Are you ready to step up your personal health and wellness efforts? MORE THAN 5,300 SCHOOL NUTRITION PROFESSIONALS have made a commitment to prioritizing their physical, mental and emotional health by participating in the STEPS Challenge. How about you? The innovative personal wellness program designed especially for SNA members and made available by SNA and Jennie-O Turkey Store is about to begin its third year. Whether you have adopted the small steps toward change all along, admit to procrastinating thus far or are just becoming aware of this dynamic opportunity, there’s never been a better time to steer your course toward success! Start by embracing the program’s key concepts, defined in the following five categories that comprise the STEPS acronym: set your goals. STEPS is a personal wellness program. What do you want to accomplish when it comes to feeling healthy, strong and happy? If you’re new to STEPS this year, you may want to focus on one area, such as simply making better dietary choices at mealtime. Are you a STEPS veteran? Consider how you can step up your efforts to a new level. Perhaps this is the year you commit to trying at least one unfamiliar food, exploring an exotic ethnic cuisine or prepping a brand-new recipe each month. track your progress. Studies show that tracking your efforts can have a significant impact as you work toward achieving your goals. Tracking keeps you accountable, motivates you as you make progress and offers areas of focus when you get stuck. For program newbies, STEPS offers simple tracking sheets to record your efforts toward each of the monthly challenges. STEPS vets may want to look into various online apps that are designed to help you take tracking to a higher level of detail and analysis. embrace new habits. Small steps can lead to big—and longterm— results! Whether you’re just getting started with STEPS or can’t wait to sign on for another year, as you repeat your new healthy habits over and over, they’ll become familiar and a part of your regular routine. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still other new ones to explore! Maybe this is the year you go beyond increasing the time you spend exercising and explore a brandnew activity or two! promote healthy eating. As school nutrition professionals, you are uniquely positioned to promote the values of healthy eating to students. As a STEPS participant, you can take that promotion to the next level by becoming a role model for students, as well as for coworkers and family members. Newbies may opt to simply let their actions speak for them. But STEPS “old-timers” should have some great success stories to tell! For example, you can display before/after weight-loss pictures, share your STEPS tracking sheets or organize a healthy eating challenge among your colleagues or family members. share your success. Remember: Participation in STEPS means you don’t have to face your wellness challenges alone. No matter how far along you are in your STEPS journey, remember that there are others who are encountering the same trials and triumphs—and who will be inspired by your story, as well! You are part of a special group of members who support each other, so be engaged in the “Share Success” page on the website. Smart Steps Forward For Year Three, SNA and Jennie-O have teamed up once again to provide you with a plethora of helpful tools and resources to make the most of the STEPS Challenge program. Designed to be completely customizable to your needs, interests and schedule, the program offers maximum flexibility. Visit www.schoolnutrition.org/ steps to download the official STEPS Toolkit, which features recipes and fitness ideas, along with a special tip sheet for directors featuring suggestions for providing a healthy work environment for employees. Overall, the STEPS webpage is your one-stop source for exploring specific program details, sharing success stories and more. How do you officially participate? It’s easy! Simply download and print out the monthly tracking sheet for your personal reference. This outlines the points you can earn as you work your way through each month’s healthy habit challenge. Once your monthly tracking sheet is complete, return to the website to upload your monthly tracking points online. If you earn 50+ points each month, you will be eligible to win fabulous wellness prizes for your participation! In addition, new for Year Three is the “Small Victories” online sweepstakes. Simply tell SNA how the STEPS Challenge has helped you to take strides forward toward your goals for a healthier lifestyle. Members who submit entries will be entered for a chance to win an exciting health-related prize. Stay tuned to www.schoolnutrition.org/steps this fall for details about how to participate in this sweepstakes. Rally the Troops Back again for another year is the STEPS “All-Star State” Challenge. The state associations that record the most members actively participating in STEPS will be honored at ANC 2015, and their participating members will be eligible for the 2014-15 Grand Prize drawing: an all-expenses-paid trip for the winner and one guest to attend ANC 2015 in Salt Lake City! Congratulations to the 2013-14 “All-Star States” from each SNA membership division! • School Nutrition Association of Ohio—winner in the 1,001+ division • Missouri School Nutrition Association— winner in the 501-1,000 division • School Nutrition Association of South Dakota—winner in the 1-500 division This year’s Grand Prize winner, April Eldridge, a cafeteria manager in Kettering (Ohio) City School District, was the recipient of Year Two’s all-expenses-paid trip to ANC 2014 in Boston. Will you be the winner next year? You must “step up” and participate—and encourage others in your state to do the same—in order to be eligible! Check out the state-related resources on the STEPS Challenge website for strategies on how to fire up enthusiasm. Some of last year’s participants offer secrets to their success. For example, to rally fellow operators in Ohio, Louise Easterly, SNS, supervisor of food and nutrition for Kettering (Ohio) City School District, recommends sending out mass e-mails on a regular basis, attaching the current month’s tracking sheet. “You can’t just assume that people will see STEPS advertised on the SNA website and [begin participating],” she asserts. A big believer in camaraderie as motivation, Easterly knows that encouragement at the state level can be a tipping point to start many members on their STEPS journey. Using a similar approach, Ann Hooper, area manager for Ascension Parish Public Schools, Donaldsonville, La., encouraged SNA members at the local level to take charge of their health. She offered individual incentives, selecting two monthly winners among participants throughout the district— one who earned the most points in the monthly challenge and the other who was drawn from all the participants of that month’s activity. Participating as part of a group was a personally satisfying experience for Hooper. As team leader, not only was she aware of trying to make a difference among her employees, but the monthly challenges “made me more accountable toward my lifestyle change,” she explains. “Our staff knows how important it is to be healthy and to eat the correct things to keep our bodies and minds healthy, but [the STEPS Challenge] seemed to keep us accountable to each other,” she reports. It doesn’t matter if you’ll be participating individually or as part of a group. It’s fine if you’re a new or veteran participant. Just get going! Sign up today to begin taking STEPS toward a healthier, happier you! TAKE THE STEPS CHALLENGE Sign up today at www.schoolnutrition.org/steps COUNT ME IN! Different themed monthly challenges are the core of the STEPS approach. Do them all, or select the ones most closely aligned with your personal wellness goals. Here’s the lineup for 2014. Check out the 2015 challenges at www.schoolnutrition.org/steps. August 2014: It’s Hot—Hydrate Daily! With cooler autumn days still many weeks away, make sure that you are sufficiently hydrated for on-the-go activities! While proper hydration is important every day of the year, it’s critical during the dog days of summer. September 2014: An Apple a Day Fruit can be a delicious and nutritious part of all meals and snacks. Give yourself one point for every fruit serving (all types, not just apples!) that you consume. October 2014: Get Walking Grab a friend or a canine companion or set out solo to get in the great—and free!—exercise that comes from a brisk walk. November 2014: Protein Packs a Punch Focus your nutrition efforts this month on choosing lean proteins instead of higher-fat alternatives. Consider foods like turkey, fish, chicken, beans and tofu. December 2014: Stress-Less Holidays The holidays can be a fairly stressful period, but carving out some “me” time is just what you need to get through this busy month. It can be as simple as reading a book or magazine, taking a weekend nap, watching a movie or going for a walk.
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