Categories
stories

Peter Borgen

Libraries

Peter Borgen began working for the City of St. Paul Libraries 17 years ago and, over that time, has worked at many different branches. As a Library Associate, he is a “Jack of all Trades” in that his work encompasses services to patrons of all ages. He does programming for kids, teens, and adults, supervises the homework center at Dayton’s Bluff, provides outreach to parents at Early Childhood Family Education groups, education for daycare providers about early literacy, provides technology help for library patrons, and, of course, performs “other duties as assigned.”
 

Peter has always been active for the sheer enjoyment. He participated in competitive sports during high school such as cross country, soccer and swimming. He confesses he was never in jeopardy of winning – he simply enjoyed the activities and the social aspect of it all. In college, he joined the swim team for 1.5 years but decided he was more interested in education than in competition. He continued exercising and being active on his own throughout college and ever since.
 

Peter has been married five years and has a four year old son. With demands of job and family, he finds he is naturally a little less active than before. However, he does call biking and skiing his obsessions; obsessions in that he has such a true passion for the activities. He enjoys them as often as possible. He has found the best way to indulge this passion is to include his family. This allows him to enjoy his exercise habits without having to choose between them and time with his family. His family bike around the neighborhood together a few times per week. He stops the rides short of when his son wants to quit; he prefers to leave him wanting more than wishing they would stop. Peter further indulges his desire for biking every summer by participating in the Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. This ride covers 400 miles over the course of a week. This year he rode the St. Paul Classic Bike tour and loved it.
 

His other activity passion is Telemark Skiing. It is essentially downhill skiing but uses a different type ski – sort of a cross between a downhill ski and a cross country ski. It has a different style of turning, and he describes it as more versatile, more graceful and a more challenging way to ski. His family also participates in skiing. He jokingly states that his wife made him wait until his son was two years old to have him start. Two years later now, his son loves it. Last year, Peter became a member of the National Ski Patrol at Afton Alps.
 
Running is not so much of a passion of his, but it seems to be a challenge from which he continues to receive satisfaction. He ran his first marathon as a lark in college but blew out his knee at 22.5 miles. This was so frustrating that he vowed he would finish a marathon before he turned 30. He did complete his first Twin Cities Marathon at age 29 and almost as an aside, he mentioned since then, he has run and finished it eight times.
 

Peter believes in not over-training and recommends finding activities that you enjoy doing. He enjoys showing his son how to be active and encourages him by doing it with him, side by side.

Categories
stories

Matt Dornfeld

Meet Matt Dornfeld, case manager for DSI. Matt has worked for the City for 15 years. He has been married to Katie Dornfeld for 7 years and together they have a daughter , Peyton, 4 years old and a son, CJ, aged 2.
 
Matt’s story: While the level of physical activity Matt engages in may be more than what many City employees may consider, within his story are tips for the average person wanting to make a change to his/her lifestyle.
 
Matt has been into athletics all his life. In college, he played baseball. After college, however, he was looking for something that would provide some competition and a goal to work towards– as having a goal set out there to reach was always motivating for him. Lucky for him, Matt met his wife who is a teacher at Woodbury High School, a former personal trainer and a marathon runner. Katie suggested he get into running – and so he did. Matt completed his first marathon about 8 years ago. . .and to date, has run 13! What Matt loves best about running is how it helps him mentally. It is a stress reliever and he always feels better after a run. It also is helpful in keeping his weight under control; he enjoys a beer, pizza and cheeseburger on occasion and running balances this out for him.
 
Signing up for a race is a commitment to him and provides a goal that gets him out there regularly to train. Finishing the race provides a real sense of accomplishment as well. Also, he admits that he isn’t a “great” runner but really enjoys the whole atmosphere of the event. While he has traveled around the country running marathons, he thinks the Twin Cities marathon is his favorite. Great people, great environment and so much support from the spectators on the way.
 
So, tips for becoming more active from Matt’s story: Move – you will feel better when you are done; set a goal – write it down , tell someone, commit to an event; try something new – Matt hadn’t thought of himself as a runner but found out he really enjoyed it. Remember – it’s all about balance.

 
Categories
stories

Cherie Englund

Cherie is a relatively new employee to the City of St. Paul, having just started in September, 2013. She is working at the Police Department West Team as an Office Assistant II.
 
Cherie has a passion – and she loves to share it. Her passion is: Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (SUP). It started back in 2008 when she signed herself and husband up for a class in Duluth. That day, it was 50 degrees and raining, and they were booked for 8 hours out on the lake. At first wanting to back out, the instructor encouraged them to put on wetsuits and endure the chill and drizzle. They did it and were hooked!
 
They started paddle boarding around the Twin Cities at area lakes where people were drawn to what they were doing. Not many people knew too much about it at that time, and there weren’t a lot of places to learn. So, they decided to become instructors and share their love of SUP with others. Cherie and her husband, Dave, are now certified with the American Canoe Association as SUP Level II Instructors.
 
As one thing often leads to another, they then formed a non-profit business, MN Stand Up Paddle Boarders Association. It was created to provide stewardship of the waterways of Minnesota and to teach the sport of Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP). They volunteer with local cities doing beach and waterway clean-ups on their stand up boards. They are able to remove hundreds of pounds of trash with the use of the paddle boards while doing this. They have taught SUP through the City of Minneapolis and Oakdale in their inner city youth programs.
 
They are now spreading their passion throughout the state. The DNR just started an “I Can Paddle” program at different state parks and have asked Cherie and Dave to be their instructors. It is a family event, with their two children accompanying them to the lessons. If you would like to see all the events they will be participating in (cleaning up of lakes, DNR events, classes), you can visit their website at http://www.mnsupa.org/.
 
Cherie will tell you that SUP is a very different point of view from canoeing and kayaking. It is fun to do and easy to learn. You can gain balance and stability using all of the major muscles in your body. It is so fun that you won’t even realize you are getting a great workout in. If you would like to see all the events they will be participating in and (cleaning up of lakes, DNR events, classes), you can visit their website at www.mnsupa.org.
 
Cherie and her family have been through some personal challenges that included injuries, surgery, and closing of their business they had for more than 20 years. Through it all though, she has learned to roll with change and not be afraid of it and to not stop growing. Besides being physically active, they keep themselves healthy with a diet that includes no processed foods and have eliminated foods without nutritional value.

Categories
stories

Anca Sima

Tell us about yourself

After communism collapsed in Romania, my husband applied for a Ph.D program at the University of Minnesota. He arrived in Minnesota in September, 1991, and I followed in April 1992.
 
I began working for the City in 2001 as an Engineering Aid in Public Works. I currently am a PW Technician 3 in the Sewers Division. I review site plans for commercial projects.
 
One of the exciting things I found in the United States when I first arrived was all the different foods here that are not available in Romania. I was so curious about all these new foods that I gained 30 pounds in 4 months! I had always been careful about maintaining my weight, but, here, my curiosity and appetite for the new foods got the best of me. It took me three years and my mom’s nagging before I decided to do something about it. I started exercising and being careful again about what I was eating. It took me almost one year to lose the weight and get back in shape. I promised myself I would stay in shape for the rest of my life.
 

You currently lead Yoga classes for City employees. Tell me about your Yoga career.

I had read a lot of books about yoga in Romania, and I was curious to try it. In 2001, I started taking classes at the YMCA, with not too much confidence that it would work for me. My husband actually saw the benefit yoga provided before I did: he realized if he wanted an affirmative answer about something, he should call me after the yoga class when I was more relaxed and accepting.
 
In 2002, I took a part time job at the YMCA and began instructor training classes for Yoga, Pilates and Body Flow. After I had all certificates in order, I started substitute teaching. In 2004, I was approved to teach a Pilates class at the YMCA and the next year started teaching BodyFlow, and Yoga. Since then, I have been teaching about a 12 classes a week at various YMCAs, and I love it!
 

When did you start leading Yoga/Pilates classes for the City? Do you have any examples of what participants have said about what Yoga has done for them since they started?

In 2006, I began teaching at the City, first 2 times/week and have continued to add more classes. My students really enjoy the lunch hour classes. It is a very good way to break up the working/sitting day. After the class, they tell me they feel even more productive. They also feel that their posture and fitness have improved since starting Yoga.
 

You recently were diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo surgery. What can you say about Yoga contributing to your recovery?

Before the surgery, I was thinking that this is a chance to see if all my working out would make a difference. After surgery, my doctor told me that I would be recovered in one week because of how fit I am from so many hours of Yoga and Pilates. (This same doctor, for the same procedure, recommended 6 weeks of rest for one of my friends.) Not only did my fitness level contribute to my recovery but the yoga techniques of concentration and meditation allowed me to maintain a positive attitude throughout.
 

Any final words?

I appreciate so much the benefits I have received from doing Yoga and Pilates, and I really enjoy being able to help others obtain these same benefits through the classes I teach. If you’ve never taken a Yoga or Pilates class, I encourage you to do that. When I first started, I had my doubts that I would even be able to do it. I never imagined I would be instructing others and here I am!

Categories
stories

Tom Green

If the last time you saw Tom Green was 3 years ago, today you probably wouldn’t recognize him. At that time, Tom tipped the scale at 255 lbs. Today, he is maintaining a lean and fit 175 lbs.!

Tom has worked for the City for 13.5 years and is currently a fire equipment operator. He has two daughters that keep him quite busy and active.
It was a few years ago when Tom decided he needed to make a change. He wanted to feel healthier and make sure he would be able to stay active for his children. While he had always been active with participating in cross country skiing, racquetball and mountain biking, over the years, his diet had done a slow creep up to the 255 lbs. He knew it wasn’t so much his activity level as the amount and type of foods he had been eating that had to change.

Tom took on that task on his own, creating a diet that included healthier foods and eliminating more of the unhealthy ones. He confesses to having had a really big sweet tooth. He just couldn’t resist those treats. After six months of cutting out the treats, he realized though that the strong craving he had for them in the past wasn’t there. Plus, he had dropped down to 215 lbs.

This motivated him to keep going down to his ideal weight of 175 lbs. He has been able to maintain that weight by monitoring his weight closely – he likes to weigh every day. While he doesn’t have a perfect diet all the time, he balances the bad with the good and doesn’t really restrict his eating habits too much. Tom has made a lifestyle change that he feels he will keep forever.

Categories
stories

Sgt. Steve Anderson

Last year, like so many other employees, I was participating in the Healthy Saint Paul Well-Being program so I could earn the incentive. I signed up for the onsite screening. My results came back and showed I had higher than normal cholesterol levels and off the chart blood glucose level.

 

While I was somewhat surprised, I thought those numbers were due to not fasting prior to the screening. I knew I also had been eating the wrong “healthy foods” – not understanding the difference between good and bad carbs and eating foods with hidden sugar. So, I made an appointment with my primary doctor figuring he would yell at me about my diet, give me a pill to assist with the high cholesterol and get me on the right path.

 

Well, I was right about having him yell at me and giving me a pill – he put me on cholesterol medications. What I didn’t expect to hear and what shocked me was that I was diagnosed with diabetes. That was a real wake up call for me. I now needed to get serious with my diet – eating the good carbs vs the bad carbs, watching the sugars, making better choices with a real eating plan. Additionally, I began to inject insulin and also take diabetes meds.

 

The good news is I lost about 25 lbs. I’m running and working out every day. I know that is important to stay with too.

 

I’m still having my bad days with the low carb/low sugar diet but I’m plugging along. I owe a great deal to the screening process because it forced me to deal with my numbers and also got me on the right meds. It also got me hooked in to how to lead a better overall healthy lifestyle.

 

Categories
stories

Reynaldo Varela

Rey, tell us a little about yourself.
I have worked for the City in River Print for the last 17 years. My job is to run the two color printing press. There are a couple of factors that led me to change my lifestyle. My job, for example, requires me to stand for long hours. That, along with having gained weight over the years, contributed to finally the need for a knee replacement. In addition, my blood sugar levels were climbing, and I have a family history of diabetes. All my brothers have diabetes and my wife was also at risk.
 
What was your goal in changing your lifestyle?
My goal was to avoid becoming diabetic. My weight was up to 242 lbs. I knew I could lower my blood sugar levels and weight by diet and exercise. So, four years ago, I decided to take up biking. I began biking to work during the good weather months. This is a 7 mile trip one way. On weekends, I would also go for bike rides. I started eating healthier too.
 
What has been the result of your new lifestyle?
To date, my weight is down 40 lbs. My glucose, triglycerides and blood pressure have all gone down as well. I am able to maintain those positive results by sticking with my new lifestyle habits. In addition, my wife and I joined LA Fitness four years ago. We go together three times a week. I mix up my workouts by participating in water aerobics (which is easy on my joints), spin classes, and weight lifting.
 
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to make changes?
My advice is to pick an activity you enjoy, start slow and work your way up, doing four to five times per week. Cut back on carbs, up your fiber and protein. Most important, have fun!

Categories
stories

Introducing Jim Hensrud

Jim recently joined the City as the Health and Fitness Specialist for the Police Department.

 

Tell us a bit about your background and experience. How will you use it to help the employees of the Police Department get and stay in shape?
I have a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science: Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation from Winona State University. I am also certified as a Clinical Exercise Specialist from the American College of Sports Medicine. My education is focused on strength and cardiovascular training, fitness programming, nutritional guidance with a special emphasis in heart disease prevention and rehabilitation. Since I have completed my education I have spent the last few years providing personal and group training to individuals in their homes, gyms or corporate fitness centers.

 

Every person is different. I believe in sitting down with a person to develop a fitness and diet plan specifically for them. I put an emphasis in educating someone to understand the importance of diet and exercise and how to keep themselves active and healthy. I encourage anyone with questions to call or stop by anytime.

 

What are some common myths people have about exercise and nutrition?
A few sources I found claimed that $61 billion was spent in the USA on weight loss products in 2012. Many products use false claims or information to make money in this large market. Healthy weight loss is recommended at 1-2 pounds a month. Any product that claims faster weight loss should be avoided. Also, avoid all sales pitches that sell you a product to consume to lose weight. Choose a diet plan that you can follow the rest of your life that contains nothing but natural sources of foods. My best advice: DO NOT take advice from someone trying to sell you something. Another myth is that people must exercise a certain location to lose weight from that area. Where you store fat is based on genetics. You cannot lose weight in specific areas and not others.

 

To lose weight, what has a bigger impact – diet or exercise?
I would say weight loss is 55% activity, 45% nutrition. Those numbers are debatable, but the relationship is very close. You can run marathons and have trouble losing weight if you eat fast food every day. Likewise, the healthiest eater may struggle with weight if they are completely sedentary.



For someone who hasn’t exercised in a long while or is new to it, what would a beginning program look like? Do you have tips for getting started?
Often changes happen slowly so I do not expect anyone to go from no exercise to 5-6 days a week. Three days a week is a good starting point for about 30 minutes at a time. I always tell people to ease into a program to avoid injury or overtraining. Slowly work your way to the minimal recommended amount of 150 minutes a week. A person should begin with something they enjoy to keep them interested, preferably participating in one of their favorite sports. My tips are to schedule exercise into your day early to make sure it gets done and to stick with the program for about 8 weeks to see results. Once a person sees the results they are more likely to stick with a program.



For people already in shape and exercising regularly, is there anything new for them to add to or change in their workouts to get even more results?
Remember the FITT principle:
Frequency: how often someone works out in a week
Intensity: how hard someone works out
Time: how long someone works out
Type: the type of exercise conducted

 

The human body typically adapts to the same fitness program after two weeks. To see physical improvements, an individual must increase one of the above factors from the FITT principle. If a person is exercising as often as needed or as often as possible, they may consider working out harder (increasing Intensity), or changing what they do (different strength training exercises or biking instead of running). The more you change your program, the more you challenge your body to adapt. If an exercise does not challenge you, it does not change you!

 

Categories
stories

Cathy

I’ve always been involved in some kind of an exercise routine, but it was mostly working out at home with exercise videos. When I decided I wanted and needed a change, I joined a “Curves For Women” program. What attracted me to that particular workout routine was that it involved working out to music, as well as the promise of a 30-minute routine. Get in, do the exercises and get out.
 
Eleven years later, I’m still going to my workout sessions. This club was recently purchased by an individual who broadened the choices offered within the program, making it more interesting, fun, and much more flexible. The club is open 24/7 which I like a lot! I can go and do my routine whenever I want. Even though “get in, do the exercises and get out” is still sometimes in my mind, I’m really not in such a hurry to leave. My workout can be short or long, strenuous or easy – the choice is up to me. I actually enjoy working out because I know I’m doing something good for me, physically and mentally. Exercising is a great stress reliever, especially after an especially difficult day at work. After my workouts I hula-hoop, which puts a smile on my face (and on some other faces too!!)
 
Joining a gym or an exercise club may not be for everyone. I know it’s a cliché, but if a person is thinking about making a change to a healthier lifestyle it’s really important to find an activity that is enjoyable and fun. (Yes, working out can be fun!) If the activity isn’t fun, chances are that person won’t stay with the program for a very long time. It’s been said before, but I believe the hardest part of making any change is the first step. After that it does gets easier.
 
If I don’t get to my club I actually feel the difference in my body and in my mind. Before the end of a work day I can be feeling so tired that just thinking about going to do my routine is kind of depressing! But once I get there I start to feel uplifted. After I’m finished, I feel exhilarated and good about myself. It’s not the answer to all of life’s problems, but it sure doesn’t hurt!

Categories
stories

Connie

I’ve been with the City of Saint Paul since 1999, having relocated here from California where I also worked in City government, for the Cities of Mountain View and Berkeley. I currently work in the Department of Safety & Inspections, Code Enforcement where my duties include managing the Truth-In-Sale of Housing program.
 
I was a competitive swimmer in my youth. I started playing tennis when I was in my mid-twenties, and began adult competition through the USTA a couple of years later. I’ve been competing ever since. Playing tennis is now my major recreational activity and is so much a part of the structure of my life that I get very distressed when I can’t play.
 
What was your problem? What was your motivation to change this?
I’m in my 60’s now, and I have been looking forward to continuing to play tennis long into retirement. Unfortunately my knees weren’t cooperating with my plan. I have arthritis in both which was making my time on the court very uncomfortable and limited. I looked in the mirror and saw that I was no longer trim and svelte; I didn’t look 30 anymore. Now, while I never expect to again look like I’m 30 instead of 60, I did recognize that being overweight was contributing to the problem with my knees. I knew it was something that I could actually do something about, without medical intervention, to improve my odds of spending retirement the way I planned to do.
 
So, what did you do?
Several years ago, I attended Weight Watchers. At that time, I lost about 35 pounds and kept it (mostly) off for about 5 years. Then, I got lazy and stopped paying attention to what I was eating. I gained back almost every pound I initially lost. (Ice cream and chocolate are my go-to treats!) This was frustrating. I was having trouble motivating myself to make any significant changes. – that is, until I saw the City was offering a discount to employees for participation in Weight Watchers and that meetings would, conveniently, be in City Hall, during the work day (lunch hour). I think there was no more than 3 days between when I saw the announcement and went to my first (reprise) meeting on October 3, 2013.
 
What have the results been?
I was stunned to lose 5 pounds the first week back on Weight Watchers! That result is NOT typical. What it meant to me was that I knew what to do, and I could do it. Progress since then has been slower, but still steady. The Holidays were a challenge and while I didn’t continue to lose, at least I gained only 1 pound back. It took only 9 weeks to lose 20 pounds. Amazing. That’s a little more than 2 pounds a week. I’m not yet at my goal and that goal is still a little bit of a moving target. I want to lose another 5 to 10 pounds.
 
How is your life different now?
I’m more mindful of what I’m eating. It helps that I truly like fruits and vegetables, and don’t care that much about meat. I still go to restaurants and eat out. The Weight Watchers program is one that teaches you to recognize sensible foods and portions so that you can balance out your consumption of the treats that you still can have – in moderation!
 
And, most importantly, my tennis game has improved! I’m able to play longer and more frequently, and I move better on the court. I’m really happy about that!
 
Do you have any advice for others wanting to lose weight?
What you eat is something that is totally within your control. You don’t have to deprive yourself of any of the foods you love, you just need to be mindful of your portions and make sure that your other choices are ones that are healthy for you. Attending group meetings is one way to assist you in maintaining your commitment to yourself. Weight loss is not easy and old habits are always hanging around just waiting to creep back in; banishing them to history is a constant battle that does get easier and can be won.
 
If I have any advice at all, it’s to set a goal and find help to reach it. This way works for me.