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AhealthyU Success Stories

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AU Faculty and Staff are making healthy changes and doing great things in the name of wellness. AhealthyU would like to applaud these individuals for making their health a priority. Check out the Success Stories below to learn how they did it and the advice they have for you.

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David Kaib, Abby Puskar, Katya White, and Denise Wilkerson at the 2014 10K Veteran's Day Race.

David Kaib, Abby Puskar, Katya White, and Denise Wilkerson at the 2014 10K Veteran's Day Race.

This Month's Featured Success Story

A SUCCESS STORY OF THREE WOMEN FROM THE PROVOST'S OFFICE

Each year, many AU faculty and staff sign up for the AhealthyU's Pedometer Challenge as a fun way to compete with their colleagues and to achieve and surpass their personal steps goals. Everyone who participates gets the short-term benefits of being active during the Challenge. For some, the Pedometer Challenge turns into something more and those people find that being active is an integral part of their lifestyle.

Inspired by their participation in last year's Pedometer Challenge, Abigail Puskar, Katya White, and Denise Wilkerson from the Provost's Office became motivated to take their newfound enthusiasm for a healthier lifestyle and physical challenge to greater heights. Joined by seasoned runner David Kaib from the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, they ran their first 10K Veteran's Day race. They especially were proud that they ran the full distance of their first race without ever stopping.

The trio credit their camaraderie and encouragement of each other –and the AHealthyU Pedometer Challenge –as the catalyst for their successes, as well as their continued interest in running. Since the Veteran's Day run, they have continued to run several times each week. Puskar ran the Rock 'n Roll DC half marathon in March with her husband, while Denise and Katya were considering participation in other 10K runs.

Like the ladies from the Provost's Office, we encourage you to stay active. You've got your pedometer –there's no need to put it away until next year. Keep it on and set your own goals. Or take advantage of AhealthyU's many programs, such as the fitness classes exclusively for faculty and staff and coming this fall, the Couch to 5K, and the MOVE challenge.

 

Terry Fernandez

Terry Fernandez, Senior Director of Customer Services & Support, IT Customer Service

AhealthyU offers faculty and staff programs and tools to achieve their health and fitness goals including health screenings, diet and nutrition programs, and group exercise classes. It is important that you also have regular check-ups with your primary care physician to evaluate your health and make recommendations that suit your individual needs.

In the last 18 months, OIT Senior Director of Customer Services & Support, Terry Fernandez, has undergone a lifestyle and physical transformation to become healthier.

"I have a chronic health condition, and in January 2013, I had a health scare that affected my ability to walk. It was very scary to think that the effects could be permanent and I felt that it was finally time to focus on myself," Terry explains. Terry set a goal of losing 50 pounds, and selected a doctor-supervised program that restricted calories, stressed eating well-balanced, all-natural whole foods, drinking lots of water, keeping a food diary, and exercising six times a week. By July 2013, she had lost 50 pounds and revised her goal to lose an extra 10 pounds.

"I've kept off 60 pounds for over a year and I went from a size 16 to a size 6," Terry says. "I regularly receive compliments from folks who I haven't seen in a while saying that I look 10 years younger. I have more confidence and energy to keep up with my active family –my husband, two sons, and dog."

"I'm committed to maintaining my healthy weight by eating well and exercising, but I still allow myself to indulge in special treats on occasion. I just exercise a little more and eat a little less to compensate for it." Fernandez also participates in AhealthyU's health assessments and gets her annual flu shot. "AhealthyU piloted a walking/fitness program with OIT last year that also helped to make being more active fun," Terry points out.

"You have to carefully select the time when you embark on a journey to focus on your health and well-being, as it has to be the right time for you. You have to be mentally prepared and committed to seeing it through, as it takes work."

Ann Joiner lost 30 pounds!

Ann Joiner, Senior Director of Employee Benefits, Office of Human Resources

On April 1, 2013, Human Resources’ Senior Director of Employee Benefits Ann Joiner stepped on the scale at her annual physical and was shocked to see her weight on the scale, and it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke. Ann said, “I knew I'd gained weight, but hadn't realized how bad things were.”

Determined to reverse her weight gain, Ann changed her diet and began walking 10,000 steps at least six days a week. “Last year's pedometer challenge was a great help and could not have come at a better time.”

As a result, Ann has lost 30 pounds since her April 2013 physical. “I have more energy and I don't mind shopping for clothes, although I still don't love shopping. And, according to my last Personal Wellness Profile, I've potentially added years to my life,” Ann said.

To maintain her new lifestyle, Ann steps on the scale more frequently, watches what she eats, and continues to walk. Ann has signed up for the 2014 pedometer challenge and is her team’s captain where she pledges to keep her team motivated and moving. “I'm also planning to try other modes of exercise to change things up and to try to lose the last 10 elusive pounds. It is never too late to change your lifestyle. And, while it's harder to lose weight at age 50-plus, it's not impossible.”

Kevin Wyatt, Before and After

Kevin Wyatt, Shuttle Operations Supervisor, Facilities Management

AhealthyU offers faculty and staff programs and tools to achieve their health and fitness goals including health screenings, diet and nutrition programs, and group exercise classes. It is important that you also have regular check-ups with your primary care physician to evaluate your health and make recommendations that suit your individual needs.

Three years ago, Kevin Wyatt, an AU shuttle supervisor, had a number of back-to-back personal losses that served as a wake-up call to make some significant changes to his lifestyle. In August 2011, one of Kevin's nephews died suddenly, followed by a number of close friends, all due to issues exacerbated by unhealthy lifestyles.  

At 265 pounds, Kevin challenged himself and his siblings to adopt healthier lifestyles that included weight loss, a more nutritious diet, and regular exercise. Although Kevin lost 15 pounds over the next year, Kevin's doctor told him that he had borderline high blood pressure at his biannual physical in 2013. He also knew that there was room for improvement in his physical health because he got winded and experienced back pains after walking around the block at home. "That's when I became determined to change the way I ate and set out to walk at least 10,000 steps a day," explained Kevin.

Kevin joined AhealthyU's 2013 Pedometer Challenge and attended Zumba class twice a week at Jacobs Fitness Center. He set reasonable goals for himself and decided that, "No weight gain was considered a victory for me."

In the past year, Kevin has lost 45 pounds and keeps track of his weight at home every morning using his Wii Fit. He has also increased his target number of steps per day to at least 12,500 –often walking instead of riding the AU shuttle. Kevin recently completed his first 5K walk. 

"I still have a weakness for Oreos and Chips Ahoy cookies and milk, but these days I limit it to one or two cookies instead of the whole row," said Kevin.

Kevin's determination to improve his health are now paying dividends. "At AhealthyU's last Wellness Fair, my blood pressure range was so good that the nurse said that it was no longer an issue. I also went from a pant-waist size of 42-44 to 36-38, and my shirts have gone from a 2XL to XL. But my greatest motivation to stay healthy is my 10-year old daughter. I would like to see her graduate from AU and plan on walking her down the aisle when she gets married."

When asked how others can adopt similarly healthy habits and achieve success, Kevin advises, "To quote the Nike slogan, 'Just Do It,' and remember, you didn't gain this weight in one day, so don't expect to lose it in one day."