By Shannon N. Goff 2015-12-22 04:40:41
It can be difficult and daunting to make staying in shape a priority, whether you’re an employee or manager who’s been running around a busy kitchen all day, a director struggling to keep a dozen balls in the air, a parent scurrying to pick the kids up from practice or just an exhausted human who can’t seem to keep track of the time. We at School Nutrition know this and certainly feel your pain. Therefore, we reached out to SNA members across the nation for some firsthand inspiration about how they meet fitness goals both on their own and with their coworkers, and their stories are sprinkled throughout the pages of this magazine. Nutrition Director Linette Dodson, PhD, RD, SNS, of Carrollton City (Ga.) School District noted wellness strategies that work both within her school nutrition operation and across departments district-wide. • The district’s Trojan Wellness program encourages district employees to track their mileage or minutes of exercise by using a monthly activity log. The annual reward is a commemorative T-shirt. • A number of school nutrition coworkers are members of local gyms. Dodson herself works out with a personal fitness trainer weekly and goes to the gym an additional four to five times a week. • To keep motivated, all of the central office staff members in the school nutrition department have personal fitness plans. This aligns to a department priority to encourage personal fitness throughout the team. It doesn’t hurt that Fitbits are provided as rewards to school nutrition employees to fuel participation. In Tennessee, Humphreys County School District School Nutrition Supervisor Kathie McClanahan, SNS, and her team make fitness a frequent hobby. Some highlights of their wellness journey include: • A “Be More” district-wide campaign, which encourages staff to “be more” when it comes to exercise, healthy eating, sleeping and relaxing. • The county’s “Marathon in a Month” program, which draws participation by a majority of the school nutrition staff. Everyone receives a free pedometer and aims to walk more than 26.2 miles over the course of a designated month to receive a medal. • Forming a T.O.P.S. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) group in one school lunchroom that meets weekly to encourage each other and walk together. Additionally, McClanahan uses a Fitbit to monitor her movement, aiming to walk 10,000 steps a day. She walks with a buddy and tries to instill the importance of exercise in her 4-and 6-year-old grandsons by having them ride their bikes while she walks. She also participates in a hot yoga class that is so “fun!” that she hates to miss the weekly sessions. Yvette Kagan, FN Manager II at the Central Kitchen operation of Clark County (Nev.) School District, knows the importance of staying active—but also staying hydrated. Throw out the notion that eight 8-oz. glasses of water is all you need, she says. According to the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board, women actually need 91 ounces each day and men need 125 ounces! “If nothing else, just think of all the exercise you’ll get ‘running’ to the restroom!” she exclaims. • Kagan’s Central Kitchen team has started an exercise group, the members of which make a point to walk in the parking lot during breaks. When there’s inclement weather, they walk inside the warehouse. • Every little bit helps! Kagan has the responsibility to open the building each morning, so she usually has her choice of parking spaces. She chooses to take the farthest spot from the door to get in as many extra steps as possible. Deanna House serves as the foodservice director and the wellness coordinator for Waynesville (Mo.) R-VI District, so she has to make sure her team stays moving! Some of her tactics include… • Hosting a wellness event for staff every month. In particular, the foodservice staff are always enthusiastic to participate in a Bowling Tournament! • Implementing a Mileage Club. Staff members track their walking or running in a journal from August to April, and whoever logs the most miles over this time period wins a $200 gift certificate to a resort on the Lake of the Ozarks. • Scheduling a celebratory 5K run/2-mile walk with her team to end the year-long Mileage Club competition. Donna Roy, SNS, school nutrition director for Pembroke (N.H.) School District, reports that teamwork definitely makes the fitness dream work! • On weekends, Roy and some of her crew members go to a local park, located just down the street from the district’s high school; it has a scenic 1-mile loop around a pond. They complete three loops around the pond, equaling a 5K, and then they go across the street to their favorite restaurant for a healthy lunch. • Roy’s team also loves to listen to the radio while they work. She often hears them singing and at times they can be seen line dancing for the kids. Roy exclaims it’s “fun and fitness all in one!” • Roy tries to schedule one 5K road race for herself each month. Knowing that a 5K is on her calendar encourages her to meet her daily and monthly goals. • She reads as many inspirational books as possible, insisting, “The more I read about health, the better I do.” • Along with taking regular walks with her team members, Roy also often visits her parents in a senior park, witnessing the effects of aging and becoming more mindful about taking better care of herself now to improve her chances for health down the road. Cathy Uzar, Food and Nutrition manager at Port Salerno Elementary in Stuart, Fla., spoke with us about how she and her peers take advantage of the great outdoors in the Sunshine State: • Uzar enjoys kayaking with her husband and friends on the weekend, allowing her to get outside and work her upper body while rowing. • One staff member loves to ride bicycles and walk with her children whenever possible, in addition to avidly using an elliptical machine. • A Pilates instructor comes to campus twice a week after school to instruct the whole team, and it has been very well received. It’s Uzar’s first experience with Pilates, and so far she loves it! Self-proclaimed fitness and wellness “addict” Chris Burkhardt, director of Child Nutrition and Wellness for Lakota (Ohio) Local School District, offers up a bounty of inspiration for those who think they’re too busy for fitness: • Many child nutrition staff members at Lakota will walk the perimeter of the parking lot after lunch service, during a break, until it’s time to get back to work. Some employees also utilize the track at their respective schools. • Burkhardt himself cycles about 6,000 miles a year and runs about 500 miles, in addition to kayaking, hiking, walking and enjoying sports like golf and tennis. • After work, Burkhardt always goes for a bike ride or a run, as he finds it helps to clear his mind after a busy day. He takes this time to strategize for the next day, mentally note a memo or contemplate hard decisions. • In the community, there is a local 5K/10K walk/run in early spring. About six weeks before the event, he and his team begin a walking challenge. All schools and offices compete against each other, which gives staff a friendly competition and helps to make the 5K less intimidating for first timers. Small prizes are given on a random basis to staff members who log their steps. In “deep South Texas,” Elia Esparza, Central Kitchen employee, and Imelda Palacios, Child Nutrition Program Director, for Pharr-San Juan-Alamo (Texas) Independent School District shared how their team stays fit: • They promote wellness with their walking group, the “Walk-AMOLIES.” • In the community, Esparza’s crew participates in walk-a-thons to share the importance of staying active with others. SNA Leaders: Encouraging Fitness Past SNA President Julia Bauscher, SNS, director of School and Community Nutrition Services for Jefferson (Ky.) County Public Schools, and current President Jean Ronnei, SNS, Chief Operations Officer for St. Paul (Minn.) Public Schools are on the record in leading the way on the fitness front: • Bauscher acknowledges that staying motivated can be difficult. She keeps an elliptical trainer in her office to make sure she squeezes in time for physical activity, but admits her exercising has become a little lax of late. “I used to exercise vigorously three to four times per week, now I spend only 20 minutes on my elliptical a few days a week,” she confesses. “I need to get motivated!” • Jean Ronnei has a tip Bauscher may find useful: Find a sport or activity that you loved as a child. For Ronnei, that’s biking. She contends there’s nothing better than being outside on a beautiful day doing what you love. • It’s also important to pick a time of day that really suits your habits and needs. Ronnei finds that, for her, early morning is the best time to exercise. “I find too many excuses at the end of a work day,” she notes. Ronnei preps ahead of time to make sure workout clothes and coffee are ready to go, bright and early. SNA Secretary/Treasurer, 2016 SNA Vice President candidate (page 67) and Oak Hills (Ohio) Local School District Food Service Director Linda Eichenberger, SNS, has been referred to as “the walking queen” by Bauscher. She gave us her rules on keeping active: • Exercising should be a part of your daily routine. Eichenberger says she no longer thinks about walking. “I just do it and it happens,” she insists. She attests that once you make a habit of including fitness regularly, as opposed to actively thinking about it as a chore, it all becomes a part of your “daily routine, just like brushing your teeth.” • Speaking of brushing teeth, Eichenberger demonstrates super-simple ways that she finds for making time to complete exercises. While using her toothbrush in the morning, she “may do squats or just stand on my toes.” If standing still throughout the day, she will slightly raise one foot off the ground which helps with balance and core-strengthening. • Eichenberger finds one of her biggest motivators to be her Fitbit. She monitors the number of steps, miles and stairs she treks daily, which helps her stay on track with goals. She also points out perhaps the most well-known and easily forgettable tip: Take the stairs! Skip the elevator or escalator whenever possible. • Walking during break time is a common theme among foodservice staff. Eichenberger refers to this as “adjustment time.” Not only does it allow you to get out of the building and into fresh air, but it aids in calming and relaxing your nerves and frazzled mind, which helps you conquer the remainder of the day. Gay Anderson, SNS, also a 2016 Vice President candidate for SNA’s Board of Directors (page 66) and Child Nutrition Director for Brandon Valley (S.D.) School District 49-2 shared some habits her team practices: • Brandon Valley Middle School staff have a weekly 15-minute training meeting. Each week, one of the employees shares a recommended stretch or exercise to occupy the last five minutes of that session. Anderson walked in on one of these recently and was so impressed the staff are doing this on heir own accord. • Last year, the team at Brandon Valley High School worked on eating properly and walking whenever they could on their breaks. A number of them lost a lot of weight “because of the camaraderie and encouragement” they’ve had along the way. • Several staff members also practice healthy habits outside of the workplace by going to swimming exercises together a couple of times per week.
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