Janet Caldwell joined Illinois State University (ISU) in 2004 as an academic advisor in the Department of Special Education while still working on her doctorate. Caldwell loved her new advising position, but sitting at a desk for the majority of the day was different for her. Caldwell was in a teaching role prior to coming to ISU and spent much of the day moving around. Back pain started to set in, so Caldwell started physical therapy to help ease her discomfort, but found it was not effective enough for her. Caldwell then pursued water aerobics at the old Metcalf pool from the advice of a friend, and found the physical activity was helping to alleviate her back pain.

In 2005, it could not have been better timing when the SEVEN program began at ISU. Caldwell looked into the program through the encouragement of her new Health Promotion and Wellness ambassador and subsequently joined. Caldwell has been making history since, logging activities, attending SEVEN and Health Promotion and Wellness events, and utilizing SEVEN to help her live a more balanced life when she needed it most.

Caldwell shared, “While doing my doctorate, everything went out of balance. I have a tendency to get very focused on anything I am doing, so it was easy not to take time to take care of myself. SEVEN helped give me intention toward my wellness.” Caldwell’s realization of the imbalance helped her integrate more balance during a time-challenged part of her life. Once the ISU Student Fitness Center opened its pool, Caldwell began swimming on a weekly basis. Additionally, Caldwell joined pilates, which is now Balanced Backs and Bellies. Caldwell continues to do both activities 13 years later on a weekly basis, providing what she refers to as “imposed structure.” Time is often a perpetual problem many people face. Like Janet, once her doctorate was done, there were other commitments that filled her life, where she is still a busy person to this day. Over the course of years with SEVEN, she recognizes its value for her well being, and makes time for it.

While Caldwell first focused on the physical dimension to address the lack of movement in her new job, it became a stepping stone to exploring other dimensions of wellness. Caldwell noted, “Beyond the physical dimension, the social and emotional dimensions were also challenging for me to include in my life, because of getting so focused on doing tasks at hand. Now, I take time to invite people over for lunch or dinner and keep it simple with soup and salad. Taking time with my friends recharges me.” Janet added, “Being a spiritual person, that’s an easy dimension for me to fill.” Caldwell talked about how the spiritual can support one’s social, emotional, and physical well being as well. Caldwell also added, “When I do not take the time to take care of myself, I feel drained, and when I do take the time, I feel energized.”

Caldwell also tries to attend SEVEN and other Health Promotion and Wellness events including the SEVEN Kick-Off, Nutri-fest, National Walking Day, PAWSitively, and given her prior back issues, even signed up for an ergonomic evaluation. “I have enjoyed the information I have gotten at Nutri-fest, as well as tasting different foods. I especially enjoy going to PAWSitively and visiting with the dogs,” she said. Caldwell provides a great example of how easy it is to blend the different wellness dimensions of SEVEN together and have fun doing it! It is hard to beat tasty and nutritious food (SEVEN’s physical dimension) and good information (SEVEN’s intellectual dimension), and dogs that are happy to see you (SEVEN’s social, emotional, and the physical dimension, lowering cortisol levels and gaining the walking steps to get to the event and back).

Caldwell emphasized the value of going at her own pace. “I am not competitive with others, but I am competitive with myself,” she said. “Sometimes this got me into to trouble. I would start out easy on exercising, but would want to add more at a faster rate than I should have, which then left me not being able to do anything. I learned the hard way the importance of listening to my body, and accepting where I am.” Like the tortoise and the hare, “slow and steady wins the race” and Caldwell has been winning since. In fact, Caldwell recently earned herself a Fitbit from the SEVEN program for logging the most participant points for the 2017-2018 academic year. She is already reaping the awards of the Fitbit, consistently being reminded she needs to get up and move. Caldwell also loves that the Fitbit is waterproof since she swims three to five times a week.

If Caldwell has inspired you to invest in your wellness, she has some words of wisdom, “I would start with small goals for each healthy habit you want to develop, preferably one at a time, and commit to 30 days of practicing the habit. Tie new habits to things that are already in your routine. If you are trying to break a habit, form a list of alternative activities or foods before you begin. Do not use the activity you are trying to avoid as a reward for your success.” Sounds like realistic and solid advice from a seasoned wellness participant, and attainable as well. Small steps lead to large strides.

Another important point to take away from Janet’s story is most people are busy, but many feel drained, and just keep going, draining themselves further. Caldwell’s story reveals if people stop and take care of themselves, they feel less drained, get more energized, and can continue to do what they want to do. As such, it is likely, the doing will be done with more clarity and vitality!

Thank you, Janet, for sharing your story!

Are you Inspired?

Wellness comes in many dimensions for you to explore: emotionalenvironmentalintellectualphysicalsocialspiritual, and vocational. ISU has been on the forefront of wellness initiatives since 1984. With this, our campus is fortunate in having Wellness Ambassadors in place. Consider taking advantage of this resource, and connect with your department Wellness Ambassador to start your wellness conversation today.

Health Promotion and Wellness is also happy to answer any questions you may have at 309-438-WELL (9355).