Well Leaders: Involving the Right People

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

When a company implements a wellness program, many program administrators are very used to hearing that the promotion and support for this program needs to come from the top down in order for it to be successful.  While this is true, it’s not the entire story.  Each culture and logistics of the company has a role in how this plays out, but who could be more important than your CEO, CFO, HR team, and other key executives?  Middle Management.

If your CEO sends a letter home to employees encouraging their participation, their message is in your newsletter and on a flyer in the break room, that’s great.  But how much time do your employees actually spend with the CEO?  What is their level of trust of your CEO (another topic out of my expertise!)?  While in a perfect corporate world, the answers here would be “a lot of time!” and “a lot of trust!”, it’s just not reality.  Employees are spending a majority of their time in their own departments with their direct supervisors.  If those middle managers are not buying in to the program, neither will their employees!

We encourage you to host separate meetings with your management team, even one-on-one perhaps, to get their buy in and almost most importantly, their commitment to participating themselves.  Setting the example is half of the message!  Consider running special challenges or programs just for them.  Highlighting in a newsletter “Healthy Leaders” and showing what they have accomplished, or the results of your WellLeader Challenge.  Communication is also huge.  In many companies, the main route of communicating all of the fantastic programs you have going simply aren’t reaching all employees.  Your middle managers are the key.

January is National Oatmeal Month

  Jamal Mack, BS, Wellness Coordinator

According to the USDA, only 44% of Americans eat breakfast daily which means more than half of the population are not indulging in the proper morning maintenance of their bodies. Out of those 44% who do eat breakfast, 73% eat some type of sweetened cereal once or more for breakfast a week. Breakfast is the first meal of the day, setting the tone for your daily societal adventures. With that being said, we want to ensure that we are putting the right fuel in our bodies upon our awakening. Since January is National Oatmeal Month, what better way to start your January breakfast off than with the Quaker man himself? Oatmeal is a great way to enjoy a breakfast and due to its lack of (for lack of a better term) “potent” flavor there are a myriad of possibilities when it comes to adding to that flavor.

Quick Quaker Tips

  • Add a fruit : bananas, apple slices, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, mangos, pineapples, and/ or peaches are good ways to add some extra flavor AND some extra nutrients into your breakfast treat
  • Add a natural sweetener: Honey, agave, and/or peanut butter are great natural sweeteners you can add to your oatmeal (can combine with fruit as well) to make that road from mouth to stomach a bit more pleasant
  • Experiment with different ingredients: Instead of regular oatmeal try flax meal, flax and quinoa meal, and/or steel cut oats. All of which taste a little different and are accompanied by some extra nutritional tools (omega-3s in quinoa/flax mix, fiber in steel cut oats, etc..)
  • Eat while fresh and hot: As tedious as this tip may seem you’d be surprised how a quick drop in temperature can sway the flavor of your oatmeal, it is best to eat it while still hot

For more interesting and TASTY ways to have your oats and oatmeal visit

http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/meal-ideas/10-new-ways-eat-oatmeal

Now that we know are better aware of how to improve our oatmeal’s taste, I think it is imperative to keep in mind the “why” behind all this which is that we want to feel and be healthier each day. Starting off your morning with oatmeal has some great health benefits such as:

  • Weight loss- Oatmeal contains beta-glucan which helps promote to release of the peptide YY hormone. This hormone may help you lose weight by making you feel more full. It does this by slowing down the emptying of the stomach.
  • Blood sugar control- Oatmeal’s soluble fiber beta-glucan, may improve insulin sensitivity and help lower blood sugar levels by forming a thick gel that delays emptying of the stomach and absorption of glucose into the blood
  • Cholesterol control- Once again that soluble super fiber beta-glucan has numerous benefits. It helps reduce blood cholesterol and sugar levels by promoting healthy gut bacteria and increasing feelings of fullness
  • Improved Skin- Finely cut oats aka colloidal oatmeal has historically been used to help treat dry and itchy skin and even helps treat symptoms of various skin conditions, such as eczema
  • Reduced risk of childhood asthma- A recent study found a link between oats and asthma in children under the age of 6 months
  • Relieve of constipation- With oatmeal being so fiber rich its no wonder this super food can assist with eliminating constipation

These are only brief descriptions of how/why oatmeal is so beneficial for us. For more information you may seek out information on

https://authoritynutrition.com/9-benefits-oats-oatmeal/

Well there you have it! HAPPY OATMEAL MONTH!!!! Now go celebrate with a bowl of the Quakers finest!

 

 

Keeping the Holidays Healthy

  Kelly Murray, BS, Wellness Coordinator

The holidays can be a tough time of year when it comes to making healthy choices. Below are a few easy tips and tricks to keep you on track throughout the holiday season.

Christmas Shopping – Plan ahead before your trip to the mall!

  • Don’t go to the mall hungry.
    • Before heading out for a full day of shopping, eat a meal that is going to fill you up and give you the energy to do your power shopping. Eating before you go will make it less likely that you will stop and make poor nutrition choices because you are starving.
  • Bring a water bottle and pack a light snack.
    • Shopping can be intense! Before you leave home, pack yourself a water bottle and a healthy snack to take with you. Having these readily available will help prevent you from caving and buying junk food while you are out and about.
  • Plan your route.
    • Map out where you need to go. If possible, try to avoid walking past the food court or the sugar coated almond stand 10 times as you do your shopping. You can even plan to take the long way around and get in some extra walking.
  • Avoid fast food at the food court and choose a sit down restaurant.
    • Instead of grabbing a quick bite to eat from the food court, go to a sit down restaurant. It may take a little more time, but there are usually healthier options, like soup and salad, grilled chicken or fish, and veggies. Sitting down away from all of thoe noise and rush of shoppers will also help you relax, and take time to focues on the food you are eating. Enjoy and savor your meal. There is no need to rush, the sale will still be going on in 30 minutes after you eat your meal.

Holiday Parties and Gatherings

  • Bring your own dish to pass.
    • If you are going to someone else’s house for a meal, offer to bring your own dish to pass. This way you have some control over what you are eating, and you know what has gone in to it. Many people tend to bring deserts, but why not bring a healthy appetizer or a side? Vegetable trays and salads are always welcome.
  • Fill up on the healthiest options first.
    • Begin with a salad (the green kind, not the potato or pasta salad). Fill your plate with veggies and entrees before filling up on high-calorie sides and desserts. This means having a mountain of broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans rather than a mashed potato mountain.  Instead, if you are going to make a mini mashed potato mountain try to stick with one serving size of about 1 cup.
  • Stand at least an arms length away from the munchies.
    • Take a step back from the munchies! If you are sitting down at the table, or standing within arms reach of the chips, nuts, and candies you will be more likely to mindlessly snack on them without even noticing it. By standing farther away you will need to actively choose to move towards the snacks if that is what you really want to eat.

For more tips on how to stay healthy over the holidays, take a look at the American Heart Association’s Holiday Healthy Eating Guide

Find Your “Why”

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Jess Welch, Wellness Coordinator

Lose 10 pounds in 10 days! Twelve workouts to a flat stomach! Lose unwanted cellulite in just 30 minutes!

Tag lines like these pollute our media and are riddled throughout our everyday lives. Misinformation and misleading titles lead individuals to think sustainable weight loss is as easy as a snap of a finger. This leaves people feeling disheartened and unmotivated with continually fluctuating weights.  Not to mention, we live in a society which thrives on instant gratification; thus making the humbling reality of weight loss a tough pill to swallow.

One thing I have continuously learned is this: weight loss is hard. We wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic on our hands if it was easy as pie to avoid… well… pie! Oh, and bacon, ice cream, cheeseburgers, chips, and other sinful tantalizing treats. The old adage of “consistency is key” couldn’t be truer. But those three words are far easier said than done. Too often, I talk to people who have lost a whopping 55lbs in 4 months sometime in their past, gained it all back, lost 20lbs then gained that back too, plus some. The list of weight-loss attempts is never short and too often, I hear defeated voices whisper “I should do better, be better, and have better self-control.” Too many of my clients are consistently reliving their weight loss failures.

The other thing I know about weight loss is this: sustainable weight loss is slow. It is healthiest to lose 1-2 pounds per week. Like I said, sloooow. And when you’re staring at a scale that has a decline as slow as molasses in January, you lose hope.

So why try? Weight loss is difficult and time consuming. Why care? That’s an important question to answer and its one I cannot answer for you. For some people it’s as simple as wanting a pair of jeans to fit or to go to the doctor and finally not receive the advice of “you should really lose weight”. Maybe it’s more clinical, like getting off medications for high blood pressure or getting out of the pre-diabetic range. It could be psychologically deeper, like having a past of bullying or a severe deprivation in self-confidence. Your perception is your reality and once you find a reason captivating enough to make the hard work and patience worth it, weight loss will come easier, I promise!

If you can’t think of your “why”, answer this: What do you gain with weight loss? It could be that size of jeans you always wanted to be in or that number on the scale. You could gain the confidence you never had to rock that bikini you never thought you could. Maybe it’s just the accomplishment itself, the follow through to actually accomplish a goal once thought of as unattainable. Whatever it may be, I urge you to find your “why”. My message is to utilize this as step one in your final weight loss journey to a happier, healthier, you!

Superman, The Hulk, The Flash, Mr. Fantastic & He-Man walk into a Gym……

   Ryan Hall  MS, CSCS, Wellness Coordinator

Superman, The Hulk, The Flash, Mr. Fantastic & He-Man walk into a gym…stop me if you have heard this one!  You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this.  Sit tight as I drop a little superhero analogy on you.  First off, a little comic book background on our subjects:

Superman (Muscular Endurance):  As the saying goes – “Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound…nanana…it’s Superman!” With this intro behind us, Superman represents all that is seen as muscular endurance; speed, strength and power.

Hulk (Muscular Strength): The green giant with the strength to destroy buildings, throw a tank and pretty much put any power lifter to shame. I don’t know of a better epitome of muscular strength in the comic world.

Flash (Cardiovascular Endurance): Does this one really need any explanation? With the ability to move, think and react at light speeds as well as having superhuman endurance that allows him the ability to run incredible distances, there is no one better to represent cardiovascular endurance.

Mr. Fantastic (Flexibility): Some of you may be wondering who this one is, think Fantastic 4. Mr. Fantastic has the ability to stretch his body like a giant rubber band, i.e. he’s very flexible.

He-man (Body Composition):  Think Arnold Schwarzenegger in a loin cloth at his peak.  Yeah, that’s He-Man.  Not to mention the superhuman strength and speed.

Okay, introductions out of the way I’ll get to the point. My question to you is: who do you want to be? In other words, what is your goal? Too many people start off an exercise routine not knowing what they really want. They want to lose weight, get stronger, bulk up their muscle mass and be able to run a half marathon.  That all sounds fine and dandy, but you have too many contradicting factors.  You can’t bulk up and lean out at the same time.  It’s incredibly hard to build serious muscle mass and train for cardiovascular endurance.  And not to mention become a yoga master and dead lift 600 pounds.  The way you train needs to match what your goals are.

If you are looking to gain muscle mass and you are starting off as a scrawny 6 ft – 175 lbs, you will probably need to go through a bulking process where you are consuming extremely high amounts of calories and limiting your cardiovascular exercise in order to gain not only muscle, but some excess fat in order to push heavy enough weight to make the muscles grow.  You say you want to get faster and run a marathon?  You should probably skip max dead lift day.  Training the muscles to be able to work hard for long periods of time is your strategy.  Think lots and lots of lunges and core work.  You want that rock hard six-pack?  Nutrition should be your first thought, but moderately heavy weight coupled with moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise is your route.  And it is really hard to pull off a Handstand Scorpion Pose (yoga – look it up) if your traps, shoulders and biceps are so large that you can’t scratch the back of your own neck.

My advice here is to have a goal in mind before you step foot in the gym. Think long and hard, do you want to lose that spare tire?  Look good in a bikini?  Sculpt that chest and back?  Bench press 450 & Squat 600?  Are you thinking you’d like to try your hand at a marathon or triathlon?  Or do you just want to be Batman?  That’s my goal, just be Batman!

Batman (All Around Bad***): But wait, wouldn’t Superman embody this description? The answer is yes, except for the fact that he is not human and Batman is just like the rest of us. No special powers, no magical abilities, just grit, determination and looks good in a spandex suit.

The Definition of Healthy

Nicole Griswold, CHWC, Wellness Coordinator

What is your definition of ‘healthy?’ Give someone a topic that is considered healthy and I guarantee they will come up with a statement (even if it’s factual or not!) as to why it isn’t good for you.  Over the weekend, I had an epiphany; as a society, we will do whatever it takes to come up with a reason why something is unhealthy. Anything! With so many studies, opinions, and fads out there these days, we are able to find someone or something that will give a reason as to why something is unhealthy.

I’ll give a few examples. These are actual examples that I have heard through health coaching in corporate wellness, personal conversations, and social media.

  1. Avid runners have such horrible knee and joint issues. It just wrecks their body!
  2. Apples are bad for you because they contain sugar.
  3. Vitamins are a waste. They’re not as natural and effective as food sources.
  4. The fresh produce at the grocery store was picked past it’s prime ripeness, so it’s really lacking nutrients.
  5. That chicken isn’t good for you because it’s been processed.
  6. Going for a walk doesn’t burn that many calories, so it’ just a waste of time.
  7.  I had to take some broccoli off my plate so I wouldn’t go over my carb count.

What do you think? Do you agree with the above statements? I believe this trend has a lot to do with our underlying psychological instinct to achieve perfect health on top of our constant ability to produce excuses and reasoning as to why most of us are not healthy. Kind of like a “I do these healthy things but they don’t work because of *excuse* so you can’t blame me” type statement.

My two cents – Don’t overthink what you know is good for you. Don’t believe everything you hear. Educate yourself. Focus on the positives. Don’t compare your state of health to others. Create your own definition of healthy!

Nutrition & Wellness Programming

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

Wellness programs and their education components are often built on two primary staples: diet and exercise.  Exercise is relatively easy to program (and easy to understand from an employee’s perspective). But when it comes to nutrition, there is an incredible amount of conflict even within the professional world of physicians, scientists, dietitians, and experts, it’s no wonder the “normal person” is confused and that the national obesity rate is rising above and beyond 35% in the United States.

March is National Nutrition Month.  It’s the perfect time to hone in on these programs and hear from the experts (us!) on delivering effective and affordable nutrition programs to reach members.  Especially when weight loss is 80% proper nutrition and only 20% physical activity, it’s an imperative focus for an employer and should be a part of your wellness programming.

Here are our top 5 most popular nutrition programs:

  1. Educational Seminars – a fan favorite of our clients is “Mythbusting: Nutrition Edition” and “Healthy Cooking Live Demo”.  Provide a month-long challenge after the class in order to put to practice the different topics discussed in the class.
    “Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
  2. MENTAL HEALTH! – Not always an obvious thought, but in our experience, most of our members’ struggle with their food intake directly relates to stress, time management, work-life balance, and financial restrictions.  Designing programs that can pinpoint THESE issues will have a direct correlation to nutrition.
  3. Challenge – Seems obvious, as wellness programs LOVE challenges.  But it is for good reason, as challenges both involve employees and promote friendly workplace competition that truly is a drive for some members.  A good challenge will encourage employees to meet their goals, not “be the MOST healthy”.  It will also reward goal meeting each week and will have a different focus area each week (count your calories, eat foods with 5 or less ingredients or that you can pronounce, track your fiber grams, eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, etc.).
  4. Web Portal – Trackers, social accountability aspect – We’ve seen the power of the digital world through the rise of Social Media.  Using a web portal where employees can keep a food diary, share with a coach, and share their favorite recipes, exercise progress, funny and encouraging memes, and more on a social network within the portal.
  5. 1-on-1 Coaching – Speaking of coaching, the most tailored, effective programming you can do is provide your members the opportunity to talk to someone who will provide them with the accountability, the encouragement, and proper guidance to successful goal setting.

 

DC Calls it Quits – Cessation Tips for Employers


Toni Sperlbaum, CWWPM, CHWC, Wellness Account Manager

In Washington D.C., September 21 – 25 is QUIT WEEK! That brings to light a hot topic in employee wellness. Smoking Cessation is an important and high demand piece of worksite wellness programs.  The average tobacco user costs employers approximately $5,816.  That’s $2,300 more than a healthy employee and similar to the cost of one with a Body Mass Index >35, according to a study from Ohio State University. In fact, this study breaks down the annual costs to business in the following way:

Absenteeism: $517
Presenteeism, or reduced productivity related to nicotine addiction:$462
Smoke Breaks: $3,077

There are many things an organization can do to aid in cessation:

  1. Tailored 1-on-1 Health Coaching: each person is different and has a different “why” to quitting. Coaches will explore this on a personal level and bring forward the motivation to quit smoking and educate participants on not only the risks of using, but what options are available to quit.
  2. Online Self-Paces Courses: While participants are twice as likely to be successful when they work with a coach, making an online course available will get participants thinking about their addiction and will put to practice great cessation methods. An incentive ALWAYS helps employees complete this step!
  3. Nicotine Testing: In our experience, we see a 10% increase between self-reported nicotine usage and tested usage. That means 10% of people are LYING! Imposing a wellness incentive for non-nicotine users may be just the thing that user needed to quit.
  4. Marketing Campaigns: It could be as simple as educating employees! Strategic marketing can be point-of-contact reminders to employees what resources are out there to help them and that they are not alone.
  5. Nicotine Use Policies: A very effective method of impacting your workforce is amending company policy. These could include: a nicotine free campus, putting in “butt huts”/designated smoking areas, not hiring nicotine users, and more.
  6. Reimbursement Programs: Budget to provide a reimbursement to employees if they complete a local cessation course at either 50% or even 100%. Your support would really send the message that your organization cares about the wellbeing of their employees.

 

Health Plan Advocate, an employee wellness company in Grand Rapids,  can help you implement the most successful nicotine cessation program to your employees. Contact us at 616-575-0211 x108 to get started!