There has been quite a buzz around Rolling Hills about the physical transformation of the Information Technology (IT) team — Craig Schultz, Donny Stevens, Lance Heinle, and Frank James — in just a few months. Since it was recently Men’s Health Month, I thought it would be timely to get their tips for shaping up and living healthier.
The four-man team handles all the non-gaming technology needs of Rolling Hills Casino and other businesses owned by the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians, including MDBarnmaster and the Rolling Hills Clinics. In addition to maintaining computers, phones and electronic signage, they designed and implemented the technical infrastructure for the Rolling Hills Clinics, which included a sophisticated x-ray system and software for paperless health records.
While keeping all the computers up and running may be stressful at times, it isn’t physically strenuous and the four men found themselves a little plumper and more out of shape than they wanted to be. However, they still considered themselves healthy.
“The wake-up call for me came when I was diagnosed with high cholesterol. I wanted to bring it down and live a long, healthy life,” said Lance.
“I had high blood pressure and was taking medication for it,” said Craig, who is only in his early 30s.
“I just turned 30, and that fueled me to stay in shape,” said Frank, who was in fairly good condition from playing sports most of his life, but still wanted to improve his overall health.
In December, the men decided to do something about their health and they began to make lifestyle changes, challenging each other to “stick to the program.” Craig joined a gym, Lance and his wife started working out to P90X fitness DVDs every night, and Frank stepped up his workout program. They changed their diets, eating more fruits and vegetables and avoiding processed foods. Donny dropped 5 pounds just by eliminating sodas from his diet.
“I found it wasn’t enough to exercise,” said Craig, who lost over 35 pounds within five months. “I had to change my diet.” “I started small by eliminating sodas from my diet and drinking more water,” continued Craig. “It became addictive. The more I saw results and the better I felt, the more I wanted to keep going.”
“Once you see results and start feeling good, it makes you want to drive harder,” agreed Lance, who lost 16 pounds.
Lance and his coworkers admit they might not have been so successful if it wasn’t for the others. “It’s a little harder to go out and get a cheeseburger now with these guys around,” laughed Lance. “We are supportive of each other and that helps us stay focused during the week,” he continued.
Cheat meals are allowed on the weekends and the men joke about what they ate. “Beer is my cheat meal,” said Lance. “I had a candy bar,” said Craig. “More dairy for me,” said Frank.
Developing healthier habits wasn’t easy at first and each man had something that was difficult to give up. For Craig, it was cutting down on bread and dairy products. Frank also had a hard time cutting down on dairy products. “A little dairy is ok, but I was putting cheese on everything,” he said. Lance missed his beer, while Donny longed for sodas. “Soda was my source of caffeine,” said Donny, who does not like tea or coffee.
The men also had to find time to include exercise in their routine. Lance changed his schedule at home to get in an hour workout everyday. Because Craig has two kids to feed when he gets home, he goes to the gym on his way to work. Frank squeezes in his workouts in the evening. Donny cannot fit a formal exercise program into his routine, but points out that the gym is not the only place to use one’s muscles. “I get a pretty good work out taking care of and exercising my horses,” said Donny. “The important thing is staying active.”
“Getting in shape” is not the first health-oriented thing the men have done as a team. “Several years ago we began brushing our teeth together after lunch. People laughed at us at first, but now we see others bringing toothbrushes. Making health lifestyle changes is contagious,” said Lance.
Amy Gonczeruk, Operations Manager of Rolling Hills Clinic applauds the lifestyle changes of the Technology Team. “65% of American men die from five causes: Heart disease, stroke, lung disease, diabetes, and cancer. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and refraining from smoking significantly reduces the risks for these diseases,” said Amy. “Something else the IT team does that is important is to seek regular medical advice and get early treatment for disease and injury. Regular checkups and age-appropriate screenings can improve health and extend lives,” she added.
Here’s Six Tips From the IT Team to Get in Shape
1. Eat every three hours to keep metabolism high. “Eating less, more times a day means I never feel too full or too hungry,” said Craig.
2. Cook all meals for the workweek in one day and package them to take for lunch. “I use rubs instead of BBQ sauce when I BBQ and I grill everything instead of frying,” shared Craig, whose lunches include grilled meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy snacks such as walnuts and almonds.
3. Diet or exercise alone isn’t enough, you have to do both. “I worked out for two months and saw very little results until I changed my diet,” said Craig.
4. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, drink lots of water, and avoid processed foods and preservatives. “The hardest thing about eating healthy is you have to go to the store more often to get fresh food, but its worth it” said Lance. All the men agreed, the more you eat healthy, the more you’ll enjoy the food you eat.
5. Prepare your house for healthy lifestyle changes before you start. “Get rid of anything in your house that is unhealthy and only buy healthy foods,” said Lance. “If it isn’t there, you can’t eat it,” agreed Frank.
6. Even small changes can make a difference. When you start feeling better from small successes, you’ll want to keep making healthier and healthier choices.