Wellchat Episode XV: A chat with ‘It Starts with Me’

Episode 15: Neal and Cristin interview Dan Keith and Craig Linke, President and VP of It Starts with Me Health. Discussion includes hot topics and trends in the field of health and wellness, where the industry is headed, and what our hopes are for the individuals we serve. Recorded March 2018.

The Montana Moves & Meals Wellchat is available on Itunes podcasts! Subscribe and take us with you for a walk, run, or drive!

MUS Wellness News

Our 2018 MUS Wellness Incentive Program has launched, and we’re looking forward to another year of goal setting, participating in challenges, and blazing a trail to your best life!

If you are an employee on the MUS benefits plan, go to https://muswell.limeade.com to get started. Returning participants use the same login as in years past. New participants click the blue “Get Started” button, and you’ll be on your way. Here are some exciting features of this year’s program:

  • New “Limeade Daily” on the mobile app. Check in everyday with your work, sleep, and overall wellness to detect patterns and receive tips that can improve overall well-being.
  • “Trek the USA” yearlong team step challenge. Grab 3-4 of your buddies and see if you can collectively walk from Seattle to NYC!
  • New “Limeade Community” coming this February! Limeade Community is a new way for employees to connect and share through our Limeade platform. It includes a Community Feed, Profile, Friend following capabilities, and new notifications. From congratulating a team on completing a big milestone to joining others for a walk at lunch, Limeade Community empowers employees to connect, communicate and collaborate.
  • A comprehensive Well Being Assessment, to help you learn about your strengths and areas of improvement.
    • “Know Thyself” —Socrates
  • As always, Montana Moves and Montana Meals challenges and videos from Neal and Cristin, to keep you constantly learning and challenging yourself every day!
    limeade daily screenshot
    Get in touch with your well-being by tracking with Limeade Daily on the mobile app.

    For even more information on all things MUS Wellness, we’ll be having our 2018 Wellness Program Overview webinar on Wednesday, January 24th at noon.  Click here to register!

Here’s to a happy & healthy 2018! Be Well!!!

Training Seasons

“I’m always training for something.”

My dad told me that when he played sports as a child and adolescent, there were four distinct seasons: football, basketball, track, and baseball.  He, and many of his peers, played all four all the way through high-school. The sports just changed with the seasons.

These days, this kind of sport rotation is less common, with many competitive sports lasting almost the entire year. There is also more pressure for kids to specialize in a single sport at an earlier age in order to be competitive or perhaps even win a scholarship in college some day.

However, there is some evidence in the scientific literature that suggests that this paradigm has some potential pitfalls, and that the most important thing for youth sport development is not specialization, but rather proficiency in the more broad aspects of athletics such as sprinting, jumping, agility, strength, power, and cardio-respiratory fitness. Sadly, athletes that specialize too soon are often at higher risk of burnout and injury before they even reach their prime. Above all, it seems that having fun and developing an appreciation of the games we play might have the most bearing on longevity in a sport.

I think the same concepts can be applied to adults when it comes to physical fitness and exercise. Keep in mind, when I talk about training, I’m just using a word that means preparing. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to be in training. I’m always training for something, and personally, I feel mentally and physically best when my training seasons rotate.

For example, this year my training seasons have looked like this:

  • January/February: Training for MSU Master’s Mile. Training focus: strength and speedwork.
  • March-June: Training for Ride Across Montana. Focus: lots of bike volume.
  • July: Rest, recovery, and play.
  • August-October: Training for Montana Cup, my favorite cross-country race, and a couple of big hikes. Focus: trail running, hiking, speedwork, and strength.
  • November-December: Off-season/Ski Prep. Focus: general strength and conditioning plus sport-specific ski training.

For me, changing the training focus and stimulus every few months (with the seasons) keeps me fresh and motivated. I’m seldom bored or stale with my training. To be fair, it helps that I enjoy a lot of different activities, and I look forward to preparing for each one.

If you’re really into a single sport, that’s fine too. You can still change things up with cross-training and strength training. Athletes that play one sport usually divide their year into distinct categories each with separate training focuses:

  • Off-season: general strength and conditioning. High volume, low intensity.
  • Pre-season: Sport specific conditioning and skills. Moderate volume, higher intensity.
  • In-Season: Skill development, sport specific practice, competition. Low volume. Moderate to high intensity.
  • Post-season/recovery: rest, restorative activities.
    • Here’s a good example of a post-season phase from an elite athlete. One of my peers in grad-school was an Olympic distance runner. Every year, after his last track meet in the late summer, he would do nothing but play basketball for a month.  He was still being active, but he wasn’t in formal “run” training. He was just having fun and staying fit. After his month of play, when his cross-country season began in the fall, he was refreshed and ready to resume formal training.

I’m always training for something because it keeps me motivated and focused. What are you training for? Remember training=preparing. Pick your next season or event, put it on the calendar, and get after it. If you’re a hunter, you can start training now! If you’re a skier, you can start training now! If you want to drop ______ pounds by Thanksgiving, you can start training now! If you want to run a winter marathon in a warm location, you can start training now! The freedom to choose our goals and go after them is one of our greatest gifts.

Best wishes for your next season!




Running Relaxed.

I just put the final touches on tomorrow’s “Running Relaxed” webinar, and I can’t wait to share it! One could make an easy argument that my involvement with this whole Wellness thing has its roots in running. Finding a passion for running at a young age led to much self-discovery, many life-lessons, and certainly an interest in how our bodies work and perform.

During the webinar, as the name implies, we’ll be focusing on how to run more relaxed. I believe that a relaxed runner is a better runner, for several reasons. More relaxed runners:

  1. Waste less energy
  2. Run more comfortably
  3. Run faster, farther (because they’re comfortable and conserving energy—see #1 & #2)
  4. Inspire others to run, because they look good doing it

The neat thing is, many of the tips and principles we’ll discuss are applicable at any speed, so whether you’re sprinting or running a 12-minute mile, you can learn to be more relaxed, more efficient, more comfortable, and just plain good-looking. I hope you can join!


Backcountry Fitness

Bow season is in full swing, rifle season is right around the corner, and soon all you skiers will be swooshing around the glorious terrain we get to call our backyard. Unfortunately, each new season brings with it a rash of injuries, and in some cases even cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, often due to a lack of preparation for the demands of the backcountry. On the up side, sport-specific training for the backcountry improves performance and stamina, so you can concentrate on and enjoy your outdoor activities more. Last year, we shared a great Hunting prep video produced by Eric Tangedahl, one of our Wellness Champions from UM-Missoula. We wanted to share it again just in time for opening day!

Give the Gift of good Nutrition!

It’s a week until Christmas and for many people, that means last minute Christmas shopping, preparing to visit family, attending holiday parties, and eating lots of Christmas cookies. In the midst of holiday preparations, however, we wanted to remind you about the Montana Meals Challenge of the Month: Give the Gift of Good Nutrition by donating food, money, or time to your local food bank.

Many grocery stores make it easy to donate by having a bin near the checkout stations for the food bank. While you’re shopping, pick up an extra can or two to drop into the bin on your way out the door. It’s a simple act that can make a significant difference to individuals and families in our communities who would otherwise be hungry if it weren’t for donations to the food bank.

The challenge isn’t necessarily limited to food banks. If your town has a soup kitchen or other type of food assistance program, that can certainly count too if you donate.  For example, Bozeman has a sit-down, restaurant style soup kitchen called the Community Café that is always in need of volunteers to help with serving dinner. Or take a cue from Ron B., Wellness Champion from Bozeman, who served meals to homebound seniors and on-the-job police officers on Thanksgiving and who plans to do so again on Christmas.  Thanks Ron! Big donation or small, everything counts. Just send us a quick email at wellness@montana.edu to tell us how you donated!

Below is a partial list of area food banks.  For a complete list, visit http://mfbn.org/learn/programs/partner-agencies/locate-a-partner-agency

If there are no food assistance agencies listed for your area, consider donating to the Montana Food Bank Network, a nonprofit organization working across the state to end hunger. Find out more information and how to donate here: http://mfbn.org/

Happy Holidays!