Week 10 (March 11-17)

A Culture of Commitment

Written by Sara Cathey, MPH - Health Education Specialist - LIVE FOR LIFE

Let me just say, we are SO impressed by y'all! Every week, it is amazing to see the number of steps you take toward a healthier you! Duke embodies a culture of commitment, and y’all are proof! The care you provide for your patients, students, colleagues, community, and so many more are too! We hope the Get Moving Challenge has also helped you commit to yourself and your health goals just as you commit to others.

As we enter the last week of the GMC, take a look at where you started and where you are now. (Don't forget to give yourself a round of applause as you cross that finish line! 👏🏼🏁) While sustainable behavior changes are often small, their impact certainly isn't! So, how have you changed? What small, new pattern have you adopted during the GMC? How will you keep it going?

Here are some ideas!

  • You have a community of support around you in your teams! Continue to cheer each other on and hold each other accountable to your goals.💪🏼
  • Over here at LIVE FOR LIFE, we are here to help you meet your health goals! Whether you want to jump into health coaching, fitness or nutrition consultations, mental health and stress services, and so much more, we’ve got you covered!
  • Want to join a community of runners or walkers to keep that step count climbing? Join the Duke Run/Walk Club! This LIVE FOR LIFE program is free and starts TODAY at 5:30 PM! Sign up and see location details using the following link! https://hr.duke.edu/wellness/runwalk/
  • Finally, continue to have fun! Motivate your movement by incorporating joyful activities and challenges. If you have a fun way of moving that you started during the GMC, send it our way and we’ll include it in a shoutout for our final newsletter!

Awesome job and finish strong, everyone! 🥳

Week 9 (March 4-10)

Fulfillment & Purpose: Acting on Your "Why"

Written by Sara Cathey, MPH - Health Education Specialist - LIVE FOR LIFE

If you think all the way back to the Week 4 GMC newsletter, you might recall reading about the importance of identifying your "Why". Today we will build on that idea and talk about acting on it.

As with all great stories, you'll need to identify an action, a setting, and any side characters for your quest as they relate to your "Why"! 📚 In other words, to sustainably act on your "Why", you need to know your "What", "How", "When", "Where" and "Who". Keeping these short, sweet, and specific can simplify a goal, making it easier to achieve.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Why: What motivates or inspires you? Why?
  • What: What is your goal and what action will you complete to achieve it?
  • How: How will you stay motivated or accountable to your goal? How will you celebrate small victories?
  • When: When will you start this new action? On what days and at what times will you complete your action? On what days will you rest, if needed?
  • Where: Where will you complete your action?
  • Who: Who might you ask to join you to help you reach your goal?
Remember, your "Why" can be related to your day to day, your health, your family, the simple things that make you happy – whatever it is that energizes you! Here's a quick example on using a "Why" to inform a mental health goal!
  • Why: I am inspired by the slower pace of nature BECAUSE it reminds me to slow down more too. 
  • What: I want to spend more time outside during the day to mentally rest and slow down. To do this, I will eat lunch outside when the weather is nice.
  • How: I will set a reminder on my calendar so that I have the time blocked off and so I am prompted to take this break.
  • When: I will do this at least 3 times a week during my lunch break on M, W, F. I'll start today!
  • Where: I will go to the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.
  • Who: I will ask a coworker to attend if I am up for company.

Apply this structure to your needs, and let us know if you need any support. To walk through this goal setting activity more in depth, check out our January 2024 Health Matters webinar, On a Roll with WellnessDownload the associated worksheet here!

Week 8 (February 26 - March 3)

Group Exercise: The Power of Competition and Collaboration

Written by Brian Zelanko, DHSc, NSCA-CPT, NASM-CES - Health Promotion Manager with LIVE FOR LIFE

Have you picked up any new hobbies or habits during the Get Moving Challenge? Do any of them involve exercising with a group? If not, give it a try!

There are many benefits to participating in group exercise activities or team sports from both a fitness and social perspective. Group exercise provides opportunities for social interaction, which can build connections while combatting feelings of loneliness and isolation. Exercising with a group provides built-in motivation and accountability. When you exercise alongside others, you're more likely to stay committed to your fitness routine and push yourself to reach your goals. Group exercise classes often offer a variety of workouts and formats, ranging from cardio-based classes like spinning or dance aerobics to strength training, yoga, or Pilates. This variety keeps workouts interesting and fun, preventing boredom and monotony. Group settings also often incorporate music, energetic instructors, and engaging routines, making exercise more enjoyable. Some individuals may thrive on friendly competition, pushing themselves to keep up with others or to achieve personal bests. Others may prefer a more collaborative approach, working together with fellow participants to reach common goals or complete group challenges. It can be fun to learn new exercises, techniques, or strategies from instructors or more experienced group members. Additionally, exercising in a group can push you to work harder and achieve higher levels of intensity than you might on your own, leading to greater fitness gains and improvements in strength, endurance, and flexibility.

Attending group exercise classes can help you establish and maintain a consistent workout routine. Knowing that a class is scheduled at a specific time can motivate you to prioritize exercise and incorporate it into your daily or weekly schedule. Instructors offer positive reinforcement, guidance, and feedback to help you stay motivated and focused. Peers can also provide encouragement, celebrate successes, and offer words of encouragement during challenging moments.

Overall, exercising in a group can enhance motivation, social connection, enjoyment, and performance, making it a valuable and rewarding experience for many individuals seeking to improve their physical fitness and overall well-being. LIVE FOR LIFE offers free, 30-minute group fitness classes and everyone is welcome! Please bring a yoga mat or beach towel for exercises that require getting on the floor. A sweat towel and a water bottle are recommended. The next class, Lower Body Strength, will be held on Thursday, March 7th at 5:30 p.m. on East Campus in the Bivins building, Room 210. For more information or additional class offerings, please visit our website.

Week 7 (February 19-25)

Roots & Recipes: Finding and Feeding Foodways

Written by Sara Cathey, MPH - Health Education Specialist with LIVE FOR LIFE

The roots of our food choices stretch deep into family traditions, personal histories, and community practices. This is the idea behind foodways. Foodways involve the preservation of cultures through community knowledge and practices that are passed down between generations, regarding how foods are grown, gathered, prepared, preserved, and shared.

Many foodways in the US have been occluded throughout history due to discrimination. However, more and more, people are stretching back into their histories to reclaim, resurface, and piece together the cultural practices and knowledge of meals that were lost. (Check out this article about two Cherokee chefs in Oklahoma, Nico Alberts and Taelor Barton, and their efforts to revitalize native foodways!) The result of foodway reconstruction is a stronger connection to personal and community identity, which can influence one’s sense of fulfillment, purpose, and mental health. This personal connection can be a great motivator for trying new foods and incorporating more fruits and veggies into your eating pattern. Plus, sharing these meals with others can bring about increased social wellbeing and a sense of togetherness. 

So, how can YOU find and feed into foodways of your own? 

To start, you can think about the definition of foodways and use some key words as inspiration! 

  • Growing: 
    • Grow your understanding of food traditions and skills pertaining to your heritage– Ask a family member who may be knowledgeable about food traditions in your family if they are willing to share more about specific foods or recipes. You can also dive into books, articles, podcasts, or videos to learn more! 
    • Grow your reservoir of recipes based on what you find on the internet or from relatives! 
    • Grow your ingredients! Once you understand the history behind a recipe or two, try your hand at gardening the veggies you need. If you don’t have the space where you live, there are many community gardens in the Triangle you can grow in! Don’t have time to grow your own? No problem! Gather what you need from a grocery store or farmers market.
  • Preparing, Sharing, and Gathering 
    • Once your ingredients are ready, prepare your meal! Gather your family, friends, and/or neighbors to learn new-to-you techniques and share the experience together. You by no means need to be a professional— just have fun with it, make mistakes, and make it your own! Part of foodways is the innovation that happens as meals are adapted and pieced together. As you work together, tell stories and share what you have learned about this meal with each other. 
    • If you know of a family or community member who has experience in these foodways or preparation methods, consider inviting them as lesson leaders, if they are open to it. 
    • Bring leftovers to people who couldn’t make it to the gathering. Bonus points if you print the recipe or a note about its history for them. 
  • Preservation: 
    • Think of how you want to build and preserve these traditions. Maybe you choose to: 
      • Make a recipe book with all your new recipes 
      • Interview family members about their favorite recipes from growing up 
      • Try a new-to-you recipe each week or month 
      • Host a community or workplace gathering where individuals bring recipes and meals to share, both through eating and through storytelling! 
      • Be sure to check in with yourself as you explore foodways. Food is a lovely and tasty thing, but looking back through personal histories or asking others to do so can also be difficult, especially when sifting through what may have been lost. Sit with those feelings, and take pride in the ability to rebuild and share old and new traditions as a community!

We hope you find strength and inspiration in the foodways you discover! If you find any recipes you would like to share, please send them to sara.cathey@duke.edu, and she can share them in the weekly recipe emails! 

Week 6 (February 12-18)

Sit Less, Move More

Written by Brian Zelanko, DHSc, NSCA-CPT, NASM-CES - Health Promotion Manager at LIVE FOR LIFE

We're over halfway through the Get Moving Challenge and you're doing great! 🌟 As our challenge continues to heat up, every step and every minute of exercise are important not only for your health but also for your team as you climb the leaderboard. Finding more ways to sit less and move more could be what separates you and your team from the other competitors while you continue blazing the trail of your fitness journey.

Here are ways to fire up your step count 🔥:

  • Set a reminder on your calendar to get up and move every 30 to 60 minutes
  • Stand up and walk in place or pace while talking on the phone
  • Walk over to talk with a co-worker instead of calling or emailing
  • Schedule and take breaks to stand up during long meetings—stretch your arms overhead; shake out your legs
  • Step away from your workstation to fill your water glass
  • Drink water throughout the day so you need to get up for regular bathroom breaks
  • Stand up and move during commercials while watching television
  • Break up long drives by stopping at a park or wayside to get up and move around
  • Elevate your workstation and use an under-desk treadmill
  • Take the stairs
  • Take lunch outside

Need some more inspiration? Hear from some of the GMC participants who are at the top of the leaderboard about ways they get additional steps in each day.

  • Victor G. has ignited the first half of the challenge by running 20 – 25 miles per week. He also walks his dogs and walks to and from the parking lot to boost his step count and exercise minutes.
  • Dana K-T. enjoys playing pickleball to get extra steps in during her free time.
  • Laura L. has been playing indoor soccer, riding her Peloton, and training for an upcoming marathon.
  • Mike Y. also chases around his six and three-year-old children.
  • Along with high-intensity workouts, and lower-intensity activities, Kelly R-T. likes to incorporate spontaneous dance parties with her five and two-year-old kiddos.

Laura L. suggests starting small, so goals don't seem too large and overwhelming. She said, “When I first began running, I started with a goal of running a 5k in 3 months, then a half marathon in 6 months.” She also encourages everyone to “find a buddy and motivate each other! If you stick with it you will grow to love it!”

What forms of movement do you love? Let us know, and make a plan to move more today or this week!


Environment & Health: The Impact of Green Spaces on Wellbeing

Written by Brian Zelanko, DHSc, NSCA-CPT, NASM-CES - Health Promotion Manager, LIVE FOR LIFE

When you think of the environment, what comes to mind?

Is it trees, flowers, animals, and fresh air?🌷 Is it pollution, noise, travel, and allergens?🚗 Did you reflect on how much you enjoy being outside, or did you think about how you might prefer to stay in?

Our relationship with our environment can be both intricate and dynamic. With the prediction of an early spring (thanks Punxsutawney Phil!) the changes in our environment can have a significant impact on our physical surroundings, social connections, and overall well-being.

Exercising outside, whether it's a stroll in a local park, a jog along a scenic trail, or completing a century ride, brings individuals closer to nature and is one of the most tangible connections we make with the environment. The environment, with its diverse landscapes and natural wonders, provides a beautiful backdrop that not only motivates but also enhances the overall experience of exercise. Research also consistently highlights the positive impact of nature on mental health, and physical activity in a natural setting amplifies health benefits. Exposure to greenery and natural elements has been linked to reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. Plus, when we choose eco-friendly modes of transportation, like walking or cycling over fossil fuel-dependent options, we're not only helping the environment but also improving our own cardiovascular health.

Outdoor social activities, whether it's walking with a friend, playing team sports, or participating in community events, also contribute to a sense of belonging. Along with strengthening our social ties by attending outdoor activities and events, being engaged in our conversations improves our attention, active listening, empathy, and creativity. It gives us a break from technology and provides us with a natural 'reset' from the mundane.

Creating and maintaining a connection with the environment can have a positive impact on your routine and result in a more balanced lifestyle so you can thrive and strive to meet your health and wellness goals.

LIVE FOR LIFE has outdoor activities to help connect you with nature and foster a sense of community! Check them out and be sure to join us!

  • Twice a month, join the LIVE FOR LIFE team at the Hanes Gate entrance of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens at 12 PM to go for a lunchtime walk. Sign up here, so we know you're coming, and bring your teammates!
  • Registration for our Run/Walk Club opens Feb. 26 and starts March 11.

Enjoy the brisk, fresh air today! 🌞

Week 4 (January 29 - February 4)

Fulfillment & Purpose: Identifying Your Why

Written by Sara Cathey, MPH - Health Education Specialist, LIVE FOR LIFE

“Why?” -- It’s a question you’ve probably heard a million times if you’ve ever spent more than a few minutes with a young child as they expertly drill you with silly questions! 🕵🏼‍♀️ 

With that said, it would serve us well to ponder this simple question too! That’s because understanding our “why” can help us stay motivated, inspired, and moving forward on our goals. It can also help us consider why we choose to do certain things, if we want to continue to choose them, and what else we might find meaning in. In other words, it helps us actively identify areas of fulfillment and purpose.

There are many interconnected components that inform our “why”. These might include:

  • Your worldview or religious views 
  • ‍Your lived experiences 
  • Your community 
  • Your passions 
  • Your family or loved ones
  • The work you do and the people you serve and/or 
  • The personal satisfaction, joy, and growth you get from an activity 

Reflection is key to identifying our purpose. When you look at this list, think to yourself: Where do I draw my strength or inspiration from? What stories come to mind that inspire me? Why do these inspire or strengthen me? Spend some time thinking through these questions and your own sense of fulfillment this week. 

Other ways to reflect and identify our purpose include:

  • 1-minute written reflection  
    • Break out a sticky note and write down 5 things you love doing or that inspire you. Write down or think about why you enjoy these things, what you get out of them, and how you can incorporate them more into your daily life.
  • 15-minute free writing reflection (Try 15 minutes every day for a week!) 
    • Day 1: Pick a specific story or source of inspiration in your life. Set a timer for 15 minutes and start writing about it! Let your ideas flow freely onto the page and try not to edit. (Don’t worry-- nobody will pop out of the bushes to insult your grammar!) After the 15 minutes, read what you wrote and reflect. 
    • Day 2: Reread your story and fill in any gaps. 
    • Day 3: Highlight common themes, words, or quotes that you find meaningful. Write about why these stick out to you. 
    • Day 4: Write down how this story strengthens you or informs your purpose. 
    • Day 5: Write about what your purpose is (or seems to be) based on what you’ve written so far. Think about how this applies to what you currently do in the world, or what you would like to do! 

Happy writing! ✏

Week 3 (January 22-28)

Mental & Emotional Wellbeing: The Power of "Together"

Written by Sara Cathey, MPH - Health Education Specialist, LIVE FOR LIFE

The word "together" has its most recent roots in the Old English word, tōgædere; its origins stretch back even further to the pairing of the West Germanic words meaning "to" + "gather".1

In the context of our mental and emotional wellbeing, gathering with one another is essential. By sharing space with each other, we can connect over similarities, share ideas, strengthen one another, help bear each other's burdens, and establish a sense of belonging and purpose.

To do just that, the Personal Assistance Service (PAS) provides a Mini Mental Makeover session on the second Wednesday of each month at 12 PM through LIVE FOR LIFE's Health Matters platform. These sessions allow you space to slow down, reflect, share, connect, and grow in gratitude in an online group setting.

Laurie Kovens, a Senior EAP Counselor and Licensed Clinical Social Worker with PAS, leads each session. During them, she asks participants to consider three simple, yet impactful questions. Participants are encouraged to share their responses through an anonymous word cloud that is projected on the screen. As answers roll in, an array of emojis and words spread across the page with those that are repeated getting bigger and becoming the focal point-- thus, visually highlighting where participants' feelings and experiences overlap.

Some of my favorite moments during the Mini Mental Makeover are when participants give impromptu shoutouts in the chat to each other, quoting a phrase that resonated with them from the word cloud with several of these 🙌 excitedly tacked on to the end of their comment. I love it because it's this sense of being seen, understood, and mutually reminded that they are not alone; it's the sense of being together in this as a community.

We hope you'll join us for our next Mini Mental Makeover! It is Wednesday, February 14th at 12 PM on Zoom! ♥

In the meantime, take some time this week to actively check in with yourself and with a friend or loved one! 

Learn more about services offered by PAS with this quick slide show!

View article sources here.

Week 2 (January 15-21)

Building Positive Food Environments

Written by Sara Cathey, MPH - Health Education Specialist, LIVE FOR LIFE

Quick! Think of your favorite meal! 🥗

What did you see, feel, or smell when you thought of it? For me, I saw a warm plate of homemade biscuits, scrambled eggs, bacon, and strawberries. When I zoom out a bit and look at the environment this favorite meal is taking place in, I see that plate balancing on my lap as my family sits in rocking chairs on my grandparents' back porch, enjoying a crisp morning. What about you? Where are you, who are you with, and what do you see with your favorite meal?

Our environment (this where, who, and what) plays a big part in how we interact with, feel about, and choose the food we eat. When our eating environment and community are positive and supportive, we may feel more inclined to try a new food option or health behavior. We can build positive food environments at work and at home that help us and our colleagues eat more nutrient dense foods while inspiring feelings of enjoyment, community, and support.

How can we create positive food environments?

There are many visual and social cues workplaces can add to communal spaces to make them feel welcoming and supportive of healthy behaviors.

Let's take a look at a few options. (Keep in mind our “Where” 📍, “Who” 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦, and “What” 🍎)

  • 📍Breakrooms – Everyone loves a free snack! An easy way to introduce healthy food options while brightening up a shared space and encouraging time together is to pick a few snacks to have in the breakroom each week. To promote variety, try picking snacks from different food groups. If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can even print out this MyPlate guide to help decorate, label, organize, and provide information about the available food options. Bonus points if you make a sign that says, “Share one with a friend!” Breakrooms are also a great space to have a bulletin board to pin recipes, inspiring messages, and goals!
  • 📍Staff Meetings – Just like breakrooms, our staff meetings can be foody too! Whether you do this once a month, or each week, choose a snack from one of the MyPlate food groups for your team. You can even have people write in what their favorite snacks are. Then, each week pick one to try while opening the meeting with that person explaining why it’s their favorite!
  • 📍Lobbies – Switch out the candy bowl with a fruit bowl! Don’t worry! You can still enjoy some candy as you swing by the front desk, but try to limit this option to the week before a holiday versus the whole month.
  • 📍Remote workers - What about options for remote workers? Sally Neve, a LIVE FOR LIFE Registered Dietitian recommends to her remote clients to pack their lunch as if they were going into the office! This allows us to make conscious choices about the food we will eat during the day "at work”, while still being “at home”. Just like the suggestions for breakrooms, remote workers can also prime their environment with healthful snacks and encouraging messages to create a breakroom atmosphere.

🏆 Bonus challenge: If you and your colleagues want to get creative, try a monthly food challenge! This is a great opportunity to explore new foods, build skills, and enjoy some time together as a team! Here’s how to start:

  • As a group, pick one food you want to learn how to perfect. Maybe it’s a homemade granola bar recipe, or the classic boiled egg!
  • Have each member go home, find a separate recipe, and make their own!
  • Pick a day when your team will be in the office and bring your creation in to do a taste test!
  • Vote on the best one! Keep a scorecard for who wins each round, and at the end of the year, assign funny superlatives to each member based on how everyone did!

Bon appétit!

Week 1 (January 8-14)

Physical Activity: Community Found in Exercise

Written by Sara Cathey, MPH - Health Education Specialist with LIVE FOR LIFE

Welcome to the Get Moving Challenge! We are excited you and your team are joining us over the next few months to build healthier habits one step at a time! This year’s overarching theme for the Get Moving Challenge is “community”. As we continue to “return to normal” in our daily lives, the sense of community and belonging is vital for our wellbeing in the workplace and at home. Each week, we’ll talk about a different way you and your team can build community among each other, particularly as it relates to the Healthy Duke initiatives: Physical Activity & Movement, Food & Nutrition, Mental & Emotional Wellbeing, Fulfillment & Purpose, and Environment & Culture.

This week, we are kickstarting the challenge by discussing none other than– drum roll, please –community and physical activity! 

As you collaborate with your colleagues to reach your individual and team fitness goals during the Get Moving Challenge, there are numerous benefits you may experience that come from moving more and moving together. 

Many Ways to Move

Movement of all kinds can improve your mental and physical health. When you think about this through the lens of the GMC, the steps you’ll take (literally and figuratively), can help you relax while strengthening your heart, bones, and muscles.1-6 In fact, “Walking for just 21 minutes a day can cut your risk of heart disease by 30%,”4 while helping you manage blood sugar7 and cholesterol.8 

But walking isn’t your only option to get moving! 

Engaging in exercise activities we find fun, novel, or challenging can motivate us to keep moving9-11 while building endurance, self-confidence, and a positive relationship with exercise. And what’s better? Within these activities, there are built-in communities!

These communities can help you: 

  • Engage in a fun social atmosphere
  • Feel motivated and inspired as positive behaviors are embraced together
  • Stay accountable to your routine (and your rest 👀)
  • Seek out the support you need to keep moving, heal, or grow, and
  • Feel connected, heard, and encouraged by like minds

Whether you join a local climbing gym’s LGBTQIA+ affinity group, an all-women's Pilates night, a Run/Walk club with your colleagues, or anything else that may interest you, group exercise can help you feel less stressed, or feel that the quality of your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing has improved.12-14 There are many options to choose from, so check listings from your local gym, social media groups, and LIVE FOR LIFE

Quick Steps to Get More Steps Together

There are many ways to fit activity in during the day even when we are busy. To make this a reality, try these activities!

  • Workplace Movement Breaks
    • Eat lunch with your coworkers then take a walk together indoors or outdoors. These walks don’t have to be long either—start small! As described by the American Diabetes Association, “If you can’t walk for 30 minutes each day, try two 15-minute or three 10-minute walks during the day.”7
    • Make your meetings active! Whether they are walking meetings, or you integrate movement activities during them, these can get you and your team active and energized!
    • Get up every hour or two to stretch and walk around.
      • Bonus points if you go explore a new floor of the building or check in on a coworker for five minutes!
  • LIVE FOR LIFE also has many ways you can stay active while enjoying the company of community!
    • Twice a month, join the LIVE FOR LIFE team at the Hanes Gate entrance of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens at 12 PM to go for a lunch time walk! Sign up here, so we know who’s coming! Don’t forget to bring your teammates! These start next Tuesday, January 16.
    • Group Fitness Classes: Join a LIVE FOR LIFE Fitness Specialist next Thursday, Jan 18th @ 5:30 PM for a Total Body Training Class on East Campus in the Bivins building - Room 210. See more class days here!
    • Run/Walk Club (Starting March 11)

Remember, our efforts to move add up! Let’s do this thing! 💪🏽

View sources here