Spotlight on Donna Krug
Family & Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research & Extension - Barton County
How long have you been there?
Since July 1, 1989 (26+ years)
Husband, John; Three grown Children - Kristen Baker (Art); Adam Krug (Aubrey) and Matt Krug. We have 4 grand children ages 8, 4, 2 and 1.
My most obvious hobby is bicycling with my husband on our tandem bike. I also love fiber arts; sewing, quilting, and knitting and I enjoy playing the piano.
What first drew you to this project?
Writing this fact sheet was a natural fit for me since I am passionate about eating healthy and moving more. One of my program areas in my Extension position is to teach programming in the area of health and wellness. When I learned about the “Action Plan” concept I knew I needed to share this with anyone who would listen.
What do you most enjoy about what you do?
I love the variety of subject matter and audiences I get to work with. One day I am visiting a 1st grade classroom teaching about healthy eating and the next day I may be presenting an educational program at the Senior Center.
How has it changed since you first began/what changes do you anticipate in the next 5-10 years?
When I joined Extension 26 years ago there were 36 organized Extension Homemaker Units so providing educational programming to them was a large part of my job. Now my focus is to bring educational programming to many different audiences across Barton County. I do quite a bit of work with the Migrant Parent program, Barton County Academy, Head Start Parents, and civic organizations. I believe as time goes on there will be an even greater need for the educational programming K-State Research & Extension can provide. Health issues and financial struggles seem to be on the rise. Our goal is always to improve the quality of life of the people we serve.
An avid cyclist and nutrition enthusiast, Barton County Extension Agent Donna Krug has long advocated for health lifestyles.
From programs to county residents to columns in the Great Bend Tribune, Krug has encouraged everyone to do what they can to improve their lives. Now, she has received some recognition at the national level for her efforts.
She received a national award for a publication she wrote. The fact sheet, “Action Plan for Healthy Living” was chosen as first place publication for 2015 in the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences professional organization.
The award was presented during the National Conference held in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, in November. Krug also presented a concurrent session at the conference which highlighted the fact sheet.
A long and healthy life doesn’t just happen. Everyday choices influence the quality of life you experience. Decisions start before your feet hit the floor in the morning. For instance, you made a decision whether or not to set an alarm or what time to set the alarm.
Many decisions during the day are food-centered. Perhaps you think you just make three food decisions daily: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Well, think again.
You choose how much or what kind of milk to pour on cereal, whether to have a second helping of lasagna, if you will eat that pastry or drink soda or coffee at the office, and on and on.
Other important decisions revolve around physical activity. Take the stairs or elevator? Exercise before or after work? Watch TV or go for a walk? Since all of these decisions affect how your day goes, it is important to consider making a few common-sense changes. Many serious health problems are directly related to personal habits or behavior. Having a written plan is an important step in regaining or maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Improve Eating Habits
Over time, poor eating habits affect overall health status. Problems related to obesity or chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease or arthritis didn’t happen overnight. Making poor nutrition and exercise choices can even contribute to a generally poor emotional or mental outlook. Consider these simple guidelines for improving your eating habits:
• Start your day with breakfast
Studies show that people who include breakfast eat 100 fewer calories a day than people who don’t. Food consumed first thing in the morning jump-starts metabolism and helps the body function better physically and mentally.
• Include a fruit or vegetable with every meal or snack
Fruits and vegetables are naturally high in fiber and low in calories. They also provide a wide range of disease-fighting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Some vegetables and many fruits are naturally sweet, so consuming more of these can actually tame a sweet tooth.
• Reduce portion sizes
With the Choose MyPlate recommendations adopted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in June 2011, consumers are encouraged to eat from a plate that is 9 inches in diameter. Making a conscious effort to reduce food portion size will do much to reduce the number of calories, as well as the amount of fat and added sugar consumed.
• Eat slowly and eat only until you are no longer hungry
Learn to enjoy feeling satisfied and light on your feet instead of stuffing yourself. Try laying your eating utensil down between bites or engage in conversation around the dinner table to help everyone slow down. When you routinely stop eating just as you begin to feel full and don’t take even one more bite, you can save as many as 500 calories a day, which means losing up to 50 pounds in a year.
• Choose to eat more nutrient-dense foods Foods that have low nutrient density supply calories but little or no amounts of vitamins and minerals; therefore, they are given the label “empty calories.” On the other hand, nutrient-rich or dense foods have lots of vitamins and minerals compared to the number of calories they provide. A practical example of this is to compare the nutritional value of a whole raw apple (52 calories) to a slice of dutch apple pie (350 calories). Not only is there a dramatic difference in calories in these two food choices, but the amount of sugar and fat found in a slice of pie is more than an average person needs in a meal.
• Eat whole foods instead of highly processed foods This recommendation goes hand in hand with the last one. Highly processed foods have added colorings, chemical flavor enhancers, and preservatives you cannot pronounce. Whole foods mean less sugar, fat, sodium, and chemicals, and they provide more fiber and natural nutrients.
Along with choosing to consume healthier food, many people can achieve a healthy lifestyle by increasing physical activity. Start by investing in a good pair of walking shoes and walking around your neighborhood or indoor exercise facility. Another habit that will increase success is scheduling time for physical activity during your day. Here are four simple guidelines to get your heart rate up and your muscles stretched:
• Start slow
If you have been inactive for a period of time, make sure you do not overdo your first workout. Sore muscles or shortness of breath translate to not wanting to continue. As with any exercise program, check with your health-care provider first.
• Find a buddy
Since it takes approximately six weeks of repetition to turn something into a habit, you will want to find a friend who is as committed to exercise as you are. Agree to hold each other accountable for increasing your level of physical activity. Then you just need to hold up your end of the bargain.
• Do regular physical exercise
This is the first step to help offset the declining metabolic rate that occurs as we age. This decline is 2 percent per decade after age 30, or about 100 fewer calories burned each day by age 50. If a person does not eat less or exercise more, this could cause a yearly weight gain of 10 pounds. Another part of aging is a change in body composition — more fat and less muscle. People who exercise regularly have a more favorable body composition, with a lower proportion of body fat. People who exercise regularly have greater bone density than those who do not. To be most helpful, regular exercise should be started early in life to help maintain bone density.
When Eating and Exercising Aren’t Enough
When healthy food choices and the addition of regular physical activity do not bring about the healthy lifestyle you were hoping for, perhaps it is time to consider other factors that influence health. According to the University of Florida IFAS Extension publication, Healthstyle: A Self-Test, it is estimated that 7 of the 10 leading causes of death could be reduced through common-sense changes in lifestyle. Consider these six “S” strategies for achieving a healthy life:
• Stress management
Stress is a normal part of living, and the causes of it can be good or bad. When stress becomes distress people often show unhealthy responses, such as driving too fast, prolonged anger, worry or fear, or drinking too much. Learn to find ways that reduce stress in your life. Things like deep breathing, physical activity, and positive self-talk may be effective.
Hectic schedules may not allow for adequate down time, but it is important to find some quiet time each day with no demands. Another way to simplify your life is to de-clutter your living space. Refer to the K-State Research and Extension publication MF2879 Cut the Clutter and Get Organized for some tips.
• Safety first
Whether you are walking, riding a bicycle, or driving in a car there are choices that can improve safety. Wearing a seat belt when in a vehicle, a helmet when cycling, and leaving electronic devices turned off while driving to keep distractions to a minimum would be good decisions.
• Stop smoking and limit alcohol consumption
Both smoking and excessive drinking are real issues that pose great health risks. There are community-based programs that can help people who are serious about eliminating these unhealthy habits.
• Sleep well
Making simple changes in routine, environment, diet, and other factors can help you achieve adequate sleep. Sleep disorders are common, and some are serious, but most can be treated. An excellent resource to learn more about sleep is the K-State Research and Extension publication MF2830, Sleep: Want It, Need It, Get It.
Surround yourself with positive people
When someone is feeling down, one of the best strategies is to spend time with positive, upbeat people. Laughter, encouragement, and positive thoughts can effectively help reverse negative thoughts.
Develop an Action Plan
You have 15 strategies at your fingertips to help you achieve a healthy life. In order to be successful, consider putting your plans in writing by developing an action plan. The most important part of an action plan is to choose something you want to do. Next it needs to be something reasonable, such as something you can expect to be able to accomplish in a week or a month. A true action plan is behavior specific. Losing weight is not a behavior; not eating after dinner is. An action plan answers these questions: What? How much? When? How often?
The final piece of a successful action plan is to assess the confidence level that you will fulfill the contract. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 represents
little confidence and 10 represents total confidence, your plan should rank at least a 7. The following form is easy to complete and post where you will see it daily.
Many serious health problems are directly related to personal habits or behavior. The risk factors that can lead to these problems are of little concern to many people. They have the attitude, “I feel fine – why worry about a healthier lifestyle?” The medical system was built around caring for the sick instead of keeping people well. Achieving a healthy lifestyle takes knowledge, effort, and determination. No one can do it for you. You have tools at your fingertips to help you achieve a healthier life.