Gerald Carter

In 2001, Gerald Carter accepted a job with the St. Paul Police Department and moved here from Evansville, Indiana to continue his career in law enforcement. He is 60 years old, has been married for 32 years and has two children. We are featuring Gerald this month to recognize his lifelong commitment to staying physically fit as well as his outstanding achievements.

Since the age of 16, Gerald has been competing in power lifting and body building competitions on both a national and international level. From the start, he has never placed below the top five and is usually in the top 3 in competitions. Throughout his entire life, he has never used enhancing drugs even though for a time it was legal to do so.

Since entering law enforcement, Gerald has chosen to regularly participate in the World Police and Fire Games. In the World games, there are thousands of public safety officers representing 65-70 countries competing at various events, larger even than the winter Olympic games. He has gone up against lifters from the Eastern bloc where the use of steroids is not illegal. In the 2005 World Games held in Quebec City, Gerald received silver in the push pull event and a bronze in the bench press. In the 2009 World Games, he won three medals: silvers in the bench press and push pull, and a bronze in body building. He went on to win a silver medal in the bench press in the 2011 World Games. It was in the 2015 World Games that Gerald captured his first gold medals; one in the bench press and one in the push pull event. In an interview he gave at the time, he said, “Finally, it’s nice to be the bride and not just the bridesmaid”. He repeated that performance as the returning champion in Los Angeles in 2017.

Performing at this level obviously demands a lot of training. Gerald generally trains six days a week for 45-75 minutes/day. Besides lifting weights, he includes 30-45 minutes of a cardio work-out on a stair climber or bicycle. Despite these many years of training and competition, he has not suffered any serious injuries. He attributes that to paying attention to his body – is it just muscle soreness he is feeling or something else? If he finds a particular lift painful, he knows to substitute something else for a while. He instructs people who come to him with training questions to make sure they focus on core strength as well.

Despite all the hard work Gerald puts into competing, he acknowledges that some people are born with a natural ability for different things and have that advantage so he is reluctant to give himself a big pat on the back for excelling as he has. He also acknowledges that he could not have achieved what he has over the years if not for the support from his wife as he spends much time and expense to do what he loves.

Gerald trains and competes because he likes the sport and it helps him control his weight. He enjoys meeting people from all over the world, like the Mongolian police officer who spoke no English. This officer was admiring Gerald’s leather weight lifting belt, as these are not available in Mongolia. So, Gerald gave him his. He looks forward to seeing him and other new friends at competitions, even when they don’t speak the same language.
Gerald’s next competition will be in 2019 in Chengdu, China. We wish him the best and congratulate him on all he has achieved.

Do you have questions for our featured employee? Send them to us at HealthyStPaul@ci.stpaul.mn.us and we will publish a Q&A in a future issue.

20 Ways to Enjoy More Fruits & Vegetables

Building a healthy plate is easy when you make half your plate fruits and vegetables. It’s also a great way to add color, flavor and texture plus vitamins, minerals and fiber. All this is packed in fruits and vegetables that are low in calories and fat. Make 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables your daily goal.

Try the following tips to enjoy more fruits and vegetables every day.

  • Variety abounds when using vegetables as pizza topping. Try broccoli, spinach, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini.
  • Mix up a breakfast smoothie made with low-fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana.
  • Make a veggie wrap with roasted vegetables and low-fat cheese rolled in a whole-wheat tortilla.
  • Try crunchy vegetables instead of chips with your favorite low-fat salad dressing for dipping.
  • Grill colorful vegetable kabobs packed with tomatoes, green and red peppers, mushrooms and onions.
  • Add color to salads with baby carrots, grape tomatoes, spinach leaves or mandarin oranges.*
  • Keep cut vegetables handy for mid-afternoon snacks, side dishes, lunch box additions or a quick nibble while waiting for dinner. Ready-to-eat favorites: red, green or yellow peppers, broccoli or cauliflower florets, carrots, celery sticks, cucumbers, snap peas or whole radishes.
  • Place colorful fruit where everyone can easily grab something for a snack-on-the-run. Keep a bowl of fresh, just ripe whole fruit in the center of your kitchen or dining table.
  • Get saucy with fruit. Puree apples, berries, peaches or pears in a blender for a thick, sweet sauce on grilled or broiled seafood or poultry, or on pancakes, French toast or waffles.
  • Stuff an omelet with vegetables. Turn any omelet into a hearty meal with broccoli, squash, carrots, peppers, tomatoes or onions with low-fat sharp cheddar cheese.
  • “Sandwich” in fruits and vegetables. Add pizzazz to sandwiches with sliced pineapple, apple, peppers, cucumber and tomato as fillings.

  • Wake up to fruit. Make a habit of adding fruit to your morning oatmeal, ready-to-eat cereal, yogurt or toaster waffle.
  • Top a baked potato with beans and salsa or broccoli and low-fat cheese.
  • Microwave a cup of vegetable soup as a snack or with a sandwich for lunch.
  • Add grated, shredded or chopped vegetables such as zucchini, spinach and carrots to lasagna, meat loaf, mashed potatoes, pasta sauce and rice dishes.
  • Make fruit your dessert: Slice a banana lengthwise and top with a scoop of low-fat frozen yogurt. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of chopped nuts.
  • Stock your freezer with frozen vegetables to steam or stir-fry for a quick side dish.
  • Make your main dish a salad of dark, leafy greens and other colorful vegetables. Add chickpeas or edamame (fresh soybeans). Top with low-fat dressing.*
  • Fruit on the grill: Make kabobs with pineapple, peaches and banana. Grill on low heat until fruit is hot and slightly golden.
  • Dip: Whole wheat pita wedges in hummus, baked tortilla chips in salsa, strawberries or apple slices in low-fat yogurt, or graham crackers in applesauce.

Authored by Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics staff registered dietitian nutritionists.

Change happens one step at a time!

If you are able, take the stairs.

Did you know that getting more physical activity and limiting the amount of time that you spend sitting can reduce health risks? Scientific evidence shows it is everyday activities like walking and stair climbing that are most closely associated with improved health. Below are benefits seen by adding the use of stairs to your day.

No special equipment is needed.

Stair climbing can be accumulated across the course of the day, making a significant contribution to the recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity.
There is a significantly lower risk of mortality when climbing more than 55 flights per week.
Stair climbing requires about 8 – 11kcal of energy per minute, which is high compared to other moderate level physical activities.

Active stair climbers are more fit and have a higher aerobic capacity.

Even two flights of stairs climbed per day can lead to 6 lbs of weight loss over one year.

There is a strong association between stair climbing and bone density in post-menopausal women.

Climbing stairs can improve the amount of “good cholesterol” in the blood.

Stair climbing can help you build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints.

Finally, stairs are eco-friendly. When in motion, an elevator can use as much as 250 60 watt bulbs. So, if you can, burn calories, not electricity.
We know that fitting physical activity into a busy lifestyle isn’t always easy. Taking the stairs is just one way to add some physical activity into your work day while delivering healthy benefits.

(1) https://hr.duke.edu/wellness/exercise-fitness/take-stairs/benefits-taking-stairs
(2) Categories in the spotlight

Michele LaMere

Michele has worked for the City for 30 years. She has been in her current position as an Accounting Technician with Parks and Rec in the City Hall Annex for 26 years. She loves working for Parks and says her co-workers are an “awesome group.” Her commitment to walking daily on her lunch break began shortly after she came to the Annex when her supervisor invited her to join her on a walk through the skyways. Her supervisor has left the City but Michele has continued her daily, 30 minute walking lunch breaks ever since.

In 2000 Michele’s sister, Diane Schwanke, began working for the City as a Payroll Specialist. She readily joined Michele in her daily walks. Michele says she feels like the luckiest person in the world to be able to get in her exercise while spending quality time with her sister. In the summer months, they enjoy a brisk, two mile walk outside. In addition, they designated certain nights during the week when Michele will get on her elliptical at home and Diane on her treadmill. For accountability, they report back to each other the next day.

Heart disease runs in Michele’s family. She became borderline hypertensive and did not want to go on medication. She opted instead to get healthier by eating better and adding additional exercise. She joined the Omada program in November, 2017. This has worked tremendously for her as she has lost 20 lbs. since joining. She likes being able to bounce off thoughts with her core Omada group. She really appreciates the support they and her coach provide. Michele thinks the lessons, while often things you already know, serve as a good reminder and motivation to incorporate them into your life. She likes the accountability Omada provides as well. She is eating so much better and feels great since joining.

For people whose job like Michele’s involves sitting all day, committing to getting up and moving is important. She loves that her Fitbit reminds her with a buzz when she hasn’t moved out of her seat for an hour. Since joining Omada, Michele has added walking the Annex stairs on her morning and afternoon breaks. She started inviting co-workers to join her and now about five of them often will. She invites everyone to give it a try. It provides a mental break as well as some exercise.

Any day Michele doesn’t get in a walk now feels like a really long day to her. She recommends people get up and walk as it actually can be reenergizing. Regarding Omada, she tells anyone who is considering it not to hesitate. While it is a commitment, anybody can do it. It is a fantastic program and she feels so much better having participated.

PHOT0: Michele Lamere (right) with sister, Diane Schwanke.

Do you have questions for our featured employee? Send them to us at HealthyStPaul@ci.stpaul.mn.us and
we will publish a Q&A in a future issue.

5 Simple Ways To Help Keep Your Spine Healthy

The tips covered here along with additional links provide simple ways to help support your spine and overall back health.

  • Let your spine really rest while sleeping. While you’re lying down, all the structures in your spine that have worked hard all day finally have an opportunity to relax and be rejuvenated in a supported and comfortable way. Your choice of mattress and pillow is largely based on personal preference, your preferred sleep positions, and your specific back or neck problem. Visit: www.spine-health.com/wellness/sleep/choosing-best-mattress-lower-back-pain
  • Exercise your core to strengthen abs and back muscles. Your core muscles (lower back and abdominal muscles) need to be strong and supple to support your spine and take pressure off your lower back. Unfortunately, for most of us our core muscles are rarely used during everyday activities; they need to be toned through specific, targeted exercises. These exercises are simple and can be performed as part of a daily routine. Visit: www.spine-health.com/treatment/physical-therapy/core-body-strength-exercises
  • Your shoes need to support your spine. Whether you’re walking for exercise or just to get where you’re going, the shoes you wear play an important role in supporting your lower back. Good shoes provide a supportive base that helps the spine and body remain in alignment. Also, consider using shoe orthotics or inserts if you need further balance or support. Visit: www.spine-health.com/wellness/exercise/guidelines-buying-walking-shoes
  • Enjoy a massage. Did you know that massage has a number of therapeutic benefits in addition to stress relief? A good massage will help increase endorphins—the body’s natural painkiller—in your bloodstream, which in turn may allow you cut back on pain medication. Massage can also encourage blood flow, which brings healing nutrients to the affected area and can speed healing.
  • The discs in your lower spine are loaded 3 times more while sitting than standing, so long periods of sitting can create or aggravate a back condition. Moreover, when sitting at a desk and/or looking at a computer screen, our natural tendency is to slouch and lean forward, stressing our lumbar discs even more. Get up to stretch and walk around every 20 to 30 minutes, try working at a standup desk for part of the day, or get up and pace around when talking on the phone. The spine is meant to move to stay healthy, and movement fuels the spine with healthy nutrients.

Reprinted: www.spine-health.com/blog/five-ways-keep-your-spine-healthy-and-happy

Josh Lego

Commander Joshua Lego has worked for Police for 21 years. During those years, he has worked a variety of assignments. He is currently assigned to the Special Operations Unit responsible for planning for protests and assemblies while coordinating with other agencies. He has a Masters Degree in Leadership and teaches throughout the U.S. and Canada as an expert in policing issues. He is 45 years old, married and has three children.

Josh’s current position can involve working nights, week-ends and very long days. This irregular schedule affected his diet and exercise plans. He was grabbing whatever was handy to eat when he had the time. Days as long as 14 hours left little energy for exercising. It was in his personal life though that stressful circumstances led to living a very unhealthy lifestyle. His younger brother died unexpectedly leaving a young child behind whom Josh and his wife came to adopt.

To cope with the stress in his life, Josh turned to alcohol and food. Admittedly, he was drinking too frequently and eating at the wrong times. One bad habit seemed to fuel the other. He ignored what was happening to him even when put on medication for high blood pressure. His weight climbed to 290 lbs.

Three years ago, he actually just woke up one morning and said “This is enough.” He quit drinking cold turkey. He knew he needed to plan though to be successful. His wife had followed the Slimgenics plan with success so he began to essentially follow that though substituting comparable foods he could find at Target for a less expensive option. He was determined to be intentional with when and what he ate. By quitting alcohol, he was much better able to manage his urge to eat that whole pizza at 11:00 pm as he may have before. When he knew that long 14 hour days were ahead, he brought a cooler with him to avoid having to grab whatever was there.

In addition to having the physical plan, he adjusted his thinking as well. He was not going to become discouraged. If he overate on the week-end, he would get back on track. He purposely did not set a weight loss goal but instead relied on the healthy choices he was making to create a healthier body. He paid attention as to how he felt to determine what was working for him. He didn’t compare himself to anyone else which he knows is important as everyone’s experience is different. Josh didn’t want a diet but a real lifestyle change which meant being content with a slow weight loss. At the end of one year, he had lost 60 lbs. His relationship with food has changed: instead of eating slice-after-slice of pizza, he is satisfied with a salad and a slice; he even has control over the M&M urges he gets. He has gotten back into exercising, doing cardio and strength training that he enjoys.

Josh is now off his blood pressure medication. He feels he does a much better job in his roles as parent, husband, and coach. He acknowledges there will always still be stress in his life but knows he is much more capable of managing it.

Tyler McKean

Tyler has worked for the Parks Department for almost five years. He is 33 years old and athletic competition is still a big part of his life.

Tyler participates in two different, perhaps not so well known, sports- Skijor and Ultimate Frisbee. Saying he “participates” is an understatement. In January, 2017, he competed in the International Federation of Sled Dog Sports (IFSS) World Championships, and this year is headed to the Ultimate Frisbee Master’s World Championships.

Tyler began playing the team sport of Ultimate Frisbee while in college. Ultimate Frisbee is an exciting, non-contact team sport played by thousands all over the world. It is a fast-paced game, demanding its players to develop razor sharp throwing skills and immense stamina and agility. It is fast, nonstop play. To remain competitive in this game, Tyler keeps a regular workout routine that involves explosive cutting with sprint workouts, weight training and other dynamic exercises. At his age, he says, his workout also includes core strengthening and muscle stabilizing exercises to help prevent injury. Many of the players he faces in competition are in their 20’s and despite that, his most successful seasons have been in the past couple years.

In the wintertime, Tyler focuses on Skijoring. Skijoring is a combination of cross country skiing and dog sledding. The dog is outfitted with a dog sledding harness, which is attached by rope or towline to a harness worn by the skier. It’s a cooperative sport that employs the athletic ability of both dog and skier. The skier is not just along for the ride. The dog isn’t pulling like a sled, but rather adding marginal speed and getting the skier through terrain that would otherwise slow him/her down. The aerobic benefits of cross country skiing are huge, burning more calories than competitive swimming, biking and tennis.

In his late 20’s, Tyler began having knee problems which eventually led to a series of four surgeries. It was two to three years before he was back 100%. He had seen fellow athletes become injured which permanently derailed them on their whole fitness journey. However, Tyler’s love for these sports and commitment to being physically fit kept him from giving up. He enjoys the community these sports provide, the competition and the mental benefit from being out in nature. He has found activities he enjoys which happen to keep him in good shape. And, that could be the trick for all of us in sticking with a regular exercise routine.

Do you have questions for our featured employee? Send them to us at HealthyStPaul@ci.stpaul.mn.us and we will publish a Q&A in a future issue.

High blood pressure: What it is, and what you can do about it

High blood pressure — also called hypertension — is a serious condition that can cause some serious risks to your overall health. In fact, high blood pressure is ominously called “the silent killer” because one in six people don’t even realize they have it. This is because it often has no obvious symptoms.

High blood pressure usually develops over time. Having high blood pressure puts you at greater risk for:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney disease
  • Vision loss

Are you at risk?

It’s important to be aware of the risk factors of developing high blood pressure. Some of these include:

  • Family history
  • Age
  • Being overweight
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Not exercising

While there is no cure for high blood pressure, there are steps you can take to manage it and possibly improve it:

  • Eat a healthy diet (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy, fish and poultry, nuts).
  • Be physically active.
  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Limit alcoholic beverages.
  • Lower your sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Take any medications your doctor prescribes for you (taking the steps listed above may make these medicines more effective).

Get healthy, stay healthy.

It’s important to keep track of your blood pressure. Have regular checkups with your doctor. If you monitor your blood pressure at home, write down your readings and share them with your doctor.

Take care of yourself. Manage your blood pressure for a healthier you.

The Benefits of Water and the 100 Ounce Challenge

What if there was a magic pill that could make your skin look clearer, ease your aching joints and muscle cramps, and help you lose weight? That’s enough to entice you, right? But it gets even better. What if the pill was free? Here’s the thing…this “magic pill” does exist, only it’s not actually a pill. It’s a liquid, it’s abundant, and it’s practically free. We’re talking about water and the benefits it provides is utterly amazing. Read some of the benefits of water below:


Aids in weight loss: Want to shed a few pound the easy way? Drink a glass of water before each meal. The H2O helps to fill you up so you don’t consume as many calories. You’re also not consuming the empty calories you would if you were drinking a soda instead.

Increases productivity & decreases fatigue Feeling the afternoon slump coming on? Grab a glass of water to give you the boost you need. One of the most common symptoms of dehydration is feeling fatigued. Water can help with concentration and staying alert, too.

No more pain: Keeping your body hydrated can keep your joints and cartilage lubricated and give your muscles more elasticity which will relieve aching joints, muscle cramps, and strains. Water is also a natural headache remedy and it can even help people who suffer from back pain and migraines because these issues are commonly caused by dehydration.

Aids in digestion: Not feeling regular? Ample amounts of water help your colon, which in turn, keeps things moving smoothly.

The Benefits of Water and the 100 Ounce Challenge

We challenge you to drink 100 ounces of water each day for the next 30 days and see if you feel any different at the end of the month. It’s really not that difficult, we promise. Grab a refillable water container and keep it at your desk, drink it with your meals, have a glass first thing when you get up in the morning and before you know it you’ll have reached your 100 ounce goal. We encourage you to take a photo of yourself at the beginning of the month and then again at the end. Does your skin look different? Have the dark circles under your eyes gotten any lighter? Do you look healthier overall?

We want to hear about (and see) your results, so be sure to let us know how you did. Your body is going to thank you for accepting this challenge.
Reprinted from Northern Physical Therapy. Read the full article here: www.northernpts.com/2015/04/the-benefits-of-water-and-the-100-ounce-challenge/

Benny Williams

Benny Williams
Officer Williams started with the SPPD in 1994. During that time, his assignments have included working in Patrol, Mounted horse patrol, Inspections, Missing Persons, and just recently selected as driver for our new mayor.

Maintaining a high level of fitness has been a priority for Benny throughout his career. Police officers endure strenuous physical and emotional situations every day. Their ability to handle the rigors of running, lifting and occasionally dealing with force or self-defense is directly related to their level of fitness. Because of his dedication to fitness, at the age of 48, Benny was chosen as Saint Paul’s Most Fit Police Officer. He continued to train and ran his first marathon at age 53.

Now at age 57, he continues to exercise though he admits it doesn’t get easier and he has modified his routine. He and his wife hired a personal trainer to help keep them motivated. While he may run less, they regularly climb the 35 floors of their condo and weight train three times per week. For the past three years, he has signed up on the SPPD team for the IDS Stair Climb Challenge benefiting cystic fibrosis. In this 50 flight challenge, he is proud to say he has been faster than much younger officers. His quote is “I’m old but I’m not cold”.
What also motivates Benny is maintaining his health. He has high blood pressure and his mother recently died as a double amputee as a result of diabetes. He knows regular exercise will help reduce his risk for disease.

Over the years, Benny has worked at many of the City’s running events. He knows crowd support is helpful to the runners, so he cheers them on, offers “High 5s” and will even run a few yards with a struggler to keep him/her going. Many of the regular runners in these events have even come to look for Benny and his partner, Officer Mong Lee, to help keep them going.