LONG-TIME SCHOOL NUTRITION READERS KNOW THAT WE SCHEDULE A PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT ISSUE ONCE A YEAR. Whether we’ve offered suggestions for increasing physical activity, highlighted the benefits of volunteering, explained the value of money management or explored mental health concerns, our goal has always been to help you be healthier and happier. One thing that holds many of us back from both health and happiness is being overweight. Setting aside body-shaming by others, the reality is that most of us don’t like the way we look or the way we feel when we carry around extra pounds, especially when the number of those pounds compromises our physical health. As school nutrition professionals charged with providing meals intended not only to fight hunger but to help youngsters develop an understanding and awareness of good nutrition, you know (better than most) all the reasons why we need to teach the next generation to guard against obesity. You know (better than most) the principles and components of well-balanced meals and the value of physical activity. Nonetheless, many of you struggle to consistently follow the advice you preach and teach to students. It’s estimated that more than one-third of all adult Americans have a serious weight problem. SN readers (and its writers) are well-represented in this statistic. So, here we are. Whether it’s the new year, a new week or a new day, let’s resolve to get serious. Let’s acknowledge that “talking” about nutrition may have become akin to white noise—we teach it all the time, but don’t really listen to what we’re saying, at least not when it comes to modifying our own behaviors. Let’s confront the dreaded “D” word and admit that we may need to diet. Let’s set a weight-loss goal, but remain mindful that we’re doing more than losing pounds—we’re attempting to kick-start efforts that will lead to sustainable lifestyle changes. SN selected the topics of the individual articles that follow very deliberately. You’ll find relatively little about the critical value of physical activity in weight loss and healthy weight management. Although we agree it is an essential strategy, we covered it in depth in January 2016, and with limited space in each issue, we wanted to focus more on eating this time around. In fact, we lament that space restrictions prevent us from diving as deep as we had intended; we’ll have to save articles on different measures of success, personal eating triggers, strategies for avoiding self-sabotage, using Internet tech, surgical strategies and inspirational SNA member success stories for future issues. In fact, all the stories that we left out of this issue are themselves evidence that weight loss is a complex topic. It’s emotional and it’s immensely personal. There are no simple strategies and no guarantees. With that in mind, SN kicks things off with five suggestions: » Resolve to do something concrete to address those extra pounds, but keep your initial goals and expectations modest. » Recognize that the articles in this magazine won’t have all the answers for your unique situation, but each is likely to have at least one takeaway tip that you can and will agree to try. » Use this issue as inspiration for getting started, but don’t let SN be your one and only resource. Pledge to do more reading and self-reflection to gain a better understanding about your personal weight struggles. This will help you discover the strategies that will work best for your individual needs and circumstances. » Check out the free, online STEPS Challenge Program, www.schoolnutrition.org/steps, the personal wellness program developed especially for SNA members, with generous support from Jennie-O Turkey Store. The website features helpful advice, tasty recipes, creative ideas and monthly challenges. The January challenge is focused on setting and following through on small, manageable wellness goals, while the February challenge encourages you to say “yes” to veggies. You can find needed motivation by being a part of a community experiencing similar trials and triumphs. » Refuse to let discouragement prevail. There will be bad days, and you will likely backslide from time to time in your efforts. But don’t give up. Your health and your happiness are worth the hard work!
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