Zero Calories !?!?

   Ryan Hall  MS, CSCS, Wellness Coordinator

So, I don’t mean to sound negative, but it drives me nuts when I see blatant misinformation pushed on people in an attempt make them feel better about their own poor choices. We make enough bad decisions in our lifetime; sticking your tongue to a pole in the middle of winter, listening to your friends when they tell you that you can easily jump that ravine on your bike, or the ever infamous “dude you gotta try this, we’ve all done it!” Liars! Not that I’ve fallen victims to these…twice. But I’m talking about information regarding our food choices and what is healthy and why. We all know that pizza is bad for us and fruit is good, but let’s make sure we all know why something is good for us and that nothing is free.

As I was walking out of my local fitness center, feeling better that I may have possibly burnt off enough calories to justify the amazing apple induced sugar rush I was going to give myself, a handmade billboard caught my eye. “ZERO CALORIE FOODS!” Low and behold, there is a Heaven, and according to this poster, it is filled with zero calorie apples, bananas, pineapple, celery and almost every other type of fruit and vegetable you can think of. Hallelujah! But then I remembered, wait, this apple in my hand, this gorgeous, ruby red, juicy piece of sweetness named Fuji actually contains about 100 calories with about 30g (90 cal) coming from straight up sugar; fructose to be exact! What! (Not that fructose is bad for you)
Zero Calories

Zero calorie foods are a myth people! It has been a thought out there for a long time that there are some fruits and vegetables that require more calories to digest than they actually give. Unfortunately, this is total hogwash. There are foods out there that have very few calories. For instance, a stalk of celery has between six and ten calories. There is a metric called TEF (Thermal Effect of Food) that measures how many calories are used to digest food. Generally speaking, it’s only about 10% to 20%. That means a ten calorie stalk of celery still gives you eight calories even after digestion. So in the case of my delectable Fuji, this means it still “contains” 80 calories after you factor in my tummy doing some work.

I’m not saying that we should all give up on nutritious fruits & veggies and go binging on a swimming pool full of ice cream and donuts; I’m just saying that we need to be properly informed about what we eat. Keep eating those fruits and vegetables, just know that you are consuming calories. So after ripping down the poster and high tailing it out of there screaming “They’re all out to make us fat,” needless to say, I’m looking for a new place to get in shape. Any suggestions?

“Culture of Wellness” – Buzz Words?

Toni Sperlbaum, CWWPM, CHWC, Wellness Account Manager

“Culture of Wellness” could be called a Buzz Term in the world of corporate wellness, as it is used a lot.  Don’t get me wrong – culture is VERY important to the success of a wellness program an.  But what are we really talking about when we discuss “Culture of Wellness”?

The first place we tend to look is the environment.  Do you have signs/posters with health tips or motivating messages?  Do you have stairs that are well lit and easily accessible?  Do you provide healthy options in your cafeteria or provide free or low cost healthy snacks in your vending machines?  Do you provide fun and engaging activities to support employees in their quest for wellness?  All of these are important and while they DO contribute to the culture, THERE’S MORE TO THE STORY!

Culture also includes employee morale – finding meaning and purpose in their jobs.  With millennials making up 70% of the workforce in the next 10 years, this is an incredibly important focus, since millennials are demanding more and more that they are clear on their roles and how those roles provide value within the organization.  Creating a focus on self-care and consumerism is a step all successful wellness programs should take to move in this direction.

Who cares if a workplace has health food and a fitness center if employees are being worked to death?   Oftentimes, when designing a wellness program, we tend to think “how can we get employees to lose weight?  How can we get them to stop smoking?”  I encourage a focus shift to “How can we create conditions to motivate employees to __________”.  We need to be designing our programs FOR or WITH employees, rather than doing something TO them, and they need to view it that way.  People only support what they help create – I challenge you and all of us to refocus on the employee experience.

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do…”  – Steve Jobs

The Holiday Weigh In


Nicole Griswold, CHWC, Wellness Coordinator

Did you know that on average, Americans gain 6lbs over the holiday season? With the inevitable downward winter weather spiral and the overwhelming amounts of glorious foods and treats, it’s easy to throw on the extra pounds. I’m a pretty big advocate of treating yourself and allowing the occasional indulgence, especially during the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year are times to celebrate, relax with family, and have a few extra drinks. Everyone has their weakness when it comes to the yummy temptations lingering in the kitchen so here are a couple tricks to enjoy yourself but not overdo it.

  1. Portions! This is easily the biggest issue for most people – not even during the holidays. How many times do re-load your plate? Two or three more times? Try eating one plate and waiting 20 minutes. Are you still hungry? Do you still really want more?
    • Use a smaller plate as opposed to a full size dinner plate. Load it up! You’ll be looking at a plate just full of delicious food. Yes, there is less food there but it appears like you have just as much.
    • Still tempted for more? As soon as you’re finished with your original plate, get up and rinse it in the sink. No more plate = no more food.
  2. Desserts! So much pie. How many different desserts does your family have available and how many different kinds of dessert ends up on your plate? Contrary to popular belief, you actually are not required to try every single dessert available. Pick your favorite and leave the rest. Maybe have a bite or two of something else later on.
  3. Pre-Dinner Snacks – Often times there are plates of mini appetizers scattered about. You see it, you eat it. Your socializing, maybe have a glass of wine, and before you know it you’ve snacked enough to not even be hungry for dinner. Is that cracker with cheese on it that exciting? A good rule of thumb here is to not go into the event starving. Have breakfast, drink some extra water, and you won’t be tempted to load up on the finger foods.
  4. Drinking – Watching the Lions lose on Thanksgiving day as well as a handful of Christmas parties on the calendar, it’s pretty obvious that you’ll drinking a bit more than usual. If you’re trying to watch the calories, grab a lighter beer, a glass of red wine, or a clear liquor like vodka or gin.
  5. Buddy Up – A great way to find some accountability in these situations is to tell someone ahead of time what your plan is. Tell your spouse, a family member, or friend that you are trying to watch how much you’ll be eating. There is a chance you’ll start caving in the temptation of extra food or sweets and it’s nice to have someone there to lovingly slap your hand away.