Thursday, March 26, 2009

Be Fit!

My company has launched an enormous employee health campaign called Be Fit! The whole idea is that to be healthy, you need to be physically fit, financially fit, and have a good work / life balance. As they say, "It's not one program, one change or one policy. It's a way of building a healthy and committed employee community with a financially secure future." It includes such initiatives as retirement savings plans, financial counseling, health coaching, gym membership discounts, and a healthy food initiative, where the food that is ordered for meetings and the food that is available in our vending machines and cafeterias adheres to certain guidelines. (i.e. no more donuts).

I'm definitely not the most fit person at work, and I more often than not take the elevator over the stairs. However, there are many people at work who are obviously less healthy. I work for a health care system and our corporate office is next door to one of the state's largest hospitals. One thing that just irks me is the gaggle of nurses and other health care providers who stand right outside the hospital door, in front of the no smoking sign, smoking. These are the people who are delivering radiation treatments to lung cancer patients, who are biopsying the tumors from a child who lives in a house with smoking parents. These are the caregivers who have to deliver the news to a patient that treatment isn't an option. And they're standing there smoking, like they don't really believe it will kill them. Like they're different from the patient recieveing Chemotherapy just inside those doors. Just behind that no smoking sign. Is there anything more disturbing than that? Why, yes there is. How about the patients who were wheeled outside by their caregiver, all hooked up to IVs, tubes running in and out of every orifice of their bodies... smoking. Are they just trying to hurry things up? Hello world. I'm not sure if you think that maybe it's a myth that smoking causes cancer or if you think you're "special" and it wouldn't effect you, but it does... and you're not. Okay, that is not what this post was going to be about. Sorry for that little rant. Back on subject, here!

So, health. I learned something inspiring today. As a promotion for this Be Fit! campaign, one of our Marketing and Communications employees is blogging her own journey to be fit. She is utilizing many of the tools available through our company, our insurance, and the greater health care system in general. One thing that she recently did as part of her journey, was take some tests through the LiveWell Fitness Center. In one of these tests, she realized that she was not consuming enough calories in a day. Wouldn't that be great news? Can you imagine, in the midst of your struggle to attain your ideal weight, hearing that you're just not eating enough? She was eating as healthy as she could all day long, watching her calorie intake carefully, but she would get really tired and really hungry in the evenings and end up snacking on whatever was easiest to find. So, naturally, I though - hey, maybe I'm not getting enough calories and that is the reason I am always so hungry and so tired! Surely, it isn't that I'm nursing a baby and giving him all of my nutrients and being woken up from my sweet slumber in the middle of the night to pass all of my nutrients on to him so he can grow and be healthy and not hungry and not tired all the time. No, surely it isn't that! So, I took the test.
I typed in my height, my weight, and my age and chose my daily activity level. There are five activity levels to choose from with 1 being Sedentary and 5 being Extremely Active. I first chose activity level 2, Lightly Active. I think I'm more active than that, but I do spent much of my day sitting on my butt and working at my computer. We all know that we should consume 2,000 calories a day, right? And if we want to lose weight, we need to consume fewer calories than that! It's everywhere. It's on the cereal box, it's on TV, it's in every diet plan. 2,000 calories, right? Wrong!! Look at how many calories I need to consume in a day to remain healthy when I am only Lightly active.

Just for kicks, I thought - okay... so what if I literally sat on my butt all day long. That would be Sedentary, right? Even if I did nothing all day, I should still consume more than 2,000 calories per day. You can access this test at Under Tools and Calculators, click on Caloric Needs.

I've never had a Barbie doll figure. (I mean, figure as in body shape, not as in figurine. I had lots of Barbie figurines!) In fact, I think I read somewhere that if Barbie were a real person, she wouldn't be able to even stand up with that big chest and those tiny feet. Many of us women think that we're supposed to look like Barbie. The magazines we read and tv we watch tell us all the time that we should have a size 0 waist, size 6 shoe, and a size 28C chest. How did this happen? When did a size 4 become a Large and a size 6 become an Extra Large? I was recently in a popular clothing store trying on a shirt and honest to goodness, the one that fit was an XXL. I would say I am probably average sized. I'm tall, so I'm bigger than many, but I don't think I'm that much bigger than I should be for my height. I'm no Heidi Klum, (maybe more like Heidi, the orphan Swiss girl who lives with her Grandfather in the mountains with broad shoulders and big bones.) Actually, I'm German and those Germans are big-boned too. I've always had an idea of what I thought my ideal weight should probably be. I found out what my healthy weight range was and guess what??? It's WAY more than I thought it was! I also calculated my Body Mass Index (see image).

I'll admit that I'm near the high end of my ideal weight range, so I could certainly stand to lighten up a bit and I'm hoping that this summer will provide me with that opportunity! Gavin's stroller is going to get a whole lot of use this summer! You can access the Ideal Weight calculator and the Body Mass Index using the same link as above. Note: * The ideal weight calculator is designed for an adult with an average body type. It is not designed for pregnant women. The ideal weight calculator is not necessarily indicative of your overall health. It does not take into account your frame (for example, the broadness of your shoulders or the size of your pelvis) or your muscle mass. Bodybuilders will often score as overweight or obese because they have more muscle on their bodies, and muscle is heavier than fat.
* The body mass index (BMI) calculator is designed for an adult with an average body type. It is not designed for pregnant women or children. The BMI calculator is not necessarily indicative of your overall health. It does not take into account your frame (for example, the broadness of your shoulders or the size of your pelvis) or your muscle mass.

I am so far from a health expert, I don't even have a gym membership and I've never done aerobics, pilates, spinning, or even yoga other than in front of the TV with a corny video going! Remember "Buns of Steel?" Yup, I have that one! Haven't used it in years! But, even though I'm not as fit as I should be, I think I am fairly healthy. Here is my healthy eating advice. These are only my opinions, not fact. Take it or leave it.

1. Make a rainbow out of your dinner plate. If your dinner plate is all orange, all yellow, or all brown - you are not getting the nutrients you need. You should have colors from each area of the spectrum - blues/greens (vegetables), reds/purples (berries, tomatoes) and yellows/oranges (citrus fruits). Meat doesn't count as a color and corn doesn't count as a green. You still need the protein in meats and the fiber in corn, but the more color variation on your plate, the better!

2. Avoid processed foods. If you don't know what it's made of, don't eat it. Here's a great example. I don't mean to be brand specific, but it's easier. Take Cheetos. What exactly is in cheetos? Is there cheese in cheetos? I doubt it. Cheese is a dairy product that contains calcium. I don't think Cheetos have calcium, but I'd have to read the package to be sure. And p.s. Cheetos don't count as an orange food. On the same note, if the product name includes the words "product" or "spread", don't bother. Those words typically indicate that it's not a natural food. "Buttery spread" is not butter. Butter comes from milk. Buttery spread comes from mars. Like Cheese - cheese comes from milk. "Cheese product" comes from something entirely different.

3. The more whole grains the better. Contrary to popular belief, a "granola bar" is not necessarily healthy. It may simply be rice cereal stuck together with corn syrup and have a few nuts added for interest. A more healthy granola bar is chock full of whole oats, almonds, dried unsweetened fruits, flax seeds, and honey. Along the grains notes, flour should in all essences be a grain. Yet, many times we buy bleached all-purpose flour. Why do we care if our flour is white? It is bleached to be white. That seems very unnatural to me. Unbleached flour is better. Whole wheat flour is even better.

4. Fruit loops are not breakfast. They are sugar and food coloring. If the color in your food isn't there naturally, why is it there at all? Eat more foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.

5. Frozen fruits and vegetables are fresher than fresh fruits and vegetables from the grocery store. The produce in the grocery store is picked unripe, then allowed to ripen on trucks, boats, and airplanes while it's making its way to the store. While being transported, the nutrients dissipate from the produce so the product you get is no longer that vitamin packed fresh food you thought you were getting. These products are often sprayed, colored, and waxed to look more appealing. Most frozen produce is picked at its peak, perfectly ripe, and then flash frozen to preserve the nutrients.

I can't WAIT to start planting my garden this spring so we can again have fresh from the garden veggies! Summer brings fresh berries from the yard and the woods, smokey grilled steaks (we just got about 120 lbs of fresh beef from my sisters farm), and crisp, fresh veggies! Yum!

Just a few more weeks and we can think about starting to plant! We can get outside and go walking! We can work in the yard! We can "Be Fit!" Yay!!! Welcome spring!


Dreams and Designs said...

First of all- you've always been very slim and gorgeous!

Second- Oh man- I am still nursing and only eating 26 weight watcher "points" which comes out to about 1,400 calories a day. Yikes!

And 3rd- I know what you mean about the sizes- I recently bought an XXL shirt also- what the heck! If we are XXL, where do the people bigger than that shop?

Kat said...

If God intended us all to be a size 4 he would have made us all that way. You are right that we should focus on being more healthy and active. But right now I would rather be less active, eat more and sleep more! To all the women in the magazines I say "go suck and Oreo!"