MS Health and Wellbeing Newsletter
Resolution #1 - Don't Make Resolutions
As the year 2015 winds down in the midst of the holiday season, we have an ideal time to reflect upon the year that’s passed and the year to come. How’d it go for you this year? Did things turn out the way you thought they would? Did they turn out better or worse? Did you even have a goal for where you’d find yourself now?
Thanksgiving has come and gone and I hope you made a deliberate effort to express gratitude and realize everything you can be thankful for. If not, you should do so today and not wait another year. Holidays, year-end, and even birthdays provide nice demarcations throughout the year that in a way force us to stop, lift our heads up from our daily tasks, and see the bigger picture. The end of the year certainly seems to do it more for most folks than any other time.
When we re-launched the health and wellness committee, our first survey asked if you made resolutions and, if so, if you’d stuck with them through May. Research shows that most resolutions are broken in the first few months of the year, and almost all have given up by the summer. You can resolve to stick to your resolutions by following a few easy steps.
When it comes to actually making a resolution, state it as you would any goal by making it SMART: Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Believe it or not, above all else, focus on making your goals attainable and realistic. While it’s great to shoot for the stars, you’ll become discouraged quickly when you assess your progress toward a goal that is too ambitious. You’ll also be discouraged if you call them resolutions. Much like the word “diet”, “resolution” has this connotation associated with it that implies “can-be-broken”. So set yourself some new year’s goals.
Ambitious goals are admirable and if you have such goals in mind, break them down into smaller goals that you can attain more easily. By doing so, you’ll celebrate accomplishments frequently each time you reach a sub-goal rather than one time when you reach your primary goal. So promise yourself you’ll run the New York Marathon in November, but sprinkle milestones between now and then to stay motivated and avoid injury!
Once you’ve set weekly or monthly mileage goals, increase your chances of success by involving other people in your quest. Get a running partner and keep each other committed, tell someone or lots of someones about your goal, create incentives for yourself to help you make progress, create disincentives for yourself if you’re motivated by loss-avoidance. There are lots of studies that show that people prefer to avoid a big loss than to get a big gain. You know better than I what motivates you, so pick something that works.
Regardless of your motivation style, it will help a lot if you write your resolutions on paper. You don’t need to show them to anybody, but writing things down make them much more real than merely thinking about them. To be successful though, you must take action – today. Tasks without dates don’t get done. Starting today, make any incremental step toward your goal. Write your progress down alongside your goals and celebrate the mini-victories!
If it happens to be external motivation that you need, but you don’t have anyone to turn to, reach out to a health and wellness committee member and we’ll support you in whatever goal you set for yourself. If you’d like, we’ll publish your goal anonymously or not in the newsletter so everyone knows the commitment you’ve made. Peer pressure can also be highly motivating, especially at a positive workplace like Capco.
2015 is fading fast and you needn’t dwell on what you didn’t achieve. Re-focus for 2016 and treat yourself to the greatness you deserve!
New York City Marathon
$38,956 raised for charity. 10 Capcoite runners. 26.2 miles. 1 amazing day! Capco’s NYC marathon team finished! Back in April, ten Capcoites decided to sign up to run in the 2015 TCS NYC Marathon. The Capco team had the choice between two different charities: Fred’s Team or Team for Kids. Both charities are great organizations that raise money for excellent causes. Capco decided to go with Fred’s Team, a charity that raises money in support of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). All of the money raised goes towards cancer research and care. Each runner had to commit to raising $3,500 for the charity to secure their place in the race. Capco raised nearly $39,000 for the charity as a team which will directly impact the fight against cancer.
When I first signed up for the marathon I was worried about raising $3,500. Over the next several months I did everything I could to reach that goal and I was eventually able to raise enough. However, the hardest part over the summer months was getting ready for the marathon. I kept putting off training and finally September rolled around and I still hadn’t started running long distances. Not the best way to prep for your first marathon! I started running more, going for short runs during the week and long runs on the weekends. I slowly increased my longer runs from 10 miles to 13 miles to 17 miles. The longest I ran before the actual race was 17 miles. If you talk to any marathon runner, they'll say you should hit at least 20. I had given up drinking for the entire month of October. I had been eating somewhat healthier than usual. However, even with this preparation, going into race day I was nervous.
I started my marathon on November 1 and I felt amazing. It was a perfect day to run. The sky was overcast, it was cool and crisp outside, and the atmosphere was electric. Fans were out in droves to support the thousands of runners. As we crossed the Verrazano Bridge my adrenaline was racing. I started off at a great pace and felt fantastic. However, as the miles ticked by I started to tire. My knees started aching and my body started to feel the soreness that comes from the continuous pounding of running. Then, around mile 17, almost the exact distance I’d trained to, my quads seized up. I could see the muscles twitching with exhaustion and I had to stop and stretch them out. The rest of the race was a constant struggle of walking, stretching, and jogging.
Somehow I managed to keep moving forward and eventually I found myself in Central Park coming down the home stretch. With all of the energy from the spectators and other runners I was able to run the last two miles and finally cross the finish line! Crossing the finish line was amazing. I had actually done it; my first marathon. I was exhausted but I was done. In that one moment all of the hard work and preparation was paid off. I don’t think there will be another marathon for me anytime in the near future but I had set a goal and I met it! There is no greater feeling in life.
Five Ways to Achieve Your Fitness Goals in 2016
by Chris Giannetto
1. Set a SMART goal
The SMART acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. In a previous article, we mentioned how more general goals such as “I want to lose fat” are a good start but it would be even better to say “I want to lose 15 lbs of fat by May at about 1 lb of fat per week”. This goal fits the SMART system and will be easier to track progress as time progresses. Be sure to write your goal somewhere to make it more serious.
2. Create a plan
Now that we have our SMART goal defined, we need a plan of action to achieve it. Taking the goal above as an example our plan will need to cover two major points, nutrition and exercise. For the nutrition piece, it would be best to start with an online calorie calculator to find out how many calories you will need each day to lose 1 pound every week. Once you know that number you will need to put a nutrition plan in place that will have you eating roughly that number of calories daily. Of course that’s only half the battle, next up comes exercise. Ultimately weight gain/loss is a factor of calories in vs calories out, exercise will help us eat more (which is ironically always the better way to lose fat) and still remain in a caloric deficit. Start with a SMART sounding goal for exercise like “Every Monday/Wednesday/Friday I will do 30 minutes of cardio exercise on my favorite machine”. This makes it easier to stick to the plan than just saying “I’ll go to the gym 3 times per week”. What will you do when you get there? Worse yet, it’s very easy to turn that into “I’ll go tomorrow”. We have all been there, tomorrow never comes.
3. Make it a priority
Every year starts with the best intentions. I always feel a renewed sense of time. A lot can happen in a year and I can accomplish so much. Come December I’m usually halfway there, I’ve attained some things and fallen short on others. A year doesn’t seem so long in hindsight and now I’m back to planning for next year. The thing that frustrates me most about my unattained goals is that I essentially told myself “that thing you want to do isn’t a priority”. I definitely had the time to work towards it, but I didn’t plan well enough and therefore had nothing to measure against. It became too easy to push working on that goal to tomorrow, and now the year has passed by and I have an unreached goal. Time is precious for all of us, in an increasingly busy and connected world it feels like there is less and less time to go around. This is of course not true, we all have the same 24 hours to work with. Getting to the gym even for a half hour can be tough, but if we have a well-planned goal that we make a priority, those 30 minutes won’t seem so elusive next year.
4. Don’t be afraid to revise the plan
The human body has a remarkable ability to adapt to a large variety of stresses placed upon it. Unfortunately this makes attaining fitness related goals more difficult. What worked wonders at first eventually only works a little, and then frustratingly not at all. Don’t let this demoralize you! Ultimately it means you’ve done everything right, but now you just have to switch things up a bit. This is where a nutrition strategy like carb cycling could come in. Or for exercise, maybe you could add a Saturday or Sunday cardio session, or turn one of your Mon/Wed/Fri sessions into a more dynamic high intensity workout. Mix things up, but keep measuring progress! If you notice your fat loss continues then you know your revisions were successful, if not, that just means to keep revising! Remember, just because the plan needed to be tweaked it doesn’t mean it was a bad plan! This is exactly how it’s supposed to work.
5. Find creative ways to reward progress
Reaching a goal is a reward in and of itself, but the road to doing so can certainly feel long and insurmountable at times. Every now and then, it’s good to reward the little things. The small week to week progressions that ultimately adds up to the goal itself. Most people turn to eating their favorite junk foods when it comes to rewarding a successful diet plan. This certainly can work, but far too often people overdo it and undo all of the progress they have been working weeks to attain (this can happen in as little as a single sitting). Maybe you or a loved one has a birthday early in the year, you can say “if I can lose 10 of my 15 lbs of fat by then, I’ll have a piece of cake to celebrate”. One reasonably portioned piece would be a great reward, but remember a reward for good nutrition doesn’t have to be food related! You could go shopping for something you’ve wanted or take a day off from the gym and do something special to celebrate. The possibilities are only limited by what you actually enjoy doing! Be creative in 2016 and find new and fun ways to reward your progress and you’ll be smashing through your fitness goals in no time.
Holiday Weight Gain
by Todd DeStaebler
Did you have a good Thanksgiving break? Did you give thanks for everything worthy of gratitude? Did you feast and consume too much of the bountiful harvest? I did all of the above, including that last one. If you did too, you're not alone, and you certainly don't want to get down on yourself.
When it comes to statistics regarding holiday weight gain, the numbers are wide-ranging, but the consensus is clear: many of us gain weight at the end of each year. I've seen numbers from as low as 1 pound to as many as 10 pounds. One spooky study said we gain one pound and never lose it again!
Me, I see two things: I gained weight and have to lose it and I really enjoyed gaining it! If there's such a thing as positive weight gain, this is one of them. A relaxing day laughing and sharing good times and good food with good people. Especially the fantastic selection of pies! It's not often that we have pie for dessert, so this was a special day, indeed. Negative weight gain, by contrast, would be if I turn to food to deal with my problems or if I drink too many empty calories.
So join me as I revert back to the norm thankful that I am in control of my body and mind.
The Simplest Way to Save Money
Just write it down. Keep a money journal for one month. Writing down any goals, habits, and activities will automatically improve whatever it is you're tracking - with no extra effort required. Why? By making yourself aware of your day-to-day activities, you'll live more mindfully knowing that you're going to write down what you're about to do. This works great for eating, time management, sleeping, exercise, weight loss, media consumption, or anything you want to do more of or less of.
Keep a simple log of all of your daily spending to the penny. No rounding off, no estimating, no cheating, no judging. After about a week or two, you'll see categories of spending emerge that will give you a hint about the analysis to come. I'm sure you can guess the categories right now, but that's not the issue. By writing everything down, you eliminate the perceptions you have about your spending and replace them with the realities of your spending.
Writing is a powerful tool. We mentioned it in the resolutions articles above. The medium doesn't matter. You can use pen and paper, a word doc or spreadsheet, a memo on your phone or an app. As long as you capture every penny, you'll gain an accurate portrait of your cash flow. You'll likely spend less than you did last month when you weren't keeping track, but we won't know for sure. Once you have your data at month-end, the decision to make any changes or not is entirely up to you. It's not our place to wag our fingers and tell you what you should and shouldn't do with your money, but we'll gladly offer tips and suggestions to help you meet any goals you write down for yourself.
Health and Wellbeing Survey Results
Watch for detailed analyses and trends from your responses in an upcoming issue of the newsletter. For now, read on to see how you stack up against your colleagues.
On a scale of 1-to-10, here are the average scores and modes (most frequently occurring scores) for each survey question:
Your overall health: Average = 6.93, Mode = 7
Stress level today: Average = 5.07, Mode = 4
Stress past 3 mos: Average = 6.00, Mode = 7
Physical activity: Average = 6.31, Mode = 7
Sleeping habits: Average = 5.24, Mode = 4
Overall happiness: Average = 7.07, Mode = 7
Work-life balance: Average = 6.29, Mode = 5
Capco's W-L bal: Average = 5.76, Mode = 8
Your productivity: Average = 7.62, Mode = 8
Your performance: Average = 7.86, Mode = 9
Time management: Average = 7.17, Mode = 7