April Employee Profile- Jessica Payson, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology

Jessica Payson, Administrative Secretary of the Speech Pathology and Audiology Department, has continued to carry out her healthy lifestyle after becoming runner up for the 2012 Wellness Council’s Light of Wellness Awards in the Health Behavior category.  The award recognizes individuals who participate in a worksite wellness program and exemplify healthy behaviors or lifestyle changes that have resulted in significant improvements.  For Jessica, the positive reward of her efforts is the ability to maintain her blood pressure without medication for the first time since her son was born eleven years ago.  It is not easy to stick to a workout schedule and maintain healthy eating habits while balancing work and home life, but Jessica has found ways to fit it all in.

She has created an exercise schedule that is attainable for her lifestyle.  It allots space for wiggle room if she can’t make it to the Marquette Rec Center over the lunch hour as much as she’d like to.  She aims at exercising for thirty minutes to an hour, six days a week since she is currently training for a triathlon.  When this isn’t feasible she adjusts her goal to three days a week and will find other ways to squeeze in activities.  This includes turning household chores into workout sessions, using the stairs instead of the elevator, doing core strengthening exercises that can be done sitting in a chair, or going on a walk with her family or for a break at work.

As an emotional eater and bored grazer, Jessica makes sure that she always has fruits and vegetables handy because she never knows what the day will bring.  On special occasions she will treat herself, but long gone are the days of buying Starbucks and a pastry three times a week.  When she goes out to eat, she will choose a meal that has plenty of fruits, veggies, and protein. The payoff has been noticeable improvements in exercise performance and the ability to stay energized.

Staying motivated and making changes can be difficult, but there are a few things that keep Jessica going.  Signing up for events with friends, mixing up workouts, participating in the Marquette wellness challenges, reading blogs and magazine articles, and trying new recipes all help her stay focused.  “My husband and my boss have been my best motivators and supporters by allowing me the flexibility to make time for my workouts.  My co-workers and family members have actually told me that since I’ve been running and eating well, they started doing the same.  Now that they’ve pointed out that they use me as their motivator, I try and live up to that.”

If your goal is to lead a healthier lifestyle, Jessica’s suggestion is to make gradual changes.  If you do too much too soon, you may feel overwhelmed and give up.  She recommends starting with a small change such as taking a 30 minute walk every day, and then work on the next goal after that is a part of your daily routine.  Jessica adds, “Taking these little steps worked for me and they don’t tend to be as overwhelming; they become more habit forming when you do a little at a time.  I could only handle one thing at a time.  I first got into a routine with a workout regimen.  Then I went to the diet, and then I went to increasing the intensity of my workouts”.

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