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!

gratitude jar


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


Holiday exercise tips!

15 12 2015

During the holiday season there is more hustle and bustle. Decorating, baking, Christmas shopping, and holiday get-togethers often eat into the time we have placed aside for our workout routines. Jessica Smith on the myfitnesspal website has given 5 different ways to fit in some workouts during the holiday season:

  1. Make a master plan.

Take a few minutes to sit down and create a holiday schedule. Around the holidays, we tend to work different hours, spend more time running errands, and going to parties, so creating a personal plan can be a great way to eliminate some of the stress, chaos and wasted time that can keep you from exercising.

If, for example, you know you’ll be spending Wednesday traveling to your family’s house, you may want to schedule a trip to the gym the night before so when you need to start getting the kids ready and the bags packed to head out the door by 10 a.m Wednesday morning, you will have your workout done. Be sure to write down your exercise time and give it priority like an important appointment you can’t cancel with less than 24 hours’ notice (and if you do have to cancel, move it around so that you have another time to work out somewhere in your schedule).

  1. Create an arsenal of travel-friendly workouts.

Even if your holiday schedule is full of out-of-town trips, there are still plenty of great ways to get your sweat on away from home. Do you love going to the gym? Awesome! Use this opportunity to check out a new fitness center while you’re on the road. Head to the closest club and get a guest pass, or try out a new class or workout space to mix up your regular routine. Bonus tip: Some gyms, particularly boutique fitness studios, offer a free or discounted class to first-time visitors.

Prefer home workouts? There are plenty of ways to squeeze in a session with exercise videos or apps. You can even stream workouts on your iPad or tablet from YouTube or a wide variety of subscription-based fitness programs (check out GrokkerDaily Burn or Fitness Blender to get started).

  1. Get the family involved.

Spending quality time with the family doesn’t have to mean sitting around and eating all day (and night) long! Get the party started by suggesting a holiday-themed dance contest or an outdoor football game. Even a walk around the block to look at holiday decorations is a simple way to get everybody moving together.

  1. Multi-task.

Headed to the mall to do some holiday shopping? Squeeze in some extra steps while you are there by taking a few window-shopping laps before starting your mission. Cooking a big meal for a family gathering? Once your prep is done and everything is in the oven, set your timer and hit your garage or living room for a short workout session while you wait. Even just pumping out a few sets of squats or jumping jacks at various intervals throughout your day can make a difference. Remember, a little bit of something is always better than a big nothing.

  1. Aim to maintain.

Finally, don’t forget to cut yourself some slack. Sure, a hardcore session at the gym would be great if you can find the time to fit it in, but a walk around the neighborhood with your kids is also a win. Celebrate your small victories during this busy time to help you stay inspired to get back into the game again as soon as you can. Maybe you won’t be making major fitness gains during the holidays, but if you focus on maintaining, it will be much easier to pick up your regular routine (versus starting over) again in the new year.

Remember these are just some suggestions of ways to fit in workouts throughout the holiday season. If these don’t tickle your fancy the Weight Management Program has many different suggestions/tips to offer. The weekly challenges, Maintain Don’t Gain challenge, and monthly newsletters are just a few of the resources we have to help you find different ways to stay on track through the holidays. We (the health professionals within the Weight Management Program) are here to support and guide you along the way, so don’t hesitate to ask!

Happy Holidays!

Kelly Stubna MPH, Health Behavior Coach

Who inspires you, and who might you inspire?

15 06 2015

As I was 7 miles into a 12 mile trail raceSam Zizzi, with way too many hills, I paused for moment to wonder “how did I get here!?”

Just a year ago, I would have considered running such a distance ridiculous and absurd. So, how did I get here you ask . .. by just following the lead of my lovely wife. She dove headfirst into running to re-claim her body after giving birth to our two daughters about 6 years ago. Since then she has run many road races ranging from 5ks to half-marathons. She asked me a few years ago, “when are you going to do one with me?” . .. and my reply “Someday.” Well last Fall, I ran out of good excuses and managed my first half marathon (in Monongah, WV) after several months of training. She didn’t nag me into, she just showed me the way. And what I found along the crooked path has been interesting.

I have learned to not react to every ache and pain encountered during a run. The pain comes and goes. I have learned that, just like moments of your life, some runs suck and some are amazing. It also turns out that a “running date” can be pretty great, though a little different than dinner and a movie. I have learned that running gets easier the more you do it. I have learned that I really like running in the woods.

Neither of us is what you would call “fast”, and it really doesn’t matter. We feel good. We feel strong. Our kids watch us make time to be active, and they join us at events. We walk, hike, and bike together regularly. Being active has become part of our family’s DNA.

So, I wonder – who is your inspiration and have you thanked them? (Thanks Liz!)

Or, if you keep it up or take it up a notch with your workouts, who might notice and be pulled forward by your example? Maybe another gym member, or your sister, or your son will see your example and start something new. And it doesn’t have to be running – it can be walking, biking, weight training, or an exercise class. Even if no one notices, effort put into physical activity is always effort well spent. Exertion of energy leads to more strength, more energy, more activity. It lets your body know it is supposed to move. Lack of exercise leads to less energy, less confidence, less strength.

Here’s hoping you can re-start or renew your efforts to be active, and perhaps be inspired by (or inspire) someone close to you.

Success Markers, Make Some!

12 02 2015

Usually around this time of year the excitement of New Years resolutions is starting to wear off and motivation is starting to become harder to find. It is at this point that finding success markers are crucial to keep your momentum going. Here are some gym specific success markers that you can keep in mind in order to stay on track with your journey:


  1. Accountability– An accountability partner is something EVERYONE needs, if you don’t have one…find one! This is someone you can rely on to commiserate with on how sore you are or better yet, share your successes. Tell them what you need, do you need someone to call and wake you up in the morning? Do you need them to meet you at the track, park, or gym? Do you need someone who will call you once a week to see how your workouts are going? Accountability partners do not have to be people who go to the gym with you (though that does help) they just have to be a person you rely on and will commit to helping you by holding you accountable. So be specific with the person you choose and don’t be afraid to let them know what you need.
  2. Keep a written journal– There are lots of different ways to track your workouts. If you want to track your progress through how much weight you lift there are many different kinds of notebooks that will offer a place to enter your weight, reps, and sets. These journals will also offer a place to track your cardio sessions. These can usually be found in gyms, sporting good stores, and even Walmart carries them. If nothing else, buy a regular notebook and record your workouts however you like–Get a Journal!
  3. Education– learning to be comfortable in the gym environment is very important if you expect to be successful. Learning how to use the machines, weights, and cardio equipment are the first steps you should take, grab your trainer or any other fitness professional to help you learn how to do each exercise.
  4. Goals– determine your goals, make sure they are measurable, write them down, post them on your mirror, be grateful for your ability to move and be active, then go FIGHT for what you want. Always remember, your efforts are a DIRECT reflection on the efforts you put in. Tell your accountability partner about your goals so they will know what you are striving to reach.
  5. Measured successes– Successes from exercise come in all different forms. Performance based goals are measured through activities you preform, such as, how fast you can finish a mile, or how many push ups you can do in one minute. Make sure you and your trainer are measuring these successes, especially if the weight is not coming off as fast as you would like. Muscular strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance are also measurements of success that you and your trainer or accountability partner can be tracking. These can be revealed through tests like the 1 rep max tests (Strength) which MUST be administered with a trainer, repeat to failure exercises (endurance) , sit and reach tests (flexibility) , and a 3 minute step test (Cardio endurance).

Always remember there are other markers of success you can be tracking to better gauge your progress than just the number on the scale. Keeping these in mind for the parts of the year when your motivation is low or when you feel you are not progressing, can be just the thing to keep you on track and headed towards your goals!

Let me know how what your success markers are!

10247326_10102232512583939_6300324526832262431_nKelly Stubna, MPH

Health Behavior Specialist


Summer Activity Series! Tip #2

25 08 2014

Summer Activity Series!
Welcome back to tip number 2 of the summer activity series. As summer starts to wind down and students return to school, the gyms may start to fill up with additional people making your workouts harder to push through. Looking outside the box for more unconventional ways of exercising can be a great way to take advantage of what summer weather we have left. One of the most important things to remember is to always change up your workouts and keep them fun! This will keep you from becoming bored with your workouts and will keep your body guessing to what is coming next. And remember, these workouts are meant to be in ADDITION to the minimum 8 visits the gym per month; so challenge yourself! YOU CAN DO IT!

Series 2 of 3

TIP #2: Find a Playgroundhqdefault

Remember when exercise meant taking your two-wheeler out for a glory ride, chasing fireflies, or playing kickball on the playground? As a kid you did not head out to the
playground looking for a workout but you were unquestionably getting one. For those of you who have kids or are just a kid at heart, this may be an easy way to switch up your routine and still get a killer workout done. Here are some links for some great playground workouts for you to try especially right now when the weather has started to cool a bit; and the best part is, it’s FREE!

Remember!  Additional consideration for safety should be made before all playground workouts.

  • Always bring water with you in order to keep you and anyone else with you hydrated.
  •  Wearing sunscreen is a great way to protect you on sunny days. Wearing hats or sunglasses can also provide additional protection from the sun.
  •  Before starting your workout check the surroundings and playground equipment in order to make sure there are no dangerous materials, such as broken glass or any broken equipment that could cause injuries during your workout.
  •  Always bring a towel (or two) in order to wipe off any wet surfaces to prevent slips and falls. They are also great to wipe off any sweat you produce from the killer workout you are about to have!

By Kelly Stubna MPH, Health behavior Coach

Lessons from Al

12 03 2013

Chelsea Butters-Wooding

Chelsea Butters-Wooding

A recent interview on Today highlighted Al Roker’s weight loss journey. At the time of his surgery, Roker weighed in at 320 pounds, and after “failing at numerous diets” he considered surgery. Immediately after surgery, Roker dropped 100 pounds and 20 suit sizes, but said it was keeping the weight off that proved challenging. In the clip ( Al talked about weight loss, and maintenance, and many of the lessons he discusses are messages that we promote in the Weight Management Program as well!

Motivation. Years ago, Roker had a conversation with his father that inspired him. After Roker’s father came down ill, he told his son, “I’m not gonna be here for your kids, and you gotta be here for your kids. So you have to promise me you’re going to lose weight.”  After years of failing at diets, this conversation helped him develop a passion for wellness that helps him keep his weight off.

At home, Roker’s family plays a major role. His wife still has concerns for his health, because unhealthy options are so readily available. However, their relationship has benefited from his weight loss, especially since Roker reports feeling sexier now that he is healthier! His kids have learned a lot from Roker’s journey as well. They recognize him as being the same person, but realize that his weight loss journey requires a lot of determination which is inspiring.

Always Learning. Even after surgery, Roker realized this was not the end.  After his surgery he ate through the bypass and gained most of the weight back, teaching him that eating too much or eating the wrong thing has consequences, even after gastric bypass! Even now, after a lot of weight loss, Roker is vigilant about watching what he eats. Roker suggests that his continued education helps to prevent sliding back to his old, unhealthy habits.

Maintenance is key. Roker quickly realized that the problem for him, like many, was keeping the weight off, and maintaining was “killer” for him. Now, Roker has found a balance of exercise he refers to as the slow method. He exercises for 30 minutes, 3 times per week focusing on slow, purposeful repetitions. Strength training is important because it creates lean body mass which burns more calories. In addition, Roker’s maintenance involves eating whole, unprocessed foods. Roker speaks a lot to the idea of finding what works for you and making that part of your lifestyle as well.  On top of time at the gym, Roker stays as active as possible throughout the day, including a treadmill desk and biking to and from work!

Parting words Al’s advice to others aspiring to make change was that it is an individual journey. People should not try to lose weight just because of someone on television or because a wife or mother wants them to. Instead, people should get to a place where they say, “I want this for me. I want to get my life together.” While motivation from others can be inspiring, it is important to find that fire inside of you that keeps you going, that fire that makes you go to the gym even when you don’t want to, that reason for eating fruit when you crave chips!

Maintaining Momentum

14 01 2013

Sam ZizziTo Maintain Your Success . . . . or to Renew Your Efforts, here are a few tips:

Make your health a high priority in your life. When you reach a level of commitment where your healthy lifestyle is just as important as family and work – and in fact helps you be better at home and work – then decisions get a lot easier. Time for exercise holds the same weight in your weekly calendar as a doctor’s appt or work meeting. Food preparation and planning time get worked into each weekend. It becomes natural.

Stick with it, even when you encounter barriers or disruptions to your routine. Life is not a straight path, so don’t expect it to be. When we interviewed some of our “biggest losers” in the program, they all experienced struggles and conflicts but were able to stick with their habits over time by keeping mindful of their stated goals. So what if you fell off the wagon for a couple weeks due to a vacation, illness, or other disruption. Pick up the pieces and write your comeback story!

Keep yourself accountable. Keep track of your food and exercise every day. Logs and journals don’t work if you don’t use them daily. Weight maintainers are mindful of their intake and output each and every day.

Find support for your goals. In addition to keeping yourself honest during this process, you may need to seek out some help from family members, friends, or PEIA staff members during this process. Find an exercise partner if you need one or join a group exercise class or start a “salad group” at your workplace. There a many ways to surround yourself with people who support your goals, and by taking time to seek out positive support, you will find the process more manageable and less stressful.

When in doubt, work out! In a review of weight management research, the number one factor consistent among long term weight loss maintainers was regular physical activity (>5 days per week of 60+ minutes). Many of the successful participants in WV report “walking daily”, regularly attending a gym (3+ times a week), and finding other ways to sneak physical activity into their schedule. All the small changes really add up, and keep you focused on healthy choices every week.

Mix up your routine. Finding new types of activities to do once you get comfortable with your basic plan can help long-term motivation. Variety keeps options open for gym- and home-based exercise, and keeps motivation high. Don’t be afraid to ask your personal trainer or exercise physiologist to switch up your routine, or to provide some options for home-based activities.

Develop new food skills. For weight maintenance, most participants indicated that the food changes are harder to stick with compared to exercise. Get your RD to help you develop the skills you need to fit healthy eating into your family, work, and social gatherings. It can happen, other people have done it. Why not you??