Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Weight Watchers' New Points System: Great for Corporate Wellness

This blog was written by Veronica Hofmann. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

weight loss, corporate health, wellness, dietingAfter I had my daughter six years ago, I was faced with 30 extra pounds and no idea how to get rid of it. I began working out regularly and in turn felt entitled to eat more: Hey, I just ran a mile and a half and I deserved it…right? WRONG. I realized very quickly that working out alone was not going to get rid of the weight―especially if I was eating more.

Joining Weight Watchers and Losing Weight

Enter Weight Watchers. I joined the online community and studied point values and began tracking everything I ate each day. This completely changed my view on many foods that I was eating on a regular basis. I also weighed food to ensure proper portions. I found myself eating many prepackaged snacks to control portions. The program worked and the weight came off….hooray.

I then began wondering if the foods I was eating were the healthiest choices. Many snack foods were the same point values as fruits and other foods that were much healthier choices. I then decided to stop counting points and start incorporating more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables into my diet. Weight Watchers is a great program because you can eat anything in moderation. For the average person this is a great fit, but I felt it was not teaching me to eat better.  

Weight Watchers Revamps Points System to Favor Healthier Choices

I was excited to hear that they were making changes in their points system to correct the very issue I noticed. Now most fruits and vegetables are zero-points foods. This should encourage people to pick up that apple or banana instead of a 100-calorie processed snack.

I would often recommend Weight Watchers to corporate wellness clients and friends interested in losing weight, always warning about making an effort to eat healthier. The new program is teaching folks to eat smarter and that is very important. Now I will feel much more confident in recommending the program.

Consider Weight Watchers At Work

Weight Watchers At Work is a great way to encourage a worksite health promotion program! Consider holding a meeting at your worksite. It is much easier to follow a program when you have support from others.

Topics: overweight employees weight loss worksite wellness

Healthy Office Snacking Promotes Workplace Wellness

This blog was written by TJ McAloon. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

describe the imageThe time in the lower-right corner of your computer screen reads three o’clock. You’re tired and in need of a pick-me-up. It is too late in the day for a full meal; you are about to head home for dinner in two hours. Your coworker notices you start to drag at your desk and offers some suggestions for a boost in the form of some snacks, a soda, or a cup of coffee.

Weighing Your Snack Options

You now have some options to pick up your energy level, but which is the best one? Which one can you eat or drink without worrying about putting on unwanted pounds while sitting at your desk?

The first option is coffee. The average cup of black coffee does not have any fat, has only 2.5 calories per serving, and provides that quick fix of caffeine for energy. However, the drink does not provide any nutrients and little to no vitamins. 

Could you go for a snack from the vending machine? Unless you choose one of these healthy options, you could be headed for a diet disaster.

Maybe a piece of candy or a leftover doughnut from the morning would provide that sugar rush you crave? These things will provide the quick burst of energy for you; however, once that wears off, you'll be left with a crashing feeling and be back at square one: tired, plus feeling guilty for inhaling a bag of M&Ms.

The Winner: Bring Healthy Snacks from Home

Your healthiest and best option is to opt for fruit and vegetable snacks that you can bring from home. Try packing a small bag of sliced apples or a cut-up banana. Both of these fruits are full of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. They can give you that burst of energy while eliminating a big crash like snack-type foods cause.

Eating the correct food at the office can help lower your stress on the job, while increasing your productivity. Who knows―eating healthy may even help you get that promotion that you deserve as well.

Topics: employee health overweight employees nutrition

How to Make Fast-Food Choices for Better Employee Health

This blog was written by Lisa Larkin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Working in corporate fitness centers, I see a lot of professionals with very little spare time. Most are trying to get in a quick workout over lunch and then grabbing something quick to eat. Trying to balance work and life doesn’t leave much time for healthy meal planning. I’ve done some comparing to help employees make healthier fast-food choices.

Healthier Choices at McDonald's

Choose a double cheeseburger over a double Quarter Pounder with cheese. It has 500 feweFast Food2r calories and 19 fewer grams of fat. Select any of the grilled chicken wraps for a meal under 300 calories. Choosing grilled over “crispy” will save you a lot of calories and fat.

If you must have something to go along with your sandwich or wrap, four-piece Chicken McNuggets have fewer calories than small french fries. Most fast-food restaurants now have side salads or fruit as healthier options. To consume fewer calories, choose low-fat balsamic vinaigrette as your salad dressing.

See the McDonald's nutrition details here.

Good Options at Taco Bell

After looking at Taco Bell’s nutritional information, there isn’t a lot on their menu for 300 calories or less. Need I say much more about stopping at their drive-through? I would recommend keeping it simple if you’re going to eat at Taco Bell. For example, soft tacos are going to be your best option because they don’t have a sauce on top or inside that is high in fat.

Other Healthier Fast-Food Rules of Thumb

Watching your sodium? Skip or go light on the condiments and salad dressings. Ketchup, mustard, pickles, sauces, and dressings all contain salt. Hold the mayonnaise and save 50 calories. Order a fish sandwich without tartar sauce and save 80 calories.

It may sound like I’m taking the “fun” out of fast-food eating, but your body will thank you for making healthier choices!

Topics: employee health overweight employees nutrition

Artificial Sweeteners for Weight Loss: Are They Harmful?

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

With all of our corporate fitness centers’ strides toward healthy eating, maintaining an ideal weight, and preventing metabolic diseases such as type II diabetes, it’s no wonder that artificial sweetners2sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda), aspartame (Equal or NutraSweet), and saccharin (found in some diet sodas and chewing gum) became an overnight success. With claims like “as sweet as sugar, with no calories or insulin surge,” they sound like a great solution to staying within a low-calorie or low-sugar diet while still feeding that sweet tooth.

Does Splenda Have Adverse Side Effects?

Let’s take a look at the most popular of these, Splenda, to examine any possible health risks. Sucralose is 600 times sweeter than table sugar and is not broken down by the human body. So most of the molecules are not even absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract, but rather excreted.

According to the Sucralose Toxicity Information Center, a wide range of adverse side effects have been reported by Splenda users; however, these symptoms mainly impacted those people who were found to have an allergy or sensitivity to the actual sucralose molecule.

As for the rest of the population, studies have not indicated any risk with moderate use. Harmful side effects were seen in the thymus (an organ of the immune system) when sucralose intake amounted to 205 grams per day—that’s equivalent to nearly 17,200 Splenda packets! Furthermore, the amount needed to spark any immune response whatsoever was 51 grams of sucralose per day, or 4,300 Splenda packets (see here for relevant links).

Using Artificial Sweeteners in Moderation Is Key

As with all foods (or food substitutes), moderation is key. The takeaway message for your corporate wellness clients is that artificial sweeteners do not present a real health threat for people using them for weight loss, provided they are using one to two packets at a time and limiting all processed foods.

Topics: corporate wellness overweight employees nutrition

Weight Loss: Sleep It Off to Keep It Off

This blog was written by Megan Jack. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Lose weight and feel great in just eight easy hours of sleep! I know, it sounds like a cheesy infomercial; but it turns out to be true. Researchers have previously linked lack of sleep and weight gain, sleepbut new facts are emerging that identify an even stronger relationship.

While you sleep, your body is working to restore itself and releases some pretty important hormones to regulate the body and your appetite: leptin (which sends a signal to the brain to identify when you’re full) and ghrelin (which stimulates appetite).

According to research at the University of Chicago and Stanford University, when sleep is restricted, leptin levels decrease while ghrelin levels increase. Volunteers who logged less than eight hours of sleep a night had increased body fat and increased their cravings for carbohydrate- and calorie-dense foods by 45 percent.

As if that weren’t enough to have you hitting the snooze on your alarm, growth hormone is also affected by sleep patterns. Growth hormone is released mostly at rest or while sleeping. It is responsible for regulating body fat and muscle proportion. Loss of sleep results in a decrease in growth hormone. Over time, this can slow your ability to burn fat and build muscle, hindering your weight-loss efforts.

So what is the solution? Be sure you are getting enough quality rest. Try this experiment from Find four days in a row when you can sleep as much as you want. On the fourth day, you should wake naturally, feeling refreshed. The amount of sleep you received on the fourth night dictates approximately how much sleep your body needs to function at its best. Aim for getting that amount of restful sleep each night.

Topics: employee health overweight employees

Corporate Wellness Coaching Success Stories

This blog was written by Samantha Whiteside. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Have you ever wondered how your health would benefit if your company had an onsite corporate fitness center? Well, luckily for a company in Roanoke, Virginia, they don’t have to wonder. Employees simply make their way to the top floor where the onsite fitness center is located and staffed by the National Institute for Fitness and Sport, a corporate fitness center management company based in Indianapolis, Indiana.

How a NIFS Wellness Manager Made a Difference

A few employees made a promise to themselves and the Wellness Manager in January 2010 to lead a healthier lifestyle. The NIFS Wellness Manager made it her personal mission to help these employees reach their goals through personalized exercise plans, nutrition consultations, individual personal training sessions, weekly weigh-ins, educational handouts, and inspirational e-mails with information ranging from stress management to meat alternatives.

Three Portraits of Codescribe the imagerporate Wellness Success

Here are some success stories from the company:

  • One employee lost 40 pounds over a nine-month period and is now maintaining her healthy weight. She additionally was able to come off of blood-pressure and cholesterol medications and is leading a life she only dreamed of.
  • Another successful employee who worked with the NIFS staff was able to lose 42 pounds in a nine-month time frame and is also keeping his weight off. In addition to his great weight loss, he has decreased the pain in his knees and feet, has found a love for running, and has inspired his family to lead a more active lifestyle.
  • With an astounding 67 pounds lost in nine months, another employee has also been able to keep her weight off with the help of NIFS. Furthermore, she was able to come off of her blood-pressure medication. And under her doctor’s watchful eye, she decreased and eventually relinquished her depression medication.

These are only three examples of how an onsite corporate fitness center—staffed by a corporate fitness management company—and its caring, dedicated employees, can benefit any company workforce. What do you think you could gain (or lose, rather) with the help of an onsite corporate fitness center?

Topics: corporate wellness employee health corporate fitness program overweight employees

Does Avoiding Nighttime Eating Lead to Weight Loss?

This blog was written by Lisa Larkin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

I’m sure most people would love it if all they had to do to lose weight was not eat two hours before bed. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s that easy. There are other things that go along with not eating large amounts of carbohydrates before bed.

Late Night Binge resized 600Working at an onsite corporate fitness center, I do a lot of nutrition consultations. Most people struggle with eating healthy. I have a lot of people tell me they eat healthy while at work, but at night is when it all goes downhill.

It is best to eat larger, higher-carbohydrate meals in the morning. This gives your body energy throughout the day; plus, your body will have time to burn off those carbs. But what’s most important is that you are not taking in more calories than you’re burning.

It really doesn’t matter what time of the day you’re eating, as long as you are staying active and not eating more than the recommended amount of daily calories for your body.

It’s also not good for your body to go all day without eating and then eat one large meal at night. This could cause your body to go into starvation mode. That could end up slowing down your metabolism, which is not what you want!

So eat your carbs in the morning, stay active, count calories, and don't starve yourself.

Topics: overweight employees nutrition

How Corporate Wellness Can Partner with Cafeterias on Calorie Posting

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Do your corporate wellness clients know how many calories they are eating when they go out for lunch? A new law from the FDA will start requiring restaurants to post calorie listings and provide more detailed nutritional information upon request.

New Law Makes Calorie Information Easier to Find

While you can already find many restaurants’ caloric content online through a simple search, making this information more visible inside restaurants or on menus is a reasonable thing to ask. You don’t go into a restaurant and order a meal without knowing the price, so why blindly order an item that might exceed your entire calorie budget for the day?

Extending Calorie Count Transparency to Corporate Cafeterias

Let’s take this one step further for worksite healtemployee choose fruith promotion. Many corporations have an onsite cafeteria whose management most likely has access to the nutritional content of their offerings.

At my site, we have partnered with our cafeteria vendor to advertise the calorie breakdown of its staple items as well as daily specials. This information is displayed visually in the cafeteria via posters and brochures and is also available online. Further, our cafeteria vendor has a “sticker system” where color-coded stickers mark the items that are low-fat, low-calorie, and low-carb.

Keep in mind as you set out to partner with a cafeteria vendor or a restaurant that they are businesses and therefore must make a profit .While their managers may be open to introducing healthier selections, they will keep their top-selling items, whether they have 200 calories or 1,200.

Here is where you can suggest to your corporate wellness clients the concept of moderation on their lunch break. Indulging every now and then is okay, but staying informed is the key to sustainable health.

Topics: corporate wellness overweight employees nutrition

Can Cash Tip the Scales Toward Employee Health?

This blog was written by Bethany Garrity. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

There's been some hubbub lately about whether employers can Scale resized 600find their employees' monetary sweet spots when it comes to losing weight. Various articles such as this one tell of efforts to use money as a corporate reward to motivate overweight employees to shed pounds.

But let's face it: If losing weight were really that simple, most people would successfully lose (and keep off) weight without having to be paid to do so. The truth is that weight loss is incredibly complex and most people make the mistake of trying to manage their weight without engaging in regular exercise. The science proves that effective long-term strategies for weight management include dietary balance as well as regular exercise.

If you want your employees to have a healthy body weight, you have to help them focus on exercise. Throwing money at them won't fix it, but revamping workplace policies, establishing a health culture directed by your leadership, and creating opportunities for exercise at work will get them moving in the right direction. NIFS offers a variety of exciting programs that can help.

The benefits of a healthy workforce go far beyond the ability to control healthcare costs and improve absenteeism. Employees who feel better are simply able to do their jobs better.

Topics: employee health overweight employees control healthcare costs corporate rewards health culture improve absenteeism

Steady Obesity Rates Good News in Fight for Healthy Workforce

This blog was written by Bethany Garrity. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

A recently released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report noted that obesity rates in the U.S. were steady last year compared with 2008 rates. This is good news because once we stop the health decline, we can start to make improvements.

Even better news from this report is that more Americans report Girl on mat resized 600being physically active--up to 34.7 percent compared with 31.9 percent in 2008. This is also good news; moving more can’t be bad. Regular exercise is a key to successful weight loss and weight management. If that doesn’t motivate overweight employees to move more, note some of the many other scientifically proven benefits of engaging in regular exercise.

We're cautiously optimistic. Health professionals across the country are doing great work to help address the obesity epidemic. Workplaces are driving much of that meaningful work in their communities with onsite corporate fitness centers, corporate fitness programs, wellness-focused benefits, healthy food options in cafeterias, and health cultures and policies that support good choices.

More work needs to be done. What are you doing to build a healthy workforce and help overweight employees lose pounds?

Topics: employee health corporate fitness program healthy workforce overweight employees health culture