08 April 2010

Building a Healthier Chicago

I have been attending the Building a Healthier Chicago conference the past few days. There has been a lot of fascinating information provided so far and a number of things I plan to look into more thoroughly. Beyond my personal interest, I am interested in ways we can better integrate messages that stress better nutrition and fitness into our library programs. I have encountered some resistance form a few people who think that, as librarians, that “is not our job,” but isn’t a healthier community the job of EVERYone who serves that community? I am not saying that we sacrifice the literacy and love of reading piece of our work to become nutritionists, but it is vital to help families understand healthy living messages when we can. It has been proven through plenty of research that children learn better when they receive proper nutrition and appropriate physical fitness. If they are eating well and getting movement, they will also be able to better love reading. All the pieces fit together, people!

Yesterday, I got a pedometer from the conference. The recommendation is that everyone takes 10,000 steps a day. I thought, piece of cake! I am active. 10,000 steps will be nothing! Well. As I write this, it is 11:30am and I am right around 4,900 steps. And that’s when an extra 1.5 mile walk from the parking garage to the conference and a walk during break factored in. I think I will hit the 10,000 steps today, but what about a “typical” day when I am *not* walking 1.5 miles one way to work? I plan to wear the pedometer tomorrow to see what I get when there are no special events or extended breaks and I guess I will work my way up.

Dr. James O. Hill presented the Keynote Address yesterday and he was fantastic. He emphasized how important it is not to be too stressed about reach goal immediately. He gave the example of a woman who started using a pedometer and found she was taking 2,000 steps a day. She wanted to improve but became discouraged because after using a pedometer again a week later, she was only at 3,000 steps a day. He pointed out that that had been a “heroic improvement.” I think that’s true. We beat ourselves up for not achieving perfectly, instantly, instead of looking at where we are coming from and appreciating that any improvement, no matter how small, is still an improvement. So, we’ll see. Wherever I find my step count tomorrow, I won’t beat myself up over it. I’ll just figure out ways to take more steps and I will reach 10,000, then make that sustainable.