Tag Archives: wellness

Practicing Slowness & Being Present

I set a goal for myself this year to be more present.  To spend less time multi-tasking and more time focused on one-thing-at-a-time.  Yes, I’m still working on that goal! Yes, I still find myself having time for just one more quick thing and rushing through my moments.  But, I’m better than I’ve ever been before.

For today’s healthy living post for the holidays, which will also be my last for 2014 as I take the holidays off to re-charge, re-connect and re-center, I bring you this great guest article from a enews I get from ZenHabits.

I also send you my wishes for peaceful Christmas and New Year’s celebrations full of grace that bring you happiness and joy!

 

Practicing Slowness & Being Present
By Leo Babauta

In our rush to get through the tasks of our day, to complete our errands and answer emails, to look at the next video or link we find … when do we think we’ll find happiness?

If it’s not here right now, when will it come?

Maybe we think it’ll come when we improve our lives, or meet our goals, or succeed at our business, or finish our college degree. Maybe it’ll come when we go on that next trip, or when we find time to relax. Maybe tomorrow.

Or we could try this:

Slow down instead of rushing.
Pause to savor the current moment.
Really notice everything about the moment, and find small things to appreciate.
Be grateful for what there is right here, right now.
Allow the things that are bothering you to just be in your life, without fighting with them, without pushing them away.
Don’t allow little things to offend you. They’re not worth ruining this moment.
Let the beauty of this moment wash over you like a warm foamy wave.

These are all things we already know. But we don’t actually do them. The key here is practice.

If you don’t practice being present, slowing down, enjoying the moment right now, when will you practice? What are you practicing now instead?

Start your practice this moment.

‘When you live completely in each moment, without expecting anything, you have no idea of time.’ ~Shunryu Suzuki

To workout or not to workout – that is the question

Never fear, I will not be launching into the soliloquy in the “nunnery” scene of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  Today is a more mundane, though still important and hopefully far less complicated topic!  Flu season is coming quickly and folks already seem to be passing around various maladies.  Our newsletter editor has had a head cold, I had a stomach yuck a few weeks ago (I think my son shared it with me) and when I went to bed last night, my head was feeling stuffy.  I took some Airborne and have taken it twice today.  *handwaving the validity of it* Then, when I woke this morning, my throat felt sore, so I’ve been gargling with warm salt weather and drinking Throat Comfort Tea.  I’m trying to take as good of care of myself as I can.  However, I’m not *well*.  I’m not sick, but not well. I have week 3 of my Metabolic Meltdown class tonight and I’m going to go, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the “should I or shouldn’t I” thoughts have been crossing my mind.

My general rule of thumb is unless I’m uber-uber-sore (see last week’s post on rest days), nauseous (or vomiting) or running a fever, it is off to workout for me.  I was thinking about it though (political commercials notwithstanding, I believe in truth in advertising and all …) so I did some research.  Here is what I found on WebMD (hint, I was right!):

  • Fever is the limiting factor, says Lewis G. Maharam, MD, a New York City-based sports medicine expert. “The danger is exercising and raising your body temperature internally if you already have a fever, because that can make you even sicker,” he tells WebMD. If you have a fever greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, sit this one out.
  • “Do what you can do, and if you can’t do it, then don’t,” he says. “Most people who are fit tend to feel worse if they stop their exercise, but if you have got a bad case of the flu and can’t lift your head off the pillow, then chances are you won’t want to go run around the block.”
  • “The general rule is that if it is just a little sniffle and you take some medications and don’t feel so sick, it’s OK to work out. But if you have any bronchial tightness, it’s not advisable to be working out.”
  • As always, common sense applies folks and know your limits: “If you are feeling kind of bad, you may want to consider a walk instead of a run. Take the intensity down or do a regenerative activity like yoga or Pilates because if you don’t feel great, it may not be the best day to do your sprints,”
  • “A neck check is a way to determine your level of activity during a respiratory illness,” adds Neil Schachter, MD, medical director of respiratory care at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. “If your symptoms are above the neck, including a sore throat, nasal congestion, sneezing, and tearing eyes, then it’s OK to exercise,” he says. “If your symptoms are below the neck, such as coughing, body aches, fever, and fatigue, then it’s time to hang up the running shoes until these symptoms subside.”

Here is the good news if you are a regular exerciser:

Exercise in general can help boost your body’s natural defenses against illness and infection, Schachter says. “Thirty minutes of regular exercise three to four times a week has been shown to raise immunity by raising levels of T cells, which are one of the body’s first defenses against infection. However, intense 90-minute training sessions like those done by elite athletes can actually lower immunity.”

A final note of caution and a plea, please:

It’s one thing if you decide to exercise when sick, but how do you keep from spreading it to others in the gym? And what about you if they are the ones exercising with a cold?

“Be careful that you are not blowing your nose constantly. And you should be using a towel and putting it down on every surface you touch and wiping it off when you are done,” says Equinox’s Coopersmith.  (Most gyms have wipes to clean off equipment when you are done or have towels and spray cleaner.  You use them to wipe off sweat … use them to wipe off germs!)

“The value of hand washing cannot be overstated,” Schachter says. “I recommend washing hands before and after using the restroom, before meals, after using public transportation, and after returning home from school or work.”

Also carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel in your gym bag to use when you realize that you have come into contact with someone who is sneezing or coughing.

A note from Cheryl … this week ends the 2014 Executive Edge.  I joined and set a goal to win it this time.  I’m competitive that way!  I didn’t win (the scores aren’t in yet, but I know my own so I know), but I feel really good.  I’m “back in the saddle” and getting stronger, more fit and more healthy all the time.  For me, that is the real goal.  To feel better this year than last.  Most importantly, to reassert my healthy lifestyle.  Those goals I hit!  Thanks for the words and thoughts of encouragement.  6 more weeks of Metabolic Meltdown and I’m excited to see my results from it!

Time away is healthy too

When is the last time you took a vacation from work?  As in didn’t call in, check voicemail?  As in didn’t check email?

When you did, was it a long weekend?  A full week?  *gasp* 2 weeks?!

When was the magical mystery time you took?  A year ago?  2?  Longer??

You’ve probably guessed this is not a good thing if you haven’t taken time away.  But, don’t feel bad.  1/3 of Americans say they take vacations less than once every couple of years or never!

Here are reasons you should:

  • Vacations Promote Creativity: A good vacation can help us to reconnect with ourselves, operating as a vehicle for self-discovery and helping us get back to feeling our best.
  • Vacations Stave Off Burnout: Workers who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts.
  • Vacations Can Keep Us Healthy: Taking regular time off to ‘recharge your batteries’, thereby keeping stress levels lower, can keep you healthier
  • Vacations Promote Overall Wellbeing: One study found that three days after vacation, subjects’ physical complaints, their quality of sleep and mood had improved as compared to before vacation. These gains were still present five weeks later, especially in those who had more personal time and overall satisfaction during their vacations.
  • Vacations Can Strengthen Bonds: Spending time enjoying life with loved ones can keep relationships strong, helping you enjoy the good times more and helping you through the stress of the hard times. In fact, a study by the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services found that women who took vacations were more satisfied with their marriages.
  • Vacations Can Help With Your Job Performance: As the authors of the above study suggest, the psychological benefits that come with more frequent vacations lead to increased quality of life, and that can lead to increased quality of work on the job.
  • Vacations Relieve Stress in Lasting Ways: It should come as no surprise that vacations that include plenty of free time bring stress relief, but research shows that a good vacation can lead to the experience of fewer stressful days at least five weeks later! That means that vacations are the gift to yourself that keep on giving.

I’ve been taking a lot of extended weekends for my vacations this year and then took a whole week at Labor Day.  Wow!  Was that fabulous!  My brain and body felt so much better when I returned.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.  I remember years ago, I took my kids to Jamaica.  We had no phone, no internet, very little TV.  We swam, walked and read books.  However, it took my 15 year old daughter and I about 3 days to de-jitter and it was late on day 4 before we felt relaxed.  So, if you can – take more than just a 4 day weekend.  You don’t even need to go anywhere.  Just disconnnect and turn your brain off.  I typically take vacation at the Christmas holidays and hang out at home.  Wonderful time with family and resetting me for the new year.

Everyone will thank you!

If you are looking to get away, you should join us tomorrow night – Thursday, October 9th at our Chairman’s Gala.  Click HERE to register and for info.  As if Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett, Greater Green Bay Convention Visitor Bureau President Brad Toll Cvb and our 2014 Award Presentations weren’t enough to entice you to attend our Chairman’s Gala this Thursday at the Swan Club at Legends in De Pere? Well, there is an *awesome* door prize package that you must be in attendance to win.

Prize package: 2 Night Stay at the Heidel House Resort & Spa, Champagne and Chocolates delivered to your room, $100 Dining Credit and $200 Evansong Spa Gift Card! 

Hope to see you – but, if you are on vacation?  I’ll understand and applaud you!  Let me know how it was!

 

 

 

The other side of the keep moving equation

I remember a few years ago when I started the Executive Edge program and I had my health assessment completed.  I was ready for weight (too high), waist/hip ratio (ewww) body fat percentage (don’t even get me started) and the look when I revealed how little I worked out.  I was NOT prepared for them to ask me how much I sleep.  I thought for a moment or two and then said, 5-6 hours a night.  The nurse doing my intake raised her eyebrows and said, “that needs to be 8-9 hours if you want to lose weight and gain health.”

Wait.  Really?  Take 3-ish hours OUT of my already far-t0o-full day and just sleep?  When on earth did she think I was going to get anything done as well as add 5-7 hours per week of exercise??  ummm.. right.  I’d get right on that.

I’m not much of a sleeper.  I’m rather like the Energizer Bunny, I keep going and going until someone ranks my batteries and then I simply … S.T.O.P.  I don’t run down.  I crash.  And then when I wake, be in 20 minutes, 2 hours or whatever, I’m wide awake and running again.  I’m infamous for emailing folks at 3am with an “I’ve been thinking …”  I just never needed much sleep, nor was I good at doing it for any length of time (unless I’m sick); so the idea of just sleeping 3 extra hours a DAY … like 21 less hours of my life available each week … suuuurreee.  But, I was committed to this whole living healthy thing, so I said, “okay.  I’ll see what I can do.”  And, like I do anything, off I went to research.

The sleep-diet connection is regular fodder for diet books and magazine articles. Maybe you have even heard about the sleep diet, which suggests you can lose weight while you catch your ZZZs.

And it’s true, sort of.

“It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly,” explains Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep and the clinical director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Ariz.

On average, we need about 7.5 hours of quality sleep per night, he says. “If you are getting this already, another half hour will not help you lose 10 pounds, but if you are a five-hour sleeper and start to sleep for seven hours a night, you will start dropping weight.”

I found information, lots of it.

If you’re looking for a fairly painless way to lose weight (or at least not gain) researchers at Brigham Young University have a new solution for you: Put yourself on a regular sleep schedule.

People who maintain an unvarying sleep routine have a lower percentage of body fat than those who keep irregular sleep hours, says a new study, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Led by Bruce Bailey, professor of exercise science at Brigham Young, researchers followed 300 female college students, ages 19 to 26, who were given activity trackers to monitor their movements and activities, including waking and sleeping times. The study participants were assessed for body composition before and after the one-week study period.

What the researchers found:

  • Getting less than 6.5 hours of sleep and more than 8.5 hours of sleep was linked to higher body fat

  • High quality sleep was associated with lower body fat while poor sleep correlated with higher body fat

  • Waking and going to sleep at the same time every day (particularly a consistent wake time) was most strongly linked with lower body fat

And even recently,

Insufficient sleep affects appetite and satiety hormones as well as fat cells, according to the nation’s top sleep experts.

If you want to lose weight, be sure to get enough sleep.

Most people know they should cut calories and exercise more to trim down, but there’s now significant scientific evidence that another critical component to weight control is avoiding sleep deprivation, sleep scientists say.

“There is no doubt that insufficient sleep promotes hunger and appetite, which can cause excessive food intake resulting in weight gain,” says Eve Van Cauter, director of the Sleep, Metabolism and Health Center at the University of Chicago. She has spent 15 years studying the topic.

Sleep deprivation probably affects every process in the body, she says. “Our body is not wired for sleep deprivation. The human is the only mammal that does this.”

This would be a pretty story with a bow on it, if I could say it was that easy.  It wasn’t … it isn’t.  I struggled and I still do.  Here is what I found helps me:

  • When I’m tired, I go right to bed.  If I get home and I’m feeling tired or sleepy (not a common occurrence, but still), I get to bed.  ASAP.  If I don’t, I get wired and I’m off to the races and probably will be up even later than I would have normally.  I know, I know, I’m odd!
  • I love love love Sleepytime Extra Tea by Celestial Seasonings.  Sounds silly, but I swear by it. Yes, yes, I know.  It has probably become a Pavlovian trigger for me, but I don’t care.  It helps.
  • If I find that I’m tired, but wired, I do some easy yoga.  No, not the pretzel-y, twist-y, gumby kind you may be thinking of, but like this, Yoga for Better Sleep, just 14 minutes long and very relaxing.  That site, DoYouYoga.com, has some great workouts for all the non-yogis in the crowd.  Good, good stuff.
  • If I’m still tired, but wired, I meditate.  You are now picturing me on a mountain top, sitting in a lotus position, chanting “Ohhhmmm” aren’t you?  Yeah, right.  Not so much me!  What I do is either find a comfortable seated, kneeling or laying on my back position, then I don’t “clear my mind and think of nothing.”  That just does not work for me!  But I focus.  Either on a series of thoughts that relax me or music (I really like Omvana. It is an app as well as a website.  Some tracks are free, some are for purchase.  I really like them).  If you have a mantra, focus on that.  Mine has changed many times over the years.  Find something positive and relaxing that works for you to close your day out.  Just something like, “Today was a full day.  I am thankful for what I accomplished and those I spent time with.  I forgive myself for anything I didn’t get done and I commit to start tomorrow on new, fresh ground.  Today was a gift. Tomorrow is a promise.”  Then, while thinking that (over and over), I focus on relaxing each part of my body from my feet up then I focus on breathing.  Just breathing in and out. Feeling my tummy rise and expand, then my ribs and finally my chest up under my collar bones. Slight pause while full of air.  Then, slowly emptying out, releasing any residual stress.  Then I repeat.  I have to be honest, often it takes me a good long while to stop the mental chatter.  But it works.  Stick with it.
  • If I get into bed and my mind starts to go again or I just need something else, I love Dormio.  It is both an app as well as a website. For me, their Urban Rain & Thunder is amazing.  It works nearly every time.  I set the timer for 20 minutes in the program and only for a handful of times have I still be awake at the end of the timer cycle.

Long story short?  Sleep and I have a twisted, difficult relationship.  However, in my journey to health and wellness, it is one I am learning to manage well!

Sleep well, y’all!

Back to it – do you ever really leave your habits?

Back to it – do you ever really leave your habits beyond or do they just get put in a drawer to rear their head when you get lazy or life gets in the way?

For me, they have been in a drawer.  (if you have come to this post from the newsletter, this is the video from the newsletter, so if you watched it there … skip down!)

3 1/2 years ago, I made a decision to get healthy.  I was pushing 50 pretty hard and knew that  if I didn’t get healthy very soon, it was going to be more and more difficult if not impossible to do so.  In January of 2011, I started a program hosted and ran by  Prevea Health and Western Racquet & Fitness Club called Executive Edge.   It is a 12 week program designed to encourage corporate and community leaders to LeadWell by setting a positive example of health and wellness within their workplace. Each participant achieves a baseline score by undergoing a fitness and biometric health assessment.They then have 12 weeks to improve both both fitness and health scores. Winners are awarded for Best Overall Score and Most Improved in both Men’s and Women’s Divisions.  My first year I was very very very close to getting “Most Improved,” but I missed … though that wasn’t why I joined the program.

By the end of year one, I’d lost 12 pounds and whole mess of inches.  When I had my annual physical that summer, my biometrics were off-the-charts improved, so much so that my doctor asked me what I had done to make such a change. I told her she wouldn’t like it– no pill, no patch, no fad. I counted every calorie that went into my mouth and I moved into Western Racquet Club.  My cholesterol had dropped over 50 points, my resting heart rate had dropped, my BMI dropped from obese to just .1 above the  healthy range and I had gotten physically stronger than I had been in my whole life.  But I wasn’t done.

Since my goal weight was to lose 40 pounds and to get my bodyfat down into a very healthy lean range, I decided to join Executive Edge for the 2012 year as well.  It went well and I had great gains in strength, flexibility, endurance and in all of my health criteria. By the end of 2012 had lost a total of 30 pounds. I was working out regularly, not like I did during the Executive Edge program of course, but working out regularly at least 6-7 workouts per week.  Sometimes, when I worked out I did 2 workouts in a day, say yoga and then a strength or cardio class, but I was working out very consistently.  I would see people I hadn’t seen in a while and they would literally stop in their tracks (often with their mouth hanging open in shock) because of the difference they saw in me.  I had lost over 50 inches overall – I still wasn’t at my goal weight, but I really didn’t know if my goal weight was even correct or not.  I was seeing & feeling muscles I never had before. I can actually touch my body and feel my hip bones,  my pelvic bones and my ribs without pushing in.  Sometimes, when I wrap my arms around myself, I expect to have them stop, but they keep going because I am smaller.  A lot smaller.  It still surprises me.

You might have thought I had the whole habit change thing down, I know I did!

Unfortunately, life has a way of being – well – life.  So between stress and life, and life and, well, stress, I put back on 9 pounds from my low in November of 2012 and that was in addition to the 8 pounds I still wanted to lose.

Some people, when they get under lots of stress, lose weight.  NOT ME.  I would make it great through the initial stages of some major crisis or Ice Age or something because my body releases lots of cortisol and decides to not burn many calories!  Truth in advertising though, I do have to admit in addition to my workout schedule changing from 5-9 workouts a week to  3 or 4 workouts a week; I wasn’t eating as I needed to and had been doing.  As in:  I didn’t always eat breakfast and I didn’t eat a real dinner, I would just snack and have a couple of glasses of wine most days.  So my food choices changed which of course changed the mix of what I had going on with my metabolism.

I also wasn’t sleeping well.  Sleep is one of those funny things that you don’t think would make a difference to your health, but it does in a major way. What I’ve discovered is that when I sleep well, my entire system works better.  I know you experts out there aren’t at all surprised, but for those of us layman, that doesn’t always make sense.

So, I got to just a few weeks ago and seeing my 52nd birthday coming really soon – in November.  That has always been a goal point for me.  Don’t ask me why “52” is a big deal.  50 wasn’t, but 52 just seems like … I don’t know … less ahead than behind?  I can’t explain it, it is just a big deal for me and I decided I really wanted another push.  About that time, I was having a meeting with the marketing team at Prevea since they are the title sponsor for our upcoming Live Healthy Brown County Health, Fitness, and Lifestyle Expo, September 27th & 28th at the KI Center in Green Bay. I mentioned Executive Edge during the meeting.  On the way out of the meeting, Brian Lani, VP of Marketing for Prevea, asked if I wanted to be in Executive Edge again, it was starting the next week (last week!). I told him yes, he got me in contact with Brenda and within an hour I was scheduled to begin the 2014 session.  This is an unusual one in the timing as they are normally  the first four months of the year. But this is good timing for me – great timing in fact!

Last Tuesday, I did my initial assessment.  The initial assessment was, shall I say, not a happy time. But!  It really showed me where I am right now.  More than just knowing the scale number is higher (which I knew) and that my new smaller clothes are tight (which I knew), but what is happening inside my body.  My cholesterol is up, not into the unhealthy range – my ratios are still good but my bad cholesterol is higher than it should be; my resting heart rate is up as is my blood pressure, again neither of them are in the unhealthy range but they are up for me and that is unacceptable.  My body fat percentage is also up – which is an indicator of not just the weight increase but also the loss of lean muscle mass I had built up.  All of the things that I wanted to fix – and did fix – have gone the other way.  Those annoyingly patient and tenacious bad habits!

My goal this time  through Executive Edge is to win.  It isn’t like a race where I can see my competitors on the track, so it is really just a massive push and commitment to myself and if I get to my goals and still don’t win, I will be beyond thrilled.  But, I am a bit competitive.

Now all that said, I’m still in the healthy ranges on everything so the gains I made through changing my bad habits for better ones and creating a new lifestyle over nearly 3 years weren’t lost or for naught. I have nothing going on that would cause any medical professional concern. Well, other then my BMI and my body fat percentage.  Even those are very close to the healthy range. I am in a much better physical place than I was before I started this four years ago. The physical condition I am in now is miles ahead of where I was all through the first part of this century. In fact better than it was through most of my life back to my teen years.  But the fact remains, this it is not where I wanted to be – or where I want to be.   I don’t particularly care about BMI per se, it misses everything about body frame size, which of course plays a huge part in calculating healthy weight for a person; but, even if I ignore that number, I’m still not where I need to be and I know it.

I know I am going into my heavy health care years and the time in my life where things may start to go wrong.  Well, let’s face it, will start to  go wrong.  The body is a machine after all and mine is getting up there in miles.  So, now is the time.  Now is the time to fix it.  So I am.  We just finished week one of Executive Edge and I’m down 1.8 pounds, though I realize I haven’t been drinking nearly enough water to push through all the extra exercise I’ve have been doing and the good eating I have been doing.  I also have a very sore muscles. I’ve done some very hard workouts this week and last Saturday I was part of a Partner Play training session led by Kari Merrill, an amazing trainer and woman as well as the Group Fitness Director at Western, and three other great women. It was the hardest hour I have ever spent working out in my life.  Thanks, Kari, Vikki, MarLynn & Amy!

So my focuses are: maintaining the exercise schedule I have been doing this last week (3 strength training workouts a week, 3 cardio training workouts a week and 3 yoga workouts a week; staying within my calorie allowance by eating good food; getting enough proteins and potassium; and getting good quality sleep.  Strength, cardiovascular improvement and flexibility; proper portion control and food choices along with quality, plentiful sleep. I know those are the keys to long-term good health and reduced risk of injury.   Oddly enough, you would think with as much as I’ve been working out I would be exhausted.  But, I have had a terrible time sleeping this week. I think it is my body adjusting to all of the changes.  Last night, I slept 8 hours – that was exciting!

I invite you to join along with me.  You don’t have to be on the crazy train like I’m on, doing 9 workouts a week, but I encourage you to do what you need to do for yourself.  The national recommendation from ALL of the experts is a minimum of 5 days a week, 30 minutes minimum of good active exercise per session.  Eat fruits & vegetables, eat whole grains, eat good healthy fats (a non-fat diet is not healthy either!) a low and healthy fats diet is very appropriate.

Over the next 12 weeks, I will be sharing my journey, my struggles, my frustrations – I will also be sharing links and great information to help you, wherever you are.  I hope this helps and you will check back to see what is going on.  I encourage you to subscribe to our Live Healthy Brown County newsletter.  I will add a link to this week’s edition at the bottom of this post.  If you want to subscribe, there is a button to do so in the newsletter.  We will get you on the list.  It has articles for information & education, a healthy recipe of the week,  runs and walks coming in the Greater Green Bay area (some outside the direct area as well)  to get you and your family outside and active while we still can here in Northeastern Wisconsin.  It also includes volunteer opportunities.  I will spend a post in the next several weeks about the importance of volunteering.  It is all part of your mental/social health and those are key to good health as well.

Until next week … have a great week – a great healthy week.  Live healthy!

PS  If you like the LHBC newsletter and are new to it, you can catch up on previous editions HERE

 

 

 

 

What’s your number?

No, this isn’t a new generation “hey, baby, what’s your sign?”  Rather, many employers have wellness programs and hire firms to conduct HRA’s (health risk assessments) for their employees and, often, the spouses of employees on their health plan.  Cholesterol numbers, ratios, BMI’s etc. those are the numbers reported from HRA’s.

My husband’s company (where we have our health insurance) started them last year for employees and added them for spouses this year.  So, this morning, I headed off for my appointment (after fasting for 12 hours – *gasp* no coffee until after my appointment).  Other than the weigh-in (YUCK) and my blood draw, it was relatively painless.  As I helped craft a comprehensive worksite wellness program about 5 years ago, I absolutely believe in wellness.  I don’t practice everything I’ve learned and know, but, I try!

Wellness programs can make a dramatic difference in a population, not just in health insurance costs (think long term here CFO’s, not this year or next year) as well as improving productivity, presenteeism or absenteeism as well as  worker satisfaction and commitment to an employer.  The current situation notwithstanding, a workforce shortage still looms.  76 million people are baby boomers and while, for many, retirement has been delayed; their physiological clock still demands that they will retire, and probably sooner rather than later.  Employers will still have to deal with that loss of knowledge, ability and sheer manpower numbers.  It only makes sense to treat your employees well, so that they will think fondly of you – and with loyalty – with this tide turns.  Wellness programs are one way of doing that.

They are not without cost however.   A few weeks ago, I blogged about one organization, the United States Wellness Chamber of Commerce, which received a grant earlier this year to assist employers in having a healthier workforce WITHOUT ANY EMPLOYER INVESTMENT. Some of these funds remain and they are urgently looking for employers interested in participating in the grant before the funding expires and the deadline has been extended to 12/31/09.

In July, they were awarded grant funding allowing them to assist employers in having a healthier workforce. Specifically, it provides for a continuum of programming designed to identify and mitigate behavioral and lifestyle risk factors resulting in reduced claims/health insurance costs, increased productivity, and decreased absenteeism.

December is an ideal time to launch or expand an initiative to improve the health of your workforce and to illustrate your commitment to their well-being.

To determine if you qualify for participation in the Healthy People 2010 Grant, you can learn more by any of the following:

• View an on-demand, recorded webinar accessible through their website (www.uswellnesschamber.org)
• Register for an upcoming live webinar from their website (offered weekly)
• Contact them directly at (800) 429-4556 or expiring_grant@uswellnesschamber.org

Call, email, contact – it may be a GREAT thing for your company and your workers.

Today’s giving

This fall, I joined Service League of  Green Bay, a group dedicated to improving the lives of women and children in Brown County; a cause near and dear to my heart.  Today was our “Holiday Social”  to spend some time sharing holiday cheer and joy with those who have supported Service League over this last year.  I made Seven Layer Bars last night and took them to the function today.   You may consider this to be a stretch of the “give of yourself everyday” since I’m a member of the group, but … I knew I wasn’t staying for the joy and cheer and I didn’t have a single bar!

I think it counts!!

How about you?  Did you perform an act of giving or human kindness today?  I’d love to hear about it.