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Fit Family Challenge Blog

Fit Family Challenge Blog

Fit Family Challenge 2015 Blog #2
Debbie Petitpain, MS, RDN
We have a lot of it in our lives – from pressures at work, to the challenges of parenting , stress is something that never seems to let up. Kelly’s reaction to eating when she feels stressed is a common coping skill many of us rely on. 
The drive to “stress eat” or give into extreme cravings for sweet, salty or fatty foods, comes from the hormones that run rampant in our bodies when we’re stressed. Often, giving into those cravings end up making us feel worse, not better. 
You can break the habit of stress eating with just a few easy steps.
  1. Stop and count to three. Just like we teach our children to stop and count to 3 before throwing a fit, taking a “time-out” before making a food decision allows your body to process your stress hormones so you can make a decision in a calmer state. This could be as simple as taking 3 big breathes while you sit in the drive through line, to going for a quick walk before entering the cafeteria. In fact, taking a few breaks to get some fresh air or do a quick stretch can help you stay calm, creative and productive all day.
  2. Have food readily available. This may seem counter intuitive but if you have healthy choices in your fridge or cabinet or lunch bag, you can still have a choice of what’s for lunch but you can be guaranteed it’s between the choices you felt good about before you got stressed out. If that’s still too tempting, bring just one thing. Pack it the night or in the morning – whenever you feel more relaxed – so no matter how you’re feeling when you take your break, you already know “what’s for lunch”. This trick also works for dinner by either committing to a meal and doing the prep work for it before you get home at night or even preparing it all the day ahead of time so all you have to do is re-heat when you walk in the door. 
  3. Let it go. One bad meal will not undo all your efforts but try to learn from the experience. What was the trigger? How could you avoid it next time? What other food could you have had on hand? It’s not just kids who can learn from there mistakes!
Healthy foods to have in the office:
  • Keep in the fridge a bag of prewashed lettuce, grape tomatoes and carrot chips and some low fat dressing for a quick and easy salad.
  • Bring in a bag of apples or oranges or a bunch of bananas at the beginning of the week for a quick snack.
  • Microwavable containers of vegetable, tomato and lentil soup, pouches of tuna and canned fruit (canned in juice, not syrup) will store infinitely in your desk drawer. 
  • Keep a reusable cup full of water on your desk or have some extra bottled water, flavored seltzer water or unsweet tea on hand.
Welcome to the Fit Family Challenge!

My name is Dr. Susan Johnson and along with my colleagues Debbie Petitpain and Janis Newton, will be providing weekly blogs along with our spotlight families, the Kelleys and Goodwins to support all our efforts to become a more physically active, healthy community. As partners in the second annual South Carolina Fit Family Challenge, MUSC is providing resources to support families across our state create heathier habits together. We are excited about working with everyone over the next few months as we begin our journey towards a healthier life, as individuals and as a family. We have asked our spotlight families to start a family journal to help us with our coaching and to help them set some goals, track their progress and see successes. We encourage all Fit Family Challenge participants to do the same!
Good health is something that we all value - for ourselves, for our families, and for our communities. But we all know that it doesn’t come easy. My job as director of health promotion at MUSC is to create a healthy environment for over 12,000 employees, 3000 students, and the hundreds if not thousands of people who visit our campus each day.
To create a culture of wellness that helps people make better choices while they are at MUSC requires commitment and connection to what we value, collaboration and connection to our community, and leading by example.
Our role is similar in the Fit Family Challenge –
Our mission is to improve health and maximize quality of life for the people of SC and by partnering and supporting programs like this, we are demonstrating our commitment to what we value.
Our relationships with community partners will help us engage families to participate.
And finally, we know that as a healthcare institution and our state’s academic medical center, we need to lead by example when it comes to healthy lifestyles. As parents we also need to lead by example and help our children by being active and making healthy food choices as a family.
MUSC is proud to be a partner in the SC Fit Family Challenge and is ready to assist families across the Lowcountry create healthier lives. Together, we can create a healthier SC! 

Please join us in celebrating South Carolina families getting moving and participating in healthier lifestyles. Link to the press conference information to be held July 22, 2014.

Welcome to the final week of the Fit Family Challenge! I hope that you and your family have enjoyed participating in this campaign as much as I have with mine. As we wrap up an amazing 8 weeks of healthy family activities throughout our state, I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on my own experiences and provide some thoughts on how to continue building on our successes.

Back in May when I first signed up for the Fit Family Challenge, I remember being really impressed with the website and tracker. I really liked how easy it was to register myself and my daughters and how we could each log and track our own progress, not only around our daily activities but also focus on important health habits such as increasing our water intake, reducing screen time & making better food choices. These simple habits can have a huge impact on our overall health and having a daily reminder was really helpful. I also found that participating in the challenge made me very aware of the days that we were not active and realized how easy it is for work and school to get in the way of exercise and physical activity. Having a daily reminder helped keep us on track and even if it was just a walk around the block before bed, it gave us something to log on busy days when we hadn’t found the time to exercise.

My role as coach for the spotlight families and the process of blogging throughout the challenge has also helped increase my awareness of some of the challenges we all face as busy working parents. Something that came up in our initial meeting with one of our spotlight families that I can relate to as a single parent is the guilt we sometimes feel for not being or doing everything we can to create a healthy environment for our children. We all want the best for our families and good health should be at the top of our list, but easier said than done.  As with any change, connecting to what we value (our family), making a commitment (such as participating in a program like the Fit Family Challenge), and tracking progress (using a tool such as the FFC online tracker), can make it doable. Setting goals, taking small steps, and recognizing that occasional setbacks will happen but shouldn’t permanently derail us – are also helpful tools in the journey towards behavior change and creating a healthy lifestyle.

At MUSC, we’ve been working hard to create a culture of wellness that helps people make better choices while they are on our campus through a commitment and connection to what we value, collaboration and connection to our community, and leading by example. Similarly, as a family we should commit to a healthy lifestyle and understand the connection to what we value (each other), we should seek out and take advantage of community resources to help us on our journey and finally, as parents we need to lead by example and help our children by being active and making healthy food choices as a family. 

I sincerely hope that this experience has been as rewarding for your family as it has been for mine and I hope that the habits and activities you have participated in as a family will continue. Of all the possible outcomes of this program, it is my greatest hope that participating in this challenge has brought your family closer together and that you have created new memories while making good health a family priority. Best wishes for continued health and happiness – we hope to see you next year!


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