12 Tweaks to a Healthier You
12 Tweaks to a Healthier You was offered in 2017 to help employees develop healthy habits all year long! Although we are not currently offering this program, all of the resources below may be used to help you cultivate healthier habits this year.
December’s Tweak: Unplug to Plug In
This month’s tweak is all about unplugging from technology and connecting to the people we love and value most… just in time for the holiday season! Each week, we will focus on a new area of your life to focus on being more mindful of how often you use your phone, computer, tablet, or TV.
- Download the handouts for this month to help guide you in your unplugging journey. We all need a little accountability from time to time!
- Brainstorm a few areas or times in your life you spend a lot of time glued to the screen and identify how you would like to prioritize differently.
- Talk to your loved ones about this, too, and make it a family affair! Working together to unplug can help each member of your household feel more connected.
Here are a few ways you can unplug in different areas of your life:
- At work, close your eyes and do some gentle stretches. Identify areas of tension and work to slowly release the tension.
- At home, designate “phone free zones” or “phone bedtimes” to share more frequent – and meaningful – moments with family.
- For the holidays, be present with the people in your life by planning a cookie swap or white elephant gift exchange.
- For a better start in the morning, read something inspirational and make a healthy breakfast instead of immediately reaching for your phone upon waking up.
The Benefits of Unplugging
- Better quality of sleep. You’ve probably read about the effects of increased screen time leading to decreased quality of sleep. There is some truth to this. Researchers have found that increased screen time before bed decreases production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, and therefore lowering the quality of sleep. Trade in your e-book for a paper copy at night, and send your last text and hour or so before you head to bed to improve sleep quality and feel more refreshed when waking up.
- More quality time with family and friends. Often we can find ourselves caught up in the news of today and realize we’ve just spend an hour scrolling through Facebook or other outlets instead of spending time with people close to us. Identifying areas of improvement and setting goals to decrease technology use can benefit those important relationships in our lives.
- More opportunities to recharge at work. We often feel tempted to grab our phone when work gets overwhelming. Instead, incorporate mini breaks during your day of short walks, reading a chapter of a book, or socializing with coworkers to get a boost of energy.
In for more of a challenge? Use this idea for a 30-day digital detox!
November’s Tweak: Savor
As we dive in to the holiday season, your goals for this month include:
- Taking time to slow down and savor your food
- Identifying key areas where you find yourself engaging in mindless eating behaviors, then working to be more mindful in those situations
- Utilizing mindful eating techniques to stay in tune with your body’s signals of hunger and fullness
- Download and complete the Eating Patterns Assessment prior to beginning this month’s activities
- Download this month’s handouts to follow along each week and complete mini activities to help you practice mindful eating
- At the end of the month, complete the Eating Patterns Assessment again and compare to your initial results
About Mindful Eating
What does it mean to eat mindfully?
Think about your meals yesterday…
- Why did you eat? Were you hungry when you ate, or did you eat out of habit at a specified time? Did you continue to eat even if you were already full?
- How did you eat? Did you fully enjoy your meal? Did you engage in any other activities (work, watching TV, talking on the phone) while eating? How long did it take you to eat?
- What did you eat? Did you get a balance of fruits, veggies, protein and whole grains? Did you have one serving or multiple servings?
These are all questions to consider when eating mindfully. Turn off the “autopilot” setting when sitting down for a meal and enjoy a multisensory experience. The purpose of mindful eating is to create a positive relationship with food and give yourself permission to enjoy and savor your meals.
Tips for creating a practice of mindful eating:
- Follow along with the challenges laid out each week in your Savor handout.
- When you eat, only eat. Avoid multi-tasking while eating.
- Engage all six senses. Take in as much about the experience of eating as possible.
- Eat slowly and with small bites. Take in every taste and texture. Truly enjoy what you’re eating.
- Take a moment to appreciate all of the work that went in to creating your meal.
- Be curious. Ask yourself before eating if you are truly hungry. If you are NOT truly hungry, but still want to eat, explore what you might be missing. What need do you have that you are trying to satisfy with food? Can you satisfy that need with something other than food? If a craving doesn’t come from hunger, eating will never satisfy it.
- Build in a speed bump. Pause in the middle of your meal to check in with your hunger level. Determine if you want to continue eating and if so, how much?
- Do you find that you slip in to mindless eating in certain situations? Is your desk at work a culprit? Does your family have a snack drawer that you find yourself frequenting after work, even when you aren’t truly hungry? Take into consideration these times or places and place trigger cards in these areas to remind yourself to eat mindfully.
Want more information?
Follow Harvard’s footsteps and create a mindful eating corner at work.
Learn more about mindful eating with this short, 3-minute video from Harvard’s School of Public Health.
Check out these free mindful eating meditations from the Center for Mindful Eating.
Visit this website for a list of additional resources including websites, books and podcasts to help you on your mindful eating journey.
September’s Tweak: Savings Central
Your goals for this month are to:
- Be more conscious of where your money is going
- Save money with quick tips
- Feel on top of your finances
This month’s challenge is simple. Use the handout provided to complete quick activities each day for the next 30 days. Activities range from saving receipts, to clearing out financial clutter, to creating a shopping list to keep you on track.
Tips for this month’s tweak:
- Take inventory. Assess the current state of your finances. This means looking at your accounts, assessing your debt, and tracking your expenses. Do you know how much money you spend each week on groceries? Eating out? Household purchases? Discretionary spending?
- Get a plan. Determine which areas you need to focus on. Paying down debt? Reducing your discretionary spending? Starting a college fund? Then get a plan in place to work towards that goal.
- Use the handout. Get quick tips each day for the next 30 days.
- Get educated. If you decide that your finances need some serious help, reach out to the experts. Both UF and UF Health have dedicated resources to help you sort through your finances.
- Share tips. If you have great money-saving tips, share them! Send us your tips to be included in an upcoming 12 Tweaks email.
Additional financial wellness resources:
- Visit the Financial Wellness page to learn about UF and UF Health specific resources
- Resources from UF’s FLARE program on Budgeting and Savings including articles, tools and video workshops on topics ranging from creating a budget to reducing your debt
- Resources from UF’s FLARE program on Life Events Resources including articles, tools and video workshops on topics ranging from home ownership to sending kids to college
- Resources from UF’s FLARE program on Intelligent Investing including articles, tools and video workshops
August’s Tweak: Meal Prep 101
Did you complete July’s tweak? Please fill out the evaluation form.
Welcome to August! When it comes to eating well, meal planning is one of the easiest ways to set yourself up for success. There are so many ways to approach meal planning that, after practicing just once or twice, you’ll begin to find what works for you and your family.
Your goals for this month are to:
- Find meal planning and prepping techniques that work for you
- Find easy, healthy, go-to recipes and create a list
- Learn how to master meal prep
- How many meals you need to plan for
- Working with the time you have
- Building in a salad for lunch or dinner
- Planning on a budget
- Building your “go-to” list
Use this meal planner for organization.
Week One: Plan and Shop Your Meals
Tips for Planning
- Take a quick inventory of everyone’s plans to give you a rough idea of how many meals you’ll need to get through the week. Also think about how much mileage you can get from each recipe. Build in recipes that give you leftovers for lunch and dinner.
- If you have a crazy busy week coming up, make a mental note to be on the lookout for quick, slow cooker or make-ahead meals that can served up in a hurry.
- Use your weekly meal planner to identify when you plan on eating out, when you will be out late.
- Build in a salad per day for lunch or dinner.
- Plan meals around food you already have. Half a box of brown rice in the pantry? Make a vegetable stir-fry or use it in a side dish.
- On your handout, write down your “go-to” recipes—recipes that are easy to cook that you and your family enjoy.
Tips for Grocery Shopping:
Eat more! Aim to make half of your plate fruits and veggies. Focus on veggies since most people like fruit already.
To get more:
- Add fruit to breakfast (oatmeal, yogurt, cereal) with some nuts, add veggies to eggs
- Eat veggies as snacks: carrots, celery, cucumber slices and peppers with hummus, snap peas
- Pile on to sandwiches and wraps (tomatoes, greens, peppers, sprouts)
- Frozen veggies and fruits are just as good as fresh (without additives like salt and sauces)
Think leaner meats and lighter loads. Pick leaner meats and cuts and pay attention to portion sizes (to save calories and money). Re-think your plate, start thinking about your protein as a side dish.
Serving size: chicken breast, 3 huge breasts = 6 portions, use in several different meals or freeze
Price: cut down on portion sizes and complement with plant proteins and sides like beans
- Difference in ground meats % fat, try ground turkey and ground turkey breast (compared to ground beef)
- Choose “loin” and “round”
- Choose meats with less visible fat
- Choose chicken, turkey, seafood more often
- Seafood, shop between fresh and frozen, aim for 2x/week
Pay attention to labels to find your “best fit” item
- Milk: choose unsweetened almond, 2% milk, or skim for reduced fat and sugar content
- Yogurts often have high amounts of added sugar, select plain & add your own fresh fruit or nuts
- Cheese: Choose harder cheeses for lower fat content, choose natural over processed cheeses, watch portion size, and limit cream cheeses which are considered a “fat” not a “dairy”
- Canned beans and veggies
This is where you get more bang for your buck, but watch your sodium intake.
- Beans are a great source and balance of fiber, protein and carbs
- Choose low sodium(140mg< sodium per serving), or no salt added rinse
- 16 oz. of canned beans is roughly 1 lb for about $0.85 compared to 1 lb of chicken for $4.69/lb.
- Add beans to your meat proteins to make them last longer, decrease fat, and save money
- Mac and cheese and “convenience foods” are always better when you make it yourself; check out this easy recipe for mac and cheese
- Cereal & Cereal Bars
Read labels to find your “best fit” item and don’t be fooled by marketing tricks
- Compare serving size, carb/sugar, fiber, protein, ingredients
- Bars such as 90 calorie bar and Nature Valley Protein are often packed with sugar and leave you still hungry after eating it
- A “healthy” oatmeal cup can have just as much sugar as PopTarts
- Frozen Foods
Making meals yourself is always your best option, so try to limit your frozen foods to whole food items like veggies, fruits and meats such as seafood. Then identify “best fit” items, convenience foods, to keep on hand when you’re in a pinch.
- Find lower carb meals by looking for items without pasta
- Look for “Better Choice” label
- Look at sodium
- Don’t be fooled by labels “Fit Kitchen” Stouffers meals, they have tons of sodium
- Look for veggies without sauce (remember to add your own like Mrs. Dash seasonings)
- Pizza: Look for “Better Choice” label, add extra veggies
Look for “whole” grains and at least 3 grams fiber.
- Read labels for carbs, fiber, sodium
- Read ingredients for “whole” grain, don’t be fooled by “multi-grain”, harvest grain or honey wheat
Week 2: Prep Strategies
For this week:
- Gather up your kitchen supplies
- Helpful tools: a crock-pot, 8 x 11 shallow baking dishes and cookie sheets, aluminum foil, varying sized containers for storage, sturdy cutting boards, sharp knives
- Read up on how to use and cook your staples here
- Store your meals properly
- To store your food, you’ll need a handy set of containers. You can use regular Tupperware- silicone, glass, plastic. You can even throw your food in mason jars. If you use plastic containers, make sure they’re BPA free. Lockable lids will prevents spills.
Tips for Prepping:
- Roast several veggies, like broccoli, onions, tomatoes and cook more grains, such as brown rice or quinoa at once. This way, you’ll have extra to use for future meals as a side dish.
- Prep in chunks at a time. There’s nothing wrong with cooking for the next 3 days instead of the next 7.
- If prepping 2-3 meals a day for the week is overwhelming, focus on prepping just your breakfasts, lunches or dinners.
- If you stick to your meal plan and eat more home-cooked foods, you’ll save money by not purchasing snacks and lunch on-the-go.
Weeks 3 & 4: Sample Meal Plans
Now that you have mastered your meal planning techniques and learned meal prepping strategies, we are giving you some sample meal prep plans to try!
- Sample Weekly Meal Plan
- Prep Once, Eat Healthy All Week
- Weekend Prep for Easy Weekend Meals
- Five Day Lunch No-Cook Meal Prep
Week 5: It’s Your Turn!
Use the strategies you have learned and the sample meals plans provided to prep your own meals this week.
Don’t forget to use your meal planner!
July’s Tweak: Serving Size Surprise
Did you complete June’s tweak? Please fill out the evaluation form.
Welcome to July! July’s Serving Size Surprise is about helping you achieve three main goals:
1) Increase your awareness of your typical portion sizes
2) Increase your consumption of fruits & vegetables
3) Increase your water consumption
Each week will focus on a different task related to these goals. Use this handout to track your progress this month.
Week 1: Measure it Out
As a culture, we tend to over consume dairy, protein, grains, fats and oils and under consume fruits and vegetables.
With that in mind, your task this week is to measure out your portions from the following food groups:
- Dairy, like milk and shredded cheese
- Proteins, like chicken, steak, beans and nuts
- Grains, like rice and pasta
- Fats/Oils, like salad dressings and cream cheese
Note that you will not be measuring your portions of fruits and vegetables since your goal is to eat more of these! Pile them on! Consider vegetables free food! Get as many as you can at each meal.
- Pull out your measuring cups and spoons! Measure out your cereal or oatmeal in the morning, your salad dressing or snacks at lunch, and your pasta, rice or chicken at dinner. Remember, you are measuring any and all dairy, protein, grain and fats/oils.
- Read the nutrition label on prepackaged items to learn the serving size. Some items, like packaged pretzels or nuts, have multiple servings in one bag. Click here for a quick guide on reading nutrition labels.
- Use a tool like SuperTracker or MyFitnessPal to get personalized information about the amount of calories and servings you need from each food group.
SuperTracker creates a personalized plan for you based on your needs. Your plan includes how many cups or servings you should get from each food group and tips on selecting the healthiest option from each group. This differs from the handout above in that it provides information based on your calorie needs, not the standard 2,000 calorie diet. This is a great tool for one-time use.
MyFitnessPal is a free app that allows you to easily track your meals. The app allows you to scan barcodes of prepackaged foods and contains loads of data from different restaurants so you can easily search meals when eating out. The app will break down how many servings you got from each food group, as well as total calories and macronutrients like protein, fat and carbohydrate. This is a great tool for ongoing use.
- Work on your hydration habits! If you are participating in the water challenge, keep up the great work! If you are not participating in the water challenge, be sure to stay on top of your hydration this month. Aim for at least eight glasses of 8 oz a day!
- The more you measure, the easier it will be to eyeball servings.
Check out this slideshow to take a closer look at portion distortion.
Week 2: Small Plates
Now that you have gained more awareness of serving sizes from last week, your goal this week is to downsize your plates, bowls, and Tupperware. Studies show that using smaller dishware leads to less food on your plate and less calories consumed. Check out these studies here.
- Place your large dinner plates out of sight, such as the back of your cabinets. A small plate is considered no larger than 10” in diameter.
- Use Tupperware that divides food into groups: a section for fruit, for grains, and vegetables. This way, you can diversify your meal instead of having one or two food groups.
- When out to eat, ask for a to-go box and place half your meal in it. Restaurants often serve double the amount of food we need for one meal.
- Check how much sugar is in your drink, and aim to replace those beverages with water for at least eight glasses of 8 oz a day! Sugary beverages are often served in single size containers, yet have 2 or 3 servings per bottle.
- Use shallower bowls for sugary cereals, ice cream, salty soups, and pasta.
HealthyOut – Healthy Restaurant Nutrition Guide
- Find healthy meals located around you
- Provides healthy modifications to help you order
- Use filters such as vegetarian, gluten free, vegan, low fat
Week 3: More Veggies
To encourage increased fruit & veggie consumption, your goal this week is to eat at least one salad or meatless main each day.
- Add leafy greens to a fruit smoothie. Although it looks green, it tastes sweet and fruity. Check out some yummy recipes here.
- Stock your freezer with frozen vegetables to steam or stir-fry for a quick side dish. Add black pepper, garlic powder or lemon juice to spice up your veggies!
- Cook up a veggie or legume-based meal as your main dish. Revisit January’s salad and meatless main recipe collections below (scroll down to bottom of this page).
- Add fruit to your water for a refreshing boost. Adding lemon, strawberry, or cucumber to your water can be a healthy way to get flavor out of your drink. Aim for at least eight 8 oz glasses of water per day!
Week 4: Rethink Seconds and Snacks
This week’s task is to rethink second servings and measure out snacks.
- Wait at least twenty minutes to assess if you’re hungry enough for a second serving. If you get a second serving, load up on veggies to help you feel fuller.
- Serve yourself a snack on a small and separate dish, instead of eating from the bag or container.
- Avoid distractions while eating or preparing a meal. Focus on your food by turning off the TV and silencing your phone.
- Eat small snacks in between meals to avoid feeling empty.
- Drink a glass of water before and during your meal. Sometimes our bodies can mistake thirst for hunger.
- Revisit January’s tweak below for healthy sides and snack ideas.
June’s Tweak: Sleep
There are several benefits of good sleeping habits. These include:
- More energy throughout the day
- Brighter disposition
- Stronger immune system
- Maintains metabolism
- Improves memory and focus
- Balances mood and emotions
Access the handout for this month’s tweak here. Cut out the colored sections on the first page (front and back) and put them on your refrigerator, nightstand, or somewhere in your home as a reminder of what to focus on each week. Then use the second page (front and back) to track your sleep and reflect on which strategies were most effective for you!
Week 1: Create a Sleep Routine
Create a personalized sleep routine to help you fall asleep at night. Practicing this routine on a regular basis tells your body that it’s time for bed and can help to set in motion the sleep cycle.
- Establish a bedtime for every night and a wake up time for every morning. Determine this through your desired hours of sleep per night.
Most adults need 7-9 hours per night, some can work with 6.
- Prepare items for the next day. This could include making lunches, lying out clothes, or setting alarms. Preparing these the night before can help eliminate the stress of having to complete several tasks in the morning.
- Put electronic devices in a drawer and turn off the television or computer an hour before bed.The “blue light” from television, computers, and mobile devices has been associated with stimulation of brain activity. We need our brains to relax before going to bed. If you can’t part with your devices, put them on “sleep mode” or “night shift” (which can be done through your settings), which filters out the blue light.
- Relax. This is a crucial part of your bed time routine. Choose an activity or two that soothes you. What makes you feel relaxed?
Reading a book? Choose something that will not get your heart pumping like a thriller.
Listening to music? Make sure it’s soothing.
Taking a warm shower or bath? This helps your body temperature drop, which signals the body to start feeling sleepy.
Knitting or crafting? Be sure to do so in low light.
Loosen up. Perform gentle exercises to help your body unwind. See the Bedtime Yoga handout for ideas.
Other great ideas include meditating, coloring, journaling, or drinking sleepy time tea.
- Only go to bed when you feel tired enough to sleep. Your bed is for two things and two things only…
- Reflect on your day. Jot down important moments and practice gratitude.
- Dim the lights around your home as your bedtime approaches. Avoid bright lights 30 minutes before bed.
Week 2: Remodel Your Environment
Make your room and home more comfortable and appealing for sleep by removing distracting items or adding helpful items.
Create a dark atmosphere.
- Add blackout curtains or blinds to reduce streetlight or sunlight.
- Use a sleep mask.
Change up the lighting in your environment. Turn off any bright lights 30 minutes before bed.
- Place night lights in your bathrooms and hallways.
- Use a book light.
- Use lamps or soft lighting in the common rooms of your home and in your bedroom before bed.
- Check watt sizes; they should be 60 watts or less to give you enough light to do activities like reading without brightening the entire room.
Remove clocks from your bedroom.
- When having trouble falling asleep or falling back asleep, looking at the clock can often increase stress, making it harder to fall asleep. Plus, the light from some digital alarm clocks can be distracting when initially going to bed or trying to fall back asleep in the middle of the night.
Lower air conditioning temperatures at night.
- 65° – 73° F is the ideal sleeping temperature. The temperature in your bedroom can influence your quality of sleep by interfering with your body temperature.
Assess your bedding.
- Is it comfortable? Do you have appropriate sheets and blankets? Do you wake up in the night sweating or freezing? Change your bedding accordingly. You spend a significant amount of time here so don’t scrimp.
Only use your bedroom as a place to sleep and only get in bed when you are tired.
- If there is a television or computer in the room, consider removing it so that distraction is not right there. Read or watch television in a different room.
Add aromatherapy methods like candles or essential oils.
- Check out our list of DIY Pillow Mists below for your own sleepy-time concoction!
* Be cautious when implementing these as some are flammable and may have dermal sensitivity.
Week 3: Tweak Your Daytime Habits
Think about your daily routine and habits. Evaluate how those may be affecting your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
- Make sure you are getting ample amounts of sunlight every day.
- Limit caffeine consumption 6 hours before bed and limit alcohol consumption 3-4 hours before bed.
Intake of items like coffee, red wine, and chocolate show links to disrupted and shallow sleep. Limiting consumption of caffeine and alcohol close to bed also helps avoid frequently waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
- Maintain regular mealtimes. Try not to eat a heavy meal two hours before bed.
Give your body time to digest before going to sleep. Keep in mind that sleep can also influence our eating habits. So if you’re trying to lose or maintain weight, getting enough sleep can be imperative to your success.
- Limit drinking large quantities of water before bed.
Having to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom can disrupt your sleep cycle or make it harder to fall back asleep after waking up.
- Restrain from taking naps later in the day.
If you do nap, keep it short, 20-30 minutes.
Keep your weekend sleep schedule similar to your work week schedule.
- Beware of oversleeping. Like lack of sleeping, oversleeping can negatively affect your health.
- Wear sleep-friendly material.
Try breathable fabrics like cotton (or your good ‘ole birthday suit) to prevent overheating at night.
- If you are having trouble falling asleep…don’t stress.
- Worrying about falling asleep can elicit the stress response, which can keep you awake.
- If you don’t fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes, get out of bed. Engage in a calming activity until you are tired again.
- If you are waking up in the middle of your sleep cycle and having trouble falling back asleep…don’t stress.
- Several studies of our ancestors indicate that we historically haven’t slept for 7+ hours without disruption. Research indicates that we would wake up several times throughout the night to make sure our surrounding environment was safe and then go back to sleep. So take a few deep breaths and assure yourself that this is normal!
- Engage in a calming activity.
- Dump your thoughts or worries that may be keeping you up on a sheet of paper to revisit in the morning.
- Avoid clocks, television and electronic devices. Do not check the time!
Week 4: Incorporate Physical Activity
Engaging in physical activity regularly keeps you energized throughout the day and helps you fall asleep faster at night.
- Aim for 150 minutes of physical activity a week and at least two strength training workouts.
- Stay active throughout the day.
Revisit February’s Morning Mile.
Revisit morning exercises from May’s Jumpstart.
Revisit a variety of exercises from April’s Crosstrain.
Go for a walk on your work break.
- Physical activity reduces arousal and anxiety, which are two main causes of disrupted sleep.
- Take your exercise outside.
Sunlight triggers an increase in alertness, which can help you get through your day.
Go for a gratitude walk. Take in the beauty of your surroundings and give thanks for all the wonderful things in your life.
- Walk! Make it routine. Walk before a meal, after a meal, with your kids, with a friend or with your dog. Just go!
- Perform gentle exercises (like those from the Bedtime Yoga handout) before bed to relax your muscles and get your body primed for sleep. Make this part of your sleep routine.
Additional Resources: Pillow Mist Recipes
Sleepy Time Pillow Mist
Ingredients: Water, Witch Hazel, 3 Parts Lavender, 2 Parts Sweet Orange, 2 Parts Roman Chamomile
Supplies: Mini Spray Bottle, Small Funnel
Fill spray bottle with water or witch hazel.
Add lavender, sweet orange and roman chamomile essential oils. Close lid and shake well.
Spray onto your pillow sheets.
Lavender Pillow Mist
Ingredients: Water, Witch Hazel, Lavender Essential Oil
Supplies: Mini Spray Bottle, Small Funnel
Fill spray bottle with water or witch hazel.
Add desired amount of lavender oil. Close lid and shake well.
Spray onto your pillow sheets.
Ingredients: Water, Witch Hazel, Eucalyptus and Spearmint Essential Oils
Supplies: Mini Spray Bottle, Small Funnel
Fill spray bottle with water or witch hazel.
Add equal parts Eucalyptus and Spearmint oil. Close lid and shake well.
Spray onto your pillow sheets.
May’s Tweak: Jumpstart
This month is about learning how to create a morning routine to “jumpstart” your day. Each week, you will be given a small tweak to add into your morning routine. Use this calendar throughout the month to manage your mornings and stay on track.
Prior to beginning Jumpstart, complete this morning assessment to evaluate your current routine and find opportunities for improvement.
Week 1: Consistency is Key
Aim to wake up at the same time every single morning. Keep in mind that you may have to adjust your wakeup time as the month continues to account for the additional weekly tweaks.
- If you have not already, complete the morning assessment to estimate your daily wakeup time.
- Aim to go to sleep around the same time every night.
- Limit caffeine after 5 PM.
- Limit the snooze button in the morning.
- Get up and out of bed as soon as you wake up in the morning.
- Allow natural light to enter your room.
- Use an app such as SleepBot to help you wake up at the right point in your sleep cycle so you feel less groggy.
- Every morning you stay consistent with your wake up time, write in the time you woke up and place a check in the orange box on your Jumpstart calendar to keep track of your progress.
Alarmy (Sleep If U Can)
- Android and iPhone
- Alarm app that effectively gets you out of bed
- You can either set it as a normal alarm, to force you to take a picture of something, or even solve math problems in order to turn the alarm off.
- Includes sleep music feature
- Android and iPhone
- Tracks your sleep motion, provides sleep trends, provides a soothing alarm that wakes you up slowly, and has a smart alarm feature to wake you up in your lightest sleep.
Week 2: Positive Pauses
Incorporate a five-minute “positive pause” into your morning routine. These positive pauses can include activities that you learned from Gratitude or they can be new practices!
- Complete the morning assessment again to include a five-minute positive pause in your morning routine.
- Perform these pauses in a quiet and relaxing place. Reflect on what you are thankful for or set a positive intention for your day.
- Use different methods throughout the week to find which one works best for you. Check out the Gratitude tweak from March for gratitude practice ideas.
- Every morning you complete a positive pause, write in your activity and place a check in the blue box on your Jumpstart Calendar to keep track of your progress.
- Don’t forget to keep up your wakeup time consistent!
- Android and iPhone
- Includes many different guided meditation and mindfulness programs.
- Android and iPhone
- Joins you in a community of other meditators around the world
- Provides multiple programs of all lengths including those for meditation, breathing, mindfulness, and sleep
- Guided Morning Wake-up: Positive and Uplifting Affirmations to Start Your Day
- Morning Uplift- You Are Amazing!
- Daily Positive Morning Affirmations for Personal Transformation
Week 3: Balancing Act
Eat a balanced breakfast that includes all three major macronutrients: carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
- Complete the morning assessment again to include any additional time you may need to make breakfast in your morning routine.
- Aim to consume at least one source of protein, one source of fat, and one source of carbohydrates with every breakfast.
- Find breakfast recipes that you personally enjoy.
- Use tips and tricks from January’s Tweak, Focus on Fruits and Veggies, to add in additional fruits and vegetables.
- Every morning you consume a balanced breakfast, be sure to write in the recipe on the Jumpstart calendar and place a check in the purple box to track your progress.
- Don’t forget to keep your wakeup time consistent and continue your positive pauses!
Healthy Fat Sources
Nuts such as peanuts, almonds, and walnuts
- Natural peanut or almond butter
- Extra Virgin Olive oil
- Chia Seeds
Healthy Carbohydrate Sources
Sources of whole grains such as oatmeal, whole-wheat toast, whole-grain breakfast cereal, whole-grain granola, whole-wheat English muffins, whole-wheat bagels, or even whole-grain waffles.
- Sweet Potato
Healthy Protein Sources
- Plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
- Turkey Sausage
- Milk or almond milk
- Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
- Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
- Almond Butter Yogurt Fruit Parfait
- Fried Egg Avocado Toasts
- Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
Prep in Advance Meals
- Flax Blueberry Vanilla Overnight Oats
- Peanut Butter Overnight Oats
- General Breakfast Meal Prep Ideas
- Egg Muffins with Ham
Week 4: Emphasize Exercise
Give yourself a boost of energy by exercising for 10-15 minutes every morning.
- Complete the morning assessment once again to include exercise into your morning routine and reassess your best wakeup time.
- Try out various types of exercise to find out which one fits into your morning routine the best.
- Aim to exercise as soon as you wake up.
- Lay out your exercise clothes the night before.
- Aim to get additional exercise throughout the day.
- Use tips and resources from February’s tweak, Morning Mile, and April’s tweak, Crosstrain.
- Every morning you complete 10-15 minutes of exercise, write in your activity and place a check in the green box on your Jumpstart Calendar to keep track of your progress.
- Don’t forget to keep your wake up time consistent and continue your positive pauses and balanced breakfast!
- 10 Minute Mindful Morning Yoga
- Morning Yoga
- 10 Minute Low Impact Cardio Workout
- 10 Minute Morning Yoga in Bed
- Beginner HIIT Workout
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.
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
- 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!