Lessons Learned

In the March 2013 issue of School Nutrition, author Penny McLaren profiled Donna Roy, SNS, Brent Craig, SNS, Shannon Solomon and Gary Vonck, four SNA members whose journeys to personal wellness have transformed their lives. If you were inspired by the stories they shared, create your own health and wellness goals by benefitting from the wisdom that stems from their advice and experiences.

Donna Roy, SNS: 
New to exercising? “Just start for five minutes. Do anything that will get you started. Pretty soon you will feel like doing more. You will feel more mobile than you have in years,” Roy says from experience.

Brent Craig, SNS: 
If you are morbidly obese, Craig recommends taking a look at gastric bypass surgery as an option. But even without going that route, watch your intake of foods. “Don’t drink any soda,” he counsels. “It is not good for you. The carbonation expands your stomach and leaves you feeling hungry, and then you have to find something to eat.”

“Exercise every day. You have to make it a habit,” Craig declares. 
“Allow yourself to have a snack or a treat. With exercise, it doesn’t go against you. When you exercise, it makes those indulgences possible. I try to eat well, too. I eat my five fruits and vegetables a day,” he says.

Shannon Solomon: 
Take time for you. With four kids, Solomon knows how easy it is to get caught up in their goals and ignore your own. “I can get involved in the goals of others and sacrifice mine,” she admits. “It is important to me that my children know I have to take time for myself. I had to change my thoughts to care for others and care for me; both are equally important.”

It takes time to change habits. “Every meal that I make good choices is a win,” she says. “If [I’m not successful at one meal], I know I can make better choices the next meal.” But it takes time to prepare good-for-you food. Make a move toward buying raw ingredients, not processed food. “It is more expensive to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, but it is worth it to me.” To learn more about cooking healthy food, Solomon reads cookbooks and Weight Watchers magazine and watches The Food Network.

Make the right decisions on portions and frequency of foods, especially those comfort foods. “I don’t have to have macaroni and cheese every Saturday,” Solomon cites as an example. “I love it, and I do not want to say I can never have it, but it is not okay to have two to three cups every weekend. That’s where I make my decision. It is a hard one every time.”

Reward yourself. If you have a success, though, don’t make it a food reward. “Tell yourself [that if you accomplish a goal you’ve set], you get to go out and buy a nice shirt or a cool water bottle,” she advises.

Gary Vonck:
Running isn’t the only option to better fitness; just be physically active. “Raise your heart rate for 10 minutes,” he counsels.

If you commit to exercise, it’s possible that you will encounter injuries. “Use common sense and listen to your body; let your body adjust itself.” Pace yourself carefully, too. “You can get blinded by the positive feeling of exercising. But pushing yourself can lead to chronic injuries,” he says.

In addition, “Watch what you are consuming. We are in a world where we can truly have balance and want balance. If you don’t have a balanced life, it will be stressful. The reality is that we get a shorter time in this life, if we are not in good health.”

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