Wellness resolutions check

As we approach the end of the first quarter of 2012, have you taken a look at your health and wellness resolutions? You know, the ones you made in January: eat healthier, have better portion control, lose weight, prune your schedule, get in shape and exercise regularly. Any of those sound familiar?

Lisa and Mike "Before"

One of the main resolutions that we typically make in the first quarter is to eat healthier. The National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (NRECA) launched the Eat SMART (Simple Methods to Achieve Results Together) program in January. I have the privilege of leading that effort at your statewide association. I was asked partially because my husband, Mike, and I have incorporated a healthier lifestyle. We’ve “been there, done that.” We eat more salads, less junk food. We drink more water, less soda. We exercise regularly. Mike has lost 80-plus pounds in the last three years and has kept it off. I have lost 30-plus pounds in the last two years and have kept it off. Easy? No way! Worth it? You bet!

Each of us had our own reasons for making changes. Mike is a physical education teacher

Lisa and Mike "After"

and high school basketball coach, teaching his students and players the importance of being healthy and fit. Yet, he was overweight, always tired and taking three blood pressure pills daily, and he had issues with sugar. Diabetes runs in his family. Plus, he did little-to-no exercise. It was an eye-opener when the doctor said to him, “You know what to do, Mike. You teach it to your students, you’re setting the example.” Ouch! That was all it took – the realization that he wasn’t practicing what he preached, so-to-speak. He changed his eating habits, drastically cutting out fast foods and refined sugars, ate more salads and veggies and began going to the gym. Not surprising, he began to feel better, gain energy and lose weight. Now he only takes one blood pressure pill. Some things can be chalked up to heredity.

My issues included feeling tired all the time, no energy, headaches, grumpy and yes, a bit of vanity. My clothes didn’t fit, and I refused to go to the next size. Anyone else have those issues? I had been at my heaviest and I’m only 5’2″. I kept saying, “I’m not overweight, I’m under-tall.” But who was I kidding? Mike inspired me to make changes – better food choices/exercise. It worked. I am about seven pant sizes smaller and overall, I simply feel better.

Lisa Rigoni is the Advertising Manager for Illinois Country Living and is a communications specialist and business development leader for the AIEC, ICL and Cooperative Design & Print. You can reach her at: lrigoni@aiec.coop.


As part of NRECA’s Eat SMART program we are looking at the plans put together by the Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services. One of the main tools is www.choosemyplate.com, where you can learn more about healthy dietary guidelines.

Topics include:

  • Making informed food choices
  • Being physically active
  • The “healthy diet”:
  • Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
  • Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
  • Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars
  • Shows you how to make smart choices from every food group


  • Find balance between food and physical activity
  • Get the most nutrition out of calories
  • Stay within daily calorie needs

The website will show you ways to adjust your lifestyle to best meet your health and wellness needs. Your changes can start out small. NOTE: As always, be sure and check with your physician before starting any new food or exercise plan. Your doctor knows your health issues best, and should be consulted.