Using Photo Food Logs in Your Wellness Program


Face it, you want variety in your wellness program and a good wellness program includes smart meal choices. It’s Friday and after a week of rotating out meals with ground beef, chicken (or fish sticks for those with young kids), you may want to put together a meal that engages your senses, and makes you feel like it’s a special occasion.

Whatever recipe you choose, whichever wellness program you participate in, did you know that impressing your friends by posting dinner pictures on Instagram and Facebook can help you reach your weight management goals?

Introducing the Photo Food Log…

Instead of writing down everything you eat or using a food and calorie-tracking app, take photos of your food. Just pick up your phone and start snapping shots at each meal. It’s fun and it really helps you understand what you’re doing with your meals and food intake. Facebook and Instagram aside, you’ll be doing something healthy for yourself. If you decide to post your pictures online, you may find that your friends are happy to give you a thumbs-up and provide another form of motivation for you.

When you include a photo food log in your wellness program, you can look at your meals at the end of each day and mentally note what changes you’d like to make the next day. Another way to monitor your progress is to evaluate your photos on a weekly basis. For example, you can take photos of all your meals – then at the end of the week, take stock of your progress. Are you losing weight? Maintaining? How do you FEEL? Are you feeling healthier, better and more energetic? If so, your photos are a good reminder of what to keep doing.

If you feel tired, lethargic and generally not at your best AND your either gaining or not losing weight, you know that your pictures need to look different the next week.

The Importance of Food Tracking

Maintaining a daily food journal, whether written or photographic is an efficient way to track the calories you consume daily. Walkingspree members can also use Walkingspree’s online food tracker.

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood benefits of a food diary is the power of knowing what you’re taking in. Almost everyone thinks they know exactly what they eat daily. You might even go so far as to believe you know the amount of calories you’re consuming at each meal.  Still, the reality is most people eat more than three times daily. The majority of their extra calories undoubtedly come from eating between meals.

Bottom line: When you are able to see what you eat everyday, you’ll know which foods to cut from your meal plans.

A study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, discovered that women (who were overweight or obese) who were participating in a diet program only or diet plus exercise program all lost weight but the women who kept daily food journals actually lost an extra six pounds over the women who did not keep food diaries of some sort.

A Food Journal Can Help You Eat More of the Right Foods

Ever wonder if you are getting enough veggies? Well, when you record your entire daily food intake into a food journal – or when you photograph your food, you’ll begin to notice patterns and trends in how you feel as well as whether or not you reach your daily goals. Some people find that making sure their meals have a variety of color ensures their vegetable intake is optimal. Think red bell peppers or tomatoes, yellow squash, orange peppers, green peas, black beans, white cauliflower, green broccoli, purple eggplant. If you are purposefully building a colorful plate, you will usually have plenty of vegetables in your meal. With a photo food journal, you’ll enjoy taking colorful photos when you do this. You might even find yourself arranging food to make the plate “look prettier.”

Food Journals Can Adjust Your Habits Gradually

If you are writing down, digitally tracking or photographing your food, you might be surprised to notice, over time, that your eating habits change. You’ll find yourself naturally selecting healthier ingredients or menu options. It is as simple “if you feel better and healthier – you’re probably eating healthier.”

And, in any wellness program, that is always a good thing!

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4 Things Only Fitbit or Wearable Device Users Understand

When I got my first wearable device last year (a Fitbit flex and also a birthday gift from my sister), it opened up a whole new concept for me. I could “compete” with a device or friends at the same time. It would show up on a magical digital dashboard and everyone would see my results. Was this okay? A little concerned at first. I’m a private person but then: Yes! Bring on the positive motivation, I thought to myself. What I did not realize was how it would impact my emotions. I soon learned that this was not limited to my own experiences. Many others understand the struggle(s). ~Clarissa at Walkingspree, USA

Since Walkingspree works with corporations of all sizes, we get to see a lot of step goals met (or not met) and we know how important having your own wearable device is. Sure, it will help you get in shape, feel better, lose or maintain your desired weight, live longer, alleviate or prevent certain health conditions, even make your employer smile and you become a part of a fun filled community.

BUT becoming dedicated to your wearable fitness technology also generates some interesting emotions and reactions.

Check these out and see if you don’t find yourself nodding and smiling in agreement.

Your Day Isn’t Over Unless You Met Your Step Goal and It Is a MISSION. If you’ve ever felt very guilty for going to bed before your screen vibrated and flashed all those blinking dots, showing you met your step goal, you know what we mean. You are the person who checks your fitness dashboard online, counts up the steps and calculates how many times you have to jump on the bed and you know exactly how many steps it takes to wheel the garbage can out to the street. Some wearers have even been guilty of strapping their device on one of their kids to rack up some extra steps at the end of the day (gasp!).

You Randomly Taunt Friends and Co-Workers at Odd Hours. It’s not usually the norm to get up at the crack of dawn just to heckle your friends or random people participating in a walking challenge. Still, something about achieving that step goal before everyone else can make you feel like everyone should know how great life is when you’ve met your step goal before they have. For example, the CRO of Walkingspree, Nathan Pickle, has been known to email his team first thing in the morning to let them all know how great it is to get 10,000 steps before 6:00 a.m.

If You Weren’t Wearing It, It Didn’t Happen. Now You’re Just Mad. If you walk or run without wearing your Fitbit, Garmin or other wearable technology, does it even count? On those days when you forget your device, you wonder if getting out of bed is just pointless, right? If your device isn’t counting them and your friends don’t see them, are the steps even real? Does anything at all matter that day?

Non-Wearers Think You’re in a Club or a Cult. Your friends who don’t wear a Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin or some kind of wearable fitness technology appear to be in their own world. You feel sad for them and they think you are involved in a new trend that will go away soon. (Interesting note, you are not involved in a trend. It is officially a way of life. The wearable device market is projected to reach $12.44 BILLION by 2022 so you are definitely not alone in this journey.)

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Eat Smart Using Your Garden: Fresh Veggie Recipes

Suncrest Gardens Farm’s Pesto Pizza

In the last two weeks, we’ve shared a few tips on how to prepare your garden, how to kill weeds before you start planting and how to choose which vegetables to plant in your garden. This week, we are going to share a three recipes that use fresh vegetables. You can save these for use in the spring and summer but also may find a couple to try right now if you want to experiment with some store bought veggies before your harvest.

Want a quick and easy list of recipes using fresh vegetables from your garden? Try plugging in the words “Recipes Using Fresh Veggies” in Google or your favorite search engine. You’ll get some great ideas right at your fingertips.  If you are searching for healthier, low fat or low calorie ideas, try looking at websites geared towards a lighter fare. Cooking Light offers some great ideas and so does Eating Well.

Use your tomatoes, kale, spinach or arugula in this recipe from Suncrest Gardens.

Suncrest Gardens Farm’s Pesto Pizza

Ingredients

1)   1 12 – 14 – inch Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (see Recipe Center) or desired pizza crust

2)   1/3 cup Kale Pesto (recipe follows) or purchased basil pesto

3)   1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)

4)   2 medium fresh garden heirloom tomatoes, such as Cherokee Purples, green zebras, and/or Marvel Stripe, or desired red or yellow tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices or 1 cup mixed baby tomatoes, such as sungolds, yellow pear, and/or sweet 100s, halved

5)   1/2-1 teaspoon pizza seasoning

Directions

1) Bake whole wheat crust in 450 degree F oven 7 to 9 minutes or until ligh brown; remove from oven. (Or grill as directed in crust recipe.)

2) Spread Kale Pesto evenly over crust. Sprinkle with cheese. Arrange tomato slices over cheese. Sprinkle with pizza seasoning.

3) Bake about 8 to 10 minutes more or until heated through and crust bottom is crisp and brown. (Or grill as directed.) Remove from oven. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve. Makes one 13- to 15-inch pizza (four 2-wedge servings).

Note

  • If you like, substitute 2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves, torn fresh arugula or spinach leaves with stems removed for the kale.

Mediterranean Roasted Broccoli and Tomatoes

Ingredients

1) 12 ounces broccoli crowns, trimmed and cut into bite-size florets (about 4 cups)

2) 1 cup grape tomatoes

3) 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

4) 2 cloves garlic, minced

5) 1/4 teaspoon salt

6) 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

7) 1 tablespoon lemon juice

8) 10 pitted black olives, sliced

9) 1 teaspoon dried oregano

10) 2 teaspoons capers, rinsed (optional)

Directions

1)    Preheat oven to 450°F.

2)    Toss broccoli, tomatoes, oil, garlic and salt in a large bowl until evenly coated. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake until the broccoli begins to brown, 10 to 13 minutes.

3)   Meanwhile, combine lemon zest and juice, olives, oregano and capers (if using) in a large bowl. Add the roasted vegetables; stir to combine. Serve warm.

Fresh Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

1)   3 medium cucumbers, sliced

2)   1 cup sugar

3)   3/4 cup water

4)   1/2 cup white vinegar

5)   3 tablespoons minced fresh dill or parsley

Directions

1)   Place cucumbers in a 1-1/2- to 2-qt. glass container.

2)   In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, shake remaining ingredients until combined.

3)   Pour over cucumbers.

4)   Cover and refrigerate overnight.

5)   Serve with a slotted spoon.

Yield: 10-12 servings.

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Take a Leap and Reset Your Life

It’s Leap Day. What are you going to do with your extra day in the year? We all sometimes wish for extra hours in our days. Well, we have an extra twenty-four hours this week.

What’s your “leap?”

Maybe this is the day you decide to do something amazing. Maybe it’s the day you take that leap of faith and start a new life somewhere, start a new exercise program or just start going for a walk once a day. Sometimes, one small step is actually a leap of faith. It can lead to a break through in that one area of your life you really want to repair. You may not see it yet but you know and trust that if you keep moving consistently you’ll see new levels of success, organization, fitness and health.  Why not use a Leap Day or a Leap Year as your jumping point?

For some of us, this could be the perfect day to reset our New Year’s resolutions. The end of February has traditionally been the time of year fitness centers and gyms see attendance start to decline (after the usual rush right after January 1).  We’ve all either done it ourselves or witnessed it: People getting excited, saying this will be the year I tone up, get in shape, lose weight, run a 5K and so on. Then, about two months into the New Year, that zeal and fire just seems to fizzle out. Maybe it’s because we had a huge amount of ‘life’ going on. It could be that you were blessed with a bad winter cold that morphed into the bronchitis attack from you-know-where. Or, it might be that your kids took turns getting sick, one week after another, passing it to you and your spouse. Whatever was going on, your goal of getting in shape, exercising daily, cleaning out your garage, attending church, being more spiritual, stopping smoking, quitting caffeine or just getting more fresh air took a backseat to other things.

Create a ‘Reset Your Life’ Program

Why not let Leap Day (or whatever day you read this!) be THE day you start your  own Reset My Life program? Do something to make it “official.” It might be something as simple as picking up a wall calendar from your local dollar store and making that very first “X” to show TODAY as the day you began to change whatever needs changing or fix whatever needs fixing.

Need more ceremony to go with your new decision? Why not kick things off with more flourish and host an impromptu party? Do it tonight. Light some candles around the house. Play some party music while you organize the closets and resolve to never let them get cluttered again. Trying to eat right? Meet friends for dinner and celebrate ordering healthy food for dinner on your first night resetting your life.  Drink a toast to your new life (with sparkling water of course!) Time to start exercising? Lace up your shoes after work or after the kids get home and start a “Family Walking Night.”

While the saying “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” is true, only you can designate the start date of an official “Reset My Life” program and tailor it to your needs.

So, what are you waiting for? Take the first step. Design your life. Truly, it only needs to be one small step at a time. Walkingspree likes to recommend a walking program simply because it is so easy to do and offers so many health benefits that lead to positive lifestyle changes. Still, the reality is, this is your life.

What “leap” will you take today?

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Using Your Garden to Eat Smart: Choosing Your Veggies

When trying to decide which vegetables to plant, you’ll want to consider more than just which ones you like or don’t like.

It’s not something we normally think about (unless we’re experienced gardeners) but it’s important to know that there are two kinds of vegetables when it comes to planting a garden.

Vegetables are labeled warm-season or cool-season, depending on the weather necessary for optimal growth.

Many parts of the country are still in what is termed the cool-season. Knowledgable gardeners planting during this time choose cool-season vegetables that grow consistently at the right temperatures. Sunset recommends averaging between 10° to 15°F/6° to 8°C below those normally required by warm-season veggies. These vegetables can be planted in early spring for an early summer harvest and again in late summer so they’ll harvest in the fall and even in the winter for milder climates.

Photo Credit: Northeast Nursery

Warm-season vegetables, which include peppers and tomatoes, need both warm soil and higher temperatures to grow well and keep producing. They can be killed by frost and should always be planted after the last frost in spring.

Photo Credit: Northeast Nursery

Here’s a detailed article by Sunset on choosing the right vegetables, how to plant and harvest them.

Gardening on a Budget: Choosing Vegetables with Value

Trying to save money on food by gardening? It’s true that growing your own vegetables can decrease your grocery bills. Some green thumbs lower their food costs by hundreds of dollars a year. If saving money is your goal, choose your veggies carefully and you’ll be eating healthy and lowering your grocery expenses.

Some vegetables – due to cost and time consumed growing – aren’t worth the money or the effort if you’re just trying to save some cash.  If you are going for more bang for your buck, expert gardeners recommend skipping artichokes and cauliflower.   They are trickier to grow and often more susceptible to pests.

Likewise, onions and potatoes won’t save you any serious money either – mostly because the difference in seeding isn’t much different than what you’d spend at the store.

If you are looking for a good use of your budget, choose salad greens (estimated savings of $300 for close to five months worth of salads!) and plant heirloom cherry tomatoes. These tomatoes are said to save even more money than larger tomatoes because they have a longer growing season and more abundant crops.

For more detailed information on how to save money growing vegetables check this article at Bottom Line Personal.

Up Next Week in Eat Smart: Easy, Healthy Recipes Using Fresh Vegetables.

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