Nutrition & Wellness Programming

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

Wellness programs and their education components are often built on two primary staples: diet and exercise.  Exercise is relatively easy to program (and easy to understand from an employee’s perspective). But when it comes to nutrition, there is an incredible amount of conflict even within the professional world of physicians, scientists, dietitians, and experts, it’s no wonder the “normal person” is confused and that the national obesity rate is rising above and beyond 35% in the United States.

March is National Nutrition Month.  It’s the perfect time to hone in on these programs and hear from the experts (us!) on delivering effective and affordable nutrition programs to reach members.  Especially when weight loss is 80% proper nutrition and only 20% physical activity, it’s an imperative focus for an employer and should be a part of your wellness programming.

Here are our top 5 most popular nutrition programs:

  1. Educational Seminars – a fan favorite of our clients is “Mythbusting: Nutrition Edition” and “Healthy Cooking Live Demo”.  Provide a month-long challenge after the class in order to put to practice the different topics discussed in the class.
    “Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
  2. MENTAL HEALTH! – Not always an obvious thought, but in our experience, most of our members’ struggle with their food intake directly relates to stress, time management, work-life balance, and financial restrictions.  Designing programs that can pinpoint THESE issues will have a direct correlation to nutrition.
  3. Challenge – Seems obvious, as wellness programs LOVE challenges.  But it is for good reason, as challenges both involve employees and promote friendly workplace competition that truly is a drive for some members.  A good challenge will encourage employees to meet their goals, not “be the MOST healthy”.  It will also reward goal meeting each week and will have a different focus area each week (count your calories, eat foods with 5 or less ingredients or that you can pronounce, track your fiber grams, eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, etc.).
  4. Web Portal – Trackers, social accountability aspect – We’ve seen the power of the digital world through the rise of Social Media.  Using a web portal where employees can keep a food diary, share with a coach, and share their favorite recipes, exercise progress, funny and encouraging memes, and more on a social network within the portal.
  5. 1-on-1 Coaching – Speaking of coaching, the most tailored, effective programming you can do is provide your members the opportunity to talk to someone who will provide them with the accountability, the encouragement, and proper guidance to successful goal setting.


Diet vs. Exercise: My Professional Opinion

   Ryan Hall  MS, CSCS, Wellness Coordinator

With my 12 + years in the Health and Wellness field, 10 of those years as a personal trainer, the main question I would get is: “How can I lose my gut?”

My professional opinion:  “Keep your mouth closed!”

Ok, hear me out! You can get on your elliptical in the morning and ride like the wind for 30 to 45 minutes and burn a whopping 400 calories in doing so. Yeah Me! Now it’s time for my post workout shake (Low Carb – 100 cal), don’t forget my banana, because I need my potassium (1 medium – 110 cal). And let’s wash it all down with a caffe mocha w/ nonfat milk on the way to work (1 grande – 250 cal). Mid day snack time; Greek yogurt (100 cal) and some granola (Quaker 0.5 cup – 200 cal). Time for lunch. Darn! I forgot to bring it today. Oh well, that healthy sub sandwich shop it is. 6 inch Oven Roasted Chicken Breast on whole wheat (320 cal) with avocado (1 half – 125 cal) and ranch (2 Tbsp –  140 cal), oh…don’t forget the cookie (chocolate chip – 200 cal) and the Diet Coke (0 cal). Doing good, right? Oh wait, it’s only lunch time (1,545 cal so far). You push through the rest of the work day with another caffe mocha (1 grande – 250 cal) and an apple (1 small Gala – 80 cal). Time for dinner, grilled chicken breast (5 oz – 233 cal) with a baked potato (1 medium Russet – 163 cal) and butter (1 pat – 36 cal), some sweet corn (1 cob – 100 cal) and more butter (1 pat – 36 cal) and a side salad (spinach, 1 cup – 7 cal) with olive oil (1 Tbsp – 120 cal) and balsamic vinegar (1 Tbsp – 10 cal) dressing. All American chow (705 cal, I’m being conservative.) Well, we can’t forget our glass of wine night cap (Merlot, 5 oz – 125 cal) and our late night indulgence on some ice cream now can we? (1 cup – 540 cal)

Alright…and the grand total is?

3,165 calories! But wait, I exercised this morning. That should account for something, right? Ok, ok…2,765 calories. Great job, here’s a cookie…no wait, don’t eat that! The average person should be eating between 1,500 to 1,800 calories a day to promote weight loss. The thing I tell my clients and anyone I meet is that exercise will NOT fix your horrible eating habits. Period! If you can’t control what goes in, you will not be able to control what comes off! Now, this generalization is strictly based on calories alone. There is so much more to this than just calories, but that is a topic for another discussion. The main take away from this is to learn the difference between your mouth and a vacuum cleaner. Pay attention to what you are eating. You will not lose weight if you cannot control yourself! You can lose weight just by paying attention to portion size and making sure you are eating nutritious food. Keep a journal for a while, and be honest with it. If it goes in your mouth, it goes in the journal. Not writing something down only hurts you. Once you get a good idea how much you are actually eating, you can then start making changes. So, get your pencils and papers out and start journaling.