Part IV: Ingredients – You get out what you put in…

Weight Loss Unmasked: A five part series looking deeper at why we struggle with losing weight

By Briana Boehmer

I’m amazed at how little we pay attention to the content of the food we eat.  As I walked through the grocery story this evening I took a moment to grab items I NEVER entertain buying.  I wanted to remind myself of WHY I don’t buy them.  First ingredient SUGAR…okay, don’t need that.  Yellow lake 5…mmmm, what food group is that?  Hydrogenated…what?  If you read a label and you have to think about what you are reading, put the item BACK!

My point is simple – what VALUE does the food you are eating have to your body?  What will it DO FOR YOU?  Just like when you got to a financial advisor to help you build your portfolio, go to food to help build a strong, healthy body.  Just liking saving money for retirement, what you eat now has a huge impact on quality of life down the road.

I know the question you are now asking…”What do I eat then?!”  I do believe that is a very personal question sometimes, however there are GREAT tools you can use to help guide your food choices.   I was fortunate to listen to a brilliant man by the name of Dr. David Katz speak last year at a state wellness conference.  He is the brains behind an innovative nutrition labeling system called NuVal.  The system is VERY SIMPLE.  The NuVal System scores food on a scale of 1-100. The higher the NuVal Score, the better the nutrition.  Check it out here:

What I LOVE about NuVal is that it takes into account the true nutritional value of the food you eat.  Medical and nutrition experts lead by Dr. Katz and the Yale Prevention Research Center spent two years to develop the Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI™), a complex and advanced algorithm which converts complex nutritional information into a single, easy-to-use score – The NuVal Score.  The score goes beyond the basic nutrition label to really determine what value the food has. It considers 30-plus nutrients and nutrition factors – the good (protein, calcium, vitamins) and the not-so-good (sugar, sodium, cholesterol).  In a nutshell it weighs the good with the bad to produce a number you can trust to make better decisions about nutrition in just a few seconds.

First things first, I’m not saying you need to memorize the NuVal score for every food you eat.  What I am saying is that you should take the time to understand what the foods you eat are providing your body.  For example, a cereal I have always loved, Kashi Strawberry Fields, has a NuVal score of 10!  Compare that to blueberries…they have a score of 100!  For examples of NuVal scores follow this link:

The biggest drawback right now with NuVal is that you can only find them posted in certain grocery stores across the nation.  Check out if a store near you displays them:  If you do not have a store near you that supports NuVal, suggest that your local market start to!  Also take time to search through the NuVal website.  There are some great educational resources to take advantage of – Like suggestions on how to replace foods you eat with better choices (they call “trading up”) and an interactive “nutrition by the numbers” game where you can test your knowledge on the foods you eat!

Understanding what you are putting in your body is one of the fundamental components of successful behavior change and weight loss.  NuVal is one tool I feel has significant merit.  Knowledge truly is power…when you know what you are buying you are more apt to think twice.

Read the other blogs in this weight loss series:

  1. Part 1: You Have to EAT to Lose Weight
  2. Part 2: Food Journaling Matters A LOT
  3. Part 3: All Calories Were NOT Created Equal

Sure, Overeat on Thanksgiving…But Learn this One Habit to Avoid

By Briana Boehmer

Sure, we all know eating too much has its implications. Let’s not dwell on the obvious. And we all know the saying “everything in moderation.” Clearly, Thanksgiving throws a big hand in the face of that one. However, have you ever taken the time to really think about what happens when you overeat? Have you ever wondered if there is more to it than meets the eye? Well let’s sit down with our nemesis overeating and see what we find when we dig into the facts…

The Good News
Your body is SMART. Oh yes, very smart. The key is to understand how the body operates, which at its purest level is survival. When researchers and scientists look at how the body reacts to various stimuli, the pattern is almost always linked to survival. Our body is wired to adapt to sudden changes in order to achieve balance or homeostasis as quickly as possible. In the face of a change in the norm, your body will do its best to counteract that change to create what it is used to. Case in point, if the only day I ever overeat is Thanksgiving, my body is going to do its best to take care of those calories and get “back to normal”.

The Rub
We never JUST overeat on Thanksgiving Day. The trend?…To overeat from Thanksgiving up to the New Year. It is this CONSISTENT overeating, albeit a short period of time, that wrecks havoc on your waistline. In a recent 2010 study out of Linkoping University in Sweden*, researchers found that short bouts of consistent overeating lead to long-term weight gain. While further research needs to be done, the study confirmed what we already know from years of looking at weight gain and loss – everything in moderation. One day of overeating a year – no big deal. One month of overeating – Houston, we have a problem.

The Take Home
Don’t beat yourself up over that piece of cherry pie or extra piece of turkey. Be more aware of what you are doing throughout the holiday season to keep your eating on track. Counter excess eating with regular exercise and see if you can aim to NOT gain weight during this most wonderful time of the year!

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*Ernersson, A. Nutrition & Metabolism, Aug. 25, 2010

411Fit Provides Full Suite of Services for Wellness Professionals

By Briana Boehmer

When we think about the needs of health professionals in today’s ever-evolving health crisis, we don’t put our hands up in mutiny; we put our heads down and keep creating. The creators of 411Fit are passionate about making a lasting impact on the health of our world. We believe that everyone has the opportunity to live a healthier life with the right knowledge and action. This is where you come in.

Certified Personal Trainers, Health Coaches, Dieticians, Nutritionists, Doctors and other health professionals have a wide range of needs based on their specialties. Our mission is to bridge the gap for ALL health professionals putting effective tools in their pocket and making their job of educating the public easier and more effective.

We know there is still a big disconnect. You want to provide individual and corporate solutions but don’t always have the right tools to do so. 411Fit has worked hard to provide the missing link for ALL wellness professionals. The chart below highlights key aspects of 411Fit’s suite of services along with a comparison to the needs of health professionals.

411Fit is the first web-based application to provide tools to the individual, corporation, and health professional all in one.

  • An individual needs tools to help keep them on track, provide education and motivation, and ultimately see progress with their health and wellness goals.
  • Corporations need viable tools to create a happy and healthy workforce. We spend more time at work than we do anywhere else…if we are well at work that translates to being well in other aspects of our life.
  • Health professionals are our most personalized avenue to understanding and working on our health. At the highest level, health professionals can provide the missing link to reaching one’s desired level of wellness.

Use the chart below to fill out what areas you address with each client/patient. Compare the spaces that are missing with 411Fit’s offering.
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How would your capacity be enhanced if all of those services were available to you in one robust tool? Good news! They are!

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Let’s Talk About Stress

By Briana Boehmer

It has become increasingly apparent to me that most of us live very stress-filled lives. Sometimes I wonder why we stress ourselves out so much. Why the hurry? Why so many commitments? Believe me, I am no stranger to overcommitting my time and overfilling my plate. Recently I sat down and thought about times in my life where I was nearly stress-free, when relaxation was the name of the game. One thing kept popping up in my mind, summer break from my grade school years. Ahhh, those were the days!

In the real world, summer is like most other seasons for the most part…BUSY! However, the idea of relaxation and taking a break is something we should think about and make a priority year round. I want you to think back to the time when you had those extended summer breaks. What did you do? How did you feel? Wanting to go back to those days? Good! Let’s brainstorm how you can recreate relaxed moments in your busy schedule.

Time Management Is Key

One common culprit of stress is the “feeling of overwhelm” – too many things to do and not enough time. First and foremost, work to NOT over-commit yourself. If you are one of those people who just can’t say no (like me), learn to put your foot down and just say NO! It is OK to not do everything for everyone. Next look at how you manage the things you do.

Do you:

  1. Have a plan each day? Clearly lay out each day and week. A plan keeps you on track and notifies you of things you don’t have time to do.
  2. Prioritize? When you plan your days and weeks do you put the important “must do” things top on the list? Don’t procrastinate the important tasks and obligations. When important things get put to the wayside, stress is inevitable.
  3. Write things down? When you plan and prioritize how do you remember what you are doing when? When you keep track of your tasks and write them down you are more likely to remember what you have to do and when they must be done.
  4. Take on tasks in manageable chunks? If you have a big project due break it up into manageable pieces. Trying to do too much all at once will bring on near immediate stress.
  5. Delegate? Your co-workers, family, and friends are all a piece of the puzzle. Don’t take on tasks that are truly meant for others to do or that another can do more efficiently (meaning it is their job!).
  6. Work efficiently? Efficiency has many components. Taking the time to do something well the first time means you were efficient! Giving the proper time and environment to complete something also lends to efficiency. Don’t rush an important task AND create an environment that allows you to complete the task well. Close your door, turn off the radio, and keep distractions at a minimum!
  7. Take breaks?! 1 hour of concentrated effort is often better than 3 hours of interrupted and distracted effort. Everyone is different in how long they can stay on task, but studies show that most people tend to loose focus around 50 minutes to 1 hour. Taking a 10-15 minute break to either work on a different task or just relax can rejuvenate and refocus your efforts.
  8. TAKE CARE OF YOU? Above all make sure you are getting ample sleep, exercise, and proper nutrition. A tired and fatigued you is a very inefficient you. Also make sure you surround yourself with people who support you. A good support system can create an excellent framework for defusing stress and managing time.

Time management and stress reduction is no easy task. However, if you follow the simple tips above you will be on your way to creating more time for YOU and the things YOU love to do! If you find yourself trapped with more than you can handle don’t be afraid to talk to a professional. Strategizing with an objective perspective can help you better determine where you can improve your daily schedule and create the serenity we all need!

With summer now in full force, I wish you a few days with your feet up and sunglasses on!

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What Is Corporate Wellness?

By Briana Boehmer

Every industry goes through its fair share of buzz words. Currently in the realm of health and wellness the word “corporate” has been strongly attached yet loosely understood. What does corporate wellness really mean?

Often times corporate wellness programs take the form of some basics – HRA’s, benefits, and health club memberships. If they go a bit further fitness programs may be incorporated. I have heard people say that corporate wellness and corporate fitness are separate issues and separate initiatives all together. However I feel one cannot exist without the other. I feel true corporate wellness takes into account such a large multitude of factors that one can never pinpoint one as the “key”. In fact, if we look at the definition of wellness it points toward something that is all encompassing. I feel this is a very important point because it is very evident that no one program will work for everyone. We are all unique individuals with unique needs. If a program cannot account for individuality I feel it is lacking a very important component to behavior change – which is in the end a huge reason for the program in the first place!

I gravitated toward 411Fit over a year ago because it addressed what to me is such a critical piece to a well-run wellness initiative – individuality. 411Fit is truly smart technology in that it tracks and measures data not just at the group level but at the individual level. It is so personalized you can create a truly unique user experience. It is refreshing to have a site that is using MY data to help ME make decisions for MY health! I currently use it with companies in the Southeastern Wisconsin area to create programs that work both at the group and individual level and find that I am able to impact individuals more than I ever have.

I titled this blog “What Is Corporate Wellness” not to answer the question 100% but rather to start the debate on what makes up this new buzz word. By no means can 411Fit do everything that corporate wellness programs should have. Personal work relationships, on-site resources and employee benefits are just a few of the critical pieces an employer should think about when addressing employee wellness. However, when looking at some of the key components of a successful program, 411Fit is by far an industry leader in providing a true customizable solution for program management, tracking, reporting, and social networking.

Willis North America’s human capital practice recently released a health and productivity survey showing that senior leadership commitment to improving employee health significantly increased to 42% in 2010, compared with 6% in 2009. There is no doubt people are thinking about wellness and how it relates to the workplace. If you are not thinking about it, you should be! AND if you have not taken a tour of 411Fit’s vast resources you are missing out!

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