Happy New Year!

Happy 2019! Although I’m not one to make strict resolutions, I do find that the start of a new year is a good time for self-reflection and a setting of intentions for the coming year. For me, the subtle language shift from resolution to intention allows more flexibility, and when it comes to making behavior changes that stick, flexibility is key. Few of us are able to make drastic changes overnight.

According to a YouGov poll from 2018, “eat healthier” was tied with “getting more exercise” and “saving more money “ as the most popular new year’s resolutions. If you are one of the millions who’s resolved to eat healthier in 2019, first, please read Neal’s past blog post about setting SMART goals, and second, I wanted to remind you that MUS Wellness is here to help. Our next round of the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade kicks off Monday, February 4th! This program provides a simple way to reshape your eating habits and boost your nutrition.

Unlike the diet plans that abound on the internet, this program is not a diet or a detox. In fact, a previous participant said this about the Nutrition Upgrade in her 2018 Success Story, “I have been tracking my calories in – calories out for years after learning at a young age from my mother. This year, I was able to participate in the Nutrition Upgrade program offered last spring and that gave me a different perspective on tracking my food intake and nutrition.”

Another participant said, “I’ve been looking for a food plan that fits me and my busy life for years. It feels so balanced and realistic. I can still really enjoy eating and cooking. Thanks for sharing it.”

If you’ve attempted to eat healthier in the past, but were not successful, I encourage you to try the Nutrition Upgrade. It provides a refreshing way to view nutrition that doesn’t involve counting calories or strict rules. By participating, you’ll receive access to a live one-hour online kickoff, the Nutrition GPA app for iOS or Android, downloadable handouts, two live check-ins midway through the program, and a private Facebook group for MUS participants. Plus, new for this round: participants will receive a email every day from Monica and me with a helpful tip or tasty recipe!

Even better, program creator Monica Reinagel will be here in Montana for a live kick-off at MSU Bozeman, followed by presentations and meet-ups at UM, Montana Tech, and MSU Billings! Monica is a board certified, licensed nutritionist and professionally trained chef. She’s the author of six books about nutrition including Nutrition Diva’s Secrets for a Healthy Diet and Inflammation Free Diet Plan. She writes the blog at http://www.nutritionovereasy.com, and she’s the host of the popular Nutrition Diva podcast. She’s an incredible nutrition resource, and participants in select locations will have the unique opportunity to meet her and ask nutrition questions in person!

To sign up for the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade, go to https://nutritionovereasy.com/mus. Email me at cristin.stokes@montana.edu for the discount code to receive $30 off (you pay $10).

Perhaps it’s not healthy eating that you want to focus on this year, but instead you want to get in better shape, become more financially savvy, or start a daily meditation practice. Or maybe you didn’t make any resolutions at all, but are still interested in improving your health and well-being in 2109. MUS Wellness is here to help you too! Our online Limeade Incentive Program kicks off Tuesday, January 15th with daily, weekly, and monthly challenges designed to set you on the path towards better health, and a new tool to help you focus on improving your mental health. Plus, participants can earn a free Fitbit health tracking device, and up to $80 in Amazon gift cards!

To learn more about what MUS Wellness is offering in 2019, please join us for the 2019 MUS Wellness Program Overview Webinar on Wednesday, January 16th at 12PM. We will be focusing on what’s new with the Incentive Program, but we’ll touch on all of the programs available through MUS Wellness. If you are unable to watch at that time, we encourage you to still register for the webinar, and the recording will be sent to you as soon as it’s available.

We hope 2019 is your best year yet, and we at MUS Wellness are here to support you along the way!

Cristin

The Good Enough Diet

My baby boy turned one year old last week. Birthdays have always been a natural time of reflection, and my son’s birthday was no exception. My husband and I found ourselves reminiscing a lot about the past year; talking about the enormous challenges of becoming parents for the first time, the incredible joys, the sleepless nights, the embarrassing moments, and the times that made us laugh, cry, and everything in between.

Needless to say, becoming a parent has profoundly changed me. And one of the biggest changes I’ve noticed is my general approach to life, specifically my perfectionism. Perhaps academically, perfectionism is an asset, but in all other ways, I find it’s a difficult, daily struggle. However, now as a parent, there’s simply not enough time, nor do I have enough energy, to devote to trying to be perfect, which of course is an impossible task anyway! Taking care of a little human being has demanded that I prioritize in a way I never have before, and accept as a success when something is simply “good enough”.

In fact, this “good enough” concept has become somewhat of a mantra for me, albeit unintentionally. When feeling inadequate as a mom, I began reminding myself that I just have to be good enough; good enough that my child is taken care of and feels loved. When I am feeling guilty for skipping the gym for the 4th day in a row, I take a walk outside and remind myself that it’s good enough; good enough for health and stress reduction in this phase of my life. When I see piles of laundry and floors that haven’t been swept in a week, I put in one load of laundry, pick up the obvious piles of dog hair, and I remind myself that it’s good enough; good enough that my house isn’t in complete shambles.

This good enough concept easily extends to diet as well, and this is actually something that I’ve been practicing for much longer than just my last year of non-perfectionism. I talk frequently about the 80/20 rule of moderation, which is another way of saying and affirming that perfectionism and diet don’t pair well. 

How many times have you given up on a diet because you ate one off-plan food? “I already screwed up”, you might think, “so it doesn’t matter now!” And maybe you go from having one extra drink at happy hour to a whole weekend of indulgent food and drinks. Or maybe you don’t even want to try eating a healthier diet, because you know you can’t live up to that stringent paleo/no-added-sugar diet your friend or co-worker is touting.

The “good enough” diet is different. Eating good enough means healthy changes that you can sustain for the rest of your life instead of dramatic shifts you stick to for just 14 or 30 or 60 days. Cutting your overall added sugar intake by 25% for good is much more powerful than doing a zero-sugar challenge for two weeks.

A belief in the  “good enough” diet is what led Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN to develop the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade program, and it’s why I’m such a proponent of the program.

Unlike other 30-day nutrition “boot camps,” the 30 Day Nutrition Upgrade doesn’t ask you to eliminate entire food groups or follow a rigid or restrictive protocol. You don’t have to avoid restaurants, cancel social plans, or pack special food to bring with you everywhere. You’ll just keep on living your regular life, only a little bit healthier.

The 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade features the Nutrition GPA™ app, which was recently named by the New York Times as one of 4 best food tracking apps! Each day, you answer 10 yes-or-no questions about your diet and get a grade for the day. Your daily grades are then averaged to reveal your Nutrition Grade Point Average (GPA).

There’s no grade inflation here; we’re not aiming for an A. We’re aiming for a solid B. Because a good-enough diet is healthier than a “perfect” diet followed by a reactionary binge.

As simple and fun as it is, the Nutrition GPA is a powerful tool. As one recent Nutrition Upgrader wrote: “Good news: One D day does not shift my GPA all that much. Bad news: One A day does not shift my GPA all that much. It really is the pattern of your eating on most days!”

The best part is that when we get to the end of the 30 days, you won’t be celebrating that it’s over. On day 31, you’ll be thinking, “Hey, that was easy! And I feel great! Let’s keep going!

The next 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade for MUS is kicking off this Friday, October 12th and there are still spots open! Come join us! We can’t wait for you to throw unattainable perfection to the curb and embrace the “good enough” diet. 

Happy “Good Enough” Eating,

Cristin

You must be a MUS Benefits Plan member to participate in the Nutrition Upgrade for MUS. 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, beginning October 19th.

 

 

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