Employee Q&A: Dietitian Jodi Charvoz
Nutrition and Fitness Counselor, Life & Work Connections
Number of years at the UA
Favorite part about working at the UA
"It's definitely meeting people â€“ hearing their stories and being a resource, a source of support ... (being able to) sit down with someone and find out what they're interested in, in terms of working on getting healthier and pursuing wellness. And I like the fact that we're also encouraged to be creative in our approach."
During the holidays, cookies, candy and other sweets are often close at hand, while the willpower to avoid them isn't so accessible. But staying healthy over winter break doesn't necessarily mean depriving yourself of the occasional celebratory treat, says Jodi Charvoz, nutrition and fitness counselor with Life & Work Connections.
A registered dietitian and certified personal trainer, Charvoz works year-round to help keep University employees healthy through one-on-one counseling, departmental presentations and wellness screenings. On Wednesdays, she teaches a noontime elastic band strength training class, free for UA employees, at the Student Union Memorial Center.
Before joining Life & Work Connections, Charvoz worked as an event coordinator in the UA's Disability Resource Center, where she worked on the annual Jim Click Run 'N' Roll race and offered nutrition tips to athletes in the center's Adaptive Athletics Program.Â
She recently took time out to talk with Lo Que Pasa about her passion for health and to share some tips for managing some of those naughty holiday cravings.
When did you become interested in a career in health and fitness?
I just have always loved science and found the human body to be fascinating. I can remember in elementary school they showed a film on the human heart and the circulatory system, and I was like, "Oh my gosh, this is what I want to do, something related to this." ... When I found out about the area of dietetics and nutrition it just seemed like the perfect fit for me because I've always been very interested in food and plants and cooking, and it all just seemed to come together. There's so much you can do, in terms of your health, by the way you eat. Then the exercise part of it kind of came later. ... I went back and got my personal trainer certification (in 2005 from the American Council on Exercise) in order to have some expertise in terms of advising people about an exercise plan.
There are lots of holiday goodies out there this time of year. Do you have any advice for dealing with temptation?
I really feel like it's good to have a little bit of whatever you enjoy â€“ to not deprive yourself but to think of everything in moderation and to make choices; maybe scope out whatever (food) is there as you go into a party and say, "Ooh, that's what I really want." Then if there are healthier choices, balance your plate with some of those, but take small portions of stuff that you really enjoy. And then savor it, don't gulp it down. Usually we're eating in a social situation during the holidays, so a client just gave this great tip about being aware of making eye contact (with people). That keeps you off of "plate contact." ... And during the holidays, even though you're surrounded, possibly, by more choices that are a little denser in terms of calories and fat, there also can be more opportunities to be more active because you, hopefully, have some time off, even if you're just more active with doing stuff with friends or family â€“ getting out for walks or getting out on a bicycle â€“ because we have great weather over the holidays.
We all have our weaknesses when it comes to food. What's your guilty pleasure?
Last year my daughter experimented and made homemade doughnuts â€“ cinnamon sugar doughnuts â€“ for the first time. ... My sisters and sisters-in-law specifically asked if she would make the doughnuts this year. We're all getting together at Christmas, so she's committed already.
You said you like to cook. What types of things do you like preparing the most?
I have a home garden, a backyard garden, so right now I'm really into greens like kale and Swiss chard and spinach, and those are pretty simple to prepare.
What's your favorite way to get your exercise?
I love to hike, that would be my very favorite way. And I do run (outdoors). It's not so much a favorite, but after I do it I love it. And then I do the stretchy (elastic) bands for strength. And I bicycle, but that's just more for fun, getting around.
What makes your elastic bands class so popular with employees?
I think (people like it) because it's convenient. You don't have to change clothing, you don't have to wear athletic shoes, you can do it in socks or bare feet, and it's portable. And it's good for anyone â€“ whether you've had some strength training or never done it. Â
What are some of the most common concerns you hear from employees who come in for counseling?
I'm really kind of excited that this year I see kind of a new trend â€“ where people are coming in ahead of the holidays rather than waiting until afterwards and (making) New Year's resolutions and being really focused on just losing weight. I've seen several people who are just interested in getting healthier and (would like) to start making some changes ahead of the holidays in terms of eating healthier foods and maybe figuring out a way they can fit some physical activity into their normal routine. ... Also, I do see a fair amount of people who do some more serious athletic training, like preparing for triathlons or marathons, so (I offer) nutrition-for-athletic-performance kind of advice.
What do you like best about your job?
Part of why I really enjoy this job is working as a team here at Life & Work Connections. I feel like the perspective is so good in terms of the whole person and addressing all the different areas (of well-being), whether it's caring for children or caring for elderly family members or friends or the emotional and mental health, in addition to physical health. That's our goal, is just to be a resource and a source of support to the U of A. ... I think it makes a huge difference for all of us to be aware of our health and where we are in terms of wellness in our ability to enjoy our jobs and to be more productive and be more resilient in the work that we do.
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