Friday, December 21, 2012

Recap: Coca-Cola Balanced Living Workshop

I was compensated for my participation in Coca-Cola's Balanced Living Workshop, but my thoughts and views are my own.

There's just so much to share. We had presentations by registered dietitians, ate amazing food, participated in cooking our own lunch at The Chopping Block Cooking School, met with our very own personal trainers and dietitians, engaged with fellow mom bloggers, visited a local grocery store chain, Jewel-Osco, with their lead dietitian and engaged in a fitness session with none other than celebrity trainer, Harley Pasternak. Did you catch all those verbs I used?
Out to dinner with fellow mom-bloggers and attendees. That's Heather next to me from Live. Love. Laugh.
How about I share some of those little nuggets of information I learned and found reciting to my husband repeatedly over the last week?

1. Parents are very focused on the nutrition and health needs of their children, but are less likely to select healthy foods and habits for themselves.

Hello, guilt. It's you again. But really, I hadn't even thought about this being an issue with us, yet it is. Benjamin gets top quality, organic, and the best of the best. And us? I'm digging through the junk shelf (are we the only ones with one of those?) for chocolate and bits to get me to dinner.

2. Eating anything for breakfast is better than eating nothing.

I'm okay at this, but I guess it never really registered just how important it is to energize our bodies. The analogy of putting on ones' life vest before helping your child was relevant here and something the dietitians brought up. Without energizing ourselves, how can we be there for our kids with all the gusto they need us to have... you know... to chase them all over the house and clean up after them? Naturally, taking just a few minutes to prepare breakfast is one of the best choices we can make all day.

3. Divide out a specific allowance of sweets for the day and allow yourself that indulgence, but no more.

When I met with the registered dietitian one-on-one, she and I worked out this system for me. I never thought of myself as needing the self-control assistance, but in discussing my trends of hitting up the junk shelf, I realized I'm consuming more because I'm not giving myself an allotment for the day.

4. Eating a lump sum of sweets/fats during the day is the same as spacing those indulgences out.

I often thought that if I spaced out my chocolate intake, it would burn off easier and affect my body less. However, the registered dietitian explained that we have a specific set of calories and fat calories each day and no matter when those calories are consumed-- all at once or spaced, the body still has its limit. There go my excuses!

5. When we met with Harley Pasternak, he shared a story about a typical American lifestyle and how our jobs as on-the-go parents might actually be more healthy than the people who sit in a cube all day and attend a 1-hour intense cardio class at night.
That's me! In the blue shirt at the bottom! Right in front near Kathy from Bereaved and Blessed and Harley in the blue.
We tend to make concessions about food and working out. I worked out for a whole hour today! Surely I deserve that ice cream sundae. However, our abilities to lose weight and maintain healthy bodies are directly correlated to what goes into our mouths as caloric intake. 

6. When reading food labels, the 5/20 rule is a good one to follow. Having 5% (of daily value) or less in saturated fats, fats, cholesterol and sodium is best. Having 20% (of daily value) or more in vitamins, minerals, and fiber is what to aim for.

I'm a label-reader, but I admit to paying little attention to the daily value % on the right side of the label and pay more attention to the numbers themselves on the left. I should be paying more attention to the daily value percentages. 

7. Dark vegetables are not always better for you than light vegetables. Don't judge a vegetable by it's... er... cover.
Jewel-Osco's RD, Kim Kirchherr discussing label reading in the produce section
During our Jewel-Osco tour, we read lots of labels. We discovered a bag of prepared spinach had less vitamin c and fiber than a bag of prepared cabbage. This is just more fuel for my cabbage-loving fire. A delicious fact that I assumed was not the case based on color alone!

8. Cutting half the fat contributed by butters and oils in any recipe, especially sweets, will still result in a decadent and delicious product. {I just used this trick on brownies this week and you couldn't tell a difference!}

Especially desserts, the more indulgent, the better-- or so it appears. We were given the tip to sub light-flavored olive oil for butter in brownies and baked goods to result in a healthier and still equally delicious dessert. As a general rule, Kim Kirchherr shared that fats stored at room temperature that are liquids are typically better for the body than those fats that are solid at room temperature. This means most oils are better than choosing butter. I love butter and I love cooking, so this lesson was wise and well-accepted. 

9. When label-reading for sugar, remember that sugar is a carbohydrate. First look at the total carbohydrates, then the sugars. Compare this to the ingredients list for the real truth. Ingredients on the list below the nutrition chart tell the order in which items appear in the product. If sugar is high on the list, that's probably not a good sign and an indicator that lots of added sugars are to blame for the increase in carbohydrates. Natural carbohydrates are good, added ones are not as good.

I don't pay a lot of attention to sugar, but I'm now putting this on my list to be more aware. I never thought to consider sugar as a carbohydrate, although I knew sugar was in the same family. Carbohydrates to me were always okay, but sugars were always bad. If the fats were low, and vitamins were high, I would pay little attention to sugars. I'm making it a goal to pay closer attention to all parts of the labels for foods we consume.

10. Coca-Cola brought a bunch of us mom-bloggers together for this workshop because they believe in a balanced lifestyle and being transparent in their efforts to help us manage those goals we set for our families.

Obesity is an issue. Coca-Cola acknowledges that and is participating in educating its consumers about making healthy choices. All their products are labeled properly. They financially support parks and recreation facilities in cities, Chicago being one of them. They strive to empower women and inform them, knowing mothers are often the decision-makers for families and select what their children and family consume. They offer a variety of products in many sizes for us to choose what works best for our consumption. As all things in life, moderation and quantity control are important to live a complete, balanced life. I wrote that, I promise. :)
Chopping Block Cooking School - The Coca-Cola mom-blogger crew
I had a blast. I still can't stop babbling about how exciting it was to attend this event and get re-energized to make healthier choices for my family. A huge thank-you goes out to Coca-Cola for hosting an event that helps motivate families to plan out better choices and prioritize balanced-living decisions. It's an honor to share the fun and facts I've learned. 

Benjamin waited patiently for his mama and was happy to explore the city with his dad while I had some much-needed rejuvenation and healthy lifestyle planning time. He even managed to take advantage of the hotel bathtub!
Hi, Mom. Hope you learned good stuff about balanced living!
Photo credit for all photos used in this post: The Coca-Cola Company & Bruce Powell Photography


Brigitte said... [Reply to comment]

I'm going to have to look into using olive oil for baking... Good advice!

Kari at A Grace Full Life said... [Reply to comment]

I LOVE that your little one was there, I had no idea!
And he looks like he loves that tub as much as I did!!

Heather (Live.Love.Laugh.) said... [Reply to comment]

OMG I love him in that giant tub! SO cute.

Renel said... [Reply to comment]

cool cool and cool..awesome pics and tips. B is too cute in his private swimming pool!

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

These are great nuggets. Thanks for sharing. (although the irony of a soda company promoting healthy living amuses me, but cool they do it regardless)

I'm totally guilty of giving Finn über healthy food and not doing the same for my body. New years resolution I think.

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

Cute baby in a bathtub.

I recently read this book called Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It that suggests all this calorie talk is basically a myth and the real issue is the amount of carbs, especially sugars, that we're consuming. It's why the Adkins diet works for weight loss even though you can load up on meat and cheese. Obviously the goal is health/moderation, but it was interesting in the sense that it suggested our weight is far more about our genetics and hormones (insulin) and far less about diet/exercise.

Anyway, sorry that now feels like an only sort-of relevant side note. Not sure where i was going. Next time ask Coca-cola if you can bring me with you.

Kathy said... [Reply to comment]

What a great recap/take away post! I learned somethings reading it that I somehow missed during the workshop, so thank you for that.

It was so great to meet you last week and experience this awesome event together. Thank you for sharing that I wasn't the only bereaved mother in our group, I am sorry that we have that in common, but appreciated being able to connect with you about that.

I also had no idea that your unbelievably adorable son was there and got to soak in that tub (which I intended to, but never got around to doing myself there)! Hope that we keep in touch and our paths cross again soon. Happy holidays to you and your loved ones.