Fun Ways to Shed Pounds in the New Year

Ever wanted to live by the beach so you can surf? Ever wanted to sing your heart out while  working your heart out? Ever wanted to run while being 15 pounds lighter?

Well now you can!

Just click here to watch the latest innovations on working out in the New Year.

If these ideas don’t work for you, use them as inspiration to develop your knew, fresh work out that will keep you motivated…..for at least a week 😉

Beyond Nutrition and Activity Levels: Sensitivity helps to reduce overweight and obesity issues

New research by Sarah Anderson and colleagues at The Ohio State University found that parents who were more sensitive to their toddlers, and therefore developed closer emotional bonds with their toddlers, were more likely to not have their children develop into obese children during their teenage years (forthcoming in the January issue of Pediatrics).

In other words, don’t just think about your child’s diet and activity level. Spending quality time with your young child: nurturing them, being their to support their needs, and dare I say, engaging them in age-appropriate ways may have lasting effects, including health benefits.

Retaining Research Participants Part 2

But the real reason I think Head Start and Early Head Start preschool teachers stay involved in research is this: Preschool teachers want a voice. They want to be heard. They have stated to me time and again at nearly all of the centers that they feel like they aren’t listened to. That changes aren’t made to better meet their needs. They feel so disparaged by this that some of them have a “why try” attitude towards asking for change.

In fact, some of the preschool teachers outright asked me “Will any changes come from this research? Because if not, I don’t want to waste my time.”

To which I aptly responded saying “I can’t promise that changes will be made. I’m a researcher and don’t have the power to institute change. However, you are taking 10 minutes out of your life to fill out the questionnaire. I am taking an entire school year to create, collect, analyze, and distribute data on multiple research projects related to Teacher Retention. So I really hope that they institute changes based off of the research.” (of course also adding in there that Senior Management was who asked for and permitted me to complete the study, so I can only assume that they would like to make the needed changes).

Preschool teachers are busy. They don’t want to waste their time. However, they do want to be listened to. They do want their jobs to be manageable. And they have thoughts about how the company can be made stronger; about how the company can be more efficient; about how the company can achieve greater outcomes for the Head Start and Early Head Start preschoolers. By listening to their thoughts and suggestions, the company not only can retain qualified teachers, which has its own benefits, but the company can also make a stronger, more united, and more successful organization by meeting the needs of its employees.

New Year’s Resolution: Taking Vacations and Reducing Stress

According to USA.gov, one of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions is to take a vacation. For some families this may mean a weekend get-away to grandma and grandpa’s house. For others, it might mean traveling half way around the world to climb a mountain or lay on a tropical beach.

Nearly everyone loves vacations, but many people don’t end up taking vacations for all sorts of reasons.

Chikani et al. (2005) researched the effects of taking vs not taking vacations among rural women in Wisconsin. They found that women who only took one vacation in the past two years and in the past six years were more likely to be stressed and have tension compared to those who took two or more vacations a years. Additionally, those who took more vacations were less tired at work and at home, and they were more satisfied with their marriage compared to those who took fewer vacations.

This year, do yourself, your family, and your marriage a favor and take vacation 🙂 You will be more energized, have a healthier marriage, and maybe most importantly, be happier!

Retaining Research Participants Part 1

There are a myriad of studies that have been completed on retaining research participants (Robinson et al., 2007 for a systematic review of retaining research participants [mostly in health care]). Their basic overall finding is that those studies who use a number of different ways (aka are more dynamic) of retaining participants will retain more than those who don’t ‘go the extra mile’. And those studies who help ease burdens on participants retain more participants.

Although I am not studying this topic, I feel like I have a good indication why Head Start and Early Head Start preschool teachers are staying involved in the study. Of course I agree with Robinson, in that, some of my teachers may not have continued participating if I didn’t go into their classrooms, allowing them to leave their classrooms to complete the questionnaire (easing their ‘lack of time’ burden). Additionally, when creating the questionnaire, it was designed so that people could complete the form in 10 minutes (if they filled it out completely) or in two minutes (if they simply circled a number on the likert scale, and didn’t write comments explaining themselves); after all, one of the largest complaints I hear from Head Start and Early Head Start teachers is the amount of paper work that is required of them compared to other preschool programs.

So trying to design a study that can meet the needs of the researcher, while meeting the needs of its participants is definitely important in retaining participants.

 

Entertaining Participants

Dropping off questionnaires with the teachers is a relatively easy task and only slightly time consuming, compared to other work-related activities. But picking up the filled out questionnaires is definitely a tedious process.

My thoughts about this are purely thoughts, since I would have to run a whole other research study in order to corroborate my opinions.

It’s my thought that when dropping off the questionnaires the Head Start and Early Head Start teachers simply see it as another piece of paper that they are filling out. They simply want to be handed it and move along with their day, teaching the children, and they will review it when they have a free moment, which is never as often as one might like. After all, you hear that being a parent is the hardest job—try ‘parenting’ 20 children!

But when picking up the questionnaires, you have to prepare yourself. When I thought about completing the research project and realistically knew that some teachers would have a harder time of turning in their forms than others, I didn’t realize how time-consuming it would be to go to the classrooms to retrieve them.

Although most preschool teachers had their forms filled out, I couldn’t just pick up their questionnaires and leave. I would feel like a complete jerk who’s just using them. It’s always a good idea when you walk into a preschool room to ask how you can help, because they can always use extra support. Additionally, I always like to ask if the preschool teachers could use a bathroom break, because you just never know (although sometimes I do forget to ask).

But the real reason why it can take a while to pick up the questionnaires, and something to consider when completing this type of research, is that preschool teachers want to talk about some of the things they wrote. It seems as though, despite me not using any prompting questions, preschool teachers really want to re-explain what they wrote on their questionnaires, perhaps as a form of self-therapy whereby verbally expressing their feelings and thoughts helps to alleviate stress and anxiety.

Of course these are just anecdotal thoughts, but they’re my perceptions on how several of the preschool teachers react when I come to pick up their questionnaires.

New Year’s Resolutions: Reduce Alcoholic Drinking

According to USA.gov, one of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions is to consume less alcohol.

Every day families are affected by drunk driving. Here in Indiana, the legal driving limit is 0.08%, which is about three to four drinks, depending on the alcohol content (i.e. 3.5% compared to a 5% beer) and your height/weight. This law came into affect about a decade ago. Prior to that, the driving limit was 0.10%.

Indiana, like many other states, lowered their alcohol level because research has shown that there is a significant decrease of impairment between 0.10 and 0.08. However, some people still feel like this is not enough.

In Sweden the legal driving alcohol percentage is 0.02%, which is about 1 alcoholic drink. Sweden imposes strict legal standards compared to other industrialized countries because research has shown that even having more than one drink significantly impairs your driving abilities. If you have an alcoholic percentage below 0.10%, then you only have to pay a high fine and can lose your driving license for up to three years, while if you are above 0.10%, you will go to prison and have your license suspended for up to three years (Magnusson 2011, Jakobsson, & Hultman, 2011).

According to Indiana Drunk Driving Statistics, in 2009, there were 249 alcohol related fatalities. The majority, 210, of those were from people who had an alcoholic content of >0.08%. That means that 39 people were killed by a driving who was <0.08%.

This New Year, let’s save lives by remembering to not drink and drive.

Obese Hispanics in America

A recent article was published by Dr Glenn Flores on the amount of obese Hispanic children living in America. Healthfinder.gov then wrote an article about Flores’ article, quoting Flores as saying “Almost half of all Latino kids are either overweight or obese…It’s an important issue in terms of our future generations. If we intervene early enough, we won’t have obese adults.”

One thing I don’t like about Media articles is that we have no idea how Flores came to the conclusion that 50% of all Hispanic children are obese. That’s not to say that it’s not true, but Flores conducted a qualitative study on 19 people, so that statement (aka ‘fact’) isn’t supported by his current publication.

Assuming Flores’ contention that half of Latino kids are overweight or obese, he is absolutely wrong in stating that early intervention leads to the elimination of obese adults. Flores’ statement suggests that obese adults were also overweight or obese as children. Research (and anecdotal evidence) has shown that some people are skinny/fit in childhood, but develop into obese adults.

For example, Singh et al. (2008) outright stated in their literature review on overweight and obese children, “it must be considered that comparison of youth and adult prevalence rates of overweight indicates that the majority of overweight adults were not overweight during childhood.

When Flores sticks to the point of his article, we learn that Hispanic parents can help children lose weight by “encouragement, not making the child feel left out, the whole family eating healthy and the parent setting a good example.” Brilliant! Ground Breaking! Now let’s develop some interventions that are beneficial, since clearly Hispanic parents know what to do to provide their child with a healthy, they just aren’t doing it (according to Flores’ statements).

The only barrier stated in the article is that team sports are hard to come by in the inner city. I am sure there are many more barriers to providing your child with a healthy lifestyle. After all, not all Hispanic children become obese because it’s difficult to join a team sport.

Opting Out of the Research Study Part 2

A few people did drop out of the study. This happened at different schools and in different programs (i.e. Head Start and Early Head Start). So I can assume that it’s not something that’s going on at that particular center, since it’s happening at multiple locations. I also know it’s not a racial issue because both races (whites and African Americans) have dropped out (those are the only two races in this study). I doubt it’s a gender issue–there are no males participating in this study, and there are dozens of women participating; so even though only women have dropped out, it’s fair to say that statistically speaking, if someone were to drop out, it would be a woman.

Demographic issues aside, I asked the teachers why they were dropping out. They all just seemed disinterested in the research. They couldn’t give specific reasons, or at least not reasons that could be justified. For example, when they gave me an answer like “I don’t want to participate”, and I would follow up by asking “Why is that?” Their retort was that they didn’t have a good reason, they just didn’t want to. Probing a little further, I asked if it was a time issue, since preschool teachers are very busy and Head Start/Early Head Start preschool teachers have a lot of paper work; so who really wants to fill out even more paper work that isn’t required of them? But they would say that that wasn’t it and that they just didn’t want to. So I let it be.

That’s just a part of research.

Literature Review of Childhood Overweight Status

The New Year is nearly here, which means many people are concerned about their weight and promise to lose weight in the new year. This year, although it can be a complicated and difficult subject, let’s focus on preventing childhood overweight and obesity.

For example, Singh et al. (2008) conducted a systematic literature review on the longitudinal effects of children who are overweight and obese, concluding that overweight and obese children tended to be overweight as adults; recommending early interventions. When early interventions on preventative measures occur, about 40% of them have been found to be effective in preventing overweight and obesity issues, and no preventative studies have a negative result (Flodmark, Marcus, & Britton, 2006).

Help children stay healthy by encouraging them to maintain a healthy diet with plenty of exercise.

While Puss in Boots is fit in this clip, he becomes fat in Shrek Forever After, showing us that even though you may be fit into adulthood, many adults become overweight and obese, which Singh et al briefly discusses.