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)

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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”

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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

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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!

 

Incorporating Biking (and Families!) into your Wellness Programs


Toni Sperlbaum, VP of Sales & Marketing

May 15-19 is National Bike to Work week.  Before you shut down the idea because:

“My employees would never bike to work” or
“Our employees are too geographically spread out” or
“Whatever other excuse you can come up with not get involved,” WAIT!

Even if these are true, use the “Bike Week” opportunity to encourage bike riding for the upcoming warmer months.  They don’t have to bike to work, but consider implementing a “biking challenge” when members have to bike 30 miles (for example) during the entirety of the month when biking works best for them.  One never-ending challenge of corporate wellness programs is how to get families involved.  Biking is the PERFECT activity to incorporate family members.  Maybe they have a goal of 30 miles for them and an additional 30 miles for all other members of the family (combined) and they go into a drawing to win some cool gear or a gift card if they hit their 30 mile (or family 60 mile) goal.

Benefits of Biking:

  1. Weight loss: cycling a minimum of 30 minutes has immense benefits (not to mention the cardio)
  2. It’s environmentally friendly
  3. Easy on the joints
  4. Gets people OUTSIDE and encourages them to explore nature
  5. Improved sleep
  6. Studies have shown that cyclists have lower stress levels compared to non cyclists.  The increased blood flow and sweat produces production of mood enhancing hormones.
  7. Cycling 3-4 times a week strengthens the immune system, therefor, cyclists are much less susceptible to taking sick days.

Something else I’ve learned over the years: your employees may surprise you! Maybe no one bikes to work now because they’ve ever thought about it (until you introduce the idea), there are no bike racks, or their bikes need a tune up.  Most bike shops will offer a free tune up, ESPECIALLY during Bike Week, or big time discounts on parts needed to make the bike working like new again.  I encourage you to at least put it out to your employees and not just assume they are not interested or will not participate.  Even if you can get ONE more employee riding their bike more often, why not take the opportunity?

Promote these free tune ups, look at installing some bike racks, give them a trail map (or a website where they can research themselves) and give your employees a chance.  You may be surprised!

Humor Me This!


Jamal Mack, Wellness Coordinator

Did you know April was National Humor Month?  Humor is commonly referred to as the spice of life.  It can turn a negative situation into a positive and it can turn your frown upside down.  Humor has been scientifically proven to have various wellness benefits such as decreasing stress hormones and increasing cell strength in immune- and infection-fighting antibodies.  When it comes to improving your body’s natural defense system, humor is nothing to laugh at. (Get it?)

But enough of my HILARIOUS pay-per-view worthy jokes; I think it is important to honor the people who thought life in April was too serious and decide to make it funnier for each and every one of us.  Comedian and best selling author Larry Wilde founded National Humor Month in 1976 with the goal in mind that everyone share life’s humor, laughter and mirth.  Fittingly enough, National Humor month kicks off with April Fool’s Day, a day usually involving pranking on a mass scale and as a result, grants humor, good feels, and the occasional angry, yet forgiving “prankee” or victim.

If National Humor Month were celebrated in medieval times, hats off to the court jester all month long.  Since it only started a mere 41 years ago, we have some making up to do for lost time.  This month, I encourage you to tap into your funny bone and make the world a little funnier by making someone heartily giggle at your fun, yet safe, humorous antics.

Save Time & Eat Healthy

  Kelly Murray, BS, Wellness Coordinator

Eating healthy can be tough. Stocking up on groceries is time consuming, and the last thing anyone wants to after a long day of work is go to the grocery store. What if I told you, that you can get fresh fruits, vegetables, and groceries without even stepping foot inside the grocery store? I know, it sounds too good to be true! Check out the options below and see how to make your shopping and meals a little easier.

  • Meijer Home Delivery – Order your groceries online, and have them delivered to your door! Meijer has paired with Shipt and is doing deliveries in Grand Rapids and Detroit areas. You can get unlimited deliveries (on orders over $35) for a year for $99, one month for $14, or a single delivery for $7. To see if deliveries are available in your area, visit https://www.shipt.com/grand-rapids-grocery-delivery/?gclid=CIa_vqbc-9ICFQ5LDQodSr0BSA Today is the first day this service is available in Grand Rapids, so no staff review yet. However Ryan has already signed up and plans on using this service so he can spend more time with his family and less time at the store.
  • Meijer Curbside Pickup – Place your order online, drive up to the curbside lane outside the store, and they will bring the order out to your car. The cost for curbside is $9.99 and is available from 7am-9pm. Visit meijer.com to find a location near you. HPA Staff Review – “This is the best thing ever! It saves me so much time and money. When I order online I have to think about the items I am ordering instead of just throwing items in my cart at the store.” Jess, Wellness Coordinator
  • Doorganics – Organic fruits, vegetables, and grocery delivery available in the Grand Rapids Area. You can choose between all veggie, all fruit, or mixed produce bins in varying sizes depending on your needs. You can schedule deliveries weekly, or biweekly. Bin prices range from $29.99-$49.99, and you can add on additional items such as dairy, meat, bakery, and meal bundles to your order. To learn more and see if they deliver in your area, visit https://www.doorganics.com/ HPA Staff Review – “Receiving my Doorganics deliveries really keeps me on track with getting in my servings of veggies. Normally when I go to the grocery store I stock up on veggies and they end up going bad before I can use them. I don’t have to worry about that now that I receive bi-weekly deliveries. It has also helped me branch out and try new fruits and veggies, like multi colored carrots and bibb lettuce.” Kelly, Wellness Coordinator