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Better U Program Resources

May 19, 2020

Takeaways You Can Implement

As we’ve followed Lynne’s journey through the Better U Program, we’ve had the opportunity to gather resources that have helped her along the way. We’ve included links to many of these tools, so you can follow along.

Since we are still in the midst of COVID-19, we will begin with this short video about current safety tips from the American Heart Association. From no-touch greetings to sanitizing, here is a quick video lesson and reminder of how you can help keep yourself safe and those around you comfortable. 

Continuing along with direct health initiatives, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield offers MDLIVE. MDLIVE is a medical and behavioral health care service offering online or over-the-phone help from doctors, psychiatrists and therapists 24/7/365. This is a great resource for both adults and children and can help you manage anything from cold and flus to addiction and trauma.

Behaviorial Health: PDF

Medical Health: PDF

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” That old saying is based on the fundamental notion that eating a balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins and complex carbohydrates will help you stay healthy. The Better U Program has recommended the Mayo Clinic Health System’s video “Grocery Shopping with Dr. Donald Hensrud”. This was Lynne’s virtual tour through the grocery store which can also help you shop better and healthier. Give it a quick watch here:

Watch the Video

Understanding the information on the Nutrition Facts label can help you make healthier eating choices and identify the best foods for a healthy diet. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your meals:

Reading Labels: PDF

Eating right and healthy doesn’t mean losing some of the treats you love but in fact can help you incorporate those treats in a more balanced manner. Here are some recipes we’ve included that are easy and delicious!

We understand that shopping healthier can be coupled with spending money and spending more money can feel daunting and stressful. Eliminating stress is all part of becoming a better you and while the stresses of finance can not be fully deleted, staying on top of your bills can help alleviate a large portion of that stress. We’ve included here our Budget Worksheet for you to use as a guide. This can help you incorporate your finances evenly across all of your expenses. Use this worksheet to keep track of your monthly income and outgoing expenditures:

Budget Worksheet

My Disappearing Dollars: PDFIn addition, we’ve also included the document “My Disappearing Dollars.” This is an opportunity to list all of your monthly expenses and their positive OR negative impacts on your life. No one else ever needs to see this list so it provides a great opportunity to take an honest look at what you spend your money on and help you discover for yourself whether those expenses are truly worth it or not:

My Disappearing Dollars: PDF

It’s almost time for many of us to get back into the swing of things at the office. The Better U Program has provided 10 tips from Memic to help you keep a healthier (and therefore more productive) workspace. Does your chair make you slouch? Does your desk height make for awkward shoulder movements? Use this checklist to help you make your workspace more comfortable and physically therapeutic:

Perfect Office Fit: PDF

Hands-Only CPR: PDFSpeaking of being back in the office amongst your colleagues, this is the perfect time to learn a bit about effectively using CPR- just in case. The American Heart Association has provided this simple 4-step how-to that can help save yours, or someone else’s, life. This would be good to print or share among your coworkers. And remember, when performing CPR (as shown in Step 2), push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the popular song “Stayin’ Alive” by the BeeGees. The rhythm of that song is the exact rhythm that can literally help one stay alive until professional help arrives.

Hands-Only CPR: PDF

While we consider all of the above information imperative to a healthier lifestyle, there is also an aspect to living balanced that is not as black and white as financial tracking or choosing fresh foods over packaged foods. It is called Reiki. It is in fact more spiritual yet is also totally within your control. Reiki is defined as “Universal Life Force Energy.” Included here are two enlightening documents to help you be present, meditative and grateful for being alive. They will help you understand how to open your chakras and promote healing throughout your body, mind and spirit.

Distant Reiki: PDF

The 7 chakras represent different points of your spinal column that are connected to various organs and glands. These terrific sources will explain how each one works within your body, within your energy, and help restore and maintain optimum health:

Chakra Information: PDF

We truly hope you find these resources as valuable as Lynne has. Understanding and accepting where you are and visualizing where you want to be are not that far apart. Like Lynne, you too can use this information to assist you in becoming the healthy, balanced person you know you can be!

Stay tuned for more takeaway tips from the Better U Program, compare how your path mirrors Lynnes path and continue to discover how to become the best YOU that you can be!

The Better U Program Wellness Session

May 6, 2020

Chapter #5 - A Financial and Spiritual Awakening

Lynne and the group recently had their first wellness session: a Mind, Body and Finance workshop. Chock full of terrific advice from the instructors, Lynne’s experience with the workshop has really helped open her eyes to saving herself from undo stress…and perhaps, one day, someone else’ life.

“It began with tips for financial wellness,” Lynne explained. “Cristina from First Source went over budgeting, interest rates, credit cards and student loans. We learned to look where we can lower spending and try to pay down debt. She talked about paying the smallest bills first to get those out of the way and off your plate, moving on to the next highest and so on as a way to make tackling debt more manageable. Setting small goals and achieving them. Once the smaller bills are paid down/off you can then use those funds to save. She gave us a budget worksheet and recommended to re-budget every 60 days as your finances change. She also had a really cool ‘Disappearing Dollars’ worksheet. It challenges you to see where you may be over or foolishly spending to see what you can put away instead for emergency funds. It was really relevant since we can see today just how important an emergency fund is. The other option was “Avalanche Debt” where you pay the highest bills first and  work your way down. Whatever works best for you. “I live and breathe managing finances as my career,” Lynne added, “but it was still great to hear and to know that all the program participants would now have this knowledge too.”

“Next Sarah from the American Heart Association gave us Hands-Only™ CPR training,” Lynne continued. “Demo dummies were sent to us at home to practice on. We learned the steps to check for a pulse first. Take charge and alert others around you giving them specific tasks. Have someone call 911 and leave it on speaker. We learned the steps for compression, where to place your hands and to not stop giving the compressions until help arrives. A hard, flat surface is best for performing CPR. Also if you sing "Stayin’ Alive” in your head as you give the CPR, it’s a good beat to give compressions to. It was also reassuring to learn there is a ‘No Sue’ law for helping. We got to keep the demo dummies to share what we learned with our family. It was very informative and could be live saving.”

Carrie, a Certified Nutritionist/Wellness Consultant went over reading food labels. She taught us to minimize intake of unhealthy oils/fats, fatty meats and dairy, to minimize sugar intake, and to eat breads, pasta and cereals made from whole grains that are high in fiber,” Lynne shared. “We learned it’s good to eat lean protein, drink lots of water, listen to your body, eat “feel good foods” that make you feel better. She talked about non-gmo, unsaturated fats, trans fats, food allergens….I  could have listened to her talk for hours. There was so much, really good information! I look at food very differently now.”

Sherri, a Certified Mindfulness Instructor then shared mediation yoga. “We went through breathing exercises, how to be mindful of our breath and help with our focus, to take 5 and pause,” Lynne described. “I would love to attend her actual classes some day. At the start of your day, take 3 minutes to clear your head then focus on your day. Try to start with no thoughts. Focus only on breathing. Draw a square in your mind. With each side breathe in, then out. Be fully present in that moment. Breathe from your belly. It’s very calming. Then think about 3 things you are grateful for. Start your day with gratitude. Lastly, think about your day. Be grateful for what you will accomplish. She taught us to ‘Take 5 and Pause’ whenever you need to throughout the day. Refocus and get centered. I have already successfully used this technique. This workshop was extremely Informative. I got a lot out of it and learned so much from everyone.”

Thanks to Lynne breaking it all down, you too can take the advice of the Certified experts to help you ease debt, relax your body and mind, and eat healthier food options.

Speaking of food, up next Lynne looks forward to a virtual healthy cooking class!

The Better U Program Dietary Recommendations

May 6, 2020

Chapter #4 - “Eat the Rainbow”

Becoming a better you isn’t just how you workout your body but also what you put into it. Overall health is boosted immensely with a strong diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. Lynne was introduced to the what’s and why’s of a varied diet full of fresh produce, protein, healthy fats and more. You can hear the excitement in her voice from learning how to eat better thanks to the instructors of the Better U Program.

“We were able to take a virtual grocery tour and the information we received was awesome! I learned so much!  Things like, make sure to always eat before going shopping so you don’t shop when you’re hungry. (You tend to buy more and more unhealthy items). Start in the produce section first, and “eat the rainbow”. The more natural colors the better: peppers especially red peppers, broccoli, and carrots are all very good for you. The greener the vegetable the higher the nutrients.”

“We learned that fresh or frozen is the best for fruits and vegetables, however, tomatoes are actually better for you when cooked. They have more nutrients that way. Organic is better because there are less pesticides which makes it better for you and the environment. Nuts help fight heart disease, broccoli has anti-cancer properties, avocado has healthy fat, and garlic can lower cholesterol. They recommended 2 servings of fish weekly and reminded us that with meat, it’s quality not quantity. Really for all of this we learned that moderation is key.”

“With nuts and leafy vegetables the darker in color the better for you. We learned to stay away from processed foods and to read labels, that water is always best to drink. Food in its purest form is also the best. Instead of glass of orange juice, eat an actual orange. It’s better for you with more fiber and no added sugar. There are also so many different varieties of food. They suggested we don’t just stick with one apple type for example, try different varieties as they all have different sweetness or tartness and texture.”

The next time you’re making your shopping list, be sure to include items that allow you to “eat the rainbow.” Pick healthy looking fruits and vegetables ranging all from colors of the spectrum. Choose labeled foods wisely by reading their ingredients. Ingredients are listed in descending order so be sure to stay away from products that start with things like high fructose corn syrup. A good rule of thumb is that the longer the list of ingredients, the more unhealthy the item tends to be. Reading labels isn’t always about caloric intake either. It’s about the number of, and quality of, ingredients, healthy fats, fiber, sugars and sodium much more than overall calories.

Keep up with Lynne’s progress and learn how to become a better you with the next chapter of our Better U Program Series!

The Better U Program Series Adapts to the Pandemic

May 1, 2020

Chapter #3 - Rising Up To New Challenges 

As COVID-19 began forcing mandatory shutdowns of businesses and daily routines, Lynne and her partners in the Better U Program had to adapt the program so as not to skip a beat.

As an essential business it has been all hands on deck for our representatives at First Source. Lynne is an integral part of our Member Services Team and when branch lobbies closed for safety, she quickly shifted to helping field calls and aid our members remotely.

This brought a change in schedule and job responsibilities, which added layers of stress along with trying to keep up with the Better U Program. But Lynne rose to the challenge. While she was unable to join the group for some initiatives, Lynne continued on her own to take daily walks and follow workout routines, as well as stick to her new dietary rules and food journaling.

Due to the social distancing demands, each participant is now partnered up with a buddy. Lynne likes this as it helps to have one person to know you can lean on for emotional support. She and her buddy are both essential employees navigating work and the Better U Program so it’s a good fit.

Lynne is back on track with virtual group sessions. Workouts continue with guest trainers. “The virtual workouts have been wonderful,” said Lynne. “Each Tuesday evening we have a different instructor. LaBlast was so much fun. Learning dance moves as a workout, we worked our entire muscle group and the time went by fast. We have had several yoga classes, and Pilates too. I enjoy these workouts and being able to see everyone. Even through a computer screen, it’s great.”

“We are participating in a step challenge called ‘Stridekick’ till the end of the month. Currently we are trying to accomplish at least 8,000 steps per day. I am proud to say I am above 10,000 daily. I am walking three times a day approximately 3.5 to 5 miles (pending the day and weather) so I already have in over 61,000 steps!”

“There are also added morning workout sessions. The program instructors have been wonderful trying to help us through this virtually to stay on track. I have been attending all of the sessions. We did a type of deep stretching yoga which was really different. We had to breathe into long poses. I felt surprisingly refreshed and energized. After the workouts we’ve been doing, my body appreciated the stretching.”

Like Lynne, you too can workout at home with virtual tools. From yoga, to pilates, to CrossFit exercises and more, there is plethora of free videos and routines online to help you stay fit while the gyms are closed. Springtime also offers us all the chance to walk, bike or jog outside. Take advantage of these to be a better you!

Stay tuned for the next installment of our Better U Program Series!


Kicking Off the Better U Program

April 8, 2020

Chapter #2 - First Steps On a New Journey

Before COVID-19 broke across our state and nation, and health mandates were put in place, the Better U Program began in the gym. Lynne and her fellow participants took their first steps toward a heart-healthy lifestyle at Accelerate Sports Complex.

The first group workout was scheduled, and Lynne took it upon herself to go days in advance. “I walked the track and spent time on the bike and elliptical. I wanted to take some initiative and feel prepared.”

On gym day, the trainer was wonderful. He explained the exercises and kept them moving. They did short to moderate timed stints on the bike and rowing machine with interspersed laps on the stairs or held plank position. They had partners which Lynne said was helpful for encouragement and support. One thing that surprised Lynne and inspired her was the youth sports that take place at Accelerate Sports Complex, where she is attending the work outs. “Being at Accelerate, we see kids practicing and playing all kinds of sports which for me is inspiring,” Lynne said. “Children and adults of all ages are pursuing their passion and dreams. Their hard work and dedication is admirable. If they can do it, I can do it. I push harder and try to do a little more each time.” Lynne added, “The staff is incredible. They love what they do and it shows with every lesson and class. They’re professional and educated, and it is a privilege to use their sports complex facility.”

Lynne is dedicated and making the effort. She is going to the gym each night and completing daily routines. “First Source and the AHA believe in me and I want to do the best job. I don’t want to waste this opportunity,” Lynne added, “I’m learning the program, equipment, the nutrition and about myself. I’m taking the program seriously. It’s challenging and a little scary but exciting. I feel uplifted and motivated, and Iook forward to seeing how far we’ll progress and what we’ll all achieve. I’m sincerely grateful for this opportunity.”

We will be following Lynn on her health journey, and will be posting updates as this 10-week challenge progresses. Stay tuned for the next chapter of our Better U Program Series!





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