Coca-Cola Balanced Living Workshop–A-ha Moments!

I was compensated for my participation in Coca-Cola’s Balanced Living Workshop, but my thoughts and views are my own.

So, I’m back. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that when I was telling people that I was going to a Balanced Living Workshop about health and wellness that was hosted by Coca-Cola, I got a lot of the following: “Huh?” “Coca-Cola? RIGHT.” “hahahahahaha!” The fact is, not only does Coca-Cola have so many brands–including lots of no- and low-calorie drinks–that I would rather link to them than list them here, but they also have some great initiatives that make it easier for people to enjoy healthier servings of their products. Just to name a few:

~They introduced 90-calorie Mini cans for better portion control

~They introduced TRUVIA, a natural zero-calorie sweetener

~They unveiled Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, which I wrote about last month, here.

~They are providing tons of options: 180 low- or no-calorie beverages in the United States!

By the way, many of those brands followed us everywhere during the two-day event. Thanks to Coca-Cola, we were never thirsty!

 Just some of the Coca Cola brands: they were kind enough to follow us everywhere on our two-day workshop!

The event itself far surpassed any advance expectations I had, truly. (Every bit of it, actually.) It was a very valuable two days for me, and I even want to use “life-changing” here. I had a few pretty solid “A-ha!” moments and came home with some great stuff to work on. If you read my pre-workshop post, I listed four things that I was excited about:

1. Meeting with a nutritionist

2. Grocery store field trip with a dietitian

3. Vision board session

4. Learning about what Coca-Cola is doing to make Chicago a healthier, more sustainable city.

Let me tell you how it went, starting from the bottom. Coca-Cola is actually doing a lot right here in my area of the country. One of the biggest and most impressive programs is the Chicago Park Families Wellness Initiative. From the official press release: With the help of a three million dollar grant from Coca-Cola, The Park Families Wellness Initiative “will feature affordable nutrition education and active lifestyle programs for Chicago communities who are most in need of wellness services. The initiative, which will be run by the Chicago Park District, will also allow the Park District to hire U.S. veterans to teach military-style fitness classes called ‘Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness.'” The program will be available in more than 60 community facilities reaching 125,000 residents annually by 2016, making the Park District the “leading provider of affordable health programs in the city.” I love the idea of this program, not only because it’s a great American brand giving back, but because it’s a balanced living program that will be available where it’s most needed AND it will provide jobs for veterans. Awesome, right?

The vision board session was fun, but a little more challenging than I thought it would be. I’m a creative person, but the prompt–presented to us by BlogHer co-founder Jory Des Jardins (yay! So glad to see her!)–was to make a vision board that showed how I wanted to move forward with balanced living as it related to me and my family. After I used up one-third of the allotted time trying to figure out a plan, I finally realized why I was having so much trouble and got to work. My board ended up being all about me, and here’s why. I explained to the others during our “show and tell” time that I am at a different stage in life from all of the other bloggers that were in the room. My kids are almost grown: my husband and I are almost empty-nesters and although I obviously love my kids dearly, the ship has sailed when it comes to making daily health and wellness plans for all of us as a family unit. It’s time to start thinking about how *I* am going to live a more balanced life. To that end, my board included things relating to simplifying, relaxing, traveling, time management, my friends, and continuing to have a great relationship with my hubby. In the end, I was happy with my project and glad I went off the path with it.
My vision board: it's all about me.

The grocery store tour with the dietician was great. We spent about an hour looking at labels and learning what to look for when shopping for food. We learned about the better cuts of meat, which greens have more fiber and which have more of other nutrients, alternatives to processed foods that have ungodly amounts of sodium, and so much more. We came away with some information that I will readily use so I can make more informed choices.

Finally, let me tell you about the meeting with the nutritionist that I was so terrified of, yet greatly anticipating at the same time. IT. WAS. AWESOME. I connected with her immediately, and was thrilled to find that she really “got me”. She gave me one of the biggest a-ha moments of the event when she said something that was also mentioned in one of the workshops: I shouldn’t be as worried about what I AM eating as I should be about what I am NOT eating. I have never thought of it that way. So many of us spend time trying to cut back on (or cut out) certain foods that are bad for us when that’s not the right strategy at all. It’s fine for me to say, “I enjoy X too much to give it up, so I’m going to have a little bit of it,” but what I should really be saying is, “I have only had one serving of fruits and vegetables today; I need to step it up.” THAT, my friends, was a big moment for me. The nutritionist gave me a list of goals that she made after reading the profile I filled out, and suggested that I choose two that I could commit to for the next two weeks, and then after that I am to add another one. I chose “Drink more water” and “Add more fruits and vegetables.” Just by doing those things, just by ADDING to my diet, I have lost 1.5 pounds this week. We discussed my high blood pressure and the changes I’ve made so far to try and get that under control (I try to stick to lower-sodium foods, I rarely consume caffeine anymore, and I bumped up my workouts to seven days per week, with two workouts on Wednesdays). She told me that she thinks I’m ready to make the other changes I need to make in order to lose some weight, but she cut my long-term weight loss goal in half, and that alone felt like another a-ha moment. I can’t believe I didn’t make a smaller goal for myself before: I have always known that it’s easier to be more successful when you chop up your big goals into little ones so I’m not sure why I didn’t do that when it came to my weight loss plans. All in all, it was a very full, exhausting, exhilarating, educational, informative, eye-opening, contemplative, and refreshing two days. I met some great new friends, spent time with great old ones, and appreciate from the top of my head to the tips of my toes what Coca-Cola provided to us.

The Coca Cola Balanced Living Workshop ladies: old and new friends!

*Pictures (except for the one of my vision board) courtesy of Bruce Powell Photography and Coca-Cola, by the way!


    • Melisa

      Well, you have a little bit of fun now and then too. 🙂

      Would have been nice if you were there, though. Of course, the two of us fun-seekers there together might have been too much for those in charge…

  • Marianne

    It was so great to meet you and I’m 100% with you. The event far exceeded expectations. Drinking water has always helped me lose weight, but I got off the bandwagon for some reason. Right back on it, now!

  • tracey

    I loved watching how pumped up you got over the mere IDEA of working out. You definitely have a different sense of fun than I do, but I sure do love you.

  • Beth

    Your vision board is beautiful – I would like to spend a day in that library filled with books! It was great to spend time with you and I hope to see you again soon.

  • Kari

    To my blogging mentor,
    I so enjoyed meeting you, sharing a cab both ways with you and for you calming my newbie nerves. I cannot wait to meet you again sometime soon…BlogHer for sure- buying my tickets today! And I owe you a Starbucks Caramel Hot Choco too. 🙂

  • Kathy

    “I shouldn’t be as worried about what I AM eating as I should be about what I am NOT eating.”

    That is an awesome a-ha moment and I am right there with you! So cool we met with the same dietitian and yes, she is amazing!

    I am so glad we got to spend more time together at the workshop, after traveling to NYC in August at the same time for BlogHer`12 and waving to each other in the hallway of the hotel! 😉

    I love where you went with your vision board and how you recognize what you want to focus on going forward to find more balance in your life. You go girl! Hope to see you again soon! xoxo

  • Jeanette Nyberg

    Okay. First of all, I love that you’ve already written about the Freestyle machines. That’s awesome.

    Also, I sort of had a similar experience with the vision boards. I started to cut out pics of healthy people and foods, and then about halfway through, I would see images that really struck me and I realized I was missing the humor and creativity parts of my healthy balance. Loved that part of the workshop.

    It sounds like you had an amazing meeting with your nutritionist- in fact, thanks for the tips. This is so fun to read everyone else’s experiences.