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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!

Bike to Work (in Comfort)

Happy National Bike to Work Week! Although Bozeman chose to delay our Bike to Work Week Festivities (June 4-8), I still rode into the office this morning in solidarity with the rest of the state and nation! Everything is so green and the air is crisp—it’s an outstanding time to ride!

To kick off this special week of riding, we wanted to re-share a video we produced a couple of years back on bicycle comfort, in case you missed it or need a refresher. If you’re comfortable on your bike, your riding will become much more enjoyable and unlimited! Enjoy, and stay safe out there!

 

Happy Bike Month!

May is here, and it’s one of our favorite times of the year! There’s Star Wars Day, Cinco de Mayo, the end of school, Memorial Day weekend, and of course, National Bike Month!

Here’s a few links and news about Bike Month happenings in your community!

  • This week (May 7-11) is National Bike to School week. For those of you with children, check to see if your child’s school is doing special promotions or group rides this week.
  • Next week (May 14-18) is National Bike to Work week. Check your local community calendar for events. Here is some info for Missoula and Bozeman riders:
  • Bike Walk Montana is a great resource anytime to learn more about riding for transportation and riding safety.

On a personal note, I was able to kick off National Bike Month in a fun way last week, while visiting Kalispell and Flathead Valley Community College. On May 1st, a small group from FVCC braved the threat of rain and rode west on one of the Kalispell area’s fantastic Rails-to-Trails paths. The weather turned out to be fine, and we had a really enjoyable after-work ride in the early evening light. Thanks FVCC!

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Saddle Up!

—Neal

 

Symbiotic Spring

Each spring in the northern hemisphere, trees and plants bloom and grow, and in the process, scrub millions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This CO2 is converted to oxygen, which is a great thing for us.

Likewise, as the weather improves, there are so many things you can actively do that are not only beneficial for you, but are beneficial for your environment and community as well.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • If your destination is within walking distance. Walk there.
  • If your destination is within biking distance. Bike there. (Happy National Bike Month!)
  • Plant a garden.
  • Plant a tree.
  • Buy local produce from a Farmer’s Market or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).
  • Compost.
  • Volunteer for an organization you support.
  • Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

The communities in which we live give us so much, and we can give back by making choices that lead to healthier environments and stronger communities. During the process, we can become healthier individuals and families as well. Many recent studies on longevity and happiness suggest a link between strong social and community bonds and the happiest, healthiest, longest living people.

It’s a win-win. It’s symbiotic. It’s spring. Go bloom.

 

Swim-to-Bike Transition

We’re on the cusp of National Bike Month, but did you realize that April is Adult Learn to Swim Month? So as we transition from April to May, here is a post from guest-writer Phillip Luebke, addressing the importance of swimming skills for adults.

Phillip Luebke works at MSU-Bozeman as a government contracting advisor for the Montana Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), where he helps Montana companies do business with federal, state and local government agencies. He currently serves as president of the Bozeman Masters Swim Club and is the Top Ten and Records Chair for the Montana Local Masters Swimming Committee (LMSC). He is looking forward to competing in his first USMS National Championship Meet in Indianapolis next month.

Every year the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation formally declares the month of April, “Adult Learn-to-Swim Month.” In many parts of the country, this is the time of year when outdoor pools, lakes, and beaches are opening for spring and summer recreation. It’s a little early for that here in Montana (I’m writing this in the middle of yet another April snowstorm), but it’s never too early to start thinking about summer recreation and water safety.

More than a third of adults in the United States can’t swim the length of a pool, which puts them at risk of being one of the ten people who drown every day in the United States. Summers in Montana are an especially dangerous time. 46% of drowning deaths in Montana occur in June, July and August, and the rate of unintentional drowning deaths in our state is 54% higher than the rate for the U.S.

To help prevent drownings, the Bozeman Masters Swim Club gave free swim lessons to adults during the month of April. They were beginner lessons for adults with little-to-no swimming skills. Some never learned how to swim when they were younger. Others might have had a few lessons as a child, but never achieved a level of competency where they felt comfortable in the water.

You might not find anything strange about a swim club offering swim lessons, but I should point out that it’s not something that is normally offered by a masters swimming club. Masters swimmers (swimmers aged 18+) may need help with their technique or want to build up their strength or endurance, but in general, they already know how to swim. So why are we doing this?

A grant from the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation was the spark that spurred us to offer free adult learn-to-swim (ALTS) lessons last year, but once we saw the impact our lessons were having on the participants in our program, we knew that it was a program that we had to keep going. Learning to swim can be life-changing. The heartfelt gratitude that was expressed by the “graduates” of our program at the end of last year’s sessions is what prompted me to volunteer to be an instructor this year.

As someone who has been swimming since about age seven, I don’t think I ever truly appreciated what it’s like to go through life without knowing how to swim. We have heard some heart-wrenching stories from participants entering our program about what that is like. These are stories I wouldn’t feel right sharing, but this excerpt from the USMS Adult Learn-to-Swim Instructor Manual paints a pretty vivid picture:

Once a person is convinced that swimming any distance is impossible, a life of avoidance begins. Excuses are made to remain safely on the beach while friends run for a cooling dip. Vacation plans are altered so that swimming is not included. Fearful or nonswimming parents will stay out of the water or instill fear in their kids to keep them safe. Cruises, fishing from a boat, and ferry rides are all accompanied by the concern of, “What happens if we go over?” For anyone who does not know how to swim comfortably, there is a nagging sense of something missed, that the joy others feel while swimming is not available.

That is no way to go through life. Think of all the fun summer activities in Montana that happen in and around bodies of water. Here in Bozeman, we’re doing our small part to eliminate lives full of excuses, avoidance and fear…and the community responded. All three of our sessions filled up just a few weeks after we opened registrations.

I have already seen remarkable improvement from the adults that I have been instructing. Students who struggled with putting their faces in the water on the first day are now taking multiple strokes across the pool and learning to breathe properly so that they can continue to swim without stopping. Recent lessons have included smiles and laughter, along with high-fives and fist-bumps. Six lessons over three weeks is a short period of time to learn anything, but I remain optimistic that most of our students will be able to master the five water safety skills the American Red Cross has identified as critical for “water competency” by the end of this month:

  • Step or jump into the water over your head.
  • Return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute.
  • Turn around in a full circle and find an exit.
  • Swim 25 yards to the exit.
  • Exit from the water. If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder.

If you don’t know how to swim, and would like to learn, feel free to reach out to me at president@bozemanmasters.org or 406-600-2771 and I’ll try to point you in the right direction. In addition to the ALTS program in Bozeman, there are at least a couple of USMS-certified ALTS instructors in Kalispell and Missoula, and I know a few folks who give private lessons, but are not USMS-certified.

If you already know how to swim, but would like to improve, I strongly encourage you to check out a U.S. Masters Swimming club near you:

Bozeman Masters Adult Learn to Swim Lessons

Joining the Challenge

We love to hear inspiring stories of our employees challenging themselves and others to get stronger, eat better, and live healthier lives. The following story was shared with us by Megan Schultz, from the W.A. Franke College of Forestry & Conservation at UM Missoula. Enjoy!

Before Christmas 2017 we were having casual conversation about exercise and the topic of planks came up. My coworker Kara and I were telling our Director, Norma, about how good of an overall body exercise a plank is. So, the 3 of us along with Jeremy in our research center (ITRR) embarked on the 28-day plank challenge. Each morning the 4 of us would meet and do planks together in the office. We built up to a 4-minute plank that culminated on Christmas Day!

During the plank challenge, some other employees in our building heard about it and were interested in joining us for another challenge. After the plank challenge, we did a wall-sit challenge where we built up to a 5-minute wall-sit. When we started this challenge, none of us thought we would make 5 minutes! But, we all did. And for those who were not involved with the plank challenge the first time around, they added that on. By the end, we were all doing a 5-minute wall-sit and then we decided on a 2-minute maintenance plank. There were now 8 CFC employees participating!

For the next challenge we wanted to incorporate some lower body and upper body, and Johanna suggested a squat challenge and push-up challenge together. The squat challenge was a different kind, with most days wrapping up with a variety of all the different kinds on the last day. The push-up challenge built up to 60! Some of us did knee push-ups, inclined, wide or just regular. And we continued our 2 minute plank each day at the end of the other exercises.

[This week] we will wrap-up our latest challenge. For this one we looked at a variety and created our own hybrid: squats, bridges, lunges, tricep dips, yoga poses, and the stand-by plank. This challenge has been the most time consuming, but it still only takes about 15 minutes to get it all in! We meet each morning at 10:15 and instead of hanging out catching up by the water cooler, we’re meeting for some exercise!

Today we completed 80 squats, 60 bridges, up to 70 lunges (some of us did a lower amount), 12 tricep dips, and a 1 minute plank! I pushed to start this challenge quickly after the last one ended because I wanted to finish out the challenge with the group before I am gone to have a baby. This has been such a great way to stay active during my pregnancy and I am thankful for the support of my colleagues.

It’s my understanding someone else will spearhead the challenges will I am gone, and I look forward to joining them again when I am back from maternity leave.

Best,

Megan Schultz, Project Manager & Research Associate, ITRR, University of Montana

Challenge group photo 4.6.18
Super strong UM staff celebrating the completion of another challenge and Megan’s soon-to-be new arrival!

As an epilogue, we’re happy to share that Megan had a little baby girl this week and mom and baby are doing well! Congrats Megan, and thanks again for sharing!

 

Wellchat Episode 13: The Nutrition Diva and the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade

Episode 13: Cristin interviews the “Nutrition Diva” Monica Reinagel about her collaboration with MUS and the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade™, beginning April 9th.

If you weren’t able to register in time for this round, we’re optimistic about offering a second round in the near future!

 

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

Magic Wand Survey Insights

Earlier this month we shared some aggregate results of our challenge survey question,

“If you could wave a magic wand and improve one specific aspect of your personal health and/or well-being, what would it be?”

Today, we wanted to delve beyond the surface for a few insights we’ve gleaned from this data, plus share some of our favorite responses.

For starters, we asked this question because it’s good for us as a Wellness Team to know the pulse of our population. But we thought it could also be a useful tool for our participants as well. Answering this question is a great starting point for driving change.

A few responses landed outside the realm of one’s control. We had a laugh at some of these tongue-in-cheek answers:

“[I would] be taller.”

“I wish I had a personal chef to make me healthy balanced meals all the time.”

or, our personal favorite:

“I’d be 30 years younger.”

Ah, yes…with a magic wand we could all be younger, taller, and be able to hire a personal chef. Take a deep breath and think about how nice that would be…

…one more second…

And now snap back to reality. The majority of the 1200+ responses given to this question did land within the realm, or locus, of our control. Here is a sampling of responses that cover many different perspectives of wellness:

“Less screen time.”

“Losing weight–without any effort :-)”

“Have all my bills paid off.”

“I would give myself permission to relax more.”

“[I would] improve relationships/friendships.”

“I would do some type of physical activity every day.”

“Put more time and effort into purchasing, prepping, and consuming healthy foods.”

“Get more sleep.”

Each one of these “wishes”, could also be viewed as a very specific and manageable goal. Each one offers its own set of challenges, and most likely obstacles. And of course, we all know that losing weight, or reaching any goal for that matter, does require some effort. Read over the list again. Which of these wishes/goals seem easy to you? Which ones would be difficult? Do any seem impossible?

Obviously, these wishes are a challenge for the individuals who wrote them, or they would’ve picked something else. Nevertheless, each of the specific goals listed here are manageable, and fall within the locus of our control. And because they fall under our control, there are actionable steps and behaviors that we can utilize and leverage to bring these goals within reach.

Whether you view your personal challenges in the area of health and wellness as manageable goals or dreamlike fantasies makes a big difference.  If you decide to make your desire a specific goal, at that moment your small, daily behaviors you chose to align with that goal effectively becomes your magic wand.

So, if you answered the “magic wand” question, whether in our survey or right now, and you want to go a step further, here is your homework:

  • Select at least one, but no more than three, specific behaviors that will bring your dream-goal closer to you each day, and then practice these behaviors daily.
  • Don’t give up. Be consistent.
  • Watch the magic happen.

One last insight.

We live in a world where we are inundated with information, and married to technology. Many of us don’t go for more than a few minutes at a time without checking the little screen we carry around with us wherever we go. So it was nice to read several responses to our question that had to do with presence. Therefore, we leave you with two magic wishes that were shared with us, that we want to share with everyone:

  • I would live in the moment more often.

  • Remember to be grateful.

Be Well.

MUS Wellness Team

30-Day Nutrition Upgrade for MUS

It was at a meeting of local dietitians many years ago that I first heard of Monica Reinagel. Another dietitian was raving about a podcast called The Nutrition Diva, and always on the lookout for good resources, I went home and checked it out. The Nutrition Diva is a podcast produced by nutritionist Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN, and after listening to a couple of episodes, and then reading many of her blog posts, I, too, became hooked. Monica’s approach to nutrition was refreshing. Evidenced-based, practical, and relevant, her blog quickly became one of my go-to resources. Other people and organizations also recognize Monica as a trusted nutrition professional; she’s a regular guest on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR’s Morning Edition, and has been interviewed and quoted in numerous publications.

A couple of years ago, I saw Monica was offering a group nutrition coaching program called the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade™, an original program that she had developed. The program uses the Nutrition GPA (Grade Point Average) app as a way to track dietary intake. However, unlike the tedious process of entering foods and portion sizes that most diet trackers require, this app consists of 10 yes or no questions about what you ate that day. You can answer the 10 questions in under 2 minutes. While I didn’t hesitate to join the program because I wanted to see what it was about, I admit that I didn’t have particularly high expectations. As a dietitian, I already knew what I should be eating, right?

Day 1: I scored a D. That’s a D based on a regular A through F academic scale. Yikes! For a dietitian, as well as a person who prided herself on earning top grades during school, this was disappointing to say the least. 

Day 2-30: I actively worked to improve my cumulative GPA. I still had a couple of D days and even an F day, but overall the trend was positive, and I reached a point at which I was consistently earning a decent grade, usually a B or better. But I quickly found that it wasn’t just about the grade. On those days that I earned an A or B; I truly felt better. My natural tendency to snack all of the time lessened, and my energy level was steadier. I was able to reign in my sweet tooth without feeling deprived. Here’s what else I liked about the program: it was simple, scientifically-based, it did not prescribe a meal plan or require hours of prep time or special foods, and there were no forbidden foods. It encouraged a realistic and sustainable way of eating. I also found the online community that was part of the program to be surprisingly helpful and supportive.

Day 31+: Despite my modest expectations to start, I truly believe that after completing the 30 Day Nutrition Upgrade™, my dietary habits changed for the better. And even more impressive is that nearly two years after completing the program, I still consider the ten questions when I’m making my food choices. While I can’t say that this program eliminated all of my cravings for chocolate, sweetened cereals, and French fries, I can say that I’m eating more vegetables, more omega-3’s, more fermented foods, and when I do indulge in some not-so-great for you foods, I am thinking more about how to balance out the rest of my eating day. 

But I’m not just telling this story for the sake of a story. After completing the program, I kept thinking about how beneficial it would be for MUS plan members to participate in the Nutrition Upgrade as well. So I reached out to Monica, and (drumroll please)…I am thrilled to announce that MUS Wellness is partnering with Monica to offer the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade™ specifically for MUS Benefits Plan members this spring! This is the first time that the program will be offered to a specific group rather than the general public, so we thought it’d be fun to add a little friendly team competition to the mix too! The program will run April 9th through May 8th at a reduced cost of $10/person (savings of $30 off the regular price). In addition to a live online kick-off and two live online check-ins throughout the program, MUS participants will be invited to join a private Facebook group for ongoing support. Plus, participants will have access to downloadable handouts and other program materials.

So, to all of you MUS plan members, this is an amazing opportunity to improve your nutrition habits, to do so along with your coworkers, and have the support of Monica Reinagel and myself. Registration will open Tuesday, March 20th — mark your calendars and watch for an email from your campus Human Resources or Wellness contact. For our blog readers who are not MUS Benefits Plan members, you can sign up here for the next Nutrition Upgrade for the general public, also beginning April 9th.
If you have questions about the program, check out the information here or email me at cristin.stokes@montana.edu

30 day with wellness man