Archive for June, 2010

Labels are Our Friend

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Yesterday I was in the grocery store reading yogurt labels.  Did you know there is now yogurt for babies?  There is even a ‘pear & peas’ yogurt.  Pears & peas mixed into the same 4 oz carton of yogurt.  I couldn’t resist reading the label.  What I found was 14 grams of sugar.

Now, an entire cup of peas has 8 grams of sugar and a whole pear has 9 grams of sugar.  I seriously doubt an entire cup of peas & an entire pear found their way into the 4 oz yogurt carton.  That tells me there is added sugar in the pear & pea yogurt we’re feeding babies.  Why?

Once again I find myself thinking of my mother who simply smashed up some of the peas the rest of us were eating & fed them to my youngest sister.  No sugar added.

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Contagion

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

I came into work one day about a month ago to find one of my staff sitting in her cube on a big red exercise ball.   After resisting the childish urge to kick the ball out from under her (she has a sense of humor), I asked her what prompted the chair replacement.  Apparently, her physician and physical therapist had recommended she use the ball to help with her back pain, improve her posture and strengthen her core muscles.  Then, because she is a very enthusiastic person, she kindly volunteered to take $25 of my cash and bring me in my own ball. 

 Since there are many days that I spend hours sitting at my desk, I thought getting a ball would be a fun and convenient way for me to do something positive for my own health, so I soon became the owner of a nice new red ball of my own.  I wasn’t alone…within the week several other workers had either purchased their own balls or found the lonely ball from the basement at home and put it back into action.  I walked in one day to find over half my staff in the Ann Arbor office sitting on green, blue, silver and red colored exercise balls while they took phone calls, engaged in analytics and conducted whatever work they had for the day.   They were also having fun and enjoying the novelty of their new chairs.  Some even went as far as wearing outfits that matched their balls on the planned picture day (after being instructed to the night before by one very peppy employee).

As someone who frequently engages in conversations, both at work and at the Wellness Foundation, about strategies for getting people engaged in contributing to their own health, I was particularly struck by the spread of the exercise balls.  The proliferation of the balls, I realized, was a small scale example of what we, at the Foundation, are trying to achieve on a larger scale, and the chain reaction provided a glimpse into one part of our strategy.   If it’s fun, easy and convenient, it may very well be contagious!

 Alison Pollard is Vice President of Provider Affairs for Bluecare Network and a member of the CWF Board of Directors.

Taking a Break from Discipline

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Yesterday I had a Frosty® for lunch.  I was hoping no one would see me.  Then I realized, I can have a Frosty if I want.  And you can have Oreos® with your kids on Sunday nights & your neighbor can skip his daily work-out because his he’s plain worn out from a tough week, and someone else gets to serve the family grilled cheese for dinner because they didn’t have time to grocery shop. 

We can’t make unhealthy choices every day or even once a week, in some cases.  But we don’t want to send our occasional indulgences underground.  It’s not about proving I’m the healthiest or the least likely to make a bad decision.  It’s about making little changes to improve my chances of living with more enthusiasm because I feel good. 

One more thing, before I go.  We’re looking for dynamite guest blogs on the topic of summer wellness.  How do our beautiful Michigan summers help you stay well?  We’ll select a 2-paragraph guest blog once a month.  Include the kids if they’re interested.  You can submit your entry to info@5healthytowns.org.  Can’t wait to hear what you all have to say!

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No Man is an Island

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Have you been to a graduation party or wedding in the last few weeks?  Volunteered at an end-of-the year party for your child’s class?  Walked with a neighbor? Joined a committee at church?  Prepared a dish for a family that just experienced a loss?  Laughed out loud with a colleague?

 These & hundreds of other simple life activities are the things we do to connect with people in healthy ways.  Studies show when we connect we’re happier.  And happiness is a key component of good health.

Fundamentals

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Last week a consultant from Minnesota toured our 5 healthy towns.  I’d like to share some of his comments with you.

  • All 5 communities have recently invested in their schools so we know they care about education & kids.
  • There is a lot of reinvestment in existing homes.  That’s a good sign.
  • These towns are more alive than many in states like MN, IA & WI where the economy is better.
  • Some of your grocery stores [some mind you] have healthy food sections that rival the most urban, upscale grocery stores.
  • It would be so easy to restripe some of these roads to include bike lanes.
  • Although there are sections of unconnected sidewalks, it would be easy to connect them in most places.
  • Clearly these towns are proud & each have an identity separate from the larger cities, nearby.

It’s good to hear a compliment once in a while.