Spring brings a lighter campus

February 17, 2012 Feature Print Print
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OCCC is looking a little slimmer.

More than 200 students, faculty and staff members lost 283 pounds over the course of Healthier Me at OCCC, the college’s first campuswide fitness challenge.

In the past 17 weeks, contestants sweated it out by working out in the gym, joining exercise classes, and attending lunch-and-learn sessions to gain wellness knowledge, said Marlene Shugart, Health and Fitness specialist.

The results were “extremely satisfying,” Shugart said.

Although the college has held faculty-focused weight loss challenges in the past, she said, Healthier Me at OCCC was the first to not only offer students a chance to get involved, but also the first to push a healthier life as well as a healthier waistline.

“We didn’t want to focus purely on weight loss,” Shugart said. “We wanted to get people’s lives healthier.”

Healthier eating just steps away

1. Check your food ’tude

What we eat and how we feel are linked in very complex ways. A healthy approach to eating is centered on savoring flavor, eating to satisfaction and increasing energy, rather than focusing on weight. Check your balance of low-calorie foods, nutrient-dense foods (providing many nutrients per calorie), and foods that are calorie dense but nutrient poor. Most Americans need to eat more fresh whole foods (in contrast to processed, highly refined foods). Try to add more whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and legumes into your meals. Pair these carbohydrate-rich foods with a healthy fat or lean protein to extend satisfaction.

 

2. Eat like a kid

If adding more fruits and vegetables sounds ominous, look to “finger food” versions that preschool kids love — carrot and celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, broccoli florets, grapes, berries and dried fruits. All are nutritional powerhouses packed with antioxidants.

 

3. Be a picky eater

Limit saturated fats and trans fats, and aim to eat more foods rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids to cut your risk of cardiovascular disease and maybe even improve depressed moods. Adding up to 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed and eating meat, milk and cheese from grass-fed animals will provide you with a healthy dose of omega-3s.

 

4. Use foods over supplements

Supplements are not a substitute for a good diet. Although many health experts recommend taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement that provides 100 to 200 percent of your recommended daily value, each and every supplement should be carefully evaluated for purity and safety. Specific supplements have been associated with toxicity, reactions with medications, competition with other nutrients, and even increased risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

 

5. Get satisfaction

Both eating and physical activity are fun, sensory experiences. In both, aim for pleasure — not pain. Pay attention to the nutritional value of the foods you choose to eat, as well as your sense of satisfaction, relaxation, tension, exhilaration and fatigue when you eat. Check in with yourself as you eat, rekindling your recognition of hunger, fullness and satisfaction when considering when and how much to eat.

 

—Courtesy life.gaiam.com

Because of that, she said, Healthier Me participants competed for the chance to win prizes in two categories: overall weight loss and overall participation.

The award for weight loss went to English Professor Stephen Morrow, who lost 18 pounds — about 9 percent of his starting weight — during the challenge.

Shugart said contestants earned entries for the participation award by working out, participating in fitness classes like Zumba, weighing in weekly and answering email questions.

That award went to another English professor, Tonya Kymes, whose name was entered a total of 72 times.

Both were presented $100 Wal-mart gift cards from Human Resources Vice President Gary Lombard during the recent Health and Wellness Fair in the College Union.

And although Healthier Me has ended, students and staff members will have plenty of time to get fit beginning Feb. 20 with the Grand Slam Wellness Challenge.

Recreation and Fitness Assistant Jenny Kellbach said unlike Healthier Me at OCCC, the Grand Slam Wellness Challenge is focused entirely on creating — and maintaining — a healthy lifestyle.

“For some strange reason, people were turned off by weigh-ins every week,” Kellbach said with a laugh.

As its name implies, the Grand Slam carries with it a baseball theme.

Rather than participating individually, she said, partakers sign up in teams of four that can consist of any combination of students, faculty and staff members, and friends and family members over 16.

Kellbach said every week, teams will be given a bingo-like score card with challenges like “swim for 20 minutes” and “order steamed vegetables instead of French fries” printed on them.

Points given from completing the activities — which will increase in difficulty each week — will contribute to the team’s averages, she said.

When the challenge ends April 27, Kellbach said, the two teams with the highest averages will compete in a wiffle ball tournament to win a “really big” trophy and possibly other prizes, like Oklahoma City RedHawks tickets.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” she said.

“We hope a lot of people will participate.”

For more information or to sign up for the OCCC Grand Slam Wellness Challenge, stop by the Recreation and Fitness Center just north of the General Dining area, or contact Jenny Kellbach by calling 405-682-7860 or emailing her at jkellbach@occc.edu.

To contact Whitney Knight, email onlineeditor@occc.edu.

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