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Category: Healthy Living

It’s Time to Start Saving Some Precious Time!

It’s Time to Start Saving Some Precious Time!

Happy Monday McKinley!!!
How’s everyone doing with the back-to-school rush? Whether you have kids in school or not, we’re all looking for ways to save time, especially when it comes to weekly meals.  Here are some ideas that will help with meal-planning, grocery shopping and even workouts! 
Try a Meal Planning App on Your Phone:  The one I’ve been using is called PrePear. Here’s what I love about it:
·         You can select recipes to create your own meal plan and your grocery list will auto-populate once you add the recipes to your cart
·         You’ll get to view your macronutrient (carbohydrates, protein and fat) percentages for the day
·         You can add the items in your pantry and it will come up with a recipe for you
·         If you pay for the “Gold” version for $99/year, there are specific meal plans with grocery lists already prepared for you to choose from
Try a Grocery Shopping or Grocery Delivery Service:
·         Kroger offers Pickup (formerly known as ClickList)
·         Publix offers Instacart
·         Shipt is available in some locations
Try a “Heat and Eat” Meal Delivery Service: Most meals cost between $9-$12
·         Michigan:                                                                                   
o   My Metabolic Meals                                                               
o   Clean Plates Detroit       
o   Fit Foods Rx                                                             
·         Florida:
Try a Meal Kit Delivery Service:  They grocery shop and meal plan for you, you do the cooking.  
·         Blue Apron
·         Hello Fresh
·         Home Chef
Try a 24 Minute Workout:
·         Workouts don’t need to be an hour long, not even 30min long to be effective.  What if you could get a GOOD workout in 24min, would you do it?  Over the last couple of months I’ve been teaching 24min classes using the AMRAP format (As Many Rounds As Possible in 24min) and people have been LOVING it!!!  Below you’ll find 2 samples of the workouts we’ve done. Give it a try!

Workout #1

  • 10 back lunge with shoulder press
  • 20 pop squats
  • 10 tricep push-ups
  • :30 plank
  • 10 sit-ups or crunches

Workout #2

  • 10 squat and bicep curl
  • 20 kettle bell swings
  • 10 plank to push-up
  • 10 toe touch crunches

 Yours in health and wellness,

Meredith Rodriguez



Go Ahead, Grab a Cup of Joe…It’s Healthy!

Go Ahead, Grab a Cup of Joe…It’s Healthy!

Good morning McKinley!!
It’s true, black coffee (decaf and regular!) is packed with antioxidants and has a long list of benefits you can reap daily! Not a fan of black coffee, more of a café mocha (Tall = 200 calories, 24g sugar), caramel macchiato (Tall coffee-cup= 180 calories, 23g sugar) or iced cappuccino (Small = 180 calories, 35g sugar) fan? Keep reading, you may reconsider your morning beverage and save some money if you choose to brew at home.
Here are 10 Reasons to Enjoy your Coffee Black :
1. Great source of antioxidants
2. Short term memory boost
3. May help protect against cognitive decline
4. Heart Healthy – Lowers risk of some heart diseases
5. Helps curb certain cancers
6. Lessen your risk of developing type 2 diabetes
7. Reduces risk of Liver Disease
8. Can enhance exercise performance
9. Can help curb depression
10. Guards against gout
Savor your morning coffee, have fun with it, try some different brands of coffee beans and find something you love! Keep in mind, coffee can have a diuretic effect so it’s still very important to stay hydrated with water throughout the day.

Yours in Health and Wellness,


Summer = Fun in the Sun AND Sunscreen!!!

Summer = Fun in the Sun AND Sunscreen!!!

Good afternoon McKinley!!

Summer is almost here and there are some important things to think about as we get ready to have fun in the sun!  We all love the sun (and have been eagerly awaiting its arrival in Michigan), but need to be careful and protect our skin from the harmful rays that can cause skin cancer.  According to, about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all the other cancers combined :-(.

The good news is, we can protect our skin from UV rays with sunscreens and protective clothing.  As we start looking for sunscreen, we need to keep in mind that our skin is our largest organ and everything we put on it can affect the way our bodies function.  When you’re choosing sunscreen or any skin care product for that matter, it’s important to read the ingredients and make yourself aware of how they can affect your health.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.  Every year they continue to review more products to assess their toxicity levels and how safe they are for us to use.  They have made it very simple to look products up and see how “good” or “bad” they are for us by giving it a score of 1 (good) – 10 (bad).  Check it out below:

  • Click here to search for sunscreens and other products you use daily:


  • You can also download their app EWG Healthy Living, and scan bar codes or search for products to see how they rate

 When choosing a sunscreen…

Say “No” to:

  • SPF above 50
  • Retinyl palmitate
  • Aerosol spray and powder sunscreen
  • Oxybenzone
  • Added insect repellent
  • Nanoparticles

Say “Yes” to:

  • Hats and shade in mid-day sun
  • Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide as active ingredients, otherwise known as Avobenzone (at 3%)
  • SPF 15 to 50, depending on your own skin coloration, time outside, shade and cloud cover.
  • Use a lot and reapply every hour

Last but not least, I want to encourage all of you to have a whole-body skin check yearly.  Much like having a mammogram, it’s important to know what your baseline is and what is normal for your skin.  If you don’t have a dermatologist, call your doctor and ask if they could give you a recommendation :-).

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Meredith Mitchell


Great American Smoke Out 2017

Great American Smoke Out 2017

Good Afternoon Everyone!!

The Great American Smoke Out is TODAY!!!

Every year, on the third Thursday of November, smokers across the nation take part in the American Cancer Society Great American Smoke Out event. By quitting – even for 1 day – smokers will be taking an important step toward a healthier life and reducing their cancer risk. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a smoker, your body will start to recover just minutes after your last cigarette!! Check it out:

Benefits of Quitting Smoking Over Time

It’s never too late to quit using tobacco. The sooner you quit, the more you can reduce your chances of getting cancer and other diseases.
• Within minutes of smoking your last cigarette, your body begins to recover:
• 20 minutes after quitting
o Your heart rate and blood pressure drop (Mahmud A, Feely J. Effect of smoking on arterial stiffness and pulse pressure amplification. Hypertension. 2003;41(1):183-187.)
• 12 hours after quitting
o The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal (US Surgeon General’s Report, 1988, p. 202)
• 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting
o Your circulation improves and your lung function increases (US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp. 193, 194, 196, 285, 323)
• 1 to 9 months after quitting
o Coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs (called cilia) start to regain normal function in your lungs, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection (US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp. 285-287, 304)
• 1 year after quitting
o The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of someone who still smokes. Your heart attack risk drops dramatically (US Surgeon General’s Report, 2010, p. 359)
• 5 years after quitting
o Your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Your stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2 to 5 years (US Surgeon General’s Report, 2010 and World Health Organization. Tobacco Control: Reversal of Risk After Quitting Smoking. IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Vol. 11. 2007, p. 341.)
• 10 years after quitting
o Your risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. Your risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases (US Surgeon General’s Report, 2010 and US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp. vi, 155, 165)
• 15 years after quitting
o Your risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s (World Health Organization. Tobacco Control: Reversal of Risk After Quitting Smoking. IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Vol. 11. 2007, p. 11.)
These are just a few of the benefits of quitting smoking for good. Quitting smoking lowers your risk of diabetes, lets blood vessels work better, and helps your heart and lungs.

Life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than that of non-smokers. Quitting smoking before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking-related disease by about 90%.

Quitting while you’re younger will reduce your health risks more, but quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke.

Is today the day for you??

If it is, CONGRATULATIONS on making a very hard and important decision. We realize it can be very daunting when you make the decision to quit using tobacco and want to remind you of the resources available to you:

McKinley Provides:

Find a cessation program that works for you and McKinley will reimburse you up to $300 per year! That’s right, McKinley will pay for one smoking cessation program of your choice per year to help you kick the habit. In addition to traditional cessation programs, this benefit even includes non-traditional methods such as hypnosis and acupuncture.

This is how the program works:
• You must be tobacco free for 3 months to be eligible
• Submit your receipts to your manager for approval
• Done!

If you elected your benefits with McKinley this year, Cigna Provides:
One on One Coaching!
You and your personal health coach will design a plan of action and develop coping responses sure to help you quit. This program is available to Cigna customers only.

Did you know that there are medications that can help you quit smoking? McKinley’s prescription drug plan through Cigna covers several of these anti-smoking medications – many at no cost to you. Check with your doctor to see if this method might work for you!

Whether you have been a smoker for 5 years or 25+ years, your body will start to experience the benefits of being smoke free within 20min of your last cigarette! Every hour you go without a cigarette your body continues to heal!
Cigna – 1-800-244-6224

Quit Smoking Aps:
• My Last Cigarette
• Livestrong MyQuit Coach
• Quit it Lite
• Quit Smoking: Cessation Nation
• Craving to Quit
• Quit Smoking – Quit Now

Have a great day!!

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.***

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