Nutrition & Weight Management

Loseit.com – Make Healthy Happen Challenge

Back when I was a college student, if I felt my pants fitting snug, the fixes were simple: cut back on pizza, take a run, go to bed earlier one night a week. Poof, the 5 lbs would fall off.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve definitely noticed the changes in my body as it responds to food and exercise and sleep. Dropping a few pounds takes more effort, and sometimes it doesn’t work at all. Attempts at “dieting” have left me stressed, hungry, and unsatisfied with the results. I know that what I need is a lifestyle shift, but every plan I read sounds like a huge hassle. Friends who were so pleased with Weight Watchers failed to persuade me that the points system wasn’t another version of the exhausting food journal approach I had tried already. Nothing seemed to be the right fit for me, but finally exhausted with carrying around what I sarcastically call my “Minnesota weight” (20 extra pounds gained from hot dishes and fried fish), I went ahead and tried Loseit.com.

I don’t remember where I heard about it, but I love Loseit.com and the app for mobile devices, and I recommend it to anyone who asks about fitness suggestions. The free version of the software allows you to set a goal – maintenance or weight loss – and then track all your food and exercise as well as your weigh-ins. There’s a sizeable database of food and exercise already built up, but you can manually add items that aren’t listed, and with the mobile app you can use a UPC reader to scan and download the nutrition info on lots of major brand foods. And it apparently works with connected devices like FitBit and Nike+ as well as other apps like Runkeeper.

Loseit does all the math – the most exhausting part about food journaling. It updates your daily calorie budget depending on your weigh-in; it updates your caloric burn in your exercises based on the same; it figures your exercise into your daily calories, and it keeps you posted on when you can expect to reach your goal weight. It’s easy enough that my husband doesn’t mind using it, but it’s also fun and robust enough that I enjoy logging. There’s also a social media type component where you can connect with friends who are also using Loseit and leave comments to each other. Plus they offer challenges originated by both the users and the admin.

So starting January 5, my husband and I joined the Make Healthy Happen challenge. It was free, and there was a possibility of winning prizes every week as well as a grand prize at the end – we didn’t win, but we both lost over 10 lbs so we can’t complain. It was a great motivator just to keep up with staying eligible for prizes, but I think the best part of the challenge was what I learned about my own eating habits. It’s one thing to simply cut total calories, but in order to be eligible for weekly prizes, we had to earn points for other factors – things like how many calories from vegetables and fruit we logged each day, how many times we burned at least half our body weight in calories (if 160 lbs – burn 80 calories = 1 point), and how many times we logged all three main meals of the day. When I was actually competing with myself to earn the maximum points in all the categories I realized how much more fruit than vegetables I tend to eat and how tempting it is to say “dinner was probably within the 500 calories I have left for the day.” I found areas in my habits to target, and it was great!

So, we didn’t win any giftcards or the trip to Mexico during the challenge, but we got a great kickoff to our fitness efforts for free. Most importantly, husband and I realize that logging with Loseit is something that we need to keep up for quite a while – beyond when we reach our goal weights – because our tendency is to overeat. So at least it’s easy and free and has proven to work for us if it’s going to be a part of a long term lifestyle shift, like I keep hearing all fitness goals need to be.

Posted by:

Heather James, MU Research and Instructional Librarian

Take Charge of Your Health

Time for Emotional Remedy

It is mid February, too far from the winter holidays and yet also too far from the promise of spring. At this point in the year, some people experience the winter blues, the slump that can make us all go a little crazy, particularly with the lovely weather of Milwaukee. It is at this time of the year especially that you should make sure that you are caring for yourself emotionally and physically.

First, your emotional wellness correlates directly to your body’s well being, so make sure to keep yourself in check. The middle of winter brings out the worst in flus and colds, so set aside time and make your health checkups a priority.

In addition, be sure to get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can take a toll on one throughout the day and cause unwanted stress or anxiety. Studies show that, “Eight out of ten adults have experienced some type of sleep-related difficulty. Women are significantly more likely than men to experience problems, particularly not feeling rested after sleep, having trouble falling asleep, and trouble staying asleep” (ADAA). Some tips to help you with sleep include creating a window of about seven to nine hours in order to have time to relax and go through a routine while still getting eight hours. Furthermore, try skipping that last look on the smart phone or computer screen before climbing into bed. This will cause you to become hyper active and have your mind racing with too many thoughts before trying to fall asleep.

Along with being well rested, you should also embrace the blustery tundra of Wisconsin by pushing yourself to do some exploratory activities you would not normally do. Milwaukee has dozens of museums, galleries, and attractions that would be a perfect getaway on the dreary, cloudy days. Not only will you be exercising by walking around all day, but it will also benefit your self-health. Even if you have visited before, making plans for a Saturday afternoon at the Public Market or the Milwaukee Historical Society will give you something to look forward to throughout the week.

There are no major holidays coming up soon, and you feel a tad depressed about it. Why not throw a dinner party with just the best intimate friends or for a big group? Remaining social and spontaneous will help you to remember that everyone is in this together, and it will boost your spirits. Having a nice vent session with their support will help to detox and release some of the stresses of the week.

Lastly, take time for emotional meditation. Whether it is through prayer, exercise, or daily acknowledgements, create a block of time to give yourself alone. You know what you need to be happy, so do not let that fall away throughout this season. Whatever problems that are weighing on you emotionally will only grow if they are pushed to the back of your mind. Try to find a way to decompose internally as this will definitely help you to control your emotional wellness.

Fitness

The Little Things

It’s that time of year again, when the stores are gearing up for warmer weather, and the health clubs are growing with the soon-to-be spring/summer beach goers. This is the time of year when the New Year’s resolutions are slowly fading away as the stress and distractions of your job, activities at home, and the family schedule are becoming too packed. To this, you must say, “Stop!” Trying to fit fitness into the weekly routine can seem like the last thing anyone wants to do, but if you give yourself even ten to twenty minutes a day, you’ll find that it truly is the little things that can make a large difference. How, you ask? Studies are showing that prolonged sitting at desk/office jobs are leading to a shorter life span. Science Daily states, “The amount of time a person sits during the day is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and death, regardless of regular exercise, according to a review study published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine.” It may be hard to find times to exercise during the day, so here are a few tips that you can do at work that, if done consistently, will fit as seamlessly into your routine as checking your daily emails.

Let’s start in the parking lot. Save time and patience by skipping the rush to find the closest parking spot and pull into a spot that will give you a couple healthy extra strides. This way, you will have a few more moments to collect your thoughts and get your blood flowing for a productive day. Once inside the office, try getting to know your building even better than you do now! Is there a bathroom two doors down? Skip going there and try to find one on a different floor or farther away. The goal is to not think of moving around as a chore, but more of as a little break. If you can work 55 minutes out of the hour and give the extra five to some sort of physical activity, you will not only be aiding your health, you will be giving yourself a mental timeout. Try doing ten squats or lunges an hour, and by the end of the day, you will have done 80! If you are not feeling that ambitious, even doing leg, back, or neck stretches will help calm you down before a meeting or big presentation. Marquette Employee Wellness is also constantly offering classes throughout the day of all different kinds of activity.

If you can steal away for an hour, there are more tranquil yoga and meditation classes going on as well as cross fit and core classes for the more rigorous exercisers. Whether you feel like joining an intermural team, a group spin class, or an instructional program, there is a plethora of information on the Employee Wellness website about getting in shape. We are the little push you need that can help you stay motivated and get ready for a great spring and summer! Watch out for future university sponsored events as well such as the Walking/Couch to 5K Program, the Go Move challenge, and races through the Running Club!

Finding Balance – Life’s Juggling Act

This week’s blog theme is Finding Balance – Life’s Juggling Act. Under this topic we will be exploring all areas of our lives that can get off balance and how we can try to bring some of that balance back. Last week Michael Dante, Director of the Faber Center, and I did a talk on balance through Marquette’s Grow program. The focus of our talk was how to lay the foundation for obtaining balance in your life, and why it is such a difficult task. Here’s a bit of a recap for those of you that missed it.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines balance as “a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance.” I like this definition because it uses the term “equal or proper amounts.” We are all individuals. We lead different lives, and we have different priorities. Each of us needs to decide what the “proper amount” is for us. So let’s look at all the areas we might be trying to balance each day. For this talk, I used six categories: (1) Family/Friends; (2) Career; (3) Finances; (4) Fun/Leisure; (5) Personal/Spiritual Growth; and (6) Health/Wellness.  In each of these six categories, you could be dealing with multiple tasks that could be causing your life to become unbalanced. If you are a busy mom, you may be spending so much time running kids around, taking care of the household, working, etc. that you don’t take the time to care for yourself. Major life events can also throw us off balance. You may feel that you have everything somewhat together, but all of a sudden you are now having to deal with aging parents, a sudden loss of a loved one, or a health problem. Having a strong foundation for a balanced life can help when life throws these curveballs at as. There are four areas that I am going to discuss below that can help you build a strong foundation.

1) Self-Care Practices: When it comes to taking care of ourselves, this may not always happen. Taking care of ourselves allows us to be a better wife, husband, friend, mother, father, coworker, etc. This means that it’s important to see the doctor on a regular basis for physicals and preventative screenings. It also means going to the dentist and the eye doctor regular check-ups, getting enough sleep each night, exercising regularly, eating healthy, and taking time to for rest/renewal activities. Finding pleasure in life by taking time to enjoy some of your favorite things on a regular basis is important. This may mean working on your hobby, reading your favorite book, or taking a hot bath.

2) Monitoring Work/Family Expectations: It’s important to talk about expectations and clarify responsibilities at work and with your family. Does your supervisor expect you to be at work from 9 to 5 or is there some flexibility? Can you work from home once in a while? Can you work different hours? At home, this might mean that you are talking to your significant other and your children about who is responsible for various household chores, or you are talking to your children about expectations for their behavior or grades. Establishing limits and boundaries early and upfront with your family, colleagues, and manager(s) is important, and there may be times that you need to re-negotiate. Putting these practices into play at home and with your family can help you live a more balanced life and decrease stress.

3) Stress Reduction: Stress can happen in all areas of our lives. Controlling stress is important because the health effects can wreak havoc on our lives. Headaches, backaches, stomachaches, tight muscles, low energy, trouble sleeping, stress eating, etc. are all things we can experience when we have uncontrolled stress. Once you get into this vicious stress cycle it’s hard to get out of it. It’s important to know what your warning signs are, what triggers your stress, and what stress reduction techniques you can use. Having some emergency stress stoppers can help you. For example, if you know that traffic causes you stress, plan a different route that is more relaxing. Do you notice tight muscles in your upper back and neck? Maybe take a stretch break and do some deep breathing throughout your day so this doesn’t happen. Does being late cause you stress? Leave 10 minutes earlier.

4) Connect to Your Spiritual Core: Spirituality is a vital component of our well-being. Some questions you may want to ponder to help you connect to your spiritual core are: (1) How do you find meaning and purpose in your life and how does it relate to your work? (2) What are your life’s priorities and what really matters? (3) What are your passions and what animates you or gives you life? 4) What past experiences of balance or unbalance have you experienced in your life and how you responded?

Laying a foundation for a balanced life requires some work, but it is possible. Having a strong foundation is important, so that when life happens and you are thrown off balance, regaining your equilibrium is a bit easier. Start by making small changes in your life. You may want to keep a journal of how you spend your time so you can see areas in your life that are off balance, or notice what your time wasters are. Make a list of work and family expectations to discuss with your boss and your family. Keep track of your triggers for stress and identify some emergency stress stoppers that work for you. And finally, explore the questions above to connect to your spiritual self. From there, you can decide where you need to make some changes to lead a more balanced lifestyle.

A Fresh Start

The Marquette University Employee Wellness program’s vision is to be nationally recognized as an employment environment that integrates a healthy lifestyle with the lifelong pursuit of excellence, faith, leadership and service to others. This year, this goal will be renewed and strengthened throughout a variety of popular and new outlets. In the past, MU Wellness has run programs pertaining to a vast range of health topics reaching from physical activity, weight management, and nutrition to CPR training, self-care, and stress management. In addition, there is a plethora of services available for the employee community to grow individually through self-guided programs and as part of spiritually steered and fitness-affiliated classes. Our goal for Wellness is to increase the mindfulness of future and current services to help improve and refresh our employees. According to the Wellness Wheel, there are six main areas of healthy living: physical, intellectual, social, spiritual, occupational, and emotional. These areas expand into multiple sub topics that the diverse Marquette community tackles every day.

With a fresh image on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and a weekly blog, MU Wellness will begin to explore how to be successful and at peace physically, mentally, and spiritually. Twitter will be used to post updates on current health opportunities at Marquette and in the local Milwaukee community. In addition, it will be a landing spot for interesting articles and retweets of inspiring stories of wellness themes. Facebook will be an employee’s easy, go-to guide for weekly and monthly events happening in Employee Wellness. Think of it as your virtual health calendar! We will also post photos from fun employee events happening on campus! For those that are more visually enthused, get ready to be consumed by creative pins of pictures, workouts, articles, and more that relate to each subject of the Wellness Wheel. Pinterest will go hand in hand with the weekly blog, targeting everything from diet and nutrition to stress management to taking charge of your health! Gear up for guest bloggers who will share success stories, event coverage, and words of wisdom.

With the new boost of the Employee Wellness program, employees have the unique and encouraged chance to jump into an online and physical community that focuses on an involved and health-conscious atmosphere. The amazing benefit here is that not only are you getting healthy, but you are doing it with people just like you, the family of Marquette University. Come together with friends, fellow department co-workers, and others to advance your individual and communal wellness. No matter the age, schedule, or involvement, there is something for everyone. Stay up to date and subscribe to the new and improved social media outlets to engage in programs for fitness, nutrition, stress reduction/meditation, life balance, and self care. This is just the beginning of a Marquette Wellness revolution, and you can join in! If you have other ideas about wellness or how to improve the community, please contact Kristin Kipp at kristin.kipp@mu.edu and share your thoughts!

How to use Pinterest for your Nutritional Needs

In case you missed out on our Nutrition Fair in the AMU yesterday, here are some insider tips on how to use Pinterest that were written by our very own Wellness Committee member Beth Krey.
 

How I use Pinterest for my nutritional needs

If you have used the online tool Pinterest (www.pinterest.com) before, you are aware there are many, many, many tantalizing “pins” out there for practically anything you are interested in. From the kitchen related: How to pick a superstar watermelon! (http://www.pinterest.com/pin/365776800956022617/) For the DIYer at heart: Build your own storage bins! (http://www.pinterest.com/pin/92112754850979457/) To the fitness-challenged: Tank Top Arm Workout! (http://www.pinterest.com/pin/92112754850934523/) I wanted to take a moment to share how I utilize Pinterest to best serve my mostly-healthy food cravings. I definitely use Pinterest for some other fun things like workout plans, craft ideas and decorating concepts – but I’ll stick to food and nutrition for this post.

At its core, Pinterest is a website that allows users to collect and organize things called “pins” onto “boards” of interest by linking an image to the source’s website. You can give your “pin” a description to help you and others know what it’s about or why you selected it. This “pin” becomes a live and interactive piece of Pinterest, which according to the website is its reason for existence – Pinterest is a tool for collecting and organizing the things that inspire you.

As a Pinterest user, you are able to connect with friends from Facebook and Twitter or invite others via email. Once you pin a link to something – your friends and everyone else who uses Pinterest can see it. This interactive component is a way to gain inspiration from others, search for new ideas and have a place to store links to things that interest you.

In a nutshell, I use Pinterest like I would a recipe box. I have created a board for each recipe area – such as “pizza”, “chicken”, “sandwiches”, etc. There are three ways I choose to look for and add pins to my Pinterest profile’s boards:

  1. Via Pinterest’s home feed which includes pins of my “friends” along with pins that are popular at that moment from anyone that is a member and uses Pinterest. This has been great for the not so healthy, but oh so delicious, decadent dessert ideas. I have also found great pins this way, including the “10 Top BBQ Ideas”.
  2. As I read blogs or explore websites, or even get links from friends, I will “pin” the interesting recipes into my category boards as I find them. This is a quick way for me to sort through recipes I’m interested in trying without having to find that email later or print out the recipe and store it somewhere.
  3. I have literally put my recipe box on Pinterest. All the past recipes that have been clipped and stored in a small container for years have been added to my boards if I can find the online version of the recipe. Even most recipes from the local newspaper have an online source. To me, the only paper-worthy recipes are those hand-me-downs from my mom and grandma. To be quite honest, I have even found many of these older family recipes online. I also take my physical magazines and rip out interesting recipes, only to add them to my Pinterest boards when I have a free moment and then recycle the ripped out pages.

Now that I’ve accumulated over 1,000 pins (mostly all recipes – and probably on the lower end of an average user’s number of pins), it’s very easy to find a specific recipe or search through my pins to located that pesto recipe I can’t remember the name of or ingredients to. This isn’t a sponsored post for the website, just an honest description of how a normal 30 year old mom keeps down clutter and makes life a little easier.

One word of caution regarding the MANY pins available to search through on the website, is to check out the source link before you re-pin to your personal boards. Sometimes the items that are referenced are not what is linked – or are not linked to the full description/directions you are looking for. Often pins go viral and everyone seems to be reposting the same thing – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a great recipe. Also, those bunny-shaped rolls aren’t always as easy to create as the picture makes it seem. But that delves into a new area: Pinterest-FAILS. Good luck using Pinterest to best suit your needs!

Beth Krey

 

Community Supported Agriculture Comes To Marquette

After our holiday about giving thanks and eating too much, moving on to our holiday where we love to make cookies and eat peppermint, let’s talk about food. But not for now, for next summer. It may seem early to start planning, but with this opportunity you may start drooling. Employee Wellness has set up a program you need to check out, if you like to eat, that is.

CSA is great for the community and environment, but even better for you. CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, are programs that produce fresh, organic food on local small farms that is delivered to you at your home or in this case at work! Employee Wellness has set up a program with Three Sisters Community Farm in Campbellsport, WI to bring their produce to campus weekly this coming summer season (June through October). Three Sisters has offered a 5% discount to Marquette Employees and any who sign up before December 31, 2013 will receive an additional 5% off! The CSA through Marquette Employee Wellness has 35 spots to those who register on the Three Sisters Website and select Marquette University for their drop off site (the discount was already taken off for you).

These programs are a great way to bring home fresh foods that have been untouched by chemicals and preservatives. This particular company has a U Pick option where you can log on to your online account and select the produce you want to be delivered to you each week from what they have available. This makes it easy for you to experiment with new things you want to try or load up on the fruits and veggies you know you love. In addition, they come out with a weekly newsletter that provides information on the farm, storage tips for each week’s produce, recipes, and ideas. Cutting down on the transit time of your food makes this an eco-friendly option with less gas used in transporting, energy in cooling and packaging, and chemicals in preserving before each vegetable reaches your plate. When we are eating foods that are known to be good for us we rarely think about the microscopic or unseen facets of that meal that might not be so good. By using CSA as a source for your produce, these detriments are no longer factors.

For more information on Three Sisters Community Farm visit their website. If you are interested in signing up with Employee Wellness please don’t hesitate! There are a very limited number of spots and we cannot be sure how fast they will go.

Happy Holidays!

Shannon Gambon

Wellness Intern Fall 2013



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