Vacation Right, Vacation Light

It seems like everyone in America is taking or planning a vacation – or at the very least, talking about how much they want to get away!

With COVID vaccinations, it’s getting safer for many of us to take a vacation. But whether it’s a road trip or a cross-country flight, vacations tend to interfere with healthy eating and exercise habits.

Our Vacation Light materials are just what you need to help people keep their vacations as healthy as possible. In a light-hearted way, they show the difference between an Eat a Lot/Sleep a Lot vacation and an Eat Smart/Exercise Your Heart vacation.

Here’s a 3-step plan to teach students, clients, or employees about taking a healthy vacation:

  1. Create a bulletin board display using our Vacation Light poster.
  2. Plan a series of social media posts with Eat Smart/Exercise Your Heart vacation tips.
    • Use these posts to promote step 3.
    • Ask your followers to leave a comment about how they keep their vacations healthy.
  3. Teach a webinar using our Vacation Light PowerPoint show.
    • Have attendees set one goal for their vacation (eat a healthy breakfast daily, track my steps, snack on raw veggies, etc).
    • Invite attendees to report back when they return from vacation.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

 

Gentle Nudges to Healthy Change

The American Psychological Association recently released the 2021 Stress in America poll. No surprise – the past year has been hard on us.

The pandemic has had a negative impact on:

  1. Physical activity
  2. Weight
  3. Sleep
  4. Stress
  5. Alcohol intake
  6. Mental health

As people get vaccinated and begin to think about life after COVID-19, many will be ready to make changes to do things like lose weight and start exercising again. Some will jump right in, but others may benefit from a slower, more mindful journey back to healthy habits.

Here are three ideas for gently nudging your clients or students toward a healthy eating pattern and lifestyle:

  1. Mindfulness and mindful eating:
  2. Motivating affirmations:
    • Empower your clients through short sessions on the affirmations from our I Am Motivational Health poster:
      • Self-care (sleeping enough, forgiving a setback)
      • Healthy eating (eating mindfully when hungry, loving fruits & veggies)
      • Physical activity (moving more, exercising consistently)
      • Attitude (not giving up)
      • Intention (planning and working to success)
  3. Positive transformations:
    • Adopt the beautiful butterfly from our Change It Up theme as your mascot.
    • The butterfly can be a visual reminder to clients who are working to transform their lives by eating healthier foods and being more active every day.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

3 Topics for Teens

Do you work with teens? Have you ever been asked to present to a class of high school students? Teens can be a tough audience, but the information you share might end up making a big impact on their health and wellness.

Here are three potential topics that are relevant to teenagers, along with facts and recommendations for education materials/resources that will make your job easier.

#1: Sleep

  • The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that teens sleep 8–10 hours/day.
  • According to the CDC, about 7 out of 10 teens don’t get enough sleep on school nights.
  • Common Sense Media reports that 29% of teen smartphone owners say they’ve been woken up by their phones during the night by a call, text, or notification.

Resources:

#2: Physical Activity

  • Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition recommends at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity for youth up to age 17.
  • American Heart Association says that only about 1 in 4 high school students get the recommended hour a day of physical activity.
  • Common Sense Media reports that American teens spend an average of nearly 7.5 hours/day in front of screens (not including homework or school). (That was in 2019 — it’s probably worse for 2020!)

Resources:

#3: Vaping

  • While a recent CDC/FDA report shows that teen tobacco use is down, nearly 1 in 4 high school students still use tobacco products.
  • E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among middle and high school students.

Resources:

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

 

 

Holiday Survival Tips & COVID-19

Eating healthfully during the holidays is always a challenge. This year the pandemic is making it even harder.

Help your clients get through the holiday eating season with our Holiday Survival Tips PowerPoint show. The presentation addresses the reality of holiday weight gain and helps audience members make a plan to avoid it.

Here are three of the Holiday Survival Tips along with how they may need to be tweaked this year due to COVID-19:

  1. Focus less on food and more on celebrating what the holidays are all about. This can be difficult if you’re alone or unable to get together with friends or extended family this year.
    • Schedule phone calls and virtual gatherings so you’ll have something to look forward to besides eating.
    • Keep your hands busy with knitting, crafts, adult coloring books, or puzzles – you can’t eat while doing these kinds of activities!
    • Make up for missing events like tree lightings and holiday festivals by finding things you CAN do. Walk around your neighborhood to see all the holiday lights, for example.
  2. Pay attention to exercise and sleep — two things that the holidays tend to interfere with.
    • Make a plan to take a walk or do an exercise video at the same time every day. Text a friend to stay accountable.
    • Avoid staying up later than usual or sleeping in. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule so you’ll wake up refreshed every morning.
    • Put health-promoting gifts on your wish list, like a Fitbit or a subscription to the premium version of a meal planning or food tracking app.
  3. Find ways to make traditional holiday dishes a bit healthier.
    • Use less fat or sugar in recipes. Staying home means you’ll be in control of the big holiday meals, so make this the year you try a lower fat pumpkin pie or sweet potatoes without the sugary toppings.
    • If there’s only going to be four of you for the big holiday meal, scale things down. Buy the smallest pies or cakes you can find. Bake smaller batches of things like your favorite holiday cookies. The goal is to NOT have lots of leftovers to tempt you.
    • If you’re buying a meal from a supermarket or restaurant, make sure you know what you’re getting and adjust accordingly. Keep some extra roasted vegetables or salad on hand to add to a purchased meal.

The holidays and the pandemic make it easy to gain weight and hard to lose it. Probably the best tip we can give people this time of year is to aim to maintain their weight.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

 

 

 

Take Steps to Keep Moving During the Pandemic

Many people have changed their exercise routine due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some are streaming their favorite aerobics class instead of attending in-person. Others are purchasing home fitness equipment.

But even if we find ways to keep up our gym routine when the gym is closed, what about how much we’re moving in general?

Think about all the steps we aren’t taking because of the pandemic. If you’re working from home, you’re not walking from the car or bus stop to your office. You’re not taking the stairs instead of the elevator. If you’re doing curbside grocery pickup, you’re not walking around the supermarket.

That’s where counting steps can be useful, making it the perfect time for a 10,000 steps challenge! We have everything you need in our 10,000 Steps theme:

Here are three ways to engage your clients, students, or employees in a conversation about taking more steps throughout the day:

  1. Make a plan to increase your steps now. It could look something like this:
    • Step 1: Get a pedometer or a tracking device (like a Fitbit) or find out if your cell phone will work.
    • Step 2: Track how many steps you’re taking every day for a week.
    • Step 3: Make a goal to increase your steps per day by 1,000 (or more or less, just be realistic).
    • Step 4: Track for a week and repeat, with the goal of getting up to 10,000 steps.
  2. Brainstorm ways to keep your steps up even in cold weather. Do you need a warmer coat? New gloves or a hat? Boots?
  3. Challenge a friend – at the end of the day, text each other about how many steps you took and what your goal is for the next day.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

 

Change it Up, Little by Little

This phrase recently caught my attention: Little by little, a little becomes a lot. I even wrote it on a sticky note and put it on my refrigerator. It reminds me that small things count. They add up.

Meditating for just one minute; adding a baby spinach salad to a meal; walking around the block; cleaning one kitchen counter. Doing small things may not seem important at the moment, but over time they mean a lot. A healthier diet, more exercise, a cleaner house.

You probably have clients or patients who are all-or-nothing thinkers – they really need to hear this message! Especially now, when the pandemic disrupts our routines, and sometimes even the tiniest change feels overwhelming.

Our Change It Up theme goes well with this concept. Little by little, diet and exercise changes will add up to transform your life. It’s how you go from being the worn out fast-food caterpillar to the vibrant, beautiful butterfly.

Use the Change It Up concept to teach your clients, patients, or students that …

  • The transformation isn’t instant, but the good feeling you get from one small change takes you one baby step closer.
    • Get the good feeling by celebrating (yay, me!) when you make the choice to have an apple instead of chips.
  • Change can be overwhelming, so start small by concentrating on doing something different for just one meal.
    • Once a healthy breakfast becomes a daily habit, move on to lunch, dinner, or snacks.
  • You can’t go from the couch to a 5K overnight.
    • Going to the end of your driveway counts. Remember, small is good!
  • Nobody is perfect. You’ll mess up and that’s okay.
    • It’s easier to get back on track one small change at a time.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

7 Ways to Stop Stress Eating

Everyone is stressed out these days, and many turn to food for relief. But overeating isn’t the answer — it can even make things worse.

Help your clients, students, or employees with these seven ways to stop stress eating:

  1. Knowledge is power. When you learn about the relationship between food and stress, you can do something about it. Host a lunch-and-learn virtual session using our How to Manage Stress without Overeating PowerPoint with PDF handouts. If time is an issue for your audience, break the show up and hold a series of shorter sessions.
  2. Resilience: overeating is one thing, but most people get into trouble when they beat themselves up about it. Our Don’t Stress Eat color handout gives tips on how to avoid stress eating AND what to do when you do overeat.
  3. Exercise is a great stress-reliever, so don’t forget to include it in any plan to prevent or respond to stress eating. Even a five-minute walk can get your mind off food and help you deal with what’s stressing you out.
  4. Meditation is another way to handle stress. How about taking ten deep breaths before giving in to a food craving? Encourage your students and clients to try simple meditations available online or via apps. Some have free trials but then charge a fee, like Calm Headspace. But Smiling Mind and Insight Timer are free.
    • Teachers are under a great deal of stress – with this in mind, Headspace is offering free access to educators. And some apps are also offering free premium access to healthcare providers.
  5. Mindful eating can help stop stress eating before it starts. Use our 3 Steps to More Mindful Eating poster to teach this gentle, positive way to a healthier relationship with food.
  6. Sleep may be the answer for many people who use food to deal with stress. Our Sleep Right for a Healthier Life poster teaches how and why to get a good night’s sleep.
  7. Coloring is a great stress-reliever. An added bonus — it’s hard to eat while your hands are occupied! Find adult coloring books online or in bookstores and department stores. You can even print out single pages to color (just do a search for ‘free printable coloring pages’). Our MyPlate coloring books add a healthy eating message while you color.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

 

 

 

 

Moving Through the Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our exercise habits, for better and for worse. Personally, I’m biking around my neighborhood more because there are fewer cars on the streets. But my 23-year old son misses his gym routine. And a friend recently posted on Facebook that her rear end hurts from sitting so much!

With many states opening up, some people might be ready to head back to the gym. Others will choose to stay home. It’s a good time to help your clients or students assess their exercise habits (or lack thereof) and figure out a way to keep moving throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are some topics you could cover:

Exercise for weight control: Our Exercise to Lose and Control Weight PowerPoint lesson explains that you burn twice as many calories when you’re moving as opposed to sitting, along with lots of other reasons to get off the couch or out of the office chair!

Remember the other benefits of regular exercise (150 minutes/week + strength training 2x/week):

  • Helps control blood sugar, and blood pressure
  • Reduces risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer
  • Strengthens your bones
  • Improves mood
  • Helps you sleep
  • Reduces stress

Make a plan: Move Your Way has an online Activity Planner that lets you set your own weekly goals, choose the activities you want to do, and print out your plan.

Work out at home: Our Home Exercise PowerPoint lesson covers all the bases, including tips on how to be a smart consumer when setting up a home gym; incorporating 10-minute periods of activity throughout the day; couch potato exercises; and more.

Think virtually: Many gyms and studios offer their classes online. There are lots of free options available as well. Look for YMCA videos on YouTube and check out the recommendations in this previous blog post.

Watch what you eat: Just because you’re exercising doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want. Consuming an extra 100 calories a day can result in a weight gain of 10 pounds per year!

Check out the CDC post on masks. Wearing a cloth mask ensures you do not infect other people while a surgical mask or N95 can ensure you don’t get infected if you are around a lot of people or sick people. Adopt the strategy recommended by your local experts or that you feel is best. If you are wearing a mask be careful not to overheat outdoors. Wear a hat, take plenty of water, and take it easy especially if you are just starting out. It might be smart to pay attention to the weather and walk when it is cooler.

Change It Up in 2020

Many people see the new year as a chance to turn over a new leaf, to get a fresh start. While we know that most new year’s resolutions fail, January can be a time of change if you’re realistic and take things one step at a time. Help your clients keep the new year simple and positive with our Change It Up materials featuring a fast-food caterpillar transformed into a beautiful butterfly.

While going from a caterpillar to a butterfly is a big transformation, encourage your clients to transform their eating and exercise habits in simple, small ways that will add up over time. Here are some questions to ask, but remember to focus only on one or two small changes at a time:

  • How can you transform breakfast? Examples:
    • If you’re a breakfast skipper, eat something small in the morning to start a new habit.
    • Add some peanut butter or avocado to your whole-grain toast.
    • Is sugary cereal your go-to? Mix in some whole grain, low sugar cereal.
  • How can you transform lunch? Examples:
    • If you usually eat out, pack lunch once per week.
    • Use mustard instead of mayo, or skip the cheese.
    • Add a side salad to your meal, and eat it first.
  • How can you transform snacks? Examples:
    • Skip the vending machine — bring something from home.
    • Cut up fruits and veggies to take on the go.
    • Add some protein — spread peanut butter on apple slices or dip carrots in low-fat Greek yogurt.
  • How can you transform dinner? Examples:
    • Use a smaller plate.
    • Buy healthy convenience foods like rotisserie chicken and salad bar veggies.
    • Go meatless once per week.
  • How can you transform your exercise routine? Examples:
    • Meet a friend once per week.
    • Use a pedometer to track your steps.
    • Take 5-10 minute walks around the office or outside throughout the day.

Give clients one of our Change It Up stickers or bookmarks as a reminder to eat healthier food and be active every day so that they can feel transformed!

Use this link to get 15% off this collection and all of our hot topic items for 2020. Offer good this week only through January 15, 2020.

Eat It Now, Burn It Off Later?

Indulge today, work it off tomorrow? If only it was that simple!

Although we never want to discourage people from exercising, it’s important to emphasize that the key to weight loss is healthy eating, not working out. Extra calories are so easy to eat and so hard to burn. Our You Can’t Outrun Your Fork poster gets this message across in a fun, light-hearted way.

This poster brings up some good topics for conversation. Start off by asking your clients how they usually try to outrun the fork:

  • The post-workout splurger: You’re more likely to eat more or splurge on dessert if you exercised that day.
  • The extra calorie down-player: You tell yourself the larger size soda or extra scoop of ice cream won’t add that many calories (and even if it does, that’s why you workout, right?!).
  • The take-care-of-it-tomorrow trickster: You justify over-indulging with a solemn vow to burn it off tomorrow.
  • The I’ll-run-an-extra miler: You give in to temptation, promising to add miles or time to your next workout to make up for it.

Don’t forget to remind everyone about the non-weight related benefits of regular exercise (150 minutes/week + strength training 2x/week):

  • Helps control blood sugar and blood pressure
  • Reduces risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer
  • Improves mood
  • Helps you sleep
  • Reduces stress
  • Strengthens your bones

And with Halloween right around the corner, it’s a good time for a reality check. What does it take to outrun your fingers sneaking the kids’ candy? Here’s what you need to do to burn the calories from ONE little fun size serving of candy:

  • Fun size Kit Kat (70 calories): Walk your dog 30 minutes.
  • Fun size Peanut M&M’s (90 calories): 13 minutes of jogging.
  • Fun size Mike & Ike’s (50 calories): Water aerobics for 15 minutes.
  • Fun size Reese’s (110 calories): 16 minutes on the exercise bike.
  • Fun size Skittles (80 calories): Rake leaves for 22 minutes.
  • Fun size Twix (80 calories): 28 minutes of vacuuming.