Ambassador Bios

people

Jacqueline Adams

Administrative Assistant for Title IX
Phone: (616) 331-2894
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: I have extremely high cholesterol and wanted to reduce my numbers without medication. I started exercising 3 days a week and gradually worked on changing my eating habits. I'm still striving to be that "healthy individual", but I think I've made a good start by putting myself first and taking care of my overall health.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: Keep a diary or journal of what you eat and your exercise regimen. For me, seeing it in black and white helped me to stay focused and it also helped to see what areas I needed more work on.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: Zumba 2-3 days a week. Walk the track and bleachers at a local high school 1-2 days a week.

 

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Mary Albrecht

Executive Assistant to the Provost
Phone: (616) 331-2196
Email: [email protected]

 

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Jennifer Allard and her son on a trail in the Rogue River State Game Area in Cedar Springs, MI

Jennifer Allard

Institutional Marketing
Phone: (616) 331-2525
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: I have two kids and a stressful work life. I work out five days a week both at GVSU and home. It is such a huge benefit to have work release to be able to work off my stress! It also allows me to spend more time with my kids because I have already worked out for the day! I am more focused, relaxed, and less stressed because of my workouts. I also love the mindfulness classes at GVSU. Allowing yourself to be in the moment is really important when you live a crazy life!

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

AWhat helps keep me motivated to work out year round are my workout buddies in my department. There are many days when I don’t want to work out or vice versa and we keep each other in check and on the fitness path! They make me look forward to working out and getting out of the office for a while. And at home my children are very active and love to get out and go for bike rides and walks in the woods so they really keep me moving.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: I have always been an active person and up for a new challenge or the latest workout! I struggle with eating healthy and am working on that more closely these days.  

 

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Angela Amerson

Professional Support Staff, Department of Diagnostic and Treatment Sciences
Phone: (616) 331-5628
Email: [email protected]

 

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Donovan Anderson

Assistant Professor, Modern Languages and Literatures
Phone: (616) 331-3203
Email: [email protected]

 

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Rachel Becklin

Assistant Director and Internal Internship Specialist
Phone: (616) 331-6708
Email: [email protected]

 

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Hector Belmont smiling in Lubbers Stadium at a nighttime football game, sporting a GV hat

Hector Belmont

CLAS Academic Advising Center
Phone: (616) 331-6870 
Email: [email protected]

Is there a driving force behind your lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, or were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

My motivation to achieve a healthy lifestyle are my children. We don’t have much time to be as active as I would like. However, I try to spend as much time possible outdoors.

How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

Everyone is at a different point in their journey. Pointing out simple things to try or even ideas that I have done in the past. I am not the most athletic/active person, so my activities are accessible, to begin with. I also know more intense practices from my coaching years that I could talk about.

What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

I meditate and reflect throughout the day. There are always different ways to look at any situation and/or learn. I also go for walks with music on.

 

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Health & Wellness Ambassador, Andrew Bixel

Andrew Bixel

Assistant Director of Annual Giving, University Development
Phone: (616) 331-6000
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: I grew up on a farm so eating healthy and constantly moving was a normal aspect of life. From an early age, I ate vegetables and fruits off the vine and I have continued to eat fresh produce as much as possible. While my healthy eating habits have continued from my childhood, I have had to alter my form of exercise since I no longer live on a farm. I enjoy running and lifting weights, but I also try to stay as active as possible during the day. For me, being a healthy individual means trying to eat healthy and stay active so I will be at my best.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: I encourage other individuals to pursue a healthy lifestyle by demonstrating that being active and eating healthy does not have to be difficult, inviting them to participate in GVSU Health and Wellness Challenges, and offering them words of encouragement as they begin this life changing endeavor.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: The activities I enjoy that assist in reducing my stress are walking, running, and mowing the yard.

 

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Bonnie Bowen

Provost Office
Phone: (616) 331-2288
Email: [email protected]

 

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Elizabeth Brand

Elizabeth Brand

Academic Advisor
Phone: (616) 331-6025
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, or were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: Exercising regularly helps me to relieve stress, feel happy, and gain energy to help me tackle the day! I think that being healthy contributes to a better quality of life, both physically and emotionally, and this is one of the driving factors behind my lifestyle. The benefits of being healthy motivate me to continue to eat better and work out so that I can be the best version of me! Plus, then I don’t feel so bad when I want to eat a sweet treat. Being healthy is all about leading a balanced lifestyle.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: Invite them to join me at the gym or a yoga class. I find that working out with someone makes it more comfortable at first and it can be more fun too. Having an accountability partner to encourage you to eat healthy, be positive, and keep reaching for your goals is really important. It is important to find something that you enjoy and not to be afraid to try new things. Being healthy is not a “diet,” it is a lifestyle that you have to constantly work at. At work, joining healthy office initiatives such as the pedometer challenge can be a really fun way to keep active together.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: Exercise helps both physically and mentally. I enjoy yoga, weight lifting, hiking, and spending time outdoors. Spending time around animals is also a great stress reliever for me!

 

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Ranelle Brew

Public Health
Phone: (616) 331-5947
Email: [email protected]

 

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Lindsey Burns

Lindsey Burns

Secretary, School of CIS
Phone: (616) 331-2060
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: The driving force behind me being healthy is my two kids. With two little ones who have an abundance of energy it can be hard to keep up. I feel better about myself and what I am teaching my kids when I am engaging in a healthy lifestyle. 

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: I like to encourage people to be healthy by making it fun. I think if people have fun doing something they are more likely to keep doing it. Making it fun makes it feel less like work. 

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: I like to take walks with my kids, and running when I get the chance. 

 

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Health & Wellness Ambassador, Robin Burris

Robin Burris

Academic Unit Coordinator, School of Engineering
Phone: (616) 331-6750
Email: [email protected]

 

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Amy Campbell

Assistant Director of Wellness, Recreation and Wellness
Phone: (616) 331-2409 
Email[email protected] 

 

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Cassonya Carter-Pugh

Admissions Coordinator in the Kirkhof College of Nursing
Phone: (616) 331-5782
Email: [email protected]

 

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Autumn Deroo

Information Technology Department 
Phone: (616) 331-5936
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: I don’t really have a driving force behind my healthy lifestyle.  I just try to eat the best I can with the limited time I have.  I also try to be as active as I can.  Most of the time I only have time for walks with the family in the evening. 

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: Try to take small steps, don’t go overboard with trying to ensure everything you eat is the healthiest.  Realistically it is not always practical.  Get moving, you don’t have to run, spin or get a gym membership to be active.  I make sure to take the stairs and if I have time I walk laps around my building.  

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: Family time is the most important thing for me these days.  Being active with them and playing outside makes it easy to reduce stress.  I used to work out but I do not have the time anymore.  I recommend Zumba because it is fun and doesn’t seem like work. 

 

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Amy Dettwiler

Conference & Event Planning Services
Phone:
 (616) 331-6461
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

I want to be active with my children and husband.  We enjoy biking, running, walking the dog, snow shoeing and hiking.  My household growing up was not active, we were very sedentary.  My husband and I encourage our children to compete in school sports and we lead by example.  I run several 5k races a year.  My husband races BMX and runs with me.  We cook with whole ingredients and meal prep to be ready for busy work weeks.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

I lead by example in my office.  I bring my lunch to work every day.  We chat about different recipes and activities we are doing.  We join each other in Fitbit challenges to encourage movement through the week.

I’m very open with friends and others about my recent 35 pound weight loss.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

I walk or run to alleviate stress.  If I can be outside, that’s my favorite. 

 

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Health & Wellness Ambassador, Andrea Dewicki

Andrea Dewicki

Collections Assistant, Business & Finance Office
Phone: (616) 331-2230
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: My family is the main reason that I lead a healthy lifestyle. I try to set a good example for my kiddos by being active, eating well, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep. It’s important to lead by example, and my hope is that they carry on with this lifestyle when they become adults. I also do it for myself, because I know that I feel great and can live my best life when my battery is fully charged. I try to move my body every day, even if it’s just stretching.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: Hiking, bike rides, yoga, disc golf, tennis, fishing, gardening, baking, and playing board games.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: I would tell them to start small. Pick one thing at a time that you want to change, and do it. If it’s not working, try something else until it does work for you. Also, it’s important to do things you enjoy and you’ll be more likely to stick with it for the long term. I’d also encourage them to look at the whole picture–mental health and spiritual health are just as important as physical health. Planning ahead is also something that has been integral to my pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. We plan all of our meals a week ahead of time so that it’s easier to stick to a healthy diet because we are prepared. Finally, find someone to tag along with you. It’s always easier with encouragement!

 

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Gregg Dimkoff

Finance Department, Professor
Phone: (616) 331-7428
Email: [email protected]

 

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Mandy Sharp Eizinger

Mandy Sharp Eizinger

Program Manager, Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy
Phone: (616) 331-9022
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual

A: For too long, I falsely believed a person had to be ‘athletic’ to live a healthy lifestyle. Now I consider a healthy lifestyle to center self-awareness, wholeness and grace. My wellness mantra is ‘intention over intensity’ with grounding in music, meditation, yoga and walking in the sunshine. It was a 2018 diagnosis of an esophageal disorder called achalasia that required me to reset in all areas of wellness – mind, body and soul – and center wholeness in my wellness approach.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: Start where you are right now. Start small. Start with something that feels good and is good for you. Make it part of your practice. And be kind to yourself.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: Where I am finding a rhythm is organizing my day to make wellness easier, especially in times of stress: Daily Harvest smoothies, a bi-weekly Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) box of fresh and local veggies, a 10-minute yoga with Chelsea Jackson Roberts, and mindfulness + meditation with the Shine App. One of the best reminders I give myself is to breathe (especially the 4-7-8 inhale-hold-exhale exercise). Try it three times.

 

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Jeremy Flynn

Information Technology 
Phone: (616) 331-2035 
Email: [email protected] 

 

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Marcia Frobish

Affiliate Faculty, Mathematics Department 
Phone: (616) 331-2040
Email: [email protected] 
 

 

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Joy Gianakura

Joy Gianakura

Seidman College of Business
Phone:
(616) 331-7500
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: I have several reasons for wanting to live a positive, healthy and active lifestyle. I really believe in quality of life. Without good health, the quality is severely impacted. I can’t say there is a person necessarily that has influenced me, but I do know that when I feel good I have more energy, I am more productive, I sleep better, have better results at work, and am a good example for my children. I don’t weigh what I wish I could weigh, but I am always working on that and know that everything I do will have an impact on my wellbeing. I do my best to make good choices every day. I also think that having a strong faith base is something that has made me stronger and feel I can do more. I have one body…it is a gift, I need to take as good care of it as I can.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: Don’t try fads if you are trying to lose weight, or put yourself into a scenario that cannot be sustained. I believe that “getting there” is easier than “staying there”. Little steps, like increasing water intake is a great first step. After that, add on a multi vitamin…then add on walking or another form of exercise. Set yourself up for success, don’t try to do things that are uncomfortable or take on a total change in lifestyle overnight. Little steps yield big rewards.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: I really enjoy Spinning; so much so that I became certified at the age of 48! It’s never too late to do new things. I also like working out with weights. I like feeling stronger physically, I think it impacts me psychologically and I can handle more of the stuff that life throws our way. I do run and I enjoy that but I have had some knee issues the last couple years so I haven’t done as much, but it is a great way to keep weight off…so I need to get back into it!!! I also like to hike (long and uphill!) as well as mountain bike and road bike. I do these things for recreation. I have done some 5 and 10k races, but only to prove to myself I can finish, and to have a goal I must achieve. I don’t like to do things that are competitive. I’d rather compete against myself. 

 

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Jennifer Glabb

Jennifer Glaab

Chemistry Department 
Phone
: (616) 331-3317 
Email: [email protected] 

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: Wear a pedometer at all times. You would be surprised at the difference it makes in how many steps a day you walk. It definitely makes you more conscious about taking the steps, taking the long way around and parking further away from your destination.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: I really enjoy reading.  I have a special room in my house that is decorated to be extremely cheerful & peaceful.  I will sit in my chair, play relaxing music and escape into another world via good book.

 

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Allie Goeddeke sitting on a couch and smiling

Allie Goeddeke

Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies
Phone: (616) 331-7297
Email: [email protected]

Is there a driving force behind your lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, or were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?
A few years ago, I was having major migraines and went to the doctor to find that my blood pressure was extremely high. High blood pressure runs in my family, but I never expected to have to deal with it as a female in my mid-twenties. This was also about the same time that the pandemic rocked all of our worlds. I suddenly realized that my health was something that I could take control of. I changed my daily habits completely to take control of my diet, exercise, and mental health and have never looked back! Over the last couple of years, I’ve lost 75 pounds and have found that I didn’t even realize that I wasn’t feeling good until I started feeling SO much better (AND as a bonus, I’m now able to manage my migraines and BP through lifestyle changes instead of medication). Now, I can’t imagine it any other way!

How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?
Something that I’ve learned over the last couple of years is that you can’t force others to pursue a healthy lifestyle if this isn’t a decision that they’ve made for themselves. However, I love inviting others to join me in my journey by coming over for healthy meals or doing fun activities to get our bodies moving. I’ve found that doing these things are always more fun with family and friends and hopefully it encourages them to want to pursue a healthy lifestyle as well!

What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?
My favorite activity when I’m feeling stressed is to go on a really long walk – especially outdoors! It always helps me clear my head and re-center myself when stress is flooding my world.

 

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Meri Goehring

Associate Professor, Physical Therapy Department
Phone: (616) 331-5651 
Email: [email protected]

 

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Nicole Greiner smiling happily with her partner for a selfie on a sunny day

Nicole Greiner

GVSU Laker Store
Phone: (616) 331-2497
Email: [email protected]

Is there a driving force behind your lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, or were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?
My biggest motivation to live a healthy lifestyle would be for my family. My husband and 2 kids like to always be on the go and for a number of years, I let my inactive lifestyle choices hold me back from participating in events with them. I was slow to loose the weight after kids, was tired all the time, my moods were up and down, and just didn’t have my zest for life. A few years ago I decided it was time for me to make a change. I began eating much healthier, drinking more water, and started participating in yoga 2x a week on campus during my lunch hour. I maintained that lifestyle for about 3 years and felt younger than I had in a decade. Then COVID hit and I easily fell back into old habits. It has taken awhile to crawl back into my routines, but my desire for a healthy life outweighs my desire for treats. I am motivated once again to be the best version of myself both mentally and physically.

How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?
Start small and start today. You don’t need to wait until January 1 to make a lifestyle change. You also don’t need to change everything at once. Pick something to focus on 1 month at a time and get good at that. After that has become a routine, go to the next best thing. For me, I typically start with focusing on my diet and what I am fueling my body with. Once I have created this new habit, I will start some type of exercise. This doesn’t mean going to the gym and training for a marathon–for me, it's doing yoga a few mornings before work. It's taking half of my lunch hour to go walk around campus or on the track. Just start somewhere!

What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?
Activities that I enjoy to participate in include yoga a few times a week for self-reflection and self-care. In addition, our family enjoys biking in the summer and loves to explore the many trails that Michigan has to offer. It is a fun, low-intensity activity that we can do as a family. I also love going for a nice hike or walk in the woods or local nature centers exploring creation with my kids. You never know what questions will come up from a day exploring outdoors from kids, and I love the anticipation of it.

 

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Health & Wellness Ambassador, Melanie Grover

Melanie Grover

Housing Assistant, Housing - Main Office
Phone: (616) 331-2120 
Email: [email protected] 

Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?
Ultimately, I want to be healthy for my family. I have two young children, and keeping up with them requires energy and health! I also want to set a good example for my kids that being healthy is important.

How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?
Mostly I try to talk about the benefits I receive from eating well, getting physical activity and trying to keep stress in check. Sometimes it's as easy as inviting them to take a walk, sharing a healthy new recipe, or talking about the fun I had participating in a particular activity.

What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?
Read, hit the treadmill or the track, play games with my family, making mental lists and setting goals.

 

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Shelby Harrison

Shelby Harrison

Office Coordinator, PCEC Student Services
Phone:
 (616) 331-6025
Email: [email protected]

Is there a driving force behind your lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, or were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?
I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle as I have watched so many of my family members die from preventable diseases as they never pursued a healthy environment. One of my favorite feelings is an endorphin spike after working out as it energizes me and brightens my mood. I try to keep a healthy balance physically, mentally, and spiritually!

How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?
The best way to encourage someone to pursue a healthy lifestyle is to bring them along in what you do and show them that they too can live healthy. Walking during the workday with others on their break is the way I typically get people to stay active.

What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?
The best way I reduce is stress is by going for a walk or hike outside even if it’s extremely humid or frigid cold temperatures. If I can’t go do something physically active, I try to drink a hot cup of tea and read a book or paint my nails.

 

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Michelle Holstege

Facilities Assistant, Facilities Services
Phone: (616) 331-3000
Email: [email protected] 

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: I was at a point in my life where I decided what I could control was how I ate and what activity level I chose to pursue. Grand Valley allowing us to use our lunch hours to work out is the only time I have! I think now what makes me a healthy person is keeping the balance between work, home and everything else that comes with being a full time mom and employee.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: I think the most important thing in someone’s life is balance. We all have so many directions we are pulled in. Encouraging someone to also take care of themselves along with everyone else is important. You cannot be at your best for everyone else if you are not at your best for yourself.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: Cooking, camping, shopping, time with my family and I love golf - it is a great way to relieve stress! Where else can you see the beautiful area we live in, have fun with friends / family and chase a little ball around.

 

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Image of Ronda Huster

Ronda Huster

Office Coordinator, Alumni Relations
Phone: (616) 331-3590
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: I have always been a runner and have enjoyed exercising regularly. Besides making you healthier, it is a great feeling to get a good run in or have a great workout. I love how by doing both of these, it has brought me closer with many people and as that network of people grows, it develops into a great support group between us all. I love how we all are there to encourage each other, this is a huge thing to keep you going.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: You don’t have to start out big; start small, set some goals, keep track of your exercising, running, or whatever it is you like to do. You can download many apps or even keep track your progress on an Excel spreadsheet. I like to keep track because it is very helpful when you want to take a look back at what you have accomplished.

Push yourself, but don’t be too hard on yourself either! There will be days you won’t hit those goals you have set, but tomorrow is a new day. You don’t have to be the fastest or go the longest distance.  Forward is forward.

Ask someone to join you. Having someone you are accountable to is awesome and part of the process to get you where you want to be – a healthy you!

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: To reduce stress I love to run, walk, or go to an exercise class – TRX is my favorite.

 

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Health & Wellness Ambassador, Shelley Irwin

Shelley Irwin

Producer and Host, WGVU - AM/FM/TV
Phone: (616) 331-6666
Email: [email protected] 

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

AI was brought up in an active, healthy environment, where movement was necessary!! Healthy competition was always a part of the life, from 6th grade dodgeball to today's half ironman, I'm healthy by the 80-20 rule. 80% good choices, 20% ... could be improved!

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: Just do it. Take the first step. Literally. And reward yourself after the little goal achievements (MAYBE NOT...with food!).

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: Running, biking, swimming and planning.

 

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Yumiko Jakobcic

Yumiko Jakobcic

Office of Sustainability Practices
Phone: (616) 331-8729
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, or were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: My family always really emphasized maintaining balance in all that you do, so I think that it’s always something in the back of my mind. We spent a lot of time outdoors and that’s something that I still enjoy today. 

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: I think it’s about finding what works for you.  Since I’ve had kids, it’s taken me a little while to find balance. It’s hard to spend an hour at the gym if you need a babysitter for that time (and to be honest, I wouldn’t want to even if we had a babysitter because I’m already away from my kids all day). It took a while to find the right fit for us, but now we do yoga videos as a family or spend time together in the garden. My lifestyle definitely looks different than it did five years ago, and I think it will continue to evolve as the girls get older and can participate in more activities. 

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: I really enjoy my faculty/staff yoga class and I try to sneak off to the Sustainable Agriculture Project every chance I get. I also spend as much time outdoors as I can, whether it’s in the garden or going for a bike ride or teaching our little one how to ride our horse.  It’s nice to have a change of scenery once in a while.

 

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Maria Jarmillo-Gonzalez

Records/Registration
Phone: (616) 331-3327 
Email: [email protected] 
 

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Image of Anne Jbara

Anne Jbara

Assistant General Counsel and Freedom of Information Act Coordinator
Phone: (616) 331-2067
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

AI had some serious health issues shortly after I graduated from college that ended up requiring an ICU stay and a couple of surgeries. It was a pretty clear lesson on not taking my health for granted, and while a lot of things are out of our control, I have decided to do what I can to keep myself healthy. These days, my primary goal is to keep up with my kids and to be a happy parent and lawyer. I want to enjoy my days, and living a healthy lifestyle helps my body and mind feel better.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: Anything helps. Some days I can only manage a short walk outside, but the fresh air and brief activity still make a difference. I try to eat well most of the time, drink a lot of water, and get enough sleep. If those things fall into place, then the rest of life feels easier to manage.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: I enjoy yoga, spinning, playing outside with my kids, and reading a good book with a hot cup of tea.


Ashley Jefferson

School of Engineering
Phone: (616) 331-6508
Email: [email protected]


Ingrid Johnson

Ingrid Johnson

Movement Science Department
Phone: (616) 331-8873
Email: [email protected]

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: I love hiking, swimming, yoga, kickboxing, walking and taking group exercise classes. I walk every day after work with my husband. We also love taking active family vacations. I am a member of several support groups and that helps manage stress. I have taken mindfulness classes to help manage stress and even completed some biofeedback training to give me the tools to help my mind and body relax. I get regular massages and acupuncture and make sure that I get plenty of sleep. All of these things help keep my body and mind strong.

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: I have always led an active lifestyle. I was an athlete when I was younger and always enjoyed playing sports. I was always encouraged to play outside as a kid. As a result, I became a physical education teacher and am currently a professor in the Physical Education Teaching program.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: The most important tip I would suggest is that you have to find the type of activity that you enjoy enough to do on a regular basis. If you don't enjoy the activity you won't stick with it. Second, I would challenge you to try new things. As we get older we get stuck in ruts- Be brave- try something new!

 

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Catherine Jones-Rikkers

Associate Professor, Management Office
Phone: (616) 331-7464
Email: [email protected]

 

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Sarah Keranen-Lopez

TRiO Educational Talent
Phone: (616) 331-7112
Email: [email protected]

 

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Priscilla Kimboko

Priscilla Kimboko

Professor of Gerontology and Healthcare Management
Phone: (616) 331-7265 
Email: [email protected] 

QIs there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: I am motivated by my desire to achieve vibrant health as I age without relying on drugs of any sort. I had a great role model in my mother, who lived to 96, and until her last three years, lived independently and was physically and mentally well. She ate wisely and was never one to sit around for long. I am also motivated by my desire to avoid the health declines that my late husband, who passed away at 76, experienced. Being his 'caregiver' helped me come face-to-face with the fact that I could be on the same path – overweight, pre-diabetic, elevated blood pressure, and sedentary. I resolved NOT to follow that path, and instead changed my course so I could face my later years in a holistic, healthy lifestyle. 

I grew up in a big family, and to feed us all, we relied on a dairy cow, a garden, and sometimes chickens or turkeys (what might be called an organic diet today). We were also pretty active, physically and mentally, as I often loved to sit with a book and read. 

I teach about aging in our society and am familiar with the conditions that make healthy aging possible. Thus, the driving force for me is to experience and model holistic health, which encompasses physical, emotional, social, mental, and spiritual well-being. Reflecting on all these factors, I am not only working to achieve a long lifespan, but a long 'healthspan.’

This lifestyle includes making better food choices (natural, fresh, less processed, low or no sugar). I recently found a great book, Eat to Beat Disease by William Li, which provides guidance about foods that help boost immunity and the body's defense systems. I've also undertaken a more physically active lifestyle, including walking, full-body strength training, stretching, yoga, and dance. I am active for the recommended 30 minutes, five days a week, often more in any given week. I have adopted mental, social, and spiritual practices to round out a healthy lifestyle: I use some apps (such as Calm) and find helpful and reliable teachers. Social connections are vital to my well-being, so I also try to stay connected to family and friends.

It is a challenge to find and maintain balance; there are times when I’m better at it than others. During this past year with the COVID-19 pandemic, I have found maintaining balance to be particularly challenging with the overabundance of virtual connection (teaching, meetings, etc.) and lack of in-person connection and movement. Luckily, I have been working with a health coach through Priority Health to help encourage myself. We discuss food and eating habits, exercise and movement, stress reduction and mindfulness, sleep, and social connections. With her encouragement and insightful suggestions, I have continued to adapt and modify my lifestyle.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: I talk about my own health activities and goals, I encourage others to take small steps toward health, and share information about ways they can. I also help organize and promote the annual Art & Science of Aging Conference, which provides several workshops on health promotion, disease management, and lifestyle choices that can promote a healthy old age.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

AHmmm! Sleep (working on getting 7 hours per night), read, garden, walks, Facebook with family/friends, solve puzzles, yoga, and face-to-face time with friends. 

 

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Megan Koeman-Eding

Megan Koeman-Eding

IT Operations Assistant
Phone: (616) 331-2035
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, or were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: I’ve always been an active person, even as a child. My parents were big on making sure my sisters and I got outside to play and go for walks or bike rides. I continue to be active by hitting the gym, road cycling, playing tennis, golfing, going for walks, snowshoeing (winter months, of course), etc. The biggest part of my healthy lifestyle that I’m most proud of is my diet. I follow the Ketogenic diet (low-carb) and have been for six years. My husband started the diet a couple weeks before I did; I saw how his energy levels changed (for the better) and how he was losing weight while still eating delicious foods. I gave it a shot and have been hooked ever since! If you ever want to learn more about the diet (I prefer to call it a lifestyle choice!), please feel free to get in touch.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: Making a change to your lifestyle is challenging, no doubt about it. That’s why I encourage people to find what’s right for them. Even though I fully believe in the Ketogenic lifestyle, it may not be right for everyone and therefore I won’t push my ideals/goals on others. But I will encourage people to educate themselves. We live in an incredible age in which information is right at our fingertips! It can be overwhelming, but educating yourself on nutrition is the first step. I also encourage people to be active, even if that means just taking a quick walk around the block. You can build up to a walk around the block twice, then three times, and so on. Just as with diet, find an activity that interests you and you’re more likely to stick with it!

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: Hitting the gym right after work is my biggest stress reducer! In the summer months, instead of using the gym every day, I ride my road bike on the beautiful rail trail systems we have here in West Michigan. My favorite is the White Pine Trail. I also think finding other hobbies is important in order to avoid exercise burnout. So even though it’s a sedentary activity, I also cross-stitch for stress reduction. 

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Mary Kooyer

Mary Kooyer

Standardized Patient Program Assistant Coordinator
Phone:
 (616) 331-5582
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your lifestyle?

A: I have had stages in my life when I was not exercising and not eating healthy and it really impacted how I felt physically and mentally, my moods, my energy levels and even my sleep – all in a negative way. Knowing that I feel better, that I am a better mother, wife, employee when I am eating well and exercising- that is what drives me to try to live a healthy lifestyle. I also want to keep up with my children and be a good example to them.

Q: Was it a person in your life, a certain event, or were you brought up in a healthy environment?

A: I was brought up in a healthy environment. We did not have much junk food in our house growing up and my mom always walked. I often joined her on walks either riding my bike, walking with her, or sometimes running next to her. I have always been intrigued by a healthy lifestyle. I gravitate towards reading about healthy cooking and healthy living in general. It has always been an interest of mine.

Q: What makes you a healthy individual? 

A: I am far from perfect but I do try to eat healthy. I see food as fuel and try to eat clean at least 80% of the time. The food choices we make can either prevent disease or cause disease – it definitely is a perspective I try to have when making food choices. I also run. I love running long distances and have completed a few marathons.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle? 

A: I hope that be being an example, I will encourage others to pursue a healthy lifestyle. In general, I take the stairs whenever I can and I will encourage others to do the same. I like to share recipes with others. I am also always willing to be a running partner, even if that person is just getting started.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress? 

A: As I mentioned, I do a lot of running. I also enjoy spending time with my kids and being active with them. I limit my social media intake and try to read books in the evening instead.


Cheryl Kotecki

Center for Adult and Continuing Studies
Phone: (616) 331-7180
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your lifestyle?

A: I have always had an active lifestyle most of my life. The last couple of years have been difficult for me to keep active due to some health issues related to arthritis.   I am better now and have gotten back into a routine and find myself feeling better and making my health once again a priority for me.   Staying healthy and keeping exercise in my routine helps ease my pain and stiffness and keeps my health in check.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle? 

A: I found that making time for myself to exercise resulted in more energy and feeling better about myself.  My aches and pains were less and my health got better.  I would encourage everyone to give themselves the time to fit activity into their lives.  It relieves stress and has so many physical and mental benefits.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress? 

A: I like to exercise on the Arc Trainer and Elliptical machine and I take spin classes.  Cardio is a favorite exercise of mine to reduce stress.  I also enjoy walking, golfing and biking for family activities. 


Dalila Kovacs

Dalila Kovacs

Professor, Department of Chemistry
Phone:  (616) 331-3806
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: My driving force is my desire to function independently and be able to do the things I like to do! I have a fear of my genetic make-up! Lost my mother to diabetes and my father to a stroke and heart attack. I am healthy because I have found a balance between work and play, between professional commitments and family & friends, between keeping my body in motion (like a spinning class or a long hike) and keeping it still (enjoy good book). Balance is challenging! I need to keep at it, like working at the yoga tree pose, I can get better but, if I do not practice for a week, I have to start again….

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: Personal example: a happy, energetic, calm, and passionate friend is the best encouragement for a person in need to change to a healthier life style. Sharing goals, encouragement and accountability work best among my friends. Healthy lifestyle is to be gently shared not imposed! 

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: Until a year ago, I thought that (1) regular challenging physical activity, (2) a life style centered on physically challenging outdoor activities –a passion inherited form the same two parents who handed me the poor genetic makeup—and (3) enjoying friends and family classify me as a healthy individual.

2013 life serendipitous events brought me to mindfulness stress reduction. I started with 8-week mindfulness stress reduction class and continue to practice ever since. I finally understand that the ‘muscles’ of my brain should be exercised as much as my biceps or hamstrings!

Hence, mindful eating, meditation, and yoga, are now counterbalancing the physical activity arsenal of my weapons against stress. 

 

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Image of Brian Krug

Brian Krug

Professor, School of Engineering
Phone: (616) 331-6830
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: Of course I want to stay healthy to keep up with my kids,  but I also want to enjoy my senior years.   I’d like to work in the yard, garden,  work on cars and projects- things like that, which I will have more time for when I retire. Growing up, I was pretty active, but didn’t eat very well. I think every dinner involved butter. 

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: To maintain a healthy lifestyle, I run (OK jog) twice a week. I also like to go to the gym 1-2 times/ week to work on weights. There’s never enough time, but after it becomes a habit, I actually look forward to my workouts.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: I think the best way to pursue a healthy lifestyle is to remember that being healthy doesn’t mean training for a triathlon – just getting in consistent exercise that doesn’t stress you out.


Yeram Leonard doing a "port jump"

Yeram Leonard

Registrar Office - Records Assistant
Phone: (616) 331-3785
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, or were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: Having a lot of energy as a child while growing up on an island called Papua New Guinea naturally led me to participate in various field sports like touch rugby. Since then, I've consistently exercised into my adulthood. I also enjoy cooking and demolishing the food I just made, so it is motivating to be active. I define "healthy" as not just being physically active, but also mentally and emotionally grounded.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: Just keep moving, at your own pace. 

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: Anything cardio, strength-building, core-strengthening, and new/different activities that make you sweat; then eating awesome food afterwards and getting good sleep.

 

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Sienna Mavima

Sienna Mavima

Information Manager & Assistant to the Director
Small Business & Technology Development Center State Headquarters
Phone: (616) 331-7480
Email: [email protected]

Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?
Towards the end of 2014, I was shocked with a breast cancer diagnosis because up to that point, I believed I was doing almost everything right to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Along the course of my treatment, it was confirmed that I was doing a lot of things right. The treatment team told me many times that whatever I was doing I needed to continue doing because I made their job so much easier. Everyone who reviewed my medical chart had the same reaction: “Wow, you are so healthy!” Despite the circumstances, I believed again in a healthy lifestyle. I was hit, but I found my strength. My efforts did not go in vain and I will forever be motivated to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?
You cannot go wrong in investing in a healthy lifestyle. It pays off in a big way when health challenges that are beyond your control stop by.

What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?
Gym exercise, walking and meditation. I recently took a 10-week class on the Mediterranean Way of Eating through Spectrum Health, too.

 

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Michelle McCloud

Assistant Dean for Finance and Project Management
Phone: (616) 331-2495
Email: [email protected]

 

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Todd Michalski

Information Technology
Phone: (616) 331-2860
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: With having a sit down job I think it is important to move and be active as often as you can. It is so easy to become sedentary with so many options to watch movies or play video games. I want to stay moving for as long as I can! Being outside beats any TV show or movies any day!

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: I would encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle by finding something they enjoy doing and finding others that also share in that interest. Ultimately the person has to want to make changes and want to live a healthy lifestyle. Until they are ready, anything you say or do will not mean a thing. They have to want the change.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: To reduce stress I like to stay active. That means walking at lunch time on campus when time permits. After work that means working out, riding bike on the many Rails to Trails in west Michigan, playing Disc Golf and participating in the Get Moving Team Challenge here at GVSU!


Roxanne Mol

Office Coordinator, CLAS-College of Liberal Arts and Sciences 
Phone: (616) 331-2465 
Email: [email protected] 

 

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Dauvan Mulally

Writing Department
Phone:
(616) 331- 3547
Email: [email protected]

 

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Dawn Nagelkirk

Writing Department 
Phone: (616) 331-3411
Email: [email protected] 

 

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Erik Nordman

Erik Nordman

Biology Department
Phone: (616) 843-1104
Email: [email protected]

 

Q: Is there a driving force behind your lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, or were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

Running has been a big part of my life. I started running as a member of the high school cross country team and stuck with it. I’ve always enjoyed the social part of running with a group. It makes running more fun and we keep each other motivated. My dad is also a runner. He’s run over 100 marathons, including one in every state. He’s still running marathons at age 73. He started running in his 30s as a suggestion from his doctor.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

I run because I enjoy it. I’ve taken breaks from it, but it’s always something I’ve come back to. If it’s a chore, you are not going to do it. So, my advice is to find something that you enjoy – gardening, swimming, pickleball, ice skating, yoga, whatever – and do it with friends.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

I go for a run, of course!

 

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Shannon Owen

Continuing Education - Traverse City Center
102 Traverse City Regional Center @ Northwestern Michigan College
Email:
 [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual? 

A: Ultimately when I eat healthy and exercise I feel better, sleep better and am a much happier person! It started when my mother who was in her late 50s started running. She was healthy and active prior to running but I saw how much more energy she had.  I thought if my mother could do it, I certainly could. So I registered to run my first 5K and she decided to join me. We live 4 ½ hours away, but we were excited to share the experience together and didn’t want to let each other down.  When we’d visit each other we’d run together and motivate each other. I really try to eat clean, drink lots of water and exercise.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: I make every effort to lead by example and to encourage others to join me. For example in our work environment we spend lots of time sitting in meetings. Whenever possible I try to schedule walking meetings.  It’s a great way to keep moving at work and encouraging others to move as well.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?  

A: Running when I’m stressed is the best way for me to reduce stress. I enjoy the euphoria I feel after a good run! But I also enjoy a good hike with my family.

 

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Clayton Pelon

Education - Center for Educational Partnerships
Phone: (616) 331-6240 
Email: [email protected] 

 
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Linda Ray

Multicultural Affairs
Phone: (616) 331-2177 
Email: [email protected] 

 

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Christine Rener

Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center
Phone: (616) 331- 3499
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: I was definitely raised in a healthy environment – little processed food, homemade granola and yogurt (!) and family gardens with plenty of sharing. In terms of exercise – for the body and the brain – I have seen the stark contrast between faculty members who kept active and those who did not. Part of my own understanding of the importance of a healthy lifestyle comes from my background in biochemistry. Knowing more about what is happening at the metabolic level helps me stay grounded in the WHYs and HOWs of healthy living. 

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: By making it a fun, shared approach. It does take time and attention to stay focused and having other people around to support is really helpful. 

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: Meditation, walking in nature (in any weather), and listening to loud music. Sometimes all three if it has been a rough day! 

 

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Valerie Rhodes-Sorrelle

Procurement Services 
Phone: (616) 331-2280
Email: [email protected] 

 

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Kevin Ricco

Kevin Ricco

Muskegon Innovation Hub Director
Phone: (616) 331-6901
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, or were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: Ha! This is a good question. The honest answer? Back in 2002 I was on vacation in the Caribbean. When we returned from vacation there was this particular photo of me on the beach. It was a sideways profile photo. OMG! I looked like I was pregnant with twins. At that time I was 288 pounds. I also had other issues going on physically as well. I would get acid reflux on a regular basis. I had back pain. My vitals were not good. I knew that living my life as a swollen tick wasn’t the best thing long term. So, I decided I needed to change. I always worked out, but I rarely focused on my dietary habits and I never focused on cardio workouts. From that point forward it was all about a lifestyle change. I am now at 187 pounds and have been at this weight for several years! No more acid reflux. No more back pain. Excellent vitals. I know it doesn’t assure longevity, but it certainly can’t hurt! What drives me now is that desire to be healthy, especially as I get older. I have a lot of things I want to do in my life and I don’t want my physical condition to be an impediment.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: Treat the word “diet” as the four-letter word that it is. Diet implies a short-term solution for a life-long situation. Many diets are also not healthy. It is about making a commitment to a lifestyle change. And YOU have to want it. You can’t rely on others to make it happen for you. Others can help, but they can’t (and shouldn’t) make you do it. It is about eating healthy and getting regular exercise. Having a supporting cast around you is helpful, but I think  you have to be able to do it as an individual. You have to commit to it. It isn’t always easy, but I believe that each of us has it within ourselves to make those healthy choices and do the right things for our minds and our bodies. I can tell you, once I made that commitment and started to see the weight come off, I was hooked. (Addicted???) Don’t quit trying.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: My biggest stress fighter? Physical activity. Most prominently, running. By the time I am done with a good run I have solved the world’s problems (or at least determined they are not as significant as I thought before) and I feel so much better mentally and physically.

 

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Health & Wellness Ambassador, Chelsea Ridge

Chelsea Ridge

Math Program Coordinator, Regional Math and Science Center
Phone: (616) 331-2267
Email[email protected] 

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: My family history is filled with various health concerns, so I am trying my best to beat my genes and lead a long healthy life. A healthy lifestyle makes you feel better and live happier every day. These are the reasons that I choose to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: I would encourage other people to pursue a healthy lifestyle by explaining all of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: Jogging, cycling, yoga and kickboxing.

 

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Ericka Rivera

Operations Department
Phone:
(616) 331-5800
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: The positive effect that exercising has had on my physical and mental wellbeing has driven me to continue to live a healthy lifestyle. Exercising and eating healthy has allowed me to gain confidence and  feel overall more energized!

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: I think using positive reinforcement and enthusiasm is key in encouraging another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle.  If a person enjoys living a healthy lifestyle it makes it easier for them to stick with it long term.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: I reduce stress by exercising daily and spending time with family and friends.

 

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Ashley Rosener

Ashley Rosener

Liaison Librarian for the School of Social Work, School of Public, Nonprofit, and Health Administration and the Johnson Center for Philanthropy
Phone: (616) 331-5937
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, or were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: I grew up in an active home and continue that lifestyle to stay healthy and have fun.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: Find an activity you truly enjoy and it won't feel like exercise. 

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: I listen to music and go for walks and runs with my dog to relieve stress.

 

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Mark Rousseau

Facilities Services
Phone: (616) 331-3000 
Email[email protected] 

 

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Health & Wellness Ambassador, Jerry Scripps

Jerry Scripps

Assistant Professor, School of Computing & Information Systems
Phone: (616) 331-2060 
Email: [email protected] 

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: I just started running as soon as I graduated because I was in an unfamiliar city and had time on my hands. I was motivated by watching the first telecast Ironman triathlon. I always had that as a goal, to complete an Ironman but work, finances and kids sort of got in the way. I did a lot of triathlons but nothing quite that long. Last year they held the first Ironman here in Grand Rapids. It was too convenient to pass up. So 30 years after seeing my first one on TV, I finally completed an Ironman (barely).

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: Make it part of your social life. Running, biking, doing events with friends is fun and knowing someone is counting on you to be there makes it more accountable.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: Run!

 

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Courtney Sherwood

Kutsche Office of Local History 
Phone: (616) 331-8099
Email: [email protected] 

 

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Carla Slabaugh

Occupational Therapy Department 
Phone: (616) 331-5648
Email: s[email protected] 

Q: Is there a driving force behind your lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: I want to be healthy, yet weight management has been a lifelong struggle for me. I grew up in the south, where even a healthy pot of green beans are made “good” by adding butter and ham. I have tried several diets through the years, Weight Watchers and South Beach to name two, but I did not make a new lifestyle. While all the education about food and nutrition are important, I now seek to make health and wellness part of my daily routine. I am completing my clinical doctorate in OT, which has offered many opportunities for self-discovery. I recently realized that the perseverance and resilience are skills that I developed further while pursuing the doctorate and these skills can be transferred to my challenges with weight and lifestyle. Although I have struggles with my weight I strive to be a healthy individual. A positive attitude has been my best asset. This has helped me have healthy relationships with others and again this is a skill I can use in my weight loss journey.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: I am not sure I can encourage others…yet. I feel I need to be able to model a healthy lifestyle before I can be a trusted source of encouragement.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: I truly enjoy walking in the woods with the dog and I need time alone to ‘mentally process.’ In the past, I knew I needed to exercise and viewed it as a chore that I did not want to engage in. Having a daily exercise goal produced stress by adding another item to my daily list of things to do. With some reflection on how I work best, I realized I need time alone and I enjoy walks in the woods, so I can engage in an enjoyable, stress relieving activity that also benefits my health.  

 

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Joshua Stickney

Department of Biomedical Sciences
Phone: (616) 331-3629
Email: [email protected]

 

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Jeff Stoll sitting with three children after finishing a race.

Jeff Stoll

GVSU Police Department
Phone:
(616) 331-2707
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, or were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual? 

A: My healthy lifestyle probably stems from growing up. I was very active with sports through middle and high school participating in several types. After high school I no longer had the team sports structure, so I moved to individual racing to include mainly triathlons. My dad did some of these when I was very young and I started up just after I started college and have done one every year since, even salvaging a socially distance race end of 2020.

The best way I remain healthy is through consistency, I work out most days consistently throughout the year. Not all days are hard and demanding, but most are active. My profession generally requires a higher level of physical condition than others in law enforcement. I try to stay consistently active with a regular mix of cardio, strength, and family/walks. Eating is also important, being deliberate in choosing what to eat and how to limit overdoing too much of a bad thing, but also leaving room for occasional indulgence. The best way I describe my health is that I am consistently healthy, not all the time always, but more often than not I eat healthy and workout.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: I have gotten much more inclusive as I have gotten older in recognizing that workouts are different for everyone and not every workout is enjoyable or beneficial for each person. A lot of it is having to do an honest self-assessment and identify what is the best way for an individual to be healthy. Is it eating better, yoga, swimming, running, martial arts or anything. Find something that not only is enjoyable, but fits into your life. Set yourself up for success by doing things that are manageable and reasonable. I would also add that including family in this lifestyle has really been a huge benefit. We have done a lot of family hikes during COVID, and despite initial whining by our youngsters, we have had a lot of fun exploring local area parks and trails.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress? 

A: I am not specific in doing activities to reduce stress but know that doing physical activity, whatever it is, will almost always reduce it. So my workout plan doesn’t change because of my stress level, but my level almost always becomes less after I workout. It serves as a mental flush for me and I am able to process any nagging or lingering stress and get it reduced, not always eliminated, but reduced. Another benefit is I often am able to identify a new idea, suggestion, or approach and feel better about my stress knowing I have a new way to attack it next time.

 

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Health & Wellness Ambassador, Roxana Taylor

Roxana Taylor

Administrative Assistant, Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute 
Phone: (616) 331-3749
Email: [email protected] 

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: When my dad had a heart attack about 22 years ago, my family began eating healthier – more fruits and vegetables, less red meat. In 2008 I had cancer twice, and in 2010 a benign tumor in my sinuses. I know that living a healthful lifestyle is going to keep me on earth longer, and feeling better while I'm here! In Feb. 2011 my husband and I joined SNAP Fitness. We now eat even healthier – more raw fruits and vegetables, fewer carbs and meat. I still have a lot of weight to lose, but I keep trying! Exercise and portion control are the things I'm concentrating on now.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: Walking, weight training, deep breathing, and prayer.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: I have people in my life who are dealing with long term illness and even they can do something! Walk a few extra minutes a day, lift weights from their chair, something! And for those who are still healthy I would say: move while you can still do it easily! It will be so much harder later if you don't!

 

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Health & Wellness Ambassador, Annuka Thelen

Annukka Thelen

Office Coordinator, College of Education - Student Information & Services Center
Phone: (616) 331-6650 
Email: [email protected] 

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: I grew up with parents who were role models for making healthy living a priority. Even today, they walk or run daily today (regardless of the weather), maintain a balanced diet and continue to research what they can do to improve their health. Now in the mid-60’s neither of my parents are on any medications and are able to fully enjoy their travels and grandchildren. Having my parents as strong role models encourages my husband and I strive for same thing for our children, so that they will grow up with healthy habits and views regarding food and exercise and we are able to fully enjoy our time with them while they are young and in the future still be in good health and able to be an active part of our own grandchildren’s lives, are able to fully enjoy their travels and grandchildren. Having my parents as strong role models encourages my husband and I strive for same thing for our children, so that they will grow up with healthy habits and views regarding food and exercise and we are able to fully enjoy our time with them while they are young and in the future still be in good health and able to be an active part of our own grandchildren’s lives.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

AI’ll be the first to admit, that it can be a struggle. Especially when we’re busy. My husband and I both work fulltime, our children have after school activities and sports we constantly running them to. There are days that we don’t return home until 7:00 p.m. and the kids have to be to bed by 8 p.m. By planning ahead and doing some prep-work on the weekends, making healthy choices is a lot easier. The weeks that I don’t take a little time to plan out our meals for the week, are the weeks we make bad choices and then we feel guilty. Just a little effort in planning has a big pay off and makes you feel more accomplished in your efforts to live a healthy lifestyle. The same is true for exercise. I don’t have a lot of time in the evening to exercise and I’ve found I don’t enjoy getting up extremely early to get my exercise in before my day starts. However, working at GVSU we have the benefit of so many different types of classes offered right on campus and a beautiful campus to walk. By planning ahead and packing my workout bag, I can find time to attend a yoga class, visit the gym to lift weights or take a walk outside. Taking classes with a friend or coworker also really helps keep you on track. You start to depend on each other to always be there, keeping each other accountable.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

AThere is nothing better than attending a yoga class in the middle of a stressful work day. I return to work with a clearer mind and ready to continue my work day.

 

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Robyn Toth

Frederik Meijer Honors College
Phone: (616) 331-3219 
Email: [email protected]

Is there a driving force behind your lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, or were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

After my babies, many years ago, I wanted to become more fit and be good examples for my girls. I started at GV with yoga and slowly tried other classes over the years. I then joined an outside fitness gym and was faithfully going 5 days a week. In 2020 I broke my leg and also due to COVID I started working out at home. I thought I needed to have someone else encouraging me to get to exercise class, but I have surprised myself and have been consistently doing at least 30 minutes of something (exercise bike, strength, yoga, Pilates, etc.) 5 mornings a week. Because of my empty nest this year (2021), I started going to water fitness classes with some of my friends a night or two during the week as well.

How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

I would encourage someone to start slow. One habit change, one day of exercise, one healthy meal…just the small steps can lead to results and changes over time. Also there will be frustrations, missteps or setbacks, but it is important to learn, adjust and just keep going. 

What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

Besides exercise, to reduce stress I like to either binge watch tv shows, read, or more recently I have been doing canvas paint by numbers.

 

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Scott Truskowski

Scott Truskowski

Interim Occupational Science and Therapy Department Chair & Assistant Professor
Phone: (616) 331-3128
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, or were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: I have always been active–playing three sports in high school and being a member of the club hockey team my first two years at GVSU. Now, my wife and I try to set a good example for our kids by exercising regularly and preparing healthy meals, or reasonably healthy meals that the kids will eat. What makes me ‘healthy’ is that I strive to find as many ways as possible to balance my work life and home life. Between course prep, grading, and communicating with students, it is easy to fall into habits where we are working seemingly all the time. If I know that I am going to be grading late, I try to take intentional breaks throughout the day and not feel guilty about it. 

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: Encouraging others to be healthy can be a tricky proposition. There is a fine line between offering advice and coming across as condescending or pushy. My approach tends to be conversational and aimed at getting the person to develop an idea or two on their own to sort of provide an opening for me to add my own ideas or suggestions.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: Stress relief for me can take a lot of forms: enjoying a meal (preferably outside), playing video games with my son, golfing, walking our dogs, gardening, or any physical activity–cardio kills stress. 

 

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Jenna Vainner

Jenna Vainner

University Libraries Administration
Phone:
(616) 331-2863
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, or were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

My home growing up was very focused on healthy foods. My mom is an extraordinary cook who always had multiple vegetable sides, fruit and a main dish on the table for our daily 6 p.m. family dinner. What forced me to be very involved and focused on my health was when I was diagnosed with multiple autoimmune disorders in 2013. I drastically changed my diet to a paleo lifestyle which is no gluten, grains, dairy, refined sugar, processed foods, and legumes. Within the past five years I have learned what affects my body the most and have tailored the paleo diet to what is best for my body. This made me become a better cook as I needed to nourish my body in order to not have any autoimmune flare-ups. Having my diet in check I have now branched out and focused on non-toxic living since many things in our home and environment can also cause harm. I have eliminated plastic in my home, use only safer skincare products, and have adopted non-toxic cleaning products. I am not perfect, but am always looking for ways to help my body heal. I have an excellent support group in my family and couldn’t do it without them.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

I would encourage anyone to find what works for them, whether that be through diet, exercise, meditation, etc. There are always small ways to improve that can make large impacts in your everyday life.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

Stress is a tough topic for me. It can bring on autoimmune flares and has such a negative impact on my life yet it is so easy to be overwhelmed by it.  I really like yoga, grounding, and taking Epsom salt baths. For yoga I typically practice at home, there are a few podcasts I subscribe to that have various length classes depending on how much time I have. I’ve been practicing yoga for many years and even 10 minutes with deep breathing makes a difference. Grounding is the practice of being outside barefoot for about 5-10 minutes. Without technology or negative thoughts, you breathe and take in your surroundings. This is more weather dependent and in winter I take an Epsom salt bath instead. Though I say these things are helpful, sometimes in the moment I feel too overwhelmed and don’t act; this is something I need to work on as I know the three practices really work for me. 


 
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Joel Van Ravenswaay

Facilities Planning
Phone
: (616) 331-3582
Email[email protected]

 

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Joan Visser

Joan Visser

Engineering & Computing, Seymour & Esther Padnos 
Phone: (616) 331-6260
Email: [email protected] 

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: I am rebounding from a “not as healthy” season in life.  So my most recent inspiration is my daughter-in-law who is a busy professional, mom and wife who recently lost 25 pounds and gained new momentum by doing the Whole30 challenge and that spring-boarding into a resolve to healthy eating again. 

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: It is really hard to make a change in your life, but encouraging someone is easy!  Through compliment and engagement, I find that having someone share their key to success, it also encourages them to continue.  I do believe that people need to find their own reasons for pursuing a healthy lifestyle and encouraging can only do so much!

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: To reduce stress, I enjoy my pets (Wheaten Terrier &  Quarter horse), traveling or visit a second hand store – and trying not to bring home another project!

 

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Vicki Wenger

Padnos International Center - Office Coordinator
Phone: (616) 331-3898
Email: [email protected]

 

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Andrea Westdorp

Assistant Director of University Budgets
Phone: (616) 331-8030
Email: [email protected] 

 

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Health & Wellness Ambassador, Scott Whisler

Scott Whisler

Project Manager, Facilities Planning 
Phone: (616) 331-3258
Email: [email protected] 

 Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: I am a goal oriented person. Once I set a goal, I do all I can to reach it. I played sports in High School and have carried on that lifestyle into my adult life. I sign up for several races and usually one other major physical activity each year.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: I run, cycle and lift weights daily for a balanced mind and body. During the summer we take bike rides with the kids or play with them at the park.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: Sign up for something...and tell everyone you know about it! You're more likely to stick with it if you have people holding you accountable. Another great way is to sign up for a walk/run through a charity and raise money. You'll help an organization as well as yourself. Join a run or cycling club or get involved in the GVSU pedometer challenge to get started.

 

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Rayshena Wilson

School of Criminal Justice
Phone:
 (616) 331-7130
Email: [email protected]


Shontaye Witcher

Shontaye Witcher

Disability Support Resources
Phone: (616) 331-2490
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: There is a driving force for trying to stay healthy.  Diabetes runs in my family and I do not want the disease.  I try to be healthy by eating the rights foods as well as incorporating some type of aerobic activity 30 minutes a day.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: I would encourage another person by giving them my story for achieving a healthy weight goal

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: I engage in walking to reduce stress as well as meditation.

 

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Charlyn Worthem

Charlyn Worthem

History/Modern Languages and Literatures
Phone (History): (616) 331-3298
Phone (MLL): (616) 331-3203
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: The driving force behind my healthy lifestyle is getting off my diabetes medication. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in the early 90s and I have decided that I wasn’t going to allow this disease to get the best of me. I have had numerous family members taken away by this disease and I refuse to let it happen to me.

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: I would advise them to put themselves first. Often times we put ourselves last and put our love ones, work, and everything else before ourselves without thinking about ourselves and that is when we began to get fatigued, stressed out because we’re not allowing our bodies to get the rest that we need.  Not saying we can help others but we have to help ourselves first.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: I get up every morning and make sure I get at least a ½ hour of exercise. Whether it is on the treadmill, or sometimes I use my aerobic dvds. I also get a bike ride in at least once or twice a week if my schedule permits it. Also, I make sure that I schedule a time that I can be consistent with. I know that I have other commitments after work so I don’t schedule my exercise plan for after work because I know I’m not going to be able to stick with it.

I’m a morning person, I know I will get up at 5:00 a.m. and get my work out in before coming to work. I lay my clothes out at night and set my time clock away from my bed on the other side of the room so that when it goes off I the morning, I have to get my body out of bed to shut it off. Also, I make sure to lay my exercise clothes out at night so they will be ready in the morning.

 

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Gail Zemmol

Hospitality and Tourism Management
Phone:
(616) 331-8866
Email: [email protected]

 

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Joel Zwart

Joel Zwart

Curator of Exhibitions, Art Gallery
Phone: 
(616) 331-3672
Email: [email protected]

Q: Is there a driving force behind your healthy lifestyle? Was it a person in your life, a certain event, were you brought up in a healthy environment? What makes you a healthy individual?

A: I’ve always enjoyed how physical activities and sports have allowed me to connect with people and contribute to my overall wellness. Our family also purchased a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share a number of years ago, and that really changed how I cooked and what our diet included. Since then, we now maintain a larger vegetable garden at home during the summer and eat fewer processed foods. I usually try to grow about 10 varieties of tomatoes!

Q: How would you encourage another person to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

A: Everyone needs to find what works for them, so I’d encourage people to try something new. Shop the GVSU Farmers Market, sign up for a Health Coach or Work Life Consultant appointment, join a fitness class, visit one of the Michigan state parks and recreation areas, or start your own garden at home.

Q: What activities do you engage in to reduce stress?

A: I’ve played hockey since I was young, and it’s been a great way for me to stay active, reduce stress and develop relationships. In addition to playing hockey, I volunteer as a coach and referee for the Griffins Youth Foundation in Grand Rapids, which is very rewarding. While I’m at work, I also join a weekly spinning class that keeps me active and connected at Grand Valley. I decided to try it when I first arrived and enjoy having it be a part of my weekly routine.

 

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Page last modified July 21, 2022