February 19, 2016

Worksite Wellness: Indoor Walking Paths

Doesn’t everyone want to work for a company that supports and encourages you to live healthy, including your mind, body, spirit? 
Yes! Yes! Yes!
During my time at Ashland University I was a member of the employee wellness committee and I spearheaded the worksite wellness events on campus. There were many events but the most recent initiative were the Indoor Walking Paths!
If you are unfamiliar with Ashland University, it is a private school in North Central Ohio. Key word: Ohio. Meaning, the winter months are not lovely for outdoor walking. However the University has a newer Recreation Center on campus which is a great option for people. 
However have you ever had a day where you are so busy you can’t catch a break? 
(yes, of course you have… no lying)
You have an hour for lunch. Do you have time to walk across campus to get in a quick workout? Maybe… or maybe not. 
But what if there was a designated walking path in your building where you could walk for 45 minutes and get in a few miles of walking plus a quick lunch at your desk? 
That was the purpose of these Indoor Walking Paths.
Along with a team of interns and the help of a marketing specialist for signage, we were able to mark mileage and display signage for walking paths in most buildings on campus- including the main campus and the Mansfield, off-site, campus.  
The goal is to provide many options for individuals to engage in their personal health because we all know that happier employees work harder, take less sick days, and are more productive. 
I’m so glad this is a resource for people on campus. Hopefully in time, the walking paths can be added to, revised or modified to accommodate usage, and bring more people together. 
February 12, 2016

Rowing Rookie

These fancy machines caught my eye a few weeks ago and I thought it would be fun to try out a rowing class sometime for a work out. But I quickly found out that classes get booked quickly so you need to sign up plenty in advance. 
But one day I stopped by a class, which I knew was anticipated to be full from the online sign up form, and found out that one person didn’t show so I could attend! What was great was that there was a mix of people in the class too! Some were regulars, some were newbies… There were males, females, different body shapes and all different ages. 
The instructor quickly guided me to proper form and positioning for efficiency and to prevent injury. I quickly learned what she meant when my lower back started to hurt and she reminded me of what to do. 
It was a 40-45 minute class or so, and it was an appropriate length for me. I was probably more jacked to be trying something new, which energizes me alone. 
So if you have never tried rowing, or “row”, and you have a facility nearby offering classes, you should try it out. You never know if you will like a new work out until you try. Plus, it keeps your body guessing and gets you out of a typical routine your body may be used to. 
January 20, 2016

Yoga, Part 1

Yoga. Some like it, others don’t.

I used to be in a don’t category, but now I’m in a like category. By the way, does there really need to be categories? No, no there doesn’t. 

But here’s the deal- there are so many different practices of yoga that if one participates in a yoga class and doesn’t like it, that person may assume that yoga- in general- is not for them. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Actually to tell you the truth, it has taken me years to fully embrace and appreciate the practice of yoga. I know, I can move slowly sometimes. There were times I would attend a class or participate in something on my own, and I just didn’t feel it. I would go to different classes, different instructors, and I’d even bring my bright pink, old yoga mat I won (free!) from the Ashland University Rec Center with the big words TAMPAX on it. Surely, I made a statement. Did I mention it was free? Anyways maybe it was the practice, maybe it the instructor, but let’s call it what it is- maybe it was me. I wasn’t ready to appreciate any type of practice. But there is real beauty in yoga and a centeredness that unfolds, depending on the focus and goal of the yoga practice.

My mantra to others is to continue trying new practices, new instructors, new venues, etc. It can be very worthwhile. And over time it can reap some serious benefits.

Yoga has been around for so long but yet in the last 10-15 years it has exploded even more. Now there are magazines and journals, hashtags (#yogaeverydamnday), attire, resort specializations, etc. It can be a lifestyle.

It can impact your mind, body and soul. How wonderful to become physically strong, calm your mind, and deepen your spirituality and oneness, and give gratitude all at the same time. Well, if that’s what your take away is from the practice.

We all have a different mindset before stepping into a yoga practice, and even during the practice we are all taking away something different. But in the end, we participated, we devoted precious time to ourselves, and we can refocus on the priorities of life we establish ahead.

One of my current focuses is the tightness in my hamstrings. So right now downward dog is my go-to pose in order to loosen up and feel a wonderfully good stretch.

So if you are new to yoga, consider trying it. If you are an experienced yogi, do you have a favorite pose?


January 13, 2016

Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries

I have grown to LOVE sweet potatoes over the years. As a kid, I didn’t like them. But now- gimme s’more!

So this recipe is driven from cookieandkate.com and she has the best recipe for these fries. And best of all- they are EASY AND DELICIOUS!! This is her recipe, but the way I prepared them…


Sweet Potatoes (She suggests one potato per person)
Corn starch
Olive oil
salt, pepper and spices

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Peel potatoes and cut into fry-shaped pieces.

Toss uncooked fries onto a cookie sheet (with no foil or parchment paper). Evenly spread them apart. Sprinkle with cornstarch and rub it in so there are no clumps. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil, enough to lightly coat the fries. Season with spices (I used salt, garlic pepper, and crushed red pepper).

Bake for 15-20 minutes with a foil covering it. Then flip them and bake for another 10 minutes without foil. The fries will start to brown a little bit…

Thank for you this recipe!! This is going to be a staple at my house!

January 8, 2016

Oatmeal cupcakes

I found this recipe on Chocolate Covered Katie. It’s very versatile and I even made modifications to make this recipe below. It really does taste like chocolate chips in oatmeal, in shapes of cupcakes. They are really dense but perfect for breakfasts-on-the-go, and they are made with real ingredients. This would be a great healthy breakfast recipe option. You can also freeze leftovers for later.


2 1/4 cups quick oats
1/4 scoop of vanilla protein powder
5 small stevia packets
1/2 t. salt
1 T. flax seed

1 medium banana, mashed
1/2 cup applesauce (I used strawberry applesauce)
2 cups water
1/4 cup veg oil

*I added a small handful of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup of chocolate chips (or less… I love chocolate chips!)

Mix the first group of dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Then combine with the dry ingredients, then add the chocolate chips and chopped walnuts.

Fill cupcake tray with liners. Fill cupcake liners half way with batter.

Cake 20-25 minutes
Yields around 2 dozen

January 8, 2016

Roasted cabbage

Yes, roasted cabbage.
Recently I received two large heads of cabbage from my mother in law. Like, HUGE. So I decided to try roasting the cabbage because I’ve never made it nor tried it before. And it was good!
I got this recipe from allrecipes.com and then I modified it a little.
2-3 T olive oil
1/2 head of cabbage
A few pinches of cayenne pepper
A few pinches of garlic pepper
Some salt, to taste
Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Cut cabbage into wedges. Put wedges on cooking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil over the wedges, then spray all the wedges with cooking spray to ensure all areas are covered. Lightly sprinkle the garlic pepper, cayenne pepper and salt to taste.
Cover with foil. Roast for 15-20 minutes until slightly charred in some areas. Then flip wedges to the other side, slightly spray with cooking spray and more seasonings to taste then roast without the foil for 10-15 minutes.
Done! Yum!
December 14, 2015

Our internal dialogue

It’s finals week and I just finished all the grading of my student’s last project. In that project, there was a reflection portion where they comment of areas of the course which were the most influential for them personally. In the course we cover everything from nutrition, physical activity, sexual health, cancer, emotional health, stress, etc. And can I tell you something? Most students list a series of topics and concepts which were most influential. But one item that comes up frequently- emotional health. Our self talk, body image, our internal dialogue.
Negative self talk and body image doesn’t discriminate. Male, female, older, younger, rural, urban, ethnicity, etc. And the issue is that sometimes we are not nice to ourselves. Sometimes we wouldn’t be our own friend. 
Most of us are smart enough to know the main concepts of changing certain behaviors. For example, let’s say weight loss. We all would agree that eating healthier, watching our portion sizes, tracking our calories, and increasing our intensity and frequency of exercise are the main concepts to lose weight- in a healthy way. 
However there’s also that mental state. The self talk. The conversations that occur that nobody knows about because they are hidden in your head. It can influence our motivation, comparison to others, unrealistic expectations, distorted perceptions of reality, etc. 
And continuous and hurtful negative internal dialogue can influence our self esteem, self efficacy (the belief that we can do something), and self confidence, to name a few. Our self talk is so influential that it impacts our behaviors and sometimes, how we treat others. 
Here’s the thing- we can all take some action steps to improve our internal dialogue. 

  • Create a positive support system
  • Set reminders in visual locations- i.e. positive affirmations or quotes on the bathroom mirror, in your planner/schedule book, post its on your car dashboard, etc. 
  • Sign up for an email listserv for daily reminders, scripture, quotes, etc.
  • Communicate with others whom you trust. Express your feelings- frequently
  • Keep a gratitude journal- the only things you can write in there are things you are thankful for
  • See a counselor
  • Establish internal dialogue boundaries
  • Dig deeper into your spiritual wellness for true meaning and your value
  • Meditate
When reviewing the reflections of my students, I was constantly reminded that we can forget how awesome we really are. We let our mind wander without boundaries. 
But surrounding ourselves with people who positively support us, encourage us, and whom we trust is key. Every thought influences us in unbelievable ways. Almost like a ripple effect in the ocean. 
That’s one reason why this little part of the online world is named WellFitHappy. It’s because we can all strive for our own positive well-being (well), aiming for physical health (fit), and deciding to be happy in a too often negative world (happy). 

So take one more step today to choose happiness. Choose positive thoughts. Choose belief in yourself regardless of the world around you. With internal dialogue boundaries, we can guide our thoughts to eventually remain on the positive side of the fence. 
June 19, 2015

Being Happy

We all like to being around happy people. Genuinely happy people. Not the fake kind. Those individuals who enjoy life, smile and are filled with joy much of the time. I genuinely try to be cheerful and smile to others as often as I can. Sometimes when I’m in a cranky mood, I won’t smile I will try to smile just to “fake it until I make it” because sometimes all it takes is a little smile to change your mood and others. Recently I was at church and this one women asked me, “You are always so happy- is it real or do you fake it sometimes?” It caught me off guard because usually I am just genuinely happy. HOWEVER. Yes, I am human and I get in a bad mood but I try to be pleasant when around others.

*This is to exclude individuals who struggle with the challenge of mental health barriers such as depression (*disclaimer), there are some actionable items we could try to implement into our lives to boost our happiness and live more frequently in JOY.

This article is a lighthearted, quick list of “things happy people do differently.” There is value is the items listed, and the focus is to acknowledge these items and identify if these are items which you believe could be helpful for you. 
Enjoy! And best wishes on your happiness journey…
June 18, 2015

“An Apple a Day”- The Role of Health Education

Lately I feel like I am continually reminded, educating and advocating for health education over and over and over. It’s importance, it’s benefits to save lives, save money, and preserve the earth. Sometimes I get tired, and sometimes I run into a cute little video like this which I think is fun to share. It’s titled, An Apple a Day, and it’s a poem made into a video which catches your attention because it uses kinetic typography, or “moving text.”
Interestingly, my husband and I both work in the field of health prevention and promotion, just in two different focuses. We realize the benefits associated with “front loading” the preventative to minimize the injury, need for tertiary care, etc. 
Let’s continue to be health role models for our young people!
June 17, 2015

Time to Put the BUTTS Out

Now when I said BUTTS, I didn’t mean your derriere. Sorry. I meant tobacco. 
We are very blessed to have so much information and knowledge about tobacco and its impact on the body. Fifty years ago, knowledge and information was not widely available. But now, it’s here and it’s available and present. And that is awesome. We can take active steps to be healthier and live longer. 
Here is what we do know- most adult smokers want to quit and also half of all adult smokers have tried to quit within the last year (source). We also know that the percentage of smokers is slowly going down (currently 17.5% of adults use cigarettes, per 2013). 
Starter Resources
Global Impact
Interestingly, have you seen this video?? It’s a couple years old, but I find it helpful to share with others. It’s about a toddler in Indonesia who smokes PACKS of cigarettes EACH DAY. The video went viral and NBC’s Today Show shared a segment. Watch it. 
Since we are talking about the global impact, THIS WEBSITE- TobaccoAtlas.org, is awesome. If you are going to look at any website, look at this one. Click on the tab countries and even look at the data comparison among countries. Start with the US, then explore. It’s interesting. 
There is so much misinformation about smoking hookah. “It’s safe”, “It’s not as harmful as cigarettes”, etc. False. False. 
Here are some resources to look at…
Hookah smoking FAQ’s {video}. This clip is from The Doctor’s TV show… but it has good info in it. 
Let’s all continue working together towards healthy communities and healthier lives!
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