Friday, December 21, 2012

Small Changes for a Healthier Life after Coca Cola's Balanced Living Workshop

I was compensated for my participation in Coca-Cola's Balanced Living Workshop, but my thoughts and views are my own.

I try my hardest to live my version of a happy life. What is my version? Well, a life that includes adventure and joyful experiences has always been pivotal in my personal happiness. Closeness to family and friends is key for my mental health, so I have made conscious decisions with my husband to remain within the Chicagoland area as we raise our children.
Photo credit:CocaCola Company and Bruce Powell Photography
 Me, feeling happy, at Boka in Chicago.

One aspect that I have neglected in my happy life goal is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Let's be honest; forgoing the second piece of chocolate cake or exercising until your abs burn isn't what most of us would label as "Fun." Then again, recurring insomnia due to an inactive lifestyle isn't my idea of a fabulous way to live my life, either.
Photo credit:CocaCola Company and Bruce Powell Photography
 My vision board at the Coca-Cola Balanced Living Workshop focused on a healthier lifestyle that allows for more energy to be spent on travel and adventures with my family...

So I am committing to changing. I AM. After returning from the Coca-Cola Balanced Living Workshop in Chicago, I feel empowered to make small changes in my life and that of my family. I don't plan on throwing all of the sweets and fatty foods away, but I do plan on implementing several lower-impact alterations. In fact, after the meeting I had at the workshop with a personal dietitian, we've already completed the first step she recommended:  

We had a family dinner on Wednesday.

Now, a family dinner may not sound like a "big deal" to most people. But for us, our nights are usually fairly busy and we don't have the opportunity to eat together every night. In fact, it's impossible several nights a week. But Wednesdays are normally free nights and will now be known as our Planned Family Nights. We don't have to have a crazy healthy meal, but we will have a consciously planned meal which will hopefully lead to healthier choices. Our first planned meal included homemade pasta and sausage. Maybe not the BEST choices, but we were all sitting down, so we decided to have a poker night afterwards! All of us, teenager included, spent the evening around the dinner table without a single electronic device in sight.

It. Was. Heavenly.

If attending this workshop can change no other aspect of our lives other than the fact that we will be eating and playing games as a family every Wednesday night? Then I will be satisfied.

I know for a fact that I won't leave it at just that, though. I mean, right now, I am wearing my pedometer that Harley Pasternak suggested in our fitness workshop to monitor my daily activity. And after looking at the low, low number of steps I've taken (due to my activity on the computer all morning), I am gearing up to take the dog for a lengthy walk. I might even hit the mall for some Christmas shopping tonight, even though I could probably find everything I need online. If all goes well, the teenager may just decide to come with me and burn some calories alongside his mom!
Photo credit:CocaCola Company and Bruce Powell Photography
Oh, Harley. You were so peppy... But in a good way that didn't make me want to throw bits of cheese at your head. Thanks for the advice!

See? Small changes that will hopefully lead to big differences.

My mind was definitely opened up to the possibility that Big corporations are interested in the little guys. I never would have thought that Coca-Cola would have chosen me to give a chance at better health. I also never imagined that they were doing so much on so many local levels. Did you know that Coca-Cola provided a grant to the Chicago Park District? Read this release from the Chicago Park District Website:

"A grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation backs the Park Families Wellness Initiative, which will offer fitness and nutrition education classes for Chicagoans of all ages.  The program works on increasing a family’s minutes of physical activity as well as its knowledge of a healthy lifestyle by emphasizing nutrition, dietary habits and exercise.

The program will strive to be the leading provider of affordable wellness programming in the City of Chicago as it impacts 125,000 patrons.  The number of fitness programs and locations will also be increased citywide as the Chicago Park District offers consistent class options in-line with national trends.

The grant will also fund Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness, a program that features military-style fitness classes led by U.S. veterans.  The program will be available at Chicago Park District field houses next year."

I love hearing about big corporations who invest in communities. If you are interested in learning more about how Coca-Cola has been investing in the health and wellness of Chicago, check out the Coca-Cola Live Positively page and poke around for a while. Even after attending a conference sponsored by them, I was STILL surprised by all that they offer!

Seriously though, the best advice I heard and retained at this workshop was the simplest. And I will share it again in hopes that YOU may decide to follow suit:

Small Changes.

Thinking Big isn't "bad" but it sure can be overwhelming. Small Changes means you can figure out where you want to be healthwise, and then backpedal to the first steps. How can you change the way you feel about food? How can you change the way you feel about fitness? I cannot start jogging today, and I would probably quit because it's such a huge change to my lifestyle. But this pedometer thingy has really, REALLY opened my eyes to my lack of daily physical activity. In the few days I've been wearing it, I have made conscious decisions to walk more and just jump up and down to get that number up a little bit higher than it was the day before. (And if any of you giggle at the thought of me jumping up and down? That's all right. I am used to being laughed at. Ever see me do the Elaine?)
Me at BlogHer in 2011, doing my Elaine dance, just moments before my camera hit me in the face...

See? Small changes.

 So let's all get up and walk and jump and eat dinner with our families and have a second helping of green beans instead of pie and maybe our hearts and bodies and lives will be just a little bit healthier and happier, right?
Photo credit:CocaCola Company and Bruce Powell Photography
Let's DO this! The group at The Chopping Block in Chicago.

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