Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

A Simple Nutrition Checklist to Keep You Healthy and On the Move

couple_cooking-1.jpgMarch is National Nutrition Month! It may be time to revisit and reestablish your New Year’s diet resolutions. I wanted to pass along a basic guide to healthy eating and lifestyle habits that can also be used for weight loss.

Following is a checklist of six healthy habits to guide you on the path to better dietary health. If you are continually skipping any of these steps, you are probably missing opportunities to keep your weight in check or to keep your body healthy and your metabolism strong.

1. Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day.

Every person is different, so the need for more water comes with extra weight and increased levels of activity. But 64 ounces is a good baseline for hydration. Unsweet tea and zero-calorie drinks count. Diet sodas and coffee do not. WARNING: Don’t jump from 20 ounces a day to 64 ounces! Your bladder will not appreciate the drastic change. Instead, increase by 8 ounces every week until you reach 64 ounces.

2. Make your breakfast, lunch, and dinner plates look like the ChooseMyPlate diagram.

When trying to lose weight, go with half a plate of vegetables for meals (especially lunch and dinner) and save the fruit for snacks. Feel free to go off the beaten path and give veggies a try for breakfast. Who says you have to have breakfast food for breakfast? Try scrambled eggs with chopped veggies, or top a baked sweet potato with Greek yogurt and chopped nuts.

3. Include snacks.

If you are going 4+ hours between meals or find yourself hungry between meals, add a snack. The time between lunch and dinner is most often the biggest gap between eating during the day—sometimes 5 to 7 hours. Cravings tend to sneak up on you during this time as well. Fight cravings and trips to the vending machine by having healthy snacks readily available. Make sure they include at least two of the groups from the ChooseMyPlate diagram, such as:

  • Grain + Protein
  • Protein + Fruit or Vegetable
  • Dairy + Fruit

4. Moderate Portions.

A couple of ways to do this:

  • Use a salad-size plate instead of a regular dinner plate.
  • Track what you are eating. Use free online tools like www.myfitnesspal.com to determine how many calories, protein, carbs, and fat you are consuming. This includes weekdays and weekends. Note: Do not go below 1,200 calories without medical supervision. 
  • Women typically stay between 1,200 and 1,800 calories for weight maintenance and weight loss. Older, more sedentary women should eat closer to 1,200 calories. Younger, more active women can eat for maintenance and weight loss, eating closer to 1,800 calories.
  • Men typically fall between 1,800 and 2,200 calories for both weight loss and maintenance. Older, more sedentary men should eat closer to 1,800 calories. Younger, more active men can lose or maintain weight eating closer to 2,200 calories. Teenagers and young guys who are very active may need well above this amount. This range is relevant to those with desk jobs who get in a decent 30 to 45-minute workout during the day.

5. Make sure you are active throughout the day.

Think 3 minutes of activity (walking, walking in place, desk exercises, taking a flight of stairs up and down) for every 60 minutes of sitting. If you have time for a longer walk or workout, great!

6. Get your sleep.

Missing out on sleep can interfere with your mental acuity as well as your weight loss/maintenance efforts. Lack of sleep increases cravings for simple and refined carbohydrates that contain little nutritional value but lots of empty, unsatisfying calories. Give up the late-night shows and get your 7 to 8 hours of Zzzz’s. The benefits go well beyond more productivity at work.

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There you have it! Were you able to check off all of the above? Great! Keep up the hard work. If not, celebrate National Nutrition Month by choosing one of the above recommendations and implementing it consistently. Once this behavior becomes second nature, adopt a new habit to practice. Remember, long-term success requires sustained practice and patience. Don’t let a small or even big bump in the road discourage you from moving forward. Your health is worth the effort!

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Topics: nutrition weight loss hydration water sleep calories new year healthy habits

Show your Support for Employee Health


ThinkstockPhotos-171337565.jpgAs you kick off the New Year in your workplace, you will probably overhear many of your employees talking about being healthier this year, and their New Year’s resolutions. Eating better, participating in more physical activity, stressing less, establishing a better work-life balance… the list goes on. If your workforce is like the majority of people who have the best intentions of improving their health this year, many will be unsuccessful once work and life get back in the way.

The good news is that healthy habits can be created and maintained in the workplace with a little help from leadership (and who doesn’t want healthy employees?). Here are some ideas that you can incorporate at your workplace to help your employees stick to their health resolutions and show your support for employee health.

Allow employees to schedule time for physical activity throughout the day.

Studies show workers who are able to participate in activity throughout the workday are more productive, so this is a win-win for you and the employee! Making it known to your workforce that you support a break to exercise can go a long way toward changing the health culture in your workplace. If there is no access to a fitness center or group fitness classes in your facility, this year could be the time to explore some options that best fit your workplace needs.

Have healthy snacks available.

If you have the budget to purchase healthy snacks for your employees, great! Have a few common areas stocked with healthy options made available to employees. If you are relying on your vending machine, look to ensure that you have a good variety of healthy choices clearly labeled and available.

Provide opportunities to better manage stress.

Work comes with stressors that can trigger negative thoughts and health habits among your employees. This can be as simple as allowing employees to step away from their desk to go for a short walk or allowing them to take a few minutes to watch a cat video to get a good laugh. Other options that come with a price tag but would be very popular include having a massage therapist provide ten-minute chair massages every few months, or a yoga instructor one or two days a week to provide your employees with an opportunity to unwind.

Allow for a power nap.

Who would have thought that we had it right back in preschool? Many are sleep deprived and it is impacting the quality of work that is delivered and increasing chances for other health risks. Allowing your employees to take a 20-minute power nap can result in a more productive day with fewer mistakes than a day with no nap.

Identify your health champions and put them to work!

They will love that you thought of them, and they have been secretly or openly plotting how they could make this happen and probably have great ideas to share. Let your nutrition nut run with the task of having healthy snacks readily available around the office, and let your fitness guru seek out a few fitness opportunities that can be taken advantage of in the conference room (if you do not have an onsite fitness center). They will also be great about rallying the employees to get on board with the new efforts.

Looking to help your employees have the resources they need to be healthy?  Click below to download our whitepaper for tips to add exercise to your wellness program.

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Topics: employee health corporate fitness productivity new year

Try Positive Resolutions for the New Year

Do you find the typical New Year’s resolutions depressing? Start off 2015 with a new type of resolution. Instead of eliminating the things in your life that you love, try developing a list of new adventures or activities to experience this year. Brainstorm a variety of activities, events, recipes, or exercises that you find interesting or worthwhile and stick to it.

Take the time this year to really try something new for yourself and no one else. With each new experience, keep in mind the purpose and outcome you hope to achieve. Be confident and open-minded, and aware of your response in each situation. Keep track of your experiences, and who knows: something new this year may become part of your daily routine.

8 New Things to Try

something_newHere are some ideas to consider for the New Year:

  • Attend a new group fitness class.
  • Participate in a partner training session with a friend.
  • Try a new restaurant.
  • Walk a different route than your everyday commute to the office.
  • Prepare a recipe using fresh ingredients.
  • Attempt a new hobby, such as running, swimming, sewing, or biking.
  • Prepare a budget for the new year.
  • Learn a new sport.

By diving in and trying new things, you are taking it upon yourself to develop a more self-centered lifestyle. So many times we rely on others’ descriptions or evaluations of something instead of trying it for ourselves. With a new type of resolution, one that helps reinforce a healthy lifestyle, you can move forward during the New Year without regrets. Focusing on different activities and facing different challenges than what you may be used to will add variety to your days.

Tips for Achieving Your Goals

Remember these helpful tips when working toward your goals:

Try to develop simple, one-step tasks and take pride in each item you mark off your list in 2015. Choose tasks that are positive and promote overall health, rather than creating restrictive goals or limitations. Keep a running tally of your accomplishments and hold yourself accountable for each item on the list. Feel free to continue adding new events throughout the year based on successful or satisfying experiences.

Whether you are pledging to be healthier, happier, skinnier, less stressed, or more active, these tips can help. Don’t think about each task for hours on end, “just do it!” and move on (here are tips for finding motivation when you need it). If it is something you enjoy, evaluate it and go back for more. The main goal of this practice is to find new and fun activities that bring a sense of satisfaction to your life. You never know if you will like something until you try. The power that comes from accomplishing a goal only helps to reinforce one’s ability to keep moving forward. Keep that in mind, and work toward a healthier, happier future this New Year!

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Topics: Be inspired motivation goal setting new year New Year's Resolutions in Action resolutions

5 Tips for Sticking to Your New Year's Resolutions

setting smart goals resized 600First and foremost, let’s make some things clear about resolutions. When you make a resolution, you have to remember that it is not just a commitment for January 1; it is for 365 days. Make sure from the beginning it is something that is a long-term goal and a change you want to see. If it is something you have repeatedly tried to do each year, it may be time to reevaluate and come up with a different strategy this year. Otherwise, you will set yourself up to fail.

Don’t be the object of the new year’s resolution jokes. Come into the new year with the mindset that resolutions are achievable if you set yourself up for success. Here are some ways that you can do this.

Make Your Resolutions SMART Goals

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time bound:

  • Specific: Make resolutions clear, concise, and well-defined.
  • Measurable: Make sure you have a way to measure your progress and success. Goals should have time frames, dates, amounts, and other quantifiable numbers.
  • Attainable/realistic: Your goal should be something that is manageable, and something you believe you can succeed in reaching.
  • Time bound: Have a starting point and an end point. Resolutions that will take place over the entire year should be broken down into short-term and longer-term goals.

Choose the Right Resolutions

If you decide to do something, it has to be something that you want to do. Pick something that has meaning behind it for you personally. Oftentimes resolutions come from outside sources and pressures. If the idea originates with you, you’re more likely to commit.

Stick Your Resolutions with Existing Habits

The easier you make the habit, the more likely you are to stick to it. If your resolution is to take a vitamin every day, put the vitamin container next to your toothbrush that you use each morning. Make the new habit part of an existing one.

Give Yourself a Trial Run

Try your resolution for at least 21 days (it takes at least this long to create a habit). Give yourself these days as a trial period. This will give you some room to make mistakes and tweak your goal to make it more realistic.

Measure Your Progress

Many of us get frustrated and give up on resolutions because we have tunnel vision to the end result, which may take all 365 days to achieve. If your resolutions and goals are smart, it should be easy to track the progress you are making, which will help keep you motivated. 

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Topics: motivation behavior modification goal setting new year New Year's Resolutions in Action

NIFS Nutrition News: Making Resolutions Stick

2013By June 2013 only 46% of people will still be sticking to the resolutions they vowed to keep as the ball dropped and we said goodbye to 2012.  A recent study showed that the three most popular resolutions are finding more family and friend time, increasing or starting an exercise program, and trying to lose weight.  The tips below will help you stick to those resolutions so they will last all year long.

1. Spend more time with family and friends:

Say “no” to commitments that are not a priority.  Schedule weekly family time into your planner.  Play games, sit down at the dinner table together, and ask everyone about their day.  Make it a priority.  Also, aim for more time with friends.  Start a book club, meet for a walk or a cup of coffee, check out a new restaurant.  Make it a recurring event like the second Tuesday of the month, so it is easy to plan into your schedule.

2. Fit in fitness: 

Have a positive attitude when it comes to exercise.  Think of it as time you will have to yourself for the day, a way to boost your energy level, or simply a break from the stress of the New Year.  Make the most of the time you have allotted for exercise.  Include high intensity cardiovascular activities, resistance training, and stretching. Add activity into your busy day by taking the stairs, parking farther away, walking the dog, shoveling snow, and hand delivering a message to a co-worker instead of calling or emailing them.

3. Drop the weight:

Set small, realistic goals when it comes to weight loss.  A reduction of only 500 calories per day is a smart goal to set and is the equivalent of 1 pound of fat loss per week.  Do this by cutting out regular sodas or calorie-heavy beverages like flavored coffee and juices.  Swap vending machine snacks like candy bars and chips for fresh fruit, fat free yogurt, string cheese, and cut up veggies.  When eating out, decrease portions by taking half of the entrée home.  Each week try to tackle a new goal.  Keep adding new goals throughout the spring, summer, and fall!

 

Fresh starts like the New Year are a perfect opportunity to better ourselves.  Take your resolution seriously this year and work on these goals to improve your quality of life. Did you miss our NIFS Fitness Management Staff Resolutions blog?  Check it out here!

Topics: NIFS behavior modification goal setting new year New Year's Resolutions in Action health resolutions family

How to Set Corporate Fitness Goals That Lead to Success

goal setting, corporate fitness, resultsAnother new year is here, and with that come high fitness expectations that your corporate wellness participants place upon themselves. When members come to us with New Year’s resolutions, our first step is to teach them how to set appropriate goals that will lead to success. Once you have the general picture of what your clients are hoping to achieve as well as why it’s important to them, you can help in fine-tuning their goals.

Let’s use the SMART acronym model to walk through goal-setting for the typical New Year’s client who says, “I want to lose weight.”

S = Specific

Steer away from vague goals. Not only will it help keep your client focused and on track, but it will help you, as the professional, create an appropriate exercise program for them. In our example, since the client’s goal is weight loss, she could say, “I want to lose 50 pounds.”

M = Measureable

You can’t set a goal without knowing how to measure success. Preferably, you’ll use numerical data. In our example, we can measure pounds. If a client has a goal of “getting in shape,” have him or her choose once specific item that can be measured, such as blood pressure or minutes spent walking.

A = Attainable

Setting a goal that can’t be attained in the first place is bound to fail and lead to discouragement. Tell clients when certain goals may not be possible or healthy for their bodies. Let’s pretend that for our fictitious client, a weight loss of 50 pounds would be a stretch, at best, and possibly put her in an underweight category for her body frame. We could suggest that a different amount might be more attainable, so her new goal is, “I want to lose 30 pounds.”

R = Realistic

Here is where you can help your clients evaluate whether their goals are realistic for their individual lifestyles. If other priorities or any other issues might get in the way of achieving a goal, you could scale down the goal into smaller mini-goals in the beginning.

T = Time-bound

There must be an end date to the goal; otherwise members can easily get distracted and push aside the goal until before they know it, another New Year’s is here. Set a date and mark it on the calendar to keep a constant focus on progress. The more lofty the goal, the longer the timeframe that should be dedicated to accomplishing it. Our client’s complete goal is now, “I want to lose 30 pounds by July 30, 2012.”

Smart goals = success!

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Topics: corporate fitness program corporate fitness weight loss goal setting new year resolutions