For Marilyn Waldo, it all began in 2007 when Ball State launched its Working Well initiative. Representing the College of Sciences and Humanities, she participated in the campus’ walk from LaFollette Field to the Quad. She would soon find that this walk and initiative would inspire her to keep walking … and walking.

On a daily basis, Waldo, an office and financial assistant, kept track of the number of steps she had walked on her pedometer. She and a colleague, Jeff Grigsby, associate dean of the College of Sciences and Humanities and a geology professor, were recognized as the top two individuals within the College of Sciences and Humanities with the most steps. After this accomplishment, in January 2009, she decided to push herself to the next level—walking the equivalent of a cross-country trip.

She discovered a map through the Working Well program that would track her virtual progress from Washington DC to San Francisco—totaling 2,830 miles. Each day, she would walk or ride her bicycle to work. Waldo would take the long way when going to meetings, use the stairs instead of the elevator, and encourage coworkers to join her in the quest. After work and on weekends, she walked to local stores, the hair salon, and the grocery instead of driving. The miles quickly accumulated.

Walking has changed her life. Now she has not only walked the length of the United States, she is halfway across Canada.

“I’ve been a lot more energetic and have felt much better. I’ve also lost 20 pounds,” Waldo says. “I think people highly underestimate the value of walking.”

Using her Start Where You Are map provided by the Working Well program, she has become an expert on walking routes on campus and their equivalent distances. For example, six laps around the inside of the Cooper Science Building is a mile, and so is 12 laps around Ball Gymnasium.

Waldo says it’s important to set realistic fitness goals and to do it for yourself. She encourages others to start with walking and then add other health-related activities, such as jogging on a treadmill, recording daily food intake, or talking to a health coach or nutrition specialist. Fitness classes provide discipline, and the collaboration can be encouraging and enjoyable.

Health Coaching

If you need motivation or don’t know where to begin, it’s important to connect with a health coach or nutrition consultant. For Charles Taylor, a political science professor, health coaching made the difference.

Health coach Jenni Flanagan contacted Taylor when she heard he was seeking her expertise. The university provides this resource at no charge to employees through the Working Well program. Taylor now meets with Flanagan every six to eight weeks to discuss eating and exercising habits. She helps him plan ahead for business trips, which often are times when he’s most likely to stray away from his diet and workout plan.

Taylor has seen incredible results. He’s lost 30 pounds, and his cholesterol levels have improved. He notices that because of his exercise program his stress has decreased. Additionally, he finds, like Waldo, that he is more zestful.

“Success builds on success,” Taylor says.

Regularly, Taylor finds time during the workweek to be more active and praises the Working Well program for providing incentives and information that remind him of the benefits of his new lifestyle.

“When the weather is nice, I try to get out and walk around the Quad or walk to Bracken Library,” Taylor says.

Now, Taylor is influencing others. His friends have noticed the positive changes he has made, and his wife is now making fitness a priority, too.

Rhonda Murr, director of the health enhancement program at Ball State, is passionate about the Working Well initiative and enjoys seeing Ball State employees take advantage of the resources available. She says it goes beyond losing weight or eating better. Holistic health is important to create the overall quality of life that people seek.

“The Ball State Working Well program aims to offer a variety of programs that help employees become and stay healthy—mentally, physically, and emotionally,” says Murr.

Learn more about Working Well.