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Author: Meredith Mitchell

Fresh Vs. Frozen

Fresh Vs. Frozen

image003-1Hello All,

When it comes to produce many of us struggle with keeping fresh fruits & veggies well stocked.

This is mostly associated with the “Fresh is Best” perspective applied to food, lack of time to prepare, and/or if it’s appetizing on any given day.

We are here to tell you that in the grand scheme of life, the universe and everything in it fresh produce is NOT THE ONLY OPTION.

So here is the 411 on FRESH VS FROZEN fruits and veggies:

• Most fresh fruits and vegetables are picked before they are ripe. This allows them time to fully ripen during transportation. It also gives them less time to develop a full range of vitamins, minerals and natural antioxidants. In the US, fruits and vegetables may spend anywhere from 3 days to several weeks in transit before arriving at a distribution center. Therefore, it’s important to focus on consuming fresh produce that is in-season.

• Seasonal Produce for the Fall includes: apples, beets, Brussel sprouts, cabbage (red & green), cranberries, pears, persimmons, pomegranates, pumpkins, rutabaga, turnips, squash, sweet potatoes, and more. For the fill list CLICK HERE!

• Bottom Line: Fresh fruit and vegetables are often picked before they are fully ripe. Transportation and storage can take anywhere from 3 days and up to 12 months for some types of produce…when it comes to fresh produce your optimal choices are whatever are in season during that particular time of year!

• Frozen fruits and vegetables are generally picked at peak ripeness, when they’re the most nutritious. Once harvested, the vegetables are often washed, blanched, cut, frozen and packaged within a few hours of being harvested. Fruits tend not to undergo blanching, as this can greatly affect their texture. Usually, no chemicals are added to produce before freezing.

• Bottom Line: Frozen fruit and vegetables are generally picked at peak ripeness. Therefore, when our produce is unavailable locally/organically we can check out that freezer section at the grocery store and still receive the same nutritional benefits as if they were freshly plucked.

Honorable Mentions:

• Local. The closer to your home the produce was grown the more beneficial it is for your body and the environment (less travel time for the food equals fresher quality, higher quantity of antioxidants, and less fuel emissions into the world). Your also supporting local businesses which stimulates your local economy.

• Organic. Organically produced foods avoid: synthetic chemical pesticides, shun genetically modified organisms, and avoid irradiated treated foods. Organically produced foods help: get you higher amounts of nutrients (think antioxidants), reduce pollution and protect our water & soil, create a healthier environment for animals, farmers & rural area residents, as well as, financially support a sustainable food production system.

• We recognize that not everybody can afford to incur the cost of purchasing 100% of their groceries as organic products. Never fear…here are the top 12 fruits & veggies that should always be organic: apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, grapes, cucumbers, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, imported snap peas, spinach, strawberries, and sweet bell peppers.

*** Check out this link for an in-depth look at the Buying Guide for Organic Produce article.***

Success Story-Chris Cargill

Success Story-Chris Cargill

Throwback Thursday is at it again! Remember when Chris Cargill made the leap to go tobacco free?!?!?!?

I love sharing success stories with you all, so here’s another one about Chris Cargill from our team in Taylor, Michigan!! Chris quit tobacco in 30 days and used a pretty cool app “Smoke Free” that helps you keep tack of your progress and calculates the money you start saving when you quit!!! So cool!!

“Hello, Meredith!

I thought you would like to know that I have made it 30 days (and then some) without tobacco, not a single puff! I have to say that the Wellness Challenge really influenced and motivated me to quit. Thank you, so much!”

Success Story- Cristan Robertson

Success Story- Cristan Robertson

Good Afternoon Everyone, its’ another Throwback Thursday!!!! Check out this great success story that started in March 2016!!

I have another success story I’m excited to share with you!!! Cristan Robertson is a Retail Coordinator in Muskogee, Oklahoma and has made some significant lifestyle changes. She has lost 65lbs since March 2016 and has become a motivator and encourager to those around her! Please take a few moments to enjoy her story .

“Almost sixteen months ago, March 2016, I had my first baby!! I started to lose weight and was able to take off 30lbs over the next 10months. My Doctor encouraged me to continue to lose weight due to some health concerns and it was at that point I decided to make some serious changes. I started Nutrisystem on January 16th and started working out on March 1st with a trainer three days a week and did cardio on my own twice a week. It really took a lot for me to make time for my workouts. Living 55 miles from work (one way) and having a new baby made it extremely hard to work out BUT, I made it a priority to FIND time. I know that I may not always have the time like I used to so I purchased some gym equipment for my home so I can use it when I have time on weekends or evenings. To be really honest with you, the McKinley Wellness Challenge had a lot to do with motivating me. When I saw the pictures and success stories of other employees I thought, “I can do that too”! It started with the simple diet changes and then I wanted to see more results and be healthier so I incorporated the workouts. My manager here, Frank Cooper, actually got me started. He wanted all of us to think about getting more active. We started bringing our workout shoes to work to walk first thing in the morning or during our lunch break. As of today I have lost about 35lbs since January and I have lost around 18 inches since I started at the gym!!”

Thanks for sharing Cristan!!

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Meredith Mitchell
Corporate Wellness Director

Help I’ve Fallen Off the Wellness Wagon and I can’t Get Up Part 4

Help I’ve Fallen Off the Wellness Wagon and I can’t Get Up Part 4

Hello All,

If you’ve continued to follow this email series, then you have likely found yourself back on the wellness wagon! Maybe, you want to hop on, but feel overwhelmed by all the separate bits of information. Fear not!! You are now entering our final email of the Wellness Wagon Series… Putting It All Together.

Today, we are going to look at a Wellness Plan Template that can be applied to any goal a person would like to achieve. You will be able to see all the information from start to finish. Check it out!!!

Meet Bob Jones!

Bob (a fictional person) is a father of 3, husband and Full-Time employee (40+ hours/week). He always feels tired (no matter what time of day it is), lacks focus mid-afternoon (especially during the work week) and eats out for lunch 4 days/week. He’s also noticed that it is more and more difficult to keep up with his growing kids and that his clothing is a bit snug.

Bob has decided that enough is enough, it’s time to make a change! But, with all the different types of information available to him, he is unsure of how to get started. Lucky for Bob, he can follow this Wellness Plan Template to reach his goal!!!

Bob took some time to evaluate some important questions:

1. What would you like to see change about your current lifestyle today?
2. What excites you when you think about possibly making this change in your life?
3. If you started taking steps today towards making a change, what would your life look like in 3 months?
4. What motivator is important enough to you to help you make this change?
5. What is holding you back or standing in your way (obstacles) from making this change?
6. What are you ABLE to do to overcome these obstacles?
7. What are you WILLING to do to overcome these obstacles?
8. What would it take for you to be ready to make a change?
9. What would be a good SMART goal for you? Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Sensitive

Bob is motivated to make a change and is ready to set a goal:


• Wants to have the energy to get through his work week and keep up with his growing kids.


• Would like to lose 10lbs in 6 weeks (losing 1-2lbs weekly is a very achievable goal to take off and keep off the weight).
• Start walking 30min daily, 5 days weekly.
• Find a lifestyle diet plan that will work for him and implement it immediately.
• Would like to consider adding other physical activities into his routine down the road.


• Bob realizes with his busy schedule it would be easy for him to skip his 30min walk some days or fall back into old habits. He has shared his goal with a good friend who has agreed to meet him for a walk 2x weekly to help keep him accountable.

Bob gets a baseline. How our body feels today.

Bob decided to:
1. Visit his primary care doctor for a check-up
• Had bloodwork (lab work) assessed
• Bob found out his cholesterol is HIGH
2. Keep a food journal with MyFitnessPal and figured out:
• He eats more than 130g of sugar almost every day
• Depends on sugar to pick himself up mid-day and then finds himself crashing soon after
• Has normal digestion after he eats meat proteins mixed with healthy fats like avocados and olive oil
• Has normal digestion after eating raw or cooked vegetables
• Depends on fast food more than 4x weekly

Finding the right plan for YOU. Questions to ask yourself:
1. What kind of meal plan appeals to me the most and will help me reach my goal?
2. Is this plan suitable to address my needs?
3. Will I have time to properly prepare for this diet?
• Am I going to go grocery shopping and meal prep all my meals weekly?
• Am I going to eat out for lunch every day and meal prep for the rest of my meals?
• Am I going to use a meal delivery service?
4. Is there anything about this diet I need to modify?
5. How can I prepare myself for special occasions?

Bob begins to experiment with the Paleo diet for these reasons:

• Bob likes to eat beef, chickens and fish
• The plan highlights high protein, lots of vegetables & healthy fats
• Bob hopes to cut back on pasta, potatoes and bread which the plan suggests cutting out completely
• Bob loves chocolate and the diet plan includes dark chocolate in its dessert recipes.
• The plan recommends avoiding processed foods such as soda.


• Bob decided he would meal plan for his breakfasts and dinners and would find healthy options at the places he frequents for lunch.
• On the weeks, he doesn’t have time to grocery shop he plans on using the meal delivery service factor75 which offers Paleo friendly recipes.

Along the way Bob decided to modify the diet plan by:

• Adding potatoes back into his diet. This provided him with a balanced feeling after his meals, but he still cuts out the bread, rice and pasta as those made him feel tired after meals.
• Having a “cheat meal” (paying attention to portion sizes) 1 day over the weekend because he finds that one meal doesn’t sabotage his diet plan


Meal delivery services:

  •  Smoothies:
    o Green blender
    o Daily harvest
  •  Meals:
    o Factor 75
    o Blue Apron
    o Hello Fresh
    o Plated

Meal Planning Assistance
This is an exciting new service that provides weekly meal plans that offer variety and flexibility allowing you to pick the recipes that best fit your needs that week. Shop yourself or choose to skip the grocery store by sending your Shopping List to Walmart Grocery, Kroger ClickList or Instacart through their website. Definitely worth a look!!

Grocery Shopping Apps
Whether you’re pressed for time or sick of coupon clipping, grocery shopping can feel way more difficult than it should be. Check out these great Apps!!

How to Plan for Special Occasions

Thanksgiving 2014

Diet Plans:

Ketogenic:  A ketogenic diet is a diet very low in carbohydrates and very high in fat. The reduction in the consumption of carbohydrates places the body in a state of ketosis, which is a metabolic state where fat provides most of the fuel the body requires to function.

The Zone Diet: The Zone Diet requires that you simply balance your plate at every meal and snack with these nutrients:

• Protein – 1/3rd of your plate, add some lean protein, about the size and thickness of your palm. This could include egg whites, fish, poultry, lean beef or low-fat dairy.

• Carbohydrates – 2/3rds of your plate, add a lot colorful vegetables and a little fruit. Fruits and vegetables to avoid are those that are high in sugar (e.g., bananas, carrots, grapes, raisins) or starchy (e.g., potatoes, corn).

• Fat – Add a little bit of monounsaturated fat. This could include olive oil, avocado, or almonds.

Paleo: A diet based on the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans, consisting chiefly of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit, and excluding dairy, grains, some legume products and processed food.

Whole30: Eat moderate portions of meat, seafood, and eggs; lots of vegetables; some fruit; plenty of natural fats; and herbs, spices, and seasonings. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.

Mediterranean: Emphasizes eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, small portions of lean meats & fish, and nuts. Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil. Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods. Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month.

21 Day Fix: This diet combines portion control (using specific sized food containers) and physical exercise to promote weight loss.

Vegetarian: When people think about a vegetarian diet, they typically think about a diet that doesn’t include meat, poultry or fish. But vegetarian diets vary in what foods they include and exclude:

• Lacto-vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish, poultry and eggs, as well as foods that contain them. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt and butter, are included.

• Ovo-vegetarian diets exclude meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products, but allow eggs.

• Lacto-ovo vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish and poultry, but allow dairy products and eggs.

• Pescatarian diets exclude meat and poultry, dairy, and eggs, but allow fish.

• Pollotarian diets exclude meat, dairy and fish, but allow poultry.

• Vegan diets exclude meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products — and foods that contain these products.

Some people follow a semi-vegetarian diet — also called a flexitarian diet — which is primarily a plant-based diet but includes meat, dairy, eggs, poultry and fish on occasion or in small quantities.

Vegan: Vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products.

Raw Food Diet: Raw “foodism” (or following a raw food diet) is the dietary practice of eating only, or mostly, uncooked, unprocessed foods. Depending on the philosophy, or type of lifestyle and results desired, raw food diets may include a selection of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, meat, and dairy products.

The 8 Hour Diet: This diet has an emphasis on Intermittent Fasting

Keep in mind that this is just a template. You can apply these steps to any goal you have in mind (physical, emotional, financial, social and more). This is a step-by-step process and is done gradually over time. If there are any questions, Meredith and I are here to help!


Stefanie Lembovski

Help I’ve Fallen Off the Band Wagon and I can’t Get Up Part 3

Help I’ve Fallen Off the Band Wagon and I can’t Get Up Part 3

Good Morning Everyone!
If you’re following along with this email series, you’ve decided whether or not you’re ready to make a change and are on your way to figuring out what your baseline is.

Now it’s time to start forming the wellness plan that will be best for you. There’s an immense amount of information out there that can both influence and motivate us. For example, we can be motivated by someone’s success, read their story and then want to duplicate what they did with hopes of achieving the same results. Or, we can watch the latest health documentary and be influenced by their passion and want to adopt their lifestyle. It’s not a bad thing to be influenced or motivated by external things because we can learn a lot about ourselves, what we value, what interests us, etc. However, there are 100’s of diets and bloggers out there expressing their opinion about what health and wellness looks like to them…it can be overwhelming to say the least with all the conflicting opinions!!

In an effort to make your exploration process a little easier, I wanted to give you a short list of questions that I hope will help you start to piece together the right plan for YOU!
Questions to ask yourself:
1. What kind of meal plan appeals to me the most and will help me reach my goal?
2. Is this plan suitable to address my needs?
3. Will I have time to properly prepare for this diet?
• Am I going to go grocery shopping and meal prep all my meals weekly?
o Try using a grocery shopping app to keep you organize:
o Try out curbside grocery pick up if your local grocer offers it. Check out for recipes and grocery lists that can be sent to your local grocery store for curbside
• Am I going to eat out for lunch every day and meal prep for the rest of my meals?
o Figure out what local restaurants would be a good choice for you and figure out if any modifications would need to be made ahead of time
• Am I going to use a meal delivery service?
o Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, Factor 75, Plated, Green Chef
4. Is there anything about this diet I need to modify?
5. How can I prepare myself for special occasions?
• Check out this article I wrote for Thanksgiving preparation. You may find a few tricks that will work for you…and you will still be able to enjoy your special occasion :-).
Beware of:
1. Diets that promise quick weight loss or promote diet pills. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
2. Diets that exclude food groups. It’s ok to limit the amount of certain foods groups if your body responds positively to that limit but we all need macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to live.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or want to talk through any part of your plan. Okay, now take a deep breath and enjoy the process. You’re worth it!!!!

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Meredith Mitchell


Success Story-Cecilia Williams

Success Story-Cecilia Williams

Good Morning Everyone!
I have an inspiring success story to share with you! Cecilia Williams is a Tenant Services Coordinator for our commercial team in Norfolk, Virginia. Since March 2017 she has lost 24lbs, lowered her cholesterol by 92 points and has earned 1,154 points in the McKinley Wellness Challenge!!! If you haven’t earned your first 100pts in the MWC to receive your $50 gift card, there’s still time!! See the attachment to learn how you can start earning points today!
I asked Cecilia if she would be willing to answer a few questions that I felt would be helpful to many of you or are either ready to change or contemplating it. Thank you, Cecilia, for sharing your journey with us!!

What prompted your desire to make a change? – I’ve been having issues with my cholesterol levels for approximately 10 years now. I was able to reduce it by 40 points back in 2012 when I worked out and changed my diet for 2 months. However, I was not consistent and it has spiked since then. After seeing my doctor this past March during my annual physical, he suggested I start taking medicine to try and lower my levels. I informed him I wanted to try and avoid taking meds for this issue and asked if I could try on my own. He agreed to give me 3 months and I did it!!! Having two kids to care for, I didn’t want to jeopardize my health any longer. I want to be strong for them both physically and mentally. This also gave me an opportunity to lose weight which has been a struggle for me since I had my son in 2008.

How did you decide what plan would work best for you? – In March I joined Planet Fitness to get more active. I was consistent for a month but was still struggling with my diet and exercise. I stumbled across a post on Facebook in May where one of my high school colleagues stated he was a personal trainer and I posted “I need a personal trainer!”. I started working out with him in June and have been consistent ever since. I knew I needed to stay active but I was also making better choices with my diet. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it at first and I’m still learning along the way, but I do know that positive progress today is better than no progress yesterday.

What did your wellness plan consist of? – Regular physical activity, incorporating more vegetables, eliminating fried foods, limiting red meats and pork and DETERMINATION!

What kind of support system did/do you have in place? – I utilize the Fitbit and MyFitnessPal app a lot and participate in challenges with friends and even strangers. My sister is on a weight loss/healthy journey with me as well and we typically hold each other accountable.

What kind of obstacles did you encounter? – Food! I love food, all kinds and I’m always whipping up something in the kitchen. It’s been hard eliminating certain foods from my diet, especially pasta, rice and red meat. Also finding the time to incorporate cardio outside of workouts with my trainer. I still don’t 100% have a grasp on both but will power plays a role in keeping me focused.

Do you have an example of a day where you just didn’t want to work out? How did you deal with that? – Unfortunately, I’ve had a few of those days. I’d say typically it occurs on a weekend when I want to get things done but by the time it rolls around I just want to be lazy after staying busy all week. Usually what I’ll do to get over this is, instead of doing 30 minutes to an hour all at once, I’ll do a little bit at a time throughout the day. For instance, if I’m watching a show on television, during commercials I’ll jog in place or do pushups, planks, squats etc. and then resume during the next commercial until I get at least 30 minutes in. That way I’m pulling myself out of a slump a little at a time versus doing nothing at all.

How did you overcome those obstacles? – Seeing physical changes and wanting to stay active especially with my children and reaching my goal weight keeps me going. Also, finding substitutions for certain foods that I love with healthier options.

What favorite foods have you found substitutions for? I love pasta, rice and bread. I started using whole wheat pasta, quinoa in place of white rice and whole grain bread in place of white bread. I’ve also used portabella mushroom caps as “bread” for breakfast sandwiches as well as turkey burgers that I make once in a while. I’ve started using egg whites instead of the entire egg as I found that over 100mg of cholesterol is in the yolk. I’ll use turkey bacon instead of pork bacon. Also if I desire cheese on something I’ll use low fat mozzarella instead of cheddar or other high fat cheeses.

What is your plan for maintaining? – Continuing to make better food choices and staying active.

What do you do to keep your routine exciting? – New moves and different recipes. My trainer helps keep things interesting by having me jump with weights, pulling on ropes and lifting things I never knew I could. My workouts are never boring and keep me challenged. I made some vegan/vegetarian recipes that I’ve never tried before, one of which were some amazing meatless “meatballs”! I’ve noticed switching things up keep me engaged and wanting to do more, so that’s my goal to keep it going.

What is the best piece of advice you could give someone who is contemplating making a change? – Don’t give up, never doubt yourself and remain positive even when encountering negativity along the way. It won’t be easy and you may even fail in between, just always remember to do more today than you did tomorrow. Also, think about participating in the McKinley Wellness Challenge. It really helped me because I am always up for friendly competition, even if it’s just against myself. I don’t like failing and I enjoy having tangible challenges that I can participate in. As much as I want to, I won’t always get active on my own and the wellness challenge was a way to hold myself accountable for what I have not accomplished. It helped get me moving again and motivated to making better choices. I appreciate the challenge and Meredith and Stefanie for offering the opportunities. I always look forward to see what’s coming next!

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Meredith Mitchell
Corporate Wellness Director