A Journey to Wellness...Linda Nianouris

LindaNSo many things happened that directed me on a path of change – loss of my parents and two pets, stress, depression.  I made attempts over the years trying different diets and exercise programs where I set unrealistic expectations for myself.  Some were more successful than others, but all resulted in the same end – overweight and unhappy.  2014 was different.  I signed up for a Fall Philosophy class at UD and shortly thereafter, in September, I was diagnosed with early stage Breast Cancer.  The “C” word is frightening, I don’t care what stage it is!!  Two surgeries and eight weeks of radiation left my skin burned, my self-image at an all-time low, and I was not having fun.  However, hearing the “C” word for me was an extreme motivator, and the whole process pointed me on a wellness journey to heal my mind, body and soul.

Linda-FinishI learned that potential contributors to breast cancer include a poor diet and lack of exercise, both of which are in my control!  I wanted to be healthy and find activities that made me happy.  I was determined to finish my Philosophy class and did so successfully with the support of an awesome professor.  I completed a lovely stained glass project with a friend at a Middletown studio. I experienced my first Yoga class with a couple of very fun friends – I couldn’t even touch my toes, but it was a start.  I joined Curves and have been exercising there ever since.  I bought a Fitbit and tried it out walking 5 miles on Thanksgiving morning in the 2014 Miamisburg Turkey Trot.  By December of 2014, I had lost 24 pounds and I could actually touch my toes.  The Fitbit brought out my inner competitor!  I competed against myself walking 10,000 steps per day which turned into 12,500 in order to meet the 5 mile a day target.  Over the summer, I tried the lunchtime Rowing Class and the Fall offered a Pottery Class.  I was hooked on the UD Wellness Program.  Down 75 pounds and feeling great! 

And then I did a backslide for just a moment.  I was focused on calorie restriction and increased activity for many months and became frustrated that I couldn’t drop that last 12 pounds in spite of excessive exercising and starving myself. My weight crept up over the winter which added to my frustration.  I had been taking statins to reduce my Cholesterol and my efforts had brought my levels down to normal so that I no longer had to take medicine to control it.  Backsliding meant I had to start taking medicine again and my last 12 pounds had become 35.  Suddenly I remembered that the “C” word started my journey and now “C” free, I had no desire to lose control over diet and exercise!

When the Spring 2016 Wellness Programs were announced I decided to amp it up with a less restrictive approach.  I signed up for the Rev-It-Up lunchtime program targeted at a more positive view of
healthy eating focused on making good choices over restricting and counting calories and choosing activity you love over being a couch potato!  I embraced the corporate challenges, lunchtime meetups, a cooking class, the Heartfulness Meditation group, walking my dog, Max . . . I love these things.   I have never been a runner, but found that I absolutely love the Tuesday-Thursday Flyin’ to the Finish Training to RUN my first 5K. 

My journey to wellness was kicked off by a health scare, but my experiences along the road are much more positive.  I met new people and found activities that I love.  Yes I do log and count calories – that keeps me on track; and my Fitbit is an aid, but not my ruler.  I became a huge fan of UD’s diverse and affordable mind and body offerings through the Wellness Program where I learned to make healthy living a lifestyle instead of irrationally focusing on how in my 50’s I don’t look like I did at 20.  Will I achieve the last 26 pounds?  I hope so.  But, more importantly, I will be stronger and more flexible so that the rest of my life I am able to keep moving and enjoy life with my family and friends.

Take care of you – you are worth it! Interview with Gail Setziol, Human Resources

What inspired you to make a change in your lifestyle?  When I started working at UD, I parked in Lot A and worked in St Mary’s Hall.  I struggled to walk up the hill every morning.  I realized I needed to lose weight and take care of myself.  This started a change that has transformed my life.

Did the Wellness Rrogram at UD influence you and if so, how would you describe the impact the Wwellness Program had on your progress?  I love walking on campus.  In the Fall of 2013, the UD Wellness Program offered a walking challenge.  I enjoyed that program and found that the challenge encouraged me to stretch my activity level.  I did most of my walking on campus before work and during my lunch hour.  I learned that I am more competitive than I thought and enjoyed working towards my step goals each week.  In addition, I always get my Health Evaluation done in the Fall through the Wellness Program and have seen my numbers improve significantly!

If you lost weight, how much weight did you lose and what are some things you would recommend to others that want to lose weight?  I lost 100 pounds in a year and have maintained that loss for nine months.  I found that making small changes and setting small goals helped me to stay focused.  I made each goal attainable within a three week window of time. Over time, the small accomplishments added up!

What do you do to keep going and maintain your success?How do you overcome the obstacles?  Now that I have lost the excess weight, increased my activity, and improved my health I feel so much better that I do not want to go back to my old ways or how I felt.  I continue to track what I eat and have an accountability partner (we both lost our weight during the same time).  We walk together twice a week and that is our time to check in to share our successes and our struggles.  It is also our time to cheer each other on.

What are some changes you have seen in your health?  I feel so much better! I have increased my energy level and enjoy being outdoors.  I love to walk and have added a love of gardening to what I enjoy.  Now you will most likely find me outside being active instead of inside sitting.

Any other words of inspiration to share?  Take care of you – you are worth it!

Patsy Martin's Story

patsyYou’ve all heard these success stories. I was always a heavy kid but also always pretty active. For many years I’ve tried every diet and exercise program known to mankind. I’ve had a lot of success losing weight in the past by starving myself but always gained it back until this last time.

Two years ago, I changed the way to view weight loss. I have always known that sugar was my trigger. Eating it made me crave more but I had convinced myself I could diet and just eat fewer calories. This time my goal was to get healthy in my 60s. I now try to stay away from sugar and processed foods. That was a real challenge. I initially had withdrawal symptoms for about five days but got through them and started feeling better and full of energy. I also decided to ramp up my exercise program. Previously, I would workout but not consistently. I wasn’t completely committed. Now I am. It not only helps my body but it helps my mind. I work out with a trainer one or two times a week when I can, participate in the UD Fac/Staff Wellness rowing class at Frerick’s Building at lunch most Tuesday and Thursdays (I love the convenience of the rowing class being so close to St Mary’s!) On my off days I work out at Lohrey Center. I’m not always perfect at it. It’s a work in progress and I try not to beat myself up over it.

To date I have lost 140 lbs. and still have about 45 to go. All of this is now part of my lifestyle. The weight loss is slowing down now and I’m trying to patient, but it’s hard. I will occasionally eat something sweet but I’m always nervous that it will lead to overeating. Some days I struggle but it seems to have gotten a little better in the last 3 or 4 months. It’s my reality and have accepted it.

I am so lucky to have such a good support system and my family, co-workers and friends will never know how much I appreciate them. I also have a great trainer who motivates and pushes me harder thananyone (even though I complain sometimes).

My advice to anyone who is trying to lose weight or just to get healthy is to find what works for you and to never give up. Also, hold yourself accountable. Ultimately, you are the only one that will make it happen. Part of holding myself accountable is why I decided to write this article.

UD's Wellness Program Changed My Life



I’ve been going to Wellness Program brown-bags since the late 1990s. I’m an occasional attendee at best, but I take at least one important tidbit away from every program I attend, and just like pennies, they add up.

I remember my first brown-bag like it was yesterday. It was 1998; hydrogenated oils had only recently come onto the scene as a public-health menace; “trans fats” would’t make it onto nutrition labels for another eight years. Our presenter that day wanted us all to switch to olive oil … stat.

About two months later, my dad, 55 at the time, had a heart attack and emergency quintuple bypass surgery. I went right home, pitched a half-empty can of Crisco shortening and never looked back. Suddenly, I had a first-degree family history of coronary heart disease — a principal risk factor for heart attack and stroke. I wanted no part of that, and I declared that if my kids were going to have plaque in their arteries, it wasn’t going to be on my watch.

Today, my HDL — considered a negative risk factor for heart disease — is the envy of my physician. That’s only one component of being healthy, of course, but it’s important, and for me, it all started with that Wellness Program brown-bag.

This past August, shortly after my 45th birthday, I decided it was time step up my wellness game with an activity class. This was a huge step for me. Sure, I’ve got a freakishly good cholesterol ratio … but I cannot say the same for my large motor skills. My principal source of exercise has always been walking — chosen not for its aerobic value, but its low correlation with the need for stitches. Most of my colleagues have seen me trip and/or fall at least once, and it doesn’t even require a trip hazard. (Though to my credit, I do occasionally stick the landing. Superstar.)

My friend Eileen Maloney, an honest-to-goodness wellness superstar, encouraged me to try the lunchtime rowing class. I had thought about this a couple of years ago when I wrote a feature about the women’s rowing team, but I promptly bruised my shin and decided to stick with walking.

“Come on,” Eileen said. “It’s perfectly safe, and it’s easy. I hardly break a sweat.” (Note: Eileen is a marathoner. To a marathoner, “easy” is not what you think.)

Rowing is now my favorite part of every Tuesday and Thursday. I do break a sweat. And, I whine a little after class sometimes when I have trouble doing things like lifting my umbrella. But I haven’t needed stitches, and I haven’t felt this much athletic confidence since I passed intermediate swimming in 1978.

Go ahead. Step up your wellness game with a brown-bag presentation or an activity class. It could change your life.
— Maureen Schlangen