Wellness Winners

Paula Dale of Facilities and Services, Spring 2011

The Wellness Group is pleased to announce that the Incentive Program Grand Prize Winner for the Spring 2011 season is Paula Dale of Facilities and Services. Paula will receive the $100 grand prize which can be used for any wellness related purchases or activities. Read Paula's Wellness Story below.

Paula DaleOne of the hardest steps of my wellness journey was finding a form of exercise that I didn't dread. Then I discovered English country dancing, and suddenly I looked forward to exercise.

The turning point was a Scott Arboretum party that included folk dancing. I came away from the party with two distinct impressions. First, that I adore folk dancing to live music. Secondly, that my jeans - the largest size I'd ever owned - were too tight. That night I decided to find a way to folk dance more regularly, and in the process, perhaps work on the problem with my jeans.

I began English country dancing, which sets simple footwork in complex patterns to beautiful music. The footwork is easy but spritely enough to be aerobic. The English country dance patterns are intellectually stimulating, requiring from me a degree of mindful concentration. The music is lovely and performed live by talented musicians. The success of the choreography is the way in which the pattern of the steps complements the movement of the music; the dancer is one piece within a musical kaleidoscope. There is occasionally a moment when the dance and the music and your own sense of rhythm and grace come together and you feel yourself in the center of a whirl of beauty.

It wasn't the history that first drew me, but English country dancing was the hottest dance craze of the 1650's and again during the turn of the 19th century. Jane Austen was a master of this dance form and English dances figure in several of her novels; if you've seen the movie adaption of Pride and Prejudice, you've seen English country dancing. Naturally the British colonists brought English country dance with them to North America. George Washington is said to have danced quite adeptly at Philadelphia balls. After the Revolution, some English country dances were adapted to a more distinctly American music and format, becoming American county dancing, which includes both contra and square dancing. Despite this sense of history, English country dance is a vigorous and current dance form, with over 600 dance societies and new dances and music continually being written.

I was fortunate to learn English country dancing with Joanna Reiner, Swarthmore Folk Dance teacher for many years, who is nationally renowned for her clear, supportive, spirited calling. Before each dance, the musicians play the tune, the caller describes the dance's moves in a 'talk through', and then the dancers join in for a 'walk through.' Once the dance begins, the caller continues to call the pattern until the dancers are comfortable dancing it.

Partner choosing is blissfully free of the baggage that accompanies some other dance forms; for the most part, you simply turn around on the dance floor to find someone you haven't yet danced with that evening. Because this is a traditional dance form, gender roles do persist in the calling of the dance - the caller will refer to the 'man' and the 'woman' - but the roles are inhabited by people of any gender.

You don't need to bring a partner, but it wasn't long before I dragged Martin to the class with me. Now Martin and I dance together in Folk Dance class, at occasional weekend dances, and at two formal balls each year. Last summer we went to a week of dance camp in Pinewoods, Massachusetts, where one can dance English country eleven hours a day.

At that Arboretum party a few years ago, I vowed to start folk dancing and to lose enough weight to fit in my favorite jeans. The folk dancing has given me many hours of enjoyment that hardly feel like exercise. All that dancing and a Weight Watchers' food plan have resulted in a trimmer, healthier me. Those jeans still don't fit, though - now they are a couple sizes too large.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank many people who have supported my wellness journey. First, thanks to the Wellness Committee, whose Incentive Program gave me an extra boost. Shout-out to the students of the Swarthmore College Folk Dance Club, who keep folk dance alive and kicking. Thanks with a tiara on top to the immensely-talented Joanna Reiner, who moved me from dance anxiety to dance flow. The Germantown Country Dancers enveloped and supported Martin and me from the start. My parents, active square dancers and line dancers, prove that dancing is a lifetime calling, and my son Ted is a continual dance inspiration. Most of all, I'd like to thank Martin Warner, my partner in dance and in life.

Danie Martin of McCabe Library, Fall 2010

The Wellness Group is pleased to announce that the Incentive Program Grand Prize Winner for the Fall 2010 season is Danie Martin of McCabe Library. Danie will receive the $100 grand prize which can be used for any wellness related purchases or activities. Read Danie's Wellness Story below.

Danie MartinWhat a nice surprise to win the Wellness prize in my first semester of participating! I only entered because I was already going to do an event that would take a lot of hours anyway, so I decided why not log them for the wellness program as well.

I've been doing marathons on and off for many years. Back in my 20's I did an ultra-marathon yearly for several years before giving it up. A year ago I learned the race had been revived and shortened to 40 miles. Having turning 50, I thought it would be fun to celebrate by giving it one last fling before thinking about more sensible distances, only to find a good friend was getting married the day of the race. Looking around for an alternative I hit on a 24 hour race in San Francisco. I'd heard of them years ago but had never tried one, so it seemed a good way to turn 50-something.

How it worked was that you had 24 hours to do as many laps of a 1.06 mile course as you could. I prepared with one 6 hour run and then a 12 hour run spaced two weekends apart. In between, I mostly just walked to recover before the next long session. At the race itself, I mixed about half running and half walking and ended up with 61 miles. You could walk, run or even take a nap. Anyone can get a surprising mileage in; the trick is to just keep moving as much as possible. The good part of racing when you are older is lack of competition: since I was the only 50-59 year old female, I won my age group by default. It is my first award in a lifetime of running!

This summer I plan to take a break from running and instead focus on getting a couple weeks on a sailing ship, so I will probably use my prize to get more sailing gear.

Kara McDonald from Annual Giving, Spring 2010

Kara McDonaldThis was my first time to participate in the Wellness Group’s Incentive Program, so I was surprised and excited to hear that I won! My wellness journey has changed a lot in the past year. I ran my first half marathon on May 1, 2010, which is something I never thought I would do because I have always despised running. I couldn’t ever go more than a few minutes without feeling out of breath, and even though I tried several times, I just couldn’t get myself into that wretched sport.

That changed in the fall of 2009, when my best friend’s mom was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. My husband and I agreed to run the Capital City Half Marathon in Columbus with my friend in her mom’s honor. As soon as we submitted our registration form, panic set in. What had we done?! Training was tough; I couldn’t run for more than three minutes without taking a walking break. But we gradually increased our mileage and soon could run several miles without breaks. Our weekends revolved around not which new BYOB to try, but how far we had to run on Sundays. Ice baths and foam rolling became regular rituals for our tired legs. Since we were training in the winter, we learned to run on ice and through snow. We ran a few shorter races leading up to the half, including the Swarthmore Fun Fair 5K with Amanda Hrincevich (Planned Giving). I even gave up beer because it seemed to slow me down. (I kept red wine. It’s good for the heart!)

I finished the half marathon in 2 hours, 16 minutes, and it was such an awesome feeling to be finished. But after I crossed the finish line, my first thought was “I want to do that again!” (My second thought was “FOOD!”) I know running isn’t for everyone, and I never thought I’d say that it was for me. But if you’ve ever thought about it, just try. Anyone can do it. And it’s free, and you can do it almost anywhere, anytime!

Many thanks to the Wellness Group! I’m looking forward to shopping for a new pair of running shoes so I can keep up with this new habit.

Heather Hassel-Finnegan from Biology, Fall 2009

I am so excited to receive the grand prize for the Wellness Incentive Program for the Fall 2009 season. Keeping a log of my daily exercise has been a great way to keep me motivated. I began exercising regularly when I was working on my Master's thesis. I had been working long days in a windowless office and felt like I needed some fresh air and a way to work off some stress. So, I started playing tennis with my husband. For the winter months I joined a gym that had a great variety of classes. When we moved to Pennsylvania last summer I started biking or walking almost everywhere that I went. We also joined the Delaware Athletic League with a group of my husband's coworkers. In the fall we played dodge ball, and in the spring we will be on a softball team. I was afraid that I would stop exercising during the winter, because I am pretty cold averse. But, in November we adopted a dog (Frankie) who just loves to go for long walks and hikes. I try to walk him about 2 miles before work and about 2 miles after work each day. Frankie particularly loves walking in the Crum Woods. So, I am planning to use my prize money to buy a new pair of hiking boots. For me, the key to staying motivated has been to vary my activities.

Mary Carr from Development, Spring 2009

I am delighted to be chosen as the grand prize winner of the Wellness award. In 1995 I joined Weight Watchers and lost 44 pounds. I have maintained the majority of that weight loss 14 years later by walking, watching what I eat and making a healthy lifestyle a priority. I was the kid in school that hated gym class but now I take every opportunity I can to move and fit in some exercise. The chance to get in a little exercise may not be a sixty minute workout at a gym or a two mile walk but I try to take advantage of every opportunity to move such as parking my car near the Swarthmore Train Station and walking up Magill Walk every day at least once. Fitness walking is my favorite exercise but recently I had to explore other types of exercise because of a bout with plantar fasciitis. New additions to my fitness options are yoga, a 45 minute workout with resistance bands and the Life Cycle exercise bike at the fitness center. I enjoying reading and bring a good book along for the 30 minute bike ride at the fitness center. I appreciate receiving the generous Wellness Award gift and my plans for it include the purchase of a new pair of cross training shoes.

Karen Bernier from Alumni Relations, Summer 2008

I've been turning in my exercise logs since I started at Swarthmore in September of 2006 and I'm so excited to have won the Wellness award! The incentive program has kept me motivated to exercise regularly and to not let a one or two day break from the gym turn into one or two weeks.

Since moving to Philly, I have missed playing one of my favorite sports, tennis, which I used to play 2-3 times weekly. On the flip side, I have joined a gym for the first time and make going there a part of my regular after work routine. When I can't get to the gym or just don't want to, I try to get in a walk, usually a neighborhood walk around Conshohocken which has plenty of hills to keep it interesting. My husband gave me a bicycle for my birthday, so we've also been able to take advantage of the Schuylkill river trail which is only a block away and runs from Valley Forge to the Art Museum - although we haven't made the complete trek yet - maybe in the Spring!

When it comes to getting regular exercise, I think the key is to keep it interesting, mix it up, and to realize that "free" exercise, such as parking a little farther from your office, taking the stairs, walking instead of taking a cab, is a great way to make a part of your daily routine a little healthier. Thanks to the Wellness Committee and Swarthmore for promoting and supporting this program. There are many incentives to regular exercise - feeling good, not getting sick, being able to splurge on dessert - so having a chance to win a prize is just icing on the cake! Which, by the way, is my favorite part of any cake.

Robin Shores from Institutional Research, Spring 2008

I'm so grateful to have received the Wellness Incentive award! The Wellness Committee has done a really great job of promoting health and wellness at the College. They provide a lot of great resources, but their lunchtime lectures are my favorite -- educational, entertaining, and the soup is always delicious! Though there have been wonderful talks on various fitness activities, what really inspired me to start exercising came from the Wellness series on Time Management a number of years ago. I think for a lot of us, just finding the time for exercise is a huge obstacle. But from that series, this simple principal was a revelation and an inspiration: "The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities." (Stephen Covey). I wanted to exercise for my own health and to set a good example for my son -- so I scheduled it. I've been running in the mornings regularly for the last four years. I now run five days a week, and work out with free weights several times a week. Even after all this time, I'm still not one of those people who loves to exercise! Some days it's great, but often it can still be hard to get motivated. Making running a near-daily habit has helped me to stick with it. I feel guilty when I skip! And getting it done in the morning (while I'm too groggy to think of excuses) helps too.

Going to Wellness lunches and activities helps to keep me motivated, not just because of the presentations, but also because of the camaraderie of others who are enthusiastic about fitness. I also try to run in the Media 5-miler each year. It's very inspirational because people of all ages, shapes, and abilities participate, and the community cheers everyone. My advice to anyone starting an exercise program is to schedule a regular time for it, and to keep seeking inspiration. It isn't always easy, so be as kind and encouraging to yourself as you would be to a friend. Any effort expended is a step in the right direction! Thank you to the Wellness Committee!

Judy Strauser from Financial Aid, Fall 2007

I've learned a lot about forgiveness from my body. For many years I never exercised and I let my weight get out of control. I am fortunate that I did not develop diabetes or high blood pressure. Since March 2004 I have lost 70 pounds, lowered my cholesterol over 50 points and brought my body fat below 21%. I exercise every day. I lift weights, run, bike, do yoga and qi gong.

I was able to accomplish this with the support and encouragement from my friends at Swarthmore and my family. Joanne Barracliff suggested I try the South Beach Diet and I've been living the low-carb life. Kristin Moore encouraged me to start with just five minutes of exercise a day and build more each week. She created a monster and she always has time for my questions. The rest of the Financial Aid Office always provides support and encouragement. My friends Cathy, Debbie and Katie have great recipes and health advice. Debbie Kardon-Brown gave me a treadmill that keeps me running in bad weather. Debbie is a real inspiration, too. Michelle and Katie at the Kohlberg Coffee Bar make a great "wannabe chai". I try to attend most of the Wellness lunches. They introduced me to Soul Source Yoga and Qi Gong with Kit Raven. Peter Carroll gave me some great running advice that kept me going when I was ready to quit. Many of you have passed along a compliment, thanks for the boost. My family has been great, putting up with new foods and letting me have time to work out. My husband lost 40 pounds and has become an avid bike rider.

You are never too old to start healthy eating and exercise. Four years ago if you would have told me I would be at my high school weight and looking forward to a five-mile run, I would have thought you were crazy, but that is where I am. I can't wait to see what the future brings.

I am going to use my Wellness prize money at the Jenkintown Running Company to buy new running shoes and a heart rate monitor. Thanks Swarthmore!

Barb Weir from McCabe Library, Summer 2007

It was a nice surprise to find out I'd won the wellness drawing for the second time. So how did I log all those hours and, more importantly, why did I do it? I typically get some kind of exercise 5 or more days a week-either walking, hiking or working out at the fitness center after work. I've recently started running again, which I find is a whole lot more enjoyable now that I have an I Pod filled with songs I like. Exercise to me is like taking a multivitamin. Who knows if it's really doing anything, but it can't hurt. However, I know when I exercise regularly I feel better, sleep better and almost never get sick. So I'm grateful to the Wellness Committee for the incentive program, and I hope to use the prize to replace my old running shoes and maybe get some other gear.

Sharon Green from Physical Education and Athletics, Spring 2007

First of all I love to walk. If you ask anyone who knows me, they will say I am a dedicated campus walker. Everywhere I have to go on campus, I choose to walk, unless it's extremely bad weather. When I pick up the mail at the post office, I walk; when I go to the Business Office, which is almost daily, when I turn in my timesheets to the Payroll Office, or have to attend a meeting on campus, I walk. With my office located on the south campus, my walks to the main campus are substantial and involve a fairly steep incline. During the school year, in addition to walking during work time, I walk the track outside of the athletic facility during my lunch break, sometimes with my Swarthmore friends. It's more fun when you have people to walk with.

About a year ago, my husband and I started walking at night. We started walking on a nearby track but advanced to a neighborhood area to incorporate hills and valleys in order to challenge ourselves. This has become our special, quiet time where we get a chance to be together and talk. We love it!

Although I have always walked, it's just recently that I remembered to keep a log of my walking for the incentive program. I do also watch what I eat and at my most recent physical with my doctor, I was pleased to get a clean bill of health and be told that all is well.

Jeff Jabco Director of Grounds and Horticulture Coordinator, Fall 2006

What Keeps Me Motivated to Exercise?
by Jeff Jabco

Well, basically, bad genes. With a family history of hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, heart disease (I've always thought that with paternal and maternal families being extremely large [20 aunts and uncles], we could have every disease represented in the family and still be within "normal" statistics....). I've been concerned with exercise since I've been old enough to be concerned (early 20's or so). And I don't think the old-fashioned oatmeal with fresh fruit and soy milk every morning is enough to do it all for my health. The problem is, I like food. Good food. Not junk food. And I like to eat good food too. While I try not to over eat, I probably eat more than my recommended daily caloric intake at times. So, I like aerobic exercise too. I used to run and do judo. Then I damaged my knee doing judo and that took care of running daily too. Now I rely on aerobic activity and some weight training so that I can eat that osso bucco, polenta and zinfandel on a Saturday night. The stairmaster and a good gardening magazine are my best friends at the gym. Although, I've recently gotten into an evening class--"Basic Training"--that includes calisthenics, kick boxing, running and circuit training with a large group of people of all ages, shapes and sizes. I'm glad to know I'm not the only non-flexible one, but my endurance is better than some. We all need to improve at something, but then we all do OK in some event too, and it's a highly motivated class which is contagious.

So, enough rambling. Time to go to the gym, and then figure out what's for dinner. Pasta and sausages from Sonny at the Italian Market (with a salad or broccoli raab/garlic/olive oil, too)? Ummm, umm good--my light at the end of the tunnel of pain.

Joanne Kimpel from Provost's Office, Spring 2006

A regular exercise routine is not something that was always a high priority in my life. Since my job requires sitting at a desk for long periods of time, I realize that I must find time to incorporate some physical activity into my daily routine. Working at the College gives me easy access to the fitness center and the outdoor track so any excuses that I might have for not exercising are limited!

On most days of the week Cathy Pescatore and I walk a few miles on the outdoor track and at the Mullan Center I enjoy using the elliptical machines. I used to think of exercise as a chore, but now I enjoy walking and the benefits that go along with a regular exercise routine.

With my gift certificate I purchased, among other things, some new sneakers that will help keep me walking.

Many thanks to the Wellness Group.

Jeff Lott from Publications, Fall 2005

This was only the second time I have entered the drawing, so I feel lucky to have won. I actually wish the odds against me had been greater, because that would mean that more of my colleagues on the faculty and staff were participating.

Everyone who read the recent issue of The Gathering knows about my baseball life, but that's only part of my activity and fitness routine. I should backtrack a bit, to spring 2004, when my doctor finally got to me. I've seen the same internal medicine doctor since the mid-1970s, so he had watched my weight--and blood pressure--creep up over the last 30 years. By 2000, I weighed more than 200 pounds and I was on medication to control my high BP. Although he kept telling me that I needed to lose weight, it wasn't until 2004 that it started to sink in that I might shorten my life significantly if I didn't do something about it.

I tried the South Beach diet, which seemed to include a lot of foods that I liked anyway--fresh vegetables, proteins from meat and low-fat dairy, and salads. I'm a big fan of salads. The diet is phased, like the Atkins diet (they are similar low-carb diets), and I entered the first phase on June 1, 2004. After a month, I had lost about 15 pounds, and I continued to lose about a pound a week until I had reached my target weight of 175. My weight has fluctuated a bit since then, but never over 180.

That same summer, I joined a local fitness center in Hockessin, Delaware. It's very convenient to my home, small, and friendly-without a lot of intimidating spandex. A trainer sized me up and designed a routine, and so began the first intentional exercise of my life. I had been physically active all my adult life, but I had never thought, "On Tuesday morning at 6:30, I will exercise for 1 hour and 15 minutes." This was something new.

The exercise and weight loss have made a big difference in my outlook. I feel better and it's been nice to have people look me over and say, "Hey, you look great." And I would not have joined a baseball team this year had I not gotten in better shape, depriving myself of loads of fun.

I've never been much for self-discipline. I've pretty much done what I pleased for most of my life. What I've realized about my new routines is that "doing what you please" can include doing things for yourself that are positive and beneficial. I'm no saint; I cheat on my diet at times, including drinking some beer, a no-no for low-carb dieters. But overall, I have made what I think will be a permanent change in my lifestyle. The rewards have been great-including the $250 that I just received from the College, which will pay for nearly half a year at my fitness center.

Barb Weir from McCabe Library, Spring 2005

I was really excited to win the Wellness prize this summer and was asked to write something about my wellness journey.

When I was in college 30 years ago, my exercise routine consisted of walking to the corner store to buy a pack of cigarettes. Fortunately I changed my ways, dropped the smoking and now get some form of exercise most every day. I enjoy hiking, swimming, aerobics, running (OK, I don't really enjoy running, but I do it anyway) and using the bikes and Nautilus machines in the fitness center. And for some reason I even enjoy filling in the blue wellness activity log forms and watching the hours add up. (Hint: a 10-mile hike can quickly increase your total hours!) With regular exercise I feel more energetic and have the confidence to take on new challenges-- this summer I tried rock climbing for the first time and found that it was a little scary but a lot of fun.

I used the $250 prize to buy new hiking boots, a backpack, running shoes and some exercise clothes. I would really encourage everyone to fill in and submit those wellness logs. The payoff is that you'll feel better and you just might get some cool stuff, too!

Eleanor Baginski from Modern Languages, Fall 2004

Here are my sentiments on the Wellness Incentive Program: I have always enjoyed walking as long as I can remember. It began when I was a young girl growing up in Germany. I have fond memories of taking long walks with my family on Sunday afternoons in the beautiful countryside. In German, it's called spazieren gehen, still popular today.

How exciting to now be rewarded for doing something that I enjoy-walking and swimming - and something that is beneficial for my health at the same time. My doctor has always encouraged me to lose weight, exercise, and eat healthfully in order to get my high blood pressure under control. Three years ago, I went on the Heart Institute (low carb) Diet and was successful in losing a good deal of weight and then maintaining my weight. As a result, my blood pressure came down and is now stable with the help of medication. Then a friend at the College introduced me to Leslie Sansone's "Walk Away the Pounds" video walking program. So during the cold winter months I can walk in the comfort of my family room. I look forward to walking or swimming each day.

I am very grateful to the Wellness Incentive Program as well as the informative wellness workshops. The various workshops have helped to motivate me to continue exercising, eating healthfully, and learning more about lifestyle choices. Naturally, I'm thrilled about being the fall 2004 Wellness Incentive Program grand prize winner. I'm not yet certain how I will use the $250 gift certificate. I'm considering using it toward the purchase of a good exercise bike, or I may perhaps buy better walking shoes and a heart monitor to wear when exercising.

I wish everyone good health.

Julia Welbon from Psychology, Summer 2004

Rhoda Maurer from Scott Arboretum, Spring 2004

I've always seen wellness as an active process of making choices that integrate physical well-being, happiness in my profession, home life and play time. And I feel lucky to have found friends and family that have taught me by example to live a quality life.

I also feel fortunate to have found horticulture as a profession that I love and believe improves the quality of life for many. I have found a work environment that I find challenging, engaging, supportive and rewarding, and a home life that I cherish. And while I have always been physically active, my activity level has decreased since I became a permanent employee of the college. Five years ago my job activities changed from gardening all day to sitting or standing at a computer for hours at a time. I joined a gym and began a more rigorous workout routine to attempt keeping fit. I currently take spinning classes, other cross-training aerobic classes and lift weights to keep myself from becoming bored. More recently, I've added Yoga to my routine and find physical as well as stress relieving benefits from the practice. After my Grandmother's death and my father's diagnosis with Diabetes, I found motivation to take a close look at my nutrition. After making slow, progressive changes, I now feel healthier than I've ever felt during my life.

My Great-grandmother taught me that quality of life comes from finding the right balance between work, family and play. My Father taught me to stretch my horizons. I thank both of them for giving me a good foundation for wellness in life.

Pat Coyne from the Deans Office, Fall 2003

My quest to be healthier started in March of 2002, when I went on a weight loss program and lost 30 pounds. In May of 2002, I decided that I needed to start a workout program to help and enhance my weight loss and also to be healthier all around. I contacted Marie Mancini who created a work out program with cardio and weights, and I have continued doing this 3 days a week. Since then and during that time I have increased and enhanced my program with a combination of cardio (bike and treadmill) and weights. In the summer of 2003 when the Pilates class was offered here, I signed up for this and have continued my Pilates and have found this very beneficial and have completely enjoyed my Pilates experience. I also purchased a Pilates DVD to use at home. I really enjoy my workouts and I find my Pilates both rejuvenating and theraputic. I think exercise and eating wisely and healthy is a wonderful way of life.