Spotlight On: Bill Stratton

March 19, 2014


two men outdoors posing on top of a mountain in the summer time.

Adjunct Instructor

Year Started at UNH: 2009

What does health mean to you?: As a teacher of writing I would feel embarrassed if I did not do what I encourage my students to do when attempting to interact with meaning and language: use the dictionary. Health is defined as follows: 1. the state of being bodily and mentally vigorous and free from disease 2. the general condition of body and mind: in poor health 3. the condition of any unit, society, etc: the economic health of a nation 4. a toast to a person, wishing him or her good health, happiness, etc 5. (modifier) of or relating to food or other goods reputed to be beneficial to the health: health food ; a health store 6. (modifier) of or relating to health, esp to the administration of health: a health committee ; health resort ; health service. *** I can't help but notice how these definitions refer to vigor, condition, and happiness. For me, these things are the center of what I consider to be health. To be healthy is to be active and to maintain the ability to stay active, to keep the body and mind functioning properly, and most importantly, to do these things and derive a satisfaction and happiness from them.

What do you do to make a Healthy UNH?: Mostly I do my best to keep myself healthy and encourage my friends and students to do the same.

How do you stay fit?: I use the employee fitness center 4-5 times a week, and on my off days, I do a lot of hiking.

Do you have any tips for eating healthfully?: Find the foods you like to eat, and learn how to prepare and substitute in a constructive way. As a former college athlete and especially as a wrestler, food was a big part of my life growing up. I won't say I've mastered it, but I have a pretty good system that fits what I want to eat with what I ought to eat to stay healthy. It’s important not to try to force yourself to abandon all of your favorites; not many people are able to keep a diet they hate, or that takes away their comfort foods. If you love hamburgers, try finding good, local meat and trimming down to once a week instead of every day. If you like pizza, make your own with fresh, local ingredients. Whatever it is you like, there is a way to do it within the structure of health and healthy eating.

How do you find motivation to stay healthy?: I hate to say it, but it takes discipline. I don't always want to exercise, but I know what the alternative is. I think one of the things that turns people off is they never get past the 'hump' of routine. I've read that in terms of how the brain operates, it takes three weeks to three months to make something routine. Once staying active becomes part of your life in the same way work and play are, for example, it gets easier. Until then, however, I think people assume it’s not going to be that hard. Well, I disagree. It is going to be difficult, but like everything else in life, the more you do it, the easier it gets. That's not to say it ever gets really 'easy', in the same way, say, tying your shoes does. Still, most people don't have to try that hard to find an analogy in their life that fits. So I work hard to keep that in mind as I'm working out. The same logic is applied to lifestyle choices as well. The first time you skip McDonalds, it’s going to feel crappy. In a few months, it will feel a lot better. Lastly, it’s easy to make excuses. We all do. But, we also all know when we are making excuses. Think about that next time you're saying to yourself: “It's too cold!” or “I'll just do more tomorrow”.

Have you made any tangible improvements to your physical or mental well-being by making positive changes in your life?: Yep!

Anything else you would like to add?: Firstly, it’s great that UNH allows space, time, and resources for its employees to stay in shape. It’s incredibly important and certainly has long term benefits to both the employees and the institution. Secondly, it’s easy to get discouraged when working towards being healthy. Don't let that stop you from continuing. Lastly, we all get older. Staying healthy only gets more important with each day that passes.

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