I Survived the Coca Cola Balanced Living Workshop and Emerged a Better Woman

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I’m fascinated by big corporations. I’ve never worked for one, and frankly I’m intimidated by the whole corporate world. What goes on in those giant buildings, with 300 different VPs and branches in various states? Are they to be trusted, or are they pure evil? (I tend to think in black and white, which is apropos to the theme of this post.)

Naturally, I was a little skeptical when I was chosen to be part of a bloggers’ workshop on health and wellness, hosted by Coke. I had visions of being brainwashed and required to write posts professing the health benefits of Diet Cherry Coke, or sneakily peppering my next 10 posts with perfectly-placed beverages from their collection.



Nope. They were awesome. It turns out actual people run corporations, and everyone there was as excited as we were, especially since they are involved in some amazing programs, and they naturally want to get the word out. They have the soda-selling part covered, and we get to write about some of the behind-the-scenes aspects of how Coca Cola is giving back to communities.

We learned that they are focusing their philanthropic efforts on improving the overall health and wellness in the U.S, and over the last year Coca-Cola has given more than $13 million to support fitness and nutrition education programs around the country. That’s a lot of cash.

Troops for Fitness is a Chicago-based program, in collaboration with the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, that pairs veterans with school kids in boot camp-style classes. For those not familiar with Chicago, the area around Garfield Park is a poorer area of Chicago, which are the areas hit hardest by the obesity epidemic.


photo: Coca Cola


I dug around for their offerings in the schools and was pleased with what I found– this from their Live Positively site:

Elementary schools will sell water and 8-oz., calorie-capped servings of certain juices with no added sweeteners and servings of fat-free and low-fat regular and flavored milks. Middle schools will apply the elementary school standard with portion sizes increased slightly to 10 ounces. High schools will sell the beverages available in elementary and middle schools, as well as no-calorie and low-calorie drinks, such as bottled water, diet and unsweetened teas, diet sodas, fitness water, low-calorie sports drinks, flavored water and seltzers, as well as light juices and sports drinks. At least half of the available beverages in high schools are to be water, no-calorie, and low-calorie selections.

Now. Let’s get back to me talking about me, shall we? I’ve been mulling over bits and pieces of the workshop, rehashing what information stood out the most, and here are the things that keep jumping to the forefront of my mind:

1. Although I brag about my gym-attendance, it’s more healthy to be moving continuously all day long instead of at spastic little treadmill bursts. That’s fun information for bloggers to hear; I’ve taken to keeping my computer on my kitchen counter, so I have to stand while I’m on it.

2.Β I’m doing a pretty good job of feeding my family. All guilt aside, I tend to make nutritious meals and choose healthy snacks for us. It’s so easy to get caught up in news hype about arsenic rice and what form the sugar you consume takes, but really it’s all about balance, and choosing healthy foods more often than the sugary foods.

3.Β During my visit with a personal trainer, I learned that I should be doing just as much body work as I am cardio work. Meaning, I should be focusing more on strengthening and toning my muscles, which not only burns calories, it, um, strengthens and tones. I’ve been wanting to learn some of those fancy little moves I’ve seen others doing at the gym, and now I know.

4. When we worked on vision boards, pairing images with how we view our healthiest version of our families, I was surprised by 2 of my additions. I had been so focused on nutrition and exercise, that I forgot about humor and creativity. Duh-oi, this is what our family is all about– these powerful coping skills we utilize on a constant, everyday basis.

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photo: Coca Cola and Bruce Powell Photography


I have a major phobia of New Year’s resolutions, but I’m really excited to implement a lot of the nutrition and exercise tips I learned. We all know that to change bad habits, you have to start small or you’ll feel overwhelmed and freak out and eat a bag of delicious chocolates. But it’s important to actually start, instead of using that as a reason to justify not changing. This is my problem. I

think for this year I will change my resolution policy. But instead of swearing off sugar and spending 3 hours a day at the gym, I will make teeny tiny changes that benefit my family in a realistic way.

By the way, here’s a video of asparagus I took when I was attempting to get a very graphic, minimal, overhead shot of it. This is brilliant; watch:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONVcTg7bsu0?rel=0]


I was compensated for my participation in Coca-Cola’s Balanced Living Workshop, but my thoughts and views are my own.



  1. 12/21/2012 / 4:00 am

    That asparagus! It, it… It MOVED ME. It did. I am amazed by the cinematography skills you possess!! πŸ™‚ It was nice to meet you!

  2. 12/21/2012 / 4:11 am

    I went in with the same apprehensive feeling about Coke, and left surprised by the nice people and initiatives for healthy living. I cannot believe you didn't include that awesome photo of you doing the plank!

  3. 12/21/2012 / 4:22 am

    Thank you for understanding my vision with the asparagus. I feel it really summed up my whole Coca Cola experience beautifully.

  4. 12/21/2012 / 4:23 am

    Ha! Plank photo is in my other post. I look slightly pained doing it, however.

  5. 12/21/2012 / 4:39 am

    Ok so my fave part of your post is your child with the Coca Cola box on their head. Makes me wish I had thought of it. And like Tracey, the asparagus moved me as well. And I usually don't have such an emotional tie to a vegetable. I soooo enjoyed meeting you and I cannot wait til BlogHer 13. Because we are gonna skip hand in hand and get high school drunk and dance the Elaine with Tracey. Love, Your Mirror Twin

  6. 12/21/2012 / 7:31 pm

    Great post, I really like your writing style! I am so fascinated to find out what each of us took away from the event, besides looks of cool stuff with Cola-Cola on it…

    This really resonates with me:

    "We all know that to change bad habits, you have to start small or you’ll feel overwhelmed and freak out and eat a bag of delicious chocolates. But it’s important to actually start, instead of using that as a reason to justify not changing."

    I am glad that we got to share this awesome experience together and I am sorry that I didn't get to spend more quality time with you and your mirror twin. Hope to remedy that soon and/or at BlogHer`13!

    Also, I too was hoping you would use that fab photo of you in plank position and am glad to know it makes a cameo in your other post. Heading there to read it now. πŸ™‚

  7. 12/21/2012 / 7:32 pm

    P.S. I meant to write "lots of cool stuff w/ Coca-Cola on it…" not "looks!" πŸ™‚

  8. 12/22/2012 / 1:27 am

    Wait, how come I'M not in Kari's vision of BlogHer? That's annoying. πŸ™‚

  9. 12/22/2012 / 1:28 am

    I love the picture of your kid with the Diet Coke box: hilarious!
    And I hope your asparagus video gets nominated for Best Short Film this year.

    I'm so glad we got to meet! We should do lunch sometime: we're only about 20 minutes away from each other!

  10. 12/22/2012 / 4:53 am

    Strangely enough, I took that photo a few weeks ago, and he did that on his own. He was using it as a Super Hero mask. I think Coke needs to focus their marketing efforts on what you can do with the empty soda cartons.

    I loved meeting you, too and we'll have all sorts of crazy fun at BlogHer. Let's play pranks on everyone, too.

  11. 12/22/2012 / 4:54 am

    Melissa, Kari's version of BlogHer is a strange and special place. I have a feeling we'll just have to see it to believe it when we get there.

  12. 12/22/2012 / 4:59 am

    Thank you sooooo much; I always wonder if people will read what I write and sort of scratch their heads and wonder what I'm talking about.

    I feel like BlogHer is going to be our unofficial reunion. We'll have to see if we can all meet up for a moment somewhere with Susan and get some reminiscing in!

  13. 12/22/2012 / 5:01 am

    I think we absolutely, definitely need to meet up for lunch! Yes! And I'm so glad you like my asparagus film. It really is quite riveting, isn't it?

  14. 12/22/2012 / 6:03 am

    I agree! That plank shot was a perfect demonstration and you looked all fit & mascle-y. Great to meet you!!

  15. 12/22/2012 / 6:04 am

    I meant "muscle-y." I have 0% typing accuracy.

  16. 12/22/2012 / 9:25 am

    Wow! GIrlfriend, seriously, I am wowwed. I did not know Coco Cola was so involved in health and wellness. i am impressed and happy to learn this. Thank you so much for doing this – going, being a part of it, giving us the real score. Absolutely love this post! So many say sode is bad for you, but the truth of the matter is, it's up to us to decide how much of it we drink and some, like me back in the day, drink a bit too much. lol. i still drink coco cola, but i know my limits and it makes it even more enjoyable.

  17. 12/22/2012 / 2:53 pm

    I don't drink soda or eat fast food, so I should be okay right? πŸ™‚ (okay I have blogger's butt and I eat chocolate for breakfast – work-in-progress)

    It is the little things that make a difference (also the big ones, but you've taken care of those). Good luck for 2013!

  18. 12/22/2012 / 4:08 pm

    Way to change that mental block with new years resolutions. I seriously dislike them and the entire concept of them. Making little changes and focusing on the over all health of your family is going to be so much more productive!

    Your asparagus is more than I have done in the 2 years I've set a goal of putting videos online lol

  19. 12/22/2012 / 4:15 pm

    I didn't know either until this thang. It's just like anything else. right? Moderation is the key. We make decisions for ourselves, and teach our kids to make the right choices. Pow.

  20. 12/22/2012 / 4:16 pm

    You're totally going to live to be 130. Wait, did you say chocolate for breakfast? Never mind. But at least I feel better now for eating chocolate for breakfast and having blogger's butt, too.

  21. 12/22/2012 / 4:18 pm

    Ha! My asparagus video makes me want to make tons of really boring vegetable videos. Would you like one on tomatoes?

    I hate the concept of NY resolutions, too. They're just a recipe for failure and guilt. Bah.

  22. 12/23/2012 / 2:46 am

    I'm glad that Coca Cola has healthy flavored waters with none of that fake sugar stuff. I swear, that fake sugar is probably responsible for causing all kinds of bad things from obesity to ADHD (though I have no scientific evidence to back it up — just a theory of mine). Sounds like a great event and I was very skeptical about Coca Cola and healthy!!!

  23. 12/23/2012 / 6:10 am

    Fantastic! It's great that Coke is moving in this direction! I do wonder what happened since we were in school. I think we had milk and chocolate milk to choose from, no soda.

    I would like to add toning to my exercise routine (because it tones and burns calories, that sounds good).

    I am pretty good at limiting sugar but I could do a better job of feeding my fam more variety of healthy things.

  24. 12/31/2012 / 3:06 pm

    I… I hear what you're saying, but… they sell soda. It's just… It's like big tobacco trying to raise awareness for lung cancer.

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