February 29, 2016

Yoga, Part 2: Kids Edition

Today there was a Fitness Family Day at the local Wellness Center and we had a very fun time participating. There were toddler activities, fitness testing stations, fruit and veggie samples, giveaways, classes, everything. And for all ages. I was in all my glory… I love this kind of stuff. These types of events are right up my alley… participating in them, planning them, and/or just being a part of them.

We arrived and ooh-ed and ahh-ed over the energetic, young rock climbers, greeted the smiley dental hygiene collegiate students at their station, and then decided to get started with all the fitness testing stations. I must say, my four year old can rock a plank for over four minutes. Seriously. It was 4 1/2 minutes before he called it quits. My husband and I wondered if we could do that. Now his form was not always spot on but regardless after a few minutes he started attracting a crowd from others- we were all impressed!
But after all the stations we ended our day with family yoga. In my recent post last month {here} I mentioned how I have finally made a connection to the practice of yoga. So I was pumped when my favorite yoga instructor was the instructor for today’s family yoga. My son had been talking all day about how he’s going to do his downward facing dog in yoga class. 
During the class there were a variety of poses we all tried- adults and children- and it was great. It can be refreshing to do exercises with little ones. They learn from you as role models, instills importance of exercise and movement, but yet we are reminded of how receptive little ones are to new movements and trying new things. There are many reasons why yoga can be beneficial for kids (an article can be found here), but yoga is something we will continue to encourage for me kids.
A recent news article {here} also outlines the benefits of yoga for children, specifically improving their self esteem and focus. And let’s be honest, adults need an improvement on self esteem and focus (well, some don’t) but let’s start preventative and proactive care early. As a health educator myself, I am a huge proponent of children participating in yoga. At home when I do yoga, the kids join me. But when we were in the family yoga class today, they were guided by someone other than me and now I was a student in the class- just like them. 
So thank you University of South Dakota for offering a very fun Fitness Family Day! We enjoyed ourselves and we cam home with tired children… and that, makes all the difference. ๐Ÿ˜‰
February 22, 2016

(Worksite) Wellness Health Screenings

For many, many years I coordinated and orchestrated health screenings for all students and employees at Ashland University. It started with providing this opportunity to students and then the employees were able to reap benefits too. (each embedded link provides information separately about students and then employees)


Students

For the students, health screenings were part of a required core wellness class. About 99% of students do not know their lipid profile numbers and with the growing number of Americans with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, knowing your numbers is really important.

  • This was so important that I even published a peer-reviewed article about it’s importance. 

  • It’s initiative and preventative programming even earned state recognition at the Ohio Statehouse among other health and wellness initiatives at university’s in Ohio. 

  • And Dr. Michael Roizen, Chief Wellness Officer of the Cleveland Clinic, even went out of his way to praise our efforts. 

At first we partnered with the students health center, and then we partnered with nursing faculty to complete the initiative. We eventually kept everything in house for low costs.

However even though majority of students had normal results, there were students who found out they had Type 1 OR Type 2 diabetes due to taking this class. Others found out about elevated high cholesterol, or learning how lifestyle modifications can adjust their LDL’s or HDL’s for long term benefits. #studentselfdisclosure

Employees

The benefits were also prevalent for employees too. However the majority of these adults knew their results and used the screening as a follow up to their lifestyle choices. We easily had over 100 employees participate in this event with success.

It’s with programming like this where we can collaboratively work together to collectively improve our health. I love coordinating programs such as these.

February 19, 2016

Worksite Wellness: Indoor Walking Paths

Doesn’t everyone want to work for a company that supports and encourages you to live healthy, including your mind, body, spirit? 
Yes! Yes! Yes!
During my time at Ashland University I was a member of the employee wellness committee and I spearheaded the worksite wellness events on campus. There were many events but the most recent initiative were the Indoor Walking Paths!
If you are unfamiliar with Ashland University, it is a private school in North Central Ohio. Key word: Ohio. Meaning, the winter months are not lovely for outdoor walking. However the University has a newer Recreation Center on campus which is a great option for people. 
However have you ever had a day where you are so busy you can’t catch a break? 
(yes, of course you have… no lying)
You have an hour for lunch. Do you have time to walk across campus to get in a quick workout? Maybe… or maybe not. 
But what if there was a designated walking path in your building where you could walk for 45 minutes and get in a few miles of walking plus a quick lunch at your desk? 
That was the purpose of these Indoor Walking Paths.
Along with a team of interns and the help of a marketing specialist for signage, we were able to mark mileage and display signage for walking paths in most buildings on campus- including the main campus and the Mansfield, off-site, campus.  
The goal is to provide many options for individuals to engage in their personal health because we all know that happier employees work harder, take less sick days, and are more productive. 
I’m so glad this is a resource for people on campus. Hopefully in time, the walking paths can be added to, revised or modified to accommodate usage, and bring more people together. 
February 12, 2016

Rowing Rookie

These fancy machines caught my eye a few weeks ago and I thought it would be fun to try out a rowing class sometime for a work out. But I quickly found out that classes get booked quickly so you need to sign up plenty in advance. 
But one day I stopped by a class, which I knew was anticipated to be full from the online sign up form, and found out that one person didn’t show so I could attend! What was great was that there was a mix of people in the class too! Some were regulars, some were newbies… There were males, females, different body shapes and all different ages. 
The instructor quickly guided me to proper form and positioning for efficiency and to prevent injury. I quickly learned what she meant when my lower back started to hurt and she reminded me of what to do. 
It was a 40-45 minute class or so, and it was an appropriate length for me. I was probably more jacked to be trying something new, which energizes me alone. 
So if you have never tried rowing, or “row”, and you have a facility nearby offering classes, you should try it out. You never know if you will like a new work out until you try. Plus, it keeps your body guessing and gets you out of a typical routine your body may be used to. 
January 20, 2016

Yoga, Part 1

Yoga. Some like it, others don’t.

I used to be in a don’t category, but now I’m in a like category. By the way, does there really need to be categories? No, no there doesn’t. 


But here’s the deal- there are so many different practices of yoga that if one participates in a yoga class and doesn’t like it, that person may assume that yoga- in general- is not for them. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Actually to tell you the truth, it has taken me years to fully embrace and appreciate the practice of yoga. I know, I can move slowly sometimes. There were times I would attend a class or participate in something on my own, and I just didn’t feel it. I would go to different classes, different instructors, and I’d even bring my bright pink, old yoga mat I won (free!) from the Ashland University Rec Center with the big words TAMPAX on it. Surely, I made a statement. Did I mention it was free? Anyways maybe it was the practice, maybe it the instructor, but let’s call it what it is- maybe it was me. I wasn’t ready to appreciate any type of practice. But there is real beauty in yoga and a centeredness that unfolds, depending on the focus and goal of the yoga practice.

My mantra to others is to continue trying new practices, new instructors, new venues, etc. It can be very worthwhile. And over time it can reap some serious benefits.

Yoga has been around for so long but yet in the last 10-15 years it has exploded even more. Now there are magazines and journals, hashtags (#yogaeverydamnday), attire, resort specializations, etc. It can be a lifestyle.

It can impact your mind, body and soul. How wonderful to become physically strong, calm your mind, and deepen your spirituality and oneness, and give gratitude all at the same time. Well, if that’s what your take away is from the practice.

We all have a different mindset before stepping into a yoga practice, and even during the practice we are all taking away something different. But in the end, we participated, we devoted precious time to ourselves, and we can refocus on the priorities of life we establish ahead.

One of my current focuses is the tightness in my hamstrings. So right now downward dog is my go-to pose in order to loosen up and feel a wonderfully good stretch.

So if you are new to yoga, consider trying it. If you are an experienced yogi, do you have a favorite pose?

Namaste.

January 13, 2016

Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries

I have grown to LOVE sweet potatoes over the years. As a kid, I didn’t like them. But now- gimme s’more!

So this recipe is driven from cookieandkate.com and she has the best recipe for these fries. And best of all- they are EASY AND DELICIOUS!! This is her recipe, but the way I prepared them…

Ingredients:

Sweet Potatoes (She suggests one potato per person)
Corn starch
Olive oil
salt, pepper and spices

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Peel potatoes and cut into fry-shaped pieces.

Toss uncooked fries onto a cookie sheet (with no foil or parchment paper). Evenly spread them apart. Sprinkle with cornstarch and rub it in so there are no clumps. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil, enough to lightly coat the fries. Season with spices (I used salt, garlic pepper, and crushed red pepper).

Bake for 15-20 minutes with a foil covering it. Then flip them and bake for another 10 minutes without foil. The fries will start to brown a little bit…

Thank for you this recipe!! This is going to be a staple at my house!

January 8, 2016

Oatmeal cupcakes

I found this recipe on Chocolate Covered Katie. It’s very versatile and I even made modifications to make this recipe below. It really does taste like chocolate chips in oatmeal, in shapes of cupcakes. They are really dense but perfect for breakfasts-on-the-go, and they are made with real ingredients. This would be a great healthy breakfast recipe option. You can also freeze leftovers for later.

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups quick oats
1/4 scoop of vanilla protein powder
5 small stevia packets
1/2 t. salt
1 T. flax seed

1 medium banana, mashed
1/2 cup applesauce (I used strawberry applesauce)
2 cups water
1/4 cup veg oil

*I added a small handful of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup of chocolate chips (or less… I love chocolate chips!)

Mix the first group of dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Then combine with the dry ingredients, then add the chocolate chips and chopped walnuts.

Fill cupcake tray with liners. Fill cupcake liners half way with batter.

Cake 20-25 minutes
Yields around 2 dozen

January 8, 2016

Roasted cabbage

Yes, roasted cabbage.
Recently I received two large heads of cabbage from my mother in law. Like, HUGE. So I decided to try roasting the cabbage because I’ve never made it nor tried it before. And it was good!
I got this recipe from allrecipes.com and then I modified it a little.
Ingredients:
2-3 T olive oil
1/2 head of cabbage
A few pinches of cayenne pepper
A few pinches of garlic pepper
Some salt, to taste
Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Cut cabbage into wedges. Put wedges on cooking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil over the wedges, then spray all the wedges with cooking spray to ensure all areas are covered. Lightly sprinkle the garlic pepper, cayenne pepper and salt to taste.
Cover with foil. Roast for 15-20 minutes until slightly charred in some areas. Then flip wedges to the other side, slightly spray with cooking spray and more seasonings to taste then roast without the foil for 10-15 minutes.
Done! Yum!
December 14, 2015

Our internal dialogue

It’s finals week and I just finished all the grading of my student’s last project. In that project, there was a reflection portion where they comment of areas of the course which were the most influential for them personally. In the course we cover everything from nutrition, physical activity, sexual health, cancer, emotional health, stress, etc. And can I tell you something? Most students list a series of topics and concepts which were most influential. But one item that comes up frequently- emotional health. Our self talk, body image, our internal dialogue.
Negative self talk and body image doesn’t discriminate. Male, female, older, younger, rural, urban, ethnicity, etc. And the issue is that sometimes we are not nice to ourselves. Sometimes we wouldn’t be our own friend. 
Most of us are smart enough to know the main concepts of changing certain behaviors. For example, let’s say weight loss. We all would agree that eating healthier, watching our portion sizes, tracking our calories, and increasing our intensity and frequency of exercise are the main concepts to lose weight- in a healthy way. 
However there’s also that mental state. The self talk. The conversations that occur that nobody knows about because they are hidden in your head. It can influence our motivation, comparison to others, unrealistic expectations, distorted perceptions of reality, etc. 
And continuous and hurtful negative internal dialogue can influence our self esteem, self efficacy (the belief that we can do something), and self confidence, to name a few. Our self talk is so influential that it impacts our behaviors and sometimes, how we treat others. 
Here’s the thing- we can all take some action steps to improve our internal dialogue. 

  • Create a positive support system
  • Set reminders in visual locations- i.e. positive affirmations or quotes on the bathroom mirror, in your planner/schedule book, post its on your car dashboard, etc. 
  • Sign up for an email listserv for daily reminders, scripture, quotes, etc.
  • Communicate with others whom you trust. Express your feelings- frequently
  • Keep a gratitude journal- the only things you can write in there are things you are thankful for
  • See a counselor
  • Establish internal dialogue boundaries
  • Dig deeper into your spiritual wellness for true meaning and your value
  • Meditate
When reviewing the reflections of my students, I was constantly reminded that we can forget how awesome we really are. We let our mind wander without boundaries. 
But surrounding ourselves with people who positively support us, encourage us, and whom we trust is key. Every thought influences us in unbelievable ways. Almost like a ripple effect in the ocean. 
That’s one reason why this little part of the online world is named WellFitHappy. It’s because we can all strive for our own positive well-being (well), aiming for physical health (fit), and deciding to be happy in a too often negative world (happy). 
 
 

So take one more step today to choose happiness. Choose positive thoughts. Choose belief in yourself regardless of the world around you. With internal dialogue boundaries, we can guide our thoughts to eventually remain on the positive side of the fence. 
June 19, 2015

Being Happy

We all like to being around happy people. Genuinely happy people. Not the fake kind. Those individuals who enjoy life, smile and are filled with joy much of the time. I genuinely try to be cheerful and smile to others as often as I can. Sometimes when I’m in a cranky mood, I won’t smile I will try to smile just to “fake it until I make it” because sometimes all it takes is a little smile to change your mood and others. Recently I was at church and this one women asked me, “You are always so happy- is it real or do you fake it sometimes?” It caught me off guard because usually I am just genuinely happy. HOWEVER. Yes, I am human and I get in a bad mood but I try to be pleasant when around others.

*This is to exclude individuals who struggle with the challenge of mental health barriers such as depression (*disclaimer), there are some actionable items we could try to implement into our lives to boost our happiness and live more frequently in JOY.

This article is a lighthearted, quick list of “things happy people do differently.” There is value is the items listed, and the focus is to acknowledge these items and identify if these are items which you believe could be helpful for you. 
Enjoy! And best wishes on your happiness journey…
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