June 5, 1999 | By: Ellen Brightwell

The annual Fun, Food and Fitness weekend at North Central 4-H Camp had a different twist this year. Nearly 60 women taking part in the event were introduced to The Wildcat Way to Wellness, a new educational program emphasizing a personal approach to better health.

With The Wildcat Way to Wellness, people examine their individual eating and physical activity habits and how these compare to guidelines for good health. Next, they learn about three CATSkills for better health– Cooking with Pyramid Power, Activity You Can Live With, and Time To Be Well, said Janet Tietyen, Extension food and nutrition specialist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

"A key part of this program is that each participant makes a personal decision about what steps, if any, they're going to take toward better health," said Tietyen, who developed The Wildcat Way to Wellness. "People completing this program will have a knowledge base, gained from personal diet and activity profiles and the CATSkills, from which to make an informed decision. However, the ultimate move toward better health is theirs; it's a personal decision."

The Wildcat Way to Wellness is not strictly a weight-loss program, rather it's a personal approach to better health" according to Tietyen.

"Eating a healthy diet and being active are good for everyone's well-being; but losing weight might not be the right goal for everyone," she explained. "For example, if people haven't been able to lose weight, perhaps they should try to improve their health with increased physical activity, rather than focusing on weight loss. The Wildcat Way to Wellness has a Pyramid Plan for a Healthy Weight to help people who want to shed pounds accomplish this goal. This segment has weight-loss ideas based on the latest research to help people find the approach that's best for their individual situations.

"In addition, people following each of the CATSkills for better health will probably lose some pounds, but weight loss isn't the ultimate goal of The Wildcat Way to Wellness. We want to help people improve their sense of well-being."

The three CATSkills focus on new ways people can fit cooking, activity and time into a busy life, according to Tietyen.

"Cooking with Pyramid Power gives people options to make dietary changes appropriate for their individual situations," she said. "Think of a pyramid shape when you're planning meals as well as strolling the aisles of a grocery store. Build the pyramid base with carbohydrate foods that provide energy for daily activities; next, add some color by including at least five servings daily of vegetables and fruits to provide essential vitamins and minerals as well as fiber; then pick prime protein to supply high-quality protein without added fat. And finally top the pyramid off with various ways to add flavor without using too much fat or sugar."

The second CATSkill, Activity You Can Live With, means adding more activity throughout each day, according to Tietyen.

"You can increase your activity level in a number of ways," she said. "In fact, you might be doing this already in your daily activities. But look for other ways to activate your life. For instance, walk a while by taking nature walks, using stairs rather then the elevator, or parking further away from your destination."

People don't need to go to a gym to improve their health through activity, according to Tietyen.

"Current research shows that 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week can help you live longer," she said.

"You also might want to incorporate some strength building and aerobic activities," Tietyen added. "Finally, make activity breaks a part of your daily routine. A good goal is not to sit still for more than 30 minutes at a time. Try to stretch or walk at least twice an hour. Activity you can live with helps you feel better and accomplish more. Research shows you can improve your health significantly by working a few minutes of activity into your daily routine. This might be the most important part of your path to wellness."

Time To Be Well, the third CATSkill, focuses on three steps -- activate your life, learn to eat well, and enjoy life, according to Tietyen.

"Make time to slow down and take care of yourself because research studies indicate that your thoughts affect your health," she said. "Scientists agree that you can positively change your sense of well-being by engaging in regular physical activity, thinking positive thoughts, managing your emotions, and effectively coping with stress.

"In fact research shows that people's thoughts and behaviors today help shape what they think and do tomorrow. So the adage, ‘mind over matter,' might have a scientific basis ."

Tietyen said having a positive outlook is an important part of The Wildcat Way To Wellness.


Writer: Ellen Brightwell (606) 257-1376
Source: Janet Tietyen (606) 257-1812