Instead of Resolutions, Let’s Make a Fresh New Start

15 01 2016

Well, we are 2 weeks into January 2016, and how many of you have already ditched your New Year’s resolutions? Or didn’t make any at all because you knew they would never last? January offers us a fresh new month in a fresh new year. Instead of harping on resolutions, why not focus on a fresh new start!

The last several weeks have been a whirlwind of parties, shopping, family gatherings, and often overindulgence. The new year offers us the chance to look at things in a different light; a chance to start anew. A chance to take a deep breath and move forward. So what can you do to make a fresh new start? Try some of these fresh ideas!

Make it a fresh healthy start every day by having a nourishing breakfast. Try a bowl of warm oats with sliced bananas, chopped pecans and a drizzle of honey, greek yogurt with whole grain granola, or cottage cheese with fresh fruit. It starts your day off on the right foot, and gives you the energy your body needs to tackle the day. Want something different to try? Check out a mango vanilla smoothie, or even rice pudding for breakfast!

Each week, pick out a fresh new recipe to make, made with as many whole, fresh foods as possible (think veggies, fruits, whole grains, beans, etc). This adds excitement and variety to your meal planning, and can be a lot of fun! Make it a game by putting recipe names on pieces of paper or popsicle sticks and place them in a jar. Have a family member draw out a new one every week. Have your kids help you shop for and prepare your new recipe for your family. Remember, every trip to the grocery and every meal made in your kitchen can be an opportunity to grow a healthy eater!

Get some fresh air. Yes, winter has set in, but that doesn’t mean the air isn’t just as sweet! The crisp, cold winter air is invigorating, and getting some sunshine on a cold winter day does the body good. That sunshine can help your body make its own Vitamin D, something many people are deficient in during long winter months spent indoors. Don’t like the cold? That is what they make cold weather gear for. Layer up, butter cup! Get some great tips here!

Take up a fresh new winter activity. Learning to do something new is always great no matter how old you are! I grew up ice skating on our neighbor’s pond and skiing in the Pocono Mountains with all of my friends. When I was able to take ice skating and skiing back up when my children were old enough to learn, it was so exciting! If these aren’t for you, try things like snow shoeing and hiking on the rail trails (be sure to wear insulated shoes with good tread, or get yourself some Yak Trax), cross country skiing (WV has some great trails!), or challenge yourself to a winter 5K. Play with your children and grandchildren outside. Try sledding, tubing, building snowmen, and making snow angels. Feel like a kid again!

BusyBeesBenefits_com Family Playing in the Snow
Try a fresh new way to focus on the “good stuff”. Start a Gratitude Jar. Every time you or someone in your family experiences something good, write it down on a piece of paper and put it in a big jar. Keep this up throughout the year, and on New Year’s Day, pull out and read all of the “good stuff”. What a great way to remember and reflect on all of our blessings!

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So instead of wasting time on resolutions that you know aren’t going to last, tell us, what will you do to make a fresh new start?

…Cathy Shaw, RD, LD is a registered and licensed dietitian with the PEIA Weight Management Program


It’s a New Year, Make it Different!

16 01 2015

The holidays are over and the New Year has begun. Many of you have resolutions you would like to complete and the motivation from a new beginning to do so. Before we dive into ways to find inspiration, let’s look back to last year. Reflecting on your past is important this time of year in order to identify what went right and what went wrong.  Not to focus on the negative, but by learning from past mistakes and planning for the challenges ahead, success is a much more likely possibility.  Ask yourself these next couple question and write down your answers:decision-making-process

  1. What resolutions did I have last year?
  2. What actions did I take to complete those?
  3. When did my actions to complete my resolutions stop?
  4. Why did my actions stop? (Be honest with yourself!)

Now you can start to see discrepancies between your goals and the actions you took or did not take to complete them. So the next question is what makes this year different? What can you do to make sure you do not repeat the same ‘start resolution- lose motivation- stop resolution’ sequence of events? Make new decisions to find motivation.

Finding motivational inspiration can be difficult, but there are three actions you can take to help you find all the motivation you need to reach your goals. I challenge you to try them!

  1. The Decision to get uncomfortable

What does this mean exactly? It means you push past your comfort level in every area. How hard to you usually push yourself on the elliptical or treadmill? Go Harder. How much do you love/hate the bike? Change machines. How much do you love your exercise class you have always gone to? Try a new one. How much do you love working out at home? Change your scenery. Know that as awesome as your exercise routine is now… the best is yet to come. Making the conscious decision to be uncomfortable physically and mentally is something I can bet was not done last year….

  1. Research

This means getting involved with NEW things in your life. This could be done in an assortment of different ways such as: visiting new classes to see how intense they are, working additional time with the trainer, searching online for new workouts at home or new healthy recipes, etc. Doing some real life research into what options your have available to you can ward off motivational pitfalls caused by boredom. If you practice these and other ways to find what is out there you will never be able to use boredom as an excuse to quit.

  1. Consistency and Persistence

Just how Rome was not built in a day, neither were those fit bodies at the gym you may be hoping for. Stay the course, write down your measurements each month, don’t be afraid to ask for additional help when your trainer is not there, and always remember… be patient! Your hard work will pay off. Just because you may not see results in your appearance as quickly as you want, does not mean changes are not happening inside of your body (i.e. cholesterol and blood pressure levels).

Always remember the choice to succeed is yours. Making excuses will not remove that responsibility from your shoulders.  Reflection on past actions and making these decisions to change is a great start to a different approach to your goals.


Kelly Stubna, MPH

Health Behavior Coach


Communicate Your Needs and Goals (Part 2: Trainer and Dietitian)

18 12 2014

Entering the Weight Management Program is a big decision for many and it is very important to utilize the resources the program has available to you if you want to be successful. Effective communication with the professionals that are here to help you can be a great way to utilize those resources as well as reach your goals in the shortest amount of time. Similar to the Communicate Your Needs and Goals Part 1 blog, communication with the professionals around you can help build trust and respect as well as, create a clear understanding of where you are in your journey  in contrast to where you would like to be. Communication with the professionals is the single most effective way to have the program work with you in order to reach your goals.

Here are some ways you can make the communication between you and the professional clear in order to achieve your goals:

 1. Be Prepared

Being prepared for the encounters you have with the professionals in the program is key in order to have all your questions answered. This includes: having a pen and paper with you so you can take notes as you and the professionals talk. Taking notes is important to remember major topics and goals you both discuss and will help eliminate confusion later on in the program. Additionally, writing your questions down ahead of time will help keep you and the professional organized on what specific areas need more of an explanation and what areas do not. This will also help show how much you care about the program.

2. Get Comfortable

It is important to become comfortable with whomever professional you may be talking with. Whether that be your Personal Trainer, Dietitian, Health Behavior Counselor, or the Exercise Physiologist, having a level of comfort will make you more inclined to ask the questions you truly want to know but might be too afraid to ask, or will be more likely to tell them what is truly going on in your life that may prevent you from having success in the program.

3. Be Honest

Being honest with the professionals in the program is not only important in order for the professional to be able to help you in a way that will be more conducive to your situation, but being honest with yourself is also important in order for you to be able to accurately reflect on your life to find the areas you need/want to change in order to lead a healthier lifestyle. If you are not honest with yourself or others about your lifestyle then taking the right steps towards change will be a harder journey and usually more time consuming. 10247326_10102232512583939_6300324526832262431_n

4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

During your encounters whether that be over the phone or face to face, it is important to ask questions if there is something you don’t fully understand. The professional is there to help you in a nonjudgmental way. You will not be judged for asking a question that you think you should already know the answer to, and truthfully it is safe to assume you are not the only one who don’t know the answer to the topics in question.

Making the choice to change your life is not an easy one, but know we are here to support you.  By working together with the professionals in the program, and being honest with yourself and them, you will gain the tools you need to succeed.

Kelly Stubna, MPH

Health Behavior Counselor

Dealing with Judgment

30 09 2014

When it comes to weight management, there are many underlying emotional factors that can affect progregavel imagess. Feeling judged, or fear of the possibility of being judged, can stand in the way and significantly limit your potential. The question of “what do others think of me? What do they think of my appearance, my efforts, my success or failure?” can cause undue stress and make the hills you are trying to climb toward your goal(s) seem to grow into mountains.

The fears that we have…fear of weakness and vulnerability, fear of being ostracized because we are breaking the mold we are expected to fit into, fear of failure…all of these hold us back from being happy and complete beings. Occasionally the resulting judgment of these fears can motivate us to strive a bit harder to reach our goals, but more often, the judgment and resulting negative emotions drag us down.

judgment quote images 2Releasing the power of judgment can have such a freeing effect. But, as with many things, this is easier said than done, so it will require a bit of work on your part. How can you take back the control you have given others who choose to judge you? Let’s consider these points:

  1. Consider the fact that the only person who knows the absolute truth about you is YOU. Your motivations for making a life change, your reasons for behaving a certain way or exhibiting particular emotions…when it comes to these factors, yours is the only opinion that truly matters.
  2. Understand the difference between perception and reality. Perception is your mental impression, or how you interpret or understand something. Reality is the state of things as they actually exist. These two can get clouded and confused easily when subjective elements such as emotions are involved. Keeping ahold of the facts and staying grounded as much as possible can help make reality a bit clearer.
  3. If the judgment or variable in question is, in fact, part of your reality, how much effect does it actually have on your state of being? Rate it on a scale of 0-10…0 meaning it has no impact on your life, 10 implying that it is absolutely life-changing. Judgment will likely fall closer to 0 if you allow yourself to look at the situation objectively.
  4. Find things you enjoy and activities you have been successful with and use them to fall back on to increase confidence and boost self-esteem. Whether it is solving a Rubik’s Cube in record time or hitting the bull’s eye on the dart board, being successful always feels good and has a way of booting our overall sense of well-being.
  5. Put it in writing. What went right today, this week, this month? We so often focus on the negatives that the positives do not get their well-deserved moments in the spot light. Write down what went RIGHT lately…it may just give you the dose of reality you need to overcome the negativity of judgment.judgment-quotes-4
  6. Finally, try and keep in mind that those who criticize others are likely insecure themselves. I know that sounds very sophomoric, but let’s think of it this way. Other than those in your life that truly care about you, why else would anyone be truly invested in your state of being? Perhaps making you feel “less-than” gives them a boost…sad but true. But you do not have time for petty, small-minded behavior…you have a goal to reach!

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by Stephanie R. McWilliams, Health Behavior Coach

Self-Image…what do you see?

5 08 2014

Have you ever stopped to think about how you truly view yourself? Perhaps you think about it all too often. When you look in the mirror, what do you see…and more importantly, what effect does that image have on how you feel? Thanks to the media, we have become accustomed to extremely rigid and uniform standards of beauty. TV, billboards, and magazines, and not to mention social media, are everywhere, which means that we see ‘beautiful people’ all the time, making exceptional good looks seem real, normal and attainable, and perhaps even expected.

Expertsbody_image say part of the problem in our body-obsessed culture is that many women — and increasingly more men — have highly unrealistic expectations of what weight loss can do for them. Too often, they think hitting their ideal weight will make them look like a swimsuit model in a magazine, and they’re disappointed when that’s not the case. Failure to achieve these unrealistic goals can lead to depression, anxiety, and loss of motivation, as well as dysfunctional or damaging behavior. Research has shown that when people are feeling low or in a bad mood, they experience greater body-dissatisfaction. That dissatisfaction skews perception toward the negative even further, increasing the emotional decline and undesirable side-effects.

“You have to look at retraining your brain and understanding that you have been reinforcing this negative image for probably a long time,” says Adrienne Ressler, a body-image specialist and national training director for the Renfrew Center Foundation. If you are constantly critical of yourself, your image, your food choices, and your weight, you must begin to realize that your ideals are based on the notion that we are defective, which is simply untrue. If the tape playing in your head is constantly tearing you down, where is that getting you? Be honest with yourself…not anywhere good!

So how can you change the tape?
First, get over the fear
Fear of regaining the weight is very prevalent in those who have worked hard to lose it, says Joshua Hrabosky, a psychologist at Rhode Island Hospital. People who’ve gained and lost and gained again may be less likely to embrace a new image that they worry won’t last. “They’re still in the back of their minds waiting for the other shoe to drop,” he says. Change your mode of thinking so that you have mini-goals to work toward. And be sure to celebrate when those goals are met…and of course, set new ones.

Next, rationalize your thoughts
No negatives People who expect perfection can “get stuck in dichotomous thinking that you’re fat or you’re perfect, and there’s no gray area in between,” says psychologist Leslie Heinberg, who counsels bariatric patients at the Cleveland Clinic. “So if you’re not perfect, you’re ‘fat.’” But if you take the time to step back and put things in perspective, there is very likely a list of attributes that define you that are completely unrelated to your weight, body type, or clothing size. What are those…yes, I am suggesting you make a list right now. Do any of them surprise you? Do any of them really make you proud or happy?

Finally, (with those positive thoughts in mind) take control…and take action!
Our bodies shape our identity, and our identity is intricately linked with the body that we were born into. Exploring these connections can open up new areas of understanding. “Body image is a lot harder to change than the actual physical body is,” says Elayne Daniels, a psychologist in Canton, Mass., who specializes in body-image issues. Using the positive elements you see in yourself, think about what they make you capable of…and then make a list (yes, another one) on how and when you plan to do those things. For example, if you listed “compassionate” as an attribute, perhaps you might call a friend to help him/her through a life event. Then, take note of how you feel after that activity. Did it empower you, boost your mood, increase your confidence or just give you an overall sense of satisfaction?
These are the elements of life that we thrive on. The negative drags us down, while the positive makes us better able to be productive, and feel content throughout the process. Find what you are good at and embrace it. Use those abilities to help you get better at the things that challenge you. Celebrate the steps made in the “right” direction along your journey. And know that simply being a more content individual will likely lead you to more success.

Here is an interesting experiment to consider…

Want more thoughts on this topic? Check out Dr. Renee Engeln’s TEDtalk on “Beauty Sickness” at

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by Stephanie R. McWilliams, M.A., Health Behavior Counselor