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Category: Healthy Living

Help I’ve Fallen Off the Wellness Wagon and I can’t Get Up! Part 2

Help I’ve Fallen Off the Wellness Wagon and I can’t Get Up! Part 2

Hi Everybody!

You did it. You took the time to assess yourself by asking tough questions to decide if you’re ready to make a change. If you find yourself ready, but have no idea where to start, you’re in luck. Today’s email addresses what to do now!!

Step 1: Get a Baseline
AKA the current, internal-state of your body.
Sometimes the body isn’t getting enough of one category and sometimes it’s getting too much. Your body will react to different stressors in your life. One of the most efficient ways (beyond how you feel) to determine what areas or systems of the body that need the most help is by getting some bloodwork (lab work) done.

Basic lab work includes the assessment of:
• cholesterol levels
• blood sugar levels
• hormone levels
• vitamin &mineral levels
• other lab tests based upon family medical history-pending Physician’s Request

Note: If you’ve recently had bloodwork done (i.e. at your 2017 annual wellness physical or within the last year) check with your doctor to see if they think it’s a good idea to get an update. This January is a great time to ask about these tests since they can get incorporated into your annual wellness physical.

Okay, you and your doctor have looked at your current state. There are a few areas that could be addressed. Maybe, everything checks out well, but you still want to take even better care or your body.

Or… maybe you chose to hold off on the bloodwork, don’t worry! You will still be able to follow through with the next step.

Step 2: Food Journaling/Process of Elimination
Now we’ll address the change you want to make and how your diet can make a difference.

Goals some of you may be considering:
• Lowering your cholesterol
• Eating less sugar
• You’re excited to go Vegan because you saw “What the Health” and now you can’t imagine eating                beef or drinking milk ever again.
• You were up late last night and now you want to PIYO your way to a healthier you.

Regardless of your goals, you’ll still need to begin with a nice long look at what you’re feeding yourself. The easiest way to do this is by tracking your food with an app. There are several to choose from, but the one we’ve found to be the most user friendly is MyFitnessPal. You’ll be able to see the full breakdown of your macronutrients (fat, protein and carbohydrates), as well as, your micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and SUGAR).

Think of this information as your “nutritional blueprint”. You’ll see the areas that need improvement, be able to prioritize what you’re ready to change today and make a plan for the areas you are contemplating change.

When you eat something your body LOVES, you know it within seconds. However, it’s also important to identify the foods it disagrees with. You’ll know it when it bites back with unsavory symptoms—sometimes they are immediate and other instances take a little longer to identify.
Pay close attention to these types of feelings and reactions:
• Weight loss/gain
• Body composition
• Energy levels
o sluggish, tired, alert, focused
• Mood
o happy, sad, bored
•  Appetite
o loss or gain
• Sleep
o easy or hard to fall asleep
o stay asleep or wake often in the night
• Normal bodily functions
o specifically your digestive system

Here’s an example. If you feel miserable after eating dairy products, you may consider limiting them. If you don’t feel “right” on a low-carb diet after a while, you may need to try tweaking it by adding some healthy fats. Along the same line, some of us are trained to accept discomfort as being normal. Track how you feel in a journal for at least a week to spot any abnormalities in the way your body reacts to the foods you are consuming. This way you can start to eliminate foods that just don’t work for you.

Once you gather personal information from your experiences, make small, realistic tweaks instead of drastic changes. Introducing or eliminating too many things at once will simply muddle what’s working and what’s not.

Here are some examples of small changes:
• Decreasing how many times per week you eat fast food. Even if you drop that by 1 day per week                  you’ll begin to feel different!
• Drinking 8, 8-oz glasses of water each day. The average adult needs at least 64 oz. of water each day.
• If you drink 3+ sodas a day, start by cutting back to 2 a day until you’re motivated to cut it out                     completely.
• If you’re trying to incorporate more healthy fats into your diet, start by cooking with olive oil or by             adding an avocado to your lunch or dinner.

Next…take a moment to breathe! If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, know that it’s okay. This part of the process goes step-by-step. We fully recognize how mass amounts of information is flung at you left & right and is continuously happening in many areas of your life.

In the next part of this email series we will address and help you navigate you’re way through the different types of health information that surrounds us via television, social media, work emails (although these are some of the best bits of info…hehehe), through conversations with peers, etc. Stay tuned!!

As always, Meredith and I are here for support!

Stefanie (Lembovski) Welch

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

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

Hi Everyone!!!!

Have you ever “fallen off the wellness wagon” and had great intentions about getting back “on” but simply didn’t want to…so you didn’t? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the different diet and lifestyle plans that are available? Making a positive lifestyle/behavioral change that LASTS is a challenge for us all and if you’ve answered yes to either one of these, I think you’ll find this email series very helpful.

This series is going to be a guide to help you figure out if you’re ready to make a change and how to navigate your way through a magnitude of information to figure out the best lifestyle/diet plan for YOU! We’re all incredibly unique in the way our bodies respond to food and the way our minds react to the obstacles that try to roll us off the “wellness wagon”.

To help prepare you to make a behavioral change, there are a few questions I want to encourage you to ask yourself. Let’s get started!

1. What would you like to see change about your current lifestyle today? (below are a few examples)
• I want to sleep better at night
• I want to lower my cholesterol
• I want to start running
• I want to eat more vegetables
• I want to eat more healthy fats
• I want to learn how to cook healthier dinners

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?

If lasting change is what you are seeking, take all the time you need to answer these questions sincerely and whole heartedly. Your answers will help you truly understand if you are ready and if you have a strong enough motivator.

Thankfully, people around you will encourage you to keep going, but you are the only one who can control the changes you want to make in your life. These choices are for you. Day after day you will be the one to choose to honor your body and the changes you want to make. Through the good, the bad and the ugly.

As always feel free to reach out to me or Stefanie for support. In the next email we will start talking about what your next step is .

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Meredith Mitchell
Corporate Wellness Director

Strengthen Your Heart (pss…and earn some points)

Strengthen Your Heart (pss…and earn some points)

Hello McKinley!

How’s your heart today???  While this may seem like a weird question, it’s a very important one.  I hope most if not all of you are aware of your numbers (cholesterol, blood pressure and BMI) so you have a good idea of how your heart is doing J.  Once you know your numbers, even if you are in perfect health, it’s important for you to continue to keep your heart healthy.  There are many simple things you can do every day to improve and maintain your heart health but for now, I want to highlight physical activity.  Not only will you be strengthening your heart, you’ll also be earning points towards your $50 gift card for the McKinley Wellness Challenge!!!!!!

Physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories. Think of the basics: walking, running, biking, swimming, dancing etc. Think beyond the basics: Zumba, Spinning, HIIT, Circuit Training, Boxing etc.

The American Heart Association recommends the following amounts of physical activity to maintain cardiovascular health:

  • At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes OR
  • At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.


  • Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.

For Lowering Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

  • An average 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week

AHA has several resources for Heart-Healthy Exercise, click the link to check it out:

One more thing, if you ever find yourself short on time or energy…WALK!!  The infographic below reveals some really cool benefits that come from just WALKING!!
aha activity

Life’s a Balancing Act

Life’s a Balancing Act


This week I would like to talk about balance. In the monthbalancing dr seuss February, the “New Year, New Me” attitude starts to fade with our daily grind taking its place. In March it doesn’t get much better.  Guess what… that’s not such a terrible thing. It’s a challenge to make changes no matter how small they are. So, instead of feeling guilty about falling off the Change Wagon let’s not.

“We work hard, we eat right, we exercise, pay our bills, care for our families…
So even though it’s hard to break the pattern, be fine with eating some extra bread, taking a few days off, or sleeping in.
These are not rewards, they’re simply a balancing effect of diligence.
You won’t crumble.
You won’t fall apart.
And you’ll be a more adaptable human being”. -Jessica York




TRI for T1D!!!!!

TRI for T1D!!!!!

Good Afternoon Everyone!

Please read this important message from Beau about our TRI for T1D.

Get ready to put your reading glasses on because here is the second reminder to sign up for McKinley’s 1st annual TRI for T1D! As you may or may not remember from the first email, the triathlon will take place on Thursday, August 4. The triathlon will consist of an 800-meter row, an 8-mile bike (performed on a spin bike), and a 2-mile outdoor run. All proceeds and donations go to JDRF.

Now, there are several ways to donate:

  • BY PARTICIPATING! There is a $40 entry fee which comes with a free T-shirt! If you plan to participate, YOU MUST REGISTER BEFORE THURSDAY, JULY 14. (You can register here).
  • BUYING A SHIRT. You are still able to purchase a shirt for $20, even if you are unable to participate in the actual triathlon. ALL SHIRT ORDERS MUST BE PLACED BY THURSDAY, JULY 14.  We will be ordering women’s tank tops and men’s t-shirts. See attachment to view the front and back of the shirt.
  • SPONSORSHIP!Let’s say you are unable to participate, but have a friend that you are rooting for, SPONSOR THEM! Any donations are accepted and appreciated. A full list of participants will be sent out in the upcoming weeks.

NOTE: When donating, you will be redirected to the JDRF McKinley Team page, this is where you can donate. If you are participating, be sure to send myself or Meredith a confirmation email letting us know that you have paid your fee. Also include, your shirt size and which heat you would like to participate in. Your heat options are 4:30pm, 5:00pm, 5:30pm, 6:00pm.

Annoyed yet? Stressed yet? Wondering when you’ll have time to train? Come join Meredith and I for one of our daily workout classes. Be sure to check your 320 Fitness Calendar for dates and times of all of our offered classes!  If you’re not able to make it to one of the classes, you’re welcome to come and use the fitness centers with spinning bikes, treadmills and rowing machine at your leisure.  See below for the hours you’ll be able to access the fitness centers:

Monday – Friday     6:00am – 8:00pm

Saturday                7:30am – 5:30pm

Sunday                   7:30am – 3:30pm

If you happen to be inside the building after these hours, you will need to exit out one of the stairwell doors.

BBQ’s, Camping, Outdoor Sports… SUNSCREEN!!!!

BBQ’s, Camping, Outdoor Sports… SUNSCREEN!!!!

Good Morning Everyone!



WHOA!!!!  This is a really long email…I know.  However, there is a lot of valuable information about staying safe while in the sun. According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer so we need to be diligent about sun safety for ourselves and our families – SAFETY FIRST.  If you don’t have time to read this now, I encourage you to save it for later and make sure you’re ready for that beautiful sun!


Some of us are coming into a season of BBQ’s, camping, outdoor spots and well…just being outside as much as we can.  Others, like our McKinley family in the south, have been enjoying the sun for most of the year.  As you start to make your summer plans, make sure you plan to protect your skin as well.  Our skin is our largest organ and it is so important to protect it from harmful UVA and UVB rays but we also need to protect our bodies from many harmful chemicals that are found in many sunscreens.


Our bodies absorb what we put on our skin, some experts say up to 60%.  Just like we read the nutrition label on the foods we eat, it’s important to read the ingredient list on the skin care products we put on our skin and our kids.  I think it’s important to be aware of what to look for when choosing a sunscreen for yourself and your family.  We need to look beyond the number of SPF in the sunscreen and start basing our decision on what the ingredients are.


Here are three examples of the chemicals you want to avoid:


Parabens: They are used as a preservative and you will recognize them on the ingredient list as the following, methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben, and benzylparaben.  The problem is, researchers have discovered that parabens mimic the female hormone estrogen. For men this means a possible increase in body fat and decrease in muscle mass.  For women, too much estrogen can put you at a higher risk for breast cancer.


Oxybenzone: Most commonly found in the sport sunscreens. It can penetrate the skin, enter the bloodstream and act like estrogen in the body.


Retinyl palmitate: This is a form of vitamin A. Night creams with this chemical may help skin look more youthful. But on sun-exposed skin, according to government studies, it may speed up development of skin tumors and lesions.


Below is a list of 12 toxic and carcinogenic compounds found in common beauty and skin care products:



Many of you are probably aware of the many health benefits that come from Vitamin D.  It has been linked to cardio-vascular health, diabetes, obesity, fibromyalgia, mental emotional health, digestive health and the list continues to grow.  The only way your body can successfully manufacture Vitamin D is with 10 min of direct sun exposure…without sunscreen.  Most, if not all of us accomplish this by getting in and out of our cars and walking to our destination.  If you are going to be in direct sunlight for longer than 20min, sunscreen is definitely recommended.


2 Reasons to Wear Sunscreen:

  1. To prevent your skin from aging prematurely
  2. To help decrease your risk for skin cancer


EWG (Environmental Working Group) creates a sunscreen guide every year.  They examined 1,700 products this year and the products they deem safe are based on how effectively they can protect our skin from UVA and UVB rays, the ingredient list and the SPF #.


Click on the link below for their full list of 217 sunscreens they would recommend and why.  Below the link I have listed 9 of the least expensive products you can find on amazon and other local retailer stores.


  • Alba Botanica Very Emollient Mineral Sunscreen, Fragrance Free, SPF 30  ($2.32/ounce)
  • Alba Botanica Very Emollient Mineral Sunscreen, Kids, SPF 30 ($2.65/ounce)
  • derma e Antioxidant Natural Sunscreen, Body, SPF 30 ($2.82/ounce)
  • Earth’s Best Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30 ($1.79/ounce)
  • Goddess Garden Everyday Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30 ($2.82/ounce)
  • Jason Sun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30 ($2.13/ounce)
  • Safe Harbor Natural Suncare Sensitive Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 30 ($2.50/ounce)
  • Tropical Sands All Natural Biodegradable Sunscreen, Coconut Scent, SPF 30 ($2.49/ounce)
  • The Honest Company Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 ($2.33/ounce) –


Through my own quest to find the right sunscreen for my daughter and myself, I have been very pleased with the brand “Kiss My Face”.  We use the SPF 30 and it is paraben, nanoparticle, artificial color and fragrance FREE!.  I have found it at Target, Whole Foods and online at amazon.

Click the link below to help determine what SPF would be most effective for you:


Below are sunscreen ‘How To’ tips according to the American Academy of Dermatology:

1                    Choose sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher, is water resistant, and provides broad-spectrum coverage, which means it protects you from UVA and UVB rays.

2                    Apply sunscreen generously before going outdoors. It takes approximately 15 minutes for your skin to absorb the sunscreen and protect you. If you wait until you are in the sun to apply sunscreen, your skin is unprotected and can burn.

3                    Use enough sunscreen. Most adults need at least one ounce of sunscreen, about the amount you can hold in your palm, to fully cover all exposed areas of your body. Rub the sunscreen thoroughly into your skin.

4                    Apply sunscreen to all bare skin. Remember your neck, face, ears, tops of your feet and legs. For hard-to-reach areas like your back, ask someone to help you or use a spray sunscreen. If you have thinning hair, either apply sunscreen to your scalp or wear a wide-brimmed hat. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm with a SPF of at least 15.

5                    Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours to remain protected, or immediately after swimming or excessively sweating.


I hope you plan lots of fun activities this summer – plan to protect your skin too!!