Fall Forward this Season With These Top 3 Health Tips

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It’s that time of the year again, sweater weather…but also “pumpkin spiced” flavored everything. I’m a huge fan of summer just like the rest of you, but there’s nothing I enjoy more than a cozy sweater and a nice warm drink in hand. But sometimes do you feel like you’re wearing more than just an extra layer of clothing? Your “current” fall routine might actually be doing you more harm than good. Do you wake up some morning feeling a little more sluggish than usual or find that your clothes fit a little more snug each day as it gets closer to the winter holidays?

If that sounds familiar or you nodded your head to some (or all) of those, don’t worry, you’re not alone! Here are the top 3 reasons for why some people tend to gain weight with the season change, and our tips on how to keep it off!

1.Exercise

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I will admit, it’s so much nicer to exercise when the weather is nice out, when the colder months hit, people tend to shy away from the outdoors and would rather stay inside and curl up on the couch with a warm drink and watch some t.v. Hey, that’s normal, that’s pretty much me every Sunday morning, but consistent days in with lack of exercise can add on the extra weight. Now I’m not asking you to run marathons here (although that would be nice), but as difficult as it is, I think it’s great to continue some of your outdoor exercises. Find yourself a walking buddy to join you (that way they’ll keep your mind off the colder winds) and if the “great outdoors” isn’t going to help you get fit, I suggest doing some indoor exercises you can do anywhere, be it the office or your living room couch. Check out this blog for some simple suggestions on how you can slip in a workout on a busy day, or check out the “desk-ercise” activity pack in the Optimity app

2.Nutrition

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I don’t know about the rest of you, but when the cold weather hits, comfort food pops right into my head, there’s nothing like food that warms up your insides. But oddly enough, after I’ve finished chugging down a mug of hot chocolate I end up rather uncomfortable with the aftermath of my sugary drink. Sometimes, comfort food can just be food with no nutritional benefits & extra calories. Check out the Optimity app for some simple healthy recipe ideas as well as great substitutes for some of your unhealthy treats. Comfort food is only great when shared with others, because really, what is comfort food? It’s food that evokes fond memories for you, so be sure to enjoy your (healthy) meal with friends and family, to make it that much more enjoyable.

3.Sleep

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Adequate amounts of sleep is essential to function properly throughout the day. However, sleeping in gets so much easier when the weather gets colder, days are shorter and nights are longer, so it’s a lot harder to get out of bed and get into the mood of doing something fun and physical outside. The sun’s still out there, so the best thing to do is get on (or invest in) a weather appropriate set of clothes and get ready to tackle the day. This way you’re still getting in some Vitamin D, and squeezing in some physical exercise throughout the day!

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Don’t let the colder months deter you from getting your wellness fix, enjoy the outdoors, and refer to your Optimity app to help you make the small (yet very impactful) changes you need throughout the day, helping you lead to an overall better lifestyle change.

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Social Connectedness and Its Impact on Diet

TIME STAMP: 1 MINUTE READ

Posted by Trista Chan

There’s no question that building and nurturing relationships can bring joy and overall feelings of happiness.  What many overlook is that it can also promote better physical health, a lower chance of developing mental illnesses, and increased job opportunities.

Research has shown that belonging to a social group and being socially connected with others can change your health in terms of diet and exercise. The idea of eating as a form of socializing is not groundbreaking, but many overlook the fact that who you eat with has a significant impact on the types of food you eat, and your overall diet.  Food and social interaction are deeply embedded in us from birth, and without realizing it, our bodies and minds change our diet based on the people around us.  For example, Females tend to eat less calories when they are with men as opposed to women, and both males and females have been known to eat less when they are in front of a stranger.  As a generalization, people tend to mirror their eating partners’ portions, and eat more when in larger groups!

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The big question in all of this is, why? Why do our eating habits change based on who we are with and the social relationship we have with them? There are a number of reasons, and the first is our cultural attitude. In Western society, women are expected to consume less, and its ingrained from a young age.  Thus, they may subconsciously eat less in front of people they want to impress, and similarly, men may eat more in front of friends that they want to impress.

In conclusion, our relationships and the people that we spend the most time with definitely have an impact on the food choices we make and directly correspond with our overall wellbeing. So, whether you are single, married, or trying to impress someone, make sure to pay attention to how much you are eating. Take a moment to think about your surroundings and what exactly you’re about to eat, to not get swept up in the social aspects of the meal. Because why you may be heavily influenced by your surroundings, you are also able to control your own behaviours when it comes to diet and wellbeing.

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The State of Affairs with Engagement for Corporate Wellness Programs

Posted by Jane Wang 
Your people are your corporate competitive advantage. Most progressive leaders are actively investing in employee wellness. However, despite the amount of work that goes into implementing on-site and digital wellness programs, most corporate initiatives fail to engage 3 out of 4 employees. Let’s spend a little time dissecting what is happening and offer some food for thought.

The Gallup RAND Health Workplace Wellness Study has shown only 24% of employees at companies that offer wellness programs actually participate.We surveyed 200 professional services employees and there were many reasons why they didn’t participate in the 5K runs, yoga classes, & other wellness initiatives. The top 6 themes are:

  • not aware of the program
  • there was a lack of incentives to sign up
  • activities offered were not interesting to them personally
  • don’t have time
  • don’t know how to access the program
  • no one else is doing the program (lack of a wellness community)

More from the RAND study: Over 85% of companies offer some form of wellness program, with awareness levels with often less than 60% of employees.  40% of the employees who are aware, actually a sign up; and 30-40% of those who sign up end up not logistically able to show up to the actual events because of work priorities.

With another 10-40% simply forgetting, depending on the internal marketing efforts of the wellness champions on the day off, it is no surprise that companies with 200-1000 employees can’t get more than 50 people to any wellness event.
Health costs are rising, mental health and financial wellness training sessions coming up… it is time that you drive a paradigm shift in how you engage your employees in health & wellness.  Here are 3 quick tips on how to lead a movement of wellness and positively impact the bottom-line for your organization.
1. Build Momentum
Before launching or updating your wellness program this year, ensure that you take the opportunity to build awareness with 100% of your employee-base.Reach out to employees a couple of weeks prior to the launch date with on-site posters, email memos,  newsletters and on-site media outlets. A message, short video or presentation from your CEO, senior leadership or HR team supporting the program is always positive PR internally and externally. Remember to always add a call-to-action to each piece of your awareness campaign.
2. Make it Universal
Deliver wellness to your employees wherever they are. Design your program with context  and environment in mind.Leverage common technology they are already using, such as their mobile phone or computer. Provide practical activities that employees can fit into their 9-to-5, such as reminders to grab a drink of water, instructions for quick back stretches, and challenges to meditate for 60 seconds. These effective micro-actions are known to boost health & productivity, and can be quite engaging for even the most sedentary of office-potatoes.
3. Recognize Employees’ Individual Efforts
The majority of your employee base already use consumer health apps and wearable devices for activities tracking such as step counting, exercise logging, or nutrition journalling. Why not align your employees’ individual efforts to your organizational goals?If a fitbit is too restrictive in function or too expensive, Optimity also offer a great array of fitbit alternatives such as Apple Watches with more functionality, directly integrated with calendars or Optimity Mi Bands at just $30/band and with a 30-day battery life until the next recharge!
Recognize the activities they are already doing with your wellness platform’s points and prizes. We can connect your community by uniting them onto the same platform and gamify their work experience.Companies that employ this strategy has 2-5x more people participate in their programs!

 

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3 Refreshing ways to EAT your way to a better mood!

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Being in a positive mood is always ideal for everyone, you work better and feel better and the people around you really react to the positive energy you give off. It really helps with all the decisions you make in your everyday life, so it’s important that you’re feeling your best when making these decisions.

Did you know that food can actually help boost better moods? Well, it’s true! Food helps with better moods, providing you with more energy and it helps you think clearly! Below are my top 3 food tips to help you get into a better mood.

1. Raise your vitamin D levels with food 

When you eat your wild salmon, bake it don’t fry it; when salmon is baked, almost all of the vitamin D content remains, but when fried in vegetable oil almost half of the vitamin D content is lost. Other good food sources are trout, ahi-tuna, mushrooms, and egg yolks, and, our favourite, plain Greek yogurt.

Another cool fact: if you lose just 5 percent or more of your body weight, your vitamin D blood levels will shoot up. Vitamin D likes to stay in fatty tissue, so when you lose fat, the D levels in your blood go up! Marvels of vitamin D: heart health, skin health, immune health & mental health!

2. Enjoy Your Bananas (and other fruits)  

Fruits have amino acids in them and bananas are surprisingly high in tryptophan, that along with its natural sugars makes an ideal situation for creating serotonin. Dates and papaya are also high in tryptophan, but most fruits have enough to make a difference.

Any food with a sweet taste will have a calming effect on the nervous system beyond its carbohydrate content.This is not why monkeys seem so happy but it sure doesn’t hurt!

3. Eat Your Greens

The University of Kuopio in Finland conducted a study with 2,313 men for more than 10 years and they found that leafy greens are good for your brain.

Greens are high in almost all vitamins and minerals but they are particularly high in folate – a B vitamin that has been shown to reduce depression. Kale, collard, and spinach will all contribute to boosting your mood!

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5 Ways to Build Positive Work Relationships

Posted by Abena Osei-Kwabena
TIME STAMP: 3 MINUTE READ
Developing a positive and motivating work environment is a top priority to make your workplace more enjoyable and less stressful. A positive work environment not only helps professionals physically, mentally and emotionally, but also influences their overall productivity.
Building relationships isn’t always easy and they can take time to develop and foster. A lot of companies now promote social gatherings, friendly contests, entertaining events and humour enhancing strategies for light-hearted fun and as a form of breaking the ice. There is also a direct correlation between a positive work environment and increased employee satisfaction.

Here are a few ways you can build a positive work relationship:

 

1. Be polite

Simply exchanging a smile or a friendly greeting is a great first step in developing a productive workplace. Maintaining eye contact and referring to colleagues by their names are effective conversation starters that build an opportunity to socially interact with teammates and develop a rapport with them. For a positive environment to flourish say no to “blame games” or gossip as they are foster a toxic workplace culture and diminish the sense of community.

2. Appreciate diversity

Everyone is different. We each have different viewpoints, approaches, potency and limitations so it’s important to listen, share and appreciate the differences between each of your co-workers. Being unbiased and celebrating diversity will help you become a good leader while enabling others to share their thoughts within the organisation. Everyone has value and something that they can bring to the table!

3. Exercise efficient communication

To practise effective and clear communication, you should be able to express the right emotion behind your message. Communication not only includes clear expression of thought but also includes complimenting others for their contributions, ideas or thoughts.  This can immensely help in building a pleasant and reliable relationship in your workplace.

4. Placing the right person in the right place

Before hiring a new employee, learn their skills, interests, passions, knowledge, culture and work style. This can help in placing the right person in the right place. Friction can occur among employees if a less qualified individual is hired to manage more qualified employees. Looking at the status-quo, the manager should act accordingly to avoid blame games, competition and negative workflow.

5. Incorporate incentives

The most important step towards building a healthy work environment and positive relationships is to be appreciative. Appreciation can be shown in the form of money, like a bonus or raise, or non-monetary in the form of public appreciation or a thank-you email. This can help to boost the morale of employees, potentially increase their productivity moving froward, increase their loyalty towards the organisation and reduce the turnover.
While these tips are pretty straightforward, they can definitely improve your workplace environment and culture.  Occasionally you will have to work with someone that you just don’t click with, but for the sake of your work it is important for you to maintain your professionalism and be civil. Just remember: you don’t need to be best friends and you can’t control others, but you can do your part and approach your workplace relationships with a positive attitude.
Share a bit of #Health and #Joy with colleagues, friends and family – download Optimity!

 

Abena is a Client Services Associate at Optimity. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a BSc in Global Health. She is passionate about human rights and health education, and hopes to develop tailored interventions to combat health inequities around the globe. Her interests include story writing, camping and exploring different cultures on her travels.

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A Long Look at Workplace Well-Being

Posted by Jane Wang
Managing work life and personal life is a continuous struggle for most professionals. It is especially apparent in the professional services industry. When you are in a client-facing position in which billable hours dictate your performance and compensation, it is not always an easy task to juggle work assignments and personal issues at the same time.

Reactive vs. Proactive

Do you foster everyday well-being as an organization? Do you do so to control costs or do you up-stream the issue to help support employees in building sustainable habits and work-life routines?
Coaching employees to deal with stress before it happens is key to the success of the HR teams who aim to keep their star players performing. Top firms internally promote their support programs, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), to help their teams deal with mental health and stress issues when they arise.
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EAP is a great start to supporting wellness at work. But the problem with just relying on EAP is that often they are reactive, as opposed to preventive. Heavy usage is also increasingly expensive. Furthermore, there is often a negative stigma surrounding their usage preventing employees from using or talking about it openly.
This is why there is a stronger engagement with proactive programs, like those being offered by PwC through Optimity. Our unique approach opportunistically inserts micro-exercises that improves your quality of life during your 9 to 5.

You know you do not get up enough at work. But even if you do, do you know what you can do for your neck, back, wrists and mind? Focusing on managing stress is not enough. Top firms understand that they need to provide coaching, at work, to prevent physical and cultural issues.

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  • 1 min long meditations at your fingertips to regain focus and reduce stress
  • 1 min desk-ercises throughout the day to reduce back pain
  • Stretches for your neck
  • Exercises to reduce eye strain

Micro-breaks leading to significant impact

  • Sync up to your habits through calendar-integration, and creates a smart schedule with micro-exercises optimized to create highest impact
  • Access to coaching by medical, nutritional, and mental health experts
  • Bring any wearable to the platform and we helps you stay engaged on the go, making it easier to keep on track to making consistent improvements

Case study

McMillan LLP is a Canadian business law firm with offices in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Montréal, and Hong Kong. Nisha Rider, Director of HR, leads the HR team in supporting employees in maintaining their positive mental health. “Managing stress and mental health is a key focus in law,” says Rider. “No firm has completely figured it out yet. We need to work with our employees to find solutions that works for them.”

They must help employees deal with some of life’s most stressful issues, including chronic illnesses and becoming a new parent. McMillan has put together a Parenting Committee that runs programs for employees who have children. The program is open to mothers and fathers, with monthly meetings. There is no set agenda. Discussions are free-formed around any topics the attendees wish to talk about. “It’s a great way for people to support each other and share ideas,” says Rider.

McMillan also offers flexible work arrangements and provides on-site cooking demonstrations, nutrition seminars and personal training sessions to help new parents work quick exercises into their days.

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To support work-life balance, you can run programs to help your employees with chronic conditions and lifestyle, such as having a 24-hour support system in place and taking a preventative stance on mental health and financial wellness. These 24/7 digitally accessible programs provide advice, information and support to employees and lift the burden of dealing with stressful or chronic situations alone.

Weave happiness into the everyday!

Innovative firms continue to invest in employee health- and lifestyle-related training. They pay attention to program design and adopting systems that integrates positive habits into their staff’s lifestyle and workflow.


So smile a little and enjoy the rest of your day!
Why not engage your whole office in the wellness game using Optimity?
As featured in  YahooRecruiter.com and the Wall Street Journal

 

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Recharge Your Diet: Our Secrets for a Healthy Lifestyle

Posted by Emily Guterres

TIME STAMP: 3 MINUTE READ

It seems like everyone’s talking about the real solution to weight loss. Every day it seems like a new diet craze is ready to make weight loss faster and easier than ever before. However, beware most fad diets generally go something like: “Take a few foods, give them magic power, and set a plan to convince people that eating this way and only this way will promote weight loss.” says Alexandra Caspero, R.D a nutritionist based in Sacremento, CA.

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In a society that is so image driven, it seems as though everyone’s talking about it, “THE secrets to get that summer body.” If you searched online for weight loss solutions you get 38 million results. How is anyone supposed to find the real solution? With this overwhelming amount of information it can be extremely difficult to get started on achieving your goals.

We’re here to help you debunk the 3 most searched for diets and discover whether or not they’re really worth it.

1. 20/20 Diet 

The Claim: Wait Doctor Phil? You have the answers to all of my life problems and now you want to help me loose weight? Even though he doesn’t promise you’ll loose weight, he says you “may” loose weight.

The 20/20 diet is a cycling diet plan and was online most searched diet of the year. It’s a 30-day cycling diet, with three phases every 30 days. The first two phases are 5 days long and the third is 20 days. The foods Doctor Phil recommends are supposed to help with thermogenesis, which is a state where the process of energy production in the body caused directly by the metabolizing of food consumed.

The 20/20 diet is about looking past your dieting efforts, failed attempts and what you can do to make up for it. He is trying to repent you from your dieting sins and tell you all of these failures are what eventually led him to create this plan.

Worth It? This diet requires you to stick to a rigid meal plan and eat every 4 hours, which could be time consuming. Be weary, of diets that have a start and stop date, after all there are no phases or end dates to a healthy lifestyle.

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2. Zero Belly Diet 

Wait but actually? Trying to take away my carbs? Sounds like a nightmare. They’re also telling readers they can magically turn off their fat genes.

The Claim: You can lose up to 16 pounds in 14 days. This diet and fitness program includes a list of nine foods that supposedly target and melt your fat cells.

Worth it? There is no way to turn off your genes to fast track weight loss. While hundreds of genes affect your overall weight in small ways, this isn’t to say that you can’t learn new healthy behaviors to adapt your lifestyle.

3.Mediterranean diet

This diet emphasizes a primarily plant based foods including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seafood and nuts – coupled with physical activity. It suggests avoiding a list of unhealthy foods and ingredients such as processed food and added sugars.

The Claim: This diet will help you eat your way to optimal heart and brain health. Additionally it claims increased longevity and living a longer and healthier life. When there is a reduction in developing heart disease or cancer, there is a 20 %reduced risk of death at any age.

Worth it? YES, this diet can have positive long-term effects on your over all health. Benefits include keeping you agile, preventing heart diseases and strokes and reducing Alzheimers.

Don’t be too hard on yourself; life is demanding. Between jobs, kids and everything else, life can get difficult. Give yourself a break, dieting shouldn’t be about extreme weight loss, it should be about slow and steady implementation of healthier habits that will lead to an over all healthier lifestyle.

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