Buddy up for better brain – OSC:Wellness tip

OSC:Wellness brings you “quick tip” changes for healthier living. A more balanced sense of wellness can come One Small Change at a time.

This week’s tip is from the Alzheimer’s Association, which works to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through research, to provide care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. They gave me permission to share a tip from their 10 Ways to Love Your Brain resource, which has many other tips for a healthy brain.

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Buddy up.
Staying socially engaged may support brain health. Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. Find ways to be part of your local community — if you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. If you enjoy singing, join a local choir or help at an afterschool program. Or, just share activities with friends and family.

–Alzheimer’s Association
in 10 Ways to Love Your Brain, used with permission

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How to stabilize health compounds in chopped garlic – OSC:Wellness tip

OSC:Wellness brings you “quick tip” changes for healthier living. A more balanced sense of wellness can come One Small Change at a time.

This week’s tip is from Jill Weisenberger, Registered Dietitian and author of several nutrition books. She shares how to activate and stabilize garlic’s health-boosting compounds. You can find more simple tips like this in Jill’s second book The Overworked Person’s Guide to Better Nutrition.

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Chop garlic 10 minutes before cooking.
Garlic likely decreases the risk of colorectal cancer and stomach cancer. It’s also studied for possible roles in heart disease prevention. Chopping or crushing garlic activates its natural health-boosting compounds. But heat instantly deactivates them. Allow the chopped or crushed garlic to sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before heating to stabilize the disease fighters.

–Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND, CHWC
Author, 21 Things You Need to Know about Diabetes and Your Heart and The Overworked Person’s Guide to Better Nutrition

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Plan ahead for better success – OSC:Wellness tip

OSC:Wellness brings you “quick tip” changes for healthier living. A more balanced sense of wellness can come One Small Change at a time.

This One Small Change tip is from Torey Armul, a Registered Dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She encourages us to plan ahead for better wellness.

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Create a plan for what you’ll eat tomorrow, and when. Preparing and planning ahead is the key to success in any endeavor, including health and weight loss. Take a proactive role by creating a meal schedule, packing your foods ahead of time and setting personal reminders. Without a plan, it’s easy to lose track of your goals and lose control over your food environment (being surrounded by only unhealthy options, for example) and your appetite (going too long between meals builds the desire for unhealthy foods).

Torey Armul, MS, RD, CSSD
Registered Dietitian, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

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Introducing OSC:Wellness

New Series! OSC:Wellness brings you “quick tip” changes for healthier living. A more balanced sense of wellness can come One Small Change at a time.

We all want to live our best lives possible, but sometimes that can seem overwhelming. There’s so many recommendations! Where do we start? Sometimes it feels better not to change anything.

Introducing OSC:Wellness. This new series will bring you “quick tip”changes for healthier living, in small, implementable ideas. Taking steps toward a more balanced life doesn’t mean massive overhauls of your current habits. A more balanced sense of wellness can come One Small Change at a time.

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The first tip:

Drink a glass of water before every meal or snack you eat. (If you don’t like plain water, try flavoring it with herbs, citrus slices, or cucumbers). This has multiple benefits like maintaining hydration and reducing the likelihood of overeating or choosing a sugary beverage.

-Shelly Najjar, MPH, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Be sure to sign up to make sure you don’t miss future wellness tips.

What are you grateful for? Benefits of Gratitude

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” — Epictetus

Thanksgiving is a time where we emphasize gratitude more than at other times of the year, but it is best to consider being grateful at all times of the year. This talk by Robert Emmons explains how gratitude (and of recording gratitude in journals or some other form) can make us healthier in many areas of our lives.

  • Psychological – positive emotions
  • Physical – exercise more, take better care of their health, sleep better and longer
  • Social – feel more connected, feel more helpful, feel less alone

Watch the 10 minute video to learn about the benefits of gratitude, and then check out the resources below if you need some ideas on how to be more grateful.

Resources:


What are you most grateful for? Leave a comment below.

If you haven’t done so already, you can also sign up to get future posts – about health and wellness, recipes, lessons, and social media tips – sent straight to your inbox.

Lessons from leading online health challenge

Photo Credit: photostock via FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Photo Credit: photostock via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In October, I had the opportunity to lead a health challenge for an online community group. It was my first time leading a health challenge and I tried to apply lessons from classes, as well as from webinars and other training on wellness programming. Overall, I think it went well, but there were some things I’d change if I did it again.

What worked:

Mixing it up: Every week there was a different way to get bonus points. People seemed to like the change and many chose to do the bonus activities each week.

Personal messages: When someone hadn’t posted activity or points in a while, I messaged them personally to remind them to submit activity for points. This was time consuming, but it was a smaller group so it ended up being okay. I wouldn’t do this for a large group, and I stopped doing this halfway through the month even for this small group. Instead, I sent a general reminder with the description of the new weekly bonus.

Incorporating many aspects of health: I tried to focus on different aspects of helath throughout the challenge when designing the activities that would earn points. I included physical health (physical activity, food tracking), goal setting (goals for the next month, motivation, setbacks, barriers), emotional health (stress), and social health (social support, physcial activity with people, recruiting a health buddy who will support goal for next month). Participants seemed to like these and find them useful and fun.

Not taking lack of participation personally (but I should have explored it more): It was difficult for me at first to deal with the emotions of having someone be very excited to sign up and then never participate, even when I sent them a personal message. However, I realize that things come up and sometimes participation in an event or activity you thought you had time for isn’t possible. Reminding myself of this was helpful for my emotions, but I think I ended up forgetting about them, which wasn’t so good. Many of the people who signed up and didn’t participate were new to the group. I wonder if they had different ideas about how the challenge was going to go (I should have asked).

Discussion boards: Each team had its own discussion board to post what they did (to get points) and to discuss with their team. One team ended up really using their board and the other team did not. However, they didn’t really use the board to discuss until I incentivized it by giving bonus points in the third week.

What could be improved:

Discussion boards: As I mentioned, I didn’t think about giving bonus points for participation until late in the month. Had I started with bonus points for interaction, I think more people would have done it.

Maximum points per week: I had it set up so each week had a total of 14 points maximum, one from 20 minutes or more of physical activity and one from the week’s bonus activity. This seemed like very little after a while and I wonder if it did not seem like enough to get people to be inspired to do the minimum required.

Minimum time required to get point: One of the suggestions I received at the end of the challenge was to reduce the minimum time required to get the point for physical activity from 20 minutes (with a cap of 1 point per day for physical activity) to 10 minutes (with additional points per each 10 minutes, with no physical activity points cap per day). The reason I had originally done the points cap and 20 minutes minimum was because that was what was done in previous months by other leaders, but it ended up being that only a few of the people in those challenges were even in this challenge. (It was hard to know who was going to sign up because most people signed up late, after the rules were established. So I should have changed them partway through when I found out, but somehow it didn’t occur to me). I knew that there were many people new to exercise and I wanted to make sure they knew that any activity was good and that they had the potential to help their team get the same number of points as the other team, no matter their ability to sustain physical activity. However, following this logic, it would have been wise to do 10 minutes minimum for 1 point, with a maximum of 6 points per day (for 60 minutes). This follows the recommendation that it is okay to do moderate to vigorous physical activity 10 minutes at a time, and it still wouldn’t provide incentive for obsessive physical activity. It would have been realistic and more motivating.

Asking for feedback sooner: I asked people when they signed up to tell me what they wanted to see in the challenge, and only a few people answered. Most of them said they didn’t have any expectation because it was the first one they participated in. When I asked the next time, it was as part of the bonus activity in the last three days of the challenge, and by then, not too many people were still participating. However, those that did answer the questions gave very valuable feedback. I would ask more frequently and earlier to get feedback on things that could be changed, and I would ask the people who signed up but aren’t participating what could be changed to make the challenge more appealing.

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Have you led a health-related challenge? What worked for you? What would you change for next time? What is your advice for people just learning about designing and administering health programs?