Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kelli’s Wellness Challenge

I’ve been thinking about how I can contribute to the good of society while being a stay-at-home mom.  I know my first and foremost responsibility is to love, nurture, and teach my children – and I am so grateful for that role.  But I also think there are a lot of things I can do in our community.  I don’t know if I’ll go back and teach full time when my kids are all in school.  I absolutely loved it and miss it, so we’ll see…that’s another topic.  Recently I’ve come up with a great idea that I could totally do and would love to do.

Let me preface, at Nebo School District in Utah, where I taught for two years, they had a program called the “Healthy Lifestyle Challenge”.  All of the employees had a monthly wellness challenge (I believe they had a program for the students as well).  The challenges included things like:

  • Stop drinking sugary drinks like soda and other juices
  • Replace half of your grains with whole grains
  • Think positively
  • Exercise 30 minutes a day for at least 4 days each week
  • Etc

You were also rewarded if you continued with each goal after just one month.  The goals were not just directed at improving your physical health, but also your emotional wellbeing. 

It was totally voluntary, but if you were compliant with the month’s challenge you were put in the drawing for a pair of new running shoes and were given other rewards.  We were given water bottles, running shirts, pedometers, and a book called “The Culprit and the Cure ”.  I’m in the middle of this book right now and would highly recommend reading it.  It talks about how our lifestyle is the culprit behind America’s poor health and how transforming that lifestyle can be the cure.



So anyway, back to my big idea.  I loved that our school district had this wellness program for us and I think all employers should consider something similar.  If your employees make changes toward a better lifestyle, employer’s insurance costs go down, employees are happier, and everything is better.  So my plan is that where ever we eventually settle down and start working (in like many, many years), I am going to volunteer to start a wellness program at either the local school district or maybe the hospital or where ever Jared works.  I could totally get donations for prizes and maybe organize a 5K race at the end of each year.  I can see it now.  It’ll be great!

Meanwhile, I have many years until we settle down, so I’ve decided that I’m going to start a wellness challenge on my blog!  I hope that you will join me! Each month I will post a new challenge.  Who knows, if I have enough participants, I will totally see if I can find donations for those of you who participate. 

While I’ve been reading “The Culprit and the Cure” I just keep thinking about how improving our health just takes little changes that make a big difference.  You don’t have to run a marathon to be in shape.  Research shows that 30-40 minutes of brisk walking can greatly improve your health if you were previously sedentary.  Every little bit helps!  In recent years, my mom started exercising every day.  She started out doing exercise videos and walking.  I remember her telling me one day, that her goal was to run one time around the track on the treadmill without walking.  Now she runs 3 miles a day.  I am so grateful for her example and also that she is working so hard because I know how beneficial exercise is and I want her to be around forever.  Let’s take the challenge and make a change toward a healthier lifestyle.

Watch for my first challenge and join with me!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Baby Dress

I made this simple little summer dress for my 10 month old the other day.  It’s a fun, easy pattern.  I got the idea from my friend Melanie and you can see the original pattern here.

I was going to add a little strip of the white and pink polka dot material at the bottom, but I didn’t want to make it too long yet, since it’ll get in the way while she is crawling.  Won’t it be cute with a little onesie on underneath? 


Peek a Boo Pouch

I don’t know what these are really called, maybe a “peek a boo pouch”, “hide and seek sack”, I have no idea.  I made both of those up.  Whatever it’s called, it’s a cute, little toy.


Here’s how you make it.  I didn’t take pictures as I sewed it because I just made it up as I went along, but hopefully you’ll get the idea.


  • Material
  • Thick plastic (like from the packaging of a toy or sheets)
  • Rice
  • Random small objects to search for in the pouch

First, pick some  material and cut it into a rectangle.  You want to be able to fold it in half and make a square.  Or you can cut two matching squares, one for the top and one for the bottom.

Cut a window in the fabric.  You may want to use felt or some other non-fray material.  Otherwise you’ll want to fold the edges of the window and sew them so it won’t fray.


Then find a piece of thick plastic for the window.  Cut the plastic to match the window size.  I save the little bags that toys come in, like this one to use for the plastic.


The plastic I used for this pouch came from a crib sheet package.

Sew the plastic into the window using a zigzag stitch.  Now fold the rectangle in half to make the pouch.


Sew the pouch right-side-in and don’t sew all the way around!  Leave a little two or three in hole so you can turn the pouch right-side-out and then fill it with the goodies.

Pick some small objects for the pouch and take a picture of them before you put them in.  Here are the things for my pouch.  I got a little bag of buttons from Michaels and it had these random things in it too. 

DSC_0032 You’ll want to print the picture of the objects so the child knows what to look for.  You can even laminate the picture and let the kid use a dry erase marker to check off the objects he or she has found.

Finally, put the objects in the bag and fill the rest of the space with rice.  You can hand stitch the hole closed or I used a sewing machine to close the hole.

And here’s the final project.  It’s great for church or other quiet times.  The kids use the picture to help them search for each object in the pouch.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Private Blog Update

I put a new post up on our private blog

Braided Sandwich Loaf

Tonight we had a delicious dinner I found on http://jamiecooksitup.blogspot.com.  I really like her cooking blog.  We had the braided sandwich loaf.  You can check out her blog for full details on how to make it and pictures.  I really enjoyed it.  The dough makes enough for two loaves.  So I made one with sliced turkey and cheese and the second with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and sugar.  It was nice, we had dinner and dessert all in one. 

Here are my pictures.  My loafs aren’t as beautiful as the ones on Jamie’s blog because I skipped the egg mixture on top that makes them brown and pretty, but they were still delicious.


The cinnamon dessert braid.  Mmm mmm.


The possibilities with this braided loaf are endless.  Here are some other fillings I’d like to try:

  • Pepperoni, cheese, banana pepper, and olives
  • Cream cheese and jam
  • Sliced deli roast beef and provolone with a little garlic salt
  • Butter, cinnamon, sugar, brown sugar, and mini marshmallows

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Check List to a Better Me

I recently realized that I’ve been slacking in areas that are most important in my life.  I’ve set various goals to improve, but I often don’t follow them the way I planned to.  So a few weeks ago I made a little chart for each month.  For some reason the chart has really helped me get things done every day.  Maybe it’s because I have it hanging on the wall and I know Jared can see it, so I don’t want him to see when I miss a day – not the best reason to do it,  but whatever the reason, I’ve been a lot better.   Here’s what the checklist on my wall looks like

My Checklist to a Better Me








Ran 1 mile and rock climbed














Kelli’s Health Plan

Dear Obama, I have a new health care bill for you. 

You can qualify for my government aided health insurance if you meet these three simple criteria:

  1. You do not smoke
  2. You exercise for 30 minutes 5 days a week
  3. You are within your healthy BMI range (which will be improved by my BMI technician people – because right now, I don’t think it’s as accurate as it could be)

I also have a little proposal for how we will pay for this new health care plan.  In West Virginia they have what is called the “Pop Tax”.  It is a one cent tax on soda pop.  This is a small tax that is not noticed by consumers but ends up bringing in millions of dollars to the state every year.  West Virginia University has many buildings that have been built completely with the funds from the Pop Tax.  Think what we could do if there was a one cent tax on junk food, pop, and cigarettes?  These are the main causes for so many of our health problems.  They should be responsible for paying for the problems.  In fact, yesterday I read an article that totally supported my idea.

It said, “Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote a commentary calling for taxes on sugary drinks and junk food, zoning restrictions on fast-food outlets around schools and bans on advertising unhealthy food to children.”

Brilliant.  While I was teaching junior high I was surprised to learn how many of my students spent their “lunch money” on pop and a candybar.  Nutritional value = zero.  We should be giving our kids better options.


Read the following article, written by yours truly, to learn more about my health plan.

I can tell you this: most of the problems with the health of the American people is our own individual fault.  We have got to be willing to make some changes. 

You can see in the graph below that 50% of deaths after infancy are the result of our lifestyles.



According to Dr. Delos Cosgrove, the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, “Three things -- smoking, diet, and lack of exercise -- cause 40% of premature deaths in the U.S. They contribute to 70% of the chronic diseases, things like emphysema and heart disease. And that's 75% of the cost of health care. It's huge!”  And those are all things WE can change.

So I want to talk about those three lifestyle factors: smoking, diet, and exercise – the three things that will qualify you for my health insurance.


Check out this chart from Jared’s medical school lecture.  The top two contributors to premature death are tobacco and physical inactivity/diet.  The crazy thing is these are two things that are easily in our control!

Leading causes of premature death

This article from cnn.money.com is really interesting.  You should check it out.  This hospital, the Cleveland Clinic, in Ohio no longer hires smokers.  They do a nicotine test along with the other drug tests.  This hospital also offers free smoking cessation classes.  Their CEO, Dr. Cosgrove (mentioned above), is a former surgeon and knows the dangers of smoking.  If we are to improve the health of our community, it has to start with the health care providers.

This picture below is of two identical twins in their mid fifties.  The twin on the left was never a smoker and was not exposed to second-hand smoke.  The twin on the right has a 5 year history of smoking (only 5 years!).  But look at what smoking does to your skin.  Not only does smoking make you look worse, it shortens your life by around 10 years.

Smoker vs. Non-smoker

In the picture below, the identical twin on the left lived in Florida and smoked, while her twin on the right lived in Minnesota and did not smoke.


I won’t put any pictures of the nasty cancers you can get from smoking because hopefully we all know how bad it is for us.


Dr. Cosgrove stated that “[Obesity] accounts for 10% of the cost of health care in the U.S. -- we will never be able to control the cost of health care until we begin to control the epidemic of obesity. Two-thirds of the U.S. is overweight, and one-third is obese. We are the fattest nation in the world. Our rate of obesity is going up so much that probably half the U.S. will be obese in the next 20 years.”

The Cleveland Clinic mentioned above has taken out all trans fats from their cafeteria.  They took all the fryers out of the kitchen.  They got rid of candy bars and pop from the vending machines.  Next they gave their employees free Curves memberships, access to their hospital gyms, and pedometers.  In the first year they lost 120,000 pounds as a whole.  In Utah, Nebo School District also worked to improve the health of their employees.  They  had health challenges each month and if we met the challenge we were given rewards and put in the drawing for a pair of running shoes.  If every employer would offer things similar to this, their insurance costs would go down because their employees would be healthier.


Now on to diabetes.  We all know that there are two types of diabetes:

In one of Jared’s classes he was shown some data from a test that showed if people with Type 2 diabetes exercised 30 minutes daily for just one week, it brought their diabetes under control just as well as medication would.  According to this article and also this article (and many others), people who are borderline diabetes can greatly reduce their chances of becoming diabetic through regular exercise and weight loss.

The problem is, people aren’t motivated to exercise, they don’t want to change their lives.  They want the cure-all pill. 


Another study showed that regular exercise has a nearly identical affect on depression as medication.  In the graph below depression levels before treatment are shown in orange and after treatment in teal.  Notice that exercise lowered depression levels nearly as much as medication.

Exercise and depression

I know one big problem is that people say, “I don’t have time to exercise.”  In one of Jared’s lectures he learned that instead of exercising for 30 minutes straight every day, you can exercise for at least 10 minutes at a time, as long as it adds up to 30 minutes total a day – and it will have the same affect on your health as exercising for 30 minutes straight.  So park your car at the back of the Walmart parking lot or take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Every little bit helps.

The unfortunate thing is that people don’t want to have to work for better health.  They want a pill that will fix their problems - a pill that will make them lose weight while they still eat the same foods and sit on their duff watching tv – an ab stimulator machine that you can put on your stomach and it will work the muscles for you, you don’t have to do anything.  In addition, junk food has big, expensive advertisements, while no one advertises for fruits and vegetables.  Eating healthy, fresh foods requires preparation (more work).  Plus, eating a healthy diet can be more expensive – Ramen Noodles are dirt cheap. 


Only we can improve our health.  Only we can make decisions each day that take us closer to our goals.  Only we can choose to eat right.  Only we can lower the percentage of obese individuals in America.  It has to start with us.  With one person.  What are you going to do?  I know I’m going to do something hard – earn my good health.