Dietary Monogamy a.k.a. No Cheating!

   Ryan Hall  MS, CSCS, Wellness Coordinator

As a personal trainer one of the biggest issues I had with my clients was trying to get their nutrition under control. I would help them by steering them away from foods that would be detrimental to their goals and provide them with healthy substitutes and new ideas for meals. It never failed that I would have at least one client that would get the great idea of going on some crash diet that restricted what they could eat, when they could eat, what they could drink and how they should view food in general. When I would inform them about how food/calorie restriction can be have a serious negative effect on them, their answer would come back to, ”but it’s perfectly fine because Saturday is my cheat day.” Your WHAT!?! A day that you can eat whatever you want and not completely mess up everything that you have been working towards? Let’s think about this a little. Whether this diet is the be-all-end-all or complete, well…you know, giving yourself an entire day to blow everything you’ve done doesn’t seem like the best idea, does it? This concept wouldn’t work out very well for someone trying to quit smoking; no cigarettes for an entire week and then you can suck ‘em down like they are the only thing keeping you alive for one day.

No matter what you are trying to do with your dietary changes, the biggest thing you are trying to do is break a habit that you have formed over years of eating a certain way. Just as if you were trying to quit smoking, it is a habit that needs to be broken. Letting yourself eat your body weight in pizza, cookies, chips, ice cream, hamburgers, French fries and don’t forget the Diet Coke (you are trying to watch your weight here) will NOT help you break the habits that you have formed. Cheat days will ruin what you are trying to do, period! Has anyone ever heard of the term moderation? Listen, if you are able to change around your diet for the better, you are eating more lean proteins, loading up on veggies and fruits, focusing on moderate amounts of healthy fats such as avocado and olive oil and eating appropriate amounts of healthy grains, go ahead and have that cookie. Just stop at one, not one box! Hey, you had a scoop of ice cream, good for you! It wasn’t the carton like it used to be. A slightly unhealthy treat every once in a while is fine, actually it can be good for you. Don’t believe me? Just think back to that first cheat day on your new diet plan and tell me that one cookie wouldn’t have been healthier than that gorge-fest that you went through. I’m not telling you to eat a piece of cake everyday to keep the doctor away, I’m just saying to not stress out so much over a little treat. Mentally, you’ll be stronger knowing that you can still bake your cake and eat it too.

Biking to Work – How to Incorporate into Your Program

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 Toni Sperlbaum, CWWPM, CHWC, Vice President of Sales & Marketing

May is National Bike to Work Month.  While not all workplaces are easily accessible by bike or perhaps your employees are too spread out geographically to commit to doing this, there are still plenty of other ideas you can incorporate into your wellness program for the month of May and beyond!

  1. Encourage employees to Bike to Work!  It can’t hurt to put it out there.  Designate one morning where, if employees show up by bicycle, they can get free coffee, fruit, oatmeal, water, prizes, and more!  (notice the healthy food correlation?  No donuts!)
  2. Host a Bike Safety Workshop.  HPA is actively promoting FREE Bike Safety courses right now, coming right to your workplace!  Whether your employees are riding to work or not, you can always encourage them to log bike miles throughout a certain time frame and host a free class on how they can ride safe.
  3. Don’t assume employees won’t ride to work.  Give them a chance! Maybe they won’t because there isn’t a bike rack to lock up their wheels.  Set up the environment so you’re removing the barriers and excuses.
  4. Set up a bike miles challenge.  Have employees log miles on their bike for a couple of weeks.  Do a drawing for one random participant and give a prize to the one who logged the most miles, and one who logged the most trips.  Encourage family participation.
  5. Provide free bike maps of trails in your area.  Or, even providing a handout that teaches employees the safety signals and rules of the road.

Contact us at HPA if you’d like assistance with any of the above programming.  Ride on!

I Don’t Believe in Low Carb, but I’m Trying it Anyway

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Nicole Griswold, CHWC

I have recently gone on a low carb diet for a few different reasons after doing some extra research on the positives and negatives of this new lifestyle. I would like to say that first of all, anyone who is low carb and is truly works for them – that’s awesome! You’re healthy and at a weight you’re happy with? Great! As there are many different studies that support positive health benefits of reducing carbohydrate intake, there is also evidence that shows that if you do not do it in a healthy way, you can run into some other health issues. 

Hesitantly, I decided to jump on the low carb train and see what it’s all about. As someone who struggles with some serious stomach problems, I do like to try some new things in my diet to try to assist with these issues. I know I will lose a few pounds too, so why not give it a try?  As I’m counting my carbs, I fight with myself because I often think too clinically and am also a pretty realistic person when it comes to all paths of life, food included! I think about the physiological repercussions of depriving yourself of the healthy foods that include carbohydrates in their molecular make-up. I seriously love carbs – and not the healthy ones, either! Comfort food! Mashed potatoes, beer, pasta, ice cream, french fries, cheese cake? All day. I know that I enjoy those things and will always eat them for the rest of my life, hopefully with some type of self control! I am very aware I will not sustain a low carb diet forever. I have successfully lost weight – a max of 17lbs total – from lowering my calorie intake, really focusing on portion control, and getting in some good exercise. Sure I had to cut some sweets and extra “bad” things, but I rarely thought about carbs and was totally successful. I’ve kept the weight off for 3 years now.

When it comes down to it, we know all the stuff that is bad for us is high in sugar. Starting on a low carb diet, you’re really just cutting out all the junk you shouldn’t even be eating anyway. More and more studies are being performed on the diseases directly related to increased sugar intake. Cancer and even dementia have been shown to be more prominent in persons with elevated unhealthy carbohydrate intake. It’s crazy to think of all the different things that refined sugar can do to our bodies and minds! 

Does your body need bread, pasta, and cookies to survive? No, not at all. Carbs should be coming from healthy foods like fruits, veggies, sweet potatoes, whole grains, etc. The problem with the low carb diet fad is that people think they can eat bacon, cheese, steak, butter, and eggs and call it a day. These foods are high in saturated fats which correlate directly to atherosclerosis (plaque build up in the arteries) which could lead to vascular issues down the road. If focusing on a diet high in these types of fats, be sure to check in with a physician on a regular basis to get your lipids checked. Focus in on leaner meats, low fat cheese, butter made with canola oil, and remove some egg yolks. 

I saw someone post online once, “Down 4lbs in one night!!” Does this person think that 4lbs will be gone forever? Or my all time favorite, “I had to remove the broccoli from my plate so I didn’t go over on my carbs.” Broccoli. She thought eating broccoli was unhealthy for her. I almost lost it!
I guess my point is this: getting caught up in the hype of a certain fad when it comes to food is so easy to do.  This post could of literally been about 20 other topics and had the same content. But again, I always tell people to be realistic about their health and nutrition. If a healthy low carb lifestyle works long term, then roll with it! Just know that it will have to be a long term lifestyle change or else the weight will come back faster than ever.