An Exercise for Love

LaTonya M. Baldwin (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan participant)

LaTonya M. Baldwin, BCBSM participant
Not long ago, my guy sat me down for a serious talk. He asked me how much do I love him, do I love him enough to get serious about my health. He said he was fed up with my failure to consistently take my meds. He said when he was diagnosed with diabetes, he took action. He lost weight, started measuring and tracking his carbs and he significantly reduced the sugar in his diet. He asked me what would I think if he took a spoonful of sugar and poured it over his food. Of course I said I’d be alarmed and I’d ask him what was he doing.

That’s when he hit hard with my behavior. He said I’ve known for years I should be taking iron, that I have blood pressure medication that I fail to take on a regular basis, that I will add salt to my food when I know better. He asked me would it be fair of him to be irresponsible with his health? How would I feel if I lost him because of his attitude and behavior about his health?

Do you love your family enough to take charge of your health? Do you love them enough to get serious about doing the things you need to do to extend the time you have together?

I felt pretty guilty. I was upset. I felt ashamed of the contradiction in my behavior: walking, talking the talk about exercise and eating well but failing to commit to the other factors of my health. Exercising is not enough. Eating well is fine but it doesn’t excuse not taking medication I need. It doesn’t excuse not having regular check-ups or screenings I need to monitor my overall health.

So I got serious. I recently signed on for Healthy Living Blue Rewards. I currently meet three of the criteria and come March after my exam, I’m hoping I meet all five. I completed the online health assessment courses and currently working on the digital coaching. I made an appointment with my doctor to complete my qualification form. I’m completing the Blues Point reward program.

Yesterday, I bought a blood pressure monitor and since my talk with my mate, I have taken my blood pressure medication and iron supplement every day. I started Zumba last week. Can I tell you how good it felt to measure my blood pressure and see my numbers were good? This morning when I took my readings, I realized that monitoring and tracking felt natural because for more than twelve weeks now, I’ve been walking, tracking and uploading my numbers.

Thank you Walkingspree for helping me establish a habit of monitoring my behavior and activity.

Do you love your family enough to take charge of your health? Do you love them enough to get serious about doing the things you need to do to extend the time you have together?

Be well.

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Take charge, reduce your risk of heart disease

Walking makes your heart stronger

During February, Walkingspree would like you to take time to love your heart. Take the time to learn about heart disease and its risk factors, and take action to reduce its threat on your life.

There are some risk factors that you cannot control — your age, sex, race or family history.

But there are many risk factors that you can control: Not smoking, nutrition, diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure, inactivity, excessive weight, and stress.

And one of the best ways to help control these risk factors is to walk. In fact, walking has been touted as the best health prevention one can do. Walking can:

  • Reduce your chance of heart disease by 30 percent
  • Reduce your chance of developing diabetes by 50 percent
  • Reduce your cholesterol levels
  • Help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce stress and increase your mood

So, this month, make a point to be more heart healthy, make healthier food choices, and walk at least 30 minutes a day. Doing so will reduce your risk of heart disease dramatically.

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Blues’ First Walking Challenge Winners!

LaTonya M. Baldwin (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan participant)

LaTonya M. Baldwin, BCBSM participant

The winners have been announced for the Blues’ first Walkingspree challenge and the winners’ appreciation and excitement is electric! According to Blues News Direct, more than 1,700 employees met the Walkingspree challenge, accumulating at least 280,000 steps from October 24 to December 18, 2011. In October more than 4,000 employees signed on for Blue Cross Blue Shield’s call to step their way to better health. Almost half the participants succeeded in meeting the challenge goal of achieving 5,000 steps a day. Impressive, way to go, Blue!

I had an opportunity to talk with a few challenge winners. Check out what they had to say:

BCBSM BWell wellness program uses the Walkingspree walking program

Winners of the first BCBSM challenge

Congratulations to the 21 winners! To qualify for the drawing, participants had to walk an average of 5,000 steps a day between Oct. 24-Dec. 18.

Grand Prize Treadmill winner
Claudette Lee

iPod Touch winners
LaTanya Johns
Monica Devette
Philip Bone
Eboni Gibbs
Rita Makulski
Patricia Wagner
Deb Bronson
Paul Mozak
Katherine Martin
Della Hall

Wii Sports Resort Bundle
and Balance Board package winners

Jeffery Grant
Gavin Manley
Esther Sellman
David Smiley
Denise Smarch
Zina Langford
Melissa Babyak
Cathy Gomes
Nancy Howard
Walter Epps

Pat Wagner
BCN SIU Liaison

I was so excited to win an iPod! To win the new one through the Walkingspree Challenge is an honor. Last May I had the Gastric Sleeve surgery to lose weight and walking is an integral part of my program for continued weight loss. For me walking is the foundation for exercising, so when the Walkingspree challenge came along participating was the perfect fit.  My goal was low, only 6,000 steps per day to start although for the most part I walked farther and I completed the challenge several weeks prior to the end date.  Since winning the iPod, I feel more energized and plan on joining a gym if only to use the treadmill during the winter months since people don’t shovel their walks. I will definitely enjoy using my iPod while working out! I have been at BCN for thirteen years. Thank you so much!

Paul Mozak
BCBSM Vice President Finance

I have exercised regularly for the past three to four years, and participated in a number of running events, including a several half-marathon and even a full 26.2 mile marathon.

The Walkingspree pedometer is great for tracking my activity during days when I don’t get to run (especially in the winter) and is a great compliment to setting other daily or weekly goals.  I believe that goal setting is critical to achieving any objective, including exercise and weight loss.  The social and competitive aspects of the Walkingspree site are great and I encourage others to use them and set friendly challenges.

Fellow employees should also check out the new Active Blue Employee Resource Network, a new group dedicated to combining sports with charitable activities at BCBSM.

Rita Makulski
BCN Clinical Support Coordinator

I was so happy when Blue Cross Blue Shield announced they were offering their employees a pedometer and the Walkingspree program. I never heard Walkingspree While I have always included exercise in my life I never really set any goals. The Walkingspree program gave me the tools I needed to set goals, track my progress, and have fun with co-workers by joining walking teams. I was able to see that I was not very active. I did not realize I was not even meeting the 5,000 daily steps the program recommended. I gradually increased my daily steps goal to 6,500 steps and my aerobic steps to 2,500. I plan to keep working to increase my daily and aerobic steps. I have found it much easier to reach my goals by spreading my steps out during the day; I now exercise before work, during my lunch hour and later in the evening. I won an IPod Touch from the challenge which I can use to listen to music while walking. I have worked for BCBSM for over five years.

Deb Bronson
Professional Provider Inquiry Team Lead

I won an IPOD Touch!  I was so excited I told everyone.  I will use it by listening to fast paced music for my cardio and weight lifting and slower music for my cool downs.  The challenge to walk 10,000 steps a day made me hit the gym more often.  I made sure to walk for at least half an hour up to an entire hour.  I added more weights and even encompassed the Hoola-hoop into my workouts.  It was fun to come to work and compare the amount of steps I had acquired with my team mates. It was a true motivator. I have been with BCBSM for sixteen years.

Claudette Lee
Unit Leader MPSERS Medicare Advantage

I just can’t believe that out of all the entries, I was the winner of a treadmill.   I am so excited about it!!  Winning the treadmill has really made me take a serious look at my lifestyle.  I have a stronger determination to live a healthier life.  I must do what my doctor says about my health.  I want to live to see my grandchildren grow up and I don’t want to be on high blood pressure medicine all my life.  As a single woman, eating healthy and consistent exercise is not a priority for me.  But you know there is a purpose for everything, and because I know better, winning this treadmill, will make me do better.  “What’s for me is for me!!” Thank you BCBSM and Walkingspree for my winning in this Walking Challenge!!!! I have been with BCBSM for twenty-seven years.

Monica DeVette
Claims Liaison/SIU

Whether it was walking, aerobics, lifting weights or yoga, I have always done some type of exercise throughout my life.  Still, it was easy to slough off and make excuses, too. Unfortunately, for the last four years I did just that. The feeling of sluggishness, tiredness not to mention my mid-section from sitting at a desk all day caught up to me. The sitting and inactivity took a toll on my body. I used Walking Challenge combined with our fitness allowance to take charge of my health. No more sitting around and no more excuses.  The challenge gave me that much needed incentive.  My goal was to walk 8 -10,000 steps per day no matter what. I was exhausted but I had my pedometer to keep me on track, and I had a goal to keep.  I started walking in October and completed the contest before the actual end date.   I won an IPod, wow!  Also, I feel great being on track again with my health and the benefits of keeping fit.  What a pay off. I now have more energy and a better well-being.  Thank you, Walkingspree.

Denise Smarch
BCN Claims processing adjudication

I recently won the Wii console and Wii fit bundle. The new console will give me more options for physical activity especially during the winter months. The walking challenge helped to keep me motivated and made me accountable.  I set a goal and could see how close I was to achieving that goal daily.  Wearing the pedometer reminds me to get up and get moving.  I like to see the 10,000 steps on my pedometer every day.

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Tips for Winter Walking

Hibernating is for bears, not walkers. Walking in the winter can be a safe and enjoyable experience if you are prepared for the weather and dress correctly. There are some fantastic benefits to walking in the winter. The crisp cold air can clear your mind and reduce stress. Trudging through snow or walking into the wind takes more energy, which can be helpful for weight loss. Here are a few tips to keep you walking:

  • Get your steps in the first half of the day. Waiting until later may make it more difficult to reach your step goal. A brisk walk in the morning or at lunch time is ideal. Select routes sheltered from the wind and elements where possible. Getting outside during daylight hours also increases levels of serotonin, a hormone that helps calm cravings.
  • Dress warmly and feel comfortable. Wearing the right layers and clothing will make your walking experience more enjoyable. In cold weather, 20 to 60 percent of heat is lost through an uncovered head so wear a hat when the temperature drops.-. Your fingers, nose and chin get cold – quickly, so protect them with gloves and a scarf. Dress in layers to keep your body warm and dry. High-tech synthetic fabrics make a big difference in comfort so they’re worth the investment. You’ll be much happier and more energized if you’re warm and dry instead of sweaty and chilled. On windy days start your walk into the wind so you will finish with it at your back. This way, perspiration will not cool your skin and chill your body.
  • Wear the right footwear for the right time of year. Wear warm, water resistant boots. You may want to try ice grips or traction devices on your boots. Select routes that are cleared of snow or ice or do not have standing puddles or mud slicks.
  • Allow at least 10 minutes to warm up. When its cold, your heart and muscles need more time to get ready.
  • Move your feet slightly apart as you walk. This will give you better support and balance. If the street is really slippery, bend your knees a little bit. You may feel that you look funny, but it’s worth it! When going down an incline, consider turning sideways. Do NOT cross one foot over the other, as you will have no balance while your feet are crossed. If the ground is steep, bend your knees.
  • Take your workout indoors if there’s risk of frostbite (temperatures around -20 degrees F, including any wind chill) or if it’s too icy, or if you’d encounter dangerous traffic. Some indoor options include:
    Mall Walking: Your local mall most likely has a mall walking program. Malls are generally open before stores open and can provide a great way to get in those steps. Also a great way to meet up with fellow walkers.
    Indoor Track/Gym: Check with your local schools, community colleges and community centers to see if they have open hours for walkers. Some indoor skating rinks allow walking around the top outside row of bleachers.
    Treadmill Walking: Treadmills and ellipticals are often an ideal way to get add steps to your day.
    Creative Walking at Work and Home: See if your workplace has an indoor walking route or be creative and take the stairs, walk during conference calls, or go to tell a co-worker something instead of sending an email. A recent study found that stepping in place during commercials burned an average 148 calories and resulted in an average 2,111 steps in about 25 minutes.
  • Stay hydrated. You need water in winter as much as in summer. Bring water along to stay hydrated.
  • Share the cold. Walking with a friend, co-worker or even your dog provides company and mental stimulation. You not even notice the cold as you zip along on your winter walk.
  • Reward yourself. Take a long, warm bath to take away the chill and relax your muscles. Or savor a warm mug full of hot cocoa, hot apple cider or hot beverage of your choice. And be sure to upload all those steps to your Walkingspree account weekly. You earned them so make sure they are counted.

As always, wear your pedometer from morning till night and keep stepping! Spring is just around the corner.

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You Know You’re A Stepper When….

LaTonya M. Baldwin (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan participant)

LaTonya M. Baldwin, BCBSM participant

It’s the middle of January already. As I mentioned in a previous blog, this is a hectic month at work. It seems I do little more than work and sleep. Despite the madness, I’m steppin’. How do I get it done? I just do because I’m a stepper and you know you’re a stepper when:

You wake up in the morning and the first thing you do is reach over to your nightstand and grab your pedometer and then your glasses.

You know you’re a stepper when you walk to the gym to work out.

You know you’re a stepper when you don’t care how you look dancing at the bus stop while waiting to be picked up.

You know you’re  a stepper when you go on break at work and you walk instead of sit.

You know you’re a stepper when it doesn’t feel natural not to walk.

What about you? You know you’re a stepper when…..

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