Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Round 20 - Final Round

November 12 to November 25
We have come to the end of the 2009 Health and Wellness Challenge. Thank you to all who participated. Look for exciting things to come in 2010. If you want to join the committee, please discuss it with your supervisor. The deadline for submitting your name is November 30th.

Next year, we will be dropping the "Challenge" and becoming the "Health and Wellness Committee". Some of the activities we will be planning are:

1. Creating a "Wellness Toolkit" for employees, which will include:
Health & Wellness Directory of local gyms, parks, food co-ops, natural food stores, and other organizations and businesses which promote a healthy lifestyle
Motivational posters for staff rooms
Suggestions for healthy lunch hour activities
Ideas for healthy food events at work locations
2. Holding training workshops for staff on such topics as: diabetes, clean eating, nutrition
3. Planning and holding activities for staff such as:
"Field trips" to health food stores like Whole Foods
"Pick Your Own" trips
Charity walk outings (Heart Walk, Making Strides, March of dimes, etc)
Letter writing campaigns to stores we want to see in Ocean County (Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Wegman's...)

As we enter a busy time of year for everyone, we plan to continue updating the blog with helpful information. If you have any tips to share, please send them to us.

Round 19 October 29 to November 11

Thank you to everyone who filled out the Health & Wellness survey. We got some great feedback that we are using as we plan new activities for 2010.

On this round we continue exploring the theme of service and spirituality. Please be sure to read this article from the Mayo Clinic on the connection between spirituality and stress relief.

Of course, each person's view of spirituality is deeply personal, and everyone is welcome to their privacy. If this part of the Challenge is not for you, that is quite all right! The information shared here is not meant to promote or endorse any specific form of religion.

But if you are interested in exploring your own faith or other spiritual traditions, BeliefNet is a site whose mission is to help people find, and walk, a spiritual path. It provides inspiring devotional tools, access to spiritual teachers and clergy, commentary, and a supportive online community. Beliefnet is not affiliated with any spiritual organization or movement.

So What Can I Do ?, is a public service weblog promoting ethics in action. It presents hundreds of ways we can live as Mahatma Ghandi suggests and "Be the change you want to see in the world." Sadly, it looks like it is no longer being updated. But there are subject oriented links to the archives. This site is brimming with practical ideas for any individual looking to make the world a better place.

Serve.gov was created by President Barack Obama to motivate citizens to volunteer. It is a resource for not only finding volunteer opportunities in your community, but also creating your own.

Thanks to all who participated in the Challenge, even if it was just for a few activities. The last round will be a time of reflection and evaluation. In 2010, we are looking forward to more opportunities for staff to work together on wellness, and more workshops related to learning about being healthy.

Round 18 October 15 to October 28

This Round's posts focus on Service.

Take some time to visit Care2.com where you can take action for what you believe in by signing online petitions, taking part in the suggested daily actions, or searching for local volunteer opportunities.

Help out your community by taking advantage of the various volunteering opportunities listed on Volunteer New Jersey or the NJ Cares Network .

What could be better than playing free online games while donating to your favorite charity? At Games That Give , you can play a variety of games, such as Blackjack and Sudoku, while the charity of your choice receives donations, courtesy of a little of your downtime.

The website JustFreeStuff has a page of "Click to Donate" sites. Just clicking on the links on these sites generates donations because it shows sponsors that there are a lot of people visiting that page. The causes range from literacy to animal rescue.

Round 17 - October 1 to October 14

Rounds 17 – 20 cover Service and Sprituality.

As we near the end of the 2009 Health and Wellness Challenge, it is time to turn our attention toward matters of the spirit. In her book “Quantum Wellness” (which has served as a loose guide for the Challenge) Kathy Freston says,

“Body, mind, and spirit all work together to create wellness.” (p. 12)

Much of this has to do with expanding our perspective beyond our personal world. Freston states,

“It’s all too easy to get caught up in life’s little dramas and forget about the big picture, but when you reach out and help someone, you feel your sense of purpose and mission kick in.” (p. 41)

The easiest way to broaden your world view is to do something for someone else. Freston tells us we can start small, with almost anything: “Help your nephew tie his shoe, tell a friend why you think he is wonderful, feed the parking meter or pay a toll for someone you don’t even know; all these things will make you feel good about yourself. You will feel alive and useful…by being the Healer for someone else, you will realize the power you have and can begin to use it on yourself.” (p. 171)

As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

How do we do that? A good place to start might be to try just one of the suggested activities in the book “Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World” by Craig Kielburger and Marc Kielburger. Check out their website at: http://www.metowe.org/

The authors call Me to We a “life philosophy…a way of living that feeds the positive in the world – one action, one act of faith, one small step at a time. “ Here are some activities suggested in different sections of the book:

*Make a mentor’s day. List the mentors you’ve had over your lifetime. Did a teacher believe in you? Did a colleague give you good advice at a critical moment? Take the next step and thank each person on your list for the difference they’ve made in your life.

* Fill a pocket full of love. If you are a poet, a teller of jokes, or simply a kindhearted soul, sneak a note into the pocket of a loved one who hasn’t been feeling well lately.

*Host a movie night with a message. Raise awareness about an issue affecting our global community by gathering family or friends together to watch a movie about a world issue. When the movie ends, talk about it. For the adventurous, bring food or music from that part of the world. (A few titles to get you started: “City of Joy”, “Salaam Bombay”, “Hotel Rwanda”, “The constant Gardener”.)

*Buy nothing for a week. Commit to going an entire week without buying anything that you don’t absolutely need. Rely on your own resources. Celebrate the fact that it’s possible because we’re already blessed with so much.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Last Fun Round-Up

We have reached Round 16, the last round of fun activities, September 17 to September 30.

First, a game to ease you into the fun:

Draw-It, an online interactive real-time Pictionary type game. It's addictive!

Hobbies provide people endless hours of fun. Not sure what to take up? Go to Discover a Hobby, the Internet's ultimate guide for finding and starting a new hobby! Here you can find out how to start any hobby, where to find free online lessons or regular lessons in your area, free online instructional videos, and the best beginners equipment, books, and videos.

Finally, if you are serious about having some fun, please check out The Happiness Project. Writer Gretchen Warren has been spending a lot of time thinking about how to make her life happier. She encourages everyone to start their own Happiness Project too, and her blog is chock full of ideas and tips to get started. She describes a Happiness Project this way:

"A “happiness project” is an approach to changing your life. First is the preparation stage, when you identify what brings you joy, satisfaction, and engagement, and also what brings you guilt, anger, boredom, and remorse. Second is the making of resolutions, when you identify the concrete actions that will boost your happiness. Then comes the interesting part: keeping your resolutions."

Her blog posts cover all sorts of topics. Be sure to read "Sixteen Tips to Feeling Happier at Work". Ms. Warren also has a book about The Happiness Project, due out in December 2009.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The fun Continues...

We are up to Round 15, September 3 - September 16. As we bid summer good-bye, here are some new suggestions for adding fun and creativity to your days:

The January 2009 Women's Day had some neat ideas for having fun:

*"Hide and Seek" - On separate pieces of paper, write down 15 fun things you've always wanted to do. Now put each sheet in a different spot: between the pages of a book you want to read, tucked in the back of a kitchen cabinet, between the towels in your linen closet, in the pocket of a pair of jeans, etc. During the year, whenever you come across a note, do whatever it says.

*Host a Closet Raid - invite friends over and ask them to bring clothes they are willing to part with. Go through your clothes and select some too. Then have a clothes swapping party.

*Put your right brain to work. Create your own artist's wall. Grab a camera, go outside, and snap whatever moves you. Hang the best shots, rotating in new ones every few weeks.

And on the Web...

Here are some staff favorite sites for fun.

*Nancy V. claims she learned about these web sites in Cataloging class!

For cat people: http://icanhascheezburger.com/page/2/
For dog people: http://ihasahotdog.com/page/2/

*Wordle - Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes.

*Visit Learn Something Every Day The whimsical drawings of trivia from the sublime to the scary to the ridiculous are endearing.

* Explore Invention At Play, a site devoted to highlighting the importance of play in fostering creativity and inventiveness.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

More Fun Activities to Explore

Round 14 (August 20 to September 2) continues to explore having fun. Some activities to sample include:

1. Taking time to smell the roses. Lifedev is a blog full of tips, tools and resources that can give you insights into ways you can improve your work and your life. Take better breaks is a collection of posts devoted to the art of recharging by taking a time out from your busy day.

Looking through my Delicious bookmarks (see the OCL Web Challenge) for more fun activities, I found some more fun things to do:

2. Six Word Memoirs from Smith Magazine. Can you sum up your life story in six words? That is the challenge on this web site. It was so successful that it was made into a book. Go ahead and try it, and share your memoir in the Comments.

3. Facebook is a great way to connect with old and new friends and family. A recent study said that checking social networking sites like this at work actually increases productivity! While the jury may still be out on that issue, it is still a fun way to reach out and socialize.

4. Guess-the-google is an addictive guessing game based on Google's image search. It turns the mental activity of searching into a fun, visual and engaging game where people can enjoy the challenge of being the fastest and most efficient at making that connection between search terms and their results

5. Freerice is a fun free vocabulary game. The website states: "For each answer you get right, we donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. "

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Time for Some fun!

Round 13, from August 6 to August 19th

The next four rounds focus on fun activities.

What's so healthy about fun?

In her book, "Quantum Wellness", Kathy Freston writes, "...I can't imagine being well without having any fun. Fun activities, whatever they might be for you, bring levity to your life. They loosen up your energy and bring in optimism. They remind you that life is meant to be joyful." she continues to say, "Sometimes when you are trying to work on your health, you forget that the most important thing is to love life."

Kathy Freston's challenge to us this round is:

"Plan a fun activity - it gives you something to look forward to and then a precious memory to look back fondly on."

Her suggestions for putting a little fun in your life every day include:

*Go out dancing

*"Lose yourself" in your hobby of choice

*Play with your kids or run on the beach with your dogs

*Drive in your car and blast your favorite songs. Make sure you sing along!

*Watch a funny movie. (Please share your favorites with a post in Comments!)

Here are some other suggestions for having fun:

Visit fun SFW (Safe For Work) web sites. I have a category on my bloglines called "For Fun". Whenever I need quick pick-me-up, I take a look at:

Cake Wrecks - "When professional cakes go horribly, hilariously wrong"

Flickr feeds - Larry Meegan's photostream - look for the button that lets you subscribe - if you use bloglines, the photos will be sent to your account. Larry takes photographs of many major library events. It is always fun to find familiar faces and to see so many people enjoying the library.

Do you have a favorite fun website that you would like to share? Please add it in the Comments.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Moving Right Along

Round 12 - July 23 to August 5

Congratulations! You have made it to the last exercise round! So, if you have an exercise routine, but are wondering what else is out there, here are some suggestions for adding variety to your usual workout:

1. Want to try swimming, but don't know what to do? Brendan Hansen, Olympic gold medalist, captain of the 2008 Beijing Olympics U.S. Swim Team and Director of Training & Performance for PureSport, designed this moderate swim workout .

2. If you are wondering if your workouts are overlooking a certain aspect of fitness, like strength or flexibility, check out: Outside Magazine's Fitness Challenge .

3. Outside Magazine also has a helpful article on fitness for improving skeletal system health:
Exercise for strong bones .

4. Many everyday activities burn calories, so if you can't make it to the gym, plug in the vacuum!

5. Quick Tip - log your workout on a calendar.

6. And finally, Donna at Manchester designed the following 30 Day Fitness Challenge:

This 30 day exercise challenge is a solid commitment to yourself to take one step forward each day to improve your health. The goal? A healthier YOU by the end of the Challenge.

You Pick your type of exercise and mix it up with variety.

1. Commit to doing exercise for 30 Days
2. Build in rest days 1-3 days per week
3. Plan a variety of activities to always have options
4. Increase your time/reps each week
5. Post your result daily after exercise

Good luck, and remember to just keep on moving!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Round 11 - Keep Moving!

We are about halfway through the Health & Wellness Challenge! We started our journey on February 19. We only have ten more rounds to go.

So, this round's exercise activities will focus on how to overcome an exercise slump, or what to do if you are having trouble getting started.

If you wonder why you should bother with exercising at all, this article from SparkPeople highlights an often overlooked benefit of physical activity: better sleep habits.

Exercise on a Budget: Want to get in shape, but your budget won’t allow for a gym membership? This site offers a variety of low or no-cost options, such as renting exercise DVDs from the library or doing exercises that require no equipment.

Low Back Exercise Program: If you’re concerned about starting an exercise program due to lower back pain, take a look at this site, which provides a list of exercises that can help.

Have you ever decided to take up running again, actually done some running, and gotten up the next morning in horrible pain? You might want to ease into the whole running thing with the Couch-to-5K-Running-Plan, an easy to follow, step-by-step plan that will have you running 3 miles in two months.

Zen Habits is a blog chock full of advice on all kinds of aspects of life. The secret to this blog is that information almost always comes in the form of lists - small chunks of ideas that you can quickly skim and pick and choose from. Check out "Top 42 Exercise Hacks" and try one or two of the suggested activities.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Round Ten: V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N!

June 25 to July 8

No, we are not taking a vacation from the Wellness Challenge. We are going to take the Challenge with us on vacation!

You can still work on staying fit while you are having fun. The links below offer fitness ideas for all kinds of vacations. They also provide ideas on how to do basic exercises when you are away from home. While we’ve already focused on conscious eating and stress management, it is important to continue our health and wellness challenge even when we are enjoying ourselves on vacation.

Read at least one article and then think about how you can incorporate it into your summer vacation plans.

Easy Vacation Exercises

The Healthy Vacation Guide

Exercise for Different Vacations

Active Vacation Ideas

Friday, June 19, 2009

Stress Eating - You're Not Alone

Yahoo! News recently posted an article about stress eating:
Tough Times Mean Tighter Pants For Stress Eaters

I'm sure many of us can relate!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Round 9 - Exercise at Work

Do you want to exercise more, but don't seem to have the free time at home to do it? Try squeezing some exercise in at work.

The Office Diet blog has some helpful advice on "healthy living for busy people". A recent post focused specifically on Staying fit at your Desk.

Here are some more tips for getting active at work:

*Start a file at your branch with exercise, and nutrition, ideas.
*Form a walking buddies group at lunch. Interested in starting a walking program but not sure where to start? Take a look at this government publication: Walking: A Step in the Right Direction
*Have a monthly branch activity: share a healthy food such as healthy desserts, souper lunch or fun breakfast foods.
*Include the sharing of health and wellness tips in your monthly branch staff meetings.

Try exercises at work during your breaks. Find some good exercises at:
Fitness 9to 5 by Shirley Archer Get Fit While You Sit by Charlene Torkelson
Prevention.com Webmd.com/fitness-exercise inklingmagazine.com/articles/neat-and-trim/

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

ROUND EIGHT - Exercise

"Exercise, exercise, come on everybody, do your exercise!" Remember that ditty from 1970's children's television? If you can name the show it appeared on, send an email to:


The first correct answer from an OCL employee will receive a small gift for playing.

The next several rounds feature exercise. You need to choose one or two activities from the list below to get started on this round.


2. Explore exercise sites such as; exercise.about.com, yogajournal.com, sparkpeople.com

3. Sparkpeople.com is a free website where you can read articles, get health information, share recipes and watch exercise demonstrations. You can also track your daily exercise and food intake.

4. Another helpful website is https://www.caremark.com/wps/portal. Under Health Information and Tools is an Activity Tracker that includes tools to get you started like body fat calculator, other helpful tools like a daily nutrition calculator, and a list of exercises.

5. Set a goal to get moving. Some possibilities include dance, exercise class, bike riding, swimming, yoga, tai chi or a walk around the block. It is okay to start small. You can add to your goals in future months.

6. Try a new piece of exercise equipment. This can be as simple as using soup cans for weights.

7. Remember the 90/10 Rule of Good Health. 90% of the time you eat correctly and do your best to maintain an exercise program. 10% of the time you can miss exercising and eat what you want without feeling bad about it.

8. And don't forget to mark your calendars for the library staff field trip to Manasquan Reservoir.
Date: June 20, 2009 - Saturday
Time: 11:00
Meeting Place: Visitors Center – Manasquan Reservoir
We will meet at Manasquan Reservoir at 11:00. Bring a picnic lunch to eat. We will be hiking (an easy, flat picturesque trail of 5 miles, with a nature center in the middle for a rest stop and environmental information.) Walk at your own pace. Picnic Tables and restroom facilities available

Monday, May 18, 2009

Recipes UPDATE

***UPDATE*** There is still time to submit your favorite healthy recipe. We need more entrée, soup and dessert recipes.
Share your favorites with everyone. Send them to Michelle B at the Brick Branch. The recipe collection will be available at the Wellness Cafe at Staff Development Day.
DEADLINE: May 22 (One extra day!)

Take a Hike!

OCL’s Field trip to Manasquan Reservoir
Health and Wellness Challenge
Exercise Portion
Come join us for a 5 mile walk/hike – and bring your own picnic lunch
Date: June 20, 2009 - Saturday
Time: 11:00
Meeting Place: Visitors Center – Manasquan Reservoir
We will meet at Manasquan Reservoir at 11:00. Bring a picnic lunch to eat. We will be hiking (an easy, flat picturesque trail of 5 miles, with a nature center in the middle for a rest stop and environmental information.) Walk at your own pace.
Picnic Tables and restroom facilities available
Transportation - on your own (Go green & carpool!)
Everyone is welcome and bring a friend
Buddy System is recommended
Directions to the Visitor Center
Garden State Parkway to Exit 98, Interstate 195 west.
Proceed on I-195 west to Exit 28B, Rt. 9 north-Freehold.
Stay in right lane when entering Rt. 9 north.
At first traffic light, turn right onto Georgia Tavern Road.
Follow Georgia Tavern Road for 0.3 mile.
Continue straight for Environmental Center on right or turn right onto Windeler Rd. and continue 1.5 miles to the Visitor Center Reservoir Area on left.
• State Hwy. 9 south from Freehold to Georgia Tavern Rd.
Use Jughandle to turn left onto Georgia Tavern Rd.
Proceed as above. or
• State Hwy. 9 north to Georgia Tavern Rd.
Turn right.
Follow Georgia Tavern Road for 0.3 miles and turn right onto Windeler Rd. and continue 1.5 miles to the Visitor Center where we will meet.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

ROUND SEVEN - Stress Free Zones

With Polaris upon us, this Round is all about creating a "Stress Free Zone" at work.

Read about this space created at the Sacramento State University Library. They created their space for students. What can we do at our own locations for staff? Does your branch have a Break Room or Area? Try some of these suggestions for creating a mini-vacation from work stress:

*Set up a jigsaw puzzle on a card table. This is a great activity that takes your mind away from work. And it is calorie-free!

*Find some bubble wrap. Can't find any? Try virtual bubble wrap

*Decorate your staff room. Since we are migrating to Polaris, aka The North Star, try a space motif. Or go for Hawaiian tiki style. Plan a lunchtime luau at your branch - just make sure you serve mocktails!

*Share some children's books. Nothing brings a smile to my face faster than "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" by Mo Willems. Another series to try is Scaredy Squirrel. Ask your children's librarians for some funny recommendations. Or browse through kidlit blogger Fuse #8's Top 100 Picture Book Poll. You are sure to rediscover an old classic. Picture books are beautiful works of art, and they are quick reads! What are your favorites? Share some titles in the comments.

*Set up a funny DVD or VHS in your staff room for lunchtime viewing. Try something by Loretta LaRoche

*Set up a cd player with soothing music

*Cat lovers can visit this web site for some workplace pet therapy

*Are you a dog lover? Go here

*Add some plants to your staff room. They improve air quality and have a soothing aspect to them.

Finally, if you are sick and tired of all this talk about stress, then this post from the Annoyed Librarian is for you!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

ROUND SIX - Stress Therapy

This post will explore different techniques for reducing stress. We tried to find interesting activities that you might not have tried before. Please give one or two of them a try. Let us know what you liked (and what you didn't). Share your thoughts with a comment.

1. Art Therapy . Watch this video from the Mayo Clinic to learn about three art therapy techniques that are easy to try: crayon resist, mosaic, and soft pastels. Try one! If you want to share your results, scan your creation and send it by e-mail to oclwellness@gmail.com and we will post it on the blog.

2. Meditation. Try this video relaxation exercise, also from Mayo clinic.

3. Practice yoga at your desk.

4. Join a support group at Daily Strength. DailyStrength was created by internet veterans with more than 20 years of experience conceiving, building, and running the largest communities on the web, including Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Photos, Yahoo Personals, Yahoo Groups, GeoCities, Facebook, My Yahoo, Yahoo Message Boards and more.

5. Give aromatherapy a chance.

6. Read or listen to inspirational stories. Try dipping into "Kitchen Table Wisdom" or "My Grandfather's Blessings" by Rachel Naomi Remen. "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch is another insightful and inspiring book. Browse through the titles in the library catalog under the subject "Inspiration" or "Mental Healing" and choose one that appeals to you. Sign up for a daily dose of "Inbox Inspiration", and get a new quote in your e-mail every day from the Foundation for A Better Life website.

7. Start a stress journal - A stress journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed, keep track of it in your journal. As you keep a daily log, you will begin to see patterns and common themes. Write down:What caused your stress (make a guess if you’re unsure). How you felt, both physically and emotionally. How you acted in response. What you did to make yourself feel better.

8. Do you have a procrastination problem? Try using the techniques outlined here to overcome it.


I'm sure those of you participating in the Health & Wellness Challenge have a favorite recipe for a healthy snack, meal or dessert. We would like to compile a "cookbook" of some of your favorite recipes. If you have a tried and true healthy recipe that you would like to share, please put in Word format and send it via email to Michelle B @ Brick. We will hopefully have the cookbook finished in time for Staff Development Day. Thanks everyone.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ROUND FIVE - Workplace Stress

Many of you have seen the recent New York Times article about a rise in stressful situations in public libraries. We are busier then ever, and our customers are experiencing high levels of anxiety.

Now, more than ever, we need to work on managing workplace stress.

Since this round is off to a late start, try to pick one or two of the following activities. Round Six will be posted on or around May 1st.

1. This article has been shared with library managers. Ask that stress be a topic at your next branch/department staff meeting, so your work group can brainstorm some ideas to reduce stress at work.

2. Read this entry from the Facts on File Encyclopedia of Work-Related Illnesses, Injuries, and Health Issues. Take the SELF-TEST: HOW STRESSFUL IS YOUR JOB?

3. Try one of the following activities suggested from this article on burnout:
  • Try to sit down and identify three major ways you could improve your job or home situation. Write them down, and list the steps you will need to take. Commit to making the changes.
  • Give up what you can. Put aside extra work, projects, and volunteer time for a few months. Give yourself a break. Just say "No."
  • Vow to get some form of recreation or exercise daily. Take a walk, ride a bike, throw a frisbee, or play golf, or other fun activities.
  • Identify 15 small things that give you pleasure. Write them down. Pick one each day, and do it. Read that book, take that nap, visit your friend, or see that movie.
  • Focus on one thing you are grateful for each day when you wake up, and again when you go to sleep.
  • Get out of your rut. Plan a surprise picnic, or a moonlight hike.
  • Try yoga, deep breathing, or other relaxation techniques.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet, and take a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement daily.
  • Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol.

4. Read this article on ergonomics for library workers. It offers some useful, practical tips on keyboarding, mousing, eye care, and posture. This article also has some good techniques for reducing "computer stress".

5. How to Live a Low-Stress Lifestyle: Sign up for this free ten-week e-course for plenty of tips on how to decrease stress in your life.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Recipe: Red Lentil Soup

Toms River Team Member Suzanne M. has a recipe to share:

I tried red lentils as a new food during the Conscious Eating challenge. This is my new favorite soup.

Red Lentil Soup
From www.julesglutenfree.com

1 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp. olive oil
2 Tbs. hot curry paste (or 1-2 tsp. powder)
1 Tbs. fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped or grated (or more to taste)
1 tsp. cumin
2 cups dried red lentils
6 cups vegetable stock (low sodium)
1 lime, juice and zest
1 can coconut milk (light)
2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint (or 1 Tbs. dried mint)

Directions:Place the chopped onion and oil in a large pan and sauté until transparent. Add in the curry paste, ginger and cumin and cook while gently stirring for 3 minutes. Add lentils and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring. (Because I did not want to have to watch it for 20 minutes after coming to a boil I put it in a crock pot on low for an hour or so.) Add the coconut milk and cook for another 10 minutes. Finally, add the lime zest and juice and mint.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Free Food Workshop

In recognition of National Women's Health Week, May 10-16, 2009, the Ocean County Advisory Commission on the Status of Women, Women's Health Month Committee is co-sponsoring with the Displaced Homemaker's Program of Ocean County a free program:

FOOD: Mind & Body Connection
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
6:00pm to 8:00pm
at the Ocean County College Bookstore, Conference Room A&B
Seating is limited
RSVP 732-255-0400, ext 2945
Refreshments will be served!
Join us to learn how the food we eat is connected to both mind & body.

Monday, March 30, 2009


"There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want." ~Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

Stress is an unavoidable part of life.
Here at the Ocean County Library, we are confronting some very stressful situations:

*our beloved Director is retiring
*we are about to begin a transition from an old computer system (Horizon) to a completely new Integrated Library System (Polaris)
*we are busier than ever, thanks to economic conditions

I am going to share some excerpts from Chapter 6 of Dr. Andrew Weil's book "Natural Health, Natural Medicine". He says, "Stress is the discomfort or distress caused by forces that limit our freedom and movement. Stress has two aspects, one external and one internal. Life is full of challenges and disappointments that continually threaten to disrupt our ease, and we have to deal with them in order to survive, grow, and reach our full development. Just as muscles become stronger and bigger when they work against resistance, so our minds and spirits enlarge by meeting the difficulties life presents. Without difficulty, there is no growth."

"The internal aspect of stress is our reaction to obstacles...If we become anxious, fearful, angry, or depressed about them, those states can certainly do us harm. Internalized stress keeps the mind agitated, throws the nervous system out of balance, interferes with the functioning of the immune system, and produces many stress-related disorders so common in our society. It is easy to think that external "stressors" are the cause of your tensions, but, in fact, you have a choice as to how they affect you, and you can learn to change your reactions to them."

So what can we do about it? Try some of these activities:
1) Start with a quiz to see what your stress level is.
2) Since we just finished working on conscious Eating, check out this slideshow of stress reducing foods.
Try some of the following activities suggested by Dr. Weil:

3) Eliminate caffeine and other stimulants. They interfere with your body's ability to relax. Try it for a week and see if you feel differently.

4) Sound has a profound influence on our nervous system. Pay attention to the sounds in your life that you can control. Think of sound as something you can choose to experience, like your choice of foods. Of course, when you want to rock out to your favorite song, go ahead and turn it up. But if you constantly have the radio or television on in the background, even if you are not paying attention to it, it affects your nervous system. Try a little silence, or more soothing music, especially at bedtime. See if it affects your ability to relax.

5) News can also affect our mental state. Most news reports increase anxiety. (I know that many library staffers are news junkies, including me!) But keep in mind that most news stories are chosen for their ability to excite, horrify, and titillate. Experiment with breaking the constant news habit. Use your power of choice to tune into news selectively and consciously.

6) Experiment with a relaxation technique. The library is full of books on relaxation, conscious breathing, yoga,, and meditation. Go to the stacks and find a book and try at least one exercise from it. Share any technique you like with others.

Our next Stress Round will focus on workplace stress.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tofu Scrambler

Got recipes? Share your healthy delights with everyone! Send them by e-mail to: oclwellness@gmail.com

The dish below was a big hit in Toms River. Give it a try!

Tofu Scrambler

From Nancy Voitko

This dish is easy, versatile and contains no cholesterol and very little fat. It is meant to replace scrambled eggs, but even if you eat eggs you can enjoy this easy dish.

-1 T vegetable oil
-1 block tofu (soft or firm, whichever you prefer)
-1 cup vegetable broth (can be from 1 cube dissolved in 8 oz water or from
can, box, etc.
-vegetables of choice (suggestions: onions, garlic, peppers, zucchini,
tomatoes, spinach, carrots, mushrooms, to name a few)
-4 T nutritional yeast (NOT to be confused with Brewer’s yeast) or to taste
-1 t Paul Prudhomme’s Seasoning (any flavor, but I prefer the Blackened
-salt and pepper to taste

There are many variations on this recipe so it allows you to be creative.

First, heat the oil in a large frying pan. Sauté the onions on medium – high heat (and garlic, if using), till soft, add salt and pepper to taste, then add other vegetables that take longer to cook. If you are using tomatoes, only add them at the very end or they get too mushy. Cook your veggies about 8 minutes and remember to stir.

When veggies are a bit soft, lower heat to medium and add the tofu and mash with fork in frying pan (or you can mash in a bowl and add it). Mix well.

Add the vegetable broth a bit at a time and stir.

Add nutritional yeast and seasoning. If you don’t have Paul Prudhomme’s, make up your own – you can use basil, oregano, parsley for an Italian taste, chili flakes or taco seasoning for a Mexican taste,etc. Like I said, be creative!

Stir and cook another 2 minutes. You may serve it as is,
on a roll or in a pita pocket, with toast or with a salad on the side. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

ROUND THREE - Conscious Eating One More Time

Thanks to everyone who has signed up for the Challenge. We currently have 160 participants! Way to go! This is our last Conscious Eating round. Please try at least two of the following activities.

DEADLINE for this Round: April 1, 2009

1. March is National Caffeine Awareness Month. Read this article on how Caffeine may kill some cancer cells http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,500924,00.html


Read up on some facts about caffeine on sites such as:


share an article or book you've found.

2. March is National Nutrition Month.
There is lots to learn about the nutrion facts on food labels. To learn more, take a look at http://www.nutritiondata.com/

3. Body Mass Index is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to both males and females. Find out what your body mass index is. Use tools such as: http://www.aolhealth.com/tools/weight-and-health-risks

4. Check out the Food Network's healthy meals. There are healthy alternatives to some of your favorite dishes:


Try a healty alternative to one of your favorite meals and let us know how it was.

5. Although this round ends April 1, April is Emotional Overeating Awareness Month. You can take quizes at sites like:


where you can find out if you are an emotional eater. Anther quiz is available at Psychology Today:


Being aware of your emotions can help you stick to your eating goals.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Revised Schedule

The Challenge schedule was revised to move Stress Management to coincide with the Polaris implementation.

Conscious Eating
Round 1 Feb 19- March 4
Round 2 March 5- March 18
Round 3 March 19 – April 1

Stress Management
Round 4 April 2- April 15
Round 5 April 16- April 29
Round 6 April 30-May 13
Round 7 May 14 – May 27

Round 8 May 28 – June10
Round 9 June 11 – June 24
Round 10 June 25 July 8
Round 11 July 9 – July 22
Round 12 July 23 – Aug 5

Fun Activities
Round 13 Aug 6 – Aug 19
Round 14 Aug 20 – Sept 2
Round 15 Sept 3 – Sept 16
Round 16 Sept 17 – Sept 30

Service and Spirituality
Round 17 Oct 1 – Oct 14
Round 18 Oct 15 – 28
Round 19 Oct 29 – Nov 11
Round 20 Nov 12 – Nov25

Frequently Asked Questions

The committee has received some questions about the Challenge, so here is some information below that might clear up confusion. Please add questions in the comments or by e-mail if you need more information.

Q: What is a “shared activity”?

A: A shared activity is one of the suggested activities we post to the blog. It is shared in the sense that we expect all staff to try one or two of the activities we suggest. You do not have to do the activity with anyone else. However, you may want to share your experience with others, in order to pick up advice or tips, or just to commiserate!

Q: What is a “personal activity”?

A: This is an activity related to the Round’s theme that you come up with on your own. It may be related to your specific health or living situation.

Q: You list a LOT of activities! Do I have to do all of them?

A: No. We ask that you try at least two of them per round. That could be two shared activities, one shared and one personal activity, or two personal activities. You decide.

Q: What is a Team Leader?

A: A Team Leader is a staff member at your branch or location who is helping the committee track your progress with the challenge. At the end of each round, you should let your Team Leader know what activities you did. You can do this several ways. If you have a blog, write a post at the end of each Round. If you do not have a blog, send an e-mail message to your Team Leader reporting what you did. Also, each Team Leader gets a tally sheet at the beginning of each round. You can print this out, write down your activities, and share a copy at the end of each Round with your Team Leader. All of these methods will be kept confidential and need only be shared with your Team Leaders.

We are still working out a procedure for how the Team Leaders will report to the committee.

Team Leaders are also our cheerleaders. They are there to offer support and encouragement.

Q: Our branch/location does not have a Team Leader! What do we do?

A: Volunteer! It really won’t take up much time! If you really want to give the Health& Wellness Challenge your all, it helps to have your co-workers involved.

Q: Is is too late to join?

A: It’s never too late! If you still want to join, send an email to oclwellness@gmail.com

Thursday, March 5, 2009

ROUND TWO - More Conscious Eating

Activities for Conscious Eating Cycle – March 5th – March 18th

Activity 1. Eat When Hungry . There is a difference between physical hunger and emotional eating, stress eating, eating from boredom, or timed eating. You can practice recognizing physiological hunger by following these steps before you eat;- Stop- Close your eyes- Take 3-5 deep breaths- Place your hand on your abdomen and focus on your stomach pouch (internally)- Notice- Ask yourself - Where is my hunger? What is my hunger?

Activity 2. Try this again if you did not get a chance - Watch a health related video or DVD or read a health-related book.. The following are just suggestions – you may watch one of your choosing and record it on your log:

Suggested Videos
Diet for a New America
Supersize Me
Fast Food Nation
How to Cook Your Life: a cooking class with Zen priest and chef Edward Espe Brown
(or choose one of your own and tell us what you chose)

Eat More, Weigh Less by Dean Ornish
Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe
Dr Macdougalls’ Digestive Tune-up
Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston
Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld
Eat Right, Live Longer by Dr. Neal Barnard
Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes

Activity 3. Try a new health food each week. Scared of tofu? Buy a flavored one and chop it into a salad. Curious about veggie burgers? Try Boca Burgers if you like somethings traditional or Dr. Praeger’s or a Garden Burger for something delicious and different. Never had a raw avocado? Passionfruit? Pomegranite Juice? Fennel? Try it! If you have any questions, give me a holler! nvoitko@theoceancountylibrary.org.

Activity 4. Substitute a healthy snack food each day in place of your favorite junk food snack for a week. This is all about creating better habits. For example: instead of potato chips, have some dried fruit. Instead of cookies, have yogurt and granola. Instead of a candy bar have an apple or banana with (or without) a bit of peanut butter. Drink water when hungry – drinking an 8 oz glass of water helps to suppress your appetite. Instant miso soup is also a good easy food to keep on hand at work, especially in cold weather. Baby carrots and hummus are also easy snacks to carry and share with others.

Activity 5. Read this informative article: “Vegetarian Foods – Powerful for Health” at http://www.pcrm.org/health/veginfo/vegetarian_foods.html
Did you know that many studies have shown a balanced vegetarian diet has many health benefits such as helping to prevent cancer and heart disease, as well as lower blood pressure?

Activity 6. Familiarize yourself with food allergies and issues – As we increase our own “conscious eating” habits, let's become more sensitive to the habits of others. This activity will help you to understand and be patient with those friends and family members of yours who need to order special meals at restaurants or may be bringing their own food to parties! Compassion is always in fashion whether your friend or family member has a peanut allergy, is lactose intolerant or needs to maintain a gluten-free diet. Read on …

General info: http://www.foodallergy.org/

Peanut allergies: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/peanut-allergy/DS00710 - a comprehensive view of peanut allergies, diagnosis, treatment, etc.

Dairy products: http://www.ahealthyme.com/topic/topic13938

Gluten-Free diets/Celiac Disease http://www.glutenfreeliving.com/ - a well-organized, comprehensive site

Egg Allergies: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/egg_allergies/hic_egg_allergy.aspx

If anyone out there has sites to contribute, please send them on…we try to vet a few valuable sites, but due to time constraints we will undoubtedly miss some good ones!

Activity 7. Try to follow the “8 x 8 rule" — drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day (about 1.9 liters). The rule could also be stated, "Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids a day," as all fluids count toward the daily total. Though the approach isn't supported by scientific evidence, many people use this basic rule as a guideline for how much water and other fluids to drink.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

ROUND ONE - Conscious Eating

Activities for Conscious Eating Cycle – February 19th – March 4th

These are just suggested activities for you to choose from over the next two weeks. You are not meant to do them all, just what suits you. Share what you try on your blog or with a colleague. Send us your ideas – what works, what doesn’t. Try at least two.

Activity 1. Stop When Full. Just like hunger, you can practice recognizing fullness. You don't have to be a member of the Clean Plate Club! Every ¼ of your plate follow these steps; - Put down your fork- Close your eyes- Take 3-5 deep breaths- Place your hand on abdomen and focus on stomach pouch (internally)- Notice- Ask yourself - Am I full? How full am I?

Activity 2 . Adjust your Portion Size. Check out these 10 smart tips for controlling your portions: http://weightloss.about.com/od/eatsmart/tp/aa030405a.htm . Or if you want the Marth Stewart approach, check out http://www.slimware.com/ which features dinner plates with flower designs. Each flower is the size that your portion should be!

Activity 3. Try not to eat after 8pm or 2 hours before you go to bed.

Activity 4. Everything you wanted to know about being Vegetarian: Download your free Vegetarian Starter Kit from the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine. This respected organization is led by the well-known Dr. Neal Barnard, author of the Program for Reversing Diabetes and Eat Right, Live Longer. http://www.pcrm.org/health/veginfo/vsk/

Activity 5. Take a nutrition quiz like the ones offered on Prevention.com (http://www.prevention.com/cda/categorypage.do?channel=nutrition.recipes&category=tools.quizzes)
You can test your knowledge about your knowledge about antioxidants, calories, food labels, low carbs etc.or test your knowledge about healthy fast food options at http://www.aolhealth.com/diet/basics/fast-food-calories

Activity 6. Watch a health related video or DVD. The following are just suggestions – you may watch one of your choosing and record it on your log:

Suggested Videos
Diet for a New America
Supersize Me
Fast Food Nation
How to Cook Your Life: a cooking class with Zen priest and chef Edward Espe Brown
(or choose one of your own and tell us what you chose)

Eat More, Weigh Less by Dean Ornish
Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe
Dr Macdougalls’ Digestive Tune-up
Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston
Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld
Eat Right, Live Longer by Dr. Neal Barnard
Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes

Activity 7. Try a different approach to breakfast. Toms River staff: remember the smoothies we had at kick-off? Try making one for breakfast. It’s so delicious and good for you, and making it at home will save some money! My typical smoothie contains bananas, frozen strawberries, vanilla rice milk and a scoop of Peaceful Planet protein powder. Create your own with either soy, rice or almond milk, one or two bananas, and the frozen fruit of your choice. You can also add your own flavored protein powders, yogurt (regular or soy) or juice.

Remember, this is “Conscious Eating,” not dieting. Just say no to that Dunkin Donut or Fried Egg Sandwich and try a healthier breakfast for a change! For example, if you usually grab a bagel with cream cheese and latte at Starbucks for breakfast, opt for a regular coffee or tea and choose the oatmeal with fruit or raisins instead.

Activity 8. Eat one low-fat vegetarian meal a day for a week in place of a typical high-in-fat-and-cholesterol meal. Been wanting to try a veggie burger? Go for it (just watch salt content, soy allergies, etc. if you have any dietary restrictions). Try one of the delicious and easy recipes from the site Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine: http://www.pcrm.org/health/recipes/
Or try the Vegetarian Resource Group’s recipe site: http://www.vrg.org/recipes/index.htm

Helpful Websites

http://sparkpeople.com/ - Many members of the Health and Wellness Challenge already use this site and suggested we list it. It is a good online site for those looking for assistance with their diet. Check it out.

http://www.pcrm.org/health/ - This is the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine’s health and diet section. Explore nutrition’s role in fighting such illnesses as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and more. Good information on the benefits of a vegetarian diet including recipes. Also in Spanish.

http://www.hungry-girl.com/meet/index.php - Tips and tricks for hungry chicks! Not professional, but pretty – written by a “hungry girl” just like most of us (sorry, guys!) who are dealing with the same issues. Good for moral support and fun!

http://www.menshealth.com/eatthis/index.php - Here is one for the guys. Be aware, it is a very commercial site and there is a wide variety of info here.

http://www.vrg.org/ - The Vegetarian Resource Group is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public on vegetarianism and the interrelated issues of health, nutrition, ecology, ethics, and world hunger. Easy recipes, menus for diabetics, kids and more.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Let's Get Started!

To all Health & Wellness challenge Participants:

Round One of the Health & Wellness Challenge begins Thursday February 19th. The focus will be on Conscious Eating. In the meantime, all participants should be thinking about and setting long term goals.

Because the Challenge will run for forty weeks, you need to think about where you want to be at the end. That seems like a lifetime away, but you know what they say: “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. –Lao-tzu”

Take a few minutes and visualize yourself, 10 months from now. What will you look like? How will you have changed, inside and out? Write a few things down. You can post them in plain view, or file them away for safe keeping. The important thing is that you take the time to think ahead. Then, let your Team Leader know that you made your goals. You can decide whether or not you want to share all of them. We suggest that you do share some of them, so others may help you reach them.

Good luck!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Join the Challenge!


Remember the movie "Groundhog Day"? Bill Murray kept living the same day over and over, no matter what he tried to do to change his fate.

Do your attempts to exercise more, lose weight, and feel better end up with the same results no matter what you do?
Maybe it is time for a new approach.
Maybe it is time to look at these issues in a different way, a positive way, a way that emphasizes what you CAN do over what you can't do.

Maybe it is time for you to sign up for the OCL Health & Wellness Challenge.

What is it?
The Health & Wellness Challenge (H&WC for short) is a yearlong series of bi-weekly activities that you can do to improve the health of your body, mind and spirit. You will set your own goals and record your progress. Activities will reflect different aspects of wellness: conscious eating, exercise, stress management, fun activities, and service/spirituality. At the end of the year, we will celebrate our successes.

How will it work?
Any staff member can sign up for the Health & Wellness Challenge. Each branch has one Team Leader. Your Team Leader will help to share information and inspiration. Committee members will recommend some activities for you, and you will also choose your own. You can record your progress privately or publicly.Anyone who participated in the Webthings Challenge can re-use or create a new blog to record their progress. Email will also be an acceptable way to document your progress toward your goals. Activities will be posted on a bi-weekly basis. Some will be general, like "set a fitness goal for yourself and stick with it for a week". Others might be more specific, like "watch the movie "Supersize Me". As you complete a Challenge, you may record your efforts and thoughts on your blog, in an email message, or by using a Tracking Sheet created by Committee members.

How will I find out about the activities?
Activities will be posted on the Committee blog http://oclwellness.blogspot.com and on Open C's.If you have a comment about an activity, or a suggestion for a new activity, you can send an email to the Committee, or post a comment on the blog or Open C's.

What will I get?
At the halfway point, participants who have consistently completed activities toward their goal will get a modest prize. We will share success stories at the Holiday Breakfast and Challenge completers will be entered in a raffle for a Grand Prize. Individual branches may also have prizes solicited from their community.

How can I learn more about health and wellness?
The Health & Wellness Challenge will schedule training workshops throughout the year related to wellness. Keep an eye out for upcoming trainings. There will also be Health & Wellness information at Staff Development Day.

How can I sign up?
Find out at your branch about a Health & Wellness Challenge Kickoff event. You can attend this event to find out more. Or, on or after February 2nd (that’s Groundhog Day, by the way!) just send an email to oclwellness@gmail.com and say "Yes! I want to improve my health!" Please include your name, branch, email address, and blog URL (if you have one). The registration period will last from February 2 to February 16. Round One of the Challenge, which will focus on Conscious Eating, begins on February 19th. Rounds will coincide with pay periods.

SPECIAL PRIZE: All registrants will be entered in a raffle to win a 6 week membership to Toms River Fitness.

DISCLAIMER:Before you embark on any program involving your health, you should check with your physician first. Members of the Health & Wellness Challenge Committee claim no expertise in the field of health, fitness, nutrition or wellness.