Category Archives: Motivation

Does being social help you lose more weight?

One of the questions we often receive here at incentaHEALTH is “What’s the secret to losing weight, and keeping it off?”

Of course the simple answer is HEAL: Healthy Eating and Active Living!  If you can find ways to eat better (my most effective thing is to remember to control my portion sizes) and move  your body more (take the stairs!) you should start to see changes in your energy level and your health.  But if you’re looking for additional ways to stack the odds in your favor, then read on.

After analyzing the performance of thousands of participants in our community program,  Weigh and Win, we recently noticed that people using our team challenges tend to lose more weight.  And those that decide to be the captain of a team have even more success.

People who join the team challenge lose more weight
People who join the team challenge lose more weight

Why is this happening?  One theory is that the very act of promising to your friends that you’re going to try to get in shape increases your commitment to change.  This “social contract” with your family and friends provides a bit more motivation to put down that donut and pick up an apple.  And if you take on the role of team captain and organizer, then you’re given an extra helping of social accountability.  Everyone is watching!

apple-donut

Team challenges aren’t for everyone.  But if you don’t mind a little fun and competition with your weight loss journey, then you might want to give one of our team challenges a try!

Good luck!

Written by: Todd McGuire, CTO incentaHEALTH

Healthy Memorial Day Tips & Tricks

Are you ready for the three-day weekend that marks the beginning of summer?  Whether you’re planning on gardening, playing a game outside or getting your grill on, here’s some healthy advice to making your Memorial Day the best for your healthy and active lifestyle!

Grill Without the Guilt

Add some more fruits and vegetables to the grill to get more antioxidants out of your typical barbeque meal. Try grilling zucchini, onions, bell peppers, pears and pineapples to add some unique and healthy flavors to your plain old burgers.

Choose leaner cuts of meat for grilling. Make sure excess fat is trimmed to reduce the amount of fat dripping onto the grill. Choose meats like skinless chicken breasts, ground turkey instead of ground beef, or even fresh fish

Marinade, marinade, marinade! This gives flavor to leaner cuts of meat without adding more fat. Choose healthier marinating options like the use of less sodium sauces, vinegars, or even fresh citrus juices like lemons, limes and oranges.

Get Active While Soakin’ Up Some Sun

Memorial Day weekend typically marks the opening of pools and water parks to help deal with the long and hot weather days. Take the time to go for a swim or even play around at a water park to increase your vitamin D intake.

Avoid the holiday weekend traffic by going for a bike ride instead. If avoiding the driving traffic is an option, try going for a walk or a bike ride somewhere instead of sitting in the hot car if at all possible. With bike riding becoming more and more popular,  bicycle friendly states are starting to help bikers out a bit when it comes to safety with improved road conditions and more signage for cars to share the road.

dad and kid biking smaller

Make the most out of the weekend by enjoying time together with friends and family. Whether it’s playing backyard games together, walking around at a festival or just enjoying the beautiful spring scenery, enjoy the time spent with each other and don’t make food the main focus of this special weekend.

Written by: Rachel Corcoran, Weigh and Win Health Coach

Exercise Injury Prevention

Along with the warmer temperatures comes more outdoor physical activity. Since May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month let’s review what you should practice to ensure proper exercise technique and avoid injury at all costs. Let’s face it, no one wants to be locked up inside with an injury during the summer months!

Proper Warm-up and Cool-down

A proper warm-up prepares your body for exercise by gradually increasing the heart rate and loosening the muscles and joints. A warm-up should include light movement to get your blood flowing. Start out at a low intensity and slowly work up to the intensity of your workout. Some good warm-up activities would be a light jog, bike, jump rope, or plyometric exercises like high knees or leg swings if you are planning on participating in a sport that requires a lot of agility movements like baseball, football, basketball, etc.

A cool-down is important for slowly bringing your heart rate back down to a normal level. Many of the same activities you perform during a warm-up can also be done as a cool-down (i.e. light jog, bike, etc.) You can also incorporate stretching into your cool-down routine. Focus on the muscles you primarily worked during your workout and slowly stretch these muscles and hold for approximately 10-20 seconds.

Walking

Ease Into It

When you begin a new exercise routine, it is very important to start slowly. As you become more comfortable with the movements and your body is more comfortable with the strain being put on it you can then gradually build up the intensity, duration, and frequency.

Listen to Your Body

Only do what feels comfortable to your body and do not push yourself further once you feel uncomfortable. Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong and if what starts out as a small issue is repeatedly stressed, or not given proper rest, it may lead to a more severe injury.

Hydration and Nutrition

It is important to stay hydrated during a workout to avoid becoming light headed or passing out. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water before, during, and after you work out. A good general rule of thumb is to drink a full glass of water about 20 minutes before working out and another full glass of water after your workout. Along with hydrating yourself before and after your workout, you should also be drinking water frequently throughout the duration of your workout.

Aside from staying hydrated you also should be eating before and after activity in order to provide your body with nutrients and to refuel energy stores.  Practice eating a small meal or snack every couple hours throughout the day. After your workout, be sure to consume a quality carbohydrate and protein to replenish your energy body.

Hydration

Proper Equipment

Before you start any type of activity, make sure you have the proper equipment required for the specific activity. Proper clothing and footwear is the most important. Consider light weight or dry-fit type of material when you know you will be exercising to the point of perspiration. Also, make sure the shoes you have are right for the activity you are participating in. If you are a runner, you should replace your shoes every year or every 500 miles (whichever comes first) to maintain proper support and traction.

Vary Your Activity

Make sure you vary your workout. Do not overuse one muscle group because overuse can lead to injuries such as tendonitis or shin splints. Make sure you include rest days in your workout routine to allow your muscles time to rebuild.

Proper Form

Practicing proper form is very important. Something as small as leaning too far forward or having your feet too far apart can end in injury. Make sure you research the proper form for each activity you plan to do and if you are still unsure you can always contact one of your incentaHEALTH Health Coaches who would love to help answer any of your exercise related questions!

 Written by:   Deanne Emig,  Health Coach

Staying Healthy at a Baseball Game

healthy at a baseball game

Happy Opening Day! In addition to the fresh air, cheering, and the excitement of the game – ballpark food and beer are a part of the experience. Just because you’re at a game doesn’t mean you have to toss your healthy habits aside nor does it mean you have to deny yourself a treat. Here are a few ways to make your next game a healthier experience.

  • Avoid the Nachos
    You’re looking at more than 1,200 plus calories! If it’s your favorite item, try sharing the order with a group of friends.
  • Buy Me Some Peanuts and Cracker Jacks
    Buttery popcorn isn’t your best option.  Go for a box of Cracker Jacks, which has only about 120 calories compared to over 1,000 for popcorn.
  • Swap the Burger for Chicken
    Once you add the cheese and toppings, the calorie-count can sky-rocket. Opt for a leaner protein and eat the grilled chicken sandwich instead.
  • A Healthier Dog
    It’s the toppings that are a nutrition killer. I’m looking at you Bacon and Blue Dogs. Select a regular size hot dog and toppings like relish and onions. Ketchup can be high in sugar, so reach for the mustard instead.
  • Load Up On Vegetables
    There are plenty of vegetarian options throughout most baseball stadiums like wraps, sandwiches, salads, and veggie dogs and burgers.  Check out places that have a make your own salad option. Remember to skip the cheese and select a non-creamy dressing.
  • Limit Your Beverage Intake
    Whether it is beer or soda, try to limit yourself to only one or two beverages.
  • Pack a Lunch
    Did you know that most stadiums allow you to bring your own food? Pack a healthy picnic lunch or snack, plus bottles of water.


Add More Activity Into Your Game Day

  • Bike to the Game
    Avoid the parking hassle and burn extra calories by biking to the game. Utilize the bike lanes throughout the area if they are available and be prepared for the weather.
  • Take a Lap
    Don’t just walk to your seats, take a lap around the stadium in between innings.
  • 7thInning Stretch
    Avoid sitting the whole game and take your own 7th inning stretch by standing up, stretching and moving around. Walk up and down the stairs a few times to get some blood flowing to your legs.

Hunting for a Healthier Easter

Easter Eggs

 

The best approach for a healthier Easter:  shift your focus to the meaning of Easter and the nonfood traditions behind the holiday. Then, once you’re looking at the bigger picture — not just candy-filled Easter baskets — you can figure out how to get the best out of your “Easter Eggs.”

Plan for Sweets

Make smarter choices elsewhere in the day to allow for a small splurge later. Remember, Easter is only one day so try to only indulge on those chocolate eggs on Sunday and not ruin the rest of the week! Some chocolate can be good for you but try buying small, individually wrapped chocolate eggs and avoid the giant chocolate bunnies, no matter how cute they are.

Break an Egg

One of the big heart myths is that eggs contain harmful cholesterol. However, eggs aren’t a problem unless they are fried in oil or loaded  up with cheese. For a filling and healthy start to your day try a boiled, poached or scrambled egg loaded with fresh vegetables.

Don’t Come to Dinner Hungry

Try snacking on some of those colorful hard-boiled eggs you may have made earlier — one large egg has around 76 calories. It’s a filling and nutritious option before the big meal.

Slow Down

When has there ever been a shortage of food or drinks at holiday events? Eat and drink slowly and allow your brain to catch up to your stomach.

Be Active

Plan fun activities with your family and friends to stay active and motivated over the weekend: go for a walk, run, swim, bike ride, kick a ball around, whatever you like… just move that body and enjoy the time spent together!

Rethink the Easter Basket

Nontraditional gifts such as jewelry, books, and clothing are even more appreciated than those sugary little peeps.  Who wouldn’t love seeing a Fitbit in their Easter basket?!

Consider Making Healthy Meal Substitutions

Try serving chocolate covered strawberries instead of a carrot cake or even steamed carrots instead of honey glazed carrots.  Add in more vegetables and make sure to savor every bite!

Written by: Rachel Corcoran, Weigh and Win Health Coach

Tips for Staying Active While at Work

 

What’s your reason for not sticking with your New Year’s resolution to become more active this year? For a majority their reason is they are “too busy” and demanding work schedules are the number one culprit. With technology advancements, many jobs have moved from being physically demanding to sedentary. Just because most of us work in an office or a cubical doesn’t mean we can’t continue to keep our bodies fit. Try some of these ideas for staying active while at work and finally get yourself moving toward a true state of health!

Go for a walk break – Set a designated time and get  your co-workers together each day to take a quick 15-20 minute walk around the office building or campus.  

Walking Break                     

Take the stairs – Skip the elevator and take the stairs whenever possible. If it’s too cold to take your daily walk, agree to climb the stairs instead!

Stand at your desk – Try this while on one of those long conference calls you dread each week. You can even add in some squats or calf raises! You may want to mute the phone if you find yourself getting out of breath.

Park further away – Park your car at the top of the parking garage or at the back of the parking lot and enjoy your walk into the office each morning.

Move around the office more – Get up out of your seat and personally deliver messages rather than calling or emailing your coworkers down the hall.

Incorporate activity into your day- Try to incorporate some body weight exercises each day. Set an alarm to go off each hour and take 60 seconds to complete one set of each of the following exercises:

6 Exercises to Do At Work

1. Squats or wall sits – Challenge yourself to see how many squats you can do in one minute or if you can hold your wall sit for an entire minute.

2. Calf raises – You can do these standing or seated. To add resistance while sitting, place a couple books or other heavy object on your knees.

3. Push-ups (on the floor, wall, or desk) – How many push-ups can you do without stopping? Challenge your coworkers!

4. Plank (on the floor, wall, or desk) – Can you hold a plank for an entire minute? As time goes by try improving on your past time!

5. Tricep dips (on your desk or chair) – If you are doing these on your chair make sure it’s secure or backed up to a wall so it does not move.

6. Sit-ups – Many variations of sit-ups can be done in the office. Bring in a towel or yoga mat to lay on.

Written by: Deanne Emig, Health Coach

 

7 Ways to Improve Your Heart Health

How to Prevent and Control Heart Disease

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” Mahatma Gandhi

Preventing and controlling heart disease can be as easy as choosing to take the stairs over the escalator, choosing lean proteins over fattier meats or just monitoring your blood pressure. All it takes is 7 simple steps towards lasting heart health.

Heart-Health

  • Get Active: Aim for 30 minutes of activity a day most days of the week. Try parking farther away or taking the stairs when you have those options.
  • Eat Better: Eat plenty of fresh fruits, non-starchy vegetables, lean proteins and quality carbohydrates. Don’t forget to drink water too!
  • Improve Your Weight: Aim for a BMI below 25 and less weight carried around your stomach, and more around the hips. “Apple” shaped has more health risks than “Pear” shaped.
  • Stay Away From Smoking: According to the CDC, cigarette smokers are 2–4 times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers. So, if you’re a smoker try to kick the habit. Smokefree.gov  is a free online service for anyone to utilize. http://smokefree.gov/ready-to-quit
  • Reduce & Manage Your Blood Sugar: Try to eat small meals throughout the day and focus on quality carbohydrates that create less of a spike in blood sugar levels.
  • Keep Your Blood Pressure in Check: It’s known as the silent killer for not having any symptoms. It’s important to check your blood pressure often and kick the salt shaker habit and limit processed foods to balance your sodium intake.
  • Control Your Cholesterol: Cholesterol or plaque build-up is one of the main causes of heart disease. Choose healthy fats while eliminating trans or saturated fats. Keep in mind though, although olive oil may be a better choice, it’s still a fat so keep the portion sizes small.

Written By: Rachel Corcoran, incentaHEALTH Health Coach

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