Workshops and Programs

Health and well-being is a life-long journey

The Syracuse University Wellness Initiative offers a variety of health and well-being workshops and programs to faculty and staff. Our workshops and programs allow you the flexibility to choose your own way to well-being, focusing on the goals that are most important to you. We are committed to supporting an environment that helps you be your healthiest, best self.

Take a look at the variety of wellness offerings below and don’t forget to subscribe to the wellness email list to receive the most up-to-date Wellness Initiative information (subscribe to the email list on the wellness homepage).

Questions,? Feel free to contact us by email or call 315.443.5472.

Spring into wellness: Attend monthly workshops
 Play along: Participate in challenges and take monthly quizzes
Take action: Join behavior change programs

Spring into wellness: Attend monthly workshops

Join Kim DeStefano for any or all of the below physical activity workshops. She is the senior health and wellness specialist of the Syracuse University Wellness Initiative and is a certified health and wellness coach. She received a bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science here in 2005. Kim is always enthusiastic to share her knowledge with others, is very energetic and teaches with a “Make it Fun!” attitude.

Each of the below workshops will be held on Tuesdays from noon to 12:30 p.m.

Exercise is Medicine: What’s the Right Dose?—Feb. 22
Yes, exercise is medicine! Science has shown that it helps us feel better, function better and even sleep better. But, what’s the right dose? The answer is: as much as you can! Learn about physical activity recommendations then how to figure out what and how much is best for you! Register for Exercise is Medicine

Fuel Up to Move More—March 22
Biking, swimming, playing basketball or soccer, running, and dancing. What do all these have in common? They’re all fun ways to get your body moving. Learn how to take care of your body before, during, and after exercise with healthy food and plenty of water. Practice stretching your muscles and doing exercises that will strengthen your body and get your heart pumping. Register for Fuel Up to Move More

The FITT Principle—April 19
Whether you’re new to fitness or an avid exerciser, you can apply the FITT principle to what you do. FITT stands for frequency, intensity, time and type. Each component works in tandem to help you reach your physical activity goals. This workshop will explore what the FITT principle is, along with how you can incorporate it into your routine. Register for The FITT Principle

Shake Up Your Fitness Game—May 17
Consistency and routine are the backbones of any fitness program. If you want to take things to the next level or get back on track toward your goals, varying your workouts could be the key. In this workshop, you’ll learn how often to change up your workout routine, ways to mix things up and the benefits you might see. Register for Shake Up Your Fitness Game

Join Gail Grozalis for any or all of the below nutrition workshops and demos. She is the executive director of the Syracuse University Wellness Initiative. She is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health and wellness coach. Gail loves sharing her knowledge about nutrition and food in fun, relevant and interesting ways!

Each of the below workshops will be held on Fridays from noon to 12:30 p.m.

Heart-Healthy Cooking Demo—Feb. 11
Heart-healthy eating emphasizes nutrient-rich whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds as well as healthy fats that can help prevent heart disease. This cooking demonstration will highlight easy, quick heart-healthy recipes that include some bonus ingredients that your heart (and tastebuds) will love!
On the menu: “fried” rice—two ways and salmon in a snap! Register for Heart-Healthy Cook Demo

Mindful Eating for Beginners—March 11
It’s not just about what we eat, it’s also how we eat! Mindful Eating for Beginners will introduce you to the principles and benefits of mindful eating. This workshop will provide actionable tips to start eating more mindfully and begin forming a more positive relationship with the foods you eat. Register for Mindful Eating for Beginners

Celebrate spring! Spring Salads and Dressing Food Demo—April 15
Preparing dishes with fresh seasonal ingredients is delicious and healthy! In the Northeast, this means plenty of spring root vegetables and leafy greens. Think arugula, chard, asparagus, beets and radishes to name a few! This cooking demonstration will highlight the ingredients of spring in fresh salads—letting the seasonal bounty shine! Will also demonstrate simple homemade salad dressings to complement any salad. Register for Salads/Dressing Demo

Plant-Powered Eating for Optimal Health—May 13
Plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources. Adopting some of the principles of plant-powered eating can help improve overall health and boost energy levels! Register for Plant-Powered Eating

The Great Reset: Simple Strategies for Taking Charge and Feeling Better as a Working Parent in 2022—Tuesday, Jan. 11 at noon. 

Through sheer grit and determination, you managed to get through two years of working and caregiving during a global pandemic. As we start a New Year, you want to do and feel better….as a professional, parent, and person. You deserve to! And the good news is, you can. In this session offered by Care.com, you will learn the simple steps you can take to achieve greater success and satisfaction as a working parent or caregiver in 2022 and beyond.  

Register for The Great Reset


How to Talk to Your Child about Current Events—Monday, Jan. 17 at 11 a.m.

Disturbing news events affect all of us –including children. In this session offered by Carebridge, you will learn tips to talk with your child when upsetting events occur. This session will present tips on how to filter information about an event and present it in a way that your child can understand, adjust to and cope with based on their maturity level. Participants are also encouraged to anonymously share ideas that have worked for them.

Register for How to Talk to Your Child 


Play along: Participate in challenges and take monthly quizzes

Take the 14-Day Sleep Challenge:  Feb. 21—March 7

Hand pressing button on vintage alarm clock Sleep, like nutrition and physical activity, is a critical component of your heart health as well as your overall well-being! Insufficient sleep and poor sleep quality has been associated with a slew of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Those who get enough sleep typically have better weight control, more energy, a brighter disposition and a stronger immune system.

All faculty and staff who complete the sleep challenge will be entered into a random drawing for some awesome prizes!


Start getting my Z's on!

How does it work?

After registering, you will receive an email to complete the pre-challenge sleep survey to assess your current sleep status. After submitting, you will receive an email with your answers, be sure to save these answers to reference when you complete the post-challenge sleep survey.

  • Start getting your Z’s on. Monday, Feb. 21 you will receive an email with tips on how to get your z’s on to help you get the best sleep possible. Throughout the challenge, you’ll discover ways to make sleep-friendly choices, build a bedtime routine, find your back-to-sleep solutions (if applicable), and track your sleep.
  • Track your sleep. Print and use your challenge log [PDF] to track your sleep and find which strategies work best for you. Reflect on your sleep each morning, noting which strategies from each of the three parts had the most positive effect on your sleep. The log is for your personal use; you will not be asked to submit your log.
  • Mid-challenge motivation. Monday, Feb. 28, you will receive an email with additional info and resources on sleep. The goal is to keep you motivated and complete the challenge.
  • Complete your sleep journey. Monday, March 7, you will receive your final challenge email with the post-challenge sleep survey and evaluation. These must be completed by Wednesday, March 9 to be entered to win. Be sure to have your pre-challenge survey answers handy so you can look back and compare the changes and improvements you made.

Cultivate gratitude in the workplace

The workplace is one of the best places to practice gratitude. In addition to an increase in work performance, gratitude also helps improve employee health and well-being. A grateful attitude leads to a positive and happy mindset. Get your department started with the Gratitude Challenge!

The Wellness Team will provide you with everything you need to successfully deliver a team gratitude challenge! The challenge features 30 small, achievable goals to help you and your team express gratitude and better appreciate the little things in life. The beauty of this challenge is the dates and length are totally up to you.


Sign my department up!

Check out the challenge specifics

  • This gratitude challenge can be anywhere from 14 days to 21 days (your department chooses the dates and length).
  • Each department will receive a challenge kit from the Wellness Initiative with all necessary supplies.
  • The goal is for each participant to choose and complete at least one act of gratitude each day of the challenge. Participants check off each act of gratitude they accomplish.
  • Each department will receive a challenge kit, including:
    • One gratitude saying poster (sayings may vary)
    • One ‘Life must be lived as play’ poster
    • Positivity card packs
    • Thank you cards
    • Dove dark chocolates
    • Individual items for each participant: gratitude button, personal notepad (notepads may vary),  a list of 30 possible acts of gratitude
  • Each department organizer that completes all roles/responsibilities will receive a gratitude mug and notepad as a thank you gift!
  • Each department that completes the challenge will receive a gift bag of goodies to share!
  • Sign your team up to participate in the department challenge.
    • Choose a team organizer/(s) to deliver the challenge.
    • Choose the dates and length (be sure the start date is far enough away so there is time to pick up the challenge kit).
  • Send invitation email to all possible participants (give people a “join by date”).
  • Send an email to the Wellness Team with the complete participant list.
  • Pick up your department challenge kit from the Wellness Initiative. After pick up, dispense items to participants.
  • Begin the challenge and have fun with it!
  • At the end of the challenge,  send the Wellness Team the names and the total number of participants who completed the challenge.
  • Be sure all participants complete the program evaluation to fully complete the department challenge.
  • If the challenge is completed, pick up the post-program gift from the Wellness Initiative.

  • Send team organizer/(s) customizable invitation email template, as well as two “keep the momentum” going email templates.
  • Put together challenge kit:
    • Purchase challenge items for all participants on the department participant list.
    • Print materials needed to participate in and complete the challenge.
  • Schedule time for department organizer/(s) to pick up their department challenge kit.
  • Be available for any questions or assistance.
  • After receiving the completed list from the department, send all participants a post-program evaluation.
  • If the department meets all criteria for challenge completion, schedule a time for the department organizer to pick up their gift and the department gift.

A bunch of question marks on colorful papersPlay along with us and test your knowledge about a variety of wellness topics.

Current month’s quiz: It’s Bittersweet Chocolate Day (Jan. 10), hooray!

In case you missed it, take past quizzes:


Take action: Join behavior change programs

A Non-Restrictive Approach to a Sustainable Healthy Lifestyle

Am I Hungry? logoAm I Hungry?® is a non-diet, weight-neutral approach that empowers individuals to take charge of their decisions about eating, physical activity, health and self-care.  Am I Hungry?® is a comprehensive mindful eating program that guides participants to reconnect with their physical signals to guide when, what, and how much to eat without restrictive diet rules and recognize and cope with their triggers for overeating.

Begins Thursday, March 24

This five-week interactive group program for faculty and staff will be conducted in a group setting via Microsoft Teams. The focus is to help individuals break out of emotional eating cycles using practical, doable strategies.

The Am I Hungry® Mindful Eating Program is a five-week commitment that includes one, weekly 45-minute virtual session.

Each week, there will also be:

  • suggested reading of chapters in Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat
  • recommended workbook pages to complete
  • **Each participant receives the Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat book and workbook with enrollment into the program.

You can choose to commit as much time as you would like, but to get the full benefit of the program, it is most beneficial to include the reading and workbook.

*All participants will need to plan a time for the week of March 14 to stop at the Skytop Office Building.  At this time, you will pick up your materials and complete the payroll deduction form.

Microsoft Teams group:

  • Thursdays (March 24, 31, April 7, 14 and 21)
  • Noon—12:45 p.m.

Covered in the weekly sessions

Think: It is what really differentiates Am I Hungry?® from all other programs as it gives participants the skills and tools to create change on the inside first, so the changes made on the outside will last. Participants are guided through discovery of the Mindful Eating Cycles, a decision-making tool that helps them develop greater awareness and improve their ability to make effective choices around six key decision points:

  • Why do I eat?
  • When do I feel like eating?
  • What do I choose to eat?
  • How do I eat?
  • How much do I eat?
  • Where do I invest my energy?

Covered in the reading assignments

Nourish: The Nourish component provides nutrition education without rigid, unsustainable rules. Participants learn to approach food selection from an “all foods fit” perspective, focusing on meeting the body’s nutritional needs through balance, variety and moderation.

Live: The Live component of the Mindful Eating Program inspires participants to rediscover joy and vitality in physical activity and integrate activity into their daily lives in a satisfying, sustainable way. Live takes a small steps approach to physical fitness, focusing on realistic changes and overcoming internal resistance and external barriers to exercise.

The standard cost of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Program is $100.

All participants enrolled in the program will contribute $60 via payroll deductions, but will have the opportunity for full reimbursement by meeting the attendance criteria.

  • Weekly paid employees agree to have $12 per week deducted after taxes from their paycheck for five weeks  (March 30 through April 27) for a total of $60.
  • Semi-weekly paid employees agree to have $20 deducted after taxes from three paychecks (March 31 through April 30), for a total of $60.

You will receive a full reimbursement of $60 via payroll if you:

  • complete the pre-and post- eating cycle assessment
  • attend four of the five 45-minute sessions
  • complete the post-program evaluation

Please note: you must fulfill all of the above criteria to receive reimbursement.

Throughout the program, trained Am I Hungry?® facilitators, Gail Grozalis and Kim DeStefano will guide participants to:

  • Understand why diets don’t work for most people
  • Be in charge of their eating, instead of feeling a lack of control
  • Consistently eat the foods they love without guilt or overeating
  • Learn how to balance eating for nourishment with eating for enjoyment
  • End mindless, emotional eating
  • Restructure thinking from good and bad foods

According to Michelle May, M.D., founder of Am I Hungry?® and author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat, “Most diets fail because they are negative and unsustainable, leaving the dieter feeling guilty and disappointed. Diets focus on what people should eat without addressing why they eat in the first place. As a result, the overeating cycle is never really broken. Am I Hungry?® is an inside-out approach to eating and self-care that focuses on changing thoughts and feelings first, so changes in behaviors will last.”

Although participants are not given rigid rules to follow, a study of 229 participants showed improved self-efficacy, significantly increased activity, more healthful eating, and gradual weight loss by a majority of the participants. 90% completed the program and nearly all said they would recommend it.

Research shows that the simple process of checking and recording your blood pressure at least twice a week over four months may lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. It also shows that proper nutrition, particularly with a reduction in sodium, can help to lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure.

Syracuse University has partnered with the YMCA of Greater Syracuse to facilitate the Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring (BPSM) pilot for active benefits-eligible faculty and staff. This is an evidence-based program developed to support adults with hypertension in lowering and managing their blood pressure.

This four-month program focuses on practicing home self-monitoring of blood pressure readings, identifying triggers and adopting healthier eating habits to better manage high blood pressure. With the support from a trained YMCA Healthy Heart Ambassador (HHA), participants will:

  • Measure and record their blood pressure  at least two times per week
    • all participants will receive their own blood pressure cuff (included with the program) and receive instructions for proper use
  • Meet one-on-one each week with Stephanie Michaels via Microsoft Teams (from week of Feb. 28 through week of June 13)
  • Attend one 45-minute seminar each month via Microsoft Teams
    • Monday, March 14  (Noon – 12:45 p.m.): Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension
    • Monday, April 11 (Noon – 12:45 p.m.): Lowering Sodium Intake
    • Monday, May 9 (Noon – 12:45 p.m.): Shopping, Preparing and Cooking Food for Better Blood Pressure Management
    • Monday, June 6 (Noon – 12:45 p.m.): Heart Healthy Eating for Life

You must be an active benefits-eligible faculty and staff that:

  • is diagnosed with high blood pressure and/or are on antihypertensive medication
  • has not experienced a recent (within the last 12 months) cardiac event
  • does not have atrial fibrillation or other arrhythmias currently
  • does not have or are is at risk for lymphedema

The Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program (BPSM) will be delivered by Stephanie Michaels, a YMCA lifestyle coach trained in group facilitation beginning the week of Feb. 28 through the week of June 13.

There is a maximum number of 12 participants per group. All persons that watch the info session, qualify and express interest will be placed on a list. If there are more than 12 people interested,  participants will be randomly chosen from the interest list. Stephanie Michaels will contact the selected participants.

Once you have been confirmed to be part of the BPSM program, you will need to:

  • Attend the orientation/welcome session to:
    • Get your blood pressure cuff
    • Sign payroll deduction form and enrollment forms
    • Sign up for your weekly one-on-one time slot with Stephanie

The standard cost of the Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring is $100.

All participants enrolled in this program will contribute $60 via payroll deductions, but will have the opportunity for a full reimbursement by meeting the attendance criteria as well as blood pressure submissions.

  • Weekly paid employees agree to have $5 per week deducted after taxes from their paycheck for 12 pay periods (March 9 through May 25) for a total of $60.
  • Semi-weekly paid employees agree to have $10 deducted after taxes from their paycheck for six pay periods  (March 15 through May 31) for a total of $60.

All participants enrolled in the BPSM have the opportunity to receive full reimbursement of payroll deductions ($60) by meeting the criteria below.

Here’s how it works!

Reimbursement #1

You will receive a $25 reimbursement if you:

  • Attend 6 out of 8 of your personalized check-ins (weeks 1-8)
  • Take your BP a minimum of 2 times per week using your at-home cuff
  • Provide weekly BP log to YMCA facilitator

You will receive an additional $5 reimbursement if you:

  • Attend 1 of the 2 monthly seminars

Reimbursement #2

You will receive a $25 reimbursement if you:

  • Attend 6 out of 8 of your personalized check-ins (weeks 9-16)
  • Take your BP a minimum of 2 times per week using your at-home cuff
  • Provide weekly BP log to YMCA facilitator

You will receive an additional $5 reimbursement if you:

  • Attend 1 of the 2 monthly seminars

The above equals a total of $60 reimbursed.

Working together to prevent type 2 diabetes

Syracuse University continued its partnership with the YMCA of Central New York to facilitate the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) for active benefits-eligible faculty and staff. The DPP is a CDC-recognized, evidence-based lifestyle change program developed specifically to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. It is designed for adults who have prediabetes or are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, but who do not already have diabetes.

This small-group program offers peer support while helping people eat healthier, increase their physical activity and lose weight.

Please read through all the information about this program carefully. If you believe you may qualify and want to learn more, please register for an info session.

Individuals who have already been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes do not qualify for this pilot program.

In order to qualify for the pilot program, you must be at least 18 years old, overweight (BMI > 25) and at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes indicated by a confirmatory blood value* or a clinical diagnosis of gestational diabetes (GDM) during a previous pregnancy. If a blood value or diagnosis is not available, a qualifying risk score** may be used to enroll.

  1. Must be an active benefits-eligible Syracuse University faculty or staff member.
  2. Prediabetes confirmed via one of three blood tests*:
    1. Fasting glucose = 100 -125mg/dl
    2. 2-hour post prandial glucose = 140- 199mg/dl
    3. HbA1C = 5.7% – 6.4%
  3. If no blood test, qualifying score (9 or higher) on an American Diabetes Association or CDC risk assessment**.

The DPP will be delivered by Stephanie Michaels, a YMCA lifestyle coach trained in group facilitation; Stephanie will transfer accountability to participants over the course of the year-long program.

Group: Tuesdays, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Bird Library, Spector Room (608)

There is a maximum number of 15 participants. All interested participants that qualify will be placed on a list, there will be 15 participants randomly chosen to participate in each group. Stephanie Michaels, the intake coordinator from the YMCA of Central New York will contact the selected participants between Sept. 28 and Oct. 1.

One-year commitment (26 one-hour sessions):

  • Mandatory orientation session: Oct. 12
  • 16 consecutive weekly sessions: Oct. 19—Feb. 15 (no session Nov. 23 or  Dec. 28).
  • Step down to 3 sessions every other week: Feb. 22, March 8, March 22.
  • Step down to 6 sessions once per month: April 19, May 24, June 21, July 19, Aug. 16 and Sept. 13.

Two data points (data is recorded in a HIPAA compliant online tracking system) are collected from participants at each session: weight and minutes of physical activity.

Free YMCA family membership for the first 20 weeks of the program:

  • All enrolled participants will receive the YMCA family membership (more than a $300 value!).
  • The membership can be used at any of the six locations that are part of the YMCA of Central New York.

The standard cost of the National Diabetes Prevention Program is $429.

All participants enrolled in the DPP pilot will contribute $200 to the DPP program via payroll deductions, but will have the opportunity for a full reimbursement by meeting the attendance criteria as well as weight and physical activity session submissions.

  • Weekly paid employees agree to have $5 per week deducted after taxes from their paycheck for 40 weeks (Oct. 27 through July 27, 2022) for a total of $200.
  • Semi-weekly paid employees agree to have $10 deducted after taxes from their paycheck, approximately 40 weeks (Oct. 29 through Aug. 15, 2022) for a total of $200.
  • How does reimbursement work?