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Merrie Tabbert

Financial Accountant, Accounting and Financial Reporting
Merrie Tabbert (left) and former wellness manager Deborah Hamlin

Merrie Tabbert (left) and former wellness manager Deborah Hamlin

The timing of the UT Dallas 31 Days, 31 Miles Challenge was just perfect for me, though I did not know it at the time.

I had started using the Wellness Center at Synergy Park North in September, which coincided with me meeting with the dietitian, Deborah Hamlin, and learning how to improve my daily diet. Soon, I was patting myself on the back for all those great efforts!

On October 1, Deborah mentioned this challenge and asked if I thought I could walk one mile each day for 31 days. I distinctly remember a very, very long moment of silence, while sitting in her office. Then I heard myself take a deep breath and say, “Sure, I can do that!”

Deborah told me there was a walking path circling Synergy Park North that she planned to walk each day at noon, and she invited me to join her.

I soon made a habit of leaving my desk at 11:45 a.m. each workday, and walking quickly to the SPN building to walk the course with her. We found plenty to talk about to pass the time during our walks, and I began to look forward to leaving my desk and heading outside with a purpose. I also realized this challenge was not about the miles: It was about moving each day in some way.

Each weekend in October, I kept my promise and walked a mile route in my neighborhood. On some weekdays, when my work schedule was crazy or the weather was bad, I took advantage of the indoor walking path, which runs through and between the buildings of Administration and Engineering & Computer Science. And, to change up my routine, I mapped out my own route that ran the length of the north mall heading south from the Administration Building to the Naveen Jindal School of Management.

On the last day of October, I finished the challenge: 31 miles in 31 days! I had kept my promise to finish and I reaped benefits, such as gaining more flexibility, reducing stress, spending more time outdoors and getting to know fellow employee, Deborah Hamlin.

This month, I’ve set new fitness goals, but as I look back on October, I am so glad for the timing of that challenge. It was just perfect for me!

Rachell Reilly

Assistant Director, Office of Sponsored Projects
Rachell Reilly, Assistant Director, Office of Sponsored Projects

Rachell Reilly

My mother was in a car accident in 2000, which left her unable to use the left side of her body. She had recently lost quite a bit of weight, but had never worked out in her life. My mother decided not to try to mend her body. She got a motorized wheel chair and does not attempt to walk, swim, lift weights, or do any exercise. She has gained back almost all of the weight she lost and is very limited in her ability to go places and do things.

Seeing my mother’s reaction to these events caused me to re-evaluate my own habits. I hit my mid-40s and was unabIe to take weight off as easily as I had a few years prior. I started walking and quit smoking (a habit I’d had for 32 years). I started making better food choices, but allowed myself that small piece of candy. After all, I reasoned, I walked or did 30 minutes of aerobics three to four times a week. I increased the amount and type of exercise, but did not change my eating habits. I often lamented about how I worked out, but failed to lose weight. In fact, I gained. When I moved to Texas in 2004, I was 30 pounds overweight (clinically obese). Between 2004 and the end of 2010, I gained an additional 45 pounds! I was in denial about my bad eating habits, convinced that I made good lifestyle changes and could not understand why I kept gaining weight. I came up with every excuse in the book —bad genes, some lingering illness, menopause, not smoking. I knew it couldn’t be the cookies and candy. After all, I deserved the treats, didn’t I?

I was introduced to the UTD Activity Center by Beth Keithly (Office of Vice President for Research) when I started working here in November 2010. I joined Beth and Sonja Gold (Communications) at the noon Group X classes most days and, while I wasn’t new to working out, I realized I hadn’t been working nearly as hard as I could. I made good food choices (fresh fruits and vegetables, organically raised meat, no fast food, no sodas or sugary drinks), but I made bad snacking choices. Beth, Sonja and I started a diet together which does not allow processed sugar. That was the push I needed. Between the daily hour of exercise (everything from spin to body sculpting to Pilates and Zumba) at the Activity Center and eating no more than 10 grams of sugar a day, I’ve lost 45 pounds since the end of May 2011. I will continue working until I lose the remaining 30 pounds and feel very lucky that the Activity Center is available and has a good variety of classes taught by caring and dedicated instructors.

Someone asked me when I plan to go back to eating dessert and candy. I don’t plan to. It’s as if I kicked another really bad habit —I won’t start smoking again— I don’t plan to start eating processed sugar again either. I’m looking forward to the journey and am thankful for the help and support I get from being an employee at UTD.

Jim Shivers

Human Resources Representative I
Jim Shivers, Human Resources Representative I

Jim Shivers

After having been a victim of stress, busy lifestyle, and eating on the run, I have found there is no substitution for healthy living. Whether it be personal diet, frame of mind, or sense of well being all three go hand in hand.

I ballooned up to 258 lbs, and with high blood pressure and possible type 2 diabetes staring me in the face, I knew I had to take control.

While the media saturates us with promises of a body in 3 months that some are not even genetically disposed to having, the reality is that nothing takes the place of exercise, eating healthy and hydration.

It wasn’t easy at first to change my routine, but when the results began, that alone supplied the encouragement needed. It took me 18 months of exercise and eating a diet made up of healthy choices before I lost 54 lbs. I have successfully kept that off for 7.5 months. There certainly are moments when you hit a plateau or begin to back paddle; however, perseverance and dedication is the recipe I found for my success.

McDermott on the Lose

From left to right, Back row: Denice McGregor, Susie Kutchi, Jane Hoorman, Sue McInis;
Middle row: Michelle Sancen, Linda DePhillips, Vickie Bullock, Mary Jo Venetis;
Front row: Debbie Gilbert-Stadigh;
Not pictured: Nora Edwards.

From left to right, Back row: Denice McGregor, Susie Kutchi, Jane Hoorman, Sue McInis; Middle row: Michelle Sancen, Linda DePhillips, Vickie Bullock, Mary Jo Venetis; Front row: Debbie Gilbert-Stadigh; Not pictured: Nora Edwards.

McDermott on the Lose won first place standing in the 2010 Live Healthy North Texas 100 Day Challenge in the weight loss division at UTD. Out of 17 teams, its members lost an average of 7.45% of their body weight, with one member losing 16.76% during the challenge!

The team was asked to share some of its secrets of success.

  • Getting an adequate amount of sleep! It helped me NOT to snack late at night because I was sleeping.
  • Carry a water bottle at all times. [It] curbs appetite and aids in “snack prevention”.
  • Daily recording of my weight! [It] aided in accountability; no denying if I was gaining or losing.
  • I think my weight loss had to do with portion control and eating more veggies, less nuts for snacks.
  • Less than 1000 calories per day, cut way back on the sugar and salt, and eat hummus until you get sick!
  • What I have done is that I TRY to walk every day for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Most of the team exercised individually, though they did get together once a month for a potluck lunch to socialize and encourage their fellow team members in their efforts. And from where did that team name originate?

Says team captain Susie Kutchi, “We chose the group name as a play on the Reference Department’s ‘Librarians on the Loose’ – our outreach program that finds reference librarians taking a laptop and printed library information to various spots across campus”.

The wellness committee congratulates McDermott on the Lose and look forward to their participating in the 2011 100 Day Challenge!