How to Start an Exercise Routine: Setting Yourself up for Success

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1 | Let’s do this!

The first step in starting an exercise routine is deciding that you are ready to begin. Once you have made this commitment to yourself you have conquered the first and hardest step!

2 | Find your motivation

Is it that you want to fit into the jeans you bought last summer or is it that you hope to be a good example for your family? Whatever it is, use this as motivation to push you to stay committed to reaching your goals.

3 | Set your goals!

What do you want to achieve? Set both short and long term goals. Short-term goals can be as simple as making it to the gym three times a week for the next month. Long-term goals might be that you want to run a 5k by the end of the year or lose 15 pounds in time for your son’s wedding next spring. Check out our How to set goals and stick with them blog for more information on setting SMARTER goals.

4 | Make time for exercise

Find time in your schedule that you can dedicate to your physical fitness. Schedule this time like you would an appointment. You wouldn’t cancel an appointment if it wasn’t absolutely necessary so treat your workout the same way. Aim for at least three days of activity and at least two and a half hours of exercise each week. If you need to – split it up! It may be easier for you to find shorter periods of time rather than a large chunk. There are 168 hours in a week so 2.5 hours is just 1.5% of your week. YOU CAN DO IT!

5 | Equipment

The most important piece of exercise equipment you can invest in is a good pair of closed toe athletic shoes. A good pair of shoes will provide adequate support and reduce your risk of injury. You will also want to make sure you have proper clothing for exercise, i.e. loose fitting, moisture wicking clothes.

6 | Start slow

Start slow and gradually work your way up to a more intense workout regimen. If you haven’t worked out in years, don’t feel like you have to jump right into running a 5K or lifting heavy weights. This is how early burnout and injury occur. Evaluate your current condition or ask a doctor if you are unsure. The goal is to develop habits you can stick with for a lifetime.

7 | Reward yourself

Set small rewards to help you reach your larger goals. If you complete your entire workout routine for the month, plan to treat yourself to a night out at your favorite restaurant or allow yourself to purchase a new exercise outfit.

8 | Just get there!

Once you get to the gym it’s hard to leave without doing anything. If you work out at home, getting dressed and putting your exercise shoes on works the same way.

“The hardest step is the first step out the door.”

Success Story: Sue M.

Sue Menges joined the Weigh and Win program in February of 2015 after learning from a doctor’s appointment she was borderline diabetic. After seven months of slow, sustainable lifestyle changes, she is fifty pounds lighter and her A1C levels are in the normal levels.  Read more about her story below.

Sue Before and After-01

What motivated you to join Weigh and Win?
My doctor told me I was borderline diabetic and needed to make a change.  I discovered that Weigh and Win had set up a portable kiosk so I went online to see what it was all about.  I thought that being rewarded for working hard at losing weight was a super incentive!

What were your goals when you started the program?
I wanted to lower my A1C & get healthier so I met with a nutritionist to learn how to eat.  I also wanted to lose weight because I knew that losing weight I would feel better and be healthier.

Why has Weigh and Win worked for you and what do you like about the program?
I like the program because it helps make you accountable, sends you email tips and also rewards you for your hard work.

Do you have any tips or advice for new participants to Weigh and Win?
One of the hard things is to recognize that making a lifestyle change is not easy but that you need to stick with it and it WILL get easier before you know it.  I drink Hint water as well as regular water because it has a hint of flavor and nothing bad in it (works well if you get tired of plain water.)I take a bite of food and put the fork down on the table and slowly chew my bite of food and swallow before I pick up the fork again. I get salad dressing on the side and dip my fork into it and then into the salad.  My very fist exercise was walking a mile a day.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
It is not easy, but so worth it.  It helps to have family and friend’s support and encouragement.  Reward yourself with a NON FOOD reward.  It is amazing, but after one year of eating healthy I don’t crave sugary items or bread anymore.

Has the Weigh and Win program and your weight loss had any effect medically? Have you reduced or prevented your need or any medications? 
When I started my A1C were 6.0 and blood pressure medicine was 20 mg.  Now my A1C are 5.6 and blood pressure medicine is 5mg.  I still need to lose 30 more pounds, which will be easy now!

Stress: How it Effects Us and How Exercise Can Help

STRESS – just seeing the word can cause anxiety for some people. Stress can be defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. It can also be defined as the non-specific response of the body to any demand of change. This means, that there is such a thing as good stress and bad stress. Good stressors are things that cause us to be excited or positive and tend to have a positive effect on our mood such as healthy relationships and setting and achieving goals. Bad stressors are the things that cause us to be upset, angry and create a worried feeling, such as job loss or higher demands at work or in our life. Although both types of stress can lead to similar body responses, it’s the bad stressors that can cause long term damage to our body.

Long term stress can not only lead to higher blood pressure and increased risk of having a heart attack, but it affects almost every part of our body. It can decrease the amount of sleep we get and our quality of sleep, leads to muscle and joint pain, headaches and even depression. The good news is, there are a number of ways to identify negative stress and ways to reduce the impact it has on us.


Identify and Prevent

The first step is identifying the problem. Use a journal to mark down the times when stress affects you and how often those stressors occur. Once you track the times when stress hits, you can try to avoid those situations or change your reaction if you can’t prevent it. Even if you can’t stop the stress, you have control over changing the outcome. If you learn that you tend to reach for unhealthy foods in stressful situations, try exercising instead. This will turn the bad stressor into a good stressor.

Utilize Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation is way of calming down after the stress has occurred and affected your body. Counting to 10 before reacting is a good technique that not only helps clear your mind, but can also help to lessen the effects on your body from stress. There are also a number of meditation apps at the touch of your fingers that can help release some stress. The Calm app is a mindfulness meditation app that can reduce stress while increasing happiness. It has over 25 soothing sounds that you can play to fall asleep to or just to listen to at work. Another app to check-out is Headspace. It teaches meditation techniques and is compatible with apple watches.

Exercise Can Be the Best Medication

Exercising has been shown to increase productivity, concentration and happiness, while reducing your risk for a number of cancers. In other words, exercising can be a great outlet for reducing stress. The increase in body temperature from exercising has a calming effect on the body. Not only that, but the feeling you get after finishing a challenging workout increases happiness and gives a sense of accomplishment which could help decrease almost any stressor.

The most important thing to remember is to have a plan when stress happens and know what techniques you have to lean on so that the effects are not long term.

Healthy and Easy Meal Prep

Let’s face it, trying to eat healthier can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, especially when we aren’t used to having to shop and prepare healthier meals in a consistent manner. The kitchen can seem a little intimidating at times and the thought of having to slave over slicing and dicing can all too often persuade us to abandon our carefully selected healthy groceries and order take-out instead. Rest assured, there are manageable ways to stick with your healthy meal plan without all the stress of meal prep.

Follow the 3 Ps of Healthy and Easy Meal Prep …

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1 | PLAN

Much like most busy tasks in our day, having a plan in place helps us to be more efficient with our time and our energy. The same can be said for meal planning. Start with selecting easy and healthy meals that you’d like to have for the upcoming week. Follow the recipes we provide for you as a guide each week, or adjust them to suit your flavor and dietary preferences. This will be your roadmap for your weekly grocery shopping venture, for your kitchen prep, and for your ease of time. Plan to have staples as part of frequent meals. Let’s say you enjoy the flavor and ease of using baked chicken in several meals each week. A staple item like this can go quite a long way, where it can be added to a morning omelet, your lunch salad, soups, stews, casseroles, stir fry, and more!  Or how about adding quinoa or brown rice to these very same dishes for some additional fiber and plant-based protein? Maybe you love the flavor and benefits of tomatoes and begin to plan how to use them fresh in salads, as raw snacks, or to cook a delicious at-home pasta sauce. Plan to have these favorite items on hand at all times to save on time, money, and the stress of having to plan too many complicated meals for the week.

Tip #1: Create a Shopping List that includes Staple, Occasional, and Rarely Foods

2 | PREP

Once you’ve finished your grocery shopping, it’s helpful to prepare some of your foods right away to save on time and energy later. Oftentimes, having cut fresh fruits and vegetables on hand is just what we need to avoid snacking on processed and unhealthy foods such as chips, cookies, and candy. Trying to incorporate more salads into your daily diet? Why not make a large bowl of fresh lettuce, spinach, or mixed greens and have the additional goodies (e.g., sliced mushrooms, cooked salmon, grated carrots, tomatoes, etc.) packaged separately in sandwich bags and ready to compliment your tasty greens? When you are ready to serve and eat the salad, simply add the additional foods, some light dressing or olive oil, and voilà—a beautiful and healthy salad!

Use the example below for a way to get ready for your next family feast:


  1. Cut green, red and yellow peppers
  2. Diced onion
  3. Minced garlic
  4. Sliced baked or grilled chicken
  5. Shredded romaine lettuce
  6. Shredded low-fat cheese
  7. Portioned plain Greek yogurt (use as a substitution for sour cream)
  8. Corn or whole grain tortillas
  9. Optional: cooked brown rice or quinoa, cooked corn, cooked black, pinto, or kidney beans, cilantro, and lime

*Tip #2: After cutting each ingredient, place into individual containers or sandwich bags to have ready for later use. When it is time to cook, each ingredient can easily be thrown into a pan and will be ready-to-serve in less time!

Snack tips:

  1. Pre-wash berries and have ready-to-eat
  2. Have baby-peeled carrots, sliced cucumber, broccoli, and cauliflower crowns on hand
  3. Dice low-fat cheese and serve with fresh grapes for a mid-day snack
  4. Keep hard-boiled eggs on hand for a high quality protein snack—eat as is or add to salads

*Tip #3: For a quick snack to fill you up, cut an avocado in half, sprinkle with a little sea salt, pepper, and lemon juice and eat fresh!  Feeling a little daring? Sprinkle with powdered garlic, chili pepper, or paprika for some extra flavor.


One very important part of the 3 Ps is to ensure you are preserving your prepared foods in a manner where they are easily accessible, remain fresh, and ensure you are more likely to use them for healthy meal preparation. Some helpful tips include:

  • Prepare freezer-friendly foods—Meals such as soups, stews, chilis, and casseroles generally preserve well and are easy to reheat for future meals. When you do opt for these freezer-friendly foods, prepare larger quantities that store easily in your freezer. Broths and smoothies can be stored easily in ice-cube trays. Burritos and freshly prepared lean meat or veggie burgers are also freezer-friendly foods to keep on hand and later re-heated.
  • Keep a cooler bag on hand for taking meals with you on the go. Instead of tempting yourself with fast food while driving in your car, riding the bus, or walking down the street, keep healthier treats with you at all times. Things like trail mix, peeled oranges, sliced apples, and snap peas are great for those times on the go or when you are just in a hurry and need a little snack.
  • Invest in portion control and sturdy containers—there’s nothing worse than having your soup spill out from a poorly made plastic container or to work so diligently on maintaining healthy eating habits only to ruin them by placing too much food in the container, leading to overeating later in the day. Opt for portion-control containers with tightly sealed lids and keep fresh with ice packs or use a refrigerator where possible.
  • Use mason jars—these jars are not only great for storing jams and jellies, but come in handy when taking healthy smoothies, oatmeal, and yogurt on the road. You can even keep things such as salads, dips, and cut fruits in veggies in them for easy access.

Healthier, Stronger Team Challenge Winners

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Congratulations to everyone who participated in the ‘Healthier, Stronger’ Weigh and Win Team Challenge. More than 850 people and 180 teams participated across the state. The team challenge helps fuel healthy change through competition and social accountability. Don’t worry if you missed out on this challenge, our next team challenge starts August 1, 2016.

Weight Improvement Team Challenge Winners:
  • 1st Place: Freedom Fat Fighters, 10.34% weight improvement
  • 2nd Place: CAM – Mission Slimpossible, 10.07% weight improvement
  • 3rd Place: WCSD6, 9.69% weight improvement
HEALTHpoints Team Challenge Winners:
  • 1st Place: And I Will Walk 10,000 Steps, 6,647 average HEALTHpoints
  • 2nd Place: Pharmers Only…PSI, 6,296 average HEALTHpoints
  • 3rd Place: Here we go again, 6,245 average HEALTHpoints

Each of the winning teams won great prizes like Fitbit Flex activity trackers, smoothie blenders and more. In addition, the winning teams chose a qualifying charity for a $1,000 donation to be made on their behalf.

The Next Team Challenge

Want to get competitive? The next team challenge runs August 1 – October 31, 2016. The team challenge is a great way to achieve your health goals through competition and social support. In fact, Weigh and Win participants who join the team challenge lose more weight than the average participant! Look for more information on the next team challenge in July.

Questions? Contact Weigh and Win at or 303-694-8007.

May HEALTHpoints Drawing

Earn 300 or more HEALTHpoints in May and you will be entered into a drawing to win one of three $100 Amazon Gift Cards! To check-out how many HEALTHpoints you have earned and what activities earn you points, log into your Weigh and Win account. Then click on ‘HEALTHpoints & Prizes’ from the top menu.

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Congratulations to the April HEALTHpoint winners. They’re enjoying some tunes on their new iPod Nanos.

  • Wendy – Castle Rock
  • Janelle – Commerce City

Limiting Added Sugars in Your Diet

What are Added Sugars?

Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to food and drinks when they are prepared or processed intended for added flavor, texture or preservation. This does not include sugars naturally found in food sources like fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose).

Added sugars have no nutritional benefit but many add calories that can contribute to weight gain, decreased heart health and tooth decay.

Amount to Eat

Avoiding added sugars at all costs is ideal; however, this can be difficult. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than 100 calories per day (6 teaspoons of sugar) for women and 150 calories per day (9 teaspoons) for men. As a general rule of thumb, stay away from any product with more than 10 grams of sugar per serving. There are four calories in each gram of sugar, so if a product has 10 grams of sugar per serving, that’s 40 calories just from the sugar alone. To put this all into perspective, one can of soda contains eight teaspoons of sugar, or 130 calories and zero nutrition!

Foods to Avoid

  • Soft drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Sports drinks
  • Fruit drinks
  • Candy
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Pastries
  • Ice cream
  • Prepackaged or processed foods

How to Identify Added Sugars

Look on the nutritional labels of your foods to identify sugars. Anything ending in “ose” is considered a sugar. Ingredients are listed on food labels in descending order by amount. If you see sugar listed among the first few ingredients, the product is likely high in added sugars. The following ingredients are commonly found on nutrient labels and are considered sugars:

  • anhydrous dextrose
  • brown sugar
  • confectioner’s powdered sugar
  • corn syrup
  • corn syrup solids
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • honey
  • invert sugar
  • lactose
  • malt syrup
  • maltose
  • maple syrup
  • molasses
  • nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar)
  • pancake syrup
  • raw sugar
  • sucrose
  • sugar
  • white granulated sugar



  1. Drink water or non-sweetened tea instead of sodas, sports drinks or energy drinks.
  2. If you drink coffee, avoid adding creamer or sugar.
  3. Drink only 100 percent fruit juice or just eat the whole fruit instead.
  4. Choose fresh fruit for dessert instead of cakes, cookies, pies and ice cream.
  5. If buying canned fruit, make sure it is packed in water instead of syrup.
  6. Avoid all cakes, candy, pastries and cookies and chose healthier snack options instead.
  7. Shop on the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid prepackaged processed foods.
  8. Avoid purchasing products if it has more than 10 grams of sugar per serving.