DiscoverERS Walk & Talk Podcast
ERS Walk & Talk Podcast
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ERS Walk & Talk Podcast

Author: Lacy Wolff

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Join us on a 20-30 minute walk while we talk about health, wellness, and life in general. From the Employees Retirement System of Texas, podcast host Lacy Wolff walks and talks with her mentors, friends, experts and leaders about health and wellness.
15 Episodes
Lacy walks and talks at sunrise with Todd Whitthorne, the aptly titled Chief Inspiration Officer for Wondr Health, as he walks round Andy Brown Park East in Coppell, Texas. In our world of distractions and an ongoing pandemic, many of us feel kinda “meh”…. as if we are languishing. Todd shares his antidote: strategies for flourishing, living life with intention, taking our attention back and prioritizing our passions. What does he consider an essential element for a perfect day? Who inspires a Chief Inspiration Officer? Find out in this episode.Here is the direct link to the HealthSelect Wondr Health page where you can learn more about this life changing program and apply to participate. Todd will also be our Keynote Speaker for an upcoming Virtual Wellness Fair on October 18th! Register to hear him live through the ERS Wellness Events Calendar. If you are listening to this after the event has passed you can find the recorded version in the ERS Wellness Events Channel. 
Steven White: Building Culture to Support Brain HealthLacy walks and talks with “recovering multi-tasker” Steven White, Chief Operating Officer of the Center for Brain Health, University of Texas at Dallas, as he walks around the Dallas campus. In our 08/20/2021 podcast, Dr. Sandra Bond-Chapman explained the impact of chronic multi-tasking on our brain health and productivity. What does a work environment look like when it supports our brain health, productivity, creativity and happiness? In this episode, her colleague Steven White shares practices that support your own brain health and a “brain-healthy” workplace culture. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and learn more at our webinar with Steven White on September 23, 2021 at 10 a.m. CT: Enhancing Performance and Productivity in the Modern Workplace. Register at no cost on ERS’ Wellness events page or watch the recording at a later date on our wellness webinar archives.  
Lacy walks and talks with Dr. Sandra Bond-Chapman, founder of the Center for Brain Health at University of Texas at Dallas. What is brain health and can we really improve it beyond a certain age? Why is multi-tasking as bad for our brain as smoking is for our lungs? Dr. Bond-Chapman answers these questions and give proven strategies you can use to boost your cognitive efficiency by as much as 30%. Want to complete a task in almost half the time … at any age? Or learn the #1 thing you can do to improve your memory? Then tune out your distractions and tune in to this episode.Sign up for Dr. Chapman's 9/8/21 webinar through this link: or listen to the recording at a later date at this link: more about the brain health initiative mentioned in the webinar through this link:
Lacy walks and talks with her boss, Porter Wilson, Executive Director of the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS), as he hikes the hills of his northwest Austin neighborhood. Porter describes how his physical activity has had to change over the years and how he uses music as his fuel. How did a musician and Capitol Tour guide find himself as the leader of a state agency decades later? What does health and wellness even have to do with a retirement system? Find out more about this and about the big changes the legislature made to our retirement plan recently in this 30-minute episode. Porter's Spotify handle is pmwilson000 and the playlist he uses is titled "Running." If you would like more information about  your benefits please check out our website at 
Lacy walks and talks with Andrea Johnson and Christine Graham in their respective Austin-area neighborhoods. Feeling in control of our finances and working toward money goals is good for our mental health! As financial educators at the Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commission (OCCC), Christina and Andrea share the top questions they get from the public around money. From building your first budget to understanding your credit report and managing debt, Christine and Andrea have the guidance and tools to get started.You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and learn more at three webinars with Christine and Andrea in August. Topics include: Building a Budget, Credit 101, and Buying a Home.  Register at no cost on ERS’ Wellness events page. Or after the webinars, watch the recordings on ERS Webinar Archives page.As discussed in the podcast, here is the link to the OCCC Fillable Budgeting Worksheet and more info on  the Marshmallow Study!
Lacy walks & talks with Dr. Marco Palma, behavioral economist and director of the Behavior Lab at Texas A&M University. Through research, Dr. Palma and his team are discovering what motivates our behaviors, like food choices and spending. Why are we reluctant to change our behaviors, and how can we trick our brains to make better decisions? Learn how “commitment devices,” social support, and mood can influence our behaviors, and how setting small, achievable goals fuels motivation.You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and learn more at our webinar with Dr. Palma on August 12, 2021 at 10 a.m. CT: Using behavioral science to make better money decisions. Register at no cost on ERS’ Wellness events page. 
Lacy walks & talks with David Yebra, U.S. Army veteran and Director of Training and Leader Development at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Director Yebra shares how he stays motivated personally and some strategies that can help all of us to become, not just physically active, but the person you want be. What does physical activity have to do with performance and leadership? Find out from seasoned leader in his 50s who plays soccer with thirtysomethings!Director Yebra also talks about his experience participating in one of HealthSelect’s weight management programs: Wondr Health. Participants in HealthSelect health plans can learn more and enroll for no cost using this link. Also, if you would like to hear more from Director David Yebra, watch this webinar he delivered for us titled Fit to Lead. 
Lacy walks & talks with Dr. Tim Church, one of the country’s leading clinical thought leaders in exercise and obesity research. Find out how just starting to move, like taking a short stroll, has an outsized impact on your health. If you do one thing to ensure you keep up your movement practice, what should it be? Dr. Church explains why even though “more is better,” it’s not as much as you’d expect. Just getting started is key. In addition to this podcast, you can learn more from Dr. Church by registering for our 7/15/2021 webinar with him on ERS’ Wellness events page. Or after 7/15/21, watch the recording on ERS Webinar Archives page.Dr. Tim Church, M.D., M.P.H, Ph.D., is Chief Medical Officer and Chief Strategy Officer of Wondr Health. 
Lacy walks and talks with Texas State Parks Director Rodney Franklin, who oversees 88 state parks, encompassing 640,000+ acres of natural beauty. Dir. Franklin shares why more doctors are prescribing time in nature and where to find the often-overlooked natural spaces near you. With limited options during the pandemic, more people discovered state parks and new ways to experience the outdoors -- from the gulf coast beaches to the piney woods and mystical lakes of East Texas, and the second largest canyon in the U.S., right in the Texas panhandle. Find out what’s new for our state parks and how to easily book a last-minute visit, before your doctor orders it!Register for the upcoming webinar featuring Director Franklin through this link:
Lacy talks to Mike Harper, supervisor of the Fitness & Wellness Unit at the Texas Department of Public Safety, as he walks his East Austin neighborhood in between rain storms. Having lost his father to an early heart attack, Mike motivates us to engage with our own health and to make an annual wellness visit to the doctor. He shares the surprising reasons men are more reluctant than women to go to the doctor and why “knowing your numbers” matters. Mike also reveals his top two tips for anyone looking to improve their exercise and nutrition. Learn about the little known health impacts of excess weight and programs (available at no cost to HealthSelect health plan participants) that really work. 
In this 23-minute Walk & Talk, Lacy talks to Baker Harrell as he walks up hills in his Austin neighborhood. Growing up with obesity in rural Mississippi in the 1980s, Baker describes a pivotal childhood moment in a department store dressing room that not only changed his life, but also the lives of his family members. His experience ultimately led him to found an organization empowering Texans to lead healthier lives called It’s Time Texas. We learn from Baker the most important thing for turning a new healthy behavior into a long-lasting habit and why he views health as the ultimate expression of love.Learn more about your wellness benefits through the ERS Wellness Webpage: and contact us directly via email at  
In this 26-minute Walk & Talk, Lacy talks to Megan Humphrey, a mental health counselor with the Texas Department of Public Safety, while Megan walks along a trail near her Austin home. Megan de-codes loneliness as a biological hunger to connect with each other, what it means to have meaningful connections, how social media fails us in this department. She also shares her strategies for recognizing thoughts and sensations around loneliness, and surprising things we can do to create feelings of meaningful connection and boost brain health, like… bilateral stimulation (activated by walking!).Register for the May 20th webinar Fighting Back against the Loneliness Epidemic through this link: Check out past webinars through the ERS Wellness Events Channel: If you have questions or comments please email 
In this 27-minute Walk & Talk, Dr. Janet Mitchell talks to Lacy from her treadmill on a very windy day in Lubbock, Texas. A former personal physician to Laura Bush and spouse to the Texas Tech University Chancellor Ted Mitchell, Dr. Mitchell shares her passion for women’s health and how prioritizing her own health made her a better parent. Dr. Mitchell describes the dawn of both “aerobic” exercise and preventive medicine, right here in Texas in the 1970s.  Learn how she’s promoting Naturally Slim, available through HealthSelect of Texas, to support Texas Tech employees’ health and wellness, and the incredible impact of just walking a total of 30 minutes a day three days a week on your long-term health. Learn more about the wellness benefits available to you and eligible family members through the ERS Wellness webpage. 
In this 20-minute Walk & Talk, Lacy walks in her Pflugerville neighborhood while talking with one of her mentors, recently retired DPS Director Gary Albus in Lubbock, Texas. Through his trademark storytelling, Director Albus shares his simple routine for staying fit – both physically and emotionally -- in retirement and in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Learn the wisdom he found in “Rule of 168,” the secret to asking great questions, and how anyone can become a better person by tapping their inner leader, regardless of their job title. 
Welcome to the ERS Walk and Talk Podcast! 
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