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Food Journals - More Than Just an App

By Kelly Berte, Wellness Center Manager

Tracking – it’s all the buzz for the health world right now.  Track your steps, track your calories, track your workouts.  So what is the point of all this tracking? While there is great scientific support to show that writing something down helps shift behavior change, you’ve got to know how to use it for you to make it more meaningful than just a motion you go through.

Food journaling is one of the most popular tacking methods. There is no one perfect food journal out there.  Each individual has different preferences, different triggers and different technology. Options are a good thing!  So, survey what’s available and pick one.  You can create your own in an excel spreadsheet, find other existing templates online, or as I’m sure most of you know, there are tons of apps and online trackers.  

At a bare minimum, the best recommended information to track includes a general overview of what you consumed (both food and beverage), the time of day, what triggered you to eat, and how hungry you were.  You’ll notice calorie intake, measurements, etc. were not included.  Feel free to include these if you want.  Remember, there is no right or wrong!

When using a food journal and tracking these things, lots of questions might arise. That’s the point!  Review your journal and think about the following to help you discover more about your eating habits:

Your Triggers:  Are you eating…

  • Because you are hungry?
  • Because the clock says it’s time to eat?
  • In response to emotions?
  • Because you feel other people expect you to? (Happy hour, work pot luck, etc.)
  • Because you are bored?
  • Because you saw or smelled things that are appealing (commercials, candy dishes, coffee shop, driving by your favorite restaurant)?
  • Even though you are actually thirsty?Because it’s just part of your routine?

The routine is one of the hardest hurdles to climb, but using the food journal can help you realize if your eating habits are helping you or hurting you. It will get you to think about why you are consuming rather than just going through the motions.  For example, are you one of those that gets home, immediately goes to the fridge, looks in it, then goes to the pantry, and looks in it? Not really because you are hungry, but just to looking to see if something strikes you? Think about other routines that might trigger mindless eating, such as sitting down to watch your favorite show, grazing while cooking, etc.

The BIGGEST tool you can use in conjunction with a food journal is YOU. How?  By taking the time to really learn your triggers, as exemplified by your food journal, and making adjustments!

Do You Eat to Live, or Live to Eat?

By Ashley Schumacher, Program and Development Coordinator

Take a moment to reflect on food. Do you relish the thought of creating your next culinary masterpiece, or do you find yourself dragging your feet on the way to the grocery store? For many of us, preparing meals can be an unsavory affair due to the time, expense and inevitable mountain of dirty dishes to clean. Cue meal replacement shakes: fast, easy, no prep/clean-up and supposedly “healthy.”Have you ever tried replacing a meal or even two with one of these shakes? It is hard for me to believe that this would benefit anyone physically, mentally or socially.

At its most basic level, food gives us energy to live, but it also provides us with so much more. Everyone eats in certain ways and at certain times because of cultural, religious, social, economic or environmental influences. Sharing food at celebrations or holidays is a wonderful chance to bring families, friends and communities together. I enjoy preparing meals that satisfy my nutritional needs as well as my taste buds. Eating a balanced diet may seem difficult at times, but I take pride in making daily, health-conscious choices (and occasionally treating myself with ice cream). While meal replacement shakes continue to have a presence in the market, I wouldn’t want to give up the pleasure I get from a nutritious meal or the social aspect that mealtimes provide. What would you lose if you gave up eating ‘real food’?

Remember, no single food substance contains all the nutrients needed for good health. HealthSource Solutions supports the Dietary Guidelines for Americans which recommends enjoying a wide variety of foods in a healthy balance to support long-term health. Eat moderate amounts from all food groups, not large amounts of a few foods. That way, you will be getting all the nutrients your body needs as well as the satisfaction your mind craves. 

HealthSource Solutions Exceeds QuitPlan at Work Goal!

By Carolyn Peterson, Worksite Services Manager

What does it feel like to be part of a project that has helped over 5,000 Minnesotans make a successful quit attempt? Having a sister who has battled tobacco for over 40 years and has serious health issues related to tobacco, it feels great!  

I have had the privilege of managing QuitPlan at Work, a tobacco cessation grant funded by ClearWay Minnesota for the past ten years. We provided onsite group counseling to Minnesota worksites that had at least eight employees interested in quitting tobacco. The goal of the program was to provide service to at least 50 worksites each year and include various industry sectors and reach all regions of the state.

The goals of the program seemed daunting as we began in 2003, but as we started, great things fell into place. Here is what I attribute the success of the program to:

  • FREE face-to-face group counseling for employees & spouses 
  • High-quality counselors throughout the state of Minnesota
  • Professional tobacco cessation training for the counselors through Mayo Clinic Tobacco Treatment Specialist program
  • Great connection to the business community through HealthSource Solutions
  • Robust program evaluation data showing 1 in 4 was still quit 7 months post-program
  • Relentlessly getting the word out through statewide conferences, networking and social media

Most importantly, this program was about people helping people with a very difficult task – quitting tobacco for good. It causes both health and financial hazards. I couldn’t be more proud of the outcomes of this program over the past ten years. June 2013 is the last month of the grant and we hit 505 companies served – we exceeded our goal!

We are currently working on developing the next generation of this important initiative – Kick it Together. More details to come in August!

QUITPLAN at Work counselors from around the state of Minnesota pose during their final annual meeting

Work Smarter, Not Harder

By Crystal Miller, Fitness Center Services Manager

As a student in college, I had the opportunity to conduct exercise metabolic assessments on students and faculty, but never did one myself. HealthSource Solutions has been offering this service for many years and once I started administering them a few years ago, I was fortunate enough to go through one myself.  I found it to be a huge benefit in reaching my goals! Being in the fitness industry, I feel confident instructing clients on a proper workout plan, allowing for a variety of exercises and intensity levels. However, after going through the assessment, I realized I needed to start practicing what I preach. As much as I was doing outside of my classes at work, I soon realized it’s not the intensity at which I exercise; it’s how efficient I can be doing it. Not only was I doing too much above and beyond my exercise at work, I was working out at a very high intensity each time…burning more carbohydrates for fuel, rather than fats.

The exercise metabolic assessment provides insight into your personal metabolism, giving you detailed information about caloric needs and how you burn fat. It helps fine tune your training program to meet your goals, whether it's weight loss, fitness or athletic performance. It’s unique to you and helps you be successful in your personal exercise planning.

With only 8-12 minutes on the treadmill wearing a heart rate monitor and mask, you will receive your detailed metabolic profile. Afterwards, you and a fitness professional will determine how long and how intensely you should exercise to improve your Vo2 and overall fitness level, resulting in a more efficient workout.

Regardless of your fitness level or age, I am certain you will see the benefit. I did! It’s a small investment and well worth it. 


Summer Wellness Bucket List

Summer Wellness Bucket List
By Annie Ketcher

Today I did something that truly lifted my spirits and put a smile on my face. I went for a walk outdoors! It is amazing how much you appreciate a sunny and warm spring day after such a long, cold winter. And as I was walking, I was thinking that I need to take advantage of every opportunity I have to get outdoors this spring and summer. So I thought I would create a summer wellness bucket list to help ensure that I make the most of a beautiful Minnesota summer. You may notice based on my list that wellness is more than just eating healthy or exercising. It’s also about relaxing and spending time with friends and family! Here it goes:

  • Run a 5k race
  • Head to a baseball game and cheer on the Twins!
  • Go tubing down the Namekagon River
  • Take a nap in my hammock
  • Attend an outdoor concert
  • Go on a weekend motorcycle trip
  • Swim in a lake
  • Have happy hour with my co-workers
  • Take a boat ride
  • Attend a festival of some kind (music, art, etc)
  • Spend a day garage sale-ing
  • Go to the zoo
  • Play Frisbee
  • Go golfing
  • Grill a completely vegetarian meal
  • Walk or run the 6 miles around Lake Rebecca
  • Lay on the beach and read a book
  • Plant a vegetable garden
  • Sit around a bonfire
  • Visit a Farmers’ Market
  • Play beach volleyball
  • Do yoga outside
  • Go geocaching
  • Have a picnic in the park
  • Make real fruit popsicles
  • Go wine tasting
  • Have a water balloon fight
  • Pick berries

This is going to be a busy summer! I better get started right away. Item #1 to check off my list: Run a 5k race. Thank you Get in Gear!

Left to right: Ed, CEO; Annie, Program Coodinator; Katie, Senior Fitness Specialist.

Pay Attention to Your Health

Whoa! How did that happen?

The Importance of Paying Attention to Our Health

By Karin Junge, Sales Associate

I recently returned from The American Journal of Health Promotion conference. I was exhibiting to promote HealthSource Solutions, but was fortunate enough to attend several wonderful sessions. Although I picked my sessions randomly, I was able to piece together a theme from these sessions that could be helpful at work and in my personal life. I attended several sessions around mindfulness and around the brain and our health. The theme that emerged was the importance of paying attention to our bodies and mind to create and sustain healthy behaviors. I gathered great information and some techniques. Here are my top 10:

Negative impact on health:

1. The information overload that we receive through our addiction to technology is negatively impacting our health. We are more stressed, depressed, sleep deprived, and have less brain function than ever before. We think we can multitask, but we actually are less productive due to all the distractions from technology.

2. Too many choices and too much information = contradictory     information, brain freeze and less ability to make good decisions.

Changing behavior:

3. Our unconscious mind governs 90% of our behavior. We need to tap into this through being mindful/paying attention to create and sustain behavior change.

4. To change a behavior you need to bring in a new behavior to replace it with and practice that behavior. Since unhealthy behaviors are a habit that we do when we are not paying attention, we need to practice, over train, memorize the healthy behavior so it becomes habit.

5. To sustain behavior change you also need immediate feedback along the way. Pay attention to your energy, mood, emotions, anxiety, etc. After exercising (or being sedentary), eating healthy (or unhealthy), meditating/relaxing (or spending hours in front of a screen), ask yourself “how do I feel?” Your body will give you feedback and help support healthy behaviors if you pay attention.

So you may be saying great Karin, but how do I pay attention?  Below are some helpful techniques.

How to pay attention:

6. Daily Check-ins: Check-in throughout the day. Pause while working. See if your body needs anything (a break for water, movement, deep breaths, to stretch, etc).

7. Mindful Eating: While you eat, pay attention to the taste and your fullness. You may notice that your fruits and vegetables actually taste good and that some of the other unhealthy things you consume don’t!

8. Reduce Screen Time: Turn off technology when eating, relaxing, spending time with others, and 30 or more minutes before you go to bed.

9. Body Scanning: Close your eyes and start deep breathing as you scan from your feet to the top of your head (or head to toes). Notice muscle tension, hunger, anxiety, etc.

10. Self Coaching: This is more complicated, but is basically asking your sub personalities (self leader, creative self, autonomous self, rational self, confident self, curious self, critical self, calm self, and spiritual self) how they are doing and what they need. This could be related to your current state or to a life situation/problem. It helps to close your eyes and spend 30-60 seconds with each personality, then write down what came up.

Can’t remember to pay attention? Set a timer!

Use technology to your benefit. Set your phone alarm/calendar reminder/microwave timer to remind you to check in/take a break. Set this reminder at work & home. This can be to check in with your body and mind, or to remind you to get away from technology and do a healthy behavior like move your body, connect with a friend or family member, grab a healthy snack or take a deep breath.

Balance and Business

By Ed Boyle, CEO

Balance is a worldly concept – the term is used frequently.  At HealthSource Solutions we incorporate balance into all our employee wellness programs.  Our Work Life Balance campaigns continue to be very popular. 

As it relates to our business, I will illustrate balance using a 3 legged stool analogy where each leg of the stool represents a different, yet vital, business component.  The legs are:

  • People
  • Operations/Execution
  • Financial Results

We all know what happens if one of the legs break or is shorter than another – the stool falls over or wobbles until the thing collapses!  The same thing happens when decisions are not made in a balanced manner.

The seat of our 3 legged stool represents HealthSource Solutions.  For HealthSource to compete, remain relevant and endure, each leg of the stool needs to considered and hold its weight – each leg needs to be part of the decision process – decisions need to be balanced.  Organizations out of balance will sustain themselves for a while but eventually break. Organizations focused singularly on profitability will eventually burn its people out or fail to execute.  Those that go overboard on people will eventually price themselves out of the market or face non-sustainable margins.  And so on….

I am proud that over the last few months I have felt a greater sense of balance in our decision process.  We are having more and more ‘robust’ conversations about the business and I feel we are seeking a better sense of balance in the decisions we are making and their effects on our people, operations and financial results.

I’ve had a few conversations recently that really lead me to this topic – it was refreshing and rewarding to have a business discussion where the conversation covered all of the 3 legs.  What was even more refreshing is that although we did not necessarily agree on each point, we were including all the legs in the dialogue.

We are almost 4 years as HealthSource Solutions – we continue to grow!

If Only We Could Spot Reduce

 By Anna Langston, Fitness Specialist

When I meet with members for a consultation, we go through a fitness assessment, body measurements and goals. And then comes the inevitable:  “Anna, I want this ______ to be smaller.” Or, “I’ve been doing crunches and this bulge won’t go away.”  This translates into, “I want to lose fat from this specific area of my body.”  The truth can be very frustrating, but we cannot spot reduce our body parts.

It is no great shock my members and clients believe this.  Every news stand in the country touts an advertisement for “reducing arm jiggle with these 3 simple moves” or “5 moves, 6 weeks, and good bye muffin top”.  The advertised exercises may be great for strengthening those areas.  But, if your goals are weight loss and fat loss, you will need more than 3 simple moves focused on one small region of your body.

Whenever someone expresses their desire for smaller thighs or love handles, I remind them of several things.  1.) It has been said, but we can’t spot reduce.  2.) In order to lose weight and body fat, we must reduce our caloric intake and increase our caloric expenditure (eating less and exercising more).  3.)  A well-balanced exercise plan includes cardiovascular conditioning, a whole body strength training program, and flexibility exercises.  4.) If we focus on one area or one group of muscles, we can create muscular imbalances which can lead to injury. 5.) And last, but not least, our genetic makeup is responsible for where we gain and lose weight first and last.

Number 5 on my list of reminders is explained very well by Richard Weil, MEd.  He elaborates on the biology of how fat is stored and burned and how we all have variations in the number of fat cells throughout the body.  Therefore, we cannot control where fat is lost in the thighs, abdominals, or any other body part for that matter.

As I type this, a couple of choice body parts come to mind.  I would much rather eat chocolate and point my magic wand at my inner thighs.  But, like all things, hard work and balance are required to see the results we crave.  More often than not, we look at healthy eating and exercise as an all or nothing approach.  Ask yourself what small step you can take today to improve you.  One healthy decision at a time and you may just lose that arm jiggle after all!

Learning ZoneXpress: Partners in Nutrition Education

Learning ZoneXpress (LZX) is a nutrition education company that designs, creates, and delivers educational resources for adults and children. Like HealthSource Solutions, they are a leader in customer service and are known for high quality products and services. With a common goal to encourage individuals to make positive lifestyle changes, LZX offers the following products to promote health and wellness in workplaces, schools, clinics, and more.

Posters – Eye-catching posters communicate nutrition messages and are great visuals for common areas reminding staff members to make healthy choices. LZX customers find posters to be most effective in spaces where employees tend to gather.  Examples include stairwells, hallways, break areas, and bathroom doors.

Customer Favorites: USDA MyPlate, Energy In, Energy Out, and Portion Distortion

Handouts & Tri-fold Brochures – Handouts are a simple way to encourage healthy habits outside of the workplace. Send employees home with nutrition information to share with their families.

Customer Favorites: Read Food Labels, 1 Great Plate®, and Eating Well with MyPlate

PowerPoint Presentations – These presentations written by registered dietitians make for the perfect introduction to an employee wellness program. Learning ZoneXpress offers a wide range of PowerPoints that can be edited. Topics include sugary beverages, USDA MyPlate Dietary Guidelines, and more.

Customer Favorites: Obesity in a Bottle, MyPlate Dietary Guidelines, The Case for Breakfast

Learning ZoneXpress health and wellness products offer consistent reminders and visual cues to help both children and adults make healthy choices. They would make a great addition to any employee wellness program. As an introductory offer to HealthSource customers, LZX is offering free tri-fold samples to those that fill out this form.  To learn more about Learning ZoneXpress products, visit

Making Resolutions Stick

By: Kelly Berte, Program Manager

Resolutions. Making changes. It’s hard.  It’s daunting to think about.  Even the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and by a time) way is sometimes more than you want to think about.  Let’s review some of the keys to successful goal setting. First thing's first: figure out something you want to change, not just something you know you should change.  THIS IS THE MOST IMPORANT PART.  You’ve got to really want it.

  • Prioritize by your own feelings.  If there is something you might find easiest to change first, do that.  Any change toward the healthier is better than none at all.
  •  If you start with things you find easy to change, that puts a positive energy/attitude toward it because of success – thus making it more likely that you’ll attempt another small change for your health because you feel confident that you can!
  • It helps to make sure the thing you’re changing can easily be identified (like checking something off a list) so you know if you’ve taken the steps toward achieving it.  You shouldn’t have to guess.
  • Finally, make sure you put a “check-in” with yourself on the calendar.  For example: if you start going to the gym regularly this week, right away, put a reminder on the calendar for a check-in.  Usually 8 weeks from now is a good first time. 

When that time comes, re-assess: 1) Are you still going to the gym?  2) What are you getting out of what you’re doing now?  If you stopped going to the gym – what are you getting out of the time you are not spending at the gym?  If you are still going to the gym, what are you getting out of that?  Basically ask yourself the question, “What am I doing that makes me happy?”  The answer to that question is the basis for why you either will ultimately stick to or not stick to your resolution.

It’s important not to judge yourself for what you do. Judging yourself can create a negative self image. Instead, perhaps ask yourself why you set the goal in the first place. This will remind you of what you’ll gain by accomplishing it. Positivity is important, it’s the motivator.

Remember, habits are hard to change – so if you’re not keeping up with a habit change, it’s likely that you weren’t getting enough out of it. You aren’t doomed to be who you are right now forever. Life changes. You change. TRY AGAIN.

You’ve got options. Try either the same thing, or something new.  Then ask yourself, why am I doing this?  If it’s a priority, you’ll know why right away, you’ll be positive about it and it’s more likely that you’ll keep it up.

Change is uncomfortable – otherwise we’d do it more often. But, if you are really ready to see a change, you’ll be willing to put in some effort for it.  It’ll be your idea. It’ll be your will, and for that, there is always a way.