Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Penny Pohlmann

Recent Posts by Penny Pohlmann:

NIFS Member Speaks: Aziza Hunt shares her Motivation

my storyAziza joined the Wellness Center when she started her employment in September.  In three months she referred four new members to our Corporate Wellness Center and she says she is working on more. I am thrilled to have her as ambassador member of the Wellness Center and also admire her ability to motivate herself and her associates to get more active.  Here is her story and hopefully she’ll get you motivated to get moving too.

I come to the Wellness Center two times per day and right now my motivation is weight loss. When joined Weight Watchers® I realized how important activity was for my goal. Plus the gym is free, so there are NO EXCUSES.” My friends and associates who frequently join me in the Wellness Center are doing Weight Watchers® too. To help motivate them I try to let my actions be an example of my dedication to be fit and healthy.  As I tell my friends, “we work in a company that is about wellness, and we have so many resources that we didn’t have before coming to WellPoint so why not take advantage of them?” I also tell them, something is better than nothing.

My motivation to get active started when I joined a kickball team in the fall. I loved playing but I hated the feeling of being out of breath. I knew something had to give. While the team was on a break during the winter I wanted to improve my endurance but I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight.  I have a goal I want to accomplish by March (kickball time) and nothing and no one is going to stop me.  My plan is to stay active, stick to Weight Watchers®, and drink more water while also cutting back on sweets, junk, and “the white stuff”.

Aziza also admits to having bad days like the rest of us and I think she has a wonderfulA.Hunt attitude about these days.  Here is what she says about her off days, “I am human, and I know that I will have my “off days” but you just forgive yourself and pick back up. When I get weighed in each week with Weight Watchers®, my number on the scale that day either makes me work harder or lets me know I am on the right track. I have come too far and refuse to let the scale go backwards. I am too determined and have worked too hard.”

It sounds like Aziza has put a lot of thought into what she wants to accomplish and uses this to maintain her motivation.  Need motivation like Aziza?  Ask yourself exactly why you want to accomplish and determine exactly what actions must be taken to get there.  Start with the smallest action to get going. 

*Weight loss claims or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

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Topics: exercise nifs fitness management motivation member testimonials weight watchers

NIFS: Post Game Diet Damage Control

game day foodDid you enjoy yourself a bit too much while watching the big game on Sunday night?  Did you vow to stop at three chicken wings and one beer?  Did the wings and beer turn into a dozen chicken wings, plus two pieces of pizza, and more artichoke spinach dip then you’d like to recall?  Despite our intentions to practice some self-control, we all over-do-it with food and alcohol sometimes. Don’t let one night or even several days of poor eating habits discourage you from chasing after the goals you set for yourself this year. 


Here is your guide to getting back on track after a night of over-indulging:

  1. Forgive yourself. No one is perfect including you.  You may feel disappointed that you ate too much, but demanding perfection of yourself isn’t going to make you feel better and it’s certainly not going to help you reach your goals. Acknowledge your feelings and move on.  You can’t change the past but you can determine how you’re going to move forward.  
  2. Don’t get on the scale.  You’ll be tempted to see what the “the damage” is by weighing yourself but if the number is up, it may only serve as more ammunition to make you feel bad.  This is not helpful if you are trying to practice step #1.   Most importantly, it’s unlikely that you actually ate enough calories to gain significant amount of body fat. So, that inflated number you may see is not a reflection of true weight-gain.  The truth is, most of the food we eat when we’re watching football is very SALTY.  Any additional pounds you might see on the scale or feel when you put on your pants likely reflects water your body is retaining because of the higher sodium foods you ate.
  3. Get back to normal.  Starting today begin eating your typically healthy diet and exercising again. “Punishing” yourself with near starvation and putting in more time at the gym for the next 24 hours is not reasonable or helpful. 

Skipping meals leads to blood sugar crashes which can send down the road of over-eating once again.  Eat a normal healthy breakfast to begin the day.  Wanting to eat a bit lighter is a good idea and may make you feel better.  Aim for fruits and vegetables and don’t be scared to include sources of protein to help maintain even blood sugar levels throughout the day.  And finally get rid any left-overs that may be in the house and calling your name.  I suggest storing them in the trash can!

When it comes to getting back to your exercise routine you may not feel like completing that two mile jog if you’re feeling bloated and full.  Start with something simple if you don’t feel well like a low intensity walk.

  1. Drink up. Drink, Drink, Drink that water to help flush the body of water it’s retaining.  Staying well hydrated is also helpful for combating cravings that can occur post-binge.
  2. Review your goals and learn from your mistakes.  As in step # 1 don’t demand perfection from yourself.  You didn’t exactly stick to your plan so ask yourself what you can learn.  Did spend too much time in the kitchen grazing the buffet all night?  What will you do differently the next time you face a similar situation? Don’t forget to commend yourself for the things you did well.  Creating a positive mindset starts with a positive thinking.

If you’re a recovery junk food junkie trying to develop healthy eating habits realize it is a skill that must be practiced.  Don’t forget to review the goals you set for yourself this year. If you didn’t write them down, do that now. Keep your goals in site, review them frequently, and determine what must be done in order to reach them.  If you find yourself modifying and adjusting as you go along, don’t get discouraged, this is only a sign of determination.

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Topics: exercise healthy habits wellness smart goals

NIFS: 4 Additional REALISTIC Tips for a Fumble-Free Football Party

business man fumbleI attended a webinar a few years ago that suggested that the holiday season now extends from Halloween until the first Sunday in February when we gather ‘round a screen and raise a beer to the football God’s to watch the “Big Game”.  During this 13 week stretch, which is a quarter of year, we encounter candy dishes, cookie trays, cheese platters, and punch bowls overflowing with seasonal treats and goodies.  The number of temptations we face should make us wizards of refusal for those of us trying to control our weight, but saying no to creamy dips or bacon wrapped anything can be very difficult.

On Sunday, February 2nd many of us will once again find ourselves in the end zone of a bountiful buffet of wings, chili, pizza, and seven layer taco dip. If you resolved to lose some weight this year or just want to practice better self-control it’s time to step up to the line of scrimmage and play some defense.  Below are tips that can serve as a game plan for keeping you on track at home, at a party, or anytime you’re facing an event where food is the MVP. Additionally, these tips are realistic, meaning you won’t see me recommending a scoop of fro-yo with some fresh berries at half-time (which I have actually seen as a suggestion). That is an excellent dessert option, if that’s want you really want, but the last time fro-yo was offered at a football watch party was never!

      Here we go!

Don’t try to “save” calories for the party. This means, and I’m speaking from experience, that you eat almost nothing for the first part of the day so you can indulge come game time and not ruin your diet. This is a really bad idea.  Frequently this approach leads to over-indulging and eating several hundred if not thousands of calories over what you would have consumed if you had just eaten as you normally would during the first half of the day.   Wanting to eat a little lighter at the beginning of the day, think vegetables and protein, isn’t a bad idea but going into game time with and empty stomach can really backfire.

Create boundaries.  Creating boundaries means limiting your availability to tempting foods.  For me these foods are sweet, offer a satisfying crunch, and are small enough to pop one, two, or twelve in your mouth in no time.  To prevent over-eating these foods that light up all the pleasure centers in my brain I stay out of the kitchen or away from the buffet table. Once my plate is full I don’t go back for a second pass.  My plate, not the entire chip bowl, is my boundary.  For an extra precaution I may only eat dessert as I’m heading out the door.

Keep your hands occupied. This tip relates back to tip number 2.  I’m less tempted to go back to the buffet table if I’ve got my hands and head occupied. For this reason I keep a cup full of water in my hands all the time. In addition to being calorie free the water helps keep me satisfied during the party and the cup keeps my hands from finding its way back to the nachos.

Make and vocalize your plan to someone else. You probably set some goals on or just before January 1st, but did you ever right them down? Did you take the time to specifically make a plan for reaching you goals? If not, it’s not too late. Write down your goals and make them specific.  What do you have to do to reach your goals?  If you have to lock yourself in your house and never attend a party again that is probably not realistic.  Tell a friend, partner, or spouse about your goals and don’t forget to discuss how they affect what you eat and drink at the parties. Ask your confidant to encourage your or even join you in making the best choices when it comes to food and drink.  If you declare you only be drinking water for the evening, ask him or her to hold you accountable.

Let these tips remind you that eating healthier doesn’t mean you never get to go to parties. Instead you now have some new, realistic, behaviors to take with you and practice. Let these behaviors help keep you on track rather than distract you from your goals.  Also remember that like any athletic skill practice is important for success.  Sometimes we have a bad game but that doesn’t mean we should hang up the cleats and give up, instead we learn and we continue to practice and sharpen our skills.

Check out our blog on Monday morning for post game diet damage control tips!

Topics: exercise nutrition NIFS healthy habits

My Story... NIFS Members Speak - Lasalle Pinnock

My storyLasalle Pinnock joined the corporate wellness center in July when his department moved. Almost immediately he scheduled an exercise prescription with the NIFS Fitness Management staff and has been following that exercise program ever since. He started with a few days of strength training and cardiovascular exercise. After about a month he came to the staff looking to add one more day of activity to his routine. Each week he updates us on his progress not only with weight lost but how he is improving in stamina and strength. Because of his dedication to exercise he has also been motivated to make healthier choices when it comes to his diet and started sharing the things he’s learned with his wife.

LaSalle’s success has come from his commitment to making healthier choices and his consistency with exercise read his journey toward a healthier lifestyle below:

I started working in the Wellness Center when my department moved from the Galleria location because I felt I had no excuse. The gym is right here at work, what more can I ask for? This was the best time and opportunity for me to really focus and make changes in my life. My beautiful wife and kids are who keep me motivated to work out and eat healthily. Having two young daughters, I told myself I want to be alive to see both of them go to college and get married. I knew I had to make changes and they are what keep me going. 

Since starting in the gym and using Penny’s workout routines I have lost a little over 10 pounds in just under month. I have also changed my eating and drinking habits greatly. I was a huge Coca-Cola® drinker and used to drink Cokes daily. I now only drink water throughout the day. I will have the occasional Coke® or Coke Zero® on the weekend. I have cut out Lasalle Pinnockfast food, fried, and greasy foods. If I’m unable to eat a healthy meal I make sure I eat a smaller portion. Instead of getting sodas or chips from the vending machine I grab trail mix or eat some type of fruit. I have noticed since working out I have so much more stamina, energy, and I am less tired during the day. I can really feel and see the difference in my mood and body. Mentally I feel more focused and less stressed, I just feel great. Right now my goal is to stay focused and to keep moving forward. I want to reach my target weight and inspire others.

My advice for others is this, It’s hard and it’s going to take some time but don’t let that stop you because it’s worth it. One of the best quotes I’ve read and that keeps me going is, “Some quit due to slow progress. Never grasping the fact that…slow progress is progress”. 

*Weight loss claims or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

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Topics: corporate wellness employee health and wellness corporate wellness staffing nifs fitness managment NIFS members speak

Employee Health and Nutrition: New Risks of Diet Sodas

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

diet drinksMany people feel that drinking diet sodas is a healthy alternative to regular sodas. While we may believe artificially sweetened beverages may help cut daily calorie intake and therefore minimize weight gain or aid in loss, there is evidence that they can put employee health in danger.

Some studies have suggested that diet colas are actually linked to weight gain. Another study claims that people who consume one diet cola each day may also have a significantly increased risk for cardiovascular events compared to those who do not drink sodas.

While the full story about what links diet soda to heart disease may not be fully revealed, you certainly aren’t missing out on any vitamins, minerals, or other health benefits by not consuming these beverages. Some experts suggest that minimizing these types of beverages and including more water in your day may not only cut risk for cardiovascular disease, but also provide health benefits.

Want to know what you can do to help your employees make better nutritional decisions that not only prevent significant health issues but also protect their health? A qualified corporate fitness management company can help you and your organization guide your employees toward daily activity and nutritious choices.

Topics: employee health corporate fitness nutrition water weight control

Corporate Fitness: Is P90X for You? (Part 2 of 2)

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

one arm push up, advanced exerciseIn an earlier post I discussed the pros of buying and trying the P90X workout program. Now let's talk about the cons.

  • Although the program can be done at home, the use of a pull-up bar is an integral part of several of the workouts and is not a piece of equipment most people have at home. However, there are several pull-up bars available online that can be installed easily in a doorway.
  • There is a daily time commitment of at least 60 minutes if not more. This may be more time than a new exerciser can realistically commit to.
  • Many of the exercises are advanced and might not be appropriate for beginner exercisers. Additionally, each exercise is performed for very high reps (15 to 25 or more), which can put participants at risk for pain and injury.
  • There is a nutrition guide included in the program materials. However, it requires detailed planning and tracking and does not leave much room for error or slipups that are a part of life. While the nutrition plan is probably the most significant contributor to the actual transformation participants have experienced, it may not be appropriate for people with dietary restrictions and food allergies.
  • Finally, as a fitness professional, I feel that many of the exercises demonstrated in the DVDs are high risk for experienced and beginning exercisers. Excessive jumping, questionable stretches, and unusual joint angles combined with excessive loading could set up participants for injury.

Is P90X for you? If a structured program that you can do at home is appealing to you, P90X may be a good option. However, if you are interested in a safe and progressively challenging routine that is specific to you and your needs, seek the help of a qualified personal trainer or other health and fitness professional. Additionally, a registered dietitian can help you develop a program of healthy eating for weight loss. Check with your corporate fitness center professional for advice specific to your needs.

Topics: exercise corporate fitness exercise at home

Corporate Fitness: Is P90X for You? (Part 1 of 2)

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

How many times have you seen the infomercial for P90X while sipping coffee, sitting on yourdumbbells resized 600 couch on a Saturday morning? Maybe too many times to count and like any product you’ve seen advertised on TV you may have asked yourself, “I wonder if it really does work?”  

The featured “real-life” success stories are pretty amazing and motivating for anyone hoping to improve their appearance, strength, and health. But if you’re like me, you may be pretty skeptical of anything available for purchase from TV in just “three easy installments of $39.99” (not including shipping and handling). Before I shell out $120 bucks, I want to know what I’m committing to and if I’ll really be satisfied with the product.

Well, here’s a review that might help you determine whether this 90-day at-work workout program is for you. In this post I review the pros. In the next post, I'll review the cons.

  • The program can be done entirely at home in your living room.
  • The DVD set includes workouts for the muscles of the whole body as well as cardio, stretching, and yoga workouts.
  • The DVD set also comes with a schedule detailing which days to do each DVD, a nutrition plan, and a fitness guide that explains the exercises and steps for progression.
  • You get online access to the P90X online support club. This online resource provides tips and advice on your 90-day fitness journey.

Check back to read about the cons of the P90X program.

Topics: exercise corporate fitness exercise at home fitness

Corporate Fitness and March Basketball

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Many of us have sedentary jobs and get very little physical activity, planned or otherwise. Additionally, it doesn’t help our waistlines that many of us prefer to spend our leisure time stagnant as well. With some planning and creativity, you can get your less-than-active hobbies moving.

Getting a Workout While Watching TV

It’s March, and I lovemarch madness college basketball, so for the next few weekends I could park myself on the couch for hours of entertainment and bliss without moving a muscle. However, I know that long periods of inactivity have dangerous consequences. How can I “squeeze” some activity into my basketball watching marathon?

I get into the action with this “game” I’ve created for myself. When my team makes a three-pointer, I do five push-ups. Free-throws equal five squats each. I stretch during time-outs, and for every 10 points my team scores, I hold the plank for one minute. By the end of the game, regardless of how well my team played, I’ve probably gotten quite a bit of activity.

Cue Yourself to Take Exercise Breaks at Home and Work

If your hobby isn’t already active like hiking or biking, what reminders or cues can you create to remind yourself to take an activity break? Maybe you can take a lap or two around the block at the end of each chapter you read in your novel. Perhaps you can take a break to play with your kids outside when you finish a page in your scrapbook.

This type of activity can also be included in your workday, too. In fact, employees who get more physical activity are more productive at work. A well-rounded corporate wellness program can help you determine how to get your employees more active each day.  

Topics: corporate wellness exercise at work exercise at home productivity staying active

Corporate Wellness Confronts the Costs of Obesity

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

obesity cost, employee healthLarger office furniture, larger company cars, and reinforced toilets are a few of the major costs companies are taking on to accommodate their larger employees. In fact, at a recent trade show for tech and office furniture, one company displayed its bariatric seat, designed to hold up to 600 pounds and at a cost of $1,300! The representative from Ergogenesis, the maker of this specific seat, says there is a “tremendous amount of demand.”

In a research report released by the School of Public Health and Human Services at George Washington University, it is estimated that 50 percent of the population will be obese by 2030. This means the healthcare costs associated with obesity will continue to grow as well. The study also estimated that the current overall annual cost for obese women is $4,879 and $2,646 for obese men. This estimation includes costs associated with medical care, short-term disability, absenteeism, and productivity losses.

With rising healthcare costs in the midst of an economic recession, many companies have chosen to cut benefits. However, they have kept their corporate wellness programs and incentives for employees who practice healthy behaviors.

What can your company do to invest in your employees while they’re healthy rather than when they get sick?

Topics: corporate wellness obesity

Corporate Fitness: How to Fit Exercise into a Demanding Workday

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

busy day, time for exercise, corporate wellnessWhen cuts are being made in your organization, there may be even more pressure to earn your keep and ensure you’re meeting work demands. Finding time to exercise during the day may not be an option when workloads are mounting.

When weight gain seems inevitable in the midst of the stress, keep in mind that it is preventable with a bit of planning. Decide exactly how you will still get in some exercise, even if it is not as much as you’d like.

Here are a few tips:

  • Take every opportunity. Instead of sending an e-mail to a colleague, take a quick walk to her desk and ask her your question in person. You can also take a break from sitting by standing up when you take calls on the phone. Use the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you have the chance. Even these small activities can help minimize stiffness.
  • Arrive early, stay late. Even if you can’t squeeze in a 30-minute walk in your wellness center during the day, three 10-minute walks throughout the day can be just as beneficial. Arrive to work 10 minutes early so you can spend 10 minutes walking on the treadmill before you get to your desk. If you can spare 10 minutes during the day and 10 more after work, you will have squeezed in a 30-minute aerobic workout.
  • Get personal. Staff in your corporate wellness program can design an individualized, effective, and time-efficient workout for you. With knowledge of your goals and time constraints, a qualified fitness specialist should be able to walk you through an exercise program that is appropriate for your skill level and availability.

What do you do to fit in exercise when you’re short on time?

Topics: corporate wellness exercise at work corporate fitness demanding work schedule corporate cutbacks