women’s Soccer Team

  1. Step with right foot onto box, pressing the right heel down while pushing off with the left leg and bringing it next to your right foot.
    Leslie standing upright with right foot planted on step
  2. Pause then step your left leg down in a slow, controlled manner 6-12 inches from the box. Let your right foot follow once the left has safely made contact with the ground.
    Leslie stands upright on step
  3. Step the foot back, landing on the ball of the foot. As this occurs, bend both knees and drop your hips straight down.
    Leslie standing upright with right foot planted on step
  4. When your front thigh is parallel with the floor, extend your knees and hips to stand back up to the start position. The leg you step up with is the same leg you step back with on the backward lunge.
    Leslie lunges in squat position with left foot forward and her right knee bend downward

Variations:

Novice: Novice individuals should use a box that is significantly lower (i.e. ankle or shin height)

Active: Individuals who are very active in strength training may select a box that is no higher than knee height and add dumbbells held at one’s side.

No box: If no box is available, using the bottom step of a stair would also work.

High Plank w/ Variations

By Chris Gillies, UT Martin Strength and Conditioning Coach

Performing the high plank and its different variations can offer excellent options for those who are looking to improve their fitness level. A high plank is simply the “up” position of a push-up and can be performed on time (i.e. 30 seconds) or by number of repetitions (i.e. 10 touches per side).

Proper Positioning

Chris Gillies with both hands on floor balancing on toes

    • Hand Position – Hands are placed under one’s shoulders while being shoulder width apart. Fingers point forward and elbows are fully extended.
    • Foot Position – Feet should be no wider than hip width with weight pressed forward on the tip toes.
    • Flat Back – One’s head should be in front of their hands, forcing the chest to be located between the hands. Force the abdominals and lower back to tighten by squeezing the buttocks together while drawing in the belly button to the spine.

Variations:

      1. Add an alternating toe tap
        Chris Gillies plants both hands on floor stretching right leg
      2. Alternate moving the knees to the chest
        Chris Gillies in crouching position with one knee forward
      3. Incorporate an alternating shoulder tap (touch the right shoulder with the left hand, return to the high plank, followed by touching the left shoulder with the right hand, repeat)
        Chris Gillies positioning one hand on his chest, one hand on floor

Common mistakes include the hips rising up due to the weight shifting back and the head no longer in front of the hands, and the hips sinking to the ground because of not drawing in the belly button and tightening the buttocks. As one begins to tire, these mistakes can become more evident.

Benefits of the Exercise: Many times individuals feel they must go the gym and use weights and machines to get a proper workout. This could not be further from the truth. One’s own body weight can provide great challenges.

What the Exercise Targets: Holding this position challenges the chest, shoulders, abdominals, and back.


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. 

6 Apps to Kickstart Your Healthy Lifestyle

By Erica Jenkins, PR Associate, Office of Communications and Marketing, UT System Administration

Maximize your smartphone’s capacity by using the six apps below to help jumpstart your healthy lifestyle or take it to the next level.

 

MyFitnessPalMy Fitness Pal app icon
This free app will help you track calories and set intake goals to reach your goal weight with its extensive database of recipes and restaurant items. Invite friends to join the app, and they can connect and encourage you to stay motivated.

 

SWorkItSWorkit app icon
If you’re on the go and still want a great workout, this free app is for you. Set your time and desired intensity or focus area, and this app will instantly create a strength or cardio workout that you can do anywhere.

 

Yoga StudioYoga Studio app icon
Increase your flexibility, strength and focus with this yoga app. For $2.99, you can have a customized yoga class wherever you go. From 15-minute flexibility sessions to quick stretches and hour-long strength training, this app has it all.

 

iTriageiTriage app icon
Not feeling well? Don’t panic or ignore your symptoms. Use this free app, designed by physicians, to check your symptoms and take recommended actions. You also can use the app to create a safe place to store insurance, records and allergies and to manage medications or conditions.

 

MindBody CONNECTMind Body Connect app icon
Save yourself hours of Google searches, and use this app to find classes and wellness activities in your area. From massage to yoga and spin classes, this free app will direct you to the resources you need to find a community of people that enjoy similar activities.

 

LumosityLuminosity app icon
There are plenty of apps to keep your body strong and limber, but Lumosity is the free app that works your mind. Next time you reach to play a game on your phone, try the games on this app instead that are designed to increase your problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.


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. 

Fill Your Cup with Facts: Coffee Talk

By John Lacey

When you look at the facts, it’s pretty clear that Americans love coffee.

[Infographic] About 83% of American adults drink coffee, about 63% drink  at least 1 cup per day

According to a 2013 National Coffee Association market research study, about 83 percent of American adults drink coffee, and 63 percent drink at least one cup of coffee per day.

There’s no question that coffee is a big business, but what do the facts say about how all this consumption affects our body?

Here’s the brewdown from Chelsi Wolz, a nutrition research associate and registered dietician working in the Healthy Eating and Activity Laboratory at UT Knoxville.

[infographic] B2, B3, B5 vitaminsQ: What are the benefits of coffee?

A: Coffee is a low-calorie drink with three essential B vitamins and high amounts of antioxidant components.

 

Recent Research Findings

  • Caffeinated coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of depression among women and men.
  • Men who consume 6 or more cups of coffee a day may have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer.
  • Coffee is associated with a lower risk of depression and stroke among women and men.
  • Caffeine consumption may have a positive effect on long-term memory.

Q: What are the drawbacks to coffee?

A: Most people add milk, half-and-half or sugar to their coffee or drink specialty drinks, thus increasing the calories. One cup of black coffee is roughly 10 calories, a tall skinny latte from Starbucks is 100 calories and a tall white chocolate mocha latte from Starbucks is 350 calories.

[Infographic] One cup of black coffee is about 10 calories. Sweetened drinks containing milk and sugar can increase caloric intake by ten times

It’s easy to overconsume calories when they’re hidden.

Coffee can lead to caffeine addiction, and trying to cut back can cause headaches and other side effects. And coffee is acidic, so someone with heartburn or acid reflux might experience stomachaches or increased symptoms.


John LaceyJohn Lacey  Contact
UT System Administration

John is a UT graduate and currently works in the UT System Office of Communications and Marketing as a project manager. When he is not enjoying time with his wife and two children, you can find him riding his bike or dreaming up big ideas.

Why I Play Paddleball

By Scott Gordy

Why I Play Paddleball:
Because I have a blast doing it! We’ve got a group of 10 to 12 people who play at lunch two or three times a week. If the weather’s nice, we play outside, and if not, we use the campus rec center.

My Motivation:
Physical activity helps me clear my mind, refocus and boost my metabolism. Going out there puts a fresh perspective on things and sometimes even helps me solve problems—a change of scenery can be good for that.

My Wellness Goal:
I try to keep my weight in check and focus on cardiovascular health.


Scott Gordy  Contact
UT Institute for Public Service
IT Manager

What to Say (and Do) When You Don’t Have the Right Words

By Erica Jenkins

Advice on handling grief and loss in the workplace from UT Knoxville faculty members Laura Wheat and Laura Miller

Someone Experiencing Loss

Set Communication Expectations
Let your supervisor and co-workers know your preferences about discussing your loss.

Ask for What You Need
Someone who hasn’t experienced your type of loss may not understand the adjustments your loss requires. Talk honestly about your needs.

Give Yourself Space
Grief doesn’t happen in linear stages. It occurs in roller coaster cycles that vary in intensity over time. If you need to step away for a minute to process feelings of grief, give yourself that latitude.

Don’t Avoid Your Grief
When we process grief, we can overindulge in coping mechanisms including food and substances to avoid the intensity of those feelings. While painful, it’s in your best interest long-term to experience and process your grief.

Supervisors

Acknowledge the Loss
Let employees know that you understand they are experiencing a life-changing loss. This can be a powerful way to open the door for additional conversations.

Take Initiative
Ask how you and the office can support them and talk about what accommodations, if needed, are possible within UT policy.

Check In
Grief is a process, and it’s important to check in with employees occasionally to understand where they are and if their needs have changed.

Follow the Leader
Your employees may view work as a safe place to escape from grief. Have a conversation where you ask about their preferences.

Keep Your Door Open
Depending on the type of loss, the grief may take a long time to work through. Make it clear that your door is open for conversations if employees need to discuss situations with you.

Offer Flexibility Within UT Policies
Loss may require employees to work out new routines. If you can, be flexible if employees need to leave early or come in late.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late
Don’t wait until employees have accumulated fireable offenses to address performance issues. Monitor behaviors, and if patterns emerge, open conversations so that there are opportunities to discuss issues.

Address Performance Empathetically
Don’t start performance conversations with grieving employees with evaluation statements such as, “I’ve noticed that performance is noticeably suffering.” Start with open-ended questions and give employees opportunities to address issues first.

Co-Workers

Recognize That Loss Comes in All Forms
It’s not unusual for people to associate loss with a death. However, loss can come in many forms, such as divorce, loss of a pet and a child going to college. Each form of loss can result in grief.

Acknowledge the Loss
It’s important to be supportive by recognizing when something significant happens.

Open the Door for Conversations
If you’re comfortable with your co-workers, let them know that you’re a safe place to talk.

Offer Distractions
There will come a time when it may be nice for people in grief to get away from the office. Don’t be afraid to invite them to lunch or give them something else to focus on.

Pay Attention
If you notice changes in your co-workers’ behavior, don’t be shy about asking if there’s anything you can do to help.

This is Part 4 of 4 from our first series of stories about grief and loss. Read parts 1, 2, and 3.


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. 

Don’t Misunderstand: Interpreting Grief Behaviors

By Erica Jenkins

Most employees can function at work when grieving, but there will likely be behavior changes supervisors and co-workers may notice. Paying attention to these behaviors and understanding that they are related to the grief experience is the first step to being supportive during the grief process.

For supervisors responsible for employee performance, monitoring employee behavior during grief is especially important, as it allows the supervisor a way to be accommodating but also provides an empathetic avenue to address performance issues related to grief if the behavior persists.

It must be noted, that in order to correctly evaluate employee behavior, a supervisor must know the employee’s work habits and characteristics prior to the loss.

Dr. Laura Wheat, a clinical assistant professor in UT Knoxville’s College of Education, Health and Human Sciences explained the following common grief behaviors employees may exhibit and the reasons behind them.

1. Extreme, Yet In-Character Behavior

When grieving, we turn to our natural coping mechanisms because they make us feel better. Naturally shy and withdrawn co-workers may isolate themselves more. More outgoing co-workers may spend a lot of time joking around at the water cooler or finding reasons to have a meeting because that interaction is comforting and provides a distraction.

2. Reduced Productivity or Preoccupation

Employees in grief may appear preoccupied or have reduced productivity because they are processing the loss and trying to make sense out of it, especially with a death loss.

3. Arriving Late or Leaving Early

Depending on the type of loss, an employee may arrive late or need to leave early. A loss can create a change in the family routine that may take time for the employee to adjust.

4. Calling in Sick

You may observe a co-worker in grief getting sick and taking more sick days. While some may think the employee is faking illness to get out of work because they’re sad, grief takes a lot of energy and actually lowers the immune system’s ability to fight off infection

This is Part 3 of 4 from our first series of stories about grief and loss. Read parts 1, 2, and 4.


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. 

Doctors’ Orders: It’s OK to Be Sad

By Erica Jenkins

“Loss can be any experience that demands the surrender of something that is personally significant or familiar,” explained Laura Wheat, a clinical assistant professor in UT Knoxville’s College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. And grief is how we express and acknowledge our loss.

The personal nature of grief also makes it a difficult topic for many to address in the workplace, said Laura Miller, a health communication researcher in UT Knoxville’s School of Communication Studies.

“There’s something about the workplace setting that seems to confuse people about how to deal with grief,” Miller said. “It confuses grievers too, because they’re not sure if they are allowed to have their human experience out in public in the workplace.”

This is Part 2 of 4 from our first series of stories about grief and loss. Read parts 1, 3, and 4.


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. 

Find the Silver Lining in Loss

By Erica Jenkins

Justin Crowe had just arrived in Washington, D.C. for a conference in 2010 when his parents called, and the news wasn’t good.

“They told me that my brother, my only brother, had passed away,” recalled Crowe, a UT Extension specialist with Tennessee 4-H.

It was a shock – Justin’s brother was only 36.

Standing at a Metro bus stop in D.C. that night, Justin called his supervisor, Steve Sutton. “I just broke down,” Justin said. “It didn’t really hit me until I talked to somebody. I told him that I didn’t know what was going to happen, but that I was going to do the best I could.”

Steve Sutton was only a year into his first supervisory role and hadn’t been in a situation like that before. So he relied on his instinct.

“I tried to treat Justin as I would want to be treated. A person can only handle so much, and I knew our staff was a team and could handle things while he grieved,” Steve said.

Back in Tennessee, Justin’s support network kicked into action.

Justin’s Extension family drove, some more than 100 miles, to the funeral. Cards poured in from across the state. The 4-H youth leadership team he worked with pooled their money and sent a wreath.

“I still have that wreath hanging on my front door. It’s starting to fade, but every day when I walk out, I look at it and think of the memory of my brother and that a group of 4-H’ers cared enough about me to do that,” Justin said.

This is Part 1 of 4 from our first series of stories about grief and loss. Read parts 2, 3, and 4.


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. 

Making Wellness a Workplace Conversation

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

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

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