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INSPIRE TO MOVE - Motivated to Move
NOURISHING YOU - Healthy Cheeseburger Bites
HEALTHY HARMONY - Supporting Wellness through Love and Connection
GOOD DECISIONS - Being a Wise Health Care Consumer
EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT - Interview with Chief John High

Feedback - SOWellness@uillinois.edu
The System Office Wellness Committee strives to cite relevant information from reputable sources. Employees should always consult with their physician before making any kind of health decision or change.

Looking for Employees to Spotlight
The Wellness Connection Newsletter Team is looking for candidates to interview for the remaining issues of this year’s newsletter. If you have a passion for health and wellness and would like to share your tips or strategies on how you maintain a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle, be on the lookout for a survey coming to your inbox in the coming days. When you receive the link to the survey please take a few minutes to complete and send it back to us. Thank you for your interest and we look forward to highlighting the great health and wellness efforts of our System Office staff!

INSPIRE TO MOVE - Motivated to Move
Photo Credit: Arek Adeoye of Unsplash - person walking on path 

By Colleen Crawford
Everyone knows that one of the most important factors in keeping your heart healthy is regular exercise. But how can you get (or stay) motivated to complete the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise needed each week for optimal heart health? The tips below can help you find the push you need to get started or keep you from falling into an exercise rut!

Make exercise something you look forward to. You are more likely to regularly participate in an activity that fits your personality. If you love being around other people, look for activities that allow you to be social. This can range from starting a walking group with friends to joining a dance class or recreational sports team. For those who cherish alone time, consider running, biking, swimming, or at-home workouts, which might be a better fit.

Break physical activity into manageable blocks of time. Just 22 minutes of activity per day adds up to the weekly recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise. Those daily 22 minutes can be further broken down into chunks that fit into your schedule. For example: five minutes of stretching in the morning, a five-minute walk after lunch, five minutes practicing a strength skill (squats or planks) you would like to be better at, five minutes of active play with kids or pets, and two minutes of stretching before bed. Remember, physical activity doesn’t have to require special clothing, shoes, or equipment to count as exercise!

A little support goes a long way. You do not have to do the same workouts to share your exercise journey with a friend. Whether you are working out together or doing your own thing, having an accountability partner can be just what you need on those days where you are struggling to get moving. A quick encouraging text message or pep talk can help spark your motivation and keep you on the path to success. 

Celebrate your fitness success! This includes the small successes and the big ones. A mental pat on the back for meeting your daily exercise goal encourages you to take a moment to recognize that you did something positive for yourself and helps to reinforce your healthy behaviors. Other goals worth celebrating might include reaching your activity minutes every week for a month, completing your first race, mastering a new skill, or improved health markers at your annual physical. Choose tangible rewards for bigger achievements to keep you moving in the right direction. Some ideas might include purchasing a new piece of fitness equipment, taking a spa day, buying a new outfit or accessory, attending a live show, or simply taking dedicated relaxation time for yourself.

Remember that physical activity is cumulative – little snippets of exercise can add up to big results! Do your best to be consistent and your heart will thank you. 

Explore the Staying Motivated page of the American Heart Association website for more resources.

If you are looking to try something new, check out the Move More Together streaming workouts from the American Heart Association.

 Photo Credit: masonfit.com with link to recipe - picture of food

Recipe by Leana Coffey
Low-carb | Kid-friendly | Recipe includes a gluten-free option

If you are looking for an easy appetizer for the Super Bowl, a quick meal idea the kids will love, or a delicious way to add more protein to your diet, then this recipe fills the bill. It has all the qualities we love in a cheeseburger, without the calories and fat.

These cheeseburger bites are baked in a mini-muffin pan, but can easily be doubled to bake in a regular size muffin pan. Simply add a couple minutes to the baking time.

To make this gluten-free, replace the breadcrumbs with gluten-free breadcrumbs or crushed pork rinds. You can substitute with ground turkey if you would like to reduce your red meat consumption. Watch the sauces you dip these in, as many can be high in sugar. If there are leftovers (which is unlikely!), they can be reheated or frozen.


  • 1 lb Lean Ground Beef, macros with 96/4
  • 3/4 C Liquid Egg Whites, or 4 whole egg whites
  • 1/2 C Fat-Free Shredded Cheddar
  • 1/2 C Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 C Breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 C Reduced Sugar Ketchup
  • 3 T Mustard
  • 5 Small Dill Pickles, finely diced (relish may work here as well)


  1. Preheat oven to 400F and spray a 24-mini-muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Brown the ground beef (or meat of choice) in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. While the meat cooks, mix the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  4. After briefly cooling, add the cooked meat to the remaining ingredients, stirring until even.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the mini muffin tin, making sure to remove any excess between slots.
  6. Bake for 23-25 minutes or until muffin tops are golden brown. 

Nutrition Information: (Per Burger Bite) Calories 48 | Fat 1.3g | Carbs 2.3g | Protein 6.8g

HEALTHY HARMONY - Supporting Wellness through Love and Connection
Photo Credit: Brett Jordan of Unsplash - scrabble tiles that spell "Live Well" 

By Jackie Billhymer
“Incorporating social support and connections is critical for overall health and for healthy habits to be sustainable.”

February brings to mind matters of the heart. It is Heart Health Month and of course, there is Valentine’s Day where we celebrate romance and love. Love provides a support system for our own emotional wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around us. According to the National Institutes of Health, humans are wired to connect, and the power of connection can improve our health and wellness. Research has provided significant evidence that feeling connected and supported can benefit our health in a number of ways. The benefits can range from improving our mood, managing a healthy weight, lowering blood pressure, supporting a healthy immune system, and helping us live longer.

It is important to remember the connection can be any kind of interaction that helps you feel close to another person (pets count as people, too!). It could be as simple as a conversation in person or over the phone, writing or receiving a letter or email, holding hands, petting your dog or cat, or feeling welcomed or understood by another being. These interactions and others give us a sense of belonging. Physiologically, when these things happen our body releases the hormone oxytocin into our bloodstream and that is why we get that “feel good” feeling.

This time last year, we could not have foreseen the changes that would overwhelm 2020 and have an effect on all of our relationships. The way we engage with others has been affected by the pandemic and social distancing. It is important now more than ever to find ways to connect with those around us. Be creative and check out the National Institutes of Health’s social wellness checklist. If you are thinking about someone, let them know. Send them a card or email, give them a call, or set up a video call (e.g., Zoom, Skype, FaceTime). Find some way to connect to those around you and enjoy the benefits of improved overall wellbeing.

Photo Credit: Negative Space from Pexels and link to source article - Stethoscope pictured 

By Christina A. Worthington
The month of February has been named Wise Health Care Consumer Month to raise consumers’ awareness of the need to engage in their own health care decision making. This is in hopes of having a long-term impact on the way health care consumers interact with their providers and to encourage them to take ownership of their care.

Here are a few ways you can stay in-the-know when it comes to your health care:

Understand your coverage. Start by reviewing your medical insurance policy. Highlight or note any terms, phrases or sections where you could use clarification. Information to contact your medical insurance provider will likely be listed in your policy. Call to speak with an insurance representative to gain clarification about your coverage. These representatives can help give you a better understanding where you may have questions and ultimately help you understand which options could be best for you and your family.

Practice preventative health. In exploring your medical insurance coverage, you’ll likely see that a number of services are available to you at no or low-cost. These exist to encourage individuals to make positive health choices, schedule appointments with their health care providers on a regular basis in order to monitor existing conditions, and begin treating new conditions that may develop. Prevention is truly the best medicine!

Seek financial assistance. Your health care institution may have programs available that can help financially. Payment programs and medical bill assistance are offered at a majority of institutions. These programs can help ensure that your bill payments are being made on time or can even help eliminate some of the medical debt you have. Contact your medical provider’s billing office to inquire about what financial services you could be eligible for. The programs are in place to lend a helping hand!

Become your own advocate. Make a communication plan to dig a little deeper when having conversations with your health care providers. Remember that you not only want to understand what decision is being made regarding your health, but also why that decision is being made. Understanding your health decisions can help you better make additional decisions regarding care compliance, cost of treatment, and follow-up care.

When people feel empowered with information, they make smart choices. We research the best products and practices when making just about every other purchase in our lives and health care should be no different. Here’s to being a wiser health care consumer in 2021!

EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT - Interview with Chief John High
Chief John High 

By Seth Yoder

Q. Chief High, could you please tell me what your job title is and describe what you do in your role?

A. I am the Program Manager for the Fire Prevention and Investigation Programs at the Fire Service Institute. In my role, I coordinate classes on fire prevention and investigation programs for firefighters throughout the state of Illinois. I also collect and curate all the materials for the classes to ensure they are accurate and up to date with code changes.

Q. The first full week of February is Burn Awareness week. With that in mind, could you share where most burns occur and their primary causes?

A. One of the most common burns firefighters come across are burns that occur in the kitchen. This is where we spend the majority of our time talking about burn prevention. Our discussions largely focus on keeping combustible materials, like paper towels and cookbooks, away from open flames.

We also spend a great deal of time discussing how to prevent or respond to grease fires. Grease fires often occur because we are doing too many things in the kitchen and forget about the pan heating on the stove. The most dangerous part of grease fires is how we react to them. Our natural inclination is to put water on a fire, but in the case of a grease fire, water will only make the situation worse. We encourage people if they can, to turn down the heat and slide the pan away. If that option is not possible, the next best option is to cover the flames with a lid or a large cookie sheet which will allow you to keep some distance away from the flames. If the fire has spread beyond both of these options, the last option would be to use an ABC fire extinguisher, which is an easy dry chemical-type of fire extinguisher.

Q. There are many different types of burns. What advice would you give on treating different types of burns?

A. Yes, there are a variety of types of burns. For example, burns caused by fire are referred to as thermal burns. There are also burns caused by chemicals, called chemical burns and there are also electrical burns. Regardless of the type of burn the first thing you should always do after experiencing a burn (if possible) is to move away from whatever has caused the burn and immediately start to cool the burn area. You can do this by running cool water over the burn area. The water should be cool and not ice cold, because you want to gradually cool down the burn area. If you get a chemical burn, you should wash the chemicals off immediately and continue to rinse the burn area for at least 15 minutes to ensure you have washed all the chemicals off your skin. If you get an electrical burn, depending on the severity of the shock, you should seek medical treatment because there could be internal burns that you would otherwise be unaware of.

For first and second-degree burns on the skin, you can often treat them at home with ointment and bandages. However, it is important that you do your best to not bust any blisters, as the blister protects the skin from infection. If you experience a third-degree burn, which is a burn that burns down into your lower tissue, or a burn around your mouth and/or nose, you should seek medical treatment.

Q. Are there any unlikely burn hazards that we should be aware of?

A. Probably the most disguised type of burn is the electrical burn simply because we rarely see any type of burn on the skin as a result of this type of burn. However, like I mentioned previously, there might be an entrance and exit wound caused by an electrical burn, but the majority of the damage will be internal. For example, if you get an electrical shock entering your right arm, the shock is going to find the quickest path to the ground and that path may directly collide with your heart, which has the potential to cause serious damage you may not recognize immediately. I would encourage anyone who has experienced an electrical burn to seek medical treatment if they are unsure of the severity of the burn.

Q. There are a variety of burn hazards around the house and outdoors. Could you please describe the most common indoor and outdoor hazards we should be aware of?

A. Kitchen related burns are the most common in the house. In addition to burns around the kitchen, another hazard in the house - particularly this time of year - are space heaters. The important thing to remember with space heaters is to plug them into the wall and not an extension cord. The longer the cord, the greater the resistance and resistance causes the heater to overheat which can lead to a fire. Another potential hazard can be candles. During the holidays and winter months people often light candles around the house. It’s important to remember to keep candles in a proper holder and keep them away from any type of combustible materials or drapes.

Turning to the outdoors, the most common burn area is around the barbeque. Regardless of the type of barbeque you are using, it will be important to keep people a safe distance away while cooking. If you are using a propane barbeque, you should always check to make sure there are no leaks and if it doesn’t light right away turn off the grill and wait until some of the propane has ventilated. Propane is heavier than oxygen and will collect at the bottom of the grill which can cause a large flame once the grill ignites.

Other fire and burn risks outside can be equipment like snowblowers and lawn mowers. If you need to refuel this type of equipment, be sure to give them some time to cool down before refueling. The hot equipment can potentially catch fire while refueling. Lastly, be careful with overloaded electrical circuits. During the holidays, we might plug in all the lights into one outlet and this can lead to a potential fire and burns.

For further burn awareness resources please visit this link on the System HR Wellness Webpage.