12 Tweaks to a Healthier You
Avoid the pitfalls of New Years resolutions and develop healthy habits all year long!
12 Tweaks to a Healthier You focuses on a different habit or ‘tweak’ each month of 2017. Each tweak aims to improve physical, emotional, social, or financial wellness. Participants will receive a new tweak each month, along with an action plan to make the new behavior a habit.
- Register today to participate in the full challenge or join the wellness email list to stay updated on the tweak of the month and hop in when you’re ready.
At the end of each month, participants will complete a short reflection to be entered into a quarterly drawing for a wellness themed gift basket.
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April’s Tweak: Crosstrain
April is dedicated to incorporating different modes of exercise to create a well-rounded exercise routine. Every week, aim to complete all of the following: at least one aerobic, strength, and flexibility workout and active rest day. Print this handout and track your strength, aerobic, and flexibility workouts and active rest each week. Use the resources below to get started.
Bonus! Free strength training stadium workouts for Crosstrain participants will be held on Tuesday, April 4th, Wednesday, April 12th, and Monday, April 17th. All skill levels welcome! For more information and to sign-up, click here.
Duration: 20-60 minutes
Perform two or three sets of eight to twelve repetitions for each strength exercise, and rest for 30 to 90 seconds in between sets. Examples include lifting weights, body weight exercises, resistance bands, or lifting objects like water jugs or canned goods.
- Full Body Beginner Strength Workout
- Full Body Pilates Strength Workout with Resistance Bands
- Low Impact Workout for Beginners
Exercise Descriptions for Additional Strength Training Workout
- Wall Push-ups
- Bent Over Row with Resistance Band
- Lateral Raise with Resistance Band
- Supine Heel Taps
Duration: 30-60 minutes
If you cannot complete 30 straight minutes, feel free to break up aerobic exercises into 10 or 15 minute intervals! Examples include power walking, cycling, swimming, hiking, stair climbing, or dance classes.
Duration: Stretch every major muscle group for 30 to 60 seconds.
Examples include stretching on your own, yoga, or tai chi.
Active rest is performing a physical activity at a much lighter volume than a normal workout in order to stimulate the recovery process without excessive stress on the body. Here are some ideas:
- Walking your dog
- Mowing your lawn
- Going for a casual walk
- Cleaning the house
- Grocery shopping
- Going to the mall
- Yard work/gardening
- Swimming for fun
- Playing with your kids/family
Use this handout to track your daily gratitude practices this month.
Why is practicing gratitude important?
- Studies show that people who are consistently grateful are happier, have more energy, and experience positive emotions frequently.
Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, Professor and Researcher at the University of California and author of The How of Happiness, makes note of the eight ways that gratitude boosts happiness:
- Grateful thinking promotes the savoring of positive life experiences.
- Expressing gratitude bolsters self-worth and self-esteem.
- Gratitude helps people cope with stress and trauma.
- The expression of gratitude encourages moral behavior.
- Gratitude can help build social bonds, strengthen existing relationships, and nurture new ones.
- Expressing gratitude tends to inhibit envious comparisons of others.
- The practice of gratitude is incompatible with negative emotions and may actually diminish or deter such feelings as anger, bitterness, and greed.
- Gratitude helps us thwart hedonic adaption. Hedonic adaption is illustrated by our capacity to adjust rapidly to any new circumstance.
This month you will practice a different gratitude strategy each day. The idea is to try out several strategies to find the best fit for you.
Monday: Smile File
A smile file allows you to relish in the laughter, joy and happiness that life brings. Smile files are a great way to brighten even your toughest days.
- Create a new folder on your computer. Save it to your desktop so you can view it often.
- Add a board on Pinterest and pin photos that bring you joy.
- Create a new album on your camera roll to add happy images.
- Follow these Instagram accounts to find inspiration for your smile file.
- Create your own published smile file online to share with others here.
- Get your whole office involved with a group smile file here.
Tuesday: Gratitude Walk
The purpose of a gratitude walk is to be fully present and aware of your surroundings, to take a moment to get out of your head. On the first part of your walk, take in all of the sights, sounds and smells around you. End your walk by reflecting on all of the wonderful things you are grateful for.
- Calm your mind and savor your surroundings. This will allow you to relax and appreciate the world around you.
- Set aside 20 minutes (or longer) to walk around your neighborhood, park, office, etc.
- Use these walking maps to find a new walking route and take a sort break from work.
- The Power of the Gratitude Walk
- How About Taking a Gratitude Walk?
- Walking into Well-Being
Wednesday: Gratitude Pow-Wow
The more we share with others, the more gratitude we are able to recognize in our lives. Share your gratitude via Facebook (the 12 Tweaks page included), or reach out to someone to let them know how much they mean to you.
- Join the 12 Tweaks Facebook page here.
- Set a reminder on your phone and/or computer to prompt you to share what you are thankful for.
- If you are grateful for someone in your life, tag him or her in the post or send them a message so they know what they mean to you.
- If you do not use Facebook, find a buddy to share your gratitude with.
Send us pictures or stories of your experiences this month to be included in the weekly check-in emails.
- The Happy App
- For iPhone
- Allows you to keep a gallery of things that went well during your day and share them to Facebook.
Thursday: The Power of “Thank You”
Studies show that individuals who express gratitude by saying thank you are more often happier and optimistic people. Try to incorporate thank you’s throughout your day. Let others know you appreciate them.
- Hand write a note to someone who has influenced you.
- Show you are grateful every chance you get. Say thank you for even the smallest actions.
- Personalize the thank you for that specific individual. Be sincere and authentic.
- Ted Talk: Remember To Say “Thank You”
- The Thank You Project YouTube Video
- The Benefits of Gratitude At Work
- 7 Ways Saying “Thank You” At Work Can Transform Your Life
- 5 Ways to Say “Thank You”
Friday: Reframe That Thought
Evidence shows that practicing gratitude inhibits negative emotions, but sometimes those negative thoughts still come. Reframe your perspective the next time you find yourself having a negative thought using the following tips.
- Take a deep breath, count to 10, and release your negative energy.
- Find positivity in a negative situation. Thank about it from a different perspective. Will you remember this in a year? Is it worth the stress?
- Use an affirmation to bring you back into balance. Repeat your affirmation, breathing in the positive and out the negative.
- Remind yourself that you can’t always control the situation but you can control your thoughts. And that’s pretty powerful!
- Check out the resources listed below.
- Think This, Not That
- Embrace Jealousy
- The Importance of Positive Thinking
- Positive Thinking Exercises
- 11 Smart Habits to Staying Positive
- Positive Affirmations
- Happify App
- For Android
- App provides games that help you take control of your emotional well-being when you have negative thoughts.
Saturday/Sunday: Gratitude Journal
At the end of each week, reflect on three things that you are grateful for this week and write them down on your handout. Then record your happiness level.
Use this calendar to log a mile most mornings this month! Aim to walk when you first wake up or as soon as you get to work before you officially begin your work day.
Did you complete January’s tweak? Please fill out the Focus on Fruits & Veggies Evaluation. Use this goals handout to write down three things that you would like to continue working on throughout the year.
- Find a group to walk with at work. Gather a group of coworkers or start a new group on the 12 Tweaks Facebook page.
- Build your morning mile into your work commute by parking further away.
- Figure out how long it takes you to walk a quick-paced mile. Then plan to wake up that much earlier.
- Have your walking clothes and shoes laid out the night before. Or just plan to throw a jacket over your pajamas and hit the streets.
- If your child’s school offers a morning mile program, consider walking with them for a little extra bonding time!
- Have your route mapped out, regardless of whether you’re walking at work or at home.
- Go first thing! Don’t wait until your coffee is ready. Don’t check your email or read the newspaper. Just go!
- Stay accountable by checking in with the 12 Tweaks Facebook group and marking off on your calendar each day that you are successful.
- If you aren’t comfortable walking a mile yet, start where you are. Give yourself 20-30 minutes to walk as far as you can. Then try to increase your distance every few days.
- Really can’t walk a mile most mornings? Consider doing a short workout indoors instead. Choose something that you can complete in about 20 minutes.
- Android and iPhone
- Map and measure your route, see your speed and calories burned, and save and share your routes
- Virtual Walk
- Android and iPhone
- Distance walked gets plotted on a virtual walk through a scenic or historic place
- Charity Miles
- Android and iPhone
- Tracks how many miles you’ve covered during your workout
- Earns money for charity on your behalf for every mile you move
Let us recognize your hard work! Individuals will be recognized here when they complete five, ten, and fifteen miles this month.
Linda Kephart Fallon
Rebecca A Barbee-Kidwell
Linda Kephart Fallon
January’s Tweak: Focus on Fruit and Veggies
To jump start the New Year, January’s tweak will focus on cleaning up your diet by increasing fruit and vegetable intake. To ensure success, you will focus on one simple strategy each week!
Eating one salad a day is an easy way to increase your fruit and vegetable intake. Aim for a salad at lunch or dinner. Use the recipes and tips below to spruce up your salads!
How to Build a Strong Salad:
- Start with a base of dark, leafy greens, try spinach, spring mix, kale or romaine
- Pile on colorful veggies, mushrooms, broccoli, snap peas, peppers, onions, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, cabbage, sprouts, avocado slices, beets, artichoke hearts, olives
- Pack on the protein, choose lean proteins like grilled chicken, tuna, chickpeas, hard boiled eggs, black beans, edamame, sunflower seeds, walnuts or almonds
- Freshen with fruit, apple or pear slices, berries, pomegranate seeds
- Finish with a touch of extras, a tablespoon of cheese and no more than two tablespoons of homemade dressing (see recipes below)
Other considerations: Add on leftovers like roasted asparagus, sweet potato or leftover grains like couscous, barley, quinoa or rice
For a visual guide to building a healthy salad check out:
- Have a week long salad potluck with your coworkers. Have everyone bring in a different salad topping so you and your department can DIY delicious salads for lunch all week!
- Prep salads for the week in advance. Use this resource as a guide.
- Keep in mind, any salad dressing you make yourself will be much healthier! Learn how to master some basic and then get creative with variations. See the list of dressing recipes below for easy ideas.
- A slew of healthy salad recipes from Eating Well
- Salad recipes from Simply Recipes
- More salad ideas from Cooking Light
- Waldorf Salad
- Strawberry Arugula Quinoa Salad
- Mixed Green Salad
- Kale Caesar Salad
- Southwestern Cobb Salad
- Teriyaki Mushroom, Spinach, and Chicken Salad
- Pork Tenderloin, Pear, and Cranberry Salad
- Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Penne Salad
- Baby Greens Salad with Beets, Walnuts, and Goat Cheese
Salad Dressing Recipes:
- 2 parts olive oil
- 1 part balsamic vinegar
- A tablespoon or two of Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
Creamy Honey Mustard
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp. mustard
- 2 tsp. honey
- ½ tbsp. lemon juice
- Water, to thin if necessary
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- ½ tsp. dried dill
- 1 very small clove garlic
- 1 tbsp. parmesan
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
More Dressing Recipes:
Add ample amounts of fruits and veggies to classic recipes to make them healthier.
- Finely chop or shred veggies and add to meatloaf, pasta sauce, sloppy joes, chili, soup, lasagna.
Good veggies to use for this include zucchini, onion, pepper and carrots.
- Add veggie puree to soup, stews, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, burgers, casseroles.
Cook vegetables (boil, steam or roast), allow to cool, then puree; good veggies to use include cauliflower, carrots, squash, broccoli, zucchini, spinach and even avocados.
Check out this Parenting.com article for three easy purees.
- Make veggie noodles using a spiralizer and use in classic dishes like lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs and pad thai.
- Add an extra serving of fruits (or add veggies like carrots and zucchini) to baked goods.
- Add an extra serving (or two) of veggies to pizza, sandwiches, wraps and burgers or try greens in place of traditional tortilla wraps or burger buns.
- Baked penne with roasted vegetables
- Hidden veggie crockpot sloppy joes
- Veggie packed marinara sauce
- Roasted vegetable lasagna roll-ups
- Veggie loaded upgrades to frozen pizzas
- Meatballs (with sneaky veggies)
- Mac n cheese with sneaky sweet potato
- Roasted vegetable loaded potatoes
- Healthy recipes with vegetable noodles from Eating Well
Healthy snacks and sides are an easy way to get your daily dose of fruits and vegetables. Remember the MyPlate guidelines and aim to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables every time you eat, including snacks.
- Fill your plate with veggies before you add protein or grains to be sure they take up half your plate.
- Experiment with herbs and new flavor profiles. Look to other cultures for new-to-you ways of combining spices.
- If going back for seconds, be sure to fill up on your veggie side first. Don’t have extra protein or grains until you’ve finished a second helping of vegetables.
- Fruit is nature’s perfect snack. Bring in a pretty bowl and plenty of fruit to stock up your fruit bowl each week. If you see it frequently, you’re more likely to eat it (same goes for candy so hide that candy jar to help you cut back).
- Try to add a touch of protein and fat to your fruits and veggies to help you feel fuller longer. Some examples include:
- Roasted chickpeas, a piece of fruit with nuts or nut butter, veggies and chees or hummus, fruit and yogurt
- Stock your work area with healthy snacks or include snacks in your lunch each day.
- Healthy side dishes from Taste of Home
- Butternut squash bake
- Easy homemade hummus
- Roasted garlic cauliflower
- Baked parmesan zucchini
- Easy ranch baby carrots
- Zucchini pappardelle
- Crispy roasted chickpeas
- Avocado with salt, pepper, and lime
Replace one meal a day (lunch or dinner) with a meatless entrée. Plant proteins like beans, peas, nuts, and soy are low in fat, high in fiber, and chock full of nutrients.
- Check out Eating Well’s Meatless Challenge page for a slew of resources including 28 days of recipes, vegetarian starter kit, shopping list, and more.
- Read up on the benefits of eating less meat with this article from Mayo Clinic.
- Try these plant proteins:
- Lentils; 1 cup cooked, 18g protein
- Green peas; 1 cup, 8g protein
- Quinoa; 1/2 cup cooked, 7-9g protein
- Seeds (sunflower, sesame, hemp, flax, chia, pumpkin, etc.); 1/4 cup, 7-9g protein
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, etc.); 1/4 cup, 7-9g protein
- Beans (black, kidney, garbanzo, etc.); 1 cup cooked, 15g protein
- Soy-based protein (tempeh, tofu, edamame); 1 serving, 20g protein
- 28 days of recipes from Eating Well’s Meatless Challenge
- Black bean and corn quesadillas
- Vegan chunky chili
- Stir fried sesame vegetables and rice
- Hearty vegetable lasagna
- Easy vegetarian stuffed peppers
- Tortilla pie casserole
- Lentil sloppy joes
- Southwest soup
- Easy coconut curry
- Tomato and mozzarella risotto
- Spicy rainbow Buddha quinoa bowl
- Pinterest’s Meatless Monday page, featuring vegetarian breakfast, lunch, dinner, and side dishes, as well as a Kids Cook Meatless Monday and so much more!
Other Tweaks in 2017 Include:
- Cross Train: Increase your fitness with cardio, strength and flexibility training
- Jumpstart: Develop a healthy morning routine to find balance and get fueled for your day
- Zzz: Work on your sleep hygiene
- Serving Size Surprise: Increase your water intake and rethink your portion sizes
- Prep 101: Master meal prep techniques
- Savings Central: Focus in on your finances
- Go the Distance: Train for a race or increase your daily step count
- Savor: Eat mindfully and savor the day
- Turn Off to Tune In: Unplug from technology to reconnect with what matters
Keep in mind, each tweak is designed to be just that- a small change in behavior- so don’t feel overwhelmed by the idea of a year long commitment.