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.

Not Enough Time in the Day

Exercise has lots of benefits, but it can’t make up for overindulging in not-so-healthy foods. When people say, I’ll burn it off at the gym later or I walked three miles this morning, they don’t understand that it’s not that simple. Most would be shocked to learn just how long they need to exercise to burn off those extra calories.

Our How Much to Work it Off? poster says it all – there is simply not enough time in the day to work off a bad diet. The poster features colorful pictures of foods with their calorie content and how many minutes of walking it takes to burn the calories. Just looking at the top row of pictures shows that the typical fast food meal of a quarter pound cheeseburger, large fries, and a large soda will take 3 hours and 19 minutes of walking to burn off. Talk about eye opening!

Whether you’re teaching a group or counseling one-on-one, make this concept personal by using an online calories burned calculator (like this one from WebMD). Show people how to look up calories burned for a specific activity based on their body weight. How many minutes of walking the dog will burn off last night’s dessert? How long will I need to swim to make up for that muffin I grabbed this morning? The answer is sure to make them think more about the food choices they make!

Although it’s important to get this message across, we don’t want to discourage people from being active, so be sure to include some of our fun physical activity materials as well. The Be Active Every Day exercise color handout tearpad is perfect for this, with guidelines and tips for kids and adults.

School’s Out!

School’s out for summer, but kids can’t afford to take a break from healthy eating and staying active. Remind them to be active for 60 minutes a day and eat the MyPlate way with our MyPlate Kids and Physical Activity materials.

The MyPlate Kids Activity poster shows the many ways to get moving for 60 minutes every day, from stretching to walking the dog to playing a sport and more. There’s bound to be something that appeals to every child and inspires them to be active.

With the MyPlate graphic front and center, our materials will also remind kids to make each meal balanced, starting with plenty of high-fiber, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.

If you’re at a health fair, in the classroom, or anywhere with kids, try one of these activities to get them moving, having fun, and learning:

  • Put a colored dot on one side of small index cards, using the MyPlate colors (red, orange, green, purple, and blue). Turn the cards over so no one can see the colored dots. Let kids pick an index card to see what color they got. Then ask a series of questions, depending on their age and how much time you have. For example, if they pick red:
    • What foods are in the red group? Answer: Fruit.
    • What is your favorite fruit? Answer: Apples.
    • What does the word apple start with? Answer: A.
    • “Pretend your finger is a pencil and draw a huge A in the air.”
  • For older kids, do the above activity, but have them “spell” out the whole name of the food. For fun, change it up – “pretend your foot/elbow/nose/knee is a pencil and draw a huge A in the air.”
  • Write a variety of activities on index cards (different sports, running, jumping rope, hopping on one foot, etc). Each child picks an index card and does that activity in place (pretend to swing a bat, throw a ball, hop, etc).

Kids who participate can take home a Kids Activity and MyPlate bookmark to remind them to stay active and eat right all summer long.

Take (10,000) Steps to Better Health

How many times have you heard someone say, ‘I know I should exercise, but I’m too busy’? Or too tired or too out of shape or too old. Fill in the blank – you’ve probably heard it all. Use our 10,000 Steps materials to teach that regular physical activity is not only good for our health, but it’s attainable for everyone!

Our 10,000 Steps poster and banners are educational, fun, and eye-catching. They come with a free Take Steps to Good Health printable handout. Add some fun to your classes and health fairs by offering prizes (like our stickers, wristbands, buttons, and bookmarks) for answering questions and sharing experiences.

Here are seven ideas for lessons and conversations to use with our 10,000 Steps materials in just about any setting:

  1. How many steps do you think most people take every day? Help the class along by asking people to raise their hand if they think it’s 1,000-2,000; 3,000-4,000; etc. Whoever answers correctly (3,000-4,000) gets a prize (sticker, bookmark, button, or wristband).
  2. Do you use a pedometer or cell phone to count your steps? (Give these people a prize.) If so, how many steps do you usually take in a day? Do you keep track of the daily number? Tip: write down your daily steps (or use an app). You can’t change what you don’t track!
  3. Getting to 10,000 steps a day isn’t as hard as you think. Think about times when could walk instead of sitting (waiting rooms, waiting for a friend, waiting for a movie to start…). Can you think of other times when walking just a little bit more would be easy to do? How about taking an extra lap around the grocery store or mall? Walk around your office or house when talking on the phone. Every step counts!
  4. Walking is the perfect way to be active. It’s economical – no gym membership or special equipment required. It doesn’t depend on the weather – when it’s rainy, cold, or hot and humid, walk inside at the mall or around a mega-store. It can be done anytime – while talking on the phone, listening to music or podcasts, or chatting with a friend in person.
  5. Brainstorm how to take extra steps at home and as a family. How about walking after dinner, marching in place during commercial breaks, or walking up and down the stairs a few extra times a day?
  6. Brainstorm ways to take extra steps at work. Turn work breaks into walk breaks. Go by yourself or with a co-worker. Inside or outside. Hold “walking” meetings.
  7. Taking 10,000 steps daily provides the health benefits of regular physical activity, like better sleep, mood, and strength; helping you maintain or get to a healthy weight; and reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Check out all the items in our 10,000 Steps theme!

Holiday Health Challenge Preview

Have you had a moment to check out the Holiday Wellness Challenge?

The Holiday Wellness Challenge offers a fun way keep your clients on track during the holiday season. After all, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Americans gain an average of .4 to 1.8 pounds each year during the holidays. With a little know-how and some fun strategies, this weight gain can be avoided.

To get the details about the Holiday Wellness Challenge, check out the post Holiday Wellness Challenge over in the Food and Health blog.

And for an even closer look, I want to offer a preview of one of the chapters today!

Here’s the first handout from Chapter Five: Jump Start Your Breakfast. Feel free to download it and distribute as you see fit!

Jump Start Breakfast

Why Care About Breakfast?

Life is busy, and busy often ups its game during the holidays. Between parties, family projects, decorations, and shopping, something has to give. Breakfast should not be it.

Why? Here are some top reasons to care about breakfast…

  • Breakfast offers key nutrients that will give you energy. Plus, with the right foods, you won’t get hungry on your way to holiday activities and errands.
  • Furthermore, when you make healthful choices at breakfast, you start the day on the right foot. It’s easier to stick to good habits that way.

Breakfast Facts:

Having breakfast every morning kick-starts your metabolism.

Studies indicate that people who eat breakfast in the morning are less likely to get diabetes.

78% of the people in the National Weight Control Registry make a healthful breakfast part of their daily routine.

Breakfast is associated with a lower BMI, fewer calories consumed during the day, and a better diet.

Breakfast is a great opportunity to increase your consumption of fiber, whole grains, fruit, and low-fat dairy.

A healthful breakfast not only gives you energy, but also increases cognitive function.

Are Your Holidays Healthful? A Quiz

Do you keep your holiday celebrations good for your health? Find out with this brand-new quiz!

Questions:

Dancing at a Party1. What is the most featured item in the display of foods at your holiday party?

a) Cookies
b) Meats
c) Fruits and vegetables
d) Cheeses

2. True or false? I make sure to get at least some physical activity during most days of the week.

3. Some smart ways to control portion size at meals include…

a) Making a healthy plate.
b) Sharing a meal
c) Being aware of the calorie content of the foods you purchase.
d) All of the above

4. True or false? I make sure to eat a healthful high-fiber breakfast every morning.

Answers:

Holiday Platter1. c) Fruits and vegetables
For the most healthful holiday celebration, make fruits and vegetables the start of any buffet you set up. You can keep things simple with crudités and some yogurt-based dips, or you can get fancy and roast up your favorite vegetables and serve them on a platter, drizzled with a little bit of sauce and garnished with parsley. Add bowls of berries and sliced fruit too!

2. True
To stay healthy during the holidays, it’s wise to sneak in a little physical activity whenever you can, even though things are busy. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, “Being physically active is one of the most important steps that Americans of all ages can take to improve their health.”

Check the Label3. d) All of the above
If you’re having a holiday gathering at a restaurant or coffee shop, check out any nutrition information that’s available online. Make sure that the portion size of what you want to order is reasonable. If it’s not, look for alternatives. Then, if you want to get or make something that only comes in a large portion, share it with a friend or family member. Finally, if you’re picking up a treat for a holiday gathering, check the labels! Use the Nutrition Facts to calculate serving size, nutrient content, and much more! Making a healthy plate will help you put your foods in the right proportions, too.

4. True
Starting your day off with a balanced and high-fiber breakfast is a smart way to stay healthy this holiday season. After all, breakfast is associated with a lower BMI, fewer calories consumed during the day, and a better diet. Plus, a healthful breakfast not only gives you energy, but also increases cognitive function. Some ideas include high-fiber cereal with nonfat milk, and fruit, or lowfat yogurt and fruit, or egg whites and fruit. A smoothie made with fruit and skim milk is also a great start.

How did you do? Do you know the nuts and bolts of staying healthy during the holidays?

Increase Engagement with a Healthful Eating Pattern Game

We’re all familiar with the benefits of building a healthful eating pattern, but sometimes actually executing on that plan is easier said than done.

Make a healthful eating pattern more compelling with this fun game that kids and adults alike will enjoy!

Food Group Tag!

Here’s how you play…

Game Setup:

Divide your group into two separate teams. One team needs to have five people. These are the taggers, who will work together to tag everyone in the other group. Assign each tagger one of the following food groups…

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Protein
  • Dairy

Everyone who is not a tagger is an empty serving. Each empty serving can work as a free agent. Their goal is to avoid the taggers.

Explain that the taggers are seeking food groups to make a healthful plate. If an empty serving gets tagged, he or she must freeze in place and announce their new food group (determined by the tagger, who represents one of the 5 food groups), and then think of a healthful food that fits that group, which they then announce as well.

The taggers must work together to create a balanced plate (so don’t let one tagger go crazy and tag all the empty servings, claiming them for a single food group).

Game Play:

Set a timer for four minutes and move your group to a location that’s conducive to running around.

Taggers must line up shoulder-to-shoulder. Arrange the empty servings five feet in front of the tagger line. Once “go” is called, the empty servings must evade the taggers for four minutes.

Once the game time is finished, “stop” must be called. At that point, everyone freezes.

Have the untagged empty servings move to one side of the game area, then arrange the tagged empty servings into their food groups. Did the taggers craft a balanced plate? Why or why not?

If the taggers managed to create a balanced plate, then they win. If the empty servings threw off the balance, then they win instead.

This active game offers a fun way to visualize a healthful eating pattern while providing an opportunity for some light physical activity as well.

Game created by Sean Tuohy

Nutrition Posters for the Workplace

My team and I have created tons of posters over the years, and some of my very favorite ones teach lessons that are important to showcase in the workplace.

We have posters that are designed to bring “better numbers like blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI” or to motivate in a fun way like the food art posters. There are also ones that teach great nutrition lessons and promote positive reinforcement and education.

Let’s take a tour through some of the best options, shall we?

Top Heart Posters:

Top BMI Poster:

Best Nutrition Lessons:

Favorite Motivational Posters:

And of course there is our entire collection of over 150 posters. Which ones will best brighten up your workspace?

And, as a special bonus because I love ya, here’s a free copy of the printable PDF handout that accompanies the Fabulous Fruits and Vegetables poster.

fruitsandvegetablesposter