Happy Valentine’s Day from Walkingspree!

During February, American Heart Month, we hope you enjoy this video love note and share it with others.

Continue to take steps everyday day to live a longer and healthier life. What better way to say “I Love You”!

Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Walkingspree!

If you have trouble viewing the video below, please try our alternate video version.

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Beware of hidden sodium in favorite foods

Watch out for hidden sodium in foods like bread

Too many Americans – about 90 percent – eat more than the recommended daily allowance, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week.

Too much sodium can increase your risk of high blood pressure. And high blood pressure can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

The main culprit is not the salt shaker on your dinner table – it’s processed and prepared foods. More than 40 percent of our sodium intake comes from 10 foods, with bread and rolls being the worst. (We tend to eat a lot of bread which adds up to a lot of sodium.)

The top 10 worst offenders are:

  • Breads and rolls
  • Cold cuts and cured meats
  • Pizza
  • Poultry, fresh and processed
  • Soups
  • Sandwiches like cheeseburgers
  • Cheese
  • Pasta dishes
  • Meat dishes (like meat loaf with tomato sauce)
  • Snacks like chips, pretzels and popcorn

Americans eat about 3,300 mg of sodium a day – well above the recommended 2,300 mg a day, and more than double the recommended 1,500 mg limit for African Americans, people who are over age 50, and anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, according to the report.

So, what can you do?

Eat fresh when possible, and buy the least processed food available.

Start checking nutrition labels on everything you eat and keep track of your daily sodium intake. The Food Tracker tool in your Walkingspree account makes tracking sodium and other nutritional concerns – like fat and cholesterol – easy.

And when eating out, ask about the sodium content in the menu items or check restaurant and fast food websites for nutritional facts.

Knowing how much sodium a food item contains will help you make heart healthier food choices.

Sliced Bread by Can Atacan

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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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