Wellness in the Work World

Recently I ran an interactive workshop at the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Leadership Development Conference in Chicago focused on managing multiple roles and responsibilities while seeking to attain a greater leadership role in the workplace. What I found when doing my research on this is that wellness supports the ability to function optimally at higher levels. Of course, that didn’t surprise me at all.

               

I found a Families and Work Institute survey of Leaders in a Global Economy, filled with great nuggets of information to guide a vision of intentional navigation to a place of leadership achievement and happiness at home. Yes, you can have it all, but you need to make it happen. I also considered the wisdom of authors of The Corporate Athlete, a book that emphasizes the need to recover energy every 90 to 120 minutes in order to work within your ideal performance state. This can be done through managing our energy and internal state of mind, even when the external world is pressing on us. Corporate athletes eat breakfast and small, healthy snack every 3 to 4 hours to keep energy levels high, drink enough water to stay well hydrated, which also contributes to energy, exercise regularly, and create habits or rituals to take those frequent breaks at work. Those can be just taking a moment to meditate, do some deep breathing exercises, take a short walk, or changing focus in some other way, before your next energy expenditure. Read the rest of this entry »

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Women On The Move

WOMEN on the Move

 

I came across a study that again highlights the benefits of lifestyle changes to improve our risk factors for heart disease. It’s called the Women On the Move through Activity and Nutrition (WOMAN) study.

 

As we know, the perimenopausal period is a time when weight can creep up on us. Another study I found mentions that postmenopausal women are one of the groups in which weight gain is increasing most quickly! We know what happens. Falling estrogen levels affect where our fat gets distributedand it’s not in keeping with the hourglass shape many of us strive for. But, beyond appearance, this midlife, mid-body pack-on-the-pounds isn’t good for our health.

 

In the WOMAN study, 508 women ages 52 to 60 taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for at least 2 years were placed in one of two groups: a lifestyle change group or a health education group. The intent was to see if cardiovascular disease could be minimized through changes in diet and exercise. After 18 months, the researchers found that women who made the lifestyle changes lost an average of 17 pounds, and about 4” from their waist size. I bet they were happy! But they also had significant improvements in their cholesterol, glucose, insulin, and other important blood levels. Women who stopped HRT had better LDL levels than those who remained on hormone therapy.

 

These women ate a lower-calorie diet that was low in cholesterol and total, saturated, and trans fats, and high in fiber and high-volume, nutrient-dense foods. They also worked up to 150 minutes (think 5 30-minute sessions a week) of physical activity. Read the rest of this entry »

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Getting Rid of the Old Carpet

 

 

Getting Rid of the Old Carpet

 

My friend Cece thought that I was injured. Someone else thought I needed snow. It’s amazing what can happen when the carpet needs to come up. That dreaded day when everything has to be moved.

 

While getting everything out of my home office so that the old, worn carpet could be taken out, I came across my Leki Nordic Walking FitTrek poles—the ones that had been standing behind the door for about 2 years, maybe even longer. The ones I had wanted to try but hadn’t watched the video yet because we would have to switch the DVD player and the VCR hookup to the TV. I guess it was too much trouble. Or, maybe I forgot about them. Actually, I really didn’t forget about them. Every time I closed the door to muffle the barking of the dogs so I could talk on my phone, I saw them. I kept thinking, “I should really get those out, set them up for my size, and use them.”  And, I love to walk. These would rev up my calorie burn and get my upper body involved in my favorite exercise. Why wasn’t I using them? Is it possible that I would never use them, when I had been so interested in purchasing them?

 

So, when we started getting rid of old stuff, and organizing some of the rest of it, I decided that it was silly to wait until I watched the video. How hard could it be to walk with poles? And the weather was beautiful. So, I did what I usually do when I want to get motivated and have the information I need to get started on any project. I googled “Leki.”  And, I was impressed by what I saw on www.leki.com. I didn’t need the video. I didn’t even need the instructions. It was all on the site, video clips and all. Groups of people walking with their poles. Instructions on how to adjust them to my height. Information on the benefits. I knew that using these poles would be good, but I hadn’t realized that I could burn up to 40% more calories than walking without them, increase my O2 consumption by 25%, reduce stress on my knees and ease up the force on my heels by 26%. Great information, and very motivating. I couldn’t wait to get these poles on the road. Read the rest of this entry »

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So It’s Mid Summer

It’s already August and how does that bathing suit fit? As well as you had hoped it would in May? I’m not trying to make you feel badly about it; in fact, I am all for embracing the body you have and dressing it for best effect, as Stacy London and Clinton Kelly like to say on the TLC channel show, What Not to Wear.

 

What I am wondering is, if you did have a plan to wear a smaller size bathing suit before summer began to really get hot, or at least have the one you’re wearing now fit better, and it didn’t happen, what didn’t work?  Or, if you had planned to get out and exercise more, now that it’s light at night and not freezing cold like in winter, did you actually do that?  Were you going to eat more salads because the produce is local and fresh during the season?  Oh, right, the tomato scare. And, now it’s peppers. So much for that.

 

As a wellness coach, I help people to create a plan that they really can stick with, one that includes small, sustainable changes over time that can be tweaked and fine-tuned until it really works.

 

We would start with the end in mind, by creating your wellness vision. This is a vision of who you want to be and what you want to be doing in the future in terms of your health and wellness. What it would look like, feel like? What would you be? And then we would really explore WHY you want to be that person, so you could draw on that to re-motivate yourself when the artichoke dip sneaks up on you. And finally, you would craft your goals. First three-month, longer-range goals, and then we would break it down into 1-week goals that are actually attainable, because we would proactively anticipate obstacles to your success and strategize to work around them by using your strengths to make them SMART goals. This means that they are Specific (exactly what are you going to do?), Measurable (three times/week no mistake about it), Action-based (yes, you’re really going to do it!), Realistic (like not trying to lose 10 pounds on 2 weeks) and on a Timeline (no putting them off). And, with a wellness coach to keep you on track, you would be held accountable to yourself.

 

So, if we were to rewind the tape, what could you have done differently? We can’t change the past; only make progress in the future. And, making change is about progress, not perfection. It’s about what you choose to do.

 

What’s your vision of yourself in the future? What is it costing you to not achieve goals you may have set many times over? What would it feel like to finally achieve those goals—your goals? Hold onto that feeling. Let it help you to create a plan that is SMART.

 

So, after all that, I would like to share a fresh summer recipe with you that I was inspired to make after my brother and sister-in-law gave me a huge zucchini from their garden.  No tomatoes or peppers involved.  This is so easy and it was delicious. I took ½ of the zucchini (I said it was big) and chopped it up (about 4 cups). Then I sautéed it in a little bit of olive oil with a shallot and some chopped garlic. In the meantime, I cooked 1 cup of whole wheat cous cous in 2 cups of vegetable broth with a bit of salt. After it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. How hard is that? Then I mixed it all together with a can of drained corn and another of drained, rinsed black beans, and seasoned it with cumin and fresh herbs from our container garden. It’s already gone. Good thing I have that other ½ of the zucchini left. I may need to repeat this recipe. High fiber, low fat, high protein.

 

All inspired by a monster zucchini. What inspires you?  A new bathing suit? A still-sunlit summer evening? A summer vegetable? Turn that inspiration into motivation, add a vision and SMART goals, and you are golden.

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Health and Wellness – A smart investment

Did you see the cover article for the June issue of Smart Money magazine? Live Longer… and Healthier: Yes! $100,000 Can Add 10 Years To Your Life. It certainly caught my eye. First, as a health writer and wellness coach, I was thrilled to see that people are investing in their health. I guess it’s a “pay now or pay later” approach. But, I must say, $100,000 is a lot of money. Is that a smart investment?  I’m certain that people can improve their health and wellness and maybe even prolong their lives with a much smaller financial investment.

 

The article begins by profiling a 55-year-old man who lives his life like it it’s an Iron Man event: biking, swimming and working out in his home gym. He watches his cholesterol carefully, making dietary changes to keep it under control. These are great lifestyle changes (on the zealous end of the spectrum, I admit), but he also has a $3000 executive physical once a year at the Cooper Clinic. 

 

Others profiled in this article exchange thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars for genetic tests that might reveal their risk of not-entirely preventable diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, memberships at high-end health resorts, truly personal trainers and chefs, and treatments such as Vitamin C infusions.

 

I think the majority of us want to live longer, especially if we can stay physically and mentally fit. Who wouldn’t want the added time to fit in what we don’t have time in our busy lives to do now? Vacations, travel, finally pursuing interests set aside, spending time with friends and family. But do we need to spend our life’s earning to do so?  I was cheered to see that one woman profiles, a farm wife, is making some easy, basic, inexpensive lifestyle changes that could add years to her life, following the advice of Drs Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen, in their book, You: Staying Young, The Owner’s Manual for Extending Your Warranty. ($26.00)  By making simple changes like eating less, adding flax seeds to her diet and taking omega-3 capsules, exercising with handheld weights, and using her treadmill, this former champion oreo-eater has lost 120 pounds and now has great optimism that she will live well past 100 years.

 

Recent scientific articles tout the growing evidence for the value of lifestyle changes for preventing or delaying disease and increasing longevity. These changes can be made by through a variety of investments, including, time, energy, emotional commitment, strategic planning to actually make the healthy changes you set out to make actually happen, and yes, some reasonable financial investments for the rest of us who can’t afford the $100,000 Smart Money says it might take to add another ten years to our lives. Put on your $100 walking shoes and start walking to your 100th birthday party. Pick out some beautiful produce at the farmer’s market; create your own home gym on a budget.

 

What are you willing and eager to spend on improving your health and wellness? There’s an investment plan for every budget. You just have to make the decision on how much you want to budget for your health.

 

If you want to read the full Smart Money article, here is the link: http://www.smartmoney.com/cover/index.cfm?story=june2008-healthy-living

 

I wish you well with your investments.

 

Beth Tansey Peller, RN, BS is a health writer and wellness coach certified by Wellcoaches Corporation. Beth focuses on helping women dealing with the multiple responsibilities of midlife amid the hormonal shifts of perimenopause to achieve long-desired positive changes in fitness, nutrition, stress management and overall wellness.

 

Beth offers affordable e-booklets in her series, Make It Happen in Midlife!, as well as a range of individual and group coaching services. You can find out more about Beth by visiting www.bewellwithbeth.com. Register to receive your free e-booklet, This Change Will Do You Good.

 

 

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Eating Your Vegetables

Well, I was going to write about weather and its impact on wellness because we’ve had some beautiful days lately, but when I read the New York Times last night, I had to make a shift in my plan. In addition to my favorite part of the newspaper, The Science Times, which is published on Tuesdays, I discovered a special section, Well, a collection of articles on what we might need to know about staying well as we age. As a wellness coach, I am always interested in what we can do to take better care of ourselves.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that there is a place for medications, used appropriately. After working as a nurse in pediatric oncology and as a medical advertising copywriter and creative director, I’ve seen the benefits of pharmaceuticals. But, lifestyle changes are a huge part of the equation when seeking better health and wellness. An integrated approach is best, but not one where you think taking cholesterol-lowering medications is a license to eat with abandon, let’s say. Several articles in Well address the magical effects of positive, healthy lifestyle changes on different structures and organs of the body. I won’t review all of them, but the one about having a healthier heart speaks volumes.

 

In the Well piece on the heart, Eating Your Way to a Sturdy Heart, Tara Parker-Pope writes that “simple and even pleasurable changes in the foods you eat can rival medication in terms of the benefit to your heart”—an organ you’ll need for the rest of your life. She mentions that there is a lot of data to show that just a few small changes, including eating more fish, nuts, vegetables, and fiber, can make a huge difference in heart health. So, why aren’t people making those changes? Are you eating more of these foods lately?  If not, what steps could you take to move closer to that way of eating? When will you start? Speaking of steps, Gina Kolata’s Well article on exercise, More Than An Exercise In Vanity” focused on functional fitness, endurance and strength as key to aging well. If you happen to fall when you’re older, you do want to be able to get up. If exercise isn’t a regular part of your routine, how could you make that happen? What would happen if you don’t exercise?

 

Do you want to change your diet? A diet rich in fish-derived omega fatty acids can lower the risk of death by almost 25%. Send the grilled salmon right over here, please. She went on to mention that some studies show that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids from fish, nuts and other sources can lower cardiovascular risk by 60%. Adding a salad to your day isn’t difficult these days, with the wide variety of bagged greens and produce available. I don’t know about you, but I want my heart to hold out for as long as possible.

 

Another enormous contributor to heart disease is smoking. The good news is that fewer people are smoking these days, helping to reduce the rate of cardiovascular disease.  Interestingly, as I finished reading Well and The Science Times section, I reached for the first section of the paper, and right on the top left was the headline, Cigarette Bill Treats Menthol With Leniency.  What’s that about, I wondered? It turns out that Congress wants to give the FDA the right to regulate tobacco for the first time, but menthol would be exempt from regulation. Lobbyists for the tobacco industry are protecting mentholated brands, which make up 25% of the $70 billion dollar industry, probably because these brands seem to help new smokers tolerate the taste of tobacco and likely encourage addiction. It seems that they are heavily marketed to African-Americans; about 75% of African Americans smoke mentholated brands, a fact I didn’t know before reading this article. But, because of the way our legislative system works, the exemption for menthol must be tolerated in order to pass the larger issue of tobacco regulation. This is very unfortunate, as African-Americans, who are generally underserved medically in this country are often diagnosed late when they develop lung cancer, which places them at a distinct treatment disadvantage.

 

I’m not sure that regulating tobacco is the answer, as it seems there is infighting within the industry, with some, such as Philip Morris, supporting regulation and others not. This may give cigarette makers the ability to say that the FDA has approved their brands as less harmful. Is that a benefit?  I guess that’s in line with how the FDA operates, approving certain drugs that are less harmful than others…  My personal preference would be to engage tobacco industry executives and workers in purposeful work other than making cigarettes, which would eliminate a major source of many medical conditions (not just lung cancer) and out-of-control healthcare costs.

 

Let’s turn the page to Tuesday’s obituaries, where I came upon the life of Murray Jarvik, uncle of Dr. Robert Jarvik, who developed the first artificial heart implanted into a human. Murray Jarvik was a psychopharmacologist who contributed to development of the first nicotine patch.  The quote chosen to close his obituary, words he wrote in 1977, is telling:  “It is strange that people should go to such lengths to burn and then inhale some vegetable matter. We must find out what is rewarding about it

 

So, eating our vegetables is better for us than smoking them, but grilling and eating fish is good, too. And, it’s better to never start smoking.  What healthy lifestyle changes will you make—or think about making—today? You can find more ideas on www.nytimes.com/wellguide. 

 

I wish you well.

 

Beth

 

Beth Tansey Peller, RN, BS is a health writer and wellness coach certified by Wellcoaches Corporation. Beth focuses on helping women dealing with the multiple responsibilities of midlife amid the hormonal shifts of perimenopause to achieve long-desired positive changes in fitness, nutrition, stress management and overall wellness.

 

Beth offers affordable e-booklets in her series, Make It Happen in Midlife!, as well as a range of individual and group coaching services. You can find out more about Beth by visiting www.bewellwithbeth.com. Register to receive your free e-booklet, This Change Will Do You Good.

 

 

 

 

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