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Wellness Warriors

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Wellness Warriors

Each quarter we'll be featuring a Wellness Warrior from different areas of the Norman campus.

Amy Lyons, College of Engineering

POSITION: Academic Advisor for Computer Science students in the Gallogly College of Engineering.


HOW DO YOU STAY WELL: I run- In February of 2018, I joined a Group Wellness Coaching seminar with the goal of running a 5K.  I had never run before, and I knew I needed the accountability that the Group Wellness Coaching could provide.  I enlisted my 2 sons (at the time 11 and 15) to run with me, and we signed up for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon 5K. With the help and support of my Wellness coach (LeQui Raymond) and classmates, I ran that 5K and have since completed 6 more. Running is not my favorite activity, but I keep with it because I see how it has positively impacted both my sons (my older son runs almost daily, and my younger son is on his school’s Cross Country and Track teams) and my health.  I have started running with my dogs, and I look forward to running 5Ks with them in the future.

FAVORITE PART OF OU WELLNESS: I enjoy the Lunch & Learns! They are a great way to get up and away from my desk at lunch and the topics are always very interesting.  Who doesn’t like a free lunch? I have also enjoyed the programs Full Plate Living and Naturally Slim.


Stephanie Oakes, Graduation Office

POSITION: Graduation Coach, First Year Advisor


HOW DO YOU STAY WELL: My definition of wellness does not include the measure of my body weight or pant size. I define my personal wellness by my desire to stay active, maintain positivity, and promote self-care on a daily basis. I love staying active by engaging in different fitness activities like yoga, kickboxing, running, strength & conditioning, and sports. Recently, I became a NETA certified group fitness instructor. I currently coach F45 and Cardio/Strength HIIT at Sarkeys Fitness Center. I also coach a kickboxing class at Steel Gym in Norman. To my fuel my activities, I choose to prepare my own healthy recipes and explore new culinary options. I don't like weighing myself down with negative thoughts or behaviors. I choose to live life with a light-hearted and humorous attitude to cultivate my positive mindset. I promote my self-care to not only enhance my well-being, but be the best version of myself for my family, friends, co-workers, and students on campus.

FAVORITE PART OF OU WELLNESS: The OU Wellness program has encouraged me to think holistically about my wellness practice. I enjoy attending lunch and learns, participating in biometric screenings, and being a part of the OU Wellness community on campus. I recently started the PACAA OU Wellness group for campus advisors. We engage in wellness discussions facilitated by OU Wellness, share healthy recipes, participate in a Wednesday Walk group, and practiced yoga. We are promoting advisors to focus on their daily well-being, so we can better serve our students. OU Wellness provided a number of resources for the PACAA OU Wellness group and we are very thankful for the support!

FAVORITE HEART HEALTHY RECIPE: Baked Sweet Potato with Black Bean Chili and Chipotle Tahini sauce Vegan recipe - courtesy of Fit Men Cook Cookbook ***This is a meal prep recipe for lunch or dinner


5 small sweet potatoes
1 can black beans (I like jalapeno flavored beans)
2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP garlic
1/3 cup red onion
1 celery stalk diced
Sea salt and pepper

For Tahini:

3 TBSP tahini
1 TBSP olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
3 TBSP chipotle sauce (sauce from chipotle in adobo can)
1 tsp ground cumin
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Garnish: Cilantro, sliced jalapeno

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

2. Wash sweet potatoes; poke a few holes in them with a fork and place them on the baking sheet. Bake in oven until they are tender and can easily be pierced with a fork, 50 to 55 minutes

3. To a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, garlic, onion, and celery. Cook until the onion begins to brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Add black beans and stir mixture together. Allow mixture to simmer.

5. Whisk tahini ingredients together. Cover and set aside in the fridge. To make it thinner, add freshly squeezed lemon juice or water 1 TBSP at a time until you reached desired consistency 6. Slice open a baked sweet potato and fluff the flesh with a fork. Top with a serving of black bean chili mixture, and following by a tsp or two of chipotle tahini. Garnish if desired.

Dusan Zrnic, Affiliated with Meteorology and Electric Engineering

POSITION: Affiliate Professor, Senior Scientist


HOW DO YOU STAY WELL: I have not been squandered by genes. I stay well by exercising regularly and eating healthy. I attend OU wellness yoga classes and gain knowledge on wellness at the Lunch and Learns on campus. I have maintained decent social interactions and continue to engage in the community and cultural events offered at the university. I like to keep an open mind.

FAVORITE PART OF OU WELLNESS: I have really enjoyed all that OU Wellness has to offer. My favorite part of OU Wellness, is that that the wellness team are people that care about me and my health. They are always welcoming with their warmth and make me feel as if I am a part of the wellness family. They are eager to help in any way possible, and always make me feel good. I look forward to continuing to participate in the wellness events.

Donna Tall Bear, Health and Exercise Science

POSITION: Full-Time Instructor


HOW DO YOU STAY WELL: I eat to live by having at least 4 servings of fruits and/or vegetables, 1 serving of plant-based or fish protein, 1 serving of lean animal protein, 1 serving of non-fat dairy and 1 gallon of water every day. I move my body by going for a run/walk, working out with weights, doing yoga, tending my garden or a combination of these activities every day. I use the 10% Happier app on my phone to remind me to stop and take at least one minute a few times a day to practice mindfulness and deep breathing. And I get at least 7 hours of restful sleep per night.

FAVORITE PART OF OU WELLNESS: OU Wellness offers a multitude of options and opportunities to learn about and live your wellness, more than I’ve seen at many companies for which it was my job to provide health education and promotion to their employees. I say take advantage of as many options as you can. You never know which one will lead to lasting change and a healthier you!

Dave Shields, Information Technology

POSITION: Managing Director of Identity and Access Management


HOW DO YOU STAY WELL: I do martial arts classes twice a week and I do everything I can to eat healthy food and portion sizes. Most of what I’ve done has been forcing myself to make minor changes that keep me active. I park farther away from my office, movie theater,
grocery store, etc. so that I have to walk it. I take the stairs as often as I can, and just make it a point to pick the more active option in my daily activities.

FAVORITE PART OF OU WELLNESS: I have greatly enjoyed working toward fitness goals with the Wellness program. I earned a Fitbit when I started and I love the fact that it keeps me accountable for my food intake and exercise for the week. The fact that the OU Wellness team works hard to find new and creative ways to challenge us to live healthier lifestyles is a great motivator.

Cathy McLaughlin, Housing and Food Services

POSITION: Assistant to the Director of Housing and Food Services


HOW DO YOU STAY WELL: I do things physically as a stress reliever and to help keep me in shape for daily activities as I am growing older.  I love to lift weights, bike, walk, participate in classes that are offered and use cardio equipment at the gym.

FAVORITE PART OF OU WELLNESS: I have many favorite parts of the OU Wellness program, first and foremost that it incorporates total wellness.  You tap into physical challenges, offer many nutritional challenges and encourage yearly screenings.  The program includes social wellness and points are earned for volunteering, attending theatre shows, athletic events, community activities, attending luncheon seminars, and financial meetings and webinars.  The program has several of us in the office competing for points including challenges for sleep, eating veggies or fruits, drinking water and those all important STEPS!  Socially, the program brings people together in the spirit of wellness in every facet of our lives as co-workers are challenging each other and talking about the newest challenge.  There truly is something in the wellness program for everyone. I’m saving the best for last, PRIZES, we actually accumulate points to receive prizes quarterly, now you can’t beat that!

Jason M. Hancock, Facilities Management

POSITION: Utility Systems Analyst


HOW DO YOU STAY WELL: I stay well by maintaining a high level of activity and trying to eat healthy foods in moderation.  It also helps to have the support of my wife, who enjoys many of the same activities I do.  She is the key to my success in eating healthy foods and shedding the stress of day-to-day life. I also have the support of my good friend and fellow OU employee, Alex Zakaryan.  Alex and I started using our lunch break to go on extended, fast-paced walks around campus about three years ago. Knowing that I have people who are supporting me and trying to stay active themselves helps me overcome my own excuses, get out there, and do it!

FAVORITE PART OF OU WELLNESS: I love how the Lunch & Learns provide access to the amazing wealth of health and wellness knowledge we have here on campus.  The people who have presented at the programs I have attended have been great.  I have learned so much that I have been able to apply to my life, ultimately enriching it.

I enjoy the sense of community the OU Wellness program provides. It is helpful and fun to read the stories and tips posted by other participants.  The sense of competition that the program fosters is also very motivating for me.


Vivian Stevenson, Public Affairs

POSITION: Senior Administrative Assistant, Public Affairs


HOW DO YOU STAY WELL: I stay well by staying active and trying to eat healthy. I like to walk and I try to walk as much as I can. My favorite activity is dancing, which means you can usually find me in the club on Friday nights. I have given up fast food for the most part and I drink a lot more water than I used to.

FAVORITE PART OF OU WELLNESS: I have enjoyed everything that I’ve participated in through OU Wellness. If I had to choose, I guess my favorite part would be the incentives. I like winning things and I especially like winning things for stuff I was going to do anyway. Whenever I feel like slacking off I remind myself that if I don’t get on it I won’t get the prize...I’m in it to win it!