Step up and enjoy the benefits of good physical, mental and emotional health! LAST YEAR, MORE THAN 3,500 SNA MEMBERS MADE A COMMITMENT TO STEPPING UP THEIR EFFORTS TO PRIORITIZE THEIR PERSONAL HEALTH AND OVERALL WELLNESS. They took advantage of the many resources available through the STEPS Challenge program from SNA and Jennie-O Turkey Store. The success stories that these empowered school nutrition professionals have shared over the course of the past 12 months and at SNA’s Annual National Conference (ANC) in Kansas City, Mo., last month are inspiring! As the STEPS Challenge begins , year two are you ready to step forward and commit to your own well-being? Free to SNA national members, the STEPS Challenge has been developed especially for school nutrition professionals. Designed to be completely customizable to your needs, interests and schedule, the program offers maximum flexibility. The STEPS acronym says it all: • Set your goals. STEPS is a personal wellness program. What do you want to tackle in your own health and wellness efforts? Do you want to lose weight? Move more? Make better nutrition choices? Quit smoking? Waste less time in front of the television? Improve your healthy cooking techniques? Follow through on regular health screenings? In this program, you set the goal(s) that you want to achieve. • Track your progress. Studies show that tracking your efforts can make a significant difference in achieving your goals. Tracking keeps you accountable—and when you see the progress you’re making, it can give you more resolve to stay the course. • Embrace new habits. Small steps can lead to major changes! We each need to make a commitment to break old, self-destructive routines and embrace new behaviors by doing them over and over until they become familiar and comfortable. Whether it’s learning to reduce the portion of pasta you put on your dinner plate or building up muscles to walk a mile or more, it will take time. • Promote healthy eating. The STEPS Challenge was designed for school nutrition professionals precisely because you are in the business of promoting healthy food choices to children. One of the best ways that you can do this is by practicing what you preach and becoming a better role model. Show your customers just how much you value your own health and well-being and understand the value of making nutritious food decisions. • Share your success. You have the power to inspire your family, coworkers and friends to make their own healthy changes. You also have the power to inspire thousands of complete strangers! We’re all in this together—and we are stronger and more capable when we can learn from one another’s trials and triumphs. Once again, SNA and Jennie-O have teamed up to provide you with many helpful tools and resources. Visit www. schoolnutrition.org/steps to download the official STEPS toolkit featuring 20+ healthy recipes, fun fitness ideas, tips for getting energized and more. The website also is your go-to source for finding program details, sharing success stories, accessing links to helpful information from the American Heart Association and MyPlate. gov and much more. Intrigued? Participation Is Easy Simply download and print out the monthly tracking sheet, which outlines the points you can earn for following through on the month’s healthy habit challenge. A new feature added for this year is an easy online upload of your monthly tracking points (faxing these to SNA Headquarters also remains an option). Earn 50+ points each month, and you will be eligible to win prizes for your participation! These range from cookbooks and fitness tools to gift cards and spa certificates. Also new this year is an “All-Star State” Challenge. The state affiliates that record the most members actively participating in STEPS will be honored at ANC 2014, and their participating members will be eligible for the 2013-14 Grand Prize drawing: an all-expenses-paid trip for the winner and a guest to attend ANC 2014 in Boston! Small Steps, Giant Rewards One reason that SNA member Donna Roy, SNS, director of nutrition services, Pembroke (N.H.) School District, likes the STEPS Challenge program is that it provides all the information she needs to make changes through one resource. Doing a Google search on “weight loss,” Roy was inundated by more than 460,000 results, with similar findings for “nutrition” and “exercise tips.” That’s information overload, she notes. In addition to participating in STEPS, Roy joined Weight Watchers and Planet Fitness, and her efforts have paid off in a 50+-lb. weight loss and an improved outlook about healthy eating and activity. Two of her managers, Denise Nedeau and Robin Broadbent, also made STEPS a part of their successful wellness journeys, using the program to motivate themselves to “lifelong changes that lead to better health—even if you have a busy schedule,” reports Roy. “Teamwork is not only effective in managing our school nutrition program each day, but teamwork is also an important piece in helping each other join forces and encourage one another to stay focused on our personal goals,” notes Roy. “We are now ‘walking the walk’ and demonstrating to our students how better choices lead to better results.” What are you waiting for? Sign up today and find yourself taking those initial STEPS to a healthier, happier you! MONTH BY MONTH Different themed monthly challenges are the heart of the STEPS Challenge approach. Do them all or pick and choose the ones that will help you to develop new habits that put you closer to your personal wellness goals. Take a look at the lineup for 2013-14: August 2013: Walk This Way Whether you do it solo, with a friend (or with your canine companion), walking is great exercise that is simple, free—and effective! Consider using a pedometer to track your miles and steps, but this month’s challenge simply asks you to track the amount of time you spend walking. September 2013: Fruit Frenzy Fruit can be a delicious part of all meals and snacks. Give yourself points for every fruit serving (1⁄2 cup) that you consume. October 2013: Fall for Fitness Crisp, fall weather is ideal for outdoor exercise—but indoor activities count, too! From hiking and biking to hitting the gym or an exercise class, give yourself points for the time you spend moving and getting your heart rate up. November 2013: Healthy Hydration Hydrate sensibly and choose low-sugar, low-calorie beverages like water, unsweetened tea, seltzer or 100% fruit juice. Indeed, consuming plenty of water every day will help keep your organs functioning properly and your skin looking great. It even helps in weight loss efforts! December 2013: Take a Time-Out Last year’s STEPS participants reported that managing holiday stress was one of the hardest challenges of the entire year! But finding some “me” time is essential to getting through this busy month. Award yourself points each time you take a 20-minute (minimum) break for a simple, nurturing activity. January 2014: Hit 30 Minutes Kick off the new year by making exercise a top priority this month—sand for the next 11, as well! Squeeze in a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise at least three times each week. February 2014: Veg Out Every Day MyPlate recommends eating 2 to 21⁄2 cups of vegetables every day—are you even close to hitting your target? This is the month to try to develop new habits—and you’ll get extra points for choosing servings of dark, leafy greens! March 2014: Take Time for Breakfast March 3-7, 2014, is National School Breakfast Week. Practice what you preach by making breakfast a priority throughout the entire month. (Did you know that people who skip breakfast are 75% more likely to struggle with their weight?) April 2014: Power Up With Protein Protein is a healthy part of any diet—as long as you choose lowfat options. This month, make it a point to try some new recipes that put healthier protein items at the center of your plate. May 2014: Spread the Love Making the time and effort to connect with others makes them feel good—and you, too! Volunteer for a meaningful cause or project, call up a long-lost friend or relative or express your appreciation for family and coworkers. Your simple steps may encourage them to pay it forward, as well.
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