Archives for October 2011

Hormones Blamed For Weight Gain. Unhealthy Weight Loss Tactics May Be Real Problem.

These Hormones Are Making Me Hungry? 

Research studies on exercise or weight loss come out every other week.  They usually provide us with very little information to use in real life and the results can confuse or discourage people that are trying to lose weight or maintain the weight they’ve lost.

Latest news is from the SMART goals weekly.  A research project was done on 50 overweight or obese individuals in Australia.  Participants were put on a ten-week diet program. Most of the participants lost somewhere around 30 pounds over the 10-week duration.  Over the next year they gained back, on average, 12 pounds.

The researchers concluded that the reason it is so hard to keep the pounds off is because of changes that occur in the hormones involved in regulating weight.  Even one year after the loss, these ‘weight controlling hormones’ had not returned to normal levels.  Conclusion: “Long-term strategies to counteract this change may be needed to prevent obesity relapse.”

The Ten Week Program Was Comprised Of: 

  • A very-low energy diet of 500-550 calories a day.
  • A diet consisting of the meal-replacement Optifast plus vegetables for eight weeks.
  • Ordinary food being re-introduced during the final two weeks.
  • May or may not have encouraged or required exercise.  I’m assuming it did not since the New England article didn’t mention it.

* Note – Researchers do not believe that the extremely low diet and rapid weight loss is the reason the hormone imbalance was still prevalent after one year.

Beyond The Hormone Imbalance

I have no reason to doubt that the scientist’s found that the hormones were still ‘unsettled’ a year after the people went off of the diet. I do question whether or not that is the real reason for the weight gain. The researchers applied strategies that encourage short-term, not long term, weight loss results.

People gain weight over the course of several years due to a lack of physical activity combined with poor eating habits.  An average American that is sitting or standing at a job throughout the day, stops by a fast food restaurant to pick up dinner on the way home from work and then spends the evening in front of the T.V. or in a bleacher watching a child participate in after-school activities is unconsciously developing some very unhealthy behaviors.

A sedentary lifestyle coupled with high calories foods contribute to an average weight gain of two to three pounds per year each year after high school. Follow that math until a person reaches the age 45.  That person has about 70 extra pounds to deal with.

It Takes Time  – Habits, good or bad, acquired over 35 years are not quickly or easily changed. Behavior change is a long-term process with successes and failures, starts and stops along the way.  I find with my coaching clients that they experience weight loss for a period of time and then get stuck at which point we have to re-evaluate how to get them un-stuck and losing again.  I remind clients on a regular basis that it is a process.  Change does not always happen quickly.  True behavior change can take years to master.

People that lose 30 pounds over ten weeks on a 550 calorie diet – even with the counseling that the dieters in this research study received – have not had a chance to master goal setting, recognize what triggers a relapse, or establish an action plan that will work for them.

That doesn’t mean that weight regain is inevitable.  Weight loss and weight management can be achieved by:

  • Understanding successful weight management requires lifestyle changes rather than several weeks of intense dieting.
  • Settingincorporating extra steps and tracking the progress made on reaching those goals.
  • Daily physical activity in moderate amounts.  Not everyone can or wants to join a gym, but intrinsic motivation and additional movement throughout the day will help people lose and keep the weight off. Recognizing that the benefits of daily exercise go way beyond weight loss is helpful too.
  • Gaining support of friends, families and co-workers so that there are not constant obstacles like donuts at work, or gift cards to Dairy Queen included in a birthday card.
  • Developing intrinsic motivation so that when a weight-loss plateau occurs or a few pounds creep back on it is not viewed as failure.

Conclusion – The Australian study shows that yes, the hormones that drive hunger may still be out of whack a year after a quick, dramatic weight loss. More important, it proves once again that quick weight-loss plans that incorporate extremely low calorie diets and meal replacements are doomed for failure with or without cooperation from the hormones.

 

The Best Running Music Play List Ever. If This Doesn’t Get You Motivated Nothing Will.

photo by Declan TM

You’ve Got The Music In You

Getting your groove on – whether it is on the dance floor, running trail or in Turbo Kick class – is all about the music.  Music that is not the right beats per minute or is the wrong genre will slow you down; maybe even bring you to a screeching halt prematurely.  The right music can keep you mentally focused and channel your energy so you can step up the pace with minimal effort.

There are tons of playlists for different types of workouts floating around out in cyberspace.  I promised a friend that I would put a playlist together to help her with our Hot Chocolate 15K training runs so it looks
like I’ll be adding one more to the enormous heap of workout music faves already in existence.  There’s no way I could create this incredible list and not share!

Why My Playlist Needs To Be In The Blogosphere Too 

Google is probably thinking the world really doesn’t need one more.  But, because we are all so vastly unique and individual in our tastes there might be someone – like me – out there in blogosphere that has looked at dozens of music playlists and hasn’t found one that utterly inspires them.   My creation might be The One that is absolutely so perfect they won’t hit the skip button even once. That would make me very happy!

This list if comprised of tunes that I think will motivate my friend to stay upbeat and positive during our 5 a.m. runs when it is dark, cold and drizzly and our mood aligns with the weather.  On Monday, after she trains with this music, she’ll look at me and say, “Wow. That seemed so much easier today!”

  1. Body Language – Jesse McCartney (good warm-up)   (3.41)
  2. Down – Jan Sean (Feat. Lil’Wayne)  (3.28)
  3. I Don’t Feel Like Dancing – Scissor Sisters  (4.36)
  4. Love Struck – V-Factory (4.08)
  5. How Far We’ve Come – Matchbox Twenty (3.30)
  6. Sweet Talkin’ Woman – ELO  (3.51)
  7. Running Down A Dream – Tom Petty (4.23)
  8. Too Much Time on My Hands – Styx (4.33)
  9. Disturbia – Rhianna (3.59)
  10. Somebody to Love – Justin Bieber (3.41)
  11. Sugar – Flo Rida (4.14)
  12. Club Can’t Handle Me – Flo Rida (3.53)
  13. Shut It Down – Pitbull (3.47)
  14. Last Friday Night – Katy Perry (3.51)
  15. Raise Your Glass – Pink (3.24)
  16. You Are The Girl – The Cars (cool down – you did it!)  (3.56)

Total Playlist = 55 minutes

I know that the play list is controversial. It’s mixes old school Electric Light Orchestra with The Cars (80’s funk) and Lil’ Wayne, but trust me, it works.  I love music – classical, jazz, classic rock and hip-hop – and I like to mix it up.

It also fits my mood today.  Tomorrow I may want to hear a completely different collection so I’ll be back at the iTunes Library working on a different set.

What’s your favorite music to work out to?  Do you think my running music line-up is totally lame?  I’ll let you know what my 5 a.m. running buddy thinks of the play list I’ve created for her next week.  I’m guessing she will love it.

 

Break Free Of The Comfort Zone To Improve Your Running Distance and Speed

Plugging Along But Not Getting Anywhere

Training for a distance run such as a 15K or half or full marathon can get discouraging if each time you go out to run it feels like it never gets any easier.  With a few simple tweaks in your running routine you can get better results.  Just a heads up though, you will have to break the glass ceiling of your comfort zone.

V02max and How It Applies to Cardiovascular Endurance

Simply put, VO2max is the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can utilize during intense or maximal exercise.  Individuals with a higher VO2max typically have a higher level of cardiovascular endurance.

The average VO2max for a couch potato is around 35 ml/kg/min. Elite endurance athletes, like Lance Armstrong are reported to be at 85 ml/kg/min.  That comparison may give you an idea of the impact that increasing your VO2max can have on your endurance and ultimately your race outcome.

Age, gender, and genetics all influence VO2max which means each of us have a limit to the absolute amount of oxygen we can consume.  Unless we are elite athletes, however, we probably have a ways to go before we have reached our full potential.

Hill training is one of the best ways to increase VO2max.

Workouts That Will Increase VO2max . . . .

. . . . and ultimately improve your running speed.

During a normal run we are typically training in a steady-state cardio zone.  During steady state cardio our heart rate may increase or decrease slightly if we encounter hills, wind or unusual terrain, but for the most part will remain in the range where we feel most comfortable and in control.

Pushing ourselves out of this zone by doing speed bursts that bring us to the point that we feel we are breathing as hard as we’re able will take our endurance to the next level, but not without some mental and physical discomfort.  The key is to start with just a couple of VO2max drills and increase them gradually as you begin to mentally adapt to experiencing overload that takes you to that out-of-breath experience.

VO2max Interval Training Workouts

There are a variety of interval workouts that you can do to get started.  30/30, 60/60, 30/60/90, and hills.  The best place to start is with a 30/30 interval with a goal to work your way up to 60/60 and then the 30/60/90 and hills.

The 30/30 workout consists of:

  • Jog for 10 minutes at your normal warm-up pace.
  • Jog hard for 30 second.  This pace should be the fastest you can sustain for about five minutes in a race
  • Slow to an easy jog for 30 second
  • Repeat for the 30 second hard, 30 second easy intervals at least 12 times.
  • Once you’re tolerating 12 intervals you can increase the number of repetitions then move up to the 60/60 workout.

The 60/60 workout is identical to the 30/30 but replace the 30 seconds hard then easy with 60 seconds.

The 30/60/90 workout is more intense and pushes you up the ladder of 30, 60 and 90 second intervals, then brings you back down.  There is an excellent grid that outlines this workout at Exercise.com.  Click Here if you’d like to see details of this specific workout.

Hills

For this workout you’ll need to find a hill outdoors.

  • Jog for 10 minutes at your normal warm-up pace.
  • Run uphill hard for two to three minutes.
  • Run back down
  • Repeat at least four times.
  • You can increase the number of intervals to increase the intensity of this workout.  Finding a bigger hill may or may not be an option depending on where you live.

No Pain. No Gain?

This is an area where the old no pain, no gain, adage might apply.  Interval training can be intimidating, particularly to people that have not tried it before.  The I-can’t-catch-my-breath feeling that is a direct response to this type of overload training can by scary for some people and may prevent them from ever wanting to do it again.  But, as with anything, the more you do it the more your body will adjust to the workload and the easier and less frightening it will become.

To get started, find a buddy that’s willing to do the 30/30 interval workout with you.  Set a goal to do four or five sets.  Each time you train add one set.  Before you know it you’ll have graduated to the 60/60 or 30/60/90.  Your steady-state cardio runs will be easier and you’ll reaching your distance sooner.

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Green Tea Helps Mice Control Their Weight. Is The Same True For Humans?

It would be too good to be true if scientists learned that the key to weight loss or weight management is something as simple as green tea.  While we know that green tea isn’t the answer to all of our problems, studies continue to show that it could be a factor if other principles are applied.

Mice On Green Tea Gained Weight More Slowly

The most recent findings come from food scientists at Penn State that had two groups of mice.  Both were fed a high-fat diet.  One group was fed Epigalloocatechin-3-gallate (EGCC) which is a compound found in green tea.  The mice that received the EGCC gained weight more slowly than the ones that did not receive the compound.

Joshua Lambert, one of the scientists working on the research project, says that EGCC reduced the ability to absorb fat and increased the ability to use fat.  There was no evidence that the EGCC helped with appetite suppression.

If humans were to mimic the consumption of the green tea substance used on the mice they would have to consume ten cups of tea a day.  That’s not practical, however Lambert believes two to three cups of green tea per day could help control weight.  Research studies on the effects of green tea on weight control in humans have been limited in number.  The jury is still out, but even if it isn’t a magic weight-loss potion it certainly has health benefits beyond weight control.

Benefits of Drinking Green Tea Go Beyond Weight Control

A report from Harvard Medical School in 2004 claims that it is the flavonoids and catechins that makes tea such a health bonus.  Green teas powerful antioxidants help “halt oxidative damage to cells and appear to have other disease-fighting properties.”  The health publication reports there is a correlation between green tea and a reduced risk for some cancers including skin, breast, lung and colon.

The study also mentions that to capture the health benefits, tea should be freshly brewed and seeped for three to five minutes.  Pre-packaged bottled beverages do not contain the same amount of antioxidants.

Studies have been conducted using small research groups and all have shown green tea to have a positive impact on overall health and help with weight management when a healthy lifestyle is practiced.  Green tea can enhance the gains that people derive from healthy behaviors such as eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and getting daily exercise.

Mega-T Green Tea Dietary Supplements

Green tea supplements, such as Mega-T, promise to promote dramatic weight loss, burn fat, and increase metabolism.  There have been no studies to substantiate these claims. Plus most supplements don’t contain green tea extract alone.  Many of them contain other ingredients, including caffeine, herbs, calcium and miscellaneous elements.

Taking green tea supplements probably won’t hurt you unless you have liver problems. but again, the benefits from green tea are most prevalent when the tea is brewed, seeped, drank and enjoyed.

Brew, Seep and Enjoy 

Green tea, cold or hot, is a refreshing drink on a warm summer day or a comforting beverage on a chilly autumn night.  Plus it can be found in an assortment of flavors if a little variety is your cup of tea.

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It’s Not The Halloween Tricks That Scare Me. It’s The Treats

Halloween Is Scary But Not For The Reasons You Think.

Halloween is the scariest holiday of the year and it is just a week away.  The thing that scares me most about Halloween is the left over ‘treats’ I’ll end up with if I don’t get enough kids knocking at my door. We all know what happens to the treats that don’t get handed out.

The treats are scarier than the treats.

If you’re handing out candy this year, the following breakdown will help you choose a treat that isn’t totally ugly.  The kids don’t need the sugar and fat any more than we do.

Here’s The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly On Halloween Treats

The Good – Calling these good is a stretch, but they are better than the bad and ugly:

  • Three Muskateers Fun Size Bar – 63 calories; 2 g fat, 10 g sugars
  • Spangler Dum Dum Pops – you can have three for 77 calories, 0 g fat, 105 g sugar
  • Sugar Daddy – 1 junior pop = 53 calories, 0.2 g fat, 8 g sugar
  • Brach’s Fun Size Candy Corn – 1 bag – 53 calories, 0 g fat, 11.7 g sugar

The Bad

  • Snickers Fun Size Bar – 80 calories, 1.5 g fat, 8.5 g sugar
  • Butterfinger Fun Size Bar – 100 calories; 4 g fat, 10 g sugar
  • M & M’s Peanut Fun Size – 90 calories, 1.8 g fat, 9 g sugar
  • Baby Ruth Fun Size Bar – 85 calories, 2.3 g fat, 10 g sugar
  • Rolo Snack Size – 1 roll – 80 calories, 2.5 g sat fat, 11 g sugar
  • Skittles Fun Size – 1 bag – 60 calories, 0.7 g fat, 11.3 g sugar

photo by Like_the_Grand_Canyon

The Ugly

  • Nestle 100 Grand Fun Size – 95 calories, 2.5 g fat, 11 g sugar
  • Sugar Babies Snack Size – 80 caloires, 0 fat, 15 g sugar
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Snack Size (1 cup) – 110 calories, 2.5 g fat, 11 g sugar
  • Brach Airheads – 3 pieces 140 calories, 1.5 g fat 19 g sugar
  • Twix Miniatures – 3 pieces is 150 calories, 8 g fat, 15 g sugar

The Ugliest

One Option Is To Purchase Non-Candy Treats For The Tricksters

Giving kids non-candy treats may sound really lame, but there are some items that kids really like.  Here’s a list I’ve comprised after doing some research on some non-food treats that are popular.  Some of these can get pricey depending on the volume that you have to buy:

  • Kiddos Stickers
  • Sugar-free gum
  • Spider Rings
  • Balloons
  • Silly Bands
  • Bubbles
  • Glow Sticks
  • Temporary Tattoos
  • Super Balls
  • Mardi Gras Beads
  • Whistles
  • Yo-yos
  • Colorful mini notebooks

Not only will the kids love getting these treats, moms will appreciate you giving something that they don’t have to inspect or be tempted to eat themselves.

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Acorn Squash Recipe That’s Easy, Delicious and Nutritious

Acorn Squash Recipe That’s Easy, Delicious and Nutritious For the past few weeks I’ve been walking by the acorn squash in the supermarket.  They are only $1.49 where I shop so I figured for that price it wasn’t much of a gamble even I ruined it or we didn’t like it so I bought one.

Once I got home I used Google to find the simplest recipe imaginable.

 Here’s The Recipe I Tried:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pull the stem off of the squash and put it upside down on a cookie sheet.  Bake for about 30 to 45 minutes or until softened.  Remove from the oven and move to a plate.  Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.  Put about a tablespoon of butter and a teaspoon of brown sugar in the cavity of each half.  Put the halves back together and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.

Scoop out the seeds and put a pat of butter and a little brown sugar in each cavity and bake for another 30 minutes. — photo by yuko chan

If you’ve never tried acorn squash you’re probably a little skeptical, especially since this sounds too easy.  I know I was, but trust me, it is delicious!  Not only is it beyond simple, it is inexpensive, delicious and nutritious.

Check out the nutritional information for one serving which is 1 cup or about 7.25 ounces:

Calories -115
Carbohydrates – 29.9 grams
Dietary Fiber – 9 grams
Simple Sugar – 0
Fat – 0.3 grams
Trans fat or Cholesterol – 0
Protein -2.3 grams
Vitamin C – 37% of DV*
Thiamin – 23% of DV
Vitamin B6 – 20% of DV
Vitamin A – 18% of DV
Folate – 10% of DV
Potassium – 26% of DV
Manganese – 22% of DV
Magnesium – 22% of DV

*DV  = Daily Value Based on 2,000 Calories

Adding the butter and brown sugar before the squash is completely cooked is key. The acorn absorbs the butter and sugar as it finishes baking and gives it a wonderful sweetness.  Also, I found other recipes that are very similar that say you can microwave the squash if you don’t have the time to wait for it to bake.

Acorn squash are seasonal so don’t wait too long to give this recipe a try.  There are plenty more squash recipes at allrecipes.com.

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Celebrate The Return Of National Food Day on Monday: Find Out How You Can Make A Difference.

National Food Day Is Monday, October 24

After 36 years National Food Day is making a return on Monday, October 24.  I hope you will participate in celebrating a day that has been set aside to draw attention to the decline in the quality of the American diet, the problem of world hunger, and the dramatic rise in food prices everywhere.

Originally, Food Day, launched in 1975, was the counterpart to Earth Day.  Due to a lack of funding and momentum, Food Day fizzled in 1977 even though Earth Day remained.

Now, more than ever, there is a need to raise awareness around the importance of
nutrition.  Did you know that:

  • Every day one in four Americans stops at a fast-food restaurant.
  • Forty percent of Americans eat meals outside of the home each day.
  • Children recognize the McDonalds logo sooner than they recognize their own name.
  • The only vegetable many children eat is the potato, as in chips and fries.

Childhood Obesity Has Tripled Since 1980

One of Food Day’s goals it to get fast-food restaurants to stop targeting children with marketing campaigns. Children are subjected to three junk-food commercials for each hour of television that they watch. Kid-targeted junk-food commercials drive up fast-food sales and kids end up “cultivating a taste for white bread, French fries, fatty meat, fatty cheese, and soft drinks”.

The Cost To Treat Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure is Over $30 Billion/Year

Yes, that was illion with a capital B on the front of it. That fact is daunting.  Much of the chronic disease in our society is attributed to diet.  But just as easily as the wrong foods can destroy a person’s health, the right foods can help reverse the risk for disease including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and some cancers.

Nearly 50 Million Americans Suffer From Food Insecurity or Hunger

Specifically, the latest reports show that 33 million Americans are ‘food insecure’ meaning they cannot afford to eat the right foods.  Another 16 million are hungry, in other words, not able to purchase enough food.  Throughout the United States food deserts are prevalent in impoverished areas.  Food deserts are areas where there are no fresh fruits and vegetables available.

What Can You Do?

  • Learn more about Food Day by visiting www.Foodday.org.
  • Raise Awareness in your workplace by organizing a pot luck luncheon where people bring in ‘real’ food that they’ve made at home.
  • Invite a friend to your house for dinner and prepare a meal together.
  • Find a recipe that your children can tackle.  Let them take a spot in the kitchen and cook dinner that evening. This is a great way to help children appreciate the value of real food and meal planning.
  • Take it one step further and enter the Epicurious Food Day Contest by hosting an event with the goal of raising money for your local food bank or food-related charity.  Epicurious will set you up with a downloadable Food Day Dinner Party Kit and if you’re one of the first 50 to register, a $25 gift card from Whole Foods.
  • Spread the word.  Use the share buttons at the bottom of this page to spread the word to your friends on Facebook and Twitter and encourage them to celebrate in Food Day this Monday.

Food Day Can Be Every Day at Your Home

Go beyond a one-day awareness event and make a commitment to make improve the quality of your diet, and ultimately your life, every day. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only that that ever has.”  — Margaret Mead

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If You’re Looking For Motivation, Michael Jordan and Yoda Can Help.

Photo by By Douglas R Witt

It’s Wednesday.  Hump Day.  And it’s cold, wet, and windy.  It is a day that is typical of October in Illinois 50 percent of the time.  The rest of the time it is warm and the sun is creating beautiful see-through colors with the changing leaves.

Not today though.  Today is what I call a low-mojo day.  I’m seeking help.  No time (or money) for a therapist so I’m going to rely on the words of wisdom from some famous, and some not-so-famous people.  I thought I would share.  You might need to get your mojo back too.

Here Are a Few of My Favorite Quotes
that help me realize my state of mind is only temporary, and I will reach my goals despite the dreary outdoors. (My comments are in parentheses.)

___________________________________________________________________

“We are not animals. We are not a product of what has happened to us in our past. We have the power of choice.” — Stephen Covey

“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.” – Tommy Lasorda

“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” – Max De Pree

“Any change, even a change for the better, is accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts. – Arnold Bennett  (you can say that again!)

“We must become the change we want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi (one of my favorites.)

“Some men succeed because they are destined to, but most men succeed because they are determined to.” — Greame Clegg

“Some men have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to, when all they need is one reason why they can.” –Willis R. Whitney

“Chase down your passion like it’s the last bus of the night.” — Terri Guillemets

We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.– Anais Nin (Wow.)

Here’s a Few on the Lighter Side:

Photo By Moosecastle

“In two decades I’ve lost a total of 789 pounds. By all accounts I should be hanging from a charm bracelet.” — Erma Bombeck

“No one has ever drowned in sweat.” – Lou Holtz

“The need for change has bulldozed a road down the center of my mind” – Maya Angelou

“A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.” —  Winnie The Pooh (Pooh is one smart bear!)

“Do you know how many calories are in butter and cheese and ice cream? Would you get your dog up in the morning for a cup of coffee and a donut?” — Jack LaLanne (May he rest in peace.)

“One day I may be meeting you and hearing how you’ve changed your life by saying, ‘Farewell to Fat’.” – Richard Simmons (I love Richard Simmons!)

“I’m not out there sweating for three hours every day just to find out what it feels like to sweat.” — Michael Jordan (My all-time favorite athlete.)

You can’t wait for inspiration; you have to go after it with a club. — Jack London

If you don’t like where you are, then change it! You’re not a tree. — Jim Rohn

“Put that cookie down. Now!” Arnold  Schwarzenegger playing Herman in Jingle All The Way (I hope I don’t have to explain why I like this one.)

My All Time Favorite Quote from the Empire Strikes Back . . .

 

“Do Or Do Not.  There is no try.” – Master Jedi Yoda

 

 

 

I hope you feel better.  I sure do.

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Take The Lead And Launch A Workplace Wellness Challenge. It Will Help You Reach Your Goals Too.

Donuts Don’t Have To Be Part of Morning Meetings

You Can Lead The Charge To A Healthier Workplace

You’re committed to losing twenty pounds, eating more fruits and vegetables, and walking a minimum of four days a week during lunch.

Your co-workers, however, are still bringing donuts to morning meetings, watching “Days of Our Lives” on the TV in break room, and the office smells like Taco Bell and McD’s at noon on most days.

If your co-workers are getting in the way of your weight loss and fitness goals, starting a workplace wellness challenge will benefit you as much as it will them.

I know you’re thinking that you already have enough to do at work, you don’t have time, and your co-workers won’t get on board.  Let me get you started with a few ideas that will encourage your co-workers to be part of the solution and keep you from feeling like you’re swimming against the current during the workday.

Workplace Challenges That Are Nearly Maintenance Free 

Ten Day No Fast Food Challenge – This is a good one to start with.  If nothing else, it will help reduce the amount of junk food at the office for at least ten days, plus much of the work has already been done for you and can be found on this web site.

Invite people to sign up as a team.  Send out a set of easy to follow rules and each day e-mail a daily tip to participants. (If you want to use this site’s tips, you can find them under the Ten Day Challenge tab).  At the end of the challenge celebrate the group’s success by having everyone bring in a healthy fruit, vegetable, or whole grain snack to share.

Walking Program – Launch a four week walking program that doesn’t require using a pedometer or anything else that has to be purchased.  Many of our workplace walking programs are based on time rather than steps.  Once again I would encourage employees to participate as teams, but individuals can also join.  Have people log how many minutes they walk each day and have the team captain send the amount to you at the end of the week.  Send out a weekly e-mail to let everyone know which team is ahead; people love competition.  Encourage employees to walk for a portion of their lunch hour, on their ten minute breaks and initiate walking – as opposed to sitting – meetings.

Couch to 5K – This is a wellness program that has been such a hit where I work.  It is very
rewarding to see people set a goal to run a 5K and share the excitement they feel once they have accomplished it.  The weekly workouts can be found at Cool Running.  The facilitator of this program needs to do little more than send out the workout each week to participants along with some words of encouragement.  If you have time to send out articles on hydration, motivation and injury prevention those can be helpful to keep people involved too. Again, Cool Running is a great resource for informational articles. If your workplace has a bulletin board where pictures can be posted, have employees bring in a picture of themselves post-race with their medal, for everyone to see.

Healthy Lunch and Learn – Offer an informative lunch and learn on a health-related topic:  Nutrition, physical activity, stress management, weight management, or any subject of choice is just a phone call away.  Each community has experts that are more than willing to come in – usually at no charge – and give a 40 minute presentation on the selected topic.  One of the most well received programs that I’ve done was on stress management.  A therapist with our company’s Employee Assistance Program did a wonderful job teaching employees about breathing and relaxation techniques to use when they feel a melt-down is imminent.

Maintain, Don’t Gain Holiday Program (Put That Cookie Down Now!) – More details on this coming soon.  Last year I ran this program at work from Thanksgiving to News Years.  It is where I got the inspiration for the name of this web site because it was known as the Put Down The Cookie program.  It’s hard to put down the cookie, the pie, the alcoholic beverages, and many other things over the holidays but this program can help.

I will be adding pages specific to attacking the battle of the bulge over the holidays so if you’re interested in details about this challenge, stay tuned or subscribe to the blog through the e-mail subscription block in the sidebar.

There are tons of ideas for workplace wellness programs that can help you and your co-workers support each other in your efforts to cultivate and sustain healthy behaviors and they don’t have to be overly time-consuming or complex.  In fact, the simpler, the better.  Once you get started you’ll find your co-workers will generate ideas too and many may be grateful to you giving them the push they need to adopt some healthier habits!

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If You’re Ready To Get Real About Those Last Ten Pounds You’re Going To Need A Food Diary

By Pink Sherbet Photography

“I’m working hard and still not seeing the pounds budge.”  I hear that a lot which almost always means it’s time to get real about what you’re eating.  It’s time for a food diary.

If you’re still searching for a phone app food diary, I have an endorsement for one that I recommended last week.

MyNetDiary Pro

One of my coaching clients downloaded the app from MyNetDiary.  She purchased the MyNetDiary Pro for Android for a one-time fee of $3.99.  She raves about the app and feels it is
making her much more aware of what she is eating.  Plus she says that when she does eat something higher in calories for lunch – a Taco Bell Beef Chalupa for example – she can figure out ways to offset that so she doesn’t blow the entire day.

MyNetDiary also has a web site – that syncs with the phone app – so you can combine the applications for more usability. Prior to our coaching session today she e-mailed the data to me from the programs she has been using including a weight chart, exercise diary, goal sheet, and nutrition report.  I was able to see exactly what she had been doing the prior week and we were able to talk about her goal success and progress.

Why Keep A Food Diary?

You might be thinking that’s all really nice, but why do I need to keep a food diary?

Get Really Real – Food tracking is a way to get completely honest with yourself and own everything you eat.  Let’s face it. We all cheat.  Track your food, including your cheats, for one month and see if your eating pattern has changed.  Journaling brings a special awareness to what we’re eating and how much we’re eating better than any other tool.  You may also find that if you think about what you’re eating, you’ll begin to ask why, which will lead you to whether or not you really need it.

Photo by o5com

Have an Ah-ha Moment– You don’t know what you don’t know.  I was working with a client several months ago that was struggling to get to her goal of losing ten pounds.  She thought she was doing everything right; eating more fruits and veggies, getting more physical activity and drinking more water.  The pounds did not budge.

I suggested that she keep a food journal for one week and she agreed, reluctantly.  The following week when we talked she said that she was shocked at how many calories she was eating.  Once she realized she was simply taking in too many calories to lose weight, she started making better choices, getting creative with lower calorie exchanges and lost the ten pounds.

Re-evaluate Your Activity – It might be that once you start tracking your food you’ll see that you don’t have much to work with.  If you’re eating within the calorie range necessary to lose weight, you may need to increase your physical activity or mix up what you’re doing.

For example:  If you’ve been going to the gym and doing 20 minutes on the treadmill at level five, followed by a 20 minute strength training circuit on the machines your body may no longer be responding to that workout.  Try adding some intervals to your treadmill work and move over to the free weight section of the gym for some squats and lunges with a body bar, ab crunches on a stability ball and tricep dips on the bench.  Every thirty days it’s a good idea to make changes to your workout so that your brain and your brawn aren’t just going through the motions.

If you’re not particularly enamored with phone apps or on-line tools, purchasing a cute
notebook with an inspirational saying on the front and writing in the entries by hand will work just as well.  You can look up the calories on-line at Calorieking.com