(Editor’s Note: This week’s blog is written by a group in the LSU AgCenter’s Northwest Region who participated in a recent Chancellor’s Challenge competition. The Soil Brothers and Sisters, as they call themselves, won first place and received LSU AgCenter jackets as prizes.)
Let me begin this blog by saying to all of you who are trying to live fit, “We Salute You!”
As I’m sure you’re all aware, the road to fitness Nirvana isn’t always a lovely ribbon of pristine asphalt. It can be littered with potholes, wrong turns, break downs – and yes – traffic circles. Oh, and yes it is true, every little burg in the continental U.S. has a Sonic drive-in…or so it seems.
But, like any journey, the trip will be much more pleasant if you have the benefit of a map and the insight of fellow travelers who have made the trip before.
This is why we members of the Soil Brothers and Sisters were so delighted when asked to share some of our stories of the road with our fellow wayfarers.
After settling on the team name of Soil Brothers and Sisters to promote a club feeling, it was mandated that we all select a “tribal name” drawn from the pool of 70’s-era soul culture icons. As such, we address you today using our team names. The cast of characters is: Shaft, JJ “Kid Dyn-O-Mite” Walker, Tina “Legs” Turner, Thelma, Wheezy, Lamont, Grady, and, of course, Tudie.
We hope you find the following “travel advisories” useful!
Shaft (aka Rusty Anderson)
As team leader from the beginning, I wanted to infuse the challenge with an element of fun. This was the basis for our team name selection as well as our tribal names – an allusion to “Survivor”. The “soul 70’s” backdrop provided a perfect vehicle from which to draw humor in team communiqués. Music files attached to team e-mail were also used to keep it interesting and promote team cohesion. All of us were familiar with the same relevant songs by such artists as James Brown, Deee-lite and Fat Boy Slim, and that provided fodder for lots of light-hearted joking around.
My advice to any team leader would be to avoid singling out, belittlement and badgering. Instead, do what you can to develop an encouraging environment for your team members. I believe a little fun, a little humor and maybe even a little hipness can be useful in doing this.
On a physical note, setting a goal of spending more time daily standing than sitting is a good way to increase your daily consumption of calories. This can really help in getting those extra pounds off without excessive dieting.
JJ Walker (aka Jim Hayes)
A couple of the things that kept me motivated during the last fitness challenge were team meetings and when I finally started seeing results. We had two teams participating here at Red River Research Station, and there was a lot of smack talking early in the challenge. That kind of competition between teams was helpful at first until the opposing team fell by the wayside. We had team meetings a couple times a month during afternoon breaks to be sure everybody on the team was properly motivated and cranking out the steps.
Rusty monitored the team performance as a whole and let us know when we were starting to slack up in our efforts. About two months into the challenge, after replacing fruits and veggies with what used to be snack machine foods, I began to drop body fat and felt better throughout the day.
Wheezy (aka Carrie Fletcher)
One surprising thing I discovered during the challenge was the importance of the time of day chosen for physical activity. I found that it was critical to pick a time that would offer the least interference with my daily routine as well as those of my friends and family. No one likes to have to wait for their significant other, mom or dad to finish their hour long workout before they can have supper. Mornings before work turned out to best fit with my schedule. This was time I was not previously using so no one had to alter his or her day to accommodate my walking.
An added plus was that it rarely rains during the hours just after dawn – probably no more than three to four times a year, avoiding another possible excuse not to do my thing.
Thelma (aka Darinda Dans)
For the fruits and veggies portion of the challenge, changing my routine was key. A bad habit that I had was skipping meals; an easy fix was having fruit in the morning instead of totally skipping breakfast. Also, preparing a salad to bring for lunch is really quick and simple – plus it’s cheaper than going out to eat.
With the exercise portion, I added more time walking into my schedule. Other than that, I continued to do a daily 15-20-minute workout. Nothing too strenuous, but a daily workout of stretches, crunches, etc. keeps me feeling more energized.
Tina “Legs” Turner (aka Mary Ann Van Osdell)
Having a good leader, fun meetings and friendly competition kept me on track, and now I don’t want to revert back to pre-challenge habits.
I was never one to exercise or watch what I ate because I am, luckily, underweight. However, working for the LSU AgCenter has made me realize the importance of good nutrition and physical activity, so I joined the team at the last minute. Through the competition, I began walking with my dog and eating more fruits and vegetables. Even Zoe, the dog, shed pounds (her latest trip to the vet put the sum at thirteen pounds…wow!). I also aired up my bicycle tires and went for rides in the neighborhood I grew up in, recalling childhood memories.
I kept up with the competition while on vacation in New York City, where I got lots of points for walking. On my fall trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, I tried fresh beet, carrot and cantaloupe juice that I otherwise would not have before the challenge.
More importantly, my husband has caught my enthusiasm. He bought a Wii Fit and a treadmill. But if David hears Smart Portions one more time, he might throw his plate at me.
Proudly wearing the jacket we received for winning the LSU AgCenter competition, I got noticed the first time I put it on. Someone in line next to me at Barnes and Noble spotted the logo and asked what the LSU AgCenter did. Great publicity for my place of employment and team!
Lamont (aka Eddie Millhollon)
During the past year, I watched my mother-in-law go through treatment for colon cancer – a long, difficult, painful process. This event made me realize how precious our health is and how important it is that we maintain the one and only body we will ever have. We are all presented with a multitude of choices each and every day. For our bodies, the choices we make today regarding healthy eating and exercise play an incalculable role in the health we will be able to enjoy in our later years.
I love this quote by Mark Twain: “Change is the handmaiden Nature requires to do her miracles with.” So, if we want to enjoy the miracle of good health in our later years, it’s important that we make the necessary changes in our lifestyles now that will lay the foundation for our future. The changes I’ve made in my lifestyle, thanks in part to this challenge, are relatively simple.
My wife and I have Scottish and West Highland terriers who love their walks, and they can be very persuasive in getting everyone out the door for their daily walks in the neighborhood. When we run errands or go shopping, we no longer try and find that prized parking space closest to the entrance. Instead, we park farther away so that we get in extra walking. Another thing I do is bring my lunch from home. That way, I make sure I’m not tempted to overindulge at a fast food restaurant during lunch time. I also pack raw vegetables for snacks during the day. These may seem like simple things. But in the long run, they can really make a difference.
Tudie (aka Sara Menard)
(Editor’s Note: Sara Menard is a student worker.)
During the challenge, I made it a point to include at least two servings of vegetables with each meal. This was important so that by the end of the day, I didn’t have to try hard to get my servings in. Also, having been a runner in the past, I used this opportunity to get back into the swing of things by starting running again. Going for runs in the morning and weekends made it easy to get my steps in. Morning workouts made it easier to not push off exercise at the end of the day when you’re tired from a long day of work.