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Fun, Fitness, Fiscal… So Many GREAT Reasons to Bike!

Photo taken on a biking excursion through Acadia National Park, Maine

By Karin Junge

For many years, as a corporate wellness coordinator/fitness center manager, I promoted Bike to Work Day. This usually occurred on a day in mid-May when weather is typically unpredictable (cold & rainy just about every year!). It was a hard sell and a lot to ask people to do: Ditch your 4 wheel ride that provides speed and protection from the elements for a 2 wheel ride that connects you with nature, allows for shortcuts, gives your heart/lungs/muscles a workout, eliminates the stress of sitting in traffic…. Or wait… was it a lot to ask & a hard sell????

Running: What’s Your Mental Game?

By Dawn Boyle, Executive VP

I recently ran a ½ marathon with my family. Age, love of running and training differences between the 4 of us was drastically different. We didn’t sign up for this race to win or compete. It was just something we decided to do together. The fact that it was on the naval base where my son lives was a big part of that decision.

A week after the race, my daughter sent me an article on the 75 things that go through a runners mind while running. By the way, she does not enjoy running! A few of these items included:
• What a beautiful day for a run!
• This stinks.
• Well, five miles is only two and half miles each way, which is basically two miles each way, so I’m really only running four miles. That’s not too far.
• It’s starting to feel far.
• How long have I been running? A year?
• SIX MINUTES?!
• I can barely remember what my life was like before I started this run.
• OK, concentrate. There are still four-plus miles to go.
• But who counts the first and last mile? This is pretty much an easy three miler.
• Man, I think I’m hitting that “second wind” thing my gym coach was talking about.
• Wait, never mind. I’ve been running down a decline.
And so on…

Running is as much mental as it is physical. You need to build strength and endurance in both. For the physical, start small, start slow, and have a plan to build your running skills. I’ve followed a half marathon and 5K/10K training program to build my endurance and to be ready for my races. For the mental, here are some strategies that can help you push through when you’re getting tired or frustrated:
• Listen to music that pumps you up
• Run with a buddy who can distract you, encourage you, and push you
• Focus on your breathing, for example: inhaling for a 4 steps and exhaling for 6 steps
• Use positive self talk to encourage yourself
• Visualize yourself running your race and pushing through the rough patches
• Enjoy the scenery, maybe take a different path than usual

Whatever your reason, running can be a lifelong activity. Always remember to have the correct gear (shoes, clothing for weather), stretch and run safe! And now it’s spring….. So go out, find a new path, and enjoy your run, whatever the distance!

 

Reflections from the Art and Science of Health Promotion Conference

By Carolyn Peterson, Worksite Services Manager

After spending the best part of a week at the Art and Science of Health Promotion conference last month, I was amazed at the energy and almost sense of urgency from the presenters regarding the job at hand for health promotion – especially from the first and last keynote speakers.

The first presenter, Victor J. Strecher, PhD, MPH from the University of Michigan connected health behaviors with ‘life on purpose’. Through a personal journey of his own, he encouraged us all to look beyond the traditional health metrics and help people look at their personal purpose in life. He stated that the definition of health is when your purpose in life and how you live your life are in alignment. His work focuses on breaking down individuals’ defenses so they want to make meaningful change. He gave us the SPACE acronym, which he concluded to be predictors of vitality for healthy living:

  • Sleep
  • Presence – (Mindfulness)
  • Activity
  • Creativity – express emotions
  • Eating Well

The final keynote, David Hunnicut, PhD, from WELCOA, started his presentation with a slide with the words, ‘People value their health most when they lose it. This is when eyes are opened’. The title of his presentation, ‘The Power of One’, was a call for action to all wellness practitioners as we are at a crossroads in this country and we can make a difference. He showed the following inspirational video encouraging all of us to never give up.

His message was clear - we are on the brink of incredible need to help companies, communities, schools and individuals ‘get their health back’. We need to be focused and ready to meet the need.
 

Worksite Farmers Markets: Fresh food at your fingertips!

By: Kelly Berte and Kara Thorson, Cargill Fitness Center Staff

With the growing understanding of how important fruits and vegetables are to good health, it is vital for everyone to have access to fresh produce. Produce gardens are gaining popularity, but many of us lack the time, skills or the space to create our own. We all know that a weekly trip to the grocery store to pick up fresh produce is important, but with our busy schedules it can be hard to make it a priority. Onsite Farmer’s Markets are a great solution. Farmer’s Markets move employees away from their desks while supporting local farmers and allowing easy access to a wide variety of fresh foods.

Interested in starting a Farmer’s Market at your corporation?

  • Speak to the wellness committee at your company
  • Inquire about space and get permission from the right people
  • Reach out to a wellness professional – no need to re-create the wheel

Already have a market at your location? Make the most of it!

  • Feature a local vendor every week in your communication to employees
  • Start a recipe sharing group
  • Make display materials fun and easy to read with lots of pictures

At one of our corporate fitness center locations, the Farmer’s Markets have been held annually from July through September. It’s fun to hear the buzz among employees the day of the markets and to see the men smiling as they buy flowers to take home to their wives. As an added bonus since the market is held outside, it provides a nice fresh air break during the work day.

Share your Farmer’s Market stories with us on Facebook!

4 Practical Tips for Mindful Eating

 By: Ranae Lantry, Senior Fitness Specialist

Have you ever eaten a whole meal without tasting a bite? When we eat without awareness, we don’t taste our food and our mind doesn’t register it. When this happens, the body does not send out the signal we are full, and we are left unsatisfied. Many things pull us away from being present with our meals. We are a nation of multitasking. We eat our breakfast in our cars, our lunches over emails and our dinners with the TV on and phones in hand. And, we don’t enjoy our food. This mindLESS eating has become the norm and it is negatively impacting our health. Luckily, mindFUL eating is not complicated and it can have a profound effect on what we eat and how much we eat. You may be surprised that when you practice mindful eating you are satisfied with a lot less. So the next time you take a bite, pause and follow these four simple tips:

  1. Just Eat: Set aside all electronics and external stimuli.
  2. Check In: Ask yourself what is your emotional status and why are you eating.
  3. Slow down: Chew your food slowly. Eat one bite at a time, swallowing completely before the next bite.
  4. Pay Attention: Smell your food. As you eat, notice the texture and try to identify the flavors in your food.
     

St. Patrick’s Day & Friends

By Ed Boyle, CEO

A big dose of friendship is good for your health and St. Patrick’s Day is a great time to get together. On March 17th it seems like everyone, even complete strangers, become your friends and the spirit of the day brings out the best in people.

We celebrate this day by wearing green, pinning on a shamrock, attending the local parade and, for many, coming together to celebrate. The festivities are often conducted in your favorite pub just a bar every other day of the year! For many it is an event that includes a few “pints” and perhaps the obligatory Irish whiskey. It is a day to be happy and carefree. Why isn’t every day like St. Patrick’s Day?

Did you know the 4 pedals of the shamrock, often referred to as a 4-leaf clover, represent Faith, Hope, Love and Luck. Something to reflect upon!

Let this St. Patrick’s Day bring you together with friends and take the opportunity to reflect upon the faith, hope, love and luck in your life.

“A best friend is like a four leaf clover
hard to find, lucky to have”
- Unknown

“May your blessings out-number The Shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble evade you Wherever you go”
- Unknown

The Nutrition Label is Getting a Facelift

By: Hilary Voss, Worksite Wellness Intern

Twenty years ago, the nutritional label was introduced and whether you have ever looked at it or not, get ready because it is changing! For those that do utilize the label, you may find it difficult to base your mealtime decisions off of limited and hard to understand information. You may also have found yourself duped when consuming a ~100 calorie “single serving” product, such as a soda or bag of chips from a vending machine, but then, after taking a closer look, discover that the products was actually 2.5 servings! In response, the White House and FDA have proposed changes to the nutrition label that we, at HealthSource Solutions, are excited to see!

  • Bolder Calories: A greater emphasis on calories will hopefully catch people’s attention because this number is important in maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Added Sugars: For the first time, added sugars would be listed as part of each serving size. Over the years, food manufacturers have been adding unnatural sugar that is going unnoticed by the consumer. Hopefully this change will revamp the way companies process their product → less sugar!
  • New %DV Placement: Currently the Percent Daily Value is located on the right side of the label. The new proposal puts it on the left side, so it is the first thing you read. This percentage reflects the amount of each nutrient in comparison to the total diet which may place a better focus on the nutritional value you are getting from your food choices.
  • Realistic Serving Sizes: The FDA proposes that manufacturers put serving sizes on the package that reflect how people really eat. This would shift the focus to less of a recommended serving size and more to the reality of how much we consume. This may cause you to think twice before eating an entire candy bar.

It could take months or even years before we see any of the changes the FDA is proposing, but whatever the final changes are, we hope that the label becomes easier to understand so consumers can make informed decisions and smarter choices regarding the foods they consume. With the continually expanding waistlines of Americans, a nutrition label facelift may be a step in the right direction for fighting obesity as well as chronic disease.

4 Kitchen Gadgets that Support Healthy Eating

By: Karin Junge, Sales Associate

When it comes to eating healthy, preparation is key. A good kitchen gadget can help you prepare healthy foods easier and faster, preserve healthy foods so they last longer or make healthy foods taste better. Here are my top 4 kitchen gadgets with ratings (E=easy, F=fast, P=preserve, T=taste):

4) Avocado Saver (P): This cool gadget allows you to save half of an avocado with the pit so it doesn’t turn brown and mushy!

3) Mango Cutter (E & F): Similar to an apple corer, the mango cutter cuts right around the pit so you don’t waste any of the meat of the mango.

2) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Keeper (P): This container has holes like a colander and a removable top and bottom. You can add moister in the tray below or drain away moisture so that fruits and veggies don’t get soggy. It also has a venting system so you know which fruits and veggies need air or not. I have several in various sizes. I like to use them for lettuce, watermelon, berries, tomatoes and pineapple.

1) Blender (E, F & T): Not to promote a particular brand, but the Vitamix is pretty amazing. In seconds I can make smooth vegetable and fruit beverages, soups, sorbet and dips. It has helped me eat healthier and I use it almost every day. I love a good morning smoothie; my favorite includes: avocado, spinach, water, clementine, frozen pineapple and mango, and chia seeds. For dessert I like to make orange/mango sorbet. It’s so delicious (my son asks for it every night)!

Quitting Smoking: Reap the Benefits in Just 20 Minutes!

By: Carolyn Peterson, Worksite Services Manager

I grew up in the era when tobacco education was all about scaring people into quitting smoking or better yet, never starting. There were the jars of tar-like substance that represented what was ‘sticking’ in your lungs, the horrible pictures of a smokers’ lung and the endless statistics of people who die from tobacco related diseases. For some people this may have made a difference, but for others, it was ignored.

It seemed there should be a better way to encourage the smoker to stop or at least consider the benefits of not smoking. As a grantee from ClearWay Minnesota to bring tobacco cessation classes to the worksite, I had the opportunity to work closely with an amazing network of tobacco cessation counselors across the state. For the first time I saw this positive approach. I had not seen this information before and wanted all smokers to see it – look at what happens in just a month of not smoking!

CHANGES YOUR BODY GOES THROUGH WHEN YOU QUIT SMOKING

Within 20 minutes after smoking last cigarette:

  • Blood pressure drops to normal
  • Pulse rate drops to normal rate
  • Body temperature of hands and feet increases to normal

After 8 hours:

  • Carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal
  • Oxygen level in blood increases to normal

After 24 hours:

  • Chance of heart attack decreases

After 48 hours:

  • Nerve endings in the mouth and nose start to re-grow
  • Ability to taste and smell improves

After 72 hours:

  • Bronchial tubes relax, making breathing easier
  • Lung capacity increases
  • After two weeks to three months:
  • Circulation improves
  • Walking becomes easier
  • Lung function increases up to 30%

After one to nine months:

  • Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease
  • Cilia re-grow in lungs, increasing ability to handle mucus, cleaning the lungs, and reducing infection
  • Body’s overall energy level increases

This February, a.k.a. Heart Health Month, think of the benefit to your heart in just after 24 hours of being smoke-free. Let’s share this with anyone ready to reap the benefits.

This information was adapted from materials provided by the National Cancer Institute.

Small Choices Make an Impact on Health

By: Mary Kruse, President

I often have to remind myself that my daily decisions have a real impact on my health.

I lost my dad to heart disease when I was 25. He had his first heart attack when he was 38…really??? He was in his prime! It was not surprising as my Grandpa died of a heart attack when my dad was 12. Wow, talk about family history!

Although my lifestyle has been very different than my Dad's, there will always be the thread that attaches me to the risk of heart disease. Heart month is a great reminder that my everyday choices do make a difference.

  • I have a stand-up desk that I’m using as I write
  • I have the smell of orange on my fingers from my morning snack
  • The lunch I packed is based on veggies and fruit
  • I will walk with my colleagues after lunch for a 15 minute spin around the parking lot
  • I will work out for 30 minutes when I get home…the elliptical is the most rigorous, but I have come to realize that 30 minutes of Dance, Dance Revolution with my daughter or walking the dogs thru the woods does far more to ground me in fun and relaxation that I cherish.

I am far from perfect—I love to munch on chocolate, like to snuggle with my couch, have to motivate myself to move, and enjoy a delectable restaurant meal.

My strong family history of heart disease is nothing I can change, but I know that the little decisions I make every day allow me to be happy and most importantly healthy.

Don’t wait until a disease engulfs you. Enjoy each day by focusing on the little things that make a difference.