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Make goals for National Money Smart Week

Set your goals for National Money Smart Week!

Last week was Money Smart Week.

It’s like January 1st for your finances! A week where we can all reflect on our money saving – or not saving – habits, loans and other debts, and budgeting skills. Then, we can make a resolution; not the “I’m going to hit the gym for 3 hours every day for an entire year and never come near to chocolate,” kind of goal. But a SMART goal. One that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely!

What’s the point of making a goal if you can’t accomplish it? At UND Financial Wellness, we believe when this method is followed, the likelihood that you will accomplish your goals will increase greatly.

Let’s first do some brainstorming. Where in your financial life do you need a tune up? Perhaps you know nothing about your student loans or how you are going to pay for school. Or, while it may be hard to believe from looking outside, summer is just around the corner. Have a plan for summer employment or summer classes? Maybe you are scrambling to find money for groceries and to pay rent at the end of the month. Whatever it is, you know your struggles – don’t hide them, use this week as a time to make changes!


When you determine this goal, make sure it is specific. A goal such as “I want to pay for more of my school instead of using loans,” has little merit. While the overarching idea is spot on, it lacks specifics to make it accomplishable. You can’t fix every financial problem in one sitting; instead, take one problem and create a solution. To revise the previously stated goal, let’s try, “I will pay half of my tuition out of pocket.”


How about a measurement? If you are trying to pay for half of your tuition, what is the dollar amount? To revise this goal, “I will pay $2000 out of pocket for my tuition,” Setting your goal so that you can measure it is vital to tracking your progress and success.


Now that you have a specific goal that can be measured with simple math, ensure that the goal is attainable. When trying to pay $2000 out of pocket, don’t plan on picking dollars off the money tree in your backyard. Determine if this goal is attainable. For the tuition goal, does this require some extra hours of work in the summer or applying for scholarships? Include this in your goal so you have the means to accomplish this. “I will pay $2000 out of pocket for my tuition by working 40 hours a week this summer.”


We can have all sorts of financial goals. Some people may hope to travel the world or own a house. For our goals for Money Smart Week, we want to focus on something relevant to our lives. As students, our financial resources are likely tighter and many of our goals are focused on necessities. Purchasing a large house or planning an extravagant trip may not be relevant to our lives at this point. Instead, a goal focused on what is pertinent to our life, such as tuition, is most important.


Finally, make your goal timely. To check up on your progress and ensure success, set a deadline. For example, “I will pay $2000 out of pocket for my tuition by working 40 hours a week this summer and saving $500 each month from May to August.”

Now that you have the steps to make healthy decisions, determine what it is that you want to change in your financial life, and take a stab at it! Track your progress and revise for your circumstances! If you need help, feel free to make an appointment:

Good luck and Happy Saving!


*Blog written by Kaitlin Bezdicek.  Kaitlin is a student at UND and a peer educator for Financial Wellness.


UND’s Health &Wellness 7 Dimensions of Wellness

Dimension: Spiritual


The task for last Friday was to visit the Student Involvement Office in the Memorial Union and contribute to the “Before I Die” Project. I was really glad to see this as one of the options for the Dimensions of Wellness because I have been in the involvement office before and read all of the bucket list statements but never signed the board. I have wanted to but I was almost “too scared,” but this challenge made me buck up and do it. I am really glad I wrote what I wanted to say because it’s something kindof personal, so everytime I see it it makes me happy. I haven’t told any of my friends that I have written on the board yet and I don’t think I will tell. Also reading everybody else’s dreams was really inspirational also. I was definitely like “Omygosh I want to do that too!!”, multiple times. This was overall a great experience.

Before I Die: Emotional

Dimension: Emotional

Activity: Before I Die

Date: January 25th 2012

I went to the Student Involvement center yesterday to write on the “Before I Die” chalkboard. This was the first wristband I was going to earn so I was a little unsure about the process but the girl at the help desk was very friendly and made sure to point me in the right direction.

There were a lot of goals and dreams written up on the board, a lot more then I thought there would be. It was a little overwhelming reading all the things that my peers hope to do sometime in their life time. I have a few things that I would love to achieve in my life but I had to think of the top one. I chose “To travel through Europe.” I feel like its something that a lot of people have as a goal but even if its not original its something that I would love to do in my life. My ancestors are from England and Ireland so it would be fun to see those countries, and also to see Italy, Greece and Spain. I would want to make sure that I could go to each country for an extended amount of time so I could really soak everything up.

The “Before I Die” board was really inspiring to see all the goals everyone has and wishes to achieve. I think that being a student and having the pressure to graduate as soon as possible can get to us and make us forget what life is really all about. Having an education and a job are very important things but if we aren’t emotionally happy with our lives we cant expect to be our full potential.

but WHYYY?!

I like to ask a LOT of questions. Evidence of this: in 5th grade my teacher made me write 250 times “I will not be inquisitive” after one particularly lengthy question-answer session during a history class. (At the time I did not know what that word meant; I do now.)

I find myself continuously asking questions about pretty much everything I do: Why am I doing this? Is there a better way?

We’re just a few days into the New Year. How are those “resolutions” or “goals” treating you? Are you still going?

It’s hard to do something without understanding/knowing/having a purpose. Even the little seemingly insignificant things have a reason. You drink a glass of water because thirst is a basic human need. You wear clothes in the winter so you don’t freeze outside. You go to class to learn and pass in hopes to obtain a degree. You get a job to pay for expenses.

In my last post I talked about taking a new approach to achieving your goals this year, and part of it included listing your reasons for wanting to change things. This is so important. 

If you have decided to lose weight this year, why? To help your clothes fit better? To be able to shop in a clothing section reflective of people your age instead of grandma’s? To feel better about yourself?
If you’ve decided to exercise more this year, why? To have more energy throughout the day? To sculpt and tone? To complete some sort of physical feat?

Do you run races without a finish line? No. That would be simply running and running and running… and totally ridiculous. You need to have a reason for doing things. You want to cross a finish line and prove to yourself that you CAN.

If you find yourself already struggling to “stick to task” with those resolutions (which over 90% of people do at some level), take a few minutes to close your eyes and think about your motives. You might find that little extra “umph” that you need to REALLY achieve whatever your goals might be this time around.

What are your greatest motivators?

makin’ a list

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? It’s always “cute,” in theory:
You reflect over all of the things that you need to improve, change, or “fix” about yourself and contemplate solutions. When January 1 rolls around (or maybe 2), you hit the ground RUNNING.

Suddenly the gym becomes a priority,
you add a few more fruits and vegetables to your plate,
you hit the sheets an extra hour earlier,
you trade your cup of coffee for a glass of water,
you start wearing your seatbelt,
you find time to try a new hobby or sharpen your skills of a previous one,
you start cooking more meals…

and about a week later it all stops. Game over.

It takes, on average, about 3 weeks to either break a habit or form a new one. But most of us don’t have 3 weeks, we have RIGHT NOW.
Am I right?

For however many decades you’ve tried this hit-your-head-against-the-wall method, it hasn’t worked so well. Why not take a new approach?

This year, we’re not going to look at the big pictures.
We’re starting today. And we’re working on today.
That’s it.
Not next month, not 10 pounds, not 3 dress sizes.

Here’s what I suggest you try:

  1. Take a piece of paper. (Preferably something that’s pretty or eye-catching… but that’s just me.) And save room for “incentives.”
  2. On the top of the page, write down ONE goal, one thing that you are going to do today that positively aligns with a healthy eating choice you’d like to work on. (i.e. I will eat 1/2 cup vegetables with every meal or measure my food into correct serving sizes.)
  3. In the middle of the page, write why you are doing these “things.” And I don’t mean something ridiculous like, “To finally be a size 2.” Think of something like “To be an example for my family/friends.” “Because I care about my health.” “I want to feel better.”
  4. On the bottom of the page, write down ONE thing that you are going to do today/this week that positively aligns with some form of physical activity. (i.e. I will spend 30 minutes at the gym 3 times this week or I will lift weights one extra time this week or I will try a new exercise class this week.)
  5. Work on each of those “things” TODAY. Don’t think about tomorrow (unless you need to mindfully plan when you are going to hit your 3 gym sessions in advance).
  6. WHEN (notice, I did not say “if”) you reach your goal, give yourself a cool sticker. (No laughing; it works!)

Now, for the next month you are ONLY held accountable for these two things. When the new month hits, put up 2 new “things” you’re going to add/switch in your lifestyle.

It’s a little less stressful and unapproachable when you think in baby steps instead of leaps.

It took me 2 years total to lose over 100 pounds, and over 10 years later, I’m still trying to figure things out. We are all a work in progress.
Just keep moving forward. 

And if you have an “off” day, forgive yourself immediately and be ready to get right back at it the next day. You’re worth every effort.
Just keep moving forward.
Two little things at a time.

You are You and I am Me.

How many times today did you see someone and think, “Why can’t I be like her/him?Seriously.

You’re at the gym, and you start to feel all self-conscious when you spot a stick figure next to you on the treadmill just jogging away effortlessly. (Cue the imagination:) She probably gets to eat chocolate cake and ice cream and chips and pizza without any regret. And she probably only works out once a week- that’s it. And her social calendar is full of fun things she’s doing with fun people. Of course she has an amazing boyfriend that worships the very ground she walks on. And no way does she ever have  to study, yet consistently gets high scores in school and easily achieves everything she sets her mind to… Whoa, Nelly!

Do you ever do this? If the answer is yes, my next question is: WHY!?

I’d like to remind you that God made each one of us a little bit different. Or a lot a bit different. There’s a reason that we don’t all look the same, sound the same, act the same, think the same, and believe the same. You do yourself a great disservice when you try to fit the model of another person.

I read an article about body types recently, and it brought back a memory from high school. I have a friend that is naturally thin, no matter what. She has tried to gain weight before (I KNOW!) and just couldn’t (I KNOW!)And it drove her nuts. The majority of women I meet strive to be thinner. Most men I meet desire to be more sculpted, bulky, and ripped. Either way, we are never good enough.

What if we all pledged to treat our bodies right and accepted ourselves right where we’re at, and we do this all as an act of love? Perhaps we change our motives: because we love who we are, and we believe in the importance of  sharing our light and talents to others in the world.

How many days have you wasted this week thinking about how you wish you were different? How many people have you wished you were instead of the person you are?

I think that it’s ok for us to think about those things at times, but with a realistic and purposeful mindset: If you wish you were someone else because he/she travels the world… maybe it’s time for you to start putting money away little by little and planning your next vacation (no one is stopping you). If you wish you were someone else because he/she writes beautifully… maybe it’s time that you pick up a pen and a fancy notebook and filling the pages (just let your thoughts flow, you have beautiful music inside of you). {Side note: this applies to whatever it is that interests you. Today is a GREAT day to start.} If you are jealous of someone because he/she has sculpted arms and legs… maybe you should stop avoiding the weight room (and find a friend who knows what they’re doing to show you the ropes).

The bottom line is that you have a lot more power than you give yourself credit for. It’s important that you don’t spend each day living for “some day” or “the perfect body” or “certain circumstances.”  

You get today.

You get right now.

You are you and I am me.

Embrace your circumstances with thankfulness

now go out and create some magic.

What are YOU waiting for?

We’re in the season of Advent… a time when Christians prepare for the coming of Christ the King. Each week we light another candle on the Advent wreath to symbolize the light that He is bringing into the world with His birth. Many of the messages we hear in church revolve around preparing our hearts and minds for what is coming. Whether or not you believe the same, I think it’s important that we live life in a way that doesn’t start each day with “I’ll start tomorrow.”

How many times have you thought, “I’ll eat healthy starting Monday” or “starting next week I will get to the gym”? Speaking from experience, there are too many “Mondays” and “next weeks” that happen every day. I think mine set me back at least an extra 100 pounds. I figured that I could make it another day or week feeling terrible about myself. I wasn’t ready to start loving myself and respecting myself by eating right and exercising… just yet.

The truth is that I was scared of what a lifestyle change might mean.

But seriously, why do we have to wait? Let this simmer for a second:

In our own minds, we’re supposed to get tomorrow, but you just never know. You are promised nothing.

There are all these ridiculously cheesy songs on the radio about living like you as though it were the end of your days. What does that mean to you? I can’t say that I’d advise you to quit your job, blow your savings, and start jumping off mountains relying solely on a piece of fabric to keep you alive; but I would like to challenge you to start doing the healthy little things that you keep putting off.

Maybe you just need to change your approach:

You want to lose weight. In my case, I had no clue what the final number was (mainly because of the denial I felt about how truly overweight I was). But let’s just say you have it in your head that you want to lose 50 pounds.

Considering that it takes 3500 calories to equal a pound, 50 is a big number. 175,000 calories, to be exact. Impossibleright? And since it’s impossible, you may as well eat that half of that chocolate cake for breakfast and also skip the gym again this week, because it’s not going anywhere. After all, there’s no way that you can possibly give up that many foods or sweat that much… right?


How about we look at it with a different mindset? Maybe you want your pants to fit better. And in order to do that, you know that it’s important to eat healthier and start exercising (or maybe exercise more). So you start small: you pass up a cookie for an apple, you add one extra serving of vegetables with your meals, you eat mindfully and stop when you’re satisfied (but not bursting at the seams), and you add just 30 extra minutes of exercise in your week.

Wow, that seems so much… easier.

So much more… do-able.

So much more… realistic.

I know that this is a hard time of year to think about starting to live a healthier life. But with no guarantees, what do you have to lose?

Think about why you want to or are doing this. It’s not about a number; it’s about quality of life. And a higher quality of life often also leads to a healthier quantity of life.

You can do this. One step at a time.

Starting right… NOW.

What little change are you going to make today?

It’s your TURN! Get ready to play Pursuit of Wellness!

Pursuit of Wellness is coming to the UND Campus for the Spring 2012 Semester. Students that play Pursuit of Wellness will have an opportunity to win a variety of prizes including a Grand Prize (TBA).

What is Pursuit of Wellness?

Pursuit of Wellness is a 7-week game designed for all UND students to learn firsthand the correlation between wellness and academic success. Students will be encouraged to participate in a variety of existing campus activities, all of which connect to at least one of the 7 Dimensions. The official game play starts on January 16th. The first task that students will need to do is complete a game entry survey.  Students can continue to play the game at their own pace by picking what days and what activities they want to participate in.

Incentives will be placed throughout the game for encouraged participation among UND students. At each activity, students will receive a Wristband of Wellness, referred to as a WOW, indicating that they fulfilled one of their 7 Dimensions (e.g. Red WOW = Physical; Yellow WOW= Intellectual; Green WOW = Environmental; Indigo WOW = Social; Purple WOW = Spiritual; Blue WOW = Occupational; Orange WOW = Emotional). There will be several chances to earn a WOW from each of the 7 Dimensions, featuring an activity from a different dimension every day, of each week. Students that complete the game entry and game completion surveys will be entered into drawings for a variety of prizes.

Students that Collect all 7 WOW’s during the 7 week game can play the Ultimate Pursuit of Wellness and be entered into the Grand Prize drawing. Winners will be announced at the Wellness Expo at the UND Student Wellness Center on March 7-8.

If you would like to add an activity to the Game Board, visit the Pursuit of Wellness webpage ( and fill out the submit your activity form.

UND Students – are you ready to play Pursuit of Wellness???

Umm… excuse me?

I feel like taking a trip down memory lane in this post.

Before I joined Weight Watchers, I fought the idea tooth and nail (what does that expression even mean?!). I figured it was a room of gossipy old women who’d go around town and tell other people that I was fat. And desperate. Not only that, but when I didn’t have a successful week, I was surethey would stare at me and spread that around, too.

Let me tell you what REALLY happened. From the moment I stepped into the first meeting, I felt  tremendous support. Every single person in that room had the same goal: a healthier lifestyle. We were a team. And no one was allowed to just sit on the bench. We held each other accountable, laughed and cried our way through struggles, and celebrated successes!

At one of the meetings, we were asked to write goals. I willingly admit that I’m hesitant to write goals down, because I tend to only say what I KNOW I can/will do. (I have a hard time letting people down.) But, it was part of the meeting, so I thought long and hard and wrote 2 things down:

  1. end up on the cover of Weight Watchers magazine and
  2. be at my “goal weight” by my high school graduation.

Although I wasn’t quite sure the first one was realistic, I needed something to strive for. After I told a few of the other members, it was no longer an “option,” it was a MUST.  While I’ll fast forward through several of the struggles/triumphs of the weight loss journey today for the sake of my time and yours, I promise I’ll share more down the road. (I know you’re excited about that!!) So, we’ll pick up at the last Monday meeting before my high school graduation ceremony.

I worked  hard to reach my goal weight. Really hard. And when I showed up to weigh in that night, I was confident that my efforts would pay off. I only had to lose 0.6 pounds.

I removed every last ounce of extra clothing I could… stepped on the scale…  and… ugh. It said I had lost 0.4. I.was.DEVASTED. I tried shifting my weight and completely eliminating the air from my body but the scale didn’t move.

Everyone in the room knew how much that night meant to me, and they could read the disappointment on my face. One of the women said honestly and frankly: “Go in the bathroom and get naked! We won’t look!” She wasn’t kidding. After she repeated herself, a few others chimed in with the same suggestion. They were so behind me that they were willing to let me get naked to help me reach my goals.


Found at:


I didn’t get naked. That’s NOT my style. I did change into shorts and a tank top, and reached my goal that night. (By the way, that’s against the rules in WW. Once you weigh in, that’s it. I know this because I also worked for them. So if you’re in the program, you won’t be this fortunate.)

Anyway, when you find the right people to surround yourself with, it’s amazing to realize what you can do accomplish. A good support system can mean the difference between pushing yourself out of that “safe bubble” and into bigger and better things.

It can also make a boring and monotonous workout routine fun and exciting again. I find myself in a “rut” a few times a year that makes working out seem boring, unattractive, and nearly impossible. That’s usually my cue to start looking for workout buddies.

Do you have one? Do you know where you can find one?

If you answer no to both of those questions, ask me. I’ll try to help you out.

 “Gym time” is meant to be fun, energizing, and positive; not feared and dreaded. Make it happen!

Kicking Things Off!

I want to start with a story, my favorite thing to share (next to a good laugh and a hug). This story begins over 26 years ago, but for the sake of today we’ll fast forward to just over 10 years ago. A change was made that would require great discipline, better choices, a lot of willpower, courage, hard work, and commitment. This story is about me, and the change was a decision to lose weight.

At 16 years old, I weighed over 300 pounds. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see a person who was unhealthy. I saw someone who was misunderstood. My sophomore year of high school I was emcee for the junior/senior prom. I was finally at “dating age” in the our house, and something inside of me decided that if I was going to ever with the heart of Leonardo DiCaprio (or some other suitable hunk), I was going to have to be able to go shopping for clothes in stores meant for my age, rather than my mom or grandma’s.

That summer kickstarted it all. I lost 20 pounds in about 3 months following the simple principals of eating better and moving more. I felt like a new person when school started. A few people noticed, and that meant the world to me. I successfully maintained the weight loss for several months throughout the school year, but a series of not-the-best choices to “reward” my efforts with food led to a backslide in my weight loss. From there I joined Weight Watchers and decided that it was time to follow through with some healthy lifestyle goals.

I recently moved back to Grand Forks and look forward to continue making connections with the community, including UND. While  in college I loved the Wellness Center. It was a vital part of my well-being, so I’m excited to have the opportunity to really experience all that it has to offer.

This blog is meant to be real. It’s meant to be honest. I plan to avoid the “sugar coat” mentality, as that is not typically my style. My hope is that whomever is reading this will take away from it what they need and leave the rest. I thank you for joining me on this journey. So as I get restarted, I’m wondering what YOU’RE favorite part of the Wellness Center is? 


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