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Motivation for those New Year’s health and wealth resolutions

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By Maryellen Garrison
Henry County Extension Office

Got New Year’s resolutions to improve your health and/or personal finances?

For example, losing weight, increasing physical activity, reducing debt or saving money?
Cooperative Extension’s Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ program has two free resources to motivate you to achieve your personal self-improvement goals: an online challenge and a 132-page workbook that is available for downloading or is free at our office.

To access the SSHW Challenge, follow the challenges link on the Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ Web site at www.njaes.rutgers.edu/sshw/. Click on SSHW Online Individual Challenge.
Then click on register an account, set up a user name and password, and download a simple one-page user’s guide with instructions about how to proceed. Click on My Account and My Challenges and Enter a New Challenge, and enroll in the challenge titled “SSHW 2014 Non-Competitive Challenge.”

The SSHW Challenge is part of Small Steps to Health and Wealth™, a national Cooperative Extension program developed to motivate Americans to take action to improve their health and personal finances.

SSHW was built around a framework of 25 research-based behavior change strategies. The challenge was originally developed in a paper-and-pencil format and is now available online.
The SSHW Challenge is based on the performance of 10 recommended practices on a daily basis: five that involve health and nutrition and five that involve financial management. Ten points are given for performing each one for a maximum of 700 points per week.

The five daily health and nutrition practices are: eat at least 4 cups of fruits and vegetables; get at least 30 minutes of physical activity; drink water or unsweetened beverages instead of sugar-sweetened beverages; track 10,000 or more steps walking with a pedometer; and learn something new about health and nutrition.

The five daily financial management practices included in the SSHW Challenge are: save $1 or more and/or pocket change; invest $5 or more per day including automated retirement savings plan deposits; track money spent throughout the day; eat lunch prepared at home; and learn something new about personal finance. The latter activity, for both health and personal finances, can be accomplished by visiting websites, attending seminars, or by reading, listening to or viewing media reports.

SSHW Challenge participants can also decide to replace one or more of the 10 daily health and personal finance activities with unique personal challenges.
For example, getting eight hours of sleep or eating at least two servings of whole grain foods instead of one of the health actions listed above.

As participants enter daily points, they will see point totals for each day of the week and for each of the 10 activities described above.

They’ll also see a bar graph that compares their personal scores to average scores of everyone else participating in the challenge.

The second Cooperative Extension resource is the Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ workbook. Individual chapters can be downloaded for free from www.njaes.rutgers.edu/sshw/.
But if you are not an online sort of person there is a free book. The paperback workbook contains 44 worksheets and we have a box of books that will be available free to the first to request them.
You can call us at 845-2811, but we can’t mail them out so you will need to pick them up at the Extension Office.