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Finding your “why” to motivate healthy lifestyle choices

01/11/2022

AdobeStock_91842206This time of year, many of us are examining our lives and contemplating making lifestyle changes. At the beginning of 2021, Todd Shepherd, training specialist 1 in Human Resources, was in the same boat and  was “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” He had a lack of energy as he was trying to keep up with his two kids ages 5 and 3 and knew it was time to implement healthier lifestyle choices.

Shepherd understood that to truly make a change he needed more than a simple New Year’s resolution. He credited a mindset shift with truly propelling him to success. “I used an app to help me understand my motivation or my ‘why.’ For me that was my kids and my inability to do the things I wanted to do. I found that the key to success is having a compelling personal reason to change elements of your life. What is holding you back from doing what you want to do?”

For Shepherd, small changes to his diet, activity levels, and sleep habits helped him lose 40 pounds. He said, “It was a struggle at first, especially with working remotely. When I was in the office all the time, I only had access to the food I brought with me unless I wanted to go out. At home, I have much greater access to food. I could always find something to eat, and that was an issue.”

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Todd Shepherd and his kids

Even with more access to food, cooking at home became a benefit of the pandemic that helped Shepherd get control of his health. He said, “My wife and I are doing more experimenting with different foods and spices and getting the kids involved. We don’t deprive them of anything, but we encourage them to explore new food options. For our family, this isn’t just a short-term thing. It’s a lifestyle change.”

Shepherd and his family made the decision to reduce the amount of processed food in their home and rely more on fruits and vegetables to fill them up. “But we didn’t really do anything drastic. We looked a lot more closely at portion control, like one cookie instead of six.”

Keeping track of what you eat and how much you move is another tip Shepherd said helped him. “Whether you write it down or use an app, to see how much you are actually eating in a day is a motivator. I also weighed myself every day, but I know not everyone wants to do that. But for me,  seeing that number on the scale showed me the impact of my eating habits.”

In addition to tweaks to the family’s diet, Shepard started adding more activity to his day. He said. “I’m not into hard-core workouts, but I did start to run in place several times a week for about 20 minutes each time.”

Sleep is the third area where Shepherd looked to improve. He said over the past year he’s learned there is a correlation between good sleep and good health. “It’s really a circular effect,” he explained. “When you eat better and move more, you sleep better. When you sleep better, you are more inclined to move more and eat better.”

Over the past year, Shepherd said he has experienced highs and lows in his journey for better health. “The key is to allow yourself some grace. There are going to be times where you indulge a little more, but if you keep the big picture of what you’re trying to do in mind, you can bring yourself back to healthier habits pretty quickly.”

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Human Resources has started a Microsoft Teams meeting group for any employee who wants to add a little discipline to their daily routine. The group meets on a regular basis and reminds you to stretch. You can choose any combination of three Teams stretches:

  • 10 a.m. daily
  • 1 p.m. on Mondays
  • 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

To join the Teams group, just send an email to any one of the Health and Safety Team:


Unfortunately, I have tried sending an email to the first two email addresses on this list to sign up for this Teams group for stretches, but both times it bounces back and does not go through to the email address.

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Iowa highway in the evening