19-Day Arm Challenge Supplies

My Healthy Journey: 19-Day Arm Challenge Days 7 and 8

The 19-Day Arm Challenge continues!

For Day 7 on the beginner’s track, you will do:

12 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and 10 Push-Ups.

For Day 8:

14 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and 12 Push-Ups.

For Day 7 on the advanced track, you will do:

16 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and 12 Push-Ups.

For Day 8:

16 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and 12 Push-Ups.

Dental Adventures During the Arm Challenge

My Healthy Journey: Dental Adventures

So I know I was ready for my new week on Monday, but so far this week is not off to a much better start than the last.

I hate going to the dentist, and I hadn’t since before I went to college. Well, this weekend, I chipped a tooth and I had to suck it up and go. Which has resulted in more than 6 hours of lots of different dental work on Monday and Tuesday.

Because of the dental work, my food log is going pretty poorly so far, mostly because I haven’t eaten much this week. Also, all I’ve been doing in my spare time is lying on the right side of my face to help with the pain. But I’m going back to being a fully-functioning person today!

So even though my week’s new start is happening at a new time, I am happy that with my healthy journey, I also have newly healthy teeth!

So back to the 19-Day Arm Challenge it is!

For Day 5 on the beginner’s track, you will do:

12 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and 10 Push-Ups.

For Day 5 on the advanced track, you will do the same as Day 4:

14 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, and Shoulder Presses, and 12 Push-Ups.

For Day 6 on both tracks, you will take a rest day.

Don’t forget, the exercises are here if you need them: My Healthy Journey: The 19-Day Arm Challenge, Day 1.

(And make sure you take care of your teeth and visit your dentist! Or you will regret it, like my face currently does. )

Avoiding Missteps with the Arm Challenge

My Healthy Journey: Missteps

So far, my healthy journey isn’t going that well. Missteps seem impossible to avoid. Sometimes, life feels so busy that it gets in the way, and that has been the last week for me.

On the web team, this is literally our busiest, craziest time of year. Combine that with simple, but necessary errands, and suddenly I’m not home until 7 o’clock at night once in the last week. By the time I am (sometimes) done with cooking, eating, and catching up on our social media, I am almost falling into bed.

This means, that the arm challenge halted in its tracks, and there was no post-dinner dancing to be had. Yes, I know, measly effort.

But I did track my food! I started with pictures, but by Friday had forgotten entirely, so instead, I will just list them for last week.

Cup of coffee with vanilla creamer
Cherry Nutri-Grain Bar
Plate of green beans and potatoes with ham leftovers
Applesauce cup with cinnamon
Turkey and swiss sandwich on wheat with tortilla chips
Glass of red wine
One deviled-egg half
A Reese’s Peanut Butter cup, a small Laffy Taffy and one of those Halloween caramel-apple suckers
Half a microwave package of kettle corn popcorn

Cup of coffee with vanilla creamer
Lemon Herb Chicken Piccata frozen meal
Drumstick ice cream cone
Can of cherry Coke
Ham and pineapple frozen pizza
One Redd’s apple ale
A Reese’s Peanut Butter cup and a small Laffy Taffy
The other half of the microwave popcorn

Cup of coffee with vanilla creamer
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Bowl of Kashi oat flakes and blueberry clusters
Homemade chicken stir-fry with edamame, carrots, red pepper, pineapple and scrambled egg over rice and sesame peanut noodle combo.
Oven-baked pineapple and cream cheese wontons with soy sesame dipping sauce
One Redd’s apple ale

Black Dog pulled pork sandwich with sweet potato fries
Glass of Pepsi
Leftover stir-fry
One Redd’s apple ale

Cup of coffee with vanilla creamer
Some candy (I wasn’t keeping track)
A can of Coke
Chips and salsa
S’mores graham cracker bar
One mojito
Bowl of cornflakes

Cup of coffee with vanilla creamer
Glass of orange-mango juice
Two over-easy eggs, two pieces of bacon, two frozen waffles with syrup
Can of cherry Coke
Peanut butter cup, Tootsie pop and two small Laffy Taffy
Chips and salsa and sour cream
Grilled cheese sandwich with one piece of leftover bacon

As you can see, balanced eating is not my strong point. And I swing wildly from eating a lot on Tuesday to eating very little other days.

But it is a new week and I am determined to do better! This next week, I’m going to try an app called Eatly for your iPhone (it does cost $1.99,) that allows you take pictures of your food and get them rated by health. I will also be keeping a list though, because I’m sure there’s no point in taking a picture of a Coke.

I also hope you hadn’t all started and were waiting desperately for more of the arm challenge, since I am just now giving you day 3 and 4, but that means you have had plenty of time to think about it and get on board!

For Day 3 for both tracks, you rest.

For Day 4 on the beginner’s track, you will do:

12 Bicep Curls and Overhead Tricep Extensions, and 10 Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and Push-Ups.

For Day 4 on the advanced track, you will do:

14 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, and Shoulder Presses, and 12 Push-Ups.

Good luck! And don’t beat yourself up when you get off to a rough start, there’s always a new week or day. That’s what I’m trying to tell myself at least. Check back on Wednesday for more arm challenge (I promise!)

Fall Favorites

Healthy Fall Favorite Recipes

Fall is fast approaching, and this week in food on social media we gave you some hearty recipes fit for the season.

First up was Beef and Butternut Chili that takes some time, but is worth it for the rich 308 calorie meal.

Beef and Butternut Chili


Try this recipe for Apple and Rosemary Pork Roulade, only 181 calories a serving.

Apple and Rosemary Pork Roulade


Bucatini and Mushrooms is a recipe with rich fall flavors that doesn’t hurt your diet at just 393 calories.

Bucatini and Mushrooms


Try this take on a classic and make French Onion and Apple Soup, just 254 calories a serving.

French Onion and Apple Soup


Serve with Savory Baked Apples, a new take that brings this recipe from dessert to main course.

Savory Baked Apples


Save this Ciabatta French Toast with Warm Apple Maple Syrup for special Saturday morning breakfasts all fall long:

Ciabatta French Toast with Warm Apple Maple Syrup


Make Pork Chops with Roasted Apples and Onions for a delicious 240 calorie meal.

Pork Chops with Roasted Apples and Onions


Make Beef Filets with Mushroom Sauce and Parmesan Popovers for a tasty 405-calorie Sunday dinner.

Beef Filets with Mushroom Sauce and Parmesan Popovers


Baby in a Clean Home

Healthy and Clean Home

This week on social media each day, we gave you tips and articles on how to keep your clean home healthy.

First, we helped you find and clean trouble spots in all the different rooms of your house. Did you know doorknobs are one of the most dangerous bacteria spots in your home?

Looking for the best way to clean something? Check out Real Simple’s guide on cleaning A-Z for the best ways to tackle your messes.

Take a virtual tour of a home to learn about the health danger zones and to make a clean home today.

Check out this Health Magazine list of how best to keep a super clean home and clean in every room:

House plants can be great for your home by cleaning the air. Learn about what kinds to keep.

Check out Real Simple’s list of 66 All-Natural Cleaning Solutions and skip the chemicals.

Food safety is one of the most important parts of keeping your family and home healthy. Refresh yourself on the basics.

Protected Against the Flu

Chasing Health: I Got My Flu Shot

Hi, I’m Nicole Mechling, and I’ve worked at Health Alliance as a communications coordinator since April. I’m not a health buff—or a health insurance buff for that matter—but I don’t have to follow all the health recommendations to be a communications coordinator, right?

I mean, I take two-hour walks and regularly bust out my own dance routines in my living room during Glee and So You Think You Can Dance. I even go through spurts of intense crunch and pushup regimens and take a Zumba class here and there.

I eat berries and apples, and sometimes I even go a whole day without chocolate … OK, maybe I have a few things to work on. At least I try.

I got my flu shot[1] copy

But when it comes to vaccines, this girl is ready to throw in the towel and run the other way screaming. I absolutely hate needles. I’m 26 years old and have never had my ears pierced because needles are just too scary.

Earlier this week, it was flu shot day at Health Alliance. Remember when you used to get shots in grade school, right in front of your classmates? This was the same thing, only worse because as an adult, people assume you’re not going to cry or hide under your desk. And if I got the shot, there was no guarantee I wouldn’t do both.

I went into the office that morning with every intention of not getting my flu shot. I had never had one before, so in my head, that clearly meant I was going to have an awful reaction and die. (I also feel this way about car washes and gas fireplaces. I know it’s crazy, but I always think they’re out to get me.)

Anyway, part of my job is to tell people to get their flu shots. After a few hours of editing fliers about vaccines, I had to ask myself, “What kind of person am I if I tell people to get this shot but am too scared to get it myself?”

My ethics got the best of me, and I decided to take the long walk upstairs to where the nurses were giving the shots. By the time I got there, I felt sweaty and weak, and my stomach hurt more than a little bit. The room was spinning slightly, and my heart was beating so loudly the nurses could probably hear it.

The rest happened so quickly. I sat down, got the shot (which only hurt a little), stayed for 15 minutes to make sure I didn’t have a bad reaction as a first-timer and then went back to work. I survived.

I’ve heard all the excuses—I’ve used them myself. One of Michael Jordan’s best games was his “flu game,” so why should I deprive myself of that opportunity? The shot is not 100 percent effective, so why even try? What if I want a reason to stay home from work at some point?

I did it anyway so that I could tell all of you fine people to go get your own flu shots. Don’t let my shot be for nothing. Go get vaccinated.

(Regardless of what you do, I’m guessing my shot will be worth it to me when I don’t get the flu later this year, though.)

Thank you all for unintentionally making me overcome my fear of getting my flu shot. Maybe next time you can do something about my chocolate addiction.


Bond Missions

My Healthy Journey: Your Missions, Should You Choose to Accept It…

We’re diving back into Rally this week, and I’m picking my missions. But first, an overview of some of the things that you can do once you’ve registered on Rally.

Once you’ve taken your health assessment and are in Rally, there are four major categories to explore.

The first is missions. Missions are little challenges meant to help you make healthier life choices. There are really amazing options on here, and they’re still making more. Based on your assessment, some are recommended for you specifically, and then there’s a whole list of other ones you can explore.

Missions cover a wide range of options. From eating or exercising, to managing your medicines, cutting your tobacco use, getting enough sleep, to having a healthy and fulfilling social and personal life. This is great because it means you don’t have to start too big! It means that maybe you start exercising by stretching or dancing during the week. Or maybe you try going meatless on certain days, or using a smaller plate before you dive into a diet.

The second category is challenges. Challenges are when you compete against other Rally users. They move you along virtual courses and let you unlock achievements and earn coins (we’ll get to those.) Right now, there is a challenge going on called SF Stomp. As you keep track of your steps, you travel a virtual course across San Francisco. Leaders reveal interesting facts on a real-time map. If you’re a competitive person, this is a fun way to get started being active.

The next part is the communities. Communities are a place you can talk to others about causes and treatments for issues and to just get support. There are ones for depression, women’s health, pregnancy, parenting, diabetes, smoking, and many more. It is always comforting to know that others know what you’re going through, even if they can’t actually help. I’ve struggled with depression in the past, and it’s nice to know that if I need someone to talk to, I just have to hop online.

The last category is the fun one, rewards. Every time you log on and work on missions, even when you take your assessment, you can earn coins. Once you have coins, you can use them to enter sweepstakes for real prizes. Right now there are gift cards for Whole Foods and Amazon available, or the UP by Jawbone, which is a wristband that tracks your movement, and sleep with an app, or even an iPod nano to keep you moving while you workout.

So now that you have a good idea of how everything works, I’m going to tell you about what missions were recommended for me. Rally recommended that I focus on fruits or vegetables, avoid processed foods, cook at home more, run 30 minutes, walk three miles a day, work up a sweat three times a week, dance anytime, or bike for 20 minutes a day. These all sound great, but so do a lot of the ones that weren’t recommended for me.

I’m going to pick two to start working through. Because I’m also working on some other things, I’ve decided to start small with one that was recommended for me and one that wasn’t, each lasting for a month. This way I feel set up for success. If I feel really comfortable before that time’s up, I will start adding to them.

The first one I’m going to do is Dance Anytime. Its description: As the saying goes, if you can walk, you can dance! It’s awesome cardio, feels great, and you can do it anytime – try putting on music and moving for 20 minutes after dinner!

I chose this one for a few reasons. First of all, my dance moves could really use some work. I also didn’t want to start with too big of a fitness mission and fail miserably. But right now is also an extremely busy season for the Communications department at Health Alliance, so I also wanted to do something that was going to decrease my stress, not add to it. And I’m sure it will drive my dog crazy, so I will probably get a good dose of laughter in too.

The second mission I’m choosing is Track What You Eat. Its description: Are you aware of everything you are eating? Track it! You can take pictures of meals with your phone, jot down notes in a little book, or use an app. The results might surprise you.

Even though I think I could’ve handled adding more fruits and vegetables to my plate, I chose this one first for a reason. I rarely eat real meals. I usually eat a real lunch. Usually. The rest of the time, I munch. I eat a breakfast bar here, a smoothie there, a thing of candy as a snack, and when I worked at Starbucks I lived on straight coffee and milk. I have been this way for years, and it’s a real problem. I will consciously skip eating dinner if I know it means I can have a cupcake later. Instead of rewarding myself once in a while, I deprive myself so I can have things that are bad for me anytime I want.

This is not a good system! Not only am I hungry a lot of the time, I also probably don’t save myself very many calories in the long run, and I skip healthy foods not because I don’t like them, but because they aren’t as snackable.

So I’m hoping that by keeping track of what I’m eating every day, I will be forced to think about that instinctive bag of chips instead of justifying it later by skipping a meal. And once I see it all written out, I bet I will realize that I’m still eating just as much by skipping meals, but more of it is bad for me. I fully expect to be a little horrified.

I’m also going to try a different method of tracking my meals each week. So while I can test out which method works best for me, maybe that can help you if you start your own food tracking in the future.

So starting tomorrow, I’m keeping track and I’m dancing, and I will be keeping you updated every step of the way. Join me on my healthy journey.