Have You Been Eating Your Vegetables?

   

                                            Christina Falahee
                                              Wellness Coordinator

November is national Spinach and Squash Month! Squash and spinach are some of the most versatile and delicious vegetables available throughout the world. They are not only tasty but they are good for you too.  These vegetables may not at the top of your everyday meal list but after seeing some of their benefits below you might want to change that.

Nutritional benefits of Squash:

  • Boosts Immunity: Squash contains many nutrients, including vitamin A and C, magnesium, and many other antioxidant compounds which together helps the body boost its immune response and defend against foreign substances that can lead to a variety of illnesses.
  • Manage Diabetes: Certain types of squash contain dietary fiber such as pectin, which is an essential element in blood sugar regulation throughout the body. It helps reduce the plunges and peaks that can make a diabetics’ life difficult.
  • Treats Asthma: Squash’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have been linked to a reduction in asthmatic conditions.

Nutritional Benefits of Spinach:

  • Improves Eyesight: Spinach contains beta-carotene, lutein, and xanthene, all of which can reduce the puffiness or irritation in the eyes.
  • Maintains Blood Pressure: Spinach contains very high content of potassium which helps lower blood pressure.
  • Strengthens Muscle: The antioxidants in spinach play an important role in strengthening muscles, including the heart muscles.

 For more information on the nutritional benefits of spinach and squash visit

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-spinach.html

Spinach and Squash Fun Facts:

  • Did you know that spinach can survive through the winter and be just as healthy during the Spring?
  • Squash is one of the oldest cultivated crops on earth, archaeological data traces their origins back to 10,000 years ago in Mesoamerica.

Try Out Some Spinach and Squash recipes:

  • Spinach, Hummus, and Bell Pepper Wraps

http://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/spinach-hummus-bell-pepper-wraps

  • Spaghetti Squash Tater Tots:

Spaghetti Squash Tater Tots

Built Environment & Wellness

Toni Sperlbaum, CWWPM, CHWC, Vice President of Sales & Marketing

What if you had to hopscotch into a conference room as you entered because there’s a tape hopscotch board on the floor.

What if when you entered that conference room, you had the option of standing at a taller bistro table around the perimeter of the room, or to sit comfortably in a chair?

What if you had a basketball hoop in your parking lot or behind your building?  Would employees play at lunch, or perhaps after work before heading home?  I don’t know for sure – but the likelihood is certainly much higher!

There are so many opportunities being missed in the worksite wellness arena when it comes to the built environment to activate employees and really show support for the types of behaviors you are aiming to change in your workforce.  Two aspects of built environment can be considered:

1. The “Built In” environment that usually requires some construction or major foresight when renovating office spaces.  This could include making the stair well open, well lit, and in a prominent place in the center of a room versus having the elevator front and center.  This certainly is important, but not always as easy to just change on a whim or implement over a short time period.

2. The “Surface Level” built environment, typically more affordable for companies and easier to implement, which includes my above what if examples as well as additional ideas such as:

  • An option for stand up desks (they sell relatively cheap desk top ones that can adjust your computer vs. having to purchase a full desk with an electrical height adjustment.  Although, those are pretty cool too)
  • Turning an old office into a makeshift gym with a treadmill, some hand weights, a ball, some bands, and maybe a TV and DVDs where employees can work out with DVDs on their lunch break
  • Paint/artwork in the stair wells done by employees
  • An indoor walking path marked with arrows and a map indicating how many laps around x department = 1/2 mile, for example (you can make an outdoor path, too!)
  • “Wellness Recognition Wall” where you can feature employees who have lost weight, completed a 5K or similar event, quit smoking, etc.
  • Installing bike racks, removing a barrier for employees to ride to work
  • Offering utensils in your break rooms will encourage employees to pack a lunch instead of going out.  Ample fridge and microwave space will help with this too!
  • Placing the healthier vending machine options at eye level and the unhealthier options down below.The possibilities and creative ideas are endless!  Take a look at your built environment, or tap into the creative juices of your wellness committee and see how you can mold your environment to support wellness efforts.

Find Your Balance – It’s National Work & Family Month

Dan Mata, Fall 2017 Intern

This national observance is one that many people look past, or yet, don’t even know it exists. National Work and Family month is all about our work-life balance, which some may have down better than others. Statistically, work-life balance is becoming much more difficult to “balance.” Many employers have been attempting to make true work-life balance a reality for employees; however, it isn’t becoming as attainable as we want it to be. It is said that at least  1 in 4 Americans describe themselves as “super stressed.” Many of us are trying to manage heavy workloads, relationships with families, along with our outside interests. Life can be very overwhelming, and with that, our stress level rises. It’s true that we all will experience some level of stress, (we need some amount of stress challenge us and help us grow), but it is important that we learn how to manage it. Keep in mind that as our stress levels spike, it makes it harder for us to maintain good health. Weight loss becomes harder, overall mood is decreased, sleep can become worse, and etc. There are countless ways stress negatively affects you but there is good news. For every one bad way stress can affect you there are ways to combat and even prevent high stress levels.

Here are some practical steps that you can implement to kick the stress and bring that work-life balance back!

At Work

  • Set manageable goals each day
  • Be efficient with your time at work
  • Ask for flexibility
  • Take a five-minute break
  • Tune in to your favorite listening pleasure
  • Communicate effectively
  • Make sure you take your lunch break, away from your desk, and all other breaks allotted to you

At Home

  • Unplug from technology
  • Make sure home responsibilities are evenly distributed and clearly outlined
  • Don’t over commit – say ‘no’ to over scheduled activities
  • Get support from friends and family
  • Take advantage of your company’s Employee Assistance Program
  • Stay Active – regular exercise reduces stress, depression and anxiety
  • Treat your body right – being healthy increases your tolerance to stress
  • Get help if you need it

 

Source: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/work-life-balance

How To Stay Healthy In Fall!

Emily Zoeller, EP-C, Wellness Coodinator/ Health Coach

Fall can be a challenging time to live a healthy lifestyle. The weather is getting colder and there are more reasons to stay inside. With the season changing, how can you maintain a healthy lifestyle? This question may have an easier answer than most people think. Here is the quick answer:

  • Track your steps
  • Use seasonal produce
  • Be active outdoors when you can (but bundle up!)
  • Find ways to stay active indoors too

Part 1: Tracking your steps. Tracking your steps can be as easy as keeping your phone in your pocket during the day, to wearing a digital activity tracker or pedometer. According to research, individuals are more likely to live an active lifestyle if they are getting 7,000 steps or above each day. While getting this many steps can be challenging, having an activity tracker is an excellent way to track how many steps you are getting per day. If purchasing a pedometer or activity tracker is too costly, even some phones have activity trackers. For example, iPhones come with a ‘Health” app that can track steps when carried on your person. Being motivated to track steps can help continue a healthy lifestyle in fall.  There are many free pedometer apps in the app store, too.

Part 2: Use seasonal produce. It can often be discouraging transitioning to fall when a large amount of fresh produce is no longer in season. Keeping that in mind, using a food guide or calendar can be very beneficial. One example of this is www.seasonalfoodguide.org. This is an excellent resource to find out what produce is still in season and available in your state. When entering the site, you will select your state, the month you are in, and it will take you to a page displaying what produce is still in season at the time. This can be helpful to help ensure you are getting fresh produce, but also keeping your meals healthy and nutritious all year round.

Part 3: Be outdoors when you can (but bundle up) Even though the weather is not as warm as summer doesn’t mean you can’t still spend time outdoors! Activities like apple picking, corn mazes, and pumpkin picking are all fun outdoor activities you can do with friends and family. There is also walking, running, and hiking that can be done outdoors. One of the most important things is that you prepare for the colder weather by wearing appropriate clothing. When looking to stay warm while being active, it is best to choose clothing has wicking properties (most active wear), and wear hat and gloves.

Part 4: Find ways to stay active indoors. With all the technology available, it becomes easier to find ways to stay active indoors. One of the easiest ways to stay active indoors is to do fitness videos. What’s nice about these fitness videos is that they not only can be chosen by duration, but also by what part of your body you are hoping to target. Popsugar Fitness is a good resource for fitness videos (Popsugar Fitness Videos: https://www.popsugar.com/Fitness-Video ) that has many modifications for almost any exercise given. Not only are there fitness videos that are a free resource, but there is also active video game systems (like WiiFit) that help individuals stay active while indoors. Not only is this a way to stay active, but also have fun as well.

 

Flu Season is Here (for Program Planners)

      portrait-circle-toni copy
Toni Sperlbaum, CWWPM, CHWC, Vice President of Sales & Marketing

While flu season doesn’t technically start until October, one thing with wellness programming is that we’re ALWAYS looking ahead!  Everyone has a different opinion on vaccinations, but according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death.  Not only that, but you’re looking at higher absenteeism during this time and lower productivity.  The flu is very contagious – most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick.

Here are some basic and more involved things you can do to prevent the flu from taking over your workplace:

  • Wash Hands” signs.  Everywhere.  If they’re already in your workplace bathrooms, add more right at eye level on the door.
  • Place hand sanitizer in break rooms, in conference rooms, near every exit (and entrance) of the building.
  • Host a lunch & learn on illness prevention
  • Make sure employees know your policies on sick time and encourage them to not come to work sick
  • Over-communicate that your health plan covers flu shots at 100% as a preventative.  Some employees think it’s going to cost them money to get a flu shot, not realizing it is covered under their plan.  What a simple fix!
  • Offer onsite flu vaccinations through your vendor (HPA offers these, too!). Here is where the planning ahead comes in.  You’ll need to start scheduling these now in order to coordinate the details of bringing a flu clinic to your workplace, especially if you’re larger or have multiple locations.  Many of us vendors have the capabilities to bill insurance directly for your employees OR can direct invoice your company, whichever you prefer (or a mixture of both).
  • Offer educational materials such as “How do I know if I have the flu?”  “What are the emergency warning signs of the flu?”  “How long should I stay home while I’m sick?” These serves as a little bit of self care, preventing people from using the emergency room if they don’t have to, but also making sure they understand the warning signs in case there IS an emergency.

Plan ahead on this one and make sure you have as many of the above items as necessary to prevent the flu from knocking down your workforce!

Eye Bet You Didn’t See This Coming

Along with beginning the transition from summer to fall something else to look out for in August is National Eye Exam Month. That’s right, this month is exclusively focused on the health of the body part commonly thought of as “the windows to the soul”. If that doesn’t make your eyes pop with excitement, check out these stats:

  • 80% of vision problems worldwide are avoidable or even curable
  • The average blink lasts for about 1/10th of a second
  • Newborns don’t produce tears. They make crying sounds, but the tears don’t start flowing until they are about 4-13 weeks old.
  • Even if no one in the past few generations of your family had blue or green eyes, these recessive traits can still appear in later generations
  • Out of all the muscles in your body, the muscles that control your eyes are the most active

Unlike most body parts the eyes have limited protection from outside forces, this means we are required to do more on our behalf to take care of them. Somethings you can do is wear sun glasses that block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays if you are outdoors and wear safety glasses if you are in a hazardous environment. If you are constantly looking at a computer or phone screen look away every 20 minutes to rest your eyes. Another useful tip that some people overlook is making sure your prescription for your contacts or glasses are up to date.

Keep in mind though, we can still protect our eyes on the inside as well. Our daily diet has a direct effect on our eyes and all their internal working parts. Some things you can do to improve your eye health from the inside is eat foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids acids, zinc, vitamins C and E. Below are some common foods that qualify

  • Spinach, Kale, Collard Greens
  • Salmon and tuna
  • Eggs, nuts, beans, and other non meat protein sources
  • Oranges and other citrus fruits
  • Oysters

Experts recommend that you should have a routine eye exam at least once a year, maybe more depending on your age. Stores such as Sears, Target, Lens Crafters, and America’s Best all have great deals on eye exams and eye care products. Often times, a free eye exam will be given with the purchase or intended purchase of a certain eye care product. So if you can’t clearly remember the last time you got your facial headlights examined take advantage of the spirit of the month and get them checked out! Eye hope you enjoyed using those reading lens in taking time to look at this blog. HAPPY NATIONAL EYE EXAM MONTH!!!

Beyond The Scale

                                            Kelly Murray, BS, Wellness Coordinator

When we work on improving our health, it is easy to get caught up at looking at the number on the scale. Our bodies are amazing, and we need to pay attention to other changes that are happening in addition to weight loss. Sometimes these are referred to as “non-scale victories” or NSVs. These NSVs show that all of the hard work you are putting in is actually paying off! Be patient. Take a step back from the scale.  Listen to your body and the look for the signs that show you are moving in the right direction.

Physical

  • Less bloating
  • Clothes fitting better
  • Wedding ring fitting better
  • Can lift heavier
  • Can play with kids/family/pets
  • Increased balance
  • Exercising longer, harder, faster
  • Glowing skin
  • Fewer blemishes
  • No more under eye circles
  • Less painful/stiff joints
  • Improved blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar
  • Less heartburn

Mood & Emotion

  • Feel happier
  • More optimistic
  • Less stressed
  • Improved mental health
  • Less anxious
  • Less depression

Sleep & Energy

  • Sleeping more
  • Fall asleep easier and sleep more soundly
  • Awake feeling refreshed
  • More energy
  • No more mid day slump
  • Need less caffeine

Food Behaviors

  • Listening to your body
  • Practice mindful eating
  • Eat to satiety
  • No more binging
  • Identify cravings vs. hunger
  • Fewer cravings
  • No more guilt or shame after eating

What are some non-scale victories that you’ve encountered?

Be A Corporate Wellness “Yes Man”

                                       portrait-circle-toni copy
Toni Sperlbaum, CWWPM, CHWC, Vice President of Sales & Marketing

I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen the movie “Yes Man” featuring Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel, but (without giving too much away – you should see it!), the movie is about a guy who is stuck in the same boring job with the same boring life who challenged himself to say “yes” to everything for an entire year. Because of his newfound (and mainly forced habit) to say “yes”, it lead to all sorts of amazing and transforming experiences.  He learned how to play the guitar (and even played and sang a guy off the ledge because of it), got a promotion, and even met the girl of his dreams.  It’s a reality check with a lesson of open mindedness and the ultimate principal that while trying new things can come with some risks, it could also change your life for the better.

It’s this principal that I want to relate to our wellness programs.  How often do you hear a new wellness program initiative either from your wellness vendor, on LinkedIn, at a conference, or from your peer at another company and without even another thought, you laugh *insert eye roll here* and say “that would NEVER work here!”?  The reality is, we are Jim Carrey!  We get stuck in a rut with the same wellness programs year after year, wanting more out of our programs but perhaps aren’t sure what “more” is.

Why are we so quick to 1. deny faith in our employees, 2. discount your leadership and their support, and 3. say “no”?  My clients who are the most successful are the ones who strategically say “YES”.  They don’t just say yes to me and the programs that HPA offers and sells, but yes to an employee garden, run by employees.  Yes to a grassroots pedometer challenge.  Yes to installing an onsite gym.  While some of these examples are more costly than others, there are many opportunities out there that are FREE or, at the very least, budget friendly.  Please note: I said “strategically say yes”.  Time and budget are real factors that need to be considered.  In fact, I often work with my clients to create a strategic plan that incorporates a mission statement, a vision, and a 3 year plan and calendar of programs (including those “out of the box” ones they’ve said “no” to for so long).  If a program pops up that wasn’t in the original plan, we leave the flexibility to be able to add it in and let it blossom.  However, if that program does NOT directly relate to the program’s mission and vision, then it is not carried out.  This is where the strategy part comes into play.

I have seen firsthand the weapon of “no” that creates stale, lackluster wellness programs or at the very least, prohibits these programs from blossoming.  My challenge to you is to say “Yes!”.  Be open minded.  Give your employees a chance by having faith in them, your leadership, and most importantly, yourself to deliver an exciting and engaging new program.  Be a corporate wellness “Yes Man”.

Motivation & Maintenance


Ryan Hall  
MS, CSCS, Wellness Coordinator

When we look at weight loss and dietary changes, people are generally fairly good at sticking with a new plan for several weeks or months, but then they slide back into old habits. Long term maintenance boils down to the following: doing more things “right” relative to “wrong.” Are you sleeping enough? Are you getting up and being active enough? Are you making generally good choices? When things go south, it’s usually not just one thing, it’s everything. We stay up late, we skip our workout for the day, and somewhere along the line we start keeping sketchy food in the pantry, which – surprise, surprise – we eat way too much of.

In order to stay motivated for the long haul you need a strong “why.” You need a reason to make changes and to keep making changes even when your motivation tanks. Long term goals are great. I’ve got mine; their names are Adrienne and Jacob. But if you need binoculars to see that goal, the motivation to keep going will dwindle. Sometimes it’s the short term goals that will affect us more.  Instead of fixating on your whole life, just focus on getting the next meal right, or getting enough sleep tonight, or making sure you get off your fanny go for a walk. I’m talking about one meal (or step, or nap) at a time, one day at a time.

Work Stress & Self-Care

jess-clear

Jess Welch, Wellness Coordinator

How does one cope with too much work, little help, and no time to do their mounting tasks? Through coaching I consistently hear employees tell me about low job satisfaction. Work is their number one source of stress in their life and carries out into other areas leading to low life-satisfaction.

“I have no time to work out.”

“If I had one word to describe my eating habits it would be ‘quick’.”

“Work is constantly on my mind, distracting me from time with my family.”

“I blink and my entire day is gone.”

And as much as a simple answer could be to quit their jobs, it isn’t so simple after all. Everyone has bills to pay, relationships they have made within the workplace, and face the risk of starting over while many may enjoy large pieces of their jobs. So we have this complex issue of increased stress leading to increased risk factors for things like cardiovascular disease, decreased fulfillment, and no real answer to fix it due to life’s high demands.

Because this blog is not for my recommendations of the complex situation for employers to aide in creating a lower stress environment for their employees, I am going to focus on you: the workers. How do you keep up with life’s high demands inside and outside the workplace? How do you develop healthy habits and keep a job you may have worked quite hard to obtain?

Developing healthy coping strategies takes cognitive effort. If it were something you could do outside of cognitive thought, you probably would have been doing it already. As a species, we run as efficiently as possible already but unfortunately this is a piece we still have to think about. However, once we develop the strategies needed for self-care, it becomes less necessary to be intentional about it and more habitual.

Now, I break up stress into two separate categories: the first being that immediate stress, the “here and now” stress, the “my chest hurts and my head is spinning” stress. The second being that mounting and constant stress, like a consistent dull noise in the back of your head. Below you will see some ideas to help cope with each type.

The immediate stress:

  • Remove yourself from the situation for five minutes
  • Close your eyes and take 3 slow breaths: 7 seconds in, 10 seconds out.
  • Plug in your music and listen to one song you love
  • Get a stress ball

The consistent stress:

  • Go for a walk, exercise
  • Get enough sleep
  • Limit Caffeine intake
  • Plan a weekend
  • Do something you enjoy; volunteer, read a book, etc.

Coping with the consistent stress helps decrease the times of that “immediate stress” feeling. So developing a good self-care plan will lower those intense feelings. Now, you’re probably thinking – “Jess, if I have time I would have already been doing this! This doesn’t answer my question at all.” My answer? Find five minutes in your day. Then find ten. Increase your moments of self-care by five minutes a week until you can somehow find 20-30 minutes in your day. This does not need to be all at once, scatter it if you need to. But I promise, once you do you will not regret it! Your physical body, your emotional body, heck – even your work will all thank you!